Hello, Friendly Neighborhood SCA Reference Librarian! I play a 12th century Frenchwoman, and I want to embellish my garb, but I’m having trouble finding resources for embroidery and beading during that period. Do you know of any good references for surface embellishment? Pictures or written references would be much appreciated! Thank you!


So it looks like there is plenty of pictoral and statuaary evidence for embellishment in 12th century France. This reenactor (I’m not sure if she is a SCAdian) has compiled a lot of images with citations in her project diary: [Link] (French)

Another page from a French reenactor, but they are looking specifically at the embroidery, and using literary sources as references: [Link] (French)

You can see the section of the Grove Encyclopedia of Materials and Techniques in Art on Google Books – it talks about 12th century French ecclediastical embroidery (linen “entirely covered” with “couched gold thread and silk embroidery.” It’s section on beadwork isn’t so robust when it comes to our period: [Link]

Here’s the section of Stefan’s Florilegium on beadwork embroidery: [Link]

This book was cited on a very general article about medieval beadwork, but it looks promising. Your local library should be able to ILL it for you.
A pictorial history of embroidery, by Marie Schuette and Sigrid Muller-Christensen. New York: Praeger, 1964. [Link]

Beadwork was clearly a thing in other countries in the 12th century – there seem to be a lot of examples from Spain and Germany.

I hope this helps! Let me know if you need more. 🙂

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