Fashion in the Age of Datini

What is the Age of Datini?

Six hundred years ago, there was an age of wonder and terror. Timur was ravaging Iran and Turan, the Ottomans were devouring the remains of the Roman empire and the little Latin principalities like a pack of wolves among sheep, and Zheng He was sailing from China to Africa. Two Latin popes raged at and excommunicated each other, and in France a fierce widow was figuring out how to make a living as a writer when nobody in memory had done that. Clever armourers and locksmiths were making harness and mechanical men that had never yet existed in the world; painters were learning to work in oils; a false monk named Palaiologos Tagaris was inventing new tricks and swindles; and Fiore dei Liberi was learning to write about the art and science of fencing. Zheng He was sailing from China to Africa and setting up stelai. And unto this came an orphan from Prato, and in the splendour and horror of Avignon he discovered that he was very good at being a merchant. With the help of a determined woman, Margherita Datini, he would have a king to dinner before he died. This is the age of Francesco di Marco Datini the Merchant of Prato.

There are many ways of talking about the amazing and terrifying years from 1360 to 1410 in the countries whose rulers heard mass in Latin and copied French fashions. This page is about a particular one, material culture. It is about the things people made and used in everyday life: clothing and tableware and bedding. If you have never met Francesco, you should read Iris Origo’s The Merchant of Prato (crabb-merchant-of-pratos-wife) and Ann Crabb’s The Merchant of Prato’s Wife (origo-merchant-of-prato). I can wait.

This site was inspired by the sites which came out of the living history movement before smartphones, like larsdatter.com, Will's Commonplace Book, I. Marc Carlson's Homepage, Stefan's Florilegium (currently a bit dilapidated, it was coded around iframes so was hard to convert to newer methods of layout), and Hilde Thunem's Recreating Viking Clothing. Those sites survive and are useful 20 years after the founder put them aside, and I do not believe that accounts on corporate social media or streaming video will be available for as long. And since I block scripts and ads and trackers, it would be hypocritical to load my site with them!

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