Pirate Fashion: A Lesson in History

This is a guest post by Marie Sumner, who never grew out of playing pretend. In order to fund her trips to anime conventions, renaissance fairs, and other costume parties, she writes for Wholesale Halloween Costumes.

Pirates area very recognizable historical characters, often depicted with bandanas on their heads, peg-legs, eye patches. Pirate costumes are a staple in Halloween shops, and with Disney’s Pirate of the Caribbean franchise gaining popularity, the scurvy seafarers are in vogue more than ever.

But how much of our perception of pirates is based on reality? What did pirates actually look like? This post will endeavor to explore just that.

A Clarification

Pirates were real people, not fictional characters who lived for dressing up. They wore clothing that was convenient for their duties and that was available to them at the time. There is often not much difference in the dress of a pirate and the attire of a regular sailor of the same time period.

Ship’s Clothing

Manning a ship is tough work, and is not easy on clothing. There’s no place for fancy clothes in a place where stains and tears are a part of daily life and there is neither time, money, nor care for repairs. Generally, pirates were not overly concerned with their attire. It was simply not a practical concern.

Many pirates were unemployed sailors. They turned to piracy out of a need for work and payment. Some longed for the adventure of the sea. Others wanted freedom from regular society. Others just wanted the cash. Whatever the reason, many pirates had a background in seamanship. In the 1600s, the British Admiralty issued standard attire for their sailors, so this bled over into what pirates were accustomed to wearing and had access to. A pirate’s wardrobe often consisted of canvas doublets and breeches, which could withstand the rough and tumble of a ship better than other materials. They wore linen shirts and stockings for warmth, along with cotton waistcoats and drawers.

The Monmouth cap actually became regular attire because of an English law in the 1500s stipulating that everyone over the age of six was required to wear a wool hat on Sundays. This was put in place to stimulate the British wool trade. This was only enforced on the lower classes, to which many sailors belonged.

Pirates, of course, took pleasure in disobeying laws and getting away with it. They did this in their attire by disregarding the sumptuary laws regarding colors and materials allowed for people of different social classes. If a pirate could get his hands on fancy cloth of bright colors, he would wear it to flaunt his disrespect for the law- particularly laws intending to separate classes.

Ships have their own class system though. The clothing of the crew and the clothing of the captain often showed variance as well. Crew members needed tight fitting clothes that wouldn’t get in the way while climbing the rigging and performing other duties. Captains were not subject to such concerns and therefore could choose their clothing with more of an eye toward preference. Captains also got the first pick of any goods from overtaken ships, so they were often seen with more glamorous wear.

This is certainly why pirate captains in the media treasure their gold necklaces and fancy hats. They see them as hard earned treasure, a sign of status. They have earned the luxury to look nice and they will remind everyone who sees them of that fact.

No pirate’s life was ever predictable or consistent. The quality of clothing they wore was dependent on the success of their ventures. Of course, most clothing was stolen or bought with stolen money. So the nicer a pirate looked, the more successful you could guess they were.

As nice as the clothing may have been when the pirates acquired it though, it was subject to the activities of daily pirate life. This is why realistic pirate costumes often have tears and inconsistent coloring. That is just faithful to the times. Pirate ships didn’t come with laundry facilities.

Because of the variance of backgrounds in seamen, pirates’ wardrobes varied severely. Because many clothes were stolen, they were often ill-fitting. There was a popular British fabric called Motley, which was multi-colored and made of mixed threads. It often used scraps and was cheaper than higher quality fabrics. This made it a popular choice for seamen, and is the origin of the term “motley crew” when referring to pirates!

Pirates often had a taste for treasure, which is why the captains sought out flamboyant clothing. They wanted to set themselves apart from others. This is why pirates who could afford or acquire such goods sought gold jewelry, feathered caps, sashes and ribbons, and fancy boots. Many deckhands went barefoot, as it was convenient for tasks such as swabbing the deck.

Just like the British gentry sought to look refined with wigs, pirates did too. Many a captain procured a wig; some even had them specially made. These measures were their way of saying that they could be gentlemen too, without confining themselves to the restrictions of society.

What about other popular pirate costume accessories? The peg-leg? The eye patch? Well, these were mostly designed by artists and writers seeking to show the adventure and danger associated with pirating. It also adds to the romance of the role: a pirate must give up a part of himself in order to do what he loves.

