Projekte und Forschung

The Tudor Child

Research project ABT
sponsored by the Tyrolean Science Foundation and the Department of Culture of the Country of Tyrollogo_abt 

The Tudor Child

The Tudor Child
Clothing and Culture 1485 to 1625

by Jane Hugget and Ninya Mikhaila
Editor: Jane Malcolm-Davies

published 2013

ISBN – 978-0-9562674-2-9 (United Kingdom)
ISBN – 978-0-89676-267-1 (United States of America)

To order the book visit the Tudor Tailor book shop.

"The Tudor Child"
provides a social history of babies and children from the late fifteenth century to the Jacobean era, drawing on brand new research into primary sources such as ordinary people's wills, household accounts and a survey of more than a thousand contemporary images. The book offers fascinating insights into the way in which Tudor children were raised, educated and of course clothed.

The book is lavishly illustrated in full colour offering a visual feast of paintings and sculpture, beautiful line drawings by Michael Perry, and high-quality photographs of reconstructed costumes. More than 40 patterns with instructions are included for making garments for all ages: from infants to children aged 12 years, including underwear, headwear and knitted items.

Children´s garments from Lengberg Castle in "The Tudor Child"

Asked if it would be possible to contribute some images of the children´s garments found at Lengberg Castle, East Tyrol, in order to show examples of immediate predecessors from the 15th century, the Institute for Archaeologies, University of Innsbruck, happily complied.

Two images were contributed, now to be found on pages 14 and 51 in the book.

Baby´s garment

Among the textile finds from Lengberg Castle, as their sizes suggest, were several fragments of children´s clothes and one fragment that is so small that it was probably part of baby clothes.

Tudor Child_baby´s garment_Lengberg

Of the baby clothes only the back and the right front side with a row of six eyelets with one arm hole and half of the second one is preserved but the circumference can be reconstructed with having been approximately 30,4 cm. A comparison with modern baby clothes shows that the circumferences range from 26 to 33 cm for premature babies. Therefore 30.4 cm is very small but there is little to no information on average sizes of new-born in the 15th century. In addition – as it was fastened by means of eyelets through which a lace was strung - the width was alterable and it did not have to be closed completely at the front. To date no pictorial evidence of such baby clothes could be found. Babies are always depicted in swaddling bands, but we do not know if they wore something underneath those or if it was common all over Europe to swaddle babies at all times especially as in later periods  it was occasionally not considered to be healthy.

As early as the 16th century Felix Würtz (c. 1500/1510 to 1590/1596) wrote a book called “Practica der Wundartzney” where he gives his opinion on treatment of wounds and criticizes several medical traditions. This book was published after his death in 1612 by his brother Rudolph together with his “Kinderbüchlein” (Children´s book) wherein he criticizes the swaddling of babies.

“I also saw right and straight children created by God and born into this world by humans, who became nevertheless bent and lame men, who never got straight and healthy thighs. (…) In addition, I have for instance let a child lay again down and tied up, so that I see, in which way he was swaddled. There I then really saw, where it had gone wrong (…). By misunderstanding however they wanted to bind him straight, but in fact they bind him bent and tighten the bandages hard, so that the child cannot have peace (….)”

English translation from:
Felix Würtz, Practica der Wundartzney... darinnen allerley schädliche Missbräuch, welche bissher von vnerfahrnen, vngeschickten Wundärtzten in gemeinem schwanck gangen seind aussfuhrlichen angedeutet, vnd vmb viler erheblicher Ursachen willen abgeschafft werden. In vier ordenliche Bücher vnderscheiden und abgetheylet  (Basel 1612) p. 485.

You can find the complete book here: - Felix Würtz, Practica der Wundartzney (in German)

This textile fragment could of course have been something else but so far no other possible explanation other than it being baby clothes was in any way plausible.

Girl´s garment

Tudor Child_girl´s garment_Lengberg

The linen lining of the upper part of a girl´s dress shows a V-shaped neckline at the back and front with one, now broken, non-ferrous metal hook still attached at the bottom of the front V. A strip of red silk is partially inserted into the hem of the neckline sewn with S-plied, 2-ply yarn, some dyed blue.

Between the bodice and the now missing skirt of the dress a strip of linen cloth in chevron twill has been added, probably for reinforcement. As only the lining has been preserved the colour of the dress itself cannot be determined but the use of red silk and blue dyed ply-yarn suggest either red or blue. This textile has been radiocarbondated, the dates ranging from 1440 to 1640 (ETH-42288 – probability 95.4 %). Considering what we know about the history of Lengberg Castle this dress was in use sometime between 1440 and 1485.

Of the 14 fragments of pleated linen shirts amongst the Lengberg finds two are from children. One partially pleated neckline with preserved textile button and one sleeve fragment (cuff) with both textile button and corresponding button hole. Three types of pleats and four different ways to sew the trimming strip could be found on the pleated shirt fragments two of which can be seen on the children´s shirts.

No images of the shirts in the book. For more information on the pleated shirts from Lengberg Castle see:

Beatrix Nutz and Harald Stadler, How to Pleat a Shirt in the 15th Century. In: Archaeological Textiles Review 54, 2012, 79-91.

Beatrix Nutz

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