Here’s an epic list of medieval garments and clothes from the Middle Ages in no particular order, with a bonus list of 30 Early Modern articles at the end! This glossary of medieval clothing terms will be updated yearly as new items are brought to my attention.
While studying for a research paper about galley warfare I’ve come across a medley of interesting historical naval terms, all of which an author of realistic fantasy might find useful. The source for these terms is Gunpowder and Galleys: Changing Technology and Mediterranean Warfare at Sea in the Sixteenth Century by John Francis Guilmartin Jr, 1974, Great Britain, Cambridge University Press. Note: I have left out a host of terms for different cannons and seagoing vessels for these will be listed in upcoming posts. Here I define the meaning of: arraez, buenas boyas, presidio, azab, ciurmi, guerre de course, forzati, gente de cualidad, ghazi, scapoli, maryol, sipahi & timar.
From “deshaché” and “esteté” to “decressant” and “bretesse,” I imagine these heraldic terms from medieval coats of arms would be especially useful to the literary grimdark or litHEMA fantasy writer. Though these heraldic words were originally used by French-speaking nobility across Europe to describe the layout of coats of arms or the garnishes of achievements, it’s easy to recycle them to artistically augment today’s literary fiction. I’ve proven this by adding a fictional example to each definition, and while many of these words were originally used as adverbs, it’s easy to restylize them into adjectives, or, when full liberty’s permitted, even nouns. I believe these words would be especially useful in the grimdark or litHEMA genres, as they have the potential to add realism to medieval fantasy. They’d also be extremely useful in historical fiction, as they’d surely add a literary touch if used carefully in the right places (unlike I’ve done with my humorous examples LOL). Each word’s been patiently gleaned from A New Dictionary of Heraldry (1739).
Here’s yet another thing that proves medieval people were much more sophisticated than we give them credit for–a long list of materials used in clothing, bedding, napery and drapery (with pictures).
Welcome! Military words like danegeld and scutage have been reserved for an upcoming list about medieval laws and crimes. Similarly words like centenar, turcopole and mameluke, aside from a few favorite titles, have been saved for an upcoming list about medieval titles and peerages. Likewise for your patience words like portcullis,
Somewhere in a fantasy version of the Caribbean during the 1490s, a sword fight ensues twixt two exclamation- and interjection-loving roisterers.
See what kind of interesting and archaic words they use to express how they feel in the examples below. These are all real words used throughout history that work great in medieval fantasy and historical fiction.
I would not be surprised if this list goes through dozens of editions during my reading career. Right now it’s rather small but I can explain this. Thanks to reading auld literature I have recorded many more medieval and archaic adverbs into my Books of Words, but this here’s just a matter of me finding the time to list them on my blog. Eventually I will find the time to share them all. For now, I hope you find one you’ve never used before.
What is a springald? And how does it differ from a ballista? This is not a historical lesson with dates and events, but a mechanical lesson to explain the physical differences between these two magnificent ancient artillery weapons. Both of them worked so well they were still used throughout Middle
Palfrey – a compliable horse for casual riding, especially by women.
Mule, hinny – the offspring of a male donkey and a female horse, usually sterile and used as a beast of burden.
Dray horse, draft horse, cart horse, sled horse – a burly and formidable horse for pulling drays, carts, buggies, sleds, etc.
Rounsey, rouncey – an all-purpose horse, able to be trained for war if needed.
Courser – a swift or spirited horse, in any application.
Destrier – a medieval knight’s horse for battles or tourneys.
Warhorse – a big, mighty horse trained for war, whether it be modern or historical.
Mount, steed – a horse being ridden or is available for riding.
An estoc, used from the 14th to the 17th century, is an edgeless two-handed sword designed specifically for fighting against opponents who are wearing full suits of steel armour. Similar to a rondel dagger, the estoc is meant for finding its way into the niches of armor (armpits, neck, visor, the
Worn over a skirt of maille, a fauld is a piece of armor that sits under a breastplate, corresponding to a ‘culet’ which sits under the backplate on the other side (although in early medieval times, culets were rarely worn as maille over the arse was deemed ‘good enough’). A fauld consists of steel lames connected by strips of leather, albeit other less popular methods were sometimes used to connect them. The leather strips allow expansion and contraction, which is absolutely necessary because the fauld needs to contract when the wearer mounts a horse. Oftimes, additional ‘tassets’ were hinged to the bottom of faulds to hang over the ‘cuisses’ and provide additional protection for thighs.
A swordbreaker is a dagger or shortsword with deep notches on one side of the blade, used for catching and grappling opponents’ swords. They were most popular with the rise in rapier fighting during the Renaissance. Much like a shield, a swordbreaker is used in combination with a sword or other one-handed weapon.
Used historically by militia in the Franco-Flemish War of the 14th century, the goedendag is the combination of a club and a spear. It’s a medium-ranged, two-handed weapon. The pointy tip is useful for puncturing maille and gambeson, and the heavy base of the head also allows its user to perform blunt chops and