• Costume in the Drama of Shakespeare and his Contemporaries, excepts

    Excerpts of color and fabric from Costume in the Drama of Shakespeare and his Contemporaries

    Author: M Channing Linthicum
    Modern English (post-1500)
    Published in 1936
    1500 AD - 1599 AD



Two and a half yards of orange-tawny 'baise' were purchased for the personal wardrobe of King Henry VIII in 1546. Originating in Baia, baize, or 'bays' as it was commonly called in the sixteenth century, was a napped material, half worsted, with a warp of combed wool. Its
manufacture was introduced into England by Dutchmen in 1563, when the Queen granted letters patent to thirty master workmen to exercise the 'faculties of making bayes, arras, sayes ... and other outlandish commodities as has not been made in this our realm of England'. (1)

Previous to this date, bays had been made in Flanders of English wool and imported into England. By 1594, England was sending great quantities of bays into Italy.(2) Bays of Sudbury, Coggeshall, and Maidstone were called 'minikins', and were in 'waight length and bredth equal to short Suffolk clothes saving they are afted and cottoned lyke unto a Baie'.(3) They were exported, converted into frizadoes, and often re-imported into England at high prices. (4)

Because of its nap, bays was especially suited to lining garments, and during the sixteenth century was worn chiefly by the wealthy. Sir Nicholas Bacon paid three shillings a yard for 'primrose mennekine' in 1597; and the Shuttleworths nearly eight in 1619. (5) The 'minikin
breeches' mentioned in Scornful Lady were evidently not expensive, or because of their old condition were contemptuously alluded to. Bays was out of favour by the sixteen-thirties. Shirley expressed in A Bird in a Cage the change in fashion when bays had been superseded by plush, and had become middle class: (6)
At masks and plays, is not the bays
Thrust out to let the plush in?


1. Lansdowne MS. 7, art. 81. For discussion of bays, see Walloons and Their Church, 80, &c.
2. Dec. 17, 1594,S.P.D.ccl 47,76.
3 Ibid.
4. Book of Rates for 1624 gives the customs rate on 'Bayes voc. minekin or Frizados the peece containing 54 pounds upward'.
5. Bacon MSS., Univ. Chicago (wardrobe of Bacon family, May 7, 1.97). Shuttleworth Accts. xli. 237 (kind of bays is not stated). For other references to bays, see, for 1578, Archaeologia, xxv. 566; 1623, Eng. Hist. Rev.
vii. 98 (3s. 2d. a yard); Kenyon MSS. 36 (2s. 10d. a yard).
6. Scornful Lady, I. ii. 338; Bird in a Cage, v. i (Dyce ed. ii. 442).


Jonson showed England as the home of broadcloth when he compared the bringing of broadcloths to that country with taking fresh oranges to Spain.(1) Broadcloths, distinguished from yard-wide 'straits', were originally fine, woollen cloths of plain weave, two yards wide, exclusive of the wide selvedge or 'list'.(2) The full length of a broadcloth was twenty-four yards, but the 'dozen', or broadcloth of twelve to thirteen yards was an important commercial product. Broadcloths had come 'into great perfection' in England at the beginning of the reign of Edward III;(3) and until the introduction of the 'new draperies' they were the chief export of England. William Cholmeley wrote in 1553 that 150,000 undressed and undyed broadcloths were yearly sent out of England. He gives no account of the finished cloths which were exported. (4) Even in 1577, Harrison stated that the 'wares' which were carried out of England were 'for the most part Brode clothes'. (5)

The demand for broadcloth declined as that for the 'new draperies' grew, and this cloth became, by the seventeenth century, the wear for servants.(6)


1 Devil is an Ass, II. i. 205. See also Knack to Know a Knave, sig. (G 4); Fair Maid of the Inn, IV. i. 488.
2. Statutes at Large, 2 Henry VI, c. ix; I Henry VIII, c. 2; 4 James I, c. 2. The lists were used for caps and
garters, &c. Fatal Dowry, v. i. 50; Tam. Sh. III. ii. 69-Grumio's garters were probably of broadcloth lists.
3 Sir Edward Coke, The Institutes of the Laws of England, i. 41.
4 Request and Suite of a Truehearted Englishman, Camden Soc., 1853, I-20.
5. Des. Eng. bk. ii, ch. 5.
6. Tu Quoque, or The City Gallant, sig. C 3 verso.


