Above painting: Louis Jean Francois - Mars and Venus an Allegory of Peace


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Sunday, February 24, 2008

What's Covering His Naughty Bits?

Welcome back to History Undressed!

I couldn't resist an undressed pic of Gerard Butler...sigh...

So far the polls are saying people are most interested in clothing. Well since we are history undressed, today we will discuss the fabulous life of men’s underwear. Next week I will do female undergarments.

I’m not going to go into t-shirts or *gasp* men wore girdles? I’m simply interested in what covered the naughty bits…

(And yes, men like Beau Brummel wore girdles…it kept their back straight, among other excuses...)

Modern man's skivvies aren't that much different than men of yesterday. But you have to admit that today's man looks sexier than hell in underwear, or at least this model does, YUM!

In ancient times the men wore loincloths, and actually it is noted that shepherd's in France were still wearing them in the 1800's.

But let us move forward to the middle ages in England, when braies, codpieces and chausses came into being.

Below is a picture of Charles V wearing his sexy braies and codpiece.

Men back in the day sure loved to show off the masculine shape of their...legs.

Braies in the middle ages were made out of linen. The man would step into them like pants, and they tied at the waist and around the leg to keep them on. In earlier medieval years the braies and chausses were much baggier, and became more closely fit towards the 1500's. If you look closely at this picture you can see that his braies went to about the knee, where his chausses took over the covering of his legs.

A codpiece was the flap over the genetalia that either tied or buttoned closed. Added to this were the chausses, which covered the legs to keep them warm. Chausses usually attached to the braies with a cord or tie. Nothing was worn over the chausses so you could say that anybody could see a man's underwear all day long.

It should be noted that paintings of workers typically show their braies as being more pant-like than what we think of today's underwear.

The painting above, of Charles V, was done in the 1500's. Prior to men wearing shorter doublets that let it all hang out, they wore tunics, which were longer, and would cover the braies. But that is another day...

The codpiece at first was worn out of necessity, seeing as the braies were open, and chausses only covered the legs, a man could be completely exposed... And with the shortening of the doublet in later years, a man could be walking around with his package hanging free. Which could be good or bad, depending on how naughty you were.

Henry VIII was known for padding his codpiece...was he compensating for something?

This picture of Jonathan Rhys Meyers, from Showtime's, The Tudors, is skantily clad in his hollywood version of braies. Hold on, I need to wipe the drool off my chin...

The picture of the real Henry VIII exposes his over stuffed cod...piece.

Henry's padding of his codpiece set about a trend and many more men would pad their codpieces, and even shape them oddly...trying to bring attention to their virility I'm sure.

During the Regency and Victoian eras, men's underwear changed only slightly. There were no longer any braises and chausses, but drawers and hose.

The drawers were about knee length, with an opening in the front for personal matters, ie. urination, or in my mind, easy access! They were made of cotton, wool flannel and for some, silk.

I don't know about you, but I prefer Colin aka Mr. Darcy in the buff...

Now onto sexy highlanders...What did they wear under a kilt?

You guessed it...nothing! Talk about sexy...

If you ever encounter a highlander, I dare you to ask him what he has underneath, you may be surprised at the answer... They love it when a lady asks, it gives them a chance to tease you. Here are some typical answers:

How badly do you want to know? (very badly!)
On a good day, lipstick. (Bad boy!)
Sorry I'm a bit shy, and not good with words. Give me your hand... (he's not shy at all!)

Hopefully some of the information in this blog is helpful to you. If not, at least you can drool over the pictures!

Until next time...let's keep these men of history, undressed...

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Four & Twenty Blackbirds

So I thought I would surprise everyone with a quick bite of blackbird pie...I couldn't wait until Monday so here's a little something to tide you over until then...

Sing a Song of Sixpence

(Pictures taken from, The Song of Sixpence, by Walter Crane)

Sing a song of sixpence a pocket full of rye,

Four and twenty blackbirds baked in a pie.

When the pie was opened the birds began to sing,

Oh wasn't that a dainty dish to set before the king?

The king was in his counting house counting out his money,

The queen was in the parlour eating bread and honey.

The maid was in the garden hanging out the clothes,

When down came a blackbird and pecked off her nose!

We are all pretty familiar with this little nursery rhyme from when we were children, but did you know that they would actually put birds in a pie as a great joke or form of entertainment?

How in the world did they do this? Well in medieval times the way they made pie crusts was a little different than in present time. The crust was thick, and could be baked first, and would rise forming a pot, hence the term "pot pie." The lid would be removed from the pie, and the birds would then be set inside, the lid put back on, and then this wildly entertaining dish placed before the host of the party.

So these birds were not actually cooked in the pie. Cooks would get quite competetive at feasts, and try to outdo other lords and ladies' cooks. It is said that not only were birds baked into pies, but rabbits, frogs, dogs, dwarfs (who would pop out and recite poetry) and at one time a whole little musical group. Not unlike how we may have people pop out of a cake.

