Monday, 31 October 2011

A shop: Armstreet

This shop was one of the first I found once I started looking and I frequently swing by their website to check out their new stuff. They don't sell exact medieval replicas but their clothing and armor are beautiful! They sell to both men and women and are actually reasonably priced considering the nice stuff they offer.
There's also a couple of extra things besides clothing on their website such as jewelry, delicious leather bags, belts and cloaks. You can get a Galadriel looking crown with golden leaves if you like. In medieval times the bride would often wear a magnificent bridal crown up until the ceremony. A sign of her virtue.
You can easily find an amasing set of clothes for both bride and groom of perhaps the maid of honor.
What impressed me the most is their incredible sets of armor. You can really become a knight i shining armor, but the price also reflects the amount of work put into these war suits.
Most of their clothing comes in all colors and is sown after your meassurements. So check out their website:

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Inspirational paintings of dresses

Many of the seamstresses who makes history clothing gather their inspiration from periode paintings. I would just like to show you a couple of paintings of potentially amasing wedding gowns:
Banquet of St. Elizabeth of Wartburg, 1480-1500, Slovakia
The woman in the front looks amazing in her gold embroidered green gown with a hint of rosy red under the dress and the night-sky velvet cloak. I am not sure I would wear her veil, but the dress is beautiful.

This gold dress apperently was a fashional wedding look around 1500. In a danish medieval wedding budget from 1501-04(?) a large amount of golden fabric was bought for the wedding dress. And while I am at it, check out his shoes!

Hours of Charles d'Angouleme, late 15th century
The woman in the red dress is also looking stunningly. I love the pattern and the combination of peach-red and baby blue. The train of the dress is also very weddingish.

The lady and unicorn - late 15 century.
I really like the color of her dress. It looks amasing with the gold belt and -pattern. It's a pretty simple dress but still so feminine and graceful.

'Marriage of King Philip III of France to Mary of Brabant in 1274.' From Chroniques de France ou de St. Denis. Published late 1300.
Last but not least, this royal gown, with a light cherry pink underdress and the french blue with golden fleur de lis on the outer dress.
I would really like to see all of these dresses recreated! Maybe I'll try making one myself one day, but I am not that skilled in the art of sewing so I think I might leave it to the professional replica makers. :-)

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Dress of the month October

As the winds turn colder I thought it would be appropriate to have a dress with long sleeves. I love this dress by DaisyViktoria. It's 14th century and the belt makes a nice accessory to this almost heraldic looking gown. I like the fact that men isn't the only ones who can wear garments in the family colors.

It gives the impression of a proud woman with strong roots. And just look at her fine accessories, the crown, the buttons and her pretty belt.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Medieval Restaurants of the world

There actually are quite a few restaurants in the world that has a medieval experience to offer. I would like to share a list of them with you, and maybe you'll get lucky and one of them is near you.

Den Gyldne Svane - part of a museum and very serious about their food. Presently they are cooking like it's 1401 AD. It's a restaurant for everyone in the day time and only open for parties on request at night.

Sjätte Tunnan - The year is 1435 in Stockholm, open in the evening and they have a cool website. They do host parties I believe. The rooms are very cosy and sets the perfect mood. The menu also looks very good, all from goat cheese baked turnips to hog with rosemary.

La Casa Grande - My spanish isn's sufficient to tell you what's on the menu, but I do know that they offer a medieval experience in a big banquet hall fit for queens and kings. If you can't afford the castle this is difinately an option. From what I can gather, it's a part of a museum.

Czech republic
Anno Domini 1471 - in Praque is not the huge royal hall but rather the small intimate medieval tavern, that in spite their modest appearence holds the possibility for an amasing wedding for the food range from royal to peasent. Like many of these specialised restaurants they only use ingrediences avaliable in the 15th century and base their menu on recipies of the time.

Gallo Nero - I don't know any italien, but their website caught my eye.They have a medieval menu for a medieval couple and nice rustic surroundings with dark wooden tables and candlelight.

Restaurant Cosy - is situated near the castle Chateau Bouillon and also offers rooms for the night. They also have a very fine describtion of how a medieval banquet would unfold, the seriation of the courses and what medieval source they use for their recipes.

