One of the most distinctive forms of headwear worn in the Middle Ages (c. 500–c. 1500 C.E. ) was the hood. Ever since the time of the Roman Empire (27 B.C.E. –476 C.E. ), Europeans had pulled a section of their outer cloaks up over the head to form a hood. In the Middle Ages, however, the hood was detached from the cloak and became a separate form of headwear. By the end of the twelfth century, the hood was the most common form of head-wear in all of Europe.

The medieval hood came in many forms. At its most basic it was a tube of woolen material with an opening left for the face. Most hoods, however, were not so simple. Many had a broad band of material that spread from the neck out across the shoulders. This band was called a chaperon. It was common for the fabric around the face opening to extend outward from the face; this excess fabric was then rolled backward to frame the face.

The most interesting addition to the common hood was the liripipe. Extending from the back top of the hood, a liripipe was a

The women in the right of the ship wear medieval hoods, which protected the wearer from the cold and rain. Reproduced by permission of © .
long, narrow tube of material that tapered to a point at the end. It could range from one foot to several feet in length. Longer liripipes could hang down the back or be wrapped around the neck like a scarf, but the primary purpose was ornamental.

A hood was a very versatile garment. It protected the wearer from cold and rain. In some cases, people placed the face hole of the hood over the crown of their head and then wrapped and tied the chaperon and liripipe into a kind of turban.


Hartley, Dorothy. Mediaeval Costume and Life. London, England: B. T. Batsford, 1931.

Payne, Blanche, Geitel Winakor, and Jane Farrell-Beck. The History of Costume. 2nd ed. New York: HarperCollins, 1992.

[ See also Volume 1, Ancient Rome: Casula ]

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