Forensic Fashion
(c) 2006-present R. Macaraeg


>Costume Studies
>>1498 Florentine noble
Subject: noble
Culture: Tuscan Italian
Setting: Italian Renaissance, Florence/Tuscany 15-16thc

Context (Event Photos, Primary Sources, Secondary Sources, Field Notes)


* Frick 2002 p160
"The garments men wore are best considered using the terms they used in their own family records.  Every man began with the camicia.  This washable layer was full-sleeved, gathered at the neck and wrists, and long enough to be tucked into the tops of the hose, which (more or less) covered every man's legs and could button onto his shoes, if he were wearing them.  Over this went the constructed upper-body farsetto, which gave the male chest definition.  Closely tailored and quilted for shape, this garment could be made of many kinds of fabric, from cotton or linen to velvet or brocade.  In these two upper-body pieces, along with hose, a man's body was covered, but certainly not completely dressed.
    "The third essential garment was the tunic, which went by many names even within Florence itself.  Tunics included the shorter giubbia or villano (increasingly and even sometimes scandalously shorter as the century wore on), the slightly longer chioppacotta, the traditional Florentine lucco, and the sleeveless giornea (originally a military garment).  These garments could also be of varying styles -- narrow, gathered, pleated, or open in the front -- and lined with either fur or silk for winter or summer wear.  And, finally, men might wear overgowns for warmth, luxe, or simply to cut a dashing figure on the street.  Besides the old-fashioned cottardite, there were in addition amply cut mantelli and robbe or sacchi.  Of all of these various shapes and styles, mantello seems to have been used as the generic term, with over twenty different types singled out in the communal statuta for regulation."

* Norris 1938 p33-34
"The wars conducted in Italy by Charles VIII and Louis XII during the latter part of the fifteenth and the beginning of the sixteenth century introduced this fashion into France.  It became the vogue in western Europe, especially in Germany, during the reign of the Emperor Maximilian; and with variations remained in fashion in England long after Henry VIII ascended the throne.
    "The name 'Bases' was given to the skirt part of the garment which was often detached from the upper part and worn separately, being buckled or tied round the waist.  Bases were semicircular skirts worn with both civil and military dress, often over complete suits of armour.  They are sometimes referred to in modern writings as 'military skirts.'  Frequently they are represented in this manner in Illum. MSS., statuary, etc., dating from the late fifteenth to the early sixteenth century: their use was general in Germany, and Albrecht Dürer has left many examples in his drawings.  It was usual for the bases -- the complete skirts -- to be composed of a series of corrugations, the stiffly lined material being attached at intervals to braids underneath, the braids running at right angles to the corrugations.  Another method was to use padding between the material and the lining, sewn down in vertical lines radiating from the waist to the hem.
    "The surface of the bases, usually composed of very rich brocade, was sometimes of a single colour.  Other examples show wide stripes of two colours, and materials forming alternating corrugations, thickly padded and sewn down on a thick foundation, or held by heavy braids as previously described.  In some cases horizontal bands of different colours or materials crossed the pleats.  When worn for riding bases were open up the front, and they were always open down the back.  Sometimes the back portions overlapped.  The armour of the time was modelled on the lines of bases or military skirts; this part was then called 'jamboys.'"

* Norris 1938 p167-168 (describing an Italian nobleman 1510-1520 based on paintings by Raphael)
"He wears a striped padded tunic, with bases slit up the front and back ....  The tunic is of two colours; and the manner in which the borders at the neck and hem are treated by counterchanging or shifting the two coloured stripes should be noticed.  This treatment ... also takes place at the waist-line, where it was usually covered with a belt.  The full sleeves of the pourpoint are of a different material, but nothing of this undergarment is seen at the low neck of the tunic.  A shirt, gathered into a narrow neckband headed by a cap of network in gold and jewels, surmounted by a broad-brimmed hat of beaver or velvet with the edge cut out in battlements.  The arrangement of the dagger, pouch, and sword is characteristic of the time, but the shoes follow the natural form of the foot.
    "... [A]nother costume derived from the same source [shows that s]leeves were frequently largely puffed and well padded; in this instance they are divided quarterly in two colours, two materials, or both.  This variety of arrangement also applied to the bases.  Similarly the body part and neckband are per pale counterchanged."


* Felipe II 1998 p654
"Este arma no es realmente un sable, sino un Kordelatsch (de Coltellaggio, o gran cuchillo).  Durante el quattrocento italiano se creía que este arma blanca de un solo filo poseía un antiguo origen.  Equivocadamente, se pensaba que los cuchillos grandes, los Coltellaggi, armas de un solo filo con una hoja algo curva, eran romanos y se llevaban, por lo tanto, con las fantásticas armaduras de estilo antiguo alla romana.  En el siglo XVI, cuando se deseaba recrear de forma lúdica y extravagante el mundo idealizado de la antigüedad, la forma del Coltellaggio volvió a ponerse de moda."  

​* Coe/Connolly/Harding/Harris/LaRocca/Richardson/North/Spring/Wilkinson 1993 p47 (Donald J LaRocca, "The Renaissance spirit" 44-57)
"Many ... sword types flourished in the fifteenth century.  The falchion, also known as the malchus or storta, remained popular, although it was generally shorter and sometimes slimmer than the great chopper of the previous two centuries, and a more effective slashing weapon as a result.  However, very few of the slender, almost sabre-like falchions survive, compared with the shorter variety.  Both types were found mainly in Italy and France."

