Ever try to find out what color cope a bishop
wore during the 13th century? I have pictures
of the decorations, but not the color.
And did the Abbot of the local abbey wear
the same color?
Or how much training a knight needed to stay
on one of those war horses they rode?
Or what kind of wood they burned in their
That's just one of the problems I'm facing as I
write my medieval. I've got a dozen books on clothing
worn during the middle ages, even some of the dyes
used but the color of the Bishop's robe - anyone's guess!
Research is a large part of an historical. We don't live
under the same conditions, and there is only so much
written that the common layperson can access. Much
of the works -- most written by men, talk about politics,
attitudes, work and church related topics. There's lots
on taxation and how much for what, on who needs to do what
labor, but talk of colors of garments worn - not a chance.
The best source is often paintings and drawings that depict
what was worn and by whom, but a lot of that is
unavailable unless you can get to the museum exhibiting
those priceless works of art.
So, you wing it - with a disclosure to the effect that
you have taken liberties with color, or food, or plants,
or whatever subject to which you can find no reference.
My abbot is going to wear blue on one day and scarlet the next.
Purple appears to have been reserved for the King.
These are just some of the mind absorbing problems of
historical romantic fiction.
Next time you pick up a book and feel the author has taken
a few liberties with what should have been, remember my tale
of woe. We didn't live then, and the records are none too
clear. Look for a disclosure from the author and give
him or her a pat on the book for attempting fiction from
that period. Believe me, it takes a lot of imagination to
write about something that happened centuries ago.
Struggling with a 13th century medieval romance.
Author of "Simon's Brides" available from
Visit Allison's web page to see what she's
up to now!