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History of fashion in the Middle Ages

Middle Ages - Lords and Ladies

History of fashion in the Middle Ages
The History of fashion during the Medieval era of the Middle Ages was dominated and highly influenced by the Kings and Queens of the era. Only the wealthy could dress in fashionable clothes. Sumptuary Laws  restricted ordinary people in their expenditure including money spent on clothes. Under the Sumptuary Laws passed by King Edward III only royalty were allowed to wear cloth of gold and purple silk.

Expensive veils were banned for lower class women. Only the wives or daughters of nobles were allowed to wear velvet, satin sable or ermine. Fashions changed with each king and queen. The head-dress worn by people during the Middle Ages immediately conveyed the rank of the person.

Timeline History of fashion in the Middle Ages
The following timeline charts the history of fashion through the Medieval era of the Middle Ages: 

1066-1087: The reign of King William the Conqueror. The Normans invaded England and introduced French fashion to the English court

1087-1100:
The reign of King William Rufus (son of William). William Rufus was believed to be a homosexual, he had no wife and did not influence fashion during his reign. But the first crusade started in 1095 and fine silks, satins, damasks, brocades, and velvets were imported from the Far East

1100-1135: The reign of King Henry I (William Rufus brother) married Good Queen Maude. The travels of the crusaders influenced fashions by their contact with the Eastern world and more luxurious fabrics. Culture was becoming more refined. The ideals of courtly love were introduced and clothes became more colorful by the use of expensive dyes. Turbans and silks from the East were imported

1135-1154: The reign of King Stephen (nephew of Henry I). He married Queen Matilda of Boulogne whose European clothing influenced fashion. The fashion for extravagant clothes continued at their court. There was a distinct emphasis on the sleeves of the garments

1154-1189: The reign of King Henry II (grandson of Henry I) the first Plantagenet King of England. He married Eleanor of Aquitaine who brought further refinement to the court and an appreciation for music and the arts. The fashion changed to more simpler clothes

1189-1199: The reign of King Richard I (third son of Henry II). Richard spent less than a year of his reign living in England but his bravery at the third crusade further promoted the ideals of courtly love and chivalry. Imports such as turbans and silks from the East were common. Printing (woodblock) of fabrics was adopted and buttons also arrived from the East

1199-1216: The reign of King John (fifth son of Henry II) saw extravagant fashion for men whist female fashions remained simple. Hose took the place of trousers

1216-1272: The reign of King Henry III (son of John) married Eleanor of Provence who influenced the English court with simple French fashion. Tight lacing was used on women's clothes to create a form fitting shape which, girdled at the hips, created a long-waisted appearance

1272-1307: The reign of King Edward I (son of Henry III) he married Eleanor of Castile and Marguerite of France. Spanish and French fashion influenced the English court. Gowns and sleeves were long and trailing

1307-1327: The reign of King Edward II (son of Edward I) famous for his 'friendship ' with Piers Gaveston. He married Isabella of France. The Great Famine of 1311-1315 tempered the extravagance of courtly fashion

1327-1377: The reign of King Edward III (son of Edward II) he married Philippa of Hainault. Prosperous reign and fashions became extravagant and sumptuous following victory in France and at the Battle of Crecy. King Edward III passed Sumptuary Laws in 1336, 1337 and 1363 to regulate the dress of various classes of the English people, promote English garments and to preserve class distinctions by means of costume, clothes and dress. This was tempered by the Black Death which reached England in 1347

1377-1399: The reign of King Richard II (grandson of Edward III, son of the Black Prince) married Anne of Bohemia, daughter of Charles IV, Holy Roman Emperor and Princess Isabella of Valois, daughter of Charles VI of France. Fashion was influenced by France and Spain

1399-1413: The reign of King Henry IV (grandson of Edward III, son of John of Gaunt) He married Mary de Bohun and Joanna of Navarre. Fashion was influenced by their countries

1413-1422: The reign of King Henry V (son of Henry IV) The English win victory at the Battle of Agincourt in 1415 and the country prospers and fashions become extravagant

1422-1461: The reign of King Henry VI (son of Henry V) The Medici family rises to prominence in Florence. Italian fashions influence the English court including the introduction of the ruff

1461-1483: The reign of King Edward IV ( youngest son of Edward III )

1483-1485: The reign of King Richard III (uncle of Edward V) which ended with the emergence of the Tudor dynasty

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