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French hood

A French hood is a type of woman's headgear popular in Western Europe in the sixteenth century.

The French hood is characterized by a rounded shape, contrasted with the angular "English" or gable hood. It is worn over a coif, and has a black veil attached to the back.[1] It was introduced to England primarily by Anne Boleyn, who had been raised in France. Its use was thus subsequently rejected by Anne's successor, Jane Seymour, but returned to fashion after Jane's death. It was also championed by Anne Boleyn's cousin and fellow ill-fated wife of Henry VIII, Catherine Howard. It is similar to the Russian kokoshnik, but they are not related. The front part of the hair was always visible.

*Coif – Made of linen, tied under the chin or possibly secured to the hair with pins. Almost always white from the first quarter of the 16th century onward, there was a fashion for early French Hoods to have red coifs prior to 1520.
  • Crepine – A pleated or gathered head covering made from fine linen or silk, sometimes worn without a coif. Possibly the origin of the pleated frill seen at the edge of the coif. Also possibly the bag-like attachment seen at the back of early French Hoods, worn without a veil.
  • Paste – Worn over the coif/crepine. More than one in a contrasting color could be worn at a time, possibly derives its name from the paste used to stiffen it, or from the term passé meaning “border”, derived from the effect of a border of contrasting color on the French Hood. (Linthicum)
  • Veil – The "hood" portion, almost always black. Could be made from wool, or silk velvet or satin. It hung in a "straight fall" fashion and covered the back hair completely.
  • Billaments – Sometimes referred to as “upper” and "lower" billaments, these formed the decorative border along the upper edge of the hood and the front edge of the coif or paste. Wardrobe accounts of velvet and satin for the making of billaments may refer to the base upon which the goldwork, jewels, and pearling was attached.
  • Cornet/Bongrace – A visor-like accessory that shaded the wearer’s eyes. Later in the century, when the veil of the hood was flipped up on top of the wearer’s head and pinned in place to shade the eyes, this was also apparently termed a "bongrace".

See also


  1. ^ Alison Weir, Henry VIII: The King and His Court. Ballantine Books, 2002. ISBN 0-345-43708-X.

External links

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