What did the simple folk do for recreation in the Middle Ages?
And what did they wear?
Sports clothes and team uniforms had not been invented yet, so they made do with the fashions of the times for an afternoon of ice-skating, bearbaiting, tennis, ninepins, a lawn game with mallets that was either cricket or croquet, and blindman's bluff - a favorite with adults as well as children.
Indoors they indulged in a round of cards, backgammon, chess or dicing, although local authorities frowned on gambling.
In Portugal, the penalty for cheating in any game or playing with dishonest dice was death. By the fifteenth century the penalty was reduced to flogging, exile, or payment of a fine.
After years of confining tailored blouses women celebrated 1910 as the year of the neck - a plunging reaction to the previous decade's decorous necklines.
Kate Winslet as Rose in Titanic.
Evening Gowns circa 1910
The vixenish V was denounced by prudish preachers; doctors warned that the new low line would cause pneumonia.
But women loved the seductively low-cut bodices which flaunted bold shoulders, and went to great lengths to make sure their skin was smooth and creamy white. A favorite beauty treatment was to sit for hours with clothes soaked in lemon juice wrapped around their necks.
In 1920, London surgeon Sir James Cantlie warned that insufficient clothing about the neck and throat of women was causing an increase in goiter. As a less dire consequence, he asserted the underclothed would develop puffy necks. And in 1921, Virginia passed a bill forbidding women from displaying more than three inches of their throats.
Happy Hump Day!
It's Wow time once again. Here's my can't-wait-to-read selection:
A debut book I discovered in the latest issue of RT Book Reviews magazine.
A Novel of the Light Blade
Author: Kylie Griffin Genre: Fantasy Romance
Expected Pub Date: February 7, 2012
Annika, half-blood daughter of the Na’Reish King,
longs for more than her tormented life among her father’s people. Conceived in
hatred and bred as a tool of retribution, she’s gifted with a special talent
that can heal as well as destroy.
With the Na’Reish vastly outnumbering them, Kalan, a
Light Blade warrior, knows the future of humankind depends on him alone.
Incursions into human territory and raids for blood-slaves by the Na’Reish
Horde have increased. As Chosen-leader, he faces the task of stopping the
demons—and convincing the Council of aging Light Blade warriors that change is
necessary for survival.
When Annika learns Kalan is a prisoner in her father’s
dungeon, her dream of escape seems within reach. She agrees to free him in
exchange for his protection once they reach human territory. Now, marked for
death for helping him, Annika must learn to trust Kalan as they face not only
the perilous journey to the border but enemies within the Council—and discover
a shocking truth that could throw the human race into civil war…
The Middle Ages found both noble men and women in shoes of soft leather ornamented with jewels, gold and silver medallions, and embroidery.
By the 12th century, the upper classes wore shoes of silk and velvet, some ornamented with pearls - brought back to Europe in Crusader's pouches - which became the favorite accessory of Eleanor of Aquitaine. Shoes were blue, green, or even pink, but red was the favorite with both sexes.
Peasant footwear was much more down to earth, sometimes just a piece of
leather tied around the foot and gathered at the ankle, like a pouch.
15th century child's shoe
1300s Dutch leather shoe
In the 11th century French and Belgian peasants wore a wooden shoe called a sabot. When angry serfs trampled their lord's crops, a new word was born to mean "intentional destruction" of the lord's crops: sabotage.
By the 1300s, men took to poulaines or pointed shoes, inspired by the long, stuffed toes of chain mail.
In 1386, Austrian knights fighting in the Battle of Sempach were forced to break the points off their shoes before leaping from their horses and battling on the ground. Made of leather or sometimes velvet, poulaines could be 15 inches long or more. Toes were stuffed with hay and wool; points were shaped with whalebone.
The ultimate pointed shoe was the crackow (named for the Polish city), which was ridiculously long - up to 24 inches - but it was no joke. Introduced by the courtiers Isabella of France brought with her when she married Richard II or England, the crackow grew so popular that it prompted a new sumptuary law - the wealthier the man, the longer the toes of his shoes could be.
Like men's footwear, women's shoes also got pointer during the Middle Ages, and many took to soft, inner socklike liners to protect their feet from pinching.
Outdoors, both men and women wore loose pattens or galoches, thick wooden platforms attached to the feet with buckled straps. For a while these clunkers were worn indoors at the fashionable court of Burgundy.
Both sexes also liked loose-fitting boots made of leather that were trimmed with lace, and stylish men often sported thigh-high, deep-cuffed models complete with cowboy spurs.
After hours (and for Christmas gift-giving) the well-heeled switched to slippers, which were invented in 1479 and so named because they were easy to slip on and off.
Shoes worn by Anne Boleyn
Silken slipper mule
1600-1625 English Mule (house slippers)
The favorite colors were vermilion, purple and scarlet.