Martial Beauty: Padding and Quilting One’s Way to a Masculine Ideal in Fourteenth Century France

Last year in May I presented a paper called “Martial Beauty: Padding and Quilting One’s Way to a Masculine Ideal in Fourteenth Century France” as part of the DISTAFF sessions at the International Congress on Medieval Studies at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo. The paper went over well, and I was offered a chance to submit to the Medieval Clothing and Textiles Journal. I was thrilled to have that opportunity, but life got in the way and enough time has passed that I now realize I should just get this work out there. I won’t have the time or the focus to polish the paper to a level appropriate for such a distinguished journal, and so I made the decision to put it up here as an article.

MS Français 12399 Book of Modus and Ratio f.134v France 1379

MS Français 12399 Book of Modus and Ratio f.134v France 1379

The topics under discussion in that paper are very much a work-in-progress on my part. I am far from expert in understanding all the terminology used for padded and quilted garments, though I do believe I’m more knowledgeable now than I was a year ago, thanks to the research done. I consider the paper an exercise in hypothesis and synthesis born at least partially from other people’s digging up of primary sources. While I dug for and found some of the sources I used, a fair number of the textual sources seen in the figures were supplied by five colleagues in an online discussion forum. I am indebted to their scholarly efforts. I mention their names at the top of the article. I also was led to this topic—the use of padding and quilting in both martial and peaceable contexts for men in the fourteenth century—from the work I did on the pourpoint of Charles VI of France. I think now that I would call it a coat-armour (not to be confused with a coat of arms).

Here’s the article. Enjoy.