Cloaks
Capes and Tabards, Period Patterns

Cape Collection Pattern, MoiRandall

The focus of this linkspage is on cloaks in secular contexts (rather than including biblical mantles, ecclesiastical copes, etc.). For information on making cloaks, see these links.

I've attempted to organize these by type, but the cloak taxonomy below is my own invention, and may not reflect standard thought on the subject.

There are very few examples of hooded cloaks; just two women wearing hooded black cloaks in the Manesse Codex (the only black cloaks in the manuscript). There are some cloaks worn with separate hoods, either over or under the cloak.



BUTTON-SHOULDER CLOAK: A style of cloak (apparently exclusively worn by men) closed on the right shoulder, usually with buttons. This style of cloak seems to be the descendant of the Greek chlamys. This seems to be the source imagery for the "three-quarter" cloaks seen in re-enactment, although an extant example (the Bocksten Man's cloak) is a half-circle. Some examples also have dagged edges.


MANTLES: A style of cloak with closure at center front, usually by means of a cord (or, in some descriptions, a string of pearls) attached to metal mounts ("ouches"?) attached to the edge of the cloak along both sides of the chest. This style of cloak is the only style which appears on women; some men wear it as well, especially in ceremonial contexts. This seems to be the source for the "half-circle" cloaks seen in re-enactment. (Note the prevalence of the pose with one hand, usually the right hand, on the cord, or the thumb or fingers entwined in the cord, especially in the examples from the 12th to early 14th centuries. See Courtly Culture: Literature and Society in the High Middle Ages by Joachim Bumke for a discussion of this "knightly" pose.)


"ROYAL" CLOAK: I'm still deciding whether I want to include these as a category. Frequently has a fur capelet (cowl?) over a fur-lined cloak (with apparent opening on the right-hand side), usually also fur-lined. Fur is frequently ermine. Seems to appear only on men; in the 15th century, this evolves into a ceremonial-only garment for kings and noblemen. It may, in that way, be the men's equivalent of the sideless surcoat.


OTHER STUFF: These are clearly cloaks -- but don't seem to fall into any of the categories described above.