The King's Glove
by Mirianna Wrenne (Valerie Oswald)

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Last summer there was a discussion about gloves and such, I was in process of makeing a special project for Estrella war at the time. These are the King's gloves, a symbol of a land grant, a quick summary of them is;
These are renderings of the ornate gloves used as land grants. Many examples of this usage exist in legal documents and Court proceedings. Gloves have been found from the Stone Age on through out history. To all those who could see the glove the presence of the King was evident regardless of their literacy. It was a personal representation of his hand, his strength, his word and his protection. It gave the holder domain over the lands and the people who worked it. It was a bond between the holder and the King that would not be disputed.
The glove has been used for payments, import duty, fines and payoffs. They convey favor, love, faith and honesty. They have been used to surrender and to indicate opponents. They are symbolic and their use is widespread.
These are hand-sewn leather based on 16th century examples. They have been decorated by appliqu�ing leather, couching with gold and silver threads and highlighted with stones and pearls. They are lined with silk. They are not scented. These gloves carry the insignia of each Barony that the King would present to each ruling Baron (or Baroness) to authorize him as the legitimate holder of those lands.
This was a five year project and I am very glad they are finally finished. I am amazed, honored and pleased to say they won the A&S leather catagory.
Mirianna Wrenne

One of the important aspects of our Society is the recreation of the pageantry and the chivalry of the Middle Ages. These five gloves represent the five Baronies in the Kingdom of the Outlands. They are made of leather and appliqu�d with the registered devices of each Barony. Their intended purpose is to be presented to the ruling Nobles of the Barony by the King as a symbol the bearer has been entrusted to hold those lands. The right hand is raised in oath, clasped in legal agreement and offered in fealty. The touch of the King's hand was thought to remain within the glove and was held in esteem and respected as his hand would have been. Legends claim Scottish Chieftains have cut off their right hands and thrown them onto grounds they were claiming. The glove method seems much more convenient if the King should need to do battle. There is an example of presentation of a left-hand glove to the Duke of Prussia by the city of Konigsberg; it was a symbol of submission to his rule. As these gloves are regalia intended to symbolize authority there are no left-hand mates.

In preparing the King's Gloves, I hope to enhance pageantry of our Courts with the use of some of the symbolism that was such an important part of medieval life. During this Era, the glove held the most widespread and diverse definitions, some of which can still be found in our current age. Western Europe provides most of the relevant history of gloves. Guild laws bound glovers, skinners, tanners and perfumers. Perfumers had to be 'licensed' as poisons could be applied to the hand of the glove killing the wearer. Catherine d'Medici [plate 6 & 12] is rumored to have chosen this form of weapon, and in 1066 Conan, Duke of Brittany through a gift from William the Conquer and in the 1400's Jeanne d'Albret, the Queen Mother of France, are both believed to have been killed by gloves.

The reference to hand and glove denoting the close connection in dealings is found in Jonathan Swift's Polite Conversation dialogue ii, prior to 1745 with out explanation giving an impression of common usage. The central Europeans used gloves to signify a transfer of property. This allowed for easy communication as not all individuals could write and crossed any language barrier that may have existed. In Roman courts a glove was hung to symbolize the presence of the Emperor. A medieval merchant would throw down a glove to indicate his willingness to trade openly and fairly. A Lady would present a knight her glove to be worn in the tournament to show her favor. Either slapping the opponent across the face or throwing the glove at their feet could issue a challenge. The glove could be thrown in to the dirt as the opponents name was announced be conveyed to the other party by on-lookers. English coronations until the nineteenth century held that a glove was thrown down at the new King's feet to challenge any who would question his right to reign.

In ancient Mesopotamian law, a dying man could designate his heir by taking the person by the hand. In Aethelred II's reign, 979-1016, the German merchants who chose to import to England paid a duty of five pairs of gloves to the monarch. In 1200 in Coventry, England, a pair of grants held that to the grantor a yearly rent of certain white gloves in Easter week be paid, this grant also named an heir to continue receiving this grant. In 1211, King John [plate 28] granted the town of Sturbridge approval to hold a Michaelmas fair; his glove was hoisted in the air as the sign of the King's sanction. In 1230 a grant and a quitclaim to Hugh de Ver, fourth Earl of Oxford the grantee had to 'pay yearly one pair of white gloves worth one halfpenny or one halfpenny at Easter', indicating that a pair of gloves were considered a worthy replacement for monetary compensation. The Earl of Flanders presented to King Philip the Fair a glove and thus surrendered the town of Flanders to the King in 1294. Recorded in 1493 is a transaction by 'Alexander Iruyne� gaff, granttit and gassignit be ane gluff to David Irwyne, his sone, all and hale his gudis beand within the landis of Coule.' 'Coronation in 1727-41 France maintained the eastern custom of the giving of a glove'. Dynastic French coronations had the Archbishop present a blessed pair of gloves to the new ruler as symbols of loyalty and the security of his subjects and his domain. In 1953 the ritual of the presentation of a right-handed glove to the Sovereign was re-instated in England. A Peer that had inherited the duty originally presented it to the Crown, in 1953 it was the Company of Worshipful Glovers by the order of the Earl Marshal that did the presentation. In the 20th century, a Dutch woman had to be married before she could travel alone to the East Indies. Often, the fianc� could not return for the ceremony so a MAT (marrying apart together) was developed; the bride stood beside her groom's portrait and held his glove. This was called Het handschoentje and was in all ways legal. Often the couple would re-marry when they were reunited but it was not required.

