lovetriangle: (Cherubino)
[personal profile] lovetriangle
This came up on the Ren Faire History Snobs tribe (a wonderful place to be a history snob, BTW).

My friend John, who is quite the history buff, has made an observation that:

"based purely on looking at period portraits. My contention is that the ENGLISH GENTRY and NOBILITY wore exclusively black hats from the beginning of Elizabeth’s reign until at least the mid 1590s. I say this only because I have never seen a portrait of an Englishman in any other color hat. Yes the Germans and Italians and French and Turks wore other colors, but not the English that I can see. It looks like in the early years they were velvet, then later were made of beaver. I would gladly be proven wrong by someone who can provide a definite period source."

He clarifies:
"I don’t claim to have any special insight, but I do own Icon and Dynasties have spent more than one day walking through the long gallery at Montecute (where the NPG displays their Elizabethan portraits) and was struck by the universally of the black hats. Most women don’t wear hats in portraits, but those that do (Lady Kytson comes to mind) also wear black. Of course, tournament costume is different (hence George Clifford’s white chapeau) and the rank and file military seem to wear a kind of tomato read flat cap. Charles Howard (who I assume was mostly bald) wears a white nightcap in several of his pictures, but has a black tall hat either on his head or on the table next to him. In the procession portrait of 1601 none of the men wear hats in the presence of the queen, but all have definite hat hair."

I am absolutely fascinated by this premise and would love to know if the Great LJ Oracle(tm) can prove him wrong!

As one of my favorite examples, here is Queen Mary and Lord Darnley in a lovely black hat with a salmon pink suit (droooooooooooool). 

And a lovely red chapeau, but of course, it's French (on Margarite of Valois)

And a red French Hood on an English woman, but out of the specified period (Mary Fitzalan, c1555)

Well, what say you, Great Oracle! Seen anything that qualifies?

Date: 2007-12-11 10:55 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Ok, just to add another woman's hat to the equation:
Death and the Lady
The lady is in one of those high crowned hats (which I don't like so I didn't make it for my recreation of the gown). But "Death" is wearing a buff or brown or perhaps reddish coloured hat!

As to men's hats. What about the white leather ones in Janet Arnold? Or will your questioner say they are not English??? I don't have JA to hand as I'm at work but she seems to think its ok to use some continental clothing to apply to English useage.

I found Kat Rowberd's Elizabethan Geek Costuming Review and checked out just the men's clothing.

Where there ARE hats worn they are either in monochrome image - so one cannot tell if they are black or not. Or they are black. However there are also a lot of portraits of men who are NOT wearing hats at all! And no sign of the hat in the portrait either - which is frustrating I have to say! Even the Blackfriars Procession (QEI with lots of courtiers around her for the wedding of one of her maid's) has lots of gentleman and NOT ONE has his hat on or with him.

Just in the Elizabethan Geek there are 60 images with Elizabethan Men in them. Out of those 60:
15 (25%) are in Monochrome - so we can't tell WHAT colour the hat is.
25 (41%) are in colour (with a couple of monochrome images) and have hats on and these are definitely black.
1 (2%) colour portrait has a hat which is NOT black.
18 (30%) are of men (in colour or not in colour) with NO hat on!
1 (2%) portrait has some hats in black and some not!

Though we have the majority with Black Hats, a close second is NO hat and close behind that are images where the colour is not clear at all!

I think it is dangerous to categorically say that x colour of n is always worn and not any other colour! There will always be at least ONE exception to that rule!

Another example is ruffs. The portraits invariably show them white. But we have written evidence of them in yellow and blue! But as re-enactors, because the visual evidence shows them always as white, that’s what we wear!

November 2012

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