Wool Or Death

Have you ever wondered what your esteemed peers are wearing in the Pendragon world? It's not silk or gold. Then what should you be dressing yourself in? Look no further than this helpful overview describing the basics of fashion during the early years of King Arthur's glorious reign. Spiced by a bit of tongue-in-cheek humour, Wool or Death guides you through common details about clothing dominating this season in Logres, because no one really cares what hideous fashions the French keep trying to export to our glorious kingdom and we all know the Saxons and Picts wear dirt and sneers, but very little else.

Pictorial samples decorate each section for your viewing pleasure and several helpful resources are linked for further discoveries into the treasury of fashion from time when men and women both pranced around in belted dresses.

Note: This page is under heavy development. Please do not make edits without talking to Heulwen and Eirian. :)

Clothing

Clothing in the Boy King period is a valuable asset. Few people, even nobles, can afford several complete garments. Creating a fresh set of clothes is time-intensive and expensive. All fabric must be spun and stitched into a garment by household women. Garments will be cut down for younger relatives or sold to secondhand markets.

However, clothing is so durable it is willed to family members. Wealthy households gift their clothing to their favoured servants, including ladies-in-waiting, or sell them to the fripperer (used clothes seller).

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Jewelry and Accessories

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Jewelry visually expresses rank, status, and wealth in a glittering language of power. In Logres, high nobility are the only people wealthy enough to afford precious gemstones and fine metals. Great lords and ladies sometimes bestow a ring or brooch as a potent token of their favour upon a vassal who is fortunate in all senses of the word.

Both Christian churches frown upon shows of ostentatious wealth and anyone dripping in jewels is a convenient target for bandits, thieves, and jealous relatives angered where the manor's annual income went.

Common Jewelry

The average person owns few ornaments and their design can be quite crude. Brooches and religious tokens, like prayer beads, are among the most common pieces of jewelry in the period. Jewel-cutting has not come into existence, though use of paste gems made from glass or enamel add colour to designs.

Brooches serve as a multipurpose fastener for cloaks, mantles, and even religious badges. They tend to be round and solid and made of iron or copper worked with intricate natural reliefs, geometric shapes or crosses. Rarely tin or pewter is used. Wedding brooches are a traditional gift from a man to his betrothed, replacing the function of wedding rings today. These styles often feature elaborate intertwined workmanship and represent modesty, chastity, and loyalty to her husband.

Beaded necklaces constructed from wood, metal or semiprecious beads of uneven size are considered a treasured heirloom. Pendants are highly unusual.

Prayer beads serve a functional purpose for prayers, as the wooden beads assist with counting psalms and prayers. For commoners and nobles, these beads are often a string of knots or cords made from readily available materials including boxwood, clay, glass, bone, and even shell or even rough rock crystal.

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What We're Wearing

Common Colours

  • Natural dyes
  • Brown from bark and nuts
  • Blue from woad
  • Green (turmeric, or maybe even weld)
  • Brown (nut shells)
  • Combinations of colours (weld + woad = robin hood’s green)
  • Yellow, often produced with onion skins and marigold, chamomile. However, yellow is not popular
  • Some light violet hues
  • Black: Favoured by Danes and Scandinavians. Typically created by lichens and iron oxide.

Rare Colours

  • Dark purple and crimson, as these both came from the same plant we have not yet discovered
  • Anything very bright or vivid
  • Red - dyed from madder root which was not collected on the regular

Method

Dyes were usually set in wool after it was fulled (fulling is the process of cleansing and thickening wool via use of urine; fuller’s earth has not yet been discovered). This involved soaking the wool in urine and then pounding it out to thicken and clean the wool; this would whiten the fabric and also prepare it for dyes to set better. Once pounded out, the wool would be stretched out on tenters (big square frames with hooks around the edges) for drying. Once dried, the wool could then be collected and separated into vats for dyeing. There are countless types of dye and processes for dyeing wool, such that I do not feel it necessary to describe all of them. People should be able to pick and choose if they even care to.


What We're Only Dreaming About

Lovers.jpg Some fabrics simply do not exist as options for characters due to the exorbitant cost of importing them to Logres or the lack of technology to create them. Notably silk is out of reach to anyone short of King Arthur. Ownership of these goods requires staff approval.
Fabric Information Cost
Cotton Hasn’t reached Europe in this period. N/A
Fur Exotic or important furs are restricted to high nobility wealthy enough to import them. No ermine, marten/sable, mink, etc. ££££+
Cloth of silver or gold You cannot possibly afford metal wires woven through silk fibre. ££££
Lawn A lightweight, nearly sheer cloth produced almost exclusively in northern France. ££££
Satin Prohibited except to high nobility and royalty. £££
Silk A closely-guarded secret of Byzantium, silk is ghastly expensive and considered a gift for monarchs. Even small favours are considered kingly presents. £££££
Velvet Prohibited except to high nobility and royalty. ££££

Arms and Armor

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Mail Hauberks

The main knightly armor of the Boy King era is the chainmail hauberk: a long-sleeved, thigh-length shirt of linked rings. The long shirt is split in front and back to allow the wearer to ride a horse. The time and effort required to create, repair, and maintain mail armor means that only knights and the richest of Saxon, Pict, or Irish warriors can afford it.

Reinforced mail also includes mail chausses (leggings) tied onto a belt like garters, mittens with leather palms, and a coif (hood) to protect the head (reinforced chainmail in the game system).

There are cheaper shirts of mail as well as the full hauberk (chainmail in the game system). These are usually short-sleeved or sleeveless, and hang only to the waist. It may also be more loosely woven, with each ring only linking up to two or three adjacent rings, rather than five to eight in better suits of chainmail.

Undertunics

Beneath the chainmail, knights wear a layer of resilient leather and heavy, padded cloth to protect them from chafing and to spread the weight of the chainmail out. If forced to into combat without their chainmail, this underarmor counts as padded armor in the game system.

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