Dame de qualite costume of the court of Charles VII 15th century.

Dame, qualite, court, Charles VII, costume, middle ages, france
Costume of the court of Charles VII

Charles VII. (1403-1461, the Victorious) was King of France from 1422 to 1461. He was the fifth king from the Valois line of the Capetian dynasty and the first of the so-called Loire kings. With the help of Jeanne d’Arc, he first succeeded in turning the tide of the Hundred Years’ War before achieving final victory in 1453 with the expulsion of the English from France. Under his rule, France increasingly transformed itself from a large fiefdom into a nation state.

N°. X.


Dame de qualite in gothic dress and with heart shaped Hennin

This superb head-dress, bordered with fleurs-de-lys, is worthy of the court of one of the most gallant of the French princes. The figure, however, if the lady stood erect, would be too much au naturel to please the taste of the present day.

In this reign, it was the fashion to exhibit clearly the proportions; and, with the same view, the modern riding-habit was invented, with skirts as long, but not so full, as those of our century.

The same mode prevailed, to some extent, with the men; and, in the following reign, we find the chronicler, Monstrelet *), complaining that they “wore dresses made so as to exhibit their form, after the fashion in which people were wont to dress monkeys, which was a very impudent and indecent thing.”

The men, however, were always less poetical than the women. At this moment our dress is the short Gothic garb, although no longer necessary for military purposes; while the flowing robes of the ladies are modifications of the classical costumes of ancient Greece and Italy.

Note:  The Merry Wives of Windsor by William Shakespeare.

*) Enguerrand de Monstrelet (c. 1390-1453) was a French chronicler. He is the author of the Chroniques de Monstrelet, written for the House of Luxembourg-Ligny and recording events from 1400 to 1444. As a chronicler, he is regarded as Jean Froissart’s successor. The Chroniques de Monstrelet takes the side of the Burgundians, at that time one of the two parties in the struggle for power in France. His account is about the Hundred Years’ War, which took place before his eyes.

Source: Beauty’s costume; a series of female figures in the dresses of all times & nations by Leitch Ritchie (1800–1865). London, Longman’s 1838.

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