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Re: [albanach] Trews and brat

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  • Sharon L. Krossa
    ... Just in general I find the social history in these pages to be a mixture of reasonably accurate information and also misleading and outright wrong
    Message 1 of 33 , Jun 14, 2004
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      At 5:22 PM -0500 6/14/04, Joe Robertson wrote:
      >Good information, Eogan.
      > Yes, I have been somewhat unsatisfied with the appearance of the
      >"ancient" tartans, as most seem bland to me. I find myself leaning
      >towards toe Ulster red and the Scrimgeor, so far.
      > I recently read some writings on the clothing of Queen Mary. Although
      >my persona's age is roughly equivalent to her pop, King James V, she
      >apparently carried on his tradition of wearing highland attire
      >occasionally. "It is said that the queen had three Highland mantles;
      >one of black frise trimmed with gold and lined with black taffeta,
      >another of blue taffeta and one of white[64]. " This quote is located at

      Just in general I find the social history in these pages to be a
      mixture of reasonably accurate information and also misleading and
      outright wrong information. (My test was to look at the section on
      "Sixteenth Century Love, Sex and Marriage, with Special Reference to
      the Queen of Scots", and as soon as they started going on about
      "coverture" it was clear there were serious problems with the

      The website doesn't make it clear, but it seems to me the different
      pages are actually undergraduate papers/essays, suffering from all
      the mixed quality of such efforts. (This suspicion is strengthened by
      finding the site listed on the page listing Lancaster University
      history students' web projects:

      With regard to "Highland mantles", I'd want to see the primary source
      evidence before deciding the conclusions of the "" are accurate. What
      this page specifically says is:

      "Once in Scotland it was thought that she could increase her
      popularity if she patronised Highland Costume as her father had done
      before her. Consequently a number of tartan plaids were purchased
      both for her servants and for herself[63]. It is said that the queen
      had three Highland mantles; one of black frise trimmed with gold and
      lined with black taffeta, another of blue taffeta and one of

      Which shows that the author is assuming, mistakenly, that plaids were
      exclusively a Highland garment in the 16th century -- in fact most of
      our descriptions of plaids in the 16th century come from the Lowlands
      where they were worn not only by Lowland women of varying classes but
      also by at least lower class men.

      The footnotes referenced above are to:

      [63] Sir James Balfour Paul (ed.), Accounts of the Lord High
      Treasurer of Scotland. Volume XI 1559-1566, Edinburgh 1916, p197.

      [64] Herbert Norris, Tudor Costume and Fashion, Mineola, New York, 1997, p513.

      This suggests to me that the claim that Mary had tartan plaids is is
      reliable, especially as I have seen similar references to plaids in
      the Accounts of the Lord High Treasurer of Scotland, but, as said,
      the web page is mistakenly going beyond the simple fact of Mary
      owning plaids to erroneously interpreting this as a sign she wore
      Highland attire.

      In contrast, the claim about "Highland mantles" is supported only by
      a secondary work, and I'd want to track down what evidence Norris
      cites for the claim, to determine whether the "Highland" part is
      modern (mis)interpretation or directly from the period evidence.

      Sharon, ska Affrick
      Sharon L. Krossa, skrossa-ml@...
    • Matthew A. C. Newsome
      Another point about this passage from Leslie (that doesn t require trying to hunt down the original Latin document) is that all he is saying is that they all
      Message 33 of 33 , Jun 19, 2004
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        Another point about this passage from Leslie (that doesn't require
        trying to hunt down the original Latin document) is that all he is
        saying is that they all wore mantles, and the nobles seem to have a
        preference for more colors in their mantles. He's writing this in 1578.
        Whether or not he is describing people contemporary to him or in the
        past, he is still writing in 1578.

        To someone reading this familiar with the ancient Irish annals mentioned
        previously, it is quite easy (and wrong) to imagine a connection between
        the two and read Leslie as supporting evidence for their being some kind
        of "class rank" system that determines how many stripes you wear in your
        tartan. But this would be quite unwarranted. The context, the locale,
        and certainly the period in time of these two documents are completely
        different. And you would have to read into Leslie much that he didn't
        say. All he actually says is that everyone wore mantles, and nobles
        preferred mantles of many colors. He doesn't even say they are tartan!
        We are assuming that, but it's not expressly mentioned.

        So be careful about reading more into sources like this than they really

        Get the new book, Early Highland Dress!
        Available now at <http://albanach.org> http://albanach.org
        -----Original Message-----
        From: Sharon L. Krossa [mailto:skrossa-ml@...]
        Sent: Friday, June 18, 2004 11:22 PM
        To: albanach@yahoogroups.com
        Subject: Re: [albanach] Re: Trews and brat

        At 11:15 AM -0500 6/18/04, Joe Robertson wrote:
        >Multicoloured tartan for nobility-
        > My reference was Bishop Leslie's account in 1578 (a bit after my
        >persona, though) " All, both nobles and common people, wore mantles of
        >one sort (except that the
        >nobles preferred those of several colours). These were long and
        >but capable of being neatly gathered up at
        >pleasure into folds"
        >Plainer tartans for commoners-
        > I've lost my link to this reference. I will find it again, read it
        >through, and post it.

        Ah, I had forgotten that part of Bishop Leslie.

        Leslie is a very problematic source -- all the Scottish clothing
        books quote him, but none of them put the quote in the greater
        context of Leslie's work. Leslie's work is _De Origine, moribus et
        rebus gestis Scotorum_ which is a history of the Scots from the
        earliest times onwards.

        Which raises the question, who exactly is Leslie describing?
        Highlanders from his own time, about which he might actually have
        known something, or Gaels or Scots from some earlier time, about
        which he is unlikely to have reliable information? The past tense is
        used in Leslie's passage, except, rather tellingly, for only part of
        the following line:

        >From McClintock:
        "habebant etiam, cujus modi Hibernenses et hodie sibi placent,
        villosas stragulas, alias ad iter, alias ad lectos accomadas (?

        >From Dunbar:
        "They had also shaggy rugs, such as the Irish use at the present day,
        some fitted for a journey, others to be placed on a bed."

        "Placent", the verb that goes with the Irish, is the present tense
        (3rd person plural) of "placeo" ("to please, to be pleasing or
        agreeable, to give satisfaction, to satisfy"), while "habebant", the
        verb that goes with whoever he is describing in the rest of the
        sentence, is the indicative active imperfect (3rd person plural) of
        "habeo" ("to have, possess") -- so literally, "were having"/"used to
        have"/"began to have".

        This strongly suggests that in the passage as a whole Leslie is
        talking about some past time rather than describing contemporary
        Highlanders, as when referring to the Irish of his own time he uses
        the present tense.

        It is my intention to someday look up the context of the Leslie's
        description, but until that is sorted out, Bishop Leslie's
        description isn't very useful as we don't have enough information to
        know who to apply it to or even how reliable it might be.

        Sharon, ska Effrick
        Sharon L. Krossa, skrossa-ml@...

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