Middle Ages Hairstyles

Middle Ages Hairstyles - the Normans
The Bayeux Tapestry illustrates the hairstyles of the Normans. The hair was cut short and the sides and back of the head was shaved.

Middle Ages Hairstyles - Medieval Women
The hairstyles of Medieval women changed with their fashions during the Middle Ages

  • Hair was first long and flowing and clearly visible
  • Long Plaits then came into fashion
  • Hair was then hidden from view under the style of headdress called a wimple
  • Hairstyles then changed and coiled buns were displayed on each side of the head
  • Smooth Hair, parted in the middle was on display on the front of the head, above the forehead. The remaining hair was hidden by a bonnet

Middle Ages Hairstyles - Medieval Monks and Nuns
A nuns hair was roughly shorn and her head, and any remnants of hair, was hidden from view as the nun's head was covered by her wimple or veil. All Medieval monks in the Middle Ages were clean shaven. They were distinguished by their partly shaven hair called tonsures. Their hair was shaved except for a narrow strip round the head. Tonsures were a symbol of their renunciation of worldly fashion and esteem. A tonsure might also indicate that a monk had received clerical status.

Middle Ages Hairstyles
The following paragraphs describes Middle Ages Hairstyles

Middle Ages Hairstyles - the Early Franks hairstyles
The curious description given of the Franks by Sidoine Apollinaire, who says,

 "They tied up their flaxen or light-brown hair above their foreheads, into a kind of tuft, and then made it fall behind the head like a horse's tail. The face was clean shaved, with the exception of two long moustaches. They wore cloth garments, fitting tight to the body and limbs, and a broad belt, to which they hung their swords."

"more than once the Franks doffed the war coat and the leather Belt, and assumed the toga of Roman dignity. More than once their flaxen hair was shown to advantage by flowing over the imperial mantle, and the gold of the knights, the purple of the senators and patricians, the triumphal crowns, the fasces, and, in short, everything which the Roman Empire invented in order to exhibit its grandeur, assisted in adding to that of our ancestors."

"The hair is never cut from the heads of the Frankish kings' sons. From early youth their hair falls gracefully over their shoulders, it is parted on the forehead, and falls equally on both sides; it is with them a matter to which they give special attention." We are told, besides, that they sprinkled it with gold-dust, and plaited it in small bands, which they ornamented with pearls and precious metals.

Middle Ages Hairstyles - hairstyles and status
Whilst persons of rank were distinguished by their long and flowing hair, the people wore theirs more or less short, according to the degree of freedom which they possessed, and the serfs had their heads completely shaved. It was customary for the noble and free classes to swear by their hair, and it was considered the height of politeness to pull out a hair and present it to a person. The degradation of kings and princes was carried out in a public manner by shaving their heads and sending them into a monastery; on their regaining their rights and their authority, their hair was always allowed to grow again. We may also conclude that great importance was attached to the preservation of the hair even under the kings of the second dynasty, for Charlemagne orders the hair to be removed as a punishment in certain crimes.

Middle Ages Hairstyles - beards
The Franks, faithful to their ancient custom of wearing the hair long, gradually gave up shaving the face. At first, they only left a small tuft on the chin, but by degrees they allowed this to increase, and in the sixth and seventh centuries freemen adopted the usual form of beard. Amongst the clergy, the custom prevailed of shaving the crown of the head, in the same way as that adopted by certain monastic orders in the present day. Priests for a long time wore beards, but ceased to do so on their becoming fashionable amongst the laity

The beard, which was worn in full at the beginning of the twelfth century, was by degrees modified both as to shape and length. At first it was cut in a point, and only covered the end of the chin, but the next fashion was to wear it so as to join the moustaches. Generally moustaches went out of fashion. We next find beards worn only by country people, who, according to contemporary historians, desired to preserve a "remembrance of their participation in the Crusades." At the end of the twelfth century, all chins were shaved.

Middle Ages Hairstyles
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Middle Ages Hairstyles

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Middle Ages Hairstyles

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