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Farthingale: Wikis


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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Probably the earliest depiction of the Spanish verdugada. Pedro García de Benabarre, Salome from the St John Retable, Catalonia, 1470-80.
Tudor gown showing the line of the Spanish farthingale: portrait traditionally described as Jane Grey but possibly Catherine Parr, 1545.
Silhouette of the 1590s: Elizabeth I, the Ditchley portrait

Farthingale is a term applied to any of several structures used under Western European women's clothing in the late fifteenth and sixteenth centuries to support the skirts into the desired shape. It originated in Spain.


Spanish farthingale

The Spanish farthingale was a hoop skirt. Originally stiffened with the subtropical Giant Reed, later designs in the temperate climate zone were stiffened with osiers (willow cuttings), rope, or (from about 1580) whalebone. The name comes from Spanish verdugo 'green wood', because the dying stems of Giant Reed are rigid.

The earliest sources indicate that Princess Juansholab of Portugal used verdugadas with hoops in Spain to possibly cover up an unwanted and indiscreet (and perhaps illegitimate) pregnancy (1460's - 1470's). Court fashion followed suit. The earliest images of Spanish farthingales show hoops prominently displayed on the outer surfaces of skirts, although later they merely provided shape to the overskirt. The Spanish princess Catherine of Aragon brought the fashion into England on her marriage to Prince Arthur, eldest son of Henry VII in 1501.

Spanish farthingales were an essential element of Tudor fashion in England, and remained a fixture of conservative Spanish court fashion into the early seventeenth century (see Portrait of Queen Margaret of Austria, 1609), before evolving into the guardainfante of seventeenth-century Spanish dress.

French farthingale

French farthingales, c. 1580

The French farthingale- The French Farthingale (a.k.a. Bumroll) was introduced in the late 1570s to England from France where the style originated.

There are no extant examples of this style of undergarment, and only one drawing--a caricature. From contemporary references (and the visual cues provided by the caricature), it appears to have consisted of a bolster-like roll either stuffed or held out with reeds which, being fastened around the hips, served the purpose of widening the skirts at the hip area, creating the drape evident in the painting below.

Some modern costumers conjecture that the French Farthingale and the Great Farthingale (discussed below) refer to one and the same garment, the difference in shape and construction being due to changes in fashion from the 1580s to the 1590s.

Great farthingale

The Great farthingale (a.k.a. The Drum or Wheel or Cartwheel or (rarely) Italian or Catherine-wheel Farthingale in modern times) is the name given to the style of farthingale that evolved from the French Farthingale discussed above, and which became fashionable in the 1590s.

Although there are also no surviving examples of this type of garment, there are a number of references to a "Great Farthingale" in Queen Elizabeth I's wardrobe accounts during the time when this style was in vogue. "Great" in this context referring to the large circumference of the farthingale which was required in order to achieve the fashionable silhouette.

The Great Farthingale appears to have been worn at an angle ("low before and high behind") which visually elongated the wearer's torso while shortening their legs. Modern costumers conjecture that it probably consisted of one or more large hoops with horizontal stiffeners which radiated from around the waist in order to produce a flat platter-like shape when supported underneath by the "bumroll" or "French Farthingale" described above.

The Great Farthingale remained in fashion into the first few decades of the 1600s, mostly for Court functions, after which the fashion died out.

See also

External links


  • Anderson, Ruth Matilda: Hispanic Costume 1480-1530, The Hispanic Society of America, New York 1979. ISBN 0-8753-5126-3
  • Arnold, Janet: Patterns of Fashion: the cut and construction of clothes for men and women 1560-1620, Macmillan 1985. Revised edition 1986. ISBN 0-89676-083-9
  • Arnold, Janet: Queen Elizabeth's Wardrobe Unlock'd, W S Maney and Son Ltd, Leeds 1988. ISBN 0-901286-20-6

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

FARTHINGALE (from the O. Fr. verdagalle, or vertugalle, a corruption of the Spanish name of the article, verdagado, from verdago, a rod or stick), a case or hoop, originally of bent rods, but afterwards made of whalebone, upon which were hung the voluminous skirts of a woman's dress. The fashion was introduced into England from Spain in the 16th century. In its most exaggerated shape, at the beginning of the 17th century, the top of the farthingale formed a flat circular surface projecting at right angles to the bodice (see Costume).

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