Jewels, Hair and Accessories of the Middle Ages
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How should a Man Wear his Hair? The 11th century Paradox

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. Short hair indicated that you were a clergy man, and therefore celibate. Long hair was denounced by many though for being impractical, vain like a woman, and foppish. Long hair was considered a danger for a knight, and its maintenance made men vain. The main point is that at this time boundaries should not be crossed, be it clergy/layman or man/women, or bourgeois/aristocrat.  The hallmarks of aristocratic clothing was its attenuation and emphasis on length, yet a knight’s purpose was to fight, and long hair undermined that purpose.  Hairstyle represented your purpose as a man, yet either way, short or long, you crossed a boundary if you were not a clergyman.

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

The knight above could not have functioned as a knight. His long hair, trailing sleeves, and curled pointed shoes all would have undermined his purpose. The fashion of times though prevailed, with much complaint from older men who critiqued the younger, secular men’s effeminacy.

Scott, Margaret. Medieval Dress & Fashion. London: British Library, 2007, (pg.40-45)

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