The Knight and the Lion

Yvain's fine clothes and handsome appearance certainly make a good impression on Laudine's people. How did people dress in those days?

Since knights spent so much time wearing armour, they were glad to take the chance sometimes to dress in softer linen material and brighter colours. Light blue, red and green were fashionable colours. They wore tunics, often with a pattern at the sleeves and hem. They might wear another looser garment over that, belted at the waist, as well as a pouch, gold jewellery such as chains or rings, and a cloak fastened with a brooch or tied at the neck. For the rich, cloaks could be lined and trimmed with fur. Frenchmen in the 12th Century sometimes wore gold thread in their beards.

Ladies also wore cloaks, over long gowns, with girdles decorated with embroidery or jewels at the waist.

14th Century clothes: knights and ladies relaxing

These knights and ladies are wearing the fashionable clothes of the 14th Century. Fashions did not change as quickly as they do today, but they did change, particularly among the rich. Those who were not wealthy could not afford to follow fashions but wore cheap clothes, comfortable for working in.

Working clothes

In the 14th Century, hoods and wide decorated sleeves with jagged edges came into fashion. The sleeves were often buttoned on (buttons came to Europe from China in the 13th Century) and the buttons were part of the decoration. Men's hose (a bit like tights) sometimes had legs of different colours. These parti-coloured or 'motley' clothes continued to be worn by jesters. Shoes were tight and pointy and long - so long in fact that they had to be fastened to the knee with little chains. There was even a law saying exactly what length of shoe was allowed depending on a person's position in society: a prince could have shoes 60 cm long.

Women coiled their hair and wore it in nets, but as time passed head-dresses grew more elaborate. There was the heart-shaped head-dress

as well the tall pointed 'hennin'

By the 15th Century, men were showing their stockinged legs almost to the waist in short tunics and jackets, while women's dresses were low cut with a high waist.

French courtiers in the 15th Century

Back to Main Text