The straw hat

The straw hat is perhaps the most beloved item in my medieval wardrobe. Here I’ve gathered some of the illustrations I’ve found showing the use of them. There are a lot more out there but I decided to only feature a few where I could pinpoint the original and dating to a trustable source. All the images should link to their original source at The Morgan Library/British Library/etc when you click on them.  My general observation is that this is an item mainly shown worn by people working out in the fields harvesting, like in calendars showing the months of June and July. Both men and women working in the fields are shown in straw hats, with or without a cap or veil underneath.

Some of the earliest illustrations I’ve seen are from the 1240s, and they pop up on a rather regular basis until 1500(which is where I stopped searching). Some straw hats, like the very distinctive Maciejowski hats, didn’t pop up all throughout the medieval period unlike like some of the more generic round and broad-brimmed designs; so when choosing a particular shape I’d recommend doing more research. Note that the “yellow pointed hat” pilleus cornutus -the medieval version of the jewish Kippah, can sometimes be mistaken for a straw hat in illustrations. And if anyone have any written references to straw hats I’d love to know!

Codex Manesse, Zurich, ca. 1300-1340.
the Maciejowski Bible, France – Paris, 1240s.
Meditatione de la vita di Nostro Signore, Italie (région siennoise), BnF, département des Manuscrits,115, fol. 8v. Paris, 1330-1340.
Tacuinum sanitatis, by Ibn Butlân, Italy, 1390-1400.
Roundel of clear glass with painted details and yellow (silver) stain depicting a man and a woman haymaking in a field and illustrating the month of July. England, ca. 1450-1475
illuminated Books of Hours, in Latin and French, northern France (Paris and Rouen), 1430-1510
Martyrologe Obituaire de Saint Germain des Prés, Paris, 1250-1290.
July, Book of Hours, France, ca. 1475.
S. (Bruges)Petrus de Crescentiis, Netherlands, c.1478 – c.1480.
Kempton, Germany, extant straw hat, late 15th century/early 16th century.
Lengberg Castle, Germany, extant straw hat, 15th century.

If you’d like to see more examples I recommend checking out this lovely page full of links to images of medieval straw hats: http://www.larsdatter.com/strawhats.htm

For a great and thorough walk through of a medieval straw hat reconstruction, check out this fantastic blog: https://wh1350.at/en/tutorials-en-all/late-medieval-straw-hats-and-a-reconstruction-attempt/ 

Hope you all have a happy reenactment summer!

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