Keeping Warm in the Medieval Era


It’s finally sweater weather! As we pull our sweaters and coats out from storage, we can’t help but wonder: how did people in the medieval era keep warm? We’ve all seen living conditions in movies and in previous Pearson’s Renaissance Shoppe blog posts and articles, and it really doesn’t seem like there was much of a barrier between medieval people and the blistering cold winter.  

The folks at the BBC did some of the hard work for us. Recently, they ran an article about what medieval people, specifically Robin Hood, might have done to stay warm during winter. The first defense against the cold was wool. Most of their clothing was made out of wool, with an extra next-to-body layer of linen. These materials were often layered to add to their effectiveness. Unfortunately, especially for someone like Robin Hood, perspiration limited the effectiveness of these materials. Medieval people had to remove layers until they cooled down (and dried off).

Medieval folks had winter accessories, albeit slightly different from ours. Their wool coats often came with a hood that would cover their coifs – a type of tight-fitting cap. They also wore gloves, but they were slightly different from the gloves we wear today. These gloves featured two fingers and a thumb, almost like today’s mittens.

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