Just to be clear, there are (currently virtually) no known examples of breeches, trousers or braies from Europe during the periods of the Middle Ages, or the "Viking" era.  The purpose of this page is to demonstrate what does exist, and then examine the limited literary and pictorial evidence from the period.

This was based initially on a long standing discussion on medieval undergarments that began in August 2000 on the 75 Years Group at Yahoogroups  (A re-enactment discussion list focusing on c1300) among myself, Joris Liebaart. John Saetrang, Remo Buosi, Brent Hanner and many others.  Special thanks to Lena Strid (June 2004) for her assistance in finding several of the contemporary illustrations.

Marx-Etzel Trousers Hanover.  Found with an Asymmetrical Roman Shoe (Sketch after photograph)

Thorsbjerg Trousers (Dating varies from 1st century to those who try to place it up to the 7th) (Sketch after Hald, and several photographs)

Damendorf Trousers (From Damendorf in S. Shleswig) (Sketch after Hald, Vicktoria Persdottir and several photographs)  A broken lozenge twill


Daetgen Mose, Holstein (after Hald)

Skjoldehamn Trousers (c1000-1210)

Greenland Trousers, polar bear skin, from Angmagssalik. (after Hald) - Note may not be European.

Short Legged "wide stride" pants from the Caucasus
600-1000, also 1200-1400

Cotton Trousers from 14th Cent. Nubia.  Worn with a drawstring.

Aspidochelone (12th Century)

DeBrailles Hours. England (1240)

 The Maciejowski Bible, c1250 (f.12)

England, mid. 13th century

Kinsarvik church, Hardanger, Norway.

Somme Le Roi - British Library Additional MS 28162 (c.1279)

Cirurgyia (1300-1310) - British Library Sloan MS 1977

British Library Arundel MS 83 (ii) f.132.v (c.1310)

Fresfjord church, northwestern Norway, c1300-1325?

Petite Hours of Jeanne d'Evreaux. France (c1328)

The Love Breviary. Catalonia (First half of 14 Century)

Unidentified Source, probably after 1400

Unidentified Church Panel
In the early 1500s, a German soldier named Paul Dolnstein, then in Sweden, made these pictures, showing more distinct trousers.

Re-enactors have presented some suggested designs for reproducing the breeches above.  It is likely that none of these is actually accurate, but then again they are all equally valid since we really don't know for sure.

After photos in

After a drawing in Thursfield

This is my suggestion. Note, my suggestion has no belt tunnel or drawstring, but rather is belted and rolled over, with strings for points hanging down

Some Sources:

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This page was last modified 11 January 2006

Some Clothing of the Middle Ages - Breches/Braies/Trousers, by I. Marc Carlson, ©  2004, 2005
This code is given for the free exchange of information, provided the Author's Name is included in all future revisions, and no money change hands.