Friday, July 11, 2014

Hose: 1350-1500

The drunkenness of Noah, Weltchronik (ÖNB 2823, fol. 21r), 1463. The mocking of Noah, Probably 14th c.

It is well to know that in the second half of the 14th century century and the 15th century, there were three main types of hose, each designed to be supported by a different default method.

Short Hose: supported by a garter below the knee or similar method. Most often worn by women, but sometimes by men, and designed to be worn with a long garment.

Single point hose: longer hose supported from a single point on each leg.  This is reliably decent only for medium length outer garments hemmed not far above the knee. A lot of hems during that period were that long, even for the male fashionable elite. But get much shorter and you start flashing your breeches when you bend, turn around, or sit down.

Now, breeches are shown in medieval art, but usually not in situations that gentlemen would want to normally be seen in in public: agricultural laborers laboring sweatily, bakers feeding an oven, prisoners stripped for execution, executioners stripping down to execute victims with less encumbrance, people caught in the middle of changing, people caught in flagrante delicto. Or maybe when young gentlemen practice sword and buckler, but perhaps they don't do that in the street.

This brings us to:

Multi-point hose: cut high enough to lace up at multiple points near an approximation of the natural waist. The Charles de Blois pourpoint or doublet, which may or may not have been made  before his death in 1364, attaches to hose in seven places, with two lace ends at each.

At some point two legs of this kind of hose are sewn together into a single garment. This doesn't change what what holds it up needs to do much.

What holds up the hose? Short hose can be held up by a garter, and single point hose can be rolled down in hot weather to be supported by a garter as well.

Single point hose often look like they are simply laced to breeches, but the reality was more complicated. It appears that when this was the case there was a substantial belt in the casing of the breeches. Below, a woodcut of the martyrdom of St. Sebastian from 1410-1420 clearly shows a belt.

Similarly, belts can be seen in the breech casings of the two thieves of the Parement of Narbonne. Still earlier, we see a broad green belt within Saul's breeches casing as he eases nature in the Morgan Bible.

For multi-point hose, the optimal support system seems to have been lacing it to a doublet.  When this kind of hose is laced up bending or sitting puts a lot of stress on the back points, and tends to drag down a belt in back if it is the only support for the hose.

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