The Torque C.1220 - 1327
Around the time of 1199 the "Torque" or "Toque"
was originally a narrow band of cloth worn about the head resembling
a "Pill-box." It was used solely as a travelling hat for Noble Women
when they travelled by horse.
By 1220 it became fashionable to wear the
"Torque" at every level of society.
In France it was referred to as a "Chappel." It was widened into a stiff
linen band or "fillet" (approx 4") frequently in some brilliant colour in
linen or silk (White and red were popular). A narrow chin band was worn
with this "Torque" and was called the
"Barbette." This was a narrow piece of cloth that was worn under the chin,
which went up either side of the face to the top of the head, under the
"Torque." At this point in time, no hair was
visible around the face as the hair was confined in plaits or a net at
the back of the head. This net was known as the "Crispine" and was shaped
like a bag. They were made out of gold, silver or coloured silk.
Around about 1260, the hair started to be seen. Plaits became coils
(Ramshorns), which were worn under the
"Torque" on either side of the face.
Clever Ladies in waiting artfully arranged veils over these coils. They
were worn either tucked up, around or in the
"Torque", as there was
sometimes no crown (top). A few of the
"Torque´s" from this time period can be
seen in various churches around the country. York Minster is one such
place. Here you can see the many variations of the
"Torque". Plain, Pleated or solidly crowned.
Most of them have the hair curled or coiled over each ear.
During the period of Edward I (1272), the
"Torque" was wider at the top than
the bottom and became a heavily jewelled band. The hair was still coiled
over each ear as before and veils arranged in the same manner.
In 1307 the "Torque" was wider again
and was sometimes covered in gold work
and jewels for nobility. Hair was still coiled into the ramshorns but was
now starting to be encased in the Crispine over each ear (Later to become
the "Crispinette"). Young or old of the
upper and middle classes wore this style of headdress but a strip of
cloth or braid was worn by humbler folk.
By 1327 the "Torque" was still worn by women
but other forms of headdresses came to be in use.
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