The treatment of gloves was as elaborate as costuming ornamentation. Pearls, gems, semi-precious stones, silk, gold and silver embroideries, appliqu�s, tassels, bells and fringe were used to adorn the cuff of the glove [plates 1,2 & 9]. Recognizing a glove as being Royal one may assume that some form of symbolic decoration was present upon the glove. In 1493, the Bishop of Trent, Ulrich von Freundsberg left two pairs of gloves when he died, one ornamented with pearls and precious stones the other bearing his monogram and arms as a prince of the Church. The English Coronation gloves are white gauntlets with the Royal insignia embroidered on the back of the hand. Episcopal gloves [plate 14] are always ornamented with Church emblems such as the Lamb of God or the Right-hand of God.

Findings of glove drawings from the Stone Age have been discovered in France, several gloves were recorded in the findings of King Tutankhamen's Tomb [plate 11]. In Egypt in 1600 BC, there are records of tanning the hides by dipping in alum solution. When the alum is rinsed out (which also creates sulphuric acid), the hide becomes hard when dried. Other ingredients are introduced to provide greater body and softness to the hides. These ingredients include, bran, egg yolks and flour. As the Middle Ages progressed finer kid leather became the choice material for gloves. While there are town guilds such as Worcester that consisted of glovers who did their own skinning and tanning it was not abnormal to have glovers who purchased their leather from suppliers. French kid leather was so heavily favored that the English tanners could not sell their hides, so a ban in 1463 was placed on French gloves and a heavy duty placed on imported leather.

This particular set of gloves is based on patterns found in the 14th to 16th centuries [plates12-19]. There existing examples of gloves of this construction in several museums and in portraits of the time. These examples give us a view of their construction, their ornamentation, their diversity and an insight to those wearing them.

From title, favor, approval, love, payment and challenge the glove is a personal representation of the person who gave it. They were used as vessels to convey bribes and payoffs tucked inside the hands, and even as possible weapons. They have reflected wealth, power, status and nobility. From protecting hands from the cold to a promise of protection by a King, no greater sphere of diversity can be found in an accessory throughout history.

Construction of The King's Glove [Please see Step-by-Step Guide to Making Gloves]

Materials Leather: various kinds but mostly kid, glove weight hides. Colors chosen to match the heraldic emblems of each Barony.
Embroidery floss
Gold and silver metallic threads
Various real stone beads and fresh water pearls
Silk fabrics to line them

Using pictorial documentation of gloves in period and the pattern in Valerie Cummings' book Gloves, I created a pattern. From previous experience one of the major adjustments I make is on the thumb pattern that is modified a bit to fit better than the one shown, and the forchettes (the pieces that go between the fingers) were shortened.

They are sewn together with a glovers needle (a razor sharp three sided needle), cotton quilting (heavy duty thread) using a single saddle stitch also known as a prix seam (a basic up and down through the leather stitch) or a backstitch. In period it would be silk or linen used to put them together, I prefer the quilters cotton because it is strong and durable.

The embroidery was sewn with a sharps needle as the glovers needle would cut the previously sewn threads and I didn't want to lose the work already done. I used a modern embroidery floss, mostly because of costs and availability, some of the metallic threads are real metal wrapped around silk, used for couching, and others are modern fiber gold's used in sewing through the leather.

In period the threads would have been silk, linen, and possibly cotton, depending on the availability and costs of each fiber, real gold and silver wrapped silk or linen threads and sometimes gold foil glued to paper, sinew or leather strips, then couched onto the leather. The Coat of Arms would have been embroidered, painted or appliqu�d. Accessories found at the Sutton Hoo site provide existing examples of leather appliqu�d to leather for ornamentation. Period leathers were colored or dyed with natural based pigments and mordents, many of them the same processes as dyeing fabrics or used in illumination. The colors required for this project would have been among the most costly and difficult to obtain. I used modern dyed leather for their availability and the consistent coloring.

The ostentatious display of wealth and position is commonly seen in gloves and clothing in this Era. Each glove is decorated with semi-precious stone and pearl embellishments emphasizing the wealth and power of the Kingdom. The cuffs are lined with silk [plate 15] to protect the stitching and to add to the luxury finish I decided not to scent them, as I am allergic to most perfumes and I did not wish to risk if others share the affliction. One such recipe would have been:

'Put into angelica water and rose water the powder of cloves, ambergris, musk and lignum aloes; bejamin and carduus aromaticus. Boil these till half be consumed, then strain it and put your gloves therein. Hang them in the sun to dry and turn them often. Do this three times: wetting and drying them again. Or, wet your gloves in rose water and hang them up till almost dry, then grind half an ounce of benjamin with oil of almonds and rub it on the gloves till it be almost dried in. Then grind twenty grains each of ambergris and musk with the oil of almonds and rub it on the gloves. Then hang them up to dry or let them dry in your bosom, and so, again, use them at your pleasure. '

They also used oil of woods, flowers and spices. Licensed Perfumers that used lavender seemed immune to cholera in 16th Century France. Boxes would also hold scenting material such as potpourri to maintain the scents.


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