Though actual piracy was not as romantic as some authors would have you believe, there were some seamen who lost limbs and eyes. Many of them were not able to continue their careers after such injuries. Some were, and they are the inspiration for the now stereotypical piratical accessories. From the media, you would think there was a pirate on every ship who had lost a vital body part. This simply wasn’t the case.

This article has mostly covered British pirates, but pirates in different times and from different regions had varied wardrobes, much as the normal citizenry did. The most important part of a pirate’s outfit was functionality. For crewman, functionality meant being able to perform their duties. For captains, it meant being able to demand respect and admiration.

For the modern pirate impersonator, functionality often means being able to be identified as a pirate. If you want to be historically accurate, you may have more fun dressing up as a Captain than a ragged crew member. But whatever choices you make, remember that pirates wardrobes were varied. So don’t be afraid to add your own flair to the ensemble.

For more information about pirates and their costumes, see the following websites.

http://www.royalnavalmuseum.org/info_sheets_piracy.htm

http://blog.aurorahistoryboutique.com/tag/pirate-costume/

Resources Consulted

http://www.navcal.com/navcal/ETPGClothing.htm

http://www.gentlemenoffortune.com/

http://www.cindyvallar.com/dress.html

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Colonial Dress

As with any era, colonial America brought its own flavor in many ways, including fashion.  It was reflective of the times and distinguished social status.

 

Drawing on inspiration from English style and trade, colonial fashion emerged.  For the wealthier American, purchasing readymade clothing staples was an option.  The lower class, on the other hand, crafted their own material, known as “lindsey-woolsey” which was a coarse fabric.  As with any culture, lighter clothing accommodated warmer weather while cooler climate was complimented with heavier attire.  Colonial fashion also had a range of garments for fancy occasions to daily wear.  Formal attire came to be known as “dress” clothing while every day apparel came to be known as “undress” clothing.  The following is a brief overview of colonial “dress”.

For colonial men, their look was pretty simple consisting of a shirt, a coat, breeches, and stockings.  The breeches were knee length and were a tight fit.  In addition, the outfit commonly added the finishing touches of a silk tie around the neck and a three-cornered, felt hat.  For the colonial elite, they could also get more elegant suits from England containing buttons and lace.

Colonial Shirt:

Colonial Shirt

When it comes to dress of colonial women, rest assured they looked grand in their gowns, but they also had a fair amount of layers.  Starting with the inner layer, there was an underskirt and stomacher, attached to the front of a bodice and skirt on the outer layer.  And we mustn’t fail to mention hoops and stays, which served as structured undergarments that supported the dress.  To top off the appearance was a lace neckerchief and apron.

As for colonial children, their style was very restrictive.  Both boys and girls wore stays to encourage good posture.  And basically, both genders wore miniature versions of adult outfits until the mid-1700s when children were permitted to dress more freely.  Frocks entered the scene for both sexes and boys transitioned to wearing pants.

Knee Breeches:

Knee Breeches

To wrap up colonial style, undergarments cannot be left out!  The primary undergarment for men was a knee length shirt, which was tucked in to the breeches.  Women’s undergarments were a bit more complicated, consisting of a calf length shirt known as a shift, hoops, and stays crafted of metal, wood, or whalebone.  For both genders, stockings of wool, cotton, linen, or lace were worn.

Colonial clothing definitely had its own style and gave rise to fashion trends that followed it.  To see our colonial clothing and other period attire, visit http://www.historicalclothingrealm.com/.

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Medieval Clothing – Color Says It All

When you think of the clothing of the Middle Ages, you probably envision fancy shirts and colorful dresses, richly ornamented and elaborately crafted.  While this was the case for a small percentage of people, do not be deceived!  Surprisingly, this was only the case for the upper class and for royalty.  The medieval commoner did not strut around in such attire, as dyes and fabrics were costly.  Thus, fabric and color did indeed play a significant role in defining the clothing and people of this famed historical period.

Medieval Dresses: http://www.historicalclothingrealm.com/women-s-clothing-dresses-and-gowns.html

In order to understand use of color in medieval clothing, it is of benefit first to understand the fabrics used.  The two main fabrics in prominence during the Middle Ages were wool and linen.  Wool was the more common material, as it was cheap and easy to come by.  British woo was highly prized over other types because of the sheep’s longer grazing and cooler climate, which, in turn, made for finer threads.  The longer and finer the threads, the easier it was to dye fabrics.  As dyes came at a high cost, rich colors were primarily worn by the wealthier classes while lower classes stuck to more natural colors, such as beige and brown.  Being resourceful, lower classes would also sometimes make inexpensive dyes from plants, thus adding green and yellow color to their clothing.

