1400 Uppsala Gown

Extant Clothing of the Middle Ages

Assembled by by Cynthia du Pré Argent


This page is entirely compiled from books about clothing and jewelry, with commentary either by the authors, or by people who have sent me scans of their material, as noted.


It is intended as a seductive resource for folks interested in this time period to track down the few whole-garment examples we have. (Look!  See how keen these are?)  In some cases, the museums currently holding these pieces will have websites, published books or archeological findings, collection catalogs, libraries of images that they will duplicate for you (usually you have to be onsite to use the libraries) and so forth.


I plan to only have photos and descriptions of complete garments here, and ones generally earlier than 1500.  For cut and patterning of these garments, an excellent place to start is with Marc Carlson's pages on extant garments.  There are many more fragments which are less astonishing than these, and although not as flashy, very useful information can be gained by studying them.  A good place to start on those is the Museum of London series; see the listings in my Further Reading page.

Some of these garments are from church or synagogues, and while you may not want to recreate a cope, the fabrics are similar to or identical to those in use by the nobility at that time.  Use them as guides for buying fabric!

Keep in mind that interpretations may change as new material is discovered or conserved.  Happy Hunting!




Coat 11th century coat of Henry II, German
From Kohler, which gives no color information nor museum info.
coronation mantle Hungarian coronation mantle detail, c.1031
Ars Hungarica (Hungarian National Museum)

 <--click for larger detail of half-circle mantle

For this, and all the other Hungarian examples, I am indebted to Kolozsvari Arpad for the loan of his books.

sleeves Whole tunica. Not a fish.1130 or later Dalmatic sleeves, Kunsthistorische Museum, Vienna

Palermo, Royal workshop, between 1130 and 1154
Purple silk with trimmings in red silk, embroidered in gold, gold filigree, enamel, and pearls; H overall 141 cm

See a drawing of the whole garment.

Contributed by Dietmar.
See more photos at http://www.khm.at/nobiles/en/02/objects.html
 -- thanks to Bonnie Harvey who told me about these sites!

1133, Coronation mantle of the Holy Roman Emperor, Kunsthistorische Museum, Vienna
Red silk, embroidered in gold; gold filigree, enamel, precious stones, and pearls, showing a lion's battle with a camel.
W 342cm
The Cufic inscription in Arabic round the hem states that the robe was made in 1133/4 by Arab artists for King Roger II of Sicily. It came into the possession of the Emperor Friedrich II with the Sicilian inheritance. It is thought that he incorporated the robe into the Imperial treasure after his coronation in Rome in 1220.
contributed by Dietmar
See more photos at http://www.khm.at/nobiles/en/02/objects.html
1200s silver-gilt mantle clasp, peacock design
Hungarian National Museum Guide
crown, 1200s 1200s silver-gilt crown, St. Margaret (of Hungary?) "in the french style"
Hungarian National Museum Guide
Shoes 1220, Shoes of the Holy Roman Emperor.  Kunsthistorische Museum, Vienna
Sicily, beginning of the 13th century, altered in
Nu"rnberg between 1612 and 1619
Calf with red silk and gold edging; precious stones and pearls; L 25.5 cm and 26 cm each .  Like the gloves, these shoes were presumably made before 1220 for the Emperor Friedrich II.
contributed by Dietmar
gloves 1220, Gloves of the Holy Roman Emperor. Kunsthistorische Museum, Vienna

Sicily, beginning of the 13th century
Red silk, embroidered in gold; rubies, sapphires, pearls; enameled gold; L 15.5 cm and 17 cm respectively
The gloves were presumably made for the Emperor Friedrich II in the
royal workshop in Sicily before 1220, the year of his coronation.

contributed by Dietmar

sideless surcoat 1244  1244 sideless surcoat of "arabian brocade" belonging to Leonara of Aragon.  In the possession of the Monastery of Las Huelgas, near Burgos.

From Boucher.

Color details, from a book from Spain (I hope to have a color scan eventually.)  The overall color is medium blue with white patterns, and some horizontal medium green stripes.

chausuble 1250s Chasuble of St. Bernard in the Aachen Cathedral Treasury
Rhine-Meuse region 2nd half of the 12th century.
Pearl ornaments - Romanesque border on the collar. The dark blue silk fabric is from Baroque times.
Bernard of Clairvaux is said to have worn this chasuble at Aachen in the
year 1147, when he called the people to a crusade.
Contributed by Dietmar.



Eagle Dalmatic, South German, 1st half of 14th c.
Chinese purple damask, c. 1300; gold and silk embroidery

This is an excellent example of what "Royal Purple" really is -- a rather reddish purple.  Grape purple is not the same color at all!

Closeup of collar and sleeve.

Many thanks to Dietmar, who sent me this scan and info.

Vatican Treasury sakkos
A "Sakkos"from the 1300s.

Image from the Metropolitan Museum's Byzantine exhibit

-- do visit the website for close ups and views of the back, as well as extensive details about construction and who would have worn it.
surplice, 1300s 1300s surplice, French.  National Museum, Munich.

Note band of trim across chest, shoulders, and vertical in center.  Godets at side reinforced (?) with embroidered patches that match cuffs.
From Kohler, who notes that it is of "white linen, braided with blue and red." 

additional info from Nancy Stengel

1300-1320  Syon cope at the V & A Museum
4'8"w x 9'7"l (1.5m x 3m)  This picture is Very Poor color registration; click here for a natural-light picture by me.

Thought to be made near Coventry, based on the heraldic artwork.