Buffin has always been defined as a coarse cotton material. Florio's definition of gottomato as 'a kind of cotton, frezado, penistone, or buffin sarge', does not indicate that it was cotton, but a napped material. Buffin was a narrow grograin or single chamlet, as weavers testified in the Delves v. Norwich case, 1602,(1) and it was made in both wool and silk.(2) Since it cost from one to one and a half shillings a yard(3) it could not be classed with the very cheap materials. The earliest noted reference to this material is 1572(4) and it was first manufactured in England in 1589.(5) Buffin was usually worn by tradespeople, so that Milliscent of The City Madam would have been shocked at Lady Frugal's wearing it; and Gertrude, Eastward Hoe, in her ambition to be a lady, would naturally have scorned it. (6)


1. Exch. Bills and Answers, 44 Elizabeth, Norfolk, 301. See Lansdowne
MS. 81, art. 51, for definition.
2. 1585, Durham Wills, xxxviii. 134, 'a rem blet of black and red silk boffyn'.
3. 1588, 'Wray Accounts'<, Antiquary, xxxii. 54, tawny; 1593, 365, striped; 1593, 280, orange-tawny changeable, 281, purple; Durham Wills, xxxviii. 28r.
4. Durham Wills, ii. 373.
5. Walloons and Their Church, i. 78.
6. City Madam, IV. iv. 34; Eastward Hoe, 1. ii. 16. One finds buffin garments in wills and inventories of bailiffs, constables, tradesmen, and merchants, but not in those of nobility. See Durham Wills, xxxviii (1586), 138; (1592), 210-1 r; (1593),233, 236, &c.


Caddis was a woven tape; also a cloth in a coarse, thick quality, resembling bureau, and a fine quality resembling flannel.(1) It was made of the cadace or 'flocks' of wool,(2) so that allusions to caddis may indicate the wool, the yarn, the tape, or the cloth. The tape, in many colours, was used for girdles,(3) or for garters by the poor folk of Shakespeare's age, who could not afford silk ribbon. The allusion in I Henry IV (ii. iv. 80) is a contemptuous reference to the vintner's poor clothing. Caddis is named in the inventory of a chapman's goods, 1446 (4) and was usually among the wares of every pedlar such as Autolycus(5) pretended to be.


1. Gay, op. cit. i. 224.
2. 1400, Cooventry Mysteries, 241: 'Cadace woole or flokkys.' 1440, Promp. Par.: 'Cadas-bombacin: 1463, 3 Edward IV, c. 5: 'Persons having income of less than forty shillings a year are not allowed stuffing of wool, caddis, nor cotton in their doublets.' 1530, 'Caddes or crule'. 1612, Customs on Goods Imported Into Scotland, 293: 'Caddes the pound thairof in woll ... x s. Spun in yairne the pound … xv s.' 1631, Book Rates: Caddas or cruell ribband.'
3. 1552-3, Feuillerat, Revels at Court, 99: 'Item, 1 I pyces of grene and yellow caddas for girdles.'
4 Test. Ebor. xlv. 104: 'De cadis vj d.'
3 Wint. Tale, IV. 208.


The origin of callamanco is unknown. It may have been invented and named by foreign cloth-workers at Norwich. In the Delves v. Norwich case of 1602, Henry Fasett, aged thirty-six, testified that some of the materials mentioned by the interrogators were made before his time, but he knew that grograins and callamancoes were worsted cloths.

