Medieval Clothing: Hoods

Hoods were extremely popular in medieval times. They are defined as a type of headgear for protection from the environment covering most of the head and neck, leaving the face mostly open. In the case of knights, armored hoods were used for protection against bladed weapons.

In history, foods often formed part of a cloak or cape, but many were used as standalone headgear. 

Traditional women’s hoods came in varied styles, from close-fitting and soft to stiffened, structured pieces worn over wigs or hairstyles. These headpieces frequently appear in medieval art, sometimes in a long-form that wraps around the head or the neck.

History of the Hood

Hooded garments (documented ones) date back to Medieval Europe. The word “hood” derives from the Anglo-Saxon word “höd,” which has the same root as the word “hat.” Hoods (or cowls) were popular among monks, while short capes with hoods are believed to have been imported from Normandy during the 12th Century. 

Types of Hoods

Hoods can be classified flexibly into:

  • Chaperones: A type of hood that was first worn with the face-opening on top of the head (perhaps in hot weather) and then evolved into a padded roll where the face-opening used to be. Chaperones were highly versatile and worn in all parts of Western Europe during the Middle Ages. 
  • Evolved Chaperones: Popularized in the 15th century, chaperones were worn on top of the head with very large bourrelets. A sign of affluence, a Florentine chaperon of 1515, is recorded as using sixteen braccia of cloth, over ten yards (9 meters).
  • Liripipes: Similar to chaperones, liripipes are long-tailed hoods, sometimes considered extensions to them. The tail ends could be wrapped about the head or across the shoulders. Liripipes were popular from the mid-14th to the end of the 15th century.

Image Gallery: Hoods in Medieval Manuscripts & Art

Sketch of a lady wearing a dagged hood
Sketch of a lady wearing a dagged hood in Panel 3, verso, Women and wild men, Pierpont Morgan Library. Manuscript. M.346. France, probably Paris, ca. 1400.
Probable self-portrait by Jan van Eyck, 1433. The chaperon is worn in style A with just a patch of the bourrelet showing. Image source: Wikimedia Commons.
The original form of chaperon, worn with the hood pulled back off the head. Source: Maciejowski Bible, Wikimedia Commons.

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