Embroidery "opus Anglicanum" is worked in colored silk and gold and silver thread on linen ground.

contributed by Dietmar

pourpoint  1360-ish Pourpoint of Charles of Blois.  Lyon, Musee Historique des Tissues
Fashion in the Age of the Black Prince (source of the photo to the left) states: 
In what is in effect a padded doublet, its outer layer of splendid silk patterned with gold, the padding has been so disposed that it enlarges the chest, and, by the closeness of its fit to below the hips, it must have maintained a corset-like grip round the body below the waist.  Its sleeves are set onto the body part in the manner known as the grande assiette.
A contrasting opinion, from Paul Lalonde, on the H-costume list:
Now, I, like many other 14th century geeks, have memorized the photos, not to say the cut of the thing, but have been unable to adequately explain the way it looks quilted.
Mystery no more:  It's NOT.  The puffy, quilted, look is an artefact of conservation - some kind soul carefully stitched the unlined garment onto another fabric to give it support, causing the horizontal puffing up that makes it look quilted.  The elbows look funky for similar  reasons, as the arms are filled not with a human-shaped form, but with a pile of stuffing that neatly fills the available space.

A visitor to my web pages was interested in this aspect, and wrote to the museum to ask if the quilting was as a result of conservation; they wrote back:

"I had confirmation from the person who did the conservation that the pourpoint was originally quilted with cotton. Very cordially,  Vincent Cros, Bibliothèque Centre de Documentation, Musée des tissus et Musée des Arts décoratifs de Lyon"

Here's a closeup of the fabric.
Reconstruction of Uppsala Gown RECONSTRUCTION: The Uppsala Gown or The Golden Gown of Queen Margaret, appx 1400. (b.1353 -- d. 1412)
Picture sent to me by Bjarne Drews

There's contradictory stories for how old Margaret was when she wore this gown; some put it at 1363 or so, when she was 10, but apparently radio-carbon dating puts it in the range of 1403-39, when she was 50 to 59! Others say it may be a generation later, and not Margaret's.

I have moved the additional information about this gown to a new page.  See the page for commentary and examples of the reconstructed brocade pattern.

See also Marc Carlson's page about this gown.

I think this gown would not be this stiff after a few wearings. 

Original Uppsala Gown ORIGINAL: The Uppsala Gown or The Golden Gown of Queen Margaret, appx 1400. 

Thanks to the Historic Costume folks, who have pointed out that the alleged pattern digram in the book attributed to Carl Kohler and written in the 1870s, edited and republished in 1928 with a 1911 pattern of the gown, was disproved in 1985 by modern conservators.  (A good example of why you must take Victorian costume books with a lot of salt.)

The picture at left is the b&w photo from Kohler.  Marc listed the best reference for this gown, which is: Geijer, Agnes, Anne Marie Franzen and Margareta Nockert. Drottning Margaretas gyllene kjortel i Uppsala domkyrka.  Stockholm: Kingl. Vitterhets Historie och Antikvitets Akademien, 1994. [The Golden Gown of Queen Margareta in Uppsala Cathedral] Note that this is the more desirable later edition (first was in 1985).


1401 - 1550

(see Janet Arnold's first book for 1560s onwards)
Fifteenth century purses; cut velvet; leather, with iron clasps.  New York Metropolitan Museum.
From Boucher
swan jewel 1400s jewel; gold with white enamel.  The swan is held captive by a crown-shaped collar.
British Museum Souvenir Guide
1414 Coronation robe (Cappa Leonis)  Aachen Cathedral Treasury
contributed by Dietmar

Made in the 14th century or for the coronation of Sigismund in 1414.

Named after the legendary  consecrator of the Aachen cathedral, pope Leo III, the robe was probably worn during the coronation of Sigismund in 1414.

The reddish-brown velvet is covered with small white blossoms in squares which are framed by knit golden threads. The front part of the hem shows an embroidered border with quatrefoil alternately adorned with three dimensional little birds and heraldic shields. Along the lower hem of the robe there is a broad, embroidered border with flowers, stars, and the figures of prophets, together with a band carrying 100 hammerless silver bells which produce sounds by knocking each other.
Contributed by Dietmar.

brooch c.1450 Netherlandish brooch from 1450; enamel, gold, stones, pearls.  Vienna, Kunsthisoriches Museum.

From Boucher

Charles the bold Red satin jacket of Charles the Bold, 1477.  View from the back; front has buttons from neck to waist.  Berne, Historical Museum.

From Boucher

1520 The Guide to the Historical Exhibition of the Hungarian National Museum (11th-17th centuries) reports: 
The attire of Queen Mary and Louis II came in the possession of the Hungarian National Museum in 1928, from Mariazell, a place of pilgrimage.  The gown of the queen was made of Italian silk damask after the Burgundian fashion between 1520 and 1530.
Mary is also referred to as Archduchess of Austria, Queen of Hungary and Bohemia, Regent of the Netherlands (Mary of Hungary, by Jane deLongh, 1858) She was the grand-daughter of Mary of Burgundy.  See the cutting diagram & measurement article.

These scans are nearly identical colors to the Guide; moss green gown with light russet accents.  Here are closeups: Bodice - Skirt - Cuff.  Don't forget to click on the picture to the left for a larger view.  The belt looks as if it's made of two semi-circular sections, possibly hinged at the back.

News Flash!  Friends have been to the museum recently and report that the russet fabric and the green are damasks with metallic gold.

There are a larger number of clothing fragments than there are whole garments, but as this page is intended to inspire the casual visitor, I've not gone into those here.  I plan to shortly web a bunch of photos and drawings of fabric scraps.

If these interested you, you may be interested in my account of seeing 1400s fabric in person.
© 2000 Cynthia Virtue except as noted Email Author with comments
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