Medieval Tunic, Brown:

Medieval Tunic, Brown

For those who were not satisfied with mere “earthy” colors, a process called “fulling” was developed to offer more variety.  This took place in a fulling mill where fabric underwent a good beating, shrinking, and softening that enabled it to de dyed in vibrant colors, such as blue and red.  On a note of interest, red dye was made from an insect known as a kermes and this color was primarily seen on the clothes of the nobility.

In contrast to the simple clothing style and color of the lower class, the upper class spiced their garb up a bit with patterns and rich dyes. Due to the lighter fibers and finer texture, the fabrics of the upper class could be colored with ease.   The distinguishing colors of the wealthy class were red or scarlet, gold, and black.  In addition to linen and wool, silk was also found among the nobles and was often decorated with gold embroidery, indicating power, influence, and wealth.

Medieval Dress:

Medieval Dress

Each clothing color was not just something to gaze upon, but communicated a message of a person’s character or social status.  For example, pink was viewed as a strong color while blue was seen as a gentle color.  Red represented passion, power and riches while green signified envy, youth, and spring time.  Yellow was looked down on as poor and cowardly.  White symbolized purity while black was only worn for mourning by the nobility.  And the most expensive and exclusive color was purple, which was reserved strictly for the clergy and royalty.

As time passed, trading grew, enabling more people to afford rich fabrics and dyes.  To protect position and status, the ruling class quickly laid down the law, implementing strict laws about who could wear specific fabrics and colors.

To see our collection of medieval clothing, go to:  http://www.historicalclothingrealm.com/

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An Old Fashioned Wedding The Renaissance Way

“Love and marriage” is an age old theme that continues to blossom every day.  One of the most interesting things about this is how it comes to be- the first meeting, evolution of the relationship, and of course, the wedding!  Throughout history, weddings have changed in many ways, but several base aspects have also remained intact.  So, let’s take a brief moment to get an overview of one of these eras…the Renaissance wedding.

Renaissance Gowns: http://www.historicalclothingrealm.com/women-s-clothing-dresses-and-gowns.html

Renaissance bridal customs emerged from the leading of medieval traditions.  It was standard for marriage ceremonies to take place at the bride’s house while nobility got the royal treatment by having their ceremonies in castles.  As the Catholic Church rose to prominence during this period, there was a shift in location and weddings were held in a chapel or at the church door.  As was the case with many historical periods, Renaissance marriages were often arranged for the benefits of inheritance and property rights, which, in turn, could greatly boost the social status of either the bride or groom.  Also, women marrying older men was the norm of the day.  3/4 of Renaissance women were married before the age of 19 with grooms being 14 years older on average.

Renaissance Wedding Gown & Veil:

Renaissance Wedding Gown & Veil

During the Renaissance era, there were two parts to the wedding.  First, the soon-to-be bride and groom would exchange vows, kisses, and rings before a priest and after that, it was 40 days until the official ceremony transpired.  This waiting period could be prolonged even more depending on the season.  Wedding ceremonies were restricted during certain times such as Christmas and Easter.  Getting married also proved to be costly for the groom, as he was required to put down a deposit at the time of betrothal.  In the event that he did not go through with the wedding, he would pay four times the deposit amount.

In contrast to the freedom of today’s marriages, the Council of Westminster drafted marriage laws during the Renaissance period.  Some of these laws included such things as a man could not give away his daughter or female relative without a priestly blessing and making marriage a public event rather than a secret one.  And in the 16th century, the Council of Trent deemed it a requirement for a priest to perform the ceremony.  Separation was permissible, but there was no official divorce.

Anjou Gown:

Anjou Gown

A Renaissance wedding procession was grand, featuring minstrels playing music, knights and pages, and guests dressed in their finest and most colorful attire.  For a wedding of nobility, there were elaborately decorated and brightly colored robes and gowns.  Upper class wedding apparel was typically made of silk, which was forbidden to peasants in some areas.  All clothing was also commonly embroidered with gold or silver trim and lavishly ornamented.  Men usually wore ruffled collared shirts, padded jackets, hosiery, and square toed shoes.  As time went on, bridesmaids and groomsmen started to wear the same clothing as the bride and groom to trick those who desired to wish the wedding couple evil on the special day.

