Examples of 13th century coifs (Morgan Bible, ~1250, France)
Today I thought about making a new linen coif for my mid 13th century kit. I did some research on patterns and took a closer look on my favourite source of contemporary fashion and gear: the Morgan Bible.
I found more than I had expected. First of all: It seems to be a safe bet, that all of the knights wear a linen coif underneath their skullcap and maille coif. And I think it’s not the ordinary coif, but a lightly padded one. Second: The coifs which are worn by peasants and other civilians do have y-shaped strings! I’ve never noticed this before! In contrast to that, most of the knight’s coifs have only one, broader strip attached. I am tempted, to think of a drawcord-like construction? Could it be?
Well, most linen coifs are made from two pieces, with a double hemmed seam on top. I found one, which is clearly constructed otherwise: two halves plus two sideparts, covering the ears. An amazing find. But since several people worked on the illuminations, one can assume, that everyone had his distinctive way of painting such details. But nevertheless it’s another way of constructing a coif, besides the well known two-part and three-part way.
It’s also note worthy, that (not counting the knights) only one out of approximately four people in those illuminations does wear a linen coif. Most men and women don’t wear anything on their head. The linen coif may be somewhat overrepresented by modern reenactors.