Sumptuary laws stopped commoners wearing clothes that were similar to the Kings Clothing Read more about the Medieval Kings Clothing >>
A Medieval Prince wore expensive and lavish clothing that indicated his status in medieval society during the high and late medieval periods Read more about the Medieval Prince Clothing >>
A Medieval Princess wore elaborate clothing that reflected her status in medieval society and expensive furs and jewels were often worn Read more about the Medieval Princess Clothing >>
Sumptuary laws stopped common people wearing the same clothing as Royals Read more about the Medieval Queens Clothing >>
The clothing of the European rulers and their family members at the beginning of the medieval period was relatively simple. This was because rulers in this period were primarily military leaders who were expected to be well trained in martial skills and usually chose a dress which reflected their military abilities.
Over time, as kingdoms and Empires began to emerge in Western Europe, Kings and their family members began to establish the use of more elaborate dresses, often to distinguish them from the rich nobility and to reflect their status as the sovereign of a kingdom or an Empire. Typically, the greater the territories under a King or an Emperor, the more elaborate was his dress.
The royal clothing of a King in the medieval period differed according to the occasion. For instance, the king’s clothing while hunting was simpler, though fairly embellished, while his appearance in court or at notable ceremonies expressed the full regalia of his person.
The king would usually wear a well-embellished tunic with gold-work thread as a basic dress. On top of it, a surcoat was often worn which depicted the emblem of the King and his family. Robes and coats were also part of the King’s costume at certain occasions.
All the dresses were made with the finest silk, fur and other expensive materials such as animal furs. A large number of other items which the King typically used as a part of his clothing were called regalia. These included ornate sceptres and orbs, precious jewelry rings, daggers and swords which mostly served a decorative purpose being hung at the waist as well as gloves, bracelets and handkerchiefs.
During the early medieval period, kings in various regions of Western Europe were busy in warfare and trying to establish a stronghold on the Continent. Consequently, their dresses was simpler, often similar to the warrior class of their respective society or tribe.
By the High Middle Ages, several kingdoms had become established fairly securely and a number of dynastic families had immense power. This led to a sense of stability and wealth upon which Kings around Europe began to improve their lifestyle, most notably their clothing at the court and other occasions.
The most profound influence on the King’s clothing of the period was that of the Byzantine Empire where the Emperor wore elaborately designed costumes.
The clothing of the Queen in the medieval period was the veritable standard to which all women of the nobility aspired in their dressing. Usually, sumptuary laws forbade certain elements which a Queen used in her dress to be used by anyone else in the kingdom.
The material used in the manufacture of Queen’s dresses typically included silk and fur. Like the King, the clothing of a Queen differed from occasion to occasion. On official and ceremonial occasions, a Queen wore a long gown made of silk with rich trimmings of other materials.
Velvet was also frequently used as gown-manufacturing material. A well-embellished tunic was then worn on top of the gown. The tunic, being the most visible part of the dress, was embellished with laces, jewels and other ornaments.
During the early medieval period, the dressing of a Queen was simpler, the same as the Kings of the period. Queens dressed more along the styles of ancient Rome, borrowing directly from the rich legacy of the now-fallen Roman Empire.
It was in the High Middle Ages that Byzantine and Oriental influence from the East, Levant, Moorish Iberia and from the Crusading expeditions reached Europe. This directly influenced the evolution of different aspects of the European culture, including the formal dressing of the Queen.
The royal clothing of a Prince in the medieval period was meant to depict his status as the incumbent-ruler after his father. This status meant that the Prince was superior to the nobility of the period. Consequently, rich embellishments and decorations used in the clothing of a prince reflected this elevated status.
Although simpler than a King’s standard clothing, a Prince typically wore trousers, leggings, cloaks and tunic. The tunic, being the outermost garment, was decorated with embroidery, gold lacing and other elements. If the Prince wore a cloak on top of it, the cloak was designed specifically to clearly identify him as the Prince of the realm.
While a King was typically dressed as a military leader during the early medieval period, a Prince didn’t wear in a distinctive style during the period. It was towards the end of the early medieval period that Princes began to establish formal dressing and style of their own which eventually evolved into a clothing which included distinctive and identifying dressing features.
The royal clothing of a Princess, much like that of a Queen, was made from the best materials available in the period. Not only silk and fur were used in the manufacture of main pieces of the dress such as the gowns and tunics, other rich embellishments were also used such as gold laces, jewels and pearls on the dress. The clothing of a medieval princess evolved significantly during the period between the early and late medieval age.
The clothing of a medieval princess in the early medieval period was simpler and loose, often complemented with a head-covering at public occasions. Given the close relationship between the rulers and the Church in this period, women typically conformed strictly to church regulations regarding dressing.
Towards the High Middle Ages, ruling dynasties grew more independent, feudal power reinforced the nobility against the might of the Church and wealth grew which resulted in more elaborate dresses for the royal family, including the Princess.
Typical features of the evolution included tighter dresses embellished with rich and expensive trimmings, different hairstyles and stylish veils, caps, the use of two robes and the use of shoes towards the late medieval period.