The Dress Inspired by Inspiration Herself: Beatrice’s Medieval Woman Dress
Before we get too much into the historical figure of Beatrice and her relationship with Dante, let’s look at this dress (which the manufacturer originally named “Jasione”). Beatrice lived during the late 13th century, so the style of this dress reflects that.
The dress itself is handmade using canvas cotton, so each example may have slight differences. This material looks and feels authentic, as well as being sturdy enough to withstand a long day LARPing or at a historical reenactment. Each dress is two-tone, with the colours being either: green and cream, black and red, or black and burgundy.
As is fitting for a medieval dress, this dress has a layered look. It has a built in overdress which has open sleeves to go over the base sleeves underneath. This overdress is a different colour to the base dress. The dress also features cotton cord laces at the front and back, which allows you to adjust the fit as best suits you.
Beatrice, the inspiration behind this dress, was a rich banker’s daughter (we think anyway) who rubbed shoulders with some of the upper classes. Sure, she wasn’t a princess, but she had money and so wore fine clothing.
As for the character who would likely wear this dress, we’re looking at someone at least in the middle classes. This kind of dress isn’t extravagant enough for royalty, although it could work for quite a wealthy woman, especially with the right accessories. It also is definitely not a peasant dress.
The result is a fairly versatile and traditional dress that can suit anyone from a respectable merchant to a lesser noblewoman. As usual, this medieval woman dress is the base for an outfit. Any accessories that you can add will round it out.
Beatrice and Dante: Loved from Afar
Alright, let’s get into the cool part – the history. We’ve talked a lot about this Beatrice woman, but other than having a fantastic taste in dresses, who was she?
The historical figure of Beatrice has largely been identified as one Bice di Folco Portinari, the daughter of Folco Portinari, a wealthy banker. She was born in 1265 and died at only 25 years old, in 1290. We say, ‘largely identified’, because it’s impossible to know for certain whether this was definitely the Beatrice known for her association with Dante.
She was most famous for being the unrequited love of one Dante Alighieri. Dante was a famous poet, writer, and philosopher. His most famous work was The Divine Comedy, which was an incredibly long poem that chronicled Dante’s travels through Hell, Purgatory and finally, Heaven. Yes. It was Biblical fan fiction. But it was, and still is, considered brilliant.
Also, as an aside, medieval poetry could be different to what people consider poetry nowadays. The most well-known examples are the Divine Comedy and Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. These poems were often very long and were almost like a novel.
Because the ability to read was much rarer back then, these poems were designed to be performed to an audience. They also weren’t always considered particularly high brow, being read to commoners and nobles alike. The Canterbury Tales could be especially raunchy at times.
Anyway, now that we know who Dante was, let’s get back to Beatrice. Beatrice was identified as the main inspiration for several of Dante’s works, primarily the text La Vita Nuova (The New Life). This text was written using both prose and verse, and in it, Dante wrote about courtly love.
There are no prizes for guessing that Dante considered Beatrice the embodiment of courtly love, beautiful in both appearance and personality.
Dante also included a character called Beatrice in the Divine Comedy, as one of the guides that led him through heaven. Here, she represents grace itself.
Obviously, this Beatrice had a huge effect on Dante. This is all the more impressive when we consider that Dante met her all of two times. The first time they met was at a May Day party, when they were both nine years old.
Dante was smitten and continued to love her from here on. We don’t know whether Beatrice was aware of Dante’s affections, but she did go on to marry another man and Dante married another woman. Dante apparently met her again when they were eighteen. They didn’t meet again before her death, but she continued to inspire Dante’s unrequited courtly love.
The technical specifications for the Medieval Woman Dress inspired by Beatrice are as follows:
- Material: 100% cotton canvas
- Colour options: Black with bordeaux (or burgundy), black with red, green with cream
The Beatrice Medieval Dress comes in four sizes:
- Small: 32.3 inch bust, 25.2 inch waist, 34.6 inch hip
- Medium: 35.4 inch bust, 28.3 inch waist, 37.8 inch hip
- Large: 38.6 inch bust, 31.5 inch waist, 40.9 inch hip
- X-Large: 42.1 inch bust, 35 inch waist, 44.5 inch hip