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"15th century/WOTR's peasant clothing colours? " Topic

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11 Sep 2016 7:35 p.m. PST
by Editor in Chief Bill

  • Changed title from "15th centuary/WOTR's peasant clothing colours? " to "15th century/WOTR's peasant clothing colours? "

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Glengarry511 Sep 2016 7:04 p.m. PST

I am painting figures for the War of the Roses and have come across two schools of thought about the clothing colours of the common (non-liveried) folks. One, a riot of intense colours in vivid blues, reds and such. The other muddy greys, browns and occasional drab greens. What is the current thinking on the matter? Would the Lowland Scots be any different in clothing colours? In later years I know the Scots wore clothes in Hodden Grey. I understand the Irish wore clothes dyed in Saffron but what of the Welsh?
Thank you.

rmaker11 Sep 2016 7:14 p.m. PST

ALL of the colors would be subdued to the modern eye. There might have been reds and yellows, but they would have been muddy, too. Only a few dyestuffs were available in the 15th century that would produce vivid colors and they were all expensive.

The cloth involved would also matter. Again, the stuff that would show as vivid colors would have been expensive.

Nick Bowler11 Sep 2016 9:43 p.m. PST


Personal logo timurilank Supporting Member of TMP11 Sep 2016 10:58 p.m. PST

This might give you a leg up.


This was one of many topics I covered for my 15th century project.


Eumelus12 Sep 2016 2:33 a.m. PST

In my opinion, part of the answer is "what is the depicted peasant doing"? Peasants at a county fair, or paying their respects to their lord, or doing him service in war, would turn out in their best hose and doublet, which might well be dyed in madder read, woad blue, rocket yellow, etc. (although rmaker is quite right that you generally want subdued versions of these colors). On the other hand, nobody wears their best to till the fields or mind the herds, so light to dark greys (i.e. undyed wool) with some earthy tints are more likely.

22ndFoot12 Sep 2016 6:19 a.m. PST

The great line in The Holy Grail when the peasants identify Arthur because he is the only person "not covered in sh*t" is probably not far off the mark.

Warspite120 Mar 2017 12:21 p.m. PST

Older vegetable dyes are never as vivid or as colour-fast as modern dyes.

If you do a Google image search for the Luttrell Psalter, the images will show you how mid-14th century monks viewed the peasant life and some indication of the colours they saw.


Gustav A20 Mar 2017 2:20 p.m. PST

For a good view of the kind of colours available to peasants I suggest looking at the painting of Pieter Breugel the Elder which show them both at work and at play.


The reason I chose Breugel is because the colours in his paintings match closely with the archeological finds which indicates that he deliberatly chose to use those particular colours to creat an accurate portrayal. In contrast to for exampel Diebold Schilling's Swiss chronicles which go for a very colourfull portrayal of clothing which is easy enough to do with paint & paper but a lot harder and more expensive to do in real life with wool cloth.

Warspite120 Mar 2017 3:42 p.m. PST

@ Gustav A.
Good choices.


janner20 Mar 2017 11:00 p.m. PST

Another vote for Gustav's post *thumb up*

uglyfatbloke21 Mar 2017 2:17 a.m. PST

Gustav A for the win.
Hodden grey was the colour of Scottish army uniforms (though a couple of regiments wore red) in the civil wars. In the middle ages Scottish people wore what everybody else wore.

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