The Hennin C.1450 - 1470
The "Heart Shaped Hennin" would have
still been worn at the time of 1450 but the "Hennin"
was making an appearance sometime around 1449. The name, Hennin, is
claimed to derive from the old French word "Genhenner (Modern French, Gêner)"
meaning "to incommode or inconvenience." It consisted of a cap in a cone
or cylindrical construction, very much like a candlesnuffer, which would
have been worn on an angle at the back of the head. Some of the Hennins had
deep black velvet bands called "Lappets" or "Fontanges" folded back from the
front by the brow. These fell into two small "Tippets" to the shoulders
(like spaniels ears). No one with an income of less than £10 was
permitted to wear them.
The Hennin would have been covered in brilliantly coloured silks, velvets and
"other costly stuff" (gold and silver tissue) as well as being richly and heavily
embroidered. Very transparent veils would have hung down the back, almost
to the floor in some cases or tucked under the arm. Other veils fell
gracefully over the eyes; some were worn under the chin (like the C13th Barbette)
and called a Turkey Bonnet (though it is uncertain that the style actually came
from Turkey.) Some Hennin’s also had double veils
hemmed with "rich stuff." Hair would not have been visible as it was
considered "unfashionable" so it would have been drawn tightly away from the
forehead, into a tight bun, high up on the crown of the head.
The Hennin was placed over this.
High pointed "Steeple Hennin's" were extremely popular on the continent,
but was worn in England only by the most fashionable of Noblewoman.
In France, the higher the Hennin, the higher the
rank of the wearer. The Château de Vincennes was obliged to alter the doors so
that the Queen and her ladies were able to enter rooms when in full
dress. In Italy some "Steeple Hennins" were "half an ell high"
(3/4 of a metre high).
A preaching Friar called Thomas Conecte held an "Anti-Hennin Crusade" which
ended in a bonfire of these "Steeple Hennins." The next day,
before the ashes were hardly cold, fresh steeples adorned the Ladies heads
higher than before. Many maids must have sat sewing all night!
Another preacher, a Carmelite, made children run after women who wore these
headdresses and cry "a hennin! a hennin!"
Many examples of these headdresses can be seen on Monumental Brasses in
various churches throughout England. The effigy of Lady Crosby 1466 in
Great St Helens Church, London is one of them.
The Hennin was worn by upper and middle classes
but the lower class continued to wear their hair in the style of the
By 1470 this Hennin was replaced by the "Flowerpot"
or "Butterfly Hennin."
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