Cotton in England 14th Century

Research into various aspects of 14th C life.
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Cotton in England 14th Century

Post by Roxy » Tue Sep 24, 2013 8:32 pm

List of research around whether cotton is a viable fabric for 14th Century

We know that the English did know about cotton (or cotton wool)

A pound of cotton for stuffing an aketon is mentioned in the wardrobe of King John (A.D 1212)


1.Cap V I - An Act for the true making of Woolen Cloth [Edward VI, A.D.1552]

This act, regarding the true making of Woolen cloth, talks about ways in which people are putting their greed first [example, by mingling fell wool [wool recovered from sheep butchered for their meat] with lamb wool and fleece wool] (biggest issue seems to be that they are depriving the king of the customs tax though. Typical)

Anyway, so for the purpose of truthhood (and taxes), everyone who makes cloth (divers honest clotheirs and divers drapers, merchant-Taylors, cloth-workers, Sheerman and other Artificers agrees to have their cloth exaimed by certain wise, discreet and sage knights and burgesses of the parliement, notwithstanding any suggestions herafter to be made by any Clothier or Clothmaker to the contrary as they have in like cases heretofore done that is to say

"That every Cloth, Kerfie (kersie?), Piece of Frize and Cotton shall be made in such Soft and Form and shall contain in Length, Breadth and Weight as is herein hereafter particulary mentioned"

Kersey - A type of Woolen Cloth

Piece of Frize - Coarse, woolen, plain weave cloth with a nap on one side

Given the definitions of the other words particulary mentioned, it seems like in 1552, the widely used and understood definition of cotton, was some kind of wool NOT the modern definition of the word.

Furthermore, later in the act, it states that "no one shall put any hairs, flocks or any yarn made of Lambs Wool, into any Cloth, Kersey, Frize and Cotton, to make or sell or offer to sell on pain to forfeit any such cloth, kersey frieze of cotton wherin any Yarn Hair or flock be found (or the value of)."

If cotton is cotton, then you don't need to tell people not to use Lamb Wool. Therefore, cotton is wool in 1552. If cotton is wool in 1552, seems pretty clear that any earlier references, would also be wool. ... =GBS.PA441

2.History of the Cotton Manufactore in Great Britain, Edward Baines (1835) ... 9/mode/2up

Baines discusses the above act and points out more reasoning behind Cotton referring to linens. Also talks about when cotton manufactoring first become industralised in England and the history of cotton in other parts of Europe and the rest of the world.

On page 95, Baines provides evidence that fustian is a type of woolen manufactor, point to documentation regarding Norwich's expansion in wool after Edward III (who married a wife from Flanders and began allowing wool-workers from Flanders to move to England) and an act in 1504 regarding the regulating of shearman "for shearing as well worsteds, stamins and fustians as also all other woolen cloth"

Sumptary law of James 1, 1621


Chaucer - Canterbury Tales ... -para.html

The knight is described as wearing

"75: Of fustian he wered a gypon
76: Al bismotered with his habergeon,"

Or, he wore a jupon [gambeson] made from fustian and it was rusty from his hauberk [suit of maille]

I find it unlikely that a knight (who does not necessary have a lot of money, being among the lower of the nobles) has enough money to spend on what has to be at least partially imported goods to make a gambeson out of.

Possible - We know that some gambesons are made from linen and stuffed with cotton, could be referring to this?

Journal of William de Rubruquis A.D 1253 ... #section36

In discussing the Tartars, states that they get cloth of gold, silk and cotton cloth out of Cataya, other regions of the East, Peria and other countries of the South.

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