“Brode harnysed girdilles”

These links focus on the wide silk belts worn by ladies in the 15th century. I have organized them by color here, to better understand which colors were used. (These are sometimes considered “Burgundian,” but they seem to have been fashionable in France, Flanders, and England too.) In several of the paintings, one can even discern the pattern woven into the silk.

The name at the top of this webpage – “brode harnysed girdilles” – comes from a description of such a belt in the 1487 will of one of thewomen in the Paston family, which describes several from her wardrobe, and how they are to be distributed following her death:

I geue and biqueith to my doughter Mary, to the promocion of her mariage … iij brode girdilles, oone of tawny silke with bokill a[nd] pendaunt, a-nother of purpill with bokyll and pendaunt, and the iijde of purpill damaske with bokell and pendaunt and vj barres of siluer and gilt; and iij brode harnysed girdilles, oone white tisshew, a-nother red tysshewe gold, and the iijde a playne grene coorse; … and a harnysed girdill enameled with rowsclare weying halfe an vnce; … an harnysed girdill of golde of Damaske, with a long pendaunt and a bokill of golde chekkyd, weying j vnce …

Additional descriptions can be found in the garment references in the Paston letters. For additional images, check out the Burgundian Reference Pages. Soper Lane sells booklets on tablet-weaving narrow girdles and wide girdles.

BLACK
WHITE
RED
GOLD PATTERNS
GREEN
BLUE
PURPLE
  • Portrait of a lady, c. 1460
  • a purpill girdill herneisid with siluer and gilt (Paston, 1482)
  • a-nother of purpill with bokyll and pendaunt, and the iijde of purpill damaske with bokell and pendaunt and vj barres of siluer and gilt (Paston, 1487)
  • Son Stephen … second girdle of murray colour with silver mounts … Son Peter my best girdle of murray colour with silver mounts (Stephen Cheeseman, 1489)
  • I bequeth to Elizabeth Jeage my goddoughtr … a brode corse gyrdyll of purpyll color harneysyd wt syluyr and gylt. (Anne Barett, 1504)

Since I will also forget this information if I do not write it down, here are a few of the places where one can obtain buckles & tips (or harnyses, to use the Pastons’ terminology):