Callamanco does not occur in the list of cloths made sixty years before this case, nor among those invented 'within these few years'.(1) One must assume, therefore, that it was not known in England before the second half of the sixteenth century, but must have been familiar when Lyly mentioned it in Mydas (IV. iii. 20). No contemporary definitions of it have been noted. Florio defines tesserino as 'a kind of fine stuff like calamance'; and Cotgrave explains boccasin as a 'kind of fine buckram that hath a resemblance of taffeta, also the stuff callimanco'. Callamanco was evidently the name, not of a certain material, but of a weave of such irregular design or pattern as to explain Lyly's allusion: "Tis the best calamance in the world, as easily deciphered as the characters in a nutmeg.' It was made in both wool, as indicated in the Delves v. Norwich case, and silk. In a list of merchandise imported into Scotland, 1612, it is classed as silk; (I) it occurs under 'wrought silk' in the English Book of Rates, 1631; and Roberts, Treasure of Traffic (21), 1641, mentions 'throwne silk wherof is made all manner of silk-laces, Sattins, Plushes, Taffetas, Callymancoes'. The callamanco named in London Prodigal (1. i. 1 12) and Lady's Trial (II. i. 47) seems to be of silk.


1. Halyburton, Ledger, 327. Miege, 169I,de fines callamanco as 'sorte d' ettoffe de soie'; but Diccionario de la lengua castellana, 1737, defines its Spanish cognate calamaco as 'Tela de lana delgada y angosta, que tiene de Portugal y otras partes, la qual tiene un torcidillo como jerga.'


Chamlet was originally a soft, fine fabric made in Syria, Asia Minor, India, and Tibet, of the hair of chamois. The hair from kids born dead or taken before birth from the mother afforded the most beautiful chamlet. Early in the fifteenth century, Venice produced a silk-and-hair imitation of the oriental fabric, and Norwich made a worsted chamlet;(1) but the silk chamlet, and that given a silky appearance by the 'hot press', seemed to have been the favourite of English wearers from 1423.(2) By a sumptuary law of 1532 only noblemen were allowed to wear it.(3) It was expensive material, priced from two to twelve shillings a yard.(4) Allusions to chamlet in Henry VIII and Fancies Chaste and Noble(5) seem to be to a material of hair, in the latter of which Savelli said Octavio 'merited well to wear a robe of chamlet' for his crimes-evidently suggesting a hairrobe of repentance, though chamlet of camel's hair was soft and non-irritating. By 1525, chamlets were made to show a 'watered' or moire appearance, and thereafter they were designated 'unwatered', or 'watered', the latter called 'cold water chamblets' in Philaster.


1. Marco Polo says that the city of Kalaka manufactured beautiful chamlets from camel's hair and also of fine wool, bk. i, 237. Coles, Dictionary, 'Cameletto, a stuff partly silk, partly camel's hair'. 1602, Exch. Dep. Norfork, 44 Elizabeth, Mich. I, 'Chamlettes, stryped sayes . . . have ben named worsted Clothes' .
2. 1423, Test. Ebor. xlv. 73; 1473, Rot. Par!' vi. 155: 'Camelet and every other clothe of silk.' See also 15°2, P. P. Ex. Elizabeth York, 70; IPO, Letters and Papers, Henry VIII, iii, pt. 2, 1554; 1525, Archaeologia, xxv. (6s. a yd.), 1536, Lancashire and Cheshire Wills, liv. 46; 1582, Durham Wills, xxxviii. 65.
3. Statutes at Large, 24 Henry VIII, c.13•
4. 1502, P. P. Ex. Elizabeth York, 44, 2S. 4d.; 1561, Lansdowne MS. 86, V. 4d.; 1631, Agriculture and Prices, v. 576.
5. Hen. VIII, v. iv. 96, Fancies Chaste and Noble, 1. i. 4; also The Woman's Prize, v. i. 1°7, but here the material may be either silk or hair.


The 1467 'Ordinance of Girdlers of York' forbade members to set any 'bucle pendante uppon any girdilles that are made of threde or of cruyles'.(1) The ordinance referred to the fine, coloured, woollen yarn,(2) used in sewing(3) and embroidery, in making fringes,(4) laces,(5) and gartering tape, as in Two Angry Women of Abington;(6) hatbands, as in The Noble Gentleman; (7) nightcaps, as in Scornful Lady (II. i. r08). The word offered excellent opportunity for punning. In King Lear (II. iv. 7), crewel garters and stocks afford double puns.


