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My husbands 13th century under tunic – about my medieval inspiration

2015 - Racaire - my husbands 13th century tunic - 13th century under tunic - 12th century wedding clothingNew inspiration for our hobby can be quite difficult to find but some books really make a difference. Like the one in which I found the inspiration for my husbands new 13th century under tunic.

Since I started with this hobby, which was more then 10 years ago, I have been searching for interesting and inspiring books. But well, with every new book purchase for my book collection I always take a chance.

Every new book addition can either turn out as a new dust catcher or a big catch but you actually can never tell until you unwrap your package and take a look through all the pages. What shall I say – really good and inspiring books are rather rare but they exist and can provide a great amount of inspiration. I am definitely determined to never give up looking for them.

Recently I stumbled over a recently published museum catalogue which immediately attracted my attention. I was already in the process of packing all my books and stuff for my move to the states but I decided to take the risk and to order this book. Well, I am still very glad that I ordered this book. It soon became one of my most favorite books.

2015 - Racaire - my husbands 13th century tunic - 13th century under tunic - wedding clothingI can’t tell how happy I was to find out that the main focus of my new book was on extant fabrics from the 11th century, 12th century and 13th century. It also contained several good pictures and in-depth analysis of extant garments. It is really hard to find good books about fabrics and garments from this centuries and the book in my hands really nailed it.

…but before I praise this rather new addition to my book collection even more, I think you would like me to reveal my new treasure – the source for the inspiration for my husbands 13th century under tunic:

“Des Kaisers letzte Kleider”
(The emperors new clothes)

“Neue Forschungen zu den organischen Funden
aus den Herrschergräbern im Dom zu Speyer”
(New research concerning the organic finds of the
sovereign tombs in the cathedral of Speyer)

This book can be found here:
Amazon.com: Des Kaisers letzte Kleider
Amazon.de: Des Kaisers letzte Kleider

Content / chapters:

  1. Die Kleidung des 11. bis 13. Jahrhundert
    The clothing of the 11th to the 13th century
  2. Die Herrschergräber im Dom zu Speyer
    The sovereign tombs in the cathedral of Speyer
  3. Die Restaurierungsgeschichte der Textilien
    The history of the restoration of the textiles
  4. Textile Techniken des Mittelalters
    Textile techniques of the medieval age
  5. Textiltechnologie und Naturwissenschaft
    Textile technology and natural science
  6. Katalog
  7. Anhang

Unfortunately for some of you this book is written in German – as far as I know it is just available in German. But if you can read and understand German, it is definitely a great source of knowledge and inspiration. The very first chapter – The clothing of the 11th to the 13th century – already contains two very interesting sections.

The very first article about the clothing of the 11th to the 13th century by Heidi Blöcher contains some very valuable general information about the clothing in this time. Furthermore it also points out the differences between the different social classes (sovereigns, craftsmen & farmers and the deserving poor & beggars), contains a small section concerning female clothing and also gives period descriptive examples for this differences. Last but not least it also has a small section about the development of fashion in the 13th and 14th century.

And the second article written by Jan Keupp focuses on answering the question “Was macht den Kaiser zum Kaiser? Textilien als Instrument der Herrschaft” (What makes the emperor the emperor? Textiles as an instrument for ruling.) And this is just the very first chapter – well, I already told you, this is a very interesting book. I hope that I will find some more time to read more of it soon.

But now it’s definitely time to tell you more about the inspiration for my 13th century under tunic and where I found it. Browsing through the book a picture of a tunic caught my eye. It was the “Tunika Philipps von Schwaben, Speyer, Domschatz im Historischen Museum der Pfalz” (tunic of Philipp of Swabia, Speyer, cathedral treasury of the historical museum of the imperial palace/pfalz(?) ).

Though I already own a really good collection of books about medieval textiles, I have never seen a picture of a tunic like this in any of my other books. The simplicity of the cut of this 13th century tunic immediately attracted me and I immediately decided to try to make a tunic for my husband based on what I could see on this picture.

Unfortunately the tunica only appears in “The history of the restoration of the textiles” section of the book. I have to admit that I was quite disappointed that the book didn’t contain any further information about the tunic. But at least the picture showing the tunic – though it was rather small – revealed some important pattern details. However, the picture and the name of the tunic was definitely more than I had before – at least I had enough information to construct a pattern and to do some further research.

Based on the information that the king “Philipp von Schwaben” (Philip of Swabia) lived from 1177 to 1208 and that his tunic was part of his tomb, I decided to refer to this tunic as 13th century tunic. His time of death is so close to the turn of the 12th to the 13th century that I don’t really care if it actually is a 12th or 13th century tunic. But I knew that referring to the 13th century would make much more sense to many readers of my blog then referring to the “Romanesque” time period.

And well, I didn’t give up at this point and also went through some of my other books. Despite the fact that I was sure that I haven’t seen a picture of this tunic before, I thought that it was possible that I had overlooked some information about this tunic before. Finally I am very happy to tell that I really found some additional information about the “Tunika des König Philipp von Schwaben” in the book “Kleidung im Mittelalter” by Katrin Kania (a link to Amazon.com and here a link to Amazon.de: “Kleidung im Mittelalter”).

Sadly Katrin Kania doesn’t provide a picture of the tunic in her book for comparison but at least she gives some additional information about it and her description of the pattern sounds very similar to what I can see on the picture.

She dates the tunic to the 12th century and specifies the used textile as patterned silk fabric. Furthermore she gives the information that the tunic has a kind of gold braid along the sleeve cuffs. But she also states that it is not clear if this gold braid was actually part of the tunic or part of a pair of gloves which decayed completely.

But again I didn’t stop my search at this point and did my best to hunt down useful information about this tunic on the internet. Though I soon had to discover that there is not much information about this tunic to be found, I still made a rather great catch which contains great pictures of the tunic:

“Abschlussbericht” (final report) of the
“Historisches Museum der Pfalz Speyer”

At page 36 of this final report PDF you can see some really good pictures of the tunic. But please also check the other pages. They contain some pictures from the book like a picture of the shoes of “Kaiserin Gisela” on page 15, the hose of “Heinrich III” on page 16 and its fabric on page 17 as well as really great close up photos of some of the other textiles on the other pages.

Please don’t forget to save the PDF on your computer if you find it interesting. You never know how long such a document is available on the internet. [emember_protected not_for=3-4 do_not_show_restricted_msg=1]

…I am sorry, but this content is restricted to users with Advanced and Premium membership.

I hope you enjoyed my “short” book review about my new favorite book. Though the hunt for additional details concerning the source for my inspiration for my husbands new 13th century under tunic was quite difficult, I am glad that I didn’t give up. I hope you find the result of my search as interesting as I did. 😀

However, my husband loves his new hand-sewn 13th century under tunic. Or is it a 12th century under tunic? Well, we will never know until I find more information about it… At least I can say that it is a tunic in our favorite Romanesque clothing style! 😉 *lol*

Best regards Racaire

Further postings about my 13th century under tunic project can be found here: