MALE COLLARS IN 13th CENTURY FASHION.

In the 13th century, different types of collars exist for male gowns. Rarely mentioned in period literature (besides mentioning the presence of an amigaut or brooch1), they are vastly more often represented on miniatures and statues. One can mainly define 5 different types of collars for the 13th century. There are however some particular cases (either due to a not explainable functioning or just too few remaining examples) who will be treated at the end of the paper. This study mainly focuses on western Europe (France, England, Holy Roman Empire). It is more cautious to treat a fashion phenomenon in excluding regions with a very different sense of fashion being Spain and Italy (Even if it is possible to find some common points). This study aims to classify, compile and describe the use of the different collar types you can find during the defined period (approx. between 1220 and 1280).

1 It can be found in courtly literature such as the “Roman de la Rose”.

The round collar:

Use: Cottes and surcottes.

The round collar seems to be the most common during the 13th century. It can be found on a vast number of cottes but not exclusively (sometimes also surcottes). Although being the easiest collar to make due to not needing any additional work, you however need to make a larger opening to make your head pass through. This collar, opposed to what one might think, is not the “peasant’s collar”. It can be found in every class; nobles2 included.

2For example the effigy of Adam le Chambellan, Lord of Villebon (†1264).

Photo credit : De Gueule et D’Argent

The collar with amigaut (with brooch):

Use: Cottes and Surcottes.

This collar is found exclusively on cottes, exception being the Holy Roman Empire3. The amigaut is a slit in the form of a, more or less big, “V”. This collar is popular in more or less comfortably-off classes as it is possible to show of your wealth with the brooch.

3It seems to be a fashion phenomenon for noblemen in the Holy Roman Empire to wear brooches on a surcot, it’s possibly without an amigaut with a decorative brooch.

Photo credit : De Gueule et D’Argent.

Straight collar with buttons:

Use: Cottes, Surcottes, Coats with organ piped sleeves.

This collar is the most represented collar since 1230 that uses buttons. Its assembly is pretty straight-forward. It consists of a simple straight amigaut (or narrow V amigaut) and a series of buttons sewn to the edge on one side, passing through corresponding buttonholes on the other. Used among bourgeoisie and nobility, it is commonly represented with 3 to 5 buttons exception being the organ sleeved coats but with more buttons. It is most often used on surcottes and some coats. There are a few sources for the use of buttons on cottes but they are by far not as numerous as on surcottes.

After testing, the amigaut needs to be a simple slit or a light triangle, otherwise it will create unwanted folds in the garment.

Photo credit : Charles Bricout

The diagonal collar with buttons:

Use: Cottes and Surcottes.

The diagonal collar is less represented than its straight counterpart. It is however not uncommon since 1230. The diagonal collar is the intermediary between the straight buttoned collar and the double triangle collar. Sometimes shown without its buttons (mainly in France) it caused the common belief it being a collar with one single button. The number of buttons seems to vary between 3 and 5 although the length seems to stay majorly the same. This collar seems to be more represented in the kingdoms of England and France than in the Holy Roman Empire. To this day there is only one source known, for a diagonal collar on a cotte (Mid-13th century England).

It is done similar as the straight buttoned collar but with the incline of a double triangle collar.

Photo credit : Charles Bricout

The double triangle collar:

Use: Coats and surcottes.

This collar is only represented on surcottes and coats (exception being the models with “organ pipe” sleeves) seems to be a typically 13th century fashion phenomenon4. It is more common on surcottes than on coats but is generally pretty common for the period. Again, it is a collar that is mainly worn by the nobility and bourgeoisie. It is the collar that appears the latest out of all collars mentioned in this paper (about mid-13th century) though it is nearly instantaneously commonly represented in art.

This collar being very uncommon in Living History, due to its complexity and mainly sticking with franco-english sources. The research and execution of the collar are a collaboration with the Genius Yannick Koch (in a picture down below). With his help and sources from the H.R.E. it was finally possible to understand and reconstruct this strange collar.

4This collar disappears in the early 14th century.

Photo credit : Charles Bricout

Exceptional Cases:

There are some exceptional collars which show up in only very few sources. Due to the lack of clarity and multitude of the sources they are mostly subject to interpretation. The clearest examples are the laced collars in the Morgan Bible and few other sources, the collar in V shape, the collar with a button on each shoulder as seen on the effigy of Jean de Trainel, some other collars on strange coats on some effigies and possibly the collar with one button on one single shoulder.

Due to so few sources, context and sometimes lack of detail, it is complicated to reconstruct these collars for Living History. It would often be necessary to begin large, often risky, extrapolations.

Conclusion :

All of this shows us that the collar was an important part of 13th century fashion. Because of their diversity and the deployment of wealth they allow, these collars seem to be highly valued by the western nobility and high bourgeoisie. There are certain regional particularities and collars that seem exceptional due to the lack of traces left. These are collars that are rarely seen in living history and which should be more spread (which is partly the goal of this paper).

Thanks to Yannick Koch for the collaboration on researchs for the double triangle collar and for the english translate.

Charles Bricout : 18/12/2020.

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