1. 1585, Durham Wills xxxviii, 1341-1589, E 154.3.19: 14 lb black 'double crewell' at /18 a lb. By 1581, the Walloons awere making linen crewel, "Walloons and Their Church", 78, but references are usually to woollen.
2. 1592, Durham Wills xxxviii 211: 'iii lbs sowing cruell', 10 s. It was used in working the button-hole stitch in embroidery, 1503, P. P. Ex Elizabeth York, 831; 1623, Household Bk.Howard, 217.
3. 1536, Archaeologia, ix. 249; 1582, Durham Wills, xxxviii. 103.
4. Hist. Hengrave, 23
5. Line 490, Malone Soc. Review 1912: 'he will have His Cruel garters crosse about the knee'.
6. v. i. 70; 1571, Durham Wills, ii. 362: 'vi peces gartering crewle.'


Durance referred to a class of closely woven, worsted fabrics of lasting quality named specifically, according to their patterns: 'mountains, mackerels, scallops, oillets'. (9)Durance was made in several colours, and priced two to seven shillings a yard.(10) The earliest reference which the author of this discussion has found to durance, i.e. 'Pro un toga ... de durance watchett',(1) 1575, illustrates its most frequent use. It served also in aprons,(2) sometimes lace-trimmed, in 'bodies', and in petticoats as mentioned in Eastward Hoe (1. ii. 23). The usual dramatic allusions, however, are puns on durance, the cloth, and durance, a prison commitment.3


9, 1602-3, testimony of Francis Smalpeece, Delves v. Norwich case, Exch. Dep. 44 Elizabeth, Mich. 1: 'And the stuffs that he doth usually sell are these as followeth videlicet....mountaines, mackerelles, skallopes, Ollyettes which foever goe under the name of durances' the 'duretta' of City Match, Dodsley, xiii. 222, was also a durance.

10. 1589,Account Book of William. Wray<, xxxii. 54, 5/8: '1 pece blacke durance xxiiis'; 1587, 3/4 yd. 'birdseye durance xvi d', 76; 1593, '1 pece cremsen branched durance xxxx s,' 370; 1595, 'd yeard & nail gren durance, xviii d,' 370; 1592, Durbam Wills, xxxviii. 211, '1 peace crimsine durance 27/6; 1 elle orringe durance 2s'; ibid. 281, 4s. 3d. a yd. for crimson.

1. A.O. 3/1108.

2. 1585, Durham Wills, ii. 114; Overbury, Characters, 160.

3. Comedy of Errors, iv. iii. 26; Hen. IV, I.ii.49; Westward Hoe, III.i.147


'I am not able to answer the Welsh flannel', said Falstaff in Merry Wives of Windsor (v. v. 176). The author's search has not disclosed that wales originated flannel or led in its manufacture, even in the sixteenth century. Welsh port books between 1550 and 1603 note the export of very little flannel; 'wedmolles', 'frises', 'cottons', and kerseys lead in the cloth lists.(4)

It was a thin, fine material, both linen and woollen, the former manufactured in England before 1345,(5) the latter appearing in the wardrobe accounts of Elizabeth of York, 1502, and in those of noble families throughout the century. A flannel petticoat trimmed with billiament lace, stolen in 1596, was valued at thirty shillings.(6) Lady Anne Clifford sometimes wore flannel gowns, but in Ram Alley, flannel is classed with buckram as material to be worn out
of sight.(7)


Evidence of the Welsh Flannel Industry can be found in Tudor Economic Documents, volume 1, documents relating to the textile industry.

