Fat Goose Press is pleased to announce the publication of a new book offering a detailed insight into clothing at the beginning of the 16th century. The King’s Servants provides a vivid picture of Henry’s early court using evidence from royal warrants and account books in The National Archive. Caroline Johnson’s transcriptions and translations of more than two hundred hand-written pages of the original 16th century Latin and English documents have revealed a wealth of fascinating facts about expenditure on garments for servants at the Tudor court. The typical clothes worn by middling men during the decades between the battles of Bosworth (1485) and Flodden (1513) are described and reconstructed in this beautifully illustrated book.
Previously unpublished documents, including bundles of orders for clothes, and parchment books recording payments to such people as mercers, drapers, tailors, cordwainers and silkwomen, are carefully analysed to provide details of the usual allocation of dress to different ranks of servants at the royal court. The book focuses on the middle-ranking men who were clerks, messengers and huntsmen. There is also information on trends in men’s fashion at the turn of the century as the documents investigated demonstrate Henry VII’s expenditure as well as his son’s. A noteworthy inclusion is an early livery issued to Henry VII’s newly-founded Yeomen of the Guard, who were resplendent in green and white damask coats embellished with lavish gold embroidery.
The book offers a survey of relevant pictorial sources such as effigies, brasses and stained glass plus rare glimpses of archaeological artefacts from the late 15th and early 16th century. These, together with the archival information, have provided sufficient evidence for reconstructions of the typical royal servant’s every day wardrobe to be made and these are illustrated in high-quality colour photographs. The book also features comprehensive patterns for a man’s complete costume during the early Tudor period. These were devised by Ninya Mikhaila with other experienced costumiers, including Sarah Thursfield (The Medieval Tailor’s Assistant) and Jane Huggett (Clothes of the Common Woman, 1480-1580).
Johnson grapples with the difficulty of nomenclature and makes good arguments for defining eachgarment type. The reading of fabric dimensions from her practical understanding adds to the discussion. ‘The Men and their Clothes’ moves between individual studies, like William Croughton the king’s hosier, and summaries of warrants for groups such as the ‘boys of the Leash’ … It is full of revealing details, like the henchmen whose apportioned textiles flouted sumptuary legislation and, in 1511, cost more than a yeoman of the guard’s yearly salary. Illustrations of each servant’s complete wardrobe allotment are particularly useful. The book aims at ‘researchers and costumiers working in museums, education, re-enactment, stage and screen’, who will relish the focus on early Tudor ‘middling sorts’ and the patterns for their clothing addressed in the final chapter. It is ambitious to include multiple assembly instructions in eleven pages and experience and further references are recommended
I really do think that The Kings Servants is excellent, I’d be proud if I’d done something like it myself. I love the mixture of good new information, deeply researched, clearly set down and easy to understand, it’s really [an] ideal reference and I will certainly march about crying ‘buy this book!’. Please pass on my congratulations to Caroline … and to Michael. I think his illustrations work perfectly. The treatment he’s used, line with relevant parts painted, is one I particularly favour … It’s clean, and somehow modern and traditional at the same time
Let me just say, gentlemen, if your wife or significant other is a person who really likes good documentation, lots of good illustrations, pictures of surviving examples of clothing and patterns to boot! Then give this as a gift. You can’t go wrong. Trust me!”