Materials for Construction
Basic Garments
Headwear and Footwear
Bibliography for This Section

Caveat Emptor: While there exists much visual evidence for clothing in this century, as well as extant garments, there is still controversy as to the terminology used for the different types of garments and fabrics. What follows is the "best guess" of the experts.

As in previous centuries, the clothing of 13th century Spain is similar to that of the rest of Europe. However, influences from the Moorish south, and a consistent national "twist" results in styles that are instantly recognizable as Spanish. We have a large body of visual evidence from period sources, such as the Alphonsian manuscripts Las Cántigas de Santa Maria, Libro del Ajedrez (Book of Games), Gran Conquista de Ultramar, Libro del Buen Amor, and others. In addition, we have that most extraordinary of sources, garments from the tombs at the Monastery of Las Huelgas in Burgos. For drawings of these garments, see diagrams by Maura Folsom and Marc Carlson's excellent site.


Materials for Construction:
Fabrics for clothing were both domestically created and imported from the east, including India. It would seem that the weaving of linen and wool (commonly used) were often done in the home, but all other processes, such as dyeing, went to a professional. It is often difficult to tell if the name of a fabric denotes a weave, a finish, or merely the name of the place it was made: for example, the name of the fabric purpuro, which at one time denoted a color, came to have a broader (but uncertain) meaning. Silks were most popular with the nobility. Xamit/jamet seems to be silk from the orient, while cendal was a type of taffeta, (possibly not always silk, but also linen) that was widely used for banners. The Spanish were skilled at weaving fabrics that combined silk threads with metallic threads and linen threads, such as citatón and ciclatones/ciclatoun. For an exhaustive study of the various types of silk, please see Silk Textiles of Spain: Eighth to Fifteenth Century by Florence Lewis May.

Parti-colored (ameatador) clothing came into fashion at this time, although this style reached the height of its popularity in the next century. Furs such as lamb, hare, otter, ermine, martin, and squirrel were used to line garments. Although trims were secondary in importance to the fabric, they were available to women of all classes. These included trims of gold and silver that were used to trim the necklines and armholes, and fine ribbons that might have been used as stripes on veils. Also a special type of camisa (magomada) was embroidered with colored silk, gold, and silver. There is also evidence of the use of buttons at the neck for closure.

The 13th century accounts list an abundance of sumptuary laws limiting dress. Most of them seem to be generally ignored , despite the Seville law that promised the punishment of the loss of the right thumb to tailors who broke the law. While we expect to see limitations on the use of gold, silver, and other precious commodities, there are also many restrictions on the use of certain colors, especially the color red. Laws from 1228 and 1267 prohibited the use of red by the clergy. (Actually, practically everything was restricted to the clergy....) Along with green, brunet, and orange, an escudero (squire/shield bearer) was forbidden to wear scarlet, pink, sanguina, or red. Anyone below the rank of a mounted soldier was forbidden to wear red. And, in 1258, it was decreed that only the king could wear a red capa aguadera-a rectangular poncho with skin lining, meant for inclement weather.

13th Century Basic Garments
13th Century Headwear and Footwear
13th Century Accessories
13th Century Bibliography