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KeepYourPowderDry14 Nov 2021 11:48 p.m. PST

In my latest blog post I look at the evidence for all of the claims for English Civil War sash colours (and point out that they were actually contemporaneously called scarves). link

Green Tiger15 Nov 2021 12:57 a.m. PST

Useful – thanks

Timbo W15 Nov 2021 3:47 a.m. PST

Hi KYPD, very nice deep dive into 'scarfery'

A couple of points off the top of my head,

The Venetian ambassadors comment (or was that hat bands?) regarding Royalist red/pink and Parl orange

Trained bands and foot sometimes had 'ribbons' issued, though exactly what they did with them…

Sir John Byron had a gold embroidered green sash in his 1643? portrait

Interesting on the black sashes not being only for mourning, and this possibly a bit made up.

One wonders if the Generals had a range of scarves in different (family) colours to accessorise different outfits 😁

KeepYourPowderDry15 Nov 2021 4:26 a.m. PST

Tim do you have or know the reference for the Venetian ambassador's comment?

Ribbons there are quite a few references for ribbons, I believe some were for officers to mark their halberds/pointy sticks

Will hunt out the Byron portrait.

Generals and different coloured scarves? Would seem very logical, considering the strength of men's fashion

Timbo W15 Nov 2021 5:30 a.m. PST

Byrob I might have mixed up with several other Byronses…

Sure will see if I can remember where I remember the Venetian ambassadors comment from

Timbo W15 Nov 2021 6:59 a.m. PST

Ah it was hatbands, from Haythornthwaite p144 referencing Carman W.Y. British Military Uniforms from Contemporary Pictures (London, 1957).

Venetian ambassador reports to the Doge that Royalists are identified by 'rose coloured bands on their hats'

KeepYourPowderDry15 Nov 2021 6:59 a.m. PST


JimDuncanUK15 Nov 2021 7:54 a.m. PST

Interesting on the black sashes not being only for mourning, and this possibly a bit made up.

Black for mourning is a Victorian thing, isn't it?

KeepYourPowderDry15 Nov 2021 8:19 a.m. PST

Tim – did you mean the Thomas Byron portrait? Watchett coloured scarf, embroidered with silver?

Jim – that's what I believed

Regicide164915 Nov 2021 2:55 p.m. PST

I enjoyed reading your blog very much, KYPD. You raise a number of interesting points about the use of field-signs during the ECW-era, backed up by commendable research. My reading of the Brig's book was that he was specifically talking about the Edgehill campaign and particularly referring to a means to distinguish friend from foe among buff-coated horse. There would be no point wearing scarves of a certain colour at Naseby, obviously. For what it's worth, I question the validity of portraiture in this regard: it records how the artist wanted to show the subject or how the subject wanted to be seen. There is a Van Dyck of Charles Stuart in full armour astride a white horse between Doric columns, a green velvet drape wrapped around one, himself wearing a blue sash. The minion to his right for some reason is in the colours of Pride's regiment of the NMA. I don't believe that this accurately represents one second of the life of the Man of Blood. As for dear Giovanni… well, he is pretty much wrong about everything.

Apologies for the length of post. First time. I was inspired by KYPD's enthusiasm for the small details we wargamers find fascinating.

KeepYourPowderDry15 Nov 2021 4:55 p.m. PST

Thanks for the kind words Regecide, and it is good to hear that you enjoy the blog.

Young may have intended his statement to refer just to Edgehill, but other writers have taken his words and given it a broader sweep. It has now become a 'wargamer fact'. To be honest, it is one of the few 'wargamer facts' that is quite possibly factual (to a point). Gage's men disguising themselves with orange-tawney scarves happened almost 2 years after Edgehill, so Young's statement for Parliament (or at least Parliament's main field army) looks pretty good.

As for portraiture: a number of references to different coloured scarves recorded in use, coupled with portraits backing up these colours, is suggestive (certainly with regards to the different Parliamentarian armies) that officers did wear scarf colours showing their allegiance to their general (which supports Vernon's contemporaneous comment).

You mention Van Dyck's portrait of Charles with Pierre Antoine Bourdin, Seigneur de St Antoine. It was painted in 1633. Charles is wearing the riband of the Order of the Garter. Pierre was a master riding instructor sent from France to teach Charles. Pure artistic theatre, painted for impact and intended to be hung in a specific location. I don't think many of the great and good who had their portraits painted were quite in this league of expense and extravagance. This is pure C17th over the top bling.

Leaving aside the date issue, I'm not quite sure how you can say that Pierrr is wearing the uniform of Pride's RoF. NMA RoF had red coats (eventually), and regiments were differentiated by coloured linings (we only know one lining colour, Lord General's had blue); if it was a NMA uniform, the breeches should be "grey or other good colours of Reading cloth" (in other words, not red). Red suits (breeches, jackets and monteroes) were issued to the King's army in Oxford July 1643; red was also a pretty common colour of jacket issue to Parliament's men (before the NMA) too.

To be honest, none of this really matters – there are so many unknowns with regards to clothing issues and colours that we can do as we please. I just like finding out if the many unsubstantiated claims made about Civil War clothing actually stand up. In a nutshell, a lot of what wargamers take as fact, there simply isn't any evidence. Or the evidence strongly suggests something else. I blame lazy authors who use secondary sources without checking any facts. Which is why you still see 'the main colour of the flag is the colour of the coats', 'the London Trained Bands wore red', 'the colour in the regimental name of the London Trained Bands is the colour of their coats', 'buff coats cost the same as a sports car does these days'.

