From Battlefield to Court: The Invention of Fashion in the Fourteenth Century

  • Odile Blanc
Part of the The New Middle Ages book series (TNMA)


The fundamental transformations that influenced men’s way of dress in the fourteenth century established decisively the differences between the sexes. At the same time they inaugurated, in the Western history of fashion, modern ways of dressing by adopting short, fitted, and tailored1 elements as new criteria for elegance.The decades before and after 1400 are distinguished by such a diverse vestimentary landscape that it evoked a “Babel of costumes” for the great historian Jules Michelet. The period could equally be defined as “the age of the pourpoint,” since at this time the military garment served as an emblem of the martial function as well as a courtly mode.


Fifteenth Century Fourteenth Century Tres Rich MetropolItan Museum Charles Versus 
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  1. 1.
    For a recent point of view, see Stella Mary Newton, Fashion in the Age of the Black Prince (Woodbridge: Boydell Press, 1981); andGoogle Scholar
  2. Odile Blanc, Parades et Parures. L’invention du corps de mode à la fin du Moyen Age (Paris: Gallimard, 1997)Google Scholar
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    Tileman Ehlen von Wolfhagen, Limburger Chronik, ed. A. Wyss in the Monumenta Germanie Historiae (Scriptores qui vernacula lingua usi sunt) t.IV/ 1 (Hannover, 1883).Google Scholar
  5. 8.
    Paris BnF, ms Fr. 2813, Les Grandes Chroniques de France, Paris, ca. 1375–1379. See Anne D. Hedeman, The Royal Image. Illustrations of the Grandes Chroniques de France, 1214–1422 (Berkeley-Los Angeles-Oxford: University of California Press, 1991).Google Scholar
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    See R. Barthes, Le système de la mode (Paris: Le Seuil, 1967).Google Scholar
  7. 11.
    M. Thomas, L’Age d’or de l’enluminure (Paris: Vilo, 1983) (New York: George Brazilher, 1979). This work reproduces several of the images referred to here See also Charles Sterling, La peinture médiéval à Paris. 1300–1500 (Paris: Bibliothèque des arts, 1987); and the classicGoogle Scholar
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    J. Huizinga, L’automne du Moyen Age (1919; Pans: Payot, 1980), 30.Google Scholar
  10. 15.
    Reproduced in M. Laclotte and D. Thiébaut, L’Ecole d’Avignon (Pans: Flammarion, 1983), 29.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Désirée G. Koslin and Janet E. Snyder 2002

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  • Odile Blanc

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