While the customs and laws of a Renaissance wedding and marriage may no longer be practiced, Renaissance wedding styles remain popular today.  To view our selection of Renaissance wedding attire and other period clothing, go to:  http://www.historicalclothingrealm.com/

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Celebrating Pirate Style

Booty, planks, eye patches, and parrots…all the makings of pirate culture!  If you just can’t seem to get enough of everything pirate related, you will be happy to know that there is an outlet to get your fix!  Every year across the United States, pirate festivals are in full swing, celebrating pirates in costume, entertainment, and environment.  So, here are a few of the noteworthy pirate festivals that are within reach.

Pirate Clothing & Weapons: http://www.historicalclothingrealm.com/shop-by-period-pirate.html

Purple Brocade Pirate Coat:

Purple Brocade Pirate Coat

One of the pirate-themed festivals occurs annually in Portland, Oregon, called Plunderathon.  It is presented by a group known as “the informal order of Pirates, Buccaneers, Scallywags, Privateers, and Grocery Store Clerks”.  The festival takes place in several locations around town and consists of a parade, bar crawl, and art display.  Participants dress up as pirates, with costumes ranging from cheap party store garb to high quality authentic and theatrical attire.  They create ships from shopping carts and walk around various areas of the city for as long as 10 hours.  The organizers of this event take it very seriously and set very strict rules, including no children allowed.  It is made clear that this festival is not “cute” or “fun”, but for true pirates.  Plunderathon always receives a great deal of local attention and has also caught the national eye over the years.

Another pirate festival can be found at the beginning of every year in Tampa, Florida and is known as the Gasparilla Pirate Festival.  It is held in honor of the apocryphal legend of Jose Gaspar, a mythical Spanish pirate captain who is believed to have lived in southwestern Florida.  Events of the festival include a Gasparilla parade, children’s parade, film festival, music festival, arts festival, and road race.  And of course, people do come in pirate gear and get in the spirit for the festivities.  This series of events is a huge deal for the whole city and many people get involved.  The average crowd for the main Gasparilla parade is around 300,000 people.  The first festival was held in 1904, though many changes have transpired between then and now.

Pirate Complete Costume:

Pirate Complete Costume

To top it off, the NorCal Pirate Festival, held in the San Francisco Bay area of California is the largest pirate gathering in the United States and features a cast of 500 actors, actresses, and musicians.  This event is comprised equally of Mardi Gras, living history, a state fair, and Pegged-leg eye-wearing-patch fan fest.  Guests will find four stages of continual entertainment, gourmet food, micro-brewed beers, awesome art, and ship to shore cannon battles.  There are also bound to be mermaids, British naval officers, famous pirate captains, and other characters roaming about this family friendly event.  Basically, think Renaissance faire for pirates meaning costumes and accessories are definitely allowed and encouraged.

With so much pirate love these days, pirate festivals extend far beyond the ones mentioned here.  They are indeed a popular spectacle and they will not be going away any time soon.  To get your hands on your own pirate gear, whether for festival or mere play, take a look at our collection of pirate clothing and accessories at:  http://www.historicalclothingrealm.com/

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The Kilt: Types And Trivia

When it comes to Scotland, there is no doubt that one of the primary staples of the land is the kilt.  This piece of clothing, which arguably looks like a skirt, has had a lasting impact on the world.  As a further exploration, take a look at the different styles and fun trivia about this plaid patterned apparel.

Checkout our kilt selection here: http://www.historicalclothingrealm.com/men-s-clothing-pants–tights–and-kilts.html

Basic Kilt styles:

  •  Traditional – Usually expensive and worn for formal occasions often.  This style uses “setting” as a pleating technique, meaning the folds in the garment allow a continuation of pattern all around.  These kilts also use a lot of material and come up a few inches above the hips.
  • Casual – Best for informal occasions.  This style is a slimmed down version of the traditional kilt, meaning less fabric, less pleating, less warmth, and a shorter length beginning right at the waist.  On the plus side, these kilts provide good mobility.
  • Fashion – Deviating from the traditional fabrics and plaid tartan patterns, these kilts are designed to look trendy and high profile.  Patterns, materials, and styles vary by designer
  • Utility – A kilt for the working man, sometimes with pockets.  Comfort and functionality are key here.
  • The Great Kilt – Called “Feileadh Mor”, this is worn primarily for historical reenactments and not intended for daily wear.  It is longer than the traditional kilt and complicated to put on.