Regicide164916 Nov 2021 9:10 a.m. PST

I bow to your better knowledge, KYPD. The small version of the Van Dyck I have in a book cuts off the riding-master at the waist. Seen thus, he is wearing a coat of Venice Red with black linings which to me equates to Pride's RoF. That's how I painted them in the past, anyway, on more than just a whim, though I can't recall now sources I read in the 1980s. The same source said that Pride's colonel's-colour bore the head of a mastiff in white.
Thanks for taking the time to reply in detail. Yes, I should have clicked about the Garter-riband… to be honest, honour-systems leave me cold. I wonder if the Earl of Essex ever wore the red sash of the Order of the Bath in battle? As I say, honour-systems leave me cold.
Keep up the good work, KYPD. You are always an interesting read.

KeepYourPowderDry16 Nov 2021 12:34 p.m. PST

Interesting notion about Pride's colonel's colour. In a nutshell there are no recorded flags for Pride's. It is possible that they might have continued to use Barclay's colours (from whom they were formed, amongst others).
As for a dog's head. If Pride's had been a Scots RoF I could understand it (Scots colonel's colours were usually white with the colonel's coat of arms/emblem upon it). English colonel's colours were almost exclusively plain, with just the field colour.

But as ever, the information that we have does not allow us to make definitive statements.

The only certain flag/coat combination is Gell's – because two flags survived (one since lost), and a number of records tell us that they had grey clothes.

takeda33316 Nov 2021 12:47 p.m. PST

That is one great read and enjoyed your information. Thank you for such articles.😁

KeepYourPowderDry17 Nov 2021 10:29 a.m. PST

Thanks for your kind words Takeda, good to hear that my ramblings are appreciated

KeepYourPowderDry12 Jan 2023 11:49 p.m. PST

You are welcome, although the subject is a moveable feast. Need to add a little more confusion to Royalist colours as Lord Loughborough is wearing a black scarf in one portrait.

DBS30313 Jan 2023 5:25 a.m. PST

A couple of thoughts specifically re Edgehill.

The Earl of Lindsey is stated by James II to have worn a "blue riban" as he states that his son, Willoughby, heard that such a "riban" had fallen, and knew that could only mean his father, so therefore left the Lifeguard of Foot and went to his father's aid. Regardless of whether "riban" equals a scarf, or ribbons on a partisan or similar, that would seem to suggest something both distinctive and rather unique, even though Lindsey was of course leading his own regiment of foot so it seem that maybe even that regiment's officers were not wearing the same scarf/ribbons as he was. Lindsey was a member of the Order of the Garter, so I suspect that is the most likely explanation – he is certainly wearing a blue scarf in this portrait:


The other point is a possible example of the good Brigadier Young presenting an hypothesis as a fact. In his account of Sir Faithful Fortescue's defection with his troop, he mentions van der Gerish tearing off his tawny scarf when galloping over to brief Rupert, and then attributes Killigrew's men attacking some of Fortescue's troopers as doubtless being a failure on the part of the latter to lose their scarves. The problem is that the only reference to Fortescue's defection seems to be Rupert's Diary, which makes no mention of scarves, only that Fortescue would signal his defection by firing his pistol into the ground. One can only conclude that the Brigadier, having fixed himself on the notion of a universal scarf colour as a field sign, then over elaborated his narrative.

That said, it is possible that there was something about Fortescue's men that induced Killigrew's troop to attack them, but whether it was simply knowledge that they were a strange troop so must be enemy, their orientation on the field, their cornet, or a field sign, who can say?

KeepYourPowderDry13 Jan 2023 9:54 a.m. PST

Blue riban = order of the garter sash, takes precedence over scarves, although a scarf may be worn around the waist as well.

The scarf in the portrait would have been described as watchett.

A 'riban/ribbon' relates to an order, a 'scarf' is what everyone calls a sash (mostly thanks to Victorian commentary).

As Wargamer facts go, Young's stance on scarves is one of the few with any factual basis. (See my dissection of Young in the linked article in the OP)

sidley14 Jan 2023 1:48 p.m. PST

I do recall reading that the army of Waller wore yellow and refused to wear tawny/orange which might have something to do with the massive fallout between Essex and Waller.

KeepYourPowderDry15 Jan 2023 1:05 a.m. PST

Alas Sidley that is pure conjecture, there is no evidence for this whatsoever. (It makes perfect sense considering the animosity between the two and would fit with Vernon writing in the Young Horseman that "every horseman must be wear a scarfe of his Generalls Colours")

There's a lot of presumption about Waller and the colour yellow, mostly because the background field of his coat of arms is yellow. His Regiment of Foot might have been issued yellow coats (equally the yellow coats could have been Potley's RoF).

Desperate Dan25 Oct 2023 1:42 a.m. PST

Just a query on sashes.. am portraying Baillie as the Covenanter commander at Aldearn, but found a portrait of him wearing a red sash ( Royalist), not blue. Can anyone explain this?? Thanks!

KeepYourPowderDry25 Oct 2023 3:37 a.m. PST

Firstly, have you read the linked post in my OP? This will explain a lot about scarves (they weren't called sashes btw).

There is only one reference for the blue 'Covenanters ribbon', so the premise of a 'blue sash' is only shaky ground to begin with.

Red, and pink scarves were worn by many 'Royalist' officers, but not exclusively so.

There is a tradition of generals having their own colours, with a number of contemporary references to this. Unfortunately these references don't explicitly say things such as 'Waller's army wore yellow scarves' – so we have to employ a little conjecture from portraiture.

The Army of the Solemn League fought for whichever English 'side' would further their own cause – they fought on both sides of the Wars. The red scarf portrait might be from a period when the Solemn League were fighting for the crown.

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