4. Welsh Port Books, II, 16, 30, 33,40, 60, 67, 76, 84, 255, 280, &c.
5. 1345, Cal. Close Rolls, July 13, m.22: 'flannel of linen thread called "coverchiefs" of Salle, in co. Norfolk'; 1502, P. P. Ex. Elizabeth York, 94: 'iiij yerds of fRanel iiij s.'; 1520, Letters and Papers Henry VIII, iii. 2, 1551, cost 2S. 8d.; 1551, Middleton
MSS. 403, IS. 4d.; 1597, Durham Wills, xxxviii. 282; Household Bk. Howard, 161, 15.
6. Middlesex Sessions Rolls, i. 230.
7. Clifford, Diary, Jan. 1617, 52; Ram Alley, Dodsley, x. 357.


'Item ordeigne est et establi qe nulle subside ou aulnage soient paiez lavez ne demandez des draps appellez Friseware queux sount faitz en Irland, ou autrement en Engleterre de leynes Irreises amesnes deinz Ie Roialme d'Engleterre a cause qe celles draps ne contienent longeure et Iaieure ordeinee par estatut.'

This statute of 1376(1) which exempted friezes from the subsidy paid on cloth of ray and colour is the first-known allusion to this material. Frieze was a woollen cloth made in several qualities, and priced from sixpence to three shillings a yard.(2) Its heavy nap-usually on one side only-is suggested by similes in Othello and Mother Bombie,(3) a nap which made it especially suited for gowns, jackets, jerkins, and coats.(4) It was therefore the cloth used by military men, as shown in Edward 1, though it was worn by both men and women in all classes of society. (5)


1. Statutes at Large, 50 Edward III. c.8.
2. 1566, Durham Wills, ii. 257; 1617, Shuttleworth Acets. xxxv. 223-5; 1618,
Eng. Hist. Rev. vii. 92.
3. Othello, II. i. 126; Mother Bombie, IV. ii.
4. 1569, gowns, Bury Wills, 155; Lancashire and Cheshire Wills, Ii. 358; 1590, jerkins, ibid. Ir8; jackets, 1592, Durham Wills, xxxviii, 252; Westward Hoe, II. ii. 17, jerkins.
5. Edward 1, sc. ii, stage directions; cf. Durham Wills, ii. 253; Rabelais, Gargantua, bk. i, ch. 2 I. Clyomon and Clamydes, M.S.R. (1913), line 1327: 'Frumptons wench in freese.' 1580, Archaeologia, xix. 501, used for livery.


An inventory of the goods of Henry Fitzroy, 1527, included two cloaks, 'oon scarlet and the other frizado'.(6) The latter material was a woollen cloth of high nap, better than frieze, costing from two to six shillings a yard.(7) Though, seemingly, of Spanish origin, it was early made in Holland, but was a product of the Dutch weavers in Stanford by 1567,(8) and fourteen years later was listed among the things to be carried 'for a shewe of' English commodities by Pettle and Jackman on their voyage to discover the North-east Strait.(9)

Frizado was, until the middle of the sixteenth century, found in the costume of noble persons,(1) but early lost favour, and by the nineties was not worn by fashionable persons. Frizado was used for any garment in which warmth was desired: capes, gowns, jackets(2), doublets-as in Anything for a Quiet Life-and whole suits, as in What You Will. (3)


6. Camden Miscy. iii. 4.
7. Florio, 1598, 'gottonato, a kind of cotton, frizado, penestone or buffin sarge'. 1546, E. 351/3025, 'ij Frizado vi s viii d'. 1546, E. 154/2/22, 'fryseadowe grene, blacke, tawney', 2S. 8d. 1566, Durham Wills, ii. 256, 'rede fresaedo ii yds. vs'; 1587, ibid. xxxviii; 290, 'ix yds black fresaedowe', £3; 'xiiij yds. fresaedowe', £3 18s. O. Johnson, a merchant of London, in a letter of 1546 to his brother at Calais refers to frizadoes as light cloths, bringing five shillings a yard, which price did not allow for importer's profit. Ellis Letters, II. ii. 174-5'
8. C.S.P.D. xliii. 29. Flanders frizado was among the products at Norwich, 1571, Walloons and Their Church, 256.
9. Hakluyt, Voyages, iii. 269. See also Lansdowne MS., 8 I, art. 51.