Jewels, Hair and Accessories of the Middle Ages
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Bibliography Bartlett, Robert. “Symbolic Meanings of Hair in the Middle Ages.” Transactions of the Royal Historical Society 4 (1994): 43-60. Courtais, Georgine de. Women’s Headdress & Hairstyles in England from AD 600 to the present day. London: The Anchor Press LTD., 1973. Campbell, Marian.  Medieval Jewelry in Europe 1100-1500. London:V &A Publishing.,2009. 33 Heath, Jennifer. […]

This elaborate bishop's ring has the typical combination of a gold setting with a single, large stone, in this case malachite. The gold is decorated with openwork eagles, animal heads, and floral elements. The malachite is probably meant to resemble "toadstone," a green stone said to be found on the head of a toad and believed to have healing qualities. These rings had to be large as bishops normally wore them over gloves on the third finger of the right hand.

Lapidary- a text that investigates and chronicles the physical, magical and medicinal property of a stone. Pliny the Elder’s Natural History was admired in the Middle Ages for its compendium of minerals and metals. Marbodus, Bishop of Rennes, wrote one of the most famous lapidaries, Liper Lapidum Book of Stones, in 1067-81. In this book he […]

Why is hair important? 1. hair can be like clothing, malleable, changeable with dye, styling, accessories, yet it grows from the body and is more organic. 2. hair surrounds the face, the most communicatively diverse area of the body, ie its the most socially visible. 3. In come cases gives biological information In the Middle Ages: […]

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After the return of the Crusaders, small pouches began to be attached to girdles called amonieres sarrasimoises (Saracen almsbags.) These bags were meant for carrying money and bits of food to distribute to the poor. Purses have existed since ancient Greek times, but the actual archeological record is rare. Before the Crusades, small purses have […]

This article discusses Renaissance and Baroque jewelry, but her ideas are useful when thinking of medieval jewelry. Rodini’s main points can be summarized: – though small in size jewelry signified the relationship between the wearer and society – During the Renaissance the world was considered to be infused with signs, and it was a necessary […]

St. Gregory the Great, Moralia in Job, (c.1111-15) Citeaux

Men were put in a conundrum during the Middle Ages. If they grew their hair too long, they were put down for looking like women, but  a series of edicts given in the years 1187-1220 aimed to seperate secular clothing styles from that of the clergy, who were now required to be unmarried and celibate. […]

Anglo-Saxon (600 - 1154): Simple Veils, Head-tires, Combs, and Pin

During this time the head was always covered with no hair showing, although it was usually braided elaborately underneath the veil. Veils- made of light-weight fabric like silk, cambric, or fine linen. They were usually rectangular lengths with a hole cut in the middle for putting the head through. Head-tires- circlets of gold that could […]

Purse Cover From Burial at Sutton Hoo

Purse Cover From Burial at Sutton Hoo The burial site of Sutton Hoo is one the most complete and rich archeological finds of this era. The richness of the burial ship has drawn comparisons to the world described in the epic Beowulf.

Rowel Spur (c. 1400); Spanish, Catalan; Copper, gold, and enamel; L. 7 1/4 in. (18.4 cm)

During the Middle Ages jewelry was connected intimately to showing social stature and rank. In the Early Middle Ages, the influence of massive chains from the Byzantine Empire combined with the Roman trend for beautiful intricate glass beads and metal disks. For women, their necklaces would have been covered up by the couvre-chef. Still, they […]