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Picturing a World

Absence of evidence

Absence of evidence is famously not evidence of absence. Just because next to no medieval underwear for women has physically survived and few documents refer to it clearly doesn’t mean that medieval women didn’t wear any.

The fantasy I’m working on is set in a world that, by and large, reflects medieval European conditions. When a friend who is reading the manuscript asked for more detail on what my heroine wore, I happily plunged into research in order to create a wardrobe for her. Up came the matter of underwear. In my world I’m free to prescribe anything I want, and my heroine does ride horses, so I’m giving her underpants no matter what.

Nevertheless, I was delighted today to come across this image. The temptress may not seem to threaten Saint Anthony’s virtue, but she sure looks to me like she’s pulling up her skirt to show her drawers.

Historical re-enactors have scads of websites and blogs. One that I have found interesting and reliable is Rosalie’s Medieval Woman, which has a section on medieval underwear.
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