--- In Authentic_SCA@yahoogroups.com
, Jane Stockton
> I've just been wondering about how members of the medieval and
> guilds/companies identified themselves?
> Obviously members of the Livery Companies of London wore livery
> anyone know what form this took? Badges, clothing (if clothing,
> Also, while I've found plenty of listed of the Guilds and
> haven't been able to find any indication of what the livery
> for the London Companies?
I'm away from my library at the moment, so anything I say is off the top of my head. :) Also, what knowledge I have about this is basically from 16th century England.
The word "livery" originally meant, if I remember correctly, any material goods someone was given as part of their regular "wages". Thus one's daily bread and ale, special clothing, etc. collectively were one's "livery."
As times evolved, "livery" came to mean specifically the clothing one was given to wear as a "uniform" or sign of one's allegiance or pledged service to a lord or other superior. Great lords could give either a badge (the Percys' was a silver crescent IIRC) or an entire suit of clothes to their men-at-arms, for instance. (The Earl of Essex got in trouble with Queen Elizabethan for, among other things, parading around in France, where he'd supposedly gone to help the Huguenots, with a large force of men all dressed in BRIGHT ORANGE. Ick!) Anyone with servants could, and often did, dress their servants in a "uniform" of particular style and colors.
As a master or lord, one could choose one's "livery colors" with about the same freedom as one could choose a personal badge -- that is, it wasn't heavily regulated by anyone, and you could choose to use a "family" badge if you liked (such as the swan rousant of the Careys) or you could choose to adopt one for yourself that didn't have any particular affiliations. In the same way, it was _often_ true that livery colors were chosen from the major colors on one's arms, but not necessarily. The arms of the Devereux (the Earl of Essex's family), for instance, were red and white, and most members of his family seem to have dressed their servants in those colors. OTOH, Sir Henry Carey, Baron Hunsdon, bore arms that were black and white, but his livery colors were blue and gold. Queen Elizabeth's arms, as an extreme example, were of course the arms of England, red, blue and gold; but her servants wore the Tudor family livery colors, green and white. (King James I/VI, when he ascended the English throne, replaced these with the red and gold royal livery still used today.)
But this all applies to servants' or retainers' livery. I know much less about the "livery" of the Livery Companies, but I'm not at all sure how closely tied the two sets of customs are, even though the same word is used to describe them.
I'm under the impression that the "livery" of the Livery Companies is not any sort of everyday clothing, but rather a special ceremonial robe that's used at Guild meetings and on official occasions (banquets, parades, etc.) This would fit with the meaning of the word, but my vague recollections of livery robes are that they don't seem to be of any sort of symbolic color -- IIRC, all the ones I know about are red, regardless of which guild. The Master(s) or Warden(s) of the Guild would have chains or collars of office, or some other official symbol like the Embroiderers' Guild crown, but those were also ceremonial. I don't get the impression that guild members wore anything in particular in their everyday clothing that proclaimed their guild affiliation. I would suspect that a wealthy Master in a guild might well wear a signet ring with the Guild's badge on it, oer perhaps a metal badge as a pin or pendant, or perhaps on a purse or other small accessory, but that is just a guess.
I do remember seeing some materials on the London guilds in particular in the local university library, and will try to find time to look around in those when I get home.
I also do recall that it was common for apprentices, in particular, to be given servant-type livery to wear, often colored blue. But in that case I don't know whether they would have worn their master's personal badge, the guild's badge or what.
A badge would certainly seem to me the most plausible solution if you're looking for a sign of membership in an SCA guild and would like to find a period model for such a thing.
(Lady) Christian de Holacombe
Deputy Minister, West Kingdom Needleworkers Guild
0 Chris Laning
+ Davis, California