Scottish Man’s Kilt:

Scottish Man's Kilt

And here are some random and interesting facts about kilts:

  •  Though the kilt is most commonly connected with Scotland, as well as sometimes Ireland and Wales, it is not exclusive to those places.  Other countries have also created their own version of this beloved garment, including Denmark, Japan, and Canada.
  • The kilt is more than just a funny looking garment.  It is also found among religious groups to celebrate their relationship with Scotland.
  • The kilt is used in marketing by some companies including whiskey brands Johnny Walker and Glemorangle, as well as American Express and Microsoft.  These companies have designed their own tartan pattern and use the “feel good” kilt association in their marketing.
  • Kilts have military status.  They are sometimes used as part of uniforms.  The “Black Watch”, which is still around today, was the first official regimental tartan.  The British Army and Commonwealth countries continue to wear kilts as part of their daily uniform.  However, kilts have been absent from being worn in combat since 1940.
  • The “MacBean”, worn by Alan Bean, is the only tartan to ever be worn on the moon.  This appeared on the Apollo 12 in November 1969.
  • The average kilt consists of around 8 yards of material, weighs about 4.5-5 pounds, and takes about 15 hours of unstoppable work to make.

Union Kilt:

Union Kilt

To see our full kilt collection and other Scottish garb, check out:  http://www.historicalclothingrealm.com/

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Renaissance Clothing: What’s In A Color?

In the world of fashion, apparel comes in many colors with varying shades.  It is easy to assume that a color is merely something pleasant for the eye to gaze upon, but in truth, colors are very revealing of different cultural aspects and can be quite significant. Such was the case of the colors of clothing worn during the Renaissance era.  Each garment color was important and had meaning and in some cases, was even governed by law.  By taking further examination into Renaissance clothing colors, one can gain interesting insights into this period’s way of life.

Renaissance gowns: http://www.historicalclothingrealm.com/women-s-clothing-dresses-and-gowns.html

Let’s start at the beginning, a very good place to start.  When looking at the order of the rainbow colors, the first one is red.  Have no doubt that if you were a member of high social status or royalty in the Renaissance period, red is the color you would be wearing.  Among these elite were members of English Parliament, French magistrates, and high profile, Italian government officials.  Red also bore religious symbols and was worn by church authorities to signify the blood of Christ, the fire of Pentecost, the martyrdom of Christ, and hellfire.

Florentine Gown:

Florentine Gown

Moving down the spectrum are the colors of orange and yellow.  Those who wore orange were most likely middle class peasants, who wanted to emulate the dress of the royals and upper class.  To achieve this effect, they dyed their attire orange, as well as other colors.  As for the color yellow, this was not necessarily a flattering color to be seen in.  In Italy, an edict required all prostitutes and harlots to wear this color and in the town of Venice, all Jews were commanded to sport a yellow circle on their clothing to distinguish them.

Completing the rainbow colors is green, blue, and purple, which also had representation.  Green was typically worn by young people, as it stood for youth, chastity, love, and joy.  Blue was reserved for English servants and unmarried, available women.  An indigo shade meant chastity while a turquoise shade represented jealousy.  Purple would sometimes be worn to symbolize royalty, as in ancient times.  However, the trend of purple as a high class color faded as time went on.

Campbell Renaissance Shirt:

Campbell Renaissance Shirt

In addition to the rainbow pallet, let’s not forget the colors of brown, black, and white.  For those of a religious nature, it was no question that brown would be their prime color, as it stood for modesty.  Beige symbolized poverty and dull brown was worn by the poor in England.  As is the custom today, the color, black, was worn to show one’s self in mourning, in a serious state, or as a sign of refinement for the wealthy.  And nothing has changed since Renaissance times in the signifying of white for purity.

After this color enlightenment, one can see that a color is more than just a color.  It was a reflection of societal views during the Renaissance era and remains so in modern times.  Though clothing color meanings may have changed, they are still something to consider when selecting a wardrobe.

