5th to 8th Century Fashion

A confused crowd came from all northern points, Sicambri Suevi, Sarmatian and many others mingled with the Gauls who had escaped the massacre, and the result was the most bizarre variety in weapons and in the way to dress yourself. But these new masters of the soil we inhabit the Franks being those who finally found their exclusive domination, our research will particularly aim weapons and costumes that were their own.

At  the beginning of the fifth century, after the arrival of the Barbarians, everything changed face in Gaul. It was not this thriving region which almost equaled Italy by its civilization, its luxury and intellectual culture, but a desolate field and carnage.

These barbarians, to the report of Tacitus and Sidonius, had, like the Germans, the tall, blond hair, blue and sparkling eyes, strong voice, look fierce, the body of a great white. It was a bold race, prompt, indomitable, loving danger. Shepherds and warriors, they were driving before them with their lances large herds; the dairy was their usual food. In summer, they lived in huts; winter underground.

Men’s costumes
Franks, in imitation of the Germans, had clothes for a linen shirt, a small square coat, blouse and skin for cold weather.The leaders and the wealthy, to distinguish, took narrow clothes and big coats. When they settled in Gaul, the Franks wore each jacket and pants to the body ply, the other quite right pants, wool or linen, from the waist to the hock, and fold jacket body, with only sleeve ends and closing with buttons or staples.

We put over this garment a large coat made of two square rooms down to the ground from behind, a little less low in front, and only to the knees from the sides; sometimes they were lined or lined with fur. Northern Franks made their clothes in skin. During the hot weather, they left with only shorts, or bare, but still armed. They covered their heads with hoods or mortar, or even bardoculle. Their boots, topped with spiky hair, were pointed, and their shoes; they fixed them with strips of colored cloth that even their clothes, and they passed around the leg.

When the Franks had in turn submitted Gaul, they adopted as the Gauls, Latin costume.Home, luxury was unknown to the people; it was contrary to the great passion and a violent crime source. They put all their merit in the possession of a rich treasure, consisting of beautiful clothes, ornaments, weapons and precious jewelry. If, in private life, the clothes were sometimes simple, in ceremonies, gold, pearls, rubies and sapphires, used with profusion, from the hood to the shoe shone on silk fabrics of brighter colors, including blue, white and purple were the most popular. For fur was preferred by those otters, ermine and sable.

According to the monk of St. Gallen, the ornaments of the ancient Franks, when they adorned themselves in the eighth century, were golden boots externally retained by long strips of three cubits; from beneath the linen breeches of a single color, but a valuable work; Then, a very fine linen tunic.Harness supported the sword enclosed in an envelope that smeared a bright and hardened wax.

Over other clothes, they wore white or blue sapphire coat, double, with four points, and cut so being attached to the shoulders, he fell behind and ahead to the feet, and the two sides down as knees. In the right hands, they held a long stick apple marked symmetric knots, and topped with a golden ball and silver, decorated with rich carvings.

The different classes of society were then distinguished not only by wealth but also by the scale, the fabric and the edges of the cloak, whose form was already significantly altered in the late seventh century. Silk was exclusively reserved for princes and personages of the highest distinction; the hawker and the homespun were for the use of the bourgeoisie and the people.

Women’s costumes
Women Franks, generally quite nice, had an elegant and supple. A simple long linen shirt, fixed with two belts, one under the breast, the other on hips, almost always leaving bare arms and chest, and sometimes decorated with bands of purple, formed all their finery .

Later, wealthy women wore a long dress, precious fabric, perfectly right to the body from the neck to the hips; from there it gradually widened to the bottom, where it formed many folds that one was a little drape in front; she often left the neck uncovered. The sleeves were long and narrow, and sometimes topped with colored stripes.On this tunic adorned two rich belts; the hips was knotted very low and dangled the ends almost to the ground. The shoe and coat were similar to that of men.

The girls were bareheaded; women covered their heads with hoods, or a pleated linen drapery cap and falling on the neck, or a veil down lower than the knees. Their ears and neck were well hidden in the manner of religious. Their long hair, dyed it, too, were divided on the head, folded into braids or strung with ribbons, and fell in front, on each side of the face.

In the early days, the Frankish women appeared often in the melee, dressed in black robes, their hair crowned with flowered broom, handle spear with address and animating the warriors by their looks and their speeches.

Costumes warriors
Franks, in Germany, had no soldiers; it was the nation that marched to war. The women drove their children followed their husbands, licked their wounds and fighting if necessary.

All men capable of bearing arms were to take part in combat, where some were naked, others half covered with the skins of wild beasts, and the smallest number with short, tight clothing that exactly took the form of body. The young warrior wore arm an iron ring, and left him after a play called the ransom of the brave .

By the seventh century, there was a lot of coats of mail often over a cloth blouse, and bardocuculles in cloth or leather. The only leaders had helmets and breastplates, which were sometimes attached appendices iron or copper scales. Only as they rode horses harnessed as one of our prints represents (see above, the Head of the Franks). The helmets were adorned with pearls, precious stones, manes or tails of horses dyed red.

The figure representing a soldier Norman or Saxon fighter, is the seventh century, according to Strutt, and taken from a manuscript that is in England; it allows to judge the changes that the weapons of the Franks have suffered during the space of two or three hundred years.

In the eighth century, France was hardly even a vast camp, where each warrior had, so to speak, its special weapons. Charles Martel improved much his formidable infantry almost all soldiers had hauberks; so they better résistassent Arab horsemen, he gave them long spears, and made to helmets trained their four triangular iron sheets and assembled with nails (engraving below cons). Under Pepin, all vassals of the counts and dukes being on horseback, cavalry became more numerous.

Franks weapons
Weapons Franks were: spatha, long and heavy sword suspended by a left shoulder belt or waistband, and whose sheath was lined with white and shiny fabric, stopped by belts; the Framee launches short and sharp iron, but strong enough and sharp enough for one to be used, on occasion, from near and far; the ax, which launched nearly, short-handled ax and two-edged the sling ; the mallet; angon the small lance or javelin that darted from afar, and whose two iron hooks like a lily;cotue finally, mass species of weapons, heavy and cumbersome they threw in the middle of enemy battalions, and that crushed all by its enormous weight.

Their shields of wood or wicker and covered with a strong skin, were painted with bright colors and sometimes lined with iron. The loss of the shield was followed by the greatest disgrace. The heads were almost only helmets topped with ponytails shades or some hideous figures. They had signs for wild animals; Clovis substituted there the yoke of St. Martin of Tours.

At the time of Tacitus, the use of long hair belonged among all German peoples, as Swabians. They were within their hair in front, from behind, from the sides, and bringing them to the top of the head, formed by one or more nodes. The Franks first adopted this mode; but when they entered Gaul, they had abandoned. The national taste wanted the back of the head was razed; that hair should fall to the forehead, and those sides descendissent cheeks onto his shoulders. To get more formidable in battle, the Franks painted, like the ancient Gauls, their hair with a composition of a red ardent. Their lips shaded long whiskers;only large beards.