Forensic Fashion
(c) 2006-present R. Macaraeg


>Costume Studies
>>1585 Spanish caballero
Subjectcaballero knight
Culture: Hapsburg Spanish
Setting: Dutch, Ottoman wars, mid 16th-early 17thc
Evolution1084 Taifa cavalry > 1212 Iberian cruzado >> 1492 Castilian caballero > 1585 Hapsburg Spanish caballero 

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


* Norris 1938 p574, 576 (describing a Spanish noble)
​"[A]n example of the costume affected by the nobles, including the hidalgos, of the period covered by Part I [early Tudor England].  It is entirely of black; the jerkin with high collar and the wings are of velvet, and the sleeves, paned slops, and hosen of black silk.  The shoes are of black Spanish leather.  A new feature is seen in the sleeves: They are slightly gathered along the front seam, producing folds around the arm. ...
    "Owing to the influence of the new Queen [Isabel de Valois], who introduced some French ideas, Spanish costume became richer, more ornate and colourful; but by 1563 it was thought advisable to issue another pragmatic, ostensibly re-enforcing that of 1537 but really relaxing the regulations only for the benefit of the upper classes only.  Silk weaving was revived, and great extravagance in dress and living followed during this period: in fact, weavers, tailors, dressmakers, and embroiderers were allowed a free hand in all their departments.
    "[...] When the King [Philip II] became a widower for the third time in 1568, his grief was such that he retired from the world into the monastery of St. Jerome, and his hair and beard became quite white.  But his 'task in the world was greater to him even than his sorrow or his love.'  His gloom, deepened by fanaticism, influenced the whole Court and Society, and henceforth he and his attendant nobles dressed simply, and wholly in black: even the middle and lower classes followed the example set by the nobility."

* Ventura 1993 p40
"European fashion in the second half of the 1500s and in the first half of the 1600s was mainly Spanish and reflected the climate of the Counter Reformation, that is, the more disciplined aspect of the Catholic Church after the Protestant Reformation.  It was a severe fashion, uncomfortable and somber.  The high ruff impeded natural movements of the head and made it hard to smile normally, giving an air of haughtiness.  A person's needs were completely sacrificed in favor of an image.
    "Men wore a chemise with a ruff, a padded doublet, padded short breeches, stockings, and ornate shoes.  On top they wore a short, wide cloak of stiff silk, which was mainly decorative."


* Capwell 2012 p32-33
"Overall, the general consensus among scholars appears to support the idea that until the middle of the 16th century the rapier was simply the sword worn with civilian dress, whatever the precise form of the blade.  However, a specific fighting context will always lead to changes in a weapon, just as variations in habitat conditions drive the process of biological evolution in nature.  As soon as the sword had become a standard feature of everyday life, alterations began to be made to it, in order to optimize the weapon for its new and very specific role.  In a non-military environment, armour was not usually worn.  One opponent was faced in a duel, or a small number in a street fight, but never the entire massed ranks of an army in battle.  In this situation Mair's 'Spanish sword' began to prove itself the ideal weapon for personal self-defence.  A stabbing sword encouraged new methods of fight, which prioritized the use of the point rather than the edge, as advocated by the Italians, including Agrippa and Palladini.  Once its physical form had evolved to suit its new environment, the rapier became much easier to recognise.  It was the long, thrusting weapon of the fashionable urban swordsman, promoted by the Italian and Spanish schools of defence, soon adopted in France and in the German lands, and later in England, though with less enthusiasm and consistency."

* Fryer 1969 p67
"Rapier  A long straight-bladed sword of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.  Originally used for cut-and-thrust play, it gradually developed into a thrusting weapon only.  It subsequently evolved into the small-sword in the late seventeenth century.  Rapier hilts were usually quite elaborate and two distinct patterns were the cup hilt and swept hilt."


* Treasures from the Tower of London 1982 p62
"From the beginning of the sixteenth century, with the development of more scientific forms of fencing, the sword was often used together with a parrying dagger, and many fencing manuals appeared advocating the best way of fighting with sword and dagger.  Generally these daggers, which are usually known today as 'left-hand daggers', followed the hilt styles of the swords they were made to accompany, although, certainly at first, matching pairs of swords and daggers seems to have been uncommon."​






* Fryer 1969 p78
​"Buckler  A shield for parrying blows, generally small and circular in shape.  It had a handle on the reverse and was held in the left hand."

​* Treasures from the Tower of London 1982 p61-62
"In the Middle Ages the sword was generally used by itself but sometimes in conjunction with a small shield which was held in the left hand and used to parry the opponent's blade."