* Fryer 1969 p64
"Falchion  A short sword with curved single-edged blade, current from the middle ages to the seventeenth century."

* Stone 1934 p


* Treasures from the Tower of London 1982 p47
"In Italy, it was fashionable about the turn of the fifteenth century for both civilians and the more lightly armoured of the infantry to carry short swords or long daggers.  Broad-bladed weapons like this, known today as 'cinquedeas', seem to have been fashionable in the years 1480 to 1520, particularly in Central Italy."

* Hermann/Wagner 1979 p15-16
"Die Cinquedea, hauptsächlich im Norditalien des 16. Jarhunderts gebraucht, trägt ihren Namen wegen der fünf Finger breiten, sich zur Spitze hin stark verjüngenden Klinge.  Zwei- oder dreimal unterteilt waren häufig die Gruppen flacher versteifender Blutrinnen, die für diese Klinge ebenso charakteristisch waren wie die untereinander versetzten, durch Bläuung und Goldätzung verzierten Felder.  (Bekannt für solche Verzierungen war der Goldschmeid Ercole dei Fideli von Ferrara.)  Der beinerne Griff war mit prächtigen Einlegearbeiten in Form von Zierrosetten versehen.  Der Griff endete in einem hufeisenförmigen Knauf.  Die Seltenheit der Cinquedea führte gegen Ende des 19. Jahrhunderts zu Nachahmungen meistens aus der Gegend um Mailand.  Die reich verzierten Scheiden des Dolches sind in noch geringerer Stückzahl erhalten als die Cinquedea selbst.  Die Waffe mit der beidseitig geschliffenen Klinge heiß in der deutschen Ausführung >>Ochsenzunge<<."

* Capwell 2012 p24
"The cinquedea was an unusual weapon, in a class all of its own, unique to and characteristic of the Italian Renaissance.  It was the first weapons form to be devised specifically to be worn exclusively with sumptuous, high-status civilian dress.  In this respect it was the immediate fashion precursor to the rapier.  Elaborately decorated on both the hilt and blade, smaller cinquedeas could be considered daggers, while larger versions can only be described as short swords.
    "[...]  Whether sheathed or drawn, this was a weapon that displayed almost as much rich decoration as its surfaces could hold, a worthy and ostentatious companion and sidearm for its wealthy owner.  Once the sword entered the realm of costume and fashion, it became more elaborately decorated, featuring a wider and more complex range of ornamental metalworking techniques than had usually been employed before.  The cinquedea, decorated by chiselling, filing, piercing, etching, false-damascening, blueing, engraving and fire-gilding, was the first of a new breed of Renaissance costume weapon, worn in a proud and prominent way to broadcast the status, means and taste of its bearer."

​* Stone 1934 p181
"CINQUEDEA, ANELACE, ANELEC, SANGDEDE. A dagger of the 15th century of Italian origin. It has a straight, double-edged blade very wide at the hilt, and tapering in straight lines to the point, the quillons are short and curve towards the blade. The name is derived from the width of the blade, which was supposed to be five fingers wide at the hilt. It was carried horizontally at the back of the belt and placed so that it could be drawn readily by the left hand. Different examples differ very little in form but much in size and decoration. Some have blades not over eight inches long, while others are almost large enough to be called swords. In many the hilts and blades are exceedingly elaborate; the latter in particular, being often fluted and engraved. It continued in use from about 1450 to 1550."

​* Coe/Connolly/Harding/Harris/LaRocca/Richardson/North/Spring/Wilkinson 1993 p47-48 (Donald J LaRocca, "The Renaissance spirit" 44-57)
"Just as the Katzbalger is always associated with Germany, the cinquedea is considered distinctively Italian.  The name refers to the width of the blade, five fingers, at the quillons. A highly original and handsome weapon, the cinquedea was developed in northern Italy in the fifteenth century and remained in vogue into the early sixteenth.  It appears to have been worn primarily with civilian dress.  Both dagger- and sword-length cinquedeas exist, but the majority fall somewhere between a large dagger and a short sword.  The flat tang is faced is faced with two ivory plates pierced by inset filigree rosettes and secured by tubular rivets.  The pommel cap and quillons are generally simple but are often chiselled, engraved or gilded.  Equally distinctive is the faceted or fluted blade which typically bears a series of shallow channels in a sequence of four over three or two.  Most cinquedea blades are etched and gilded, sometimes on a blued ground, with allegorical or mythological scenes and Latin mottoes."

* Arlington Museum of Art > A Knight's Tale
"The cinquedea sword takes its name from its form fhat resembles the five fingers of a hand. The term also refers to the approximate width of the blade next to the guard. It was a civilian short sword, developed in northern Italy, very much in style in the late 1400s and the early 1500s. The blade was heavy and tapered to a rather rounded point with a cross-guard that curved towards the point" ....

* Fryer 1969 p64
"Cinquedea  An Italian late fifteenth- or early sixteenth-century dagger with tapering double-edged blade.  The name derived from teh fact that the blade was some five fingers' width at the hilt, and it was often fluted and engraved.  Some Cinquedea were virtually small swords."

* Coe/Connolly/Harding/Harris/LaRocca/Richardson/North/Spring/Wilkinson 1993 p49 caption (Donald J LaRocca, "The Renaissance spirit" 44-57)
​"The quintessential civilian side-arm of the High Renaissance in Italy, the cinquedea was worn on the right hip or at the small of the back with the hilt inclined to the right."