Olde Hansa - in Tallinn is a beautiful restaurant with a wide range of choices for your wedding banquet, such as Royal Hunting Feast or Merchant Guild's Saturday Feast. They also have a small shop and live medieval music from time to time.

L'Auberge du Dragon Rouge - yet another medieval restaurant with the facilities to hoist a wonderful medieval party. They offer 5 different banquets, but you better check out their website yourself :) my french isn't the best either.

Rozengrâls - lies in the city of Riga and on their menu they have small explanations of where they got the recipe from. It's my impression that it's a big place that could easily acommodate a wedding party.

Please do write to me if you know of any restaurant that offers the same medieval magic in your country so I can add it to the list.

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Chrystine and Joe's wedding

So this week I have the great honor of featuring my first real medieval wedding with the historically inspired Joe and Chrystine. The photographer is Jen Sulak of Pink Light Images To accompagny their stunning pictures, Chrystine wrote a couple of words about the day to me:

Scarborough Renaissance Festival in Waxahachie, Texas.

Why a medieval theme?
"We chose a medieval theme because we love going to faire multiple weekends every year; it's something neither of us did much of before our relationship, but that grew on us together. We also knew that we didn't want to do something "traditional." Initially, our families didn't really get it, but eventually many of them decided to dress in costume, and they all really enjoyed our day."
Did you consider historical authenticy?
 "We weren't concerned with being historically authentic, really, but were more concerned with enjoying ourselves. We chose our clothes based on what we liked (they just happened to match... another sign that it's meant to be ;)) and we chose our ceremony wording in the same way. It sounded good and rang true to us, so we went with it!"
A proud mom and dad who came in awsome comstumes
The bridal gown:
 "As a little girl I remember drawing dresses with long bell sleeves and pointed bodices. I achieved that look (or at least a part of it) by wearing a bodice over a dress that I found and loved. The dress actually had decorative buttons down the sleeves rather than bells, but I LOVED it!!! I wore flowers in my hair that matched the celtic trim on the dress, and my normal faire shoes."

Tell us a bit about the ceremony:
"The arch bishop that was officiating our ceremony provided us with a 35 page document of ceremony wording choices. We chose a somewhat traditional medieval Christian text, because it was the most true to our thoughts and beliefs about marriage despite the fact that neither of us are practicing Christians. My ten-year-old daughter walked me down the aisle to live harp music and agreed to share me with my husband-to-be. I'd already been married once, and didn't feel that anyone needed to give me away, but certainly felt that my little girl would like to share me with her step-dad- She was more than happy to do the honors. After that our ceremony was really pretty short, but it was touching and I wouldn't have chosen anything else for us. It was perfect.
Tell us a bit about your party:
 "We had a pavillion at the faire for family and friends to gather after the ceremony, where everyone could eat, drink and be merry. We providded beverages and cake (everyone was on their own for food), and a champagne toast during which we announced that we'd just found out that we were expecting (we'd been planning for six month, but no one knew)!!!"´

What was your greatest challenge in planning the wedding?
I think the greatest challenge we had was communicating with the wedding coordinator about what was included and what we needed to provide. We chose an untraditional package, even for faire, and it was somewhat difficult to get everything priced out. Despite that, everything turned out perfect the day of the wedding, and we are thrilled with our choice to marry at a faire.

The daughter of the bride in a magical dress
What was your greatest/funniest moment?
 "I think the funniest moment actually happened during the ceremony. When discussing vow wording with the arch bishop, he recommended that most brides like to romeove a few choice words from the medieval text we had chosen: the honor and obey part and the part where the bride vows to be bonny and buxom at bed and at board. I chose to remove honor and obey but left bonny and buxom thinking that if more brides would make this vow, more marriages might stay together! I wondered who at the ceremony would really be paying attention to the wording and catch what I was vowing to -- my mother cracked up!!!"

The crazy beautiful cake from Renaissance Production
Any advice or vendors you would like to share with future medieval brides?
"I would love to recommend our photographer Jen Sulak of Pink Light Images. She was wonderful, ever-present, and yet knew how not to suffocate :) We absolutely adore the pictures she took and are thrilled with the memories we'll have forever because of her work. We also ordered a cake from Renaissance Productions, and not only did it taste great, but it looked beautiful!!!"