If you watched the Tudors on Showtime last season, Henry presented a blackbird pie to the King of France.

Click on this link to see the video clip: Bird Pie

To Make Pies that the Birds may be alive in them (from http://www.thousandeggs.com/)

a large round cookie tin, approx. 9 1/2" diameter x 3 1/2" deep, lined with greased heavy-duty aluminum foil.
12 lbs. all-purpose flour, divided
3 1/2 pints water
12 ounces lard or shortening
3 teaspoons salt

Optional: 1 egg yolk, mixed with 1 tablespoon water; cloves for garnish Making the Dough. Boil the water and salt in a large pot. Add lard, and stir until melted. Place 6 lbs. of flour in a large bowl (reserve the remaining 6 lbs. of flour), and make a well in the center. Add the boiling water mixture to the flour, a little at a time, and stir with a wooden spoon to mix thoroughly. When all the water has been added and stirred in, and the mixture has cooled slightly, take up small handfuls of the dough and knead on a floured board until the mixture is smooth and can be formed into a ball. Set the balls aside in a large bowl, and cover them with a damp cloth until all the flour mixture has been kneaded. Let rest a few minutes. This rest will make the dough more elastic, and easier to work with.

Making the Shell. Form about half the dough into a large ball. Roll it out, at least 1/4" thick, on a lightly floured surface to form a 21" diameter circle. Line the mold with this circle, pressing it firmly into place. Trim the excess dough, leaving at least 1" hanging over the edge. Cut a 4" diameter hole in the base of the bottom crust. Take the remaining 6 lbs. of flour and fill the pie. Mound up the flour in the center. Take a little more than half of the remaining dough, and form a ball. Roll it out to form a 13" diameter circle. Cover the bottom crust. Moisten and seal the edges. Trim away the excess, leaving about 1" hanging over the edge. Crimp the edges high. Poke a steam vent in the center of the top crust. Optional: brush the top crust with the egg yolk wash, and garnish with whole cloves. Bake at 400 degrees F. for 50 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees F. and bake 30 minutes more, or until the crust feels hard when tapped. Remove from oven and let cool.

When cool, remove the crust gently from the mold. You may separate the top from the bottom crust before service, so as not to injure the birds during presentation. The top crust can be re-attached using toothpicks. Remove the flour from the center of the pie (it will have caked, so carefully use a metal spoon to loosen it). If the bottom crust is still spongy to the touch, return the crust to the mold and bake for an additional 20 minutes at 400 degrees F. Remove from oven and cool completely.

Presentation. When the shell is completely cold, and just before you are ready to serve, you may gently insert live birds (or frogs, etc.) into the crust via the hole in the bottom. Place the pie on a serving platter, and garnish as you wish. Serve immediately.

So, now you know they did actually do this! You'd be surprised that most of the nursery rhymes were very true. Are you going to go bake a pie for someone special now? If you do, please don't eat it...eww...they would I'm sure leave a few surprises of their own in the pie...

Usually the cook would have another pie waiting on standby for eating.

If you are a writer like me, it would be a fun chapter to add into the book, perhaps the bird will bite off the nose of villain... Or the heroine will surprise her hero with such a fun treat!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Welcome to History Undressed!

I love history and have long been known as a history nerd...to me it is just so much fun, and the way things were done has changed so much over the years. I am fascinated by historical leaders, castles, food, the clothes, the languages, the books, the religion, just about everything!

Historical fashion has long been an interest, or maybe even an obsession of mine. Clothing has changed so much over the centuries. Could you imagine Queen Elizabeth or even a Viking wearing a pair of Levi's? All facets of historical clothing interest me, not just what's on the outside, but what's underneath as well! I mean what was under that gown, that kilt, that tunic? I want to know all about the clothes, the accessories, the fabrics, the time period, and why they were worn. There used to be so many rules about clothing. We still have rules about clothing today, well really they're more like guidelines. I mean you wouldn't wear a tux to do your gardening, or wear a bathing suit to a wedding, but that would be really funny to see...

We will also be discussing other less known historical facts. This is history undressed! We will discuss scandals, gossip, etiquette, eating habits, recipes, and the list goes on and on!

How exactly did they bake a pie with live birds in it? What were the dance steps? Where did they go to the bathroom? How do you clean a dirt floor? How did they keep warm when it snowed? How did a lady walk down the street without getting her skirt dirty? These are just a few of the questions I'm going to answer.

The time period of discussion will be roughly the years 1100 - 1850.

I will be blogging on Mondays, so look for my first blog then, and please don't hesitate to leave comments, questions or interesting facts!

Also I've started a link list for great sites with information, if you have one to add, please leave me a comment and I will add it to the list!

Eliza Knight