From our extensive work on medieval dress and textiles, we became aware of the surprising number of medieval garment which survive, more-or-less intact. We thought it would be interesting to write a book presenting a hundred of them – in ten groups of ten – with high resolution colour photographs of each. Our idea was received enthusiastically by Julian Deahl, then Acquisitions Editor for Brill of Leiden, and we have since worked closely with Marcella Mulder, History Editor at Brill, to whom we express our gratitude. We also thank Brian Schneider, our part-time Research Assistant on this Project, who has handled most of the correspondence with museums and galleries, and managed many library borrowings and inter-library loans on our behalf; and the staff of Document Supply at The University of Manchester Library.
Our choices are personal. We have often selected an artefact with a ‘story’, either relating to the person associated with it, or a biography to be teased out of the object itself, which may have been repaired and recycled. The original hundred is not strictly a true description either: some of the items are pairs of stockings, gloves or shoes and at one point we have put together two minor vestments because they are so clearly a set. We have also discussed, in both the sections relating to the illustrated item and in the General Introduction, other items found together with chosen piece, either as a grave group or as part of a deliberate collection, as part of its biography. We have not always managed to obtain photographs and permissions to reproduce them of items we would have liked to include; but along the way we have ‘discovered’ several wonderful garments we did not know before, and have included them. We have invoked old friendships and have made many more along the way, with museum and gallery staff who have gone out of their way to help us. They are thanked individually in the appropriate sections.
We have strayed slightly from our original intention of keeping to the medieval period: the Orkney hood may be rather earlier than the date range normally considered medieval; and with the Medici guibboni we have gone into the Renaissance era in order to follow the development of a garment. There are, of course, many more Renaissance garments we might have included, but we have chosen to stick to the earlier period apart from these two. We could have ordered the chapters in various ways, but chose an anatomical sequence of head to foot, apart from the chapters on minor vestments and accessories. Largely, but not exclusively, the ecclesiastical material and most of that with an iconography has been written by Elizabeth Coatsworth and the secular by Gale Owen-Crocker.