For a full selection of our Renaissance clothing, go to:  http://www.historicalclothingrealm.com/

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Myth Buster: The Real Life of a Medieval Princess

To capture an accurate view of medieval princesses, forget all those fairy tales you read growing up.  Clear your mind of all the romantic ideas of castles, damsels in distress, and women who just sat around brushing their hair and trying to decide what to wear!  Not to burst the fantasy bubble here, but just keeping it real, medieval princesses were far from inactive and stress free.  As a matter of fact, there was a great deal of pressure thrust upon them as they were immersed in the world of politics and public scrutiny.  On the plus side, though, they did strut around in awesome dresses!

Medieval Dresses: http://www.historicalclothingrealm.com/women-s-clothing-dresses-and-gowns.html

Medieval princesses lived in a time where men had the voice while women were to remain in the background.  Thus, princesses were treated more so as property rather than royalty.  They were used by men as bait to attain power and make alliances.  These girls were promised to kings and subjected to arranged marriages, often before they were even to their teen years.  As a result, these girls were pulled away from their homes and given to their suitors throughout Europe.  When they left their homes, they usually never returned.

Medieval Princess Dress:

Medieval Princess Dress

As is the policy of many retail stores today where “all purchases are final”, marriages of the Middle Ages were also final.  Translation: divorce wasn’t an option.  This was because marriages were the ultimate political alliances and children of these unions reaped the benefit of being heirs to two kingdoms.  Therefore, it is no surprise that the primary purpose of a princess was to bear children, specifically males, to inherit the throne.  Female children were completely a lost cause though.  They were welcomed as booty to bargain for more power in future alliances.

So, where there any benefits of being a medieval princess?  To be honest, there were very few, but they did bask in materially privileged lives in court.  Their living conditions, food, and fashion were not so bad and any commoner would covet these things.  On the flip side, princesses were constantly staring at the face of adversity.  For example, the loyalty of those royal females who arrived from foreign kingdoms was often questioned.  Courts feared betrayal from these women, which made it difficult for them to maintain power or earn respect.  As if this wasn’t frustrating enough, princesses also had to deal with their husbands taking mistresses.  Infidelity was quite normal in medieval times, but only men were allowed to engage in this practice.  Due to this behavior, princesses were left to the task of being faithful to an unfaithful husband, while the public lost respect for the reigning couple because of it.

Princess of Pearl Dress:

Princess Of Pearl Dress

Well, now that the facts are laid out, all you girls out there can rest assured that you didn’t miss out on a glamorous life because you weren’t born a medieval princess.  The only thing you may have missed out on is the opportunity to wear elaborate dresses and other rich garments.  Fortunately, these apparel items are still accessible today without the other things attached to being a medieval princess.

To peruse our collection of medieval princess attire and other great medieval attire, go to:  http://www.historicalclothingrealm.com/

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Queen Victoria: What the History Books Leave Out About the Monarch of the Victorian Era

Her reputation greatly precedes her as the longest reigning female monarch in history, an esteemed leader of England, and the driving force behind the Victorian era, a period of style, sophistication, and innovation.  Hence is the legacy of Queen Victoria, who still remains a steady subject of interest today.  In addition to what you read in history books, here are some fun and lesser known facts about this captivating queen to enhance your enrichment of who exactly she was.

Victorian boots: http://www.historicalclothingrealm.com/women-s-clothing-women-s-footwear.html

 

  •  Victoria wasn’t her first name – As was the case with royalty of the day, they had several names.  In fact, the queen’s name was originally going to be Georgiana Charlotte Augusta Alexandrina Victoria (Imagine trying to fit all that on a bank card or check!).  However, her uncle decided to save her some writing and got rid of her fist three names and she was baptized simply as Alexandrina Victoria.  In her early years, she went by the name, Drina, but later shifted to simply Victoria by her own choosing.
  • She was not always serious and quite amused at many things – The common depiction of Queen Victoria in paintings and images is off a somber woman dressed in black.  In these pictures, she comes across as serious and void of cheer.  However, these depictions are from her later years, when she was depressed and grieving the death of her husband, Albert, who died of typhoid.  Despite this stage, she did suck the vigor out of life and was known to live it up!  She enjoyed dancing, drinking, playing the piano, playing charades, and was a huge patron of the arts, often summon troupes to her court to put on shows.  She was also known to crack jokes and have a keen sense of humor.

