Photos courtesy of Hans Splinter, 2014
The tight fit enables the wearer to wear a mantle or other outer garment on top, such as was the (male) fashion in the 1360s and 1370s, without too much bulky fabric around the neck. The straps under the armpits enable the wearer to shift the mantle, from a position where the buttons are in front on the chest to or from one where they are on the right shoulder, while the hood stays in its proper place.This way of carrying your mantle was also fashionable in those days. Lastly, when worn without any outer garment on top, the armpit straps make this a very practical hood for use during outdoor activities since the hood-mantle can not be blown up into your face by the wind.
Photos courtesy of Isis Sturtewagen & Hans Splinter, 2014
This hood is in fact a prototype but still needs replacing by a new and better one. You know how these things go. For the prototype we (Isis helped me out) made a pattern with a seam in the neck. This made for an unwelcome bunching up of fabric in the front where the buttons and buttonholes are. Since then we have learned that a tight fitting hood can also be made with the usual pattern of two large pieces that only get augmented by two inset gores on the shoulders. The new pattern in cheap fabric has already been made.
Now let us go to the sources, because, what is this!? young men wearing tight fitting buttoned hoods? It seems that the reenactment (and academic?) community has long believed that buttoned hoods were something that only women wore. In their book 'Textiles and Clothing' on the textile finds from London the authors write that 'this type of closely fitting hood is typical of the late 14th century and is to be seen in many manuscript illuminations and sculptural figures. It was worn mainly by women ... '. Luckily for us they write about this hood because they found one (of a type without armpit-straps):
The book also mentions the find of part of a buttoned hood from Dordrecht in the Netherlands from c. 1400, but alas does not give a photo or drawing of it.
When we look into textual sources from that era, we find evidence of men wearing hoods with front closures ánd armpit-straps! First there are the purchases made in 1362 and 1363 for his young lordship of the towns of Schoonhoven and Gouda: Jan van Blois (nephew of Charles de Blois, but unlike the rest of his family resident in the Netherlands and fluent in Dutch):
- Item van 12 zulveren caproenhake 8 s.
- Item om lint van gaerne caproen mede te binden onder den arm 16 d.
- Item om rebant miins joncheren caproen onder den arm mede te binden 14 d.
- Item om lint caproene mede te binden 2 sc. 8 d.
This translates as:
- Item, of 12 silver hood hooks, 8 shillings.
- Item, of ribbon of yarn, to bind the hood with under the arm, 16 pennies.
- Item, of ribbon, to bind my young lords hood with under the arm, 14 pennies.
- Item, of ribbon to bind the hood with, 2 shillings 8 pennies.
Here we see that one of Jan's hoods was closed with silver hooks. The absence of buttons mentioned with hoods in the accounts does not mean these hoods were not buttoned. Buttons in this era were most of the time made of cloth. What we also encounter in these accounts is the fact that Jan's hoods were often bordered with silver or gold ribbon:
- Item 7 ellen zulverboerts op caproene te legghen, delle 10 s.
- ... 4 ellen goudboerts tot 2 caproenen, coste d'elle 6 s. 8 d.
This practice may explain why the find from London is missing the border of its mantle and face opening. The most valuable parts would have been cut off before it was discarded of.
Next to the household accounts of Jan van Blois we have the Limburger Chronicle as a source. Written in the German town Limburg an der Lahn in the late 14th century, it mentions for the year 1362:
Unde di junge menner drugen alle meistlichen gekneufte kogeln als die frauwen, unde di kogeln werten bi drissig jar, da vurgingen si.
This translates as:
And the young men all wore mostly buttoned hoods like the women, and these (type of) hoods were worn for thirty years, after this it (the fashion) went away.
From this we can conclude that the hood with button (or other front) closure was worn both by (young) men and women from c. 1360 to c. 1390. Lastly we arrive at what they looked like in art and where this art originates from so that it can tell us in what area these hoods were worn. We encounter them in England (Warwickshire and East Anglia), France (Ile de France), the Northwest of the Holy Roman Empire (Low Countries, Westphalia), the West of said empire (Alsace), the South-East of said empire (Württemberg, Thuringia, Bavaria), Switzerland and lastly Northern Italy (Lombardy, Tuscany). So a quite large part of Europe.
Top: Weepers from the effigy of Thomas Beauchamp (+1369) in Warwick
Bottom: Egerton Genesis, East Anglia, 1350-1375 - BL Ms. Egerton 1894
Left: Aristotles Politica and Oeconomica, 1376, Nicole Oresme, Paris - Brussels, Bibl Royale Albert Ier, 11201–02, Book I
Right three: Livres de Modus et Ratio, 1374-1379, Paris - Paris, BNF, Français 12399
Top left: Osnabrücker Altar, 1370-1380 - Wallraf Richartz-museum, Cologne
Top right: Missal of Arnold van Oreye, lord of Rummen, Meuse region, 1366 - Museum Meermanno Westreeniaum 10 A 14
Bottom left: Letter of indulgence from Herkenrode, 1363 - Provincial Library Limburg, Belgium
Bottom right: Herforder town council in the Herforder Stadtrechtsbuch, 1368-1376
Left: Stained glass in the church of Niederhaslach, Alsace, c. 1360
Right: Speculum Humanae Salvationis, Alsace, 1370-1380 - Paris, BNF, Latin 511
Top left: Johann Ehinger (+1368), Mayor of Ulm - Münster, Ulm
Top right: Weeper from the effigy of Gunter XXV von Schwarzburg (+1368) - Arnstadt, Liebfrauenkirch
Bottom left: Southern portal of the Dom of Augsburg, 1356-1376
Bottom right: Rudolf von Ems Weltchronik, South German, c. 1370 - München Bayerisches Staatsbibliothek Cod. Germ. 5
Effigy of the wife of Francois I (+ 1362/1363) and a weeper beneath said effigy - La Sarraz, Switzerland
Top left: Count Porro offers to Madonna, from chapel in Lentate sul Seveso, c. 1370 - Pinacoteca di Brera, Milan
Top right: Quilted textile from Florence, 1360-1400 - Victoria & Albert Museum, London, no. 1391-1904
Bottom: Guiron le Courtois, Lombardy, 1370-1380 - Paris, BNF, Nouvelle acquisition française 5243
In some of the above pictures it seems that no buttons or hooks can be seen because of a mantle going over top. But in case of the rightmost one of the Warwicks the open folded 'collar' does give a front closure away. And in case of the leftmost of the aldermen of Herford you can see buttons indicated beneath his chin if you look closely. The others I have included because the fact that they are so tight fitting means they must have had a front closure hiding underneath that mantle. Of course, if they had armpit-straps can not be said for sure.