Monday, 3 October 2011

A Royal English wedding planning

The 26 December 1251 a massive royal wedding took place in the city of York. Margaret, the daughter of Henry III, was wed to Alexander III of Scots.

Alexander King of Scots at his coronation in 1249
 I medieval times the planning probably was a greater challenge than today. You did not have the same means of communication, transportation and preservation of the food. Because a wedding was a way of showing of your wealth and power in the high societies the feast were comprehensive events. We can get a clue as to how extensive by looking at Margaret and Alexander's wedding.

From the records it appears that the planning of the feast began in the summer.

July: Beasts were bought from the fairs and pastured until they were to be slaughtered just before the wedding. An order was also given to slaughter and salt 300 red and fallow deer.

August: Early August 100 wine tuns or 25,000 gallons of wine was brought in.

October: In the northern counties the sheriffs were told to supply hens (7000), game birds, rabbits, hares, pigs and boars (70). Later a 100 more boars were added.

November: Another 1000 roe fallow and red deer was ordered. You can probably imagine that with all that meat they would need a LOT of bread for the guest. It was ordered from the local bakers in the insane amount of 68,500 for £7000 ! To be able to cook all the meals a great many charcoal was needed and the wood was collected from the forests of Glatres and Langwith. At the end of the month such delicacies as sugar, almonds and rice were bought.

Margaret of England
 December: The fish was ordered: 60.000 salted herring, 1000 greenfish, 10.000 haddocks and 500 conger eels. The fresh-water fish came from the King's stew pond and was to be kept alive until they day to keep them fresh.

There are a couple of cookbooks preserved mostly from early 14 century and onwards, but with evidence that the recipes are far older. Recipes weren't as precise as today, there wasn't much mention of quantity, but from the big variation in products you can guess that they probably had a wide range of meals on the menu during the days of this royal and massive wedding.

Source: Food and feast in medieval England, by P.W.Hammond, 1995

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Medieval flowers

Le Jardin d'agrément 1480-85

Today we have such a variety of flowers to choose from when we make our bouquet or decorate church and reception venue from all over the world. In the Middle Ages they had a lot of plants too, some growing wild and others imported by the monks from southern countries of Europe. During the Middle Ages the term 'pleasure gardens' appear. These are gardens made, not for practical purposes, but for the joy of the beauty and smell of the flowers.
A few written sources have survived. For example, in 1260 Albertus Magnus wrote 'De Vegetabilis et Plantis'. It contains a description of plants used in pleasure gardens. He was a monk and wrote much about botany, philosophy and Theology. 
Roses where a part of the medieval pleasure gardens and used as a Christian symbol of Jesus and his suffering. A couple of roses can be traced back to the Middle Ages like the Rosa gallica var. officinalis also known as the Apothecary's rose. Presumably it had been brought to Europe by the crusaders returning from the Holy Land. It was used for medicine or perfume and grown at first in the monasteries. It is a beautiful historical flower that would look beautiful in the hair of a bride or on the tables in your venue.

Another known rose is the Rosa Alba, or the White Rose of York. Both of the roses were adopted as heraldic symbols by the houses of York and Lanchester who were rivals. The rivalry ended when Henry Tudor became king and united the two houses along with the two roses to make a new symbol. Perhaps a suiting wedding symbolism, the two roses together to indicate unity and peace.

Other flowers or plants I could mention are:
The lily: Often seen in religious paintings or in relation to France (fleur de lis).
Iris, Marigold, Daisies, Foxgloves, Cowslip, Peony and Snowdrop.

Herbs had significant usage in the Middle Ages. They were used to season the food, make medicine and as amulets against evils. Their pleasant smell could also be used in the houses to disguise less attractive aromas.
Amongst these decorative plants you could find:

St John's Wort:                                                                       Chamomile 

So you see there are plenty of beautiful medieval flowers you can use in your bouquet or when decorating your venue. It may look a bit more wild than today's neat flower arrangements, but that is definitely also a part of the charm.