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Medieval Costume and Fashion Medieval Costume and Fashion
By Herbert Norris. (Dover Publications, Inc., New York: 1999. Pg. xxvii, 485. about 700 illustrations.) ISBN: 978-0-486-40486-8.

This book can be ordered directly from Dover Publications at: www.doverpublications.com
Reviewed by Herbert White - July 1, 2010

Despite being referred to as the Dark Ages, the Middle Ages was in reality a period of drastic social change, innovation, and military conquest. In Medieval Costume and Fashion, Herbert Norris provides not only an overview of the various costumes worn throughout this period, but he also provides a sweeping overview of the history of this period. As well, he has included charts depicting the various key European rulers during the Middle Ages, along with time lines that highlight some of the major events of the period.

This Dover Edition of Medieval Costume and Fashion is an unabridged reproduction of the 1927 edition of Costume and Fashion: Senlac to Bosworth. Consequently, some of the historical information presented in this text has been superceded by more current research in this field. In addition, this is not an academically rigorous book. Norris does not provide any details about what source material he used in writing this book, nor are any attributions given for the illustrations used throughout. Nonetheless, Norris's book still stands as one of the most engaging books on Medieval fashion as well as on chivalric and heraldic lore. You just need to keep in mind that his 'historical facts' may not be totally factual.

Filled with more than 700 illustrations, including several color plates, this detailed book will enthrall historians and reenactors alike, as well as anyone interested in medieval fashions. Not only are the fashions of the elite covered, but also those of the common folk. As well, in addition to everyday costume, fashions worn on special occasions are also covered as are accessories ranging from jewelry and belts to gloves and shoes. To my surprise, this book also covers the costumes worn by war horses, from stirrups and saddles to trappers of chain mail and silk housings.

All in all, this is a wonderful, general resource, on medieval fashion and history. It serves as an excellent reference book for medieval enthusiasts, general readers, writers looking for a tidbit of realism to add to a story, or for anyone with an interest in medieval costumes.


Related Reviews:

The Medieval World, Edited by Peter Linehan and Janet L. Nelson.
Thirty-nine orginial essays on life in the Middle Ages, covering just about everything from politics to sexuality. Written by 38 medieval scholars, this book raises the standard of medieval scholarship.

Castles and Warfare in the Middle Ages, by Eugene-Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc.
A detailed architectural study on the evolution of Medieval military fortifications, as well as siege weaponry.

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