Victorian Buckle Strap Calf Boot:

Victorian Buckle Strap Calf Boot

  • She was a collector of nude art – Being a skilled artist and taking drawing lessons, Victoria had a passion for fine art.  In particular, she had a fondness for nude art and often gave it to her husband as gifts in celebration of special events.  Her husband, Albert, would also return the sentiment by adding to her collection of nude art as presents.  She commissioned different artists at various times to paint nude figures in locations in her home or places around town and also had nude statues built.
  • She survived multiple assassination attempts - Security has grown in lengths and bounds since the nineteenth century.  Had it been better in Victoria’s time, she may have been able to avoid her seven assassination attempts, most of these occurring while riding in open carriages.  With this in mind, it would be fair to deem Victoria as a true survivor.  Let’s disregard the fact that some of these attempts were fail proof including an attacker coming at her with an unloaded gun and another attacker who had a gun filled with mostly tobacco.  There were also more sever attacks involving gun shots being fired at her and being attacked by a brass-tipped walking stick on the head, causing a bruised face and a black eye.  All things considered, Victoria was extremely lucky!
  • She learned Hindustani – Victoria was a woman of many languages including German, French, and English.  In the 1870s when she acquired Indian servants, she picked up the Indian language of Hindustani to communicate with them.  She became quite accomplished in both the spoken and written language and thoroughly enjoyed it.

Victorian Boot:

Victorian Boot

As we examine these pieces of trivia about Queen Victoria, we are reminded that, even the greatest of royals, are merely humans at heart with fascinating and interesting attributes.  But rest assured that she still looked royal, sporting queenly garb and leading the fashions of the Victorian era, for which she is named.  To see our collection of Victorian era clothing and royal attire, go to:  http://www.historicalclothingrealm.com/

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King Arthur: Real or Mere Fantasy?

In the Hall of Fame of legendary figures, none compare to the great King Arthur.  This renowned character who pulled the sword, Excalibur, from the stone and became king, leading the Britains against the Saxon invaders in the 6th century, has stood the test of time and still remains a popular subject of interest.  Even though King Arthur and his knights are rooted in folklore and romantic tales, there has been much debate by ancient and modern historians alike, as to whether their existence was real.

Knights Clothing: http://www.historicalclothingrealm.com/shop-by-period-medieval.html

Though some poems and stories of Wales recounting King Arthur are documented at an earlier date, the work that put King Arthur on the map was Geoffrey of Monmouth’s “The History of the Kings of Britain” in 1136.  Monmouth lived a mere twenty miles from Caerleon, the place where Arthur set up court, in his work.  According to legend, Caerleon was actually Camelot.  So, Camelot may have existed, but what about King Arthur?  A few historical works, “History of the Britons” and “The Welsh Annals”, do indeed record Arthur as a historical figure in the late 5th century to the early 6th century who led the Britains against the invasion of the Anglo Saxons.  Other potential supporting evidence of Arthur’s existence is the 9th century work “HistoriaBritonum” which includes 12 battles the king fought.

King Arthur Costume:

King Arthur Costume

As time went on, more confirmation that Arthur could be real, surfaced.  There was the 10th century Annales Cambriae tying Arthur to the historic Battle of Mount Badon, as well as the Battle of Camlan, where Arthur was killed.  This account is often used to support the accuracy of the “HistoriaBritonum” and goes to support Arthur’s participation at the Battle of Badon.  Also, as the Arthurian legends continued to develop, elements of them appeared in Geoffrey of Monmouth’s work, that connected with history.

In addition to writings, sites associated with King Arthur have been excavated as possible proof of his existence.  These spots include South Cadbury Castle, Glastonbury Abbey (believed to be the site of the Isle of Avalon), and Tintagel Castle (Arthur’s birthplace).  Within the locations found, there are some parallel historical events that match the Arthurian legends.  However, while some pieces fit together, no concrete proof can be tracked.

King Arthur Helmet:

King Arthur Helmet

While there is some documentation that King Arthur could have been real, another line of historians argue that he is merely a character of legend and myth and did not exist.  As findings are sparse, it is a debate that will continue to go on forever and there is a good chance we will never know if there was a real King Arthur.  But regardless, his impact has given us many exciting stories of imagination and adventure!

To view our King Arthur attire, as well as other knightly offerings, go to:  http://www.historicalclothingrealm.com/

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