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Old 08-22-2001, 12:42 PM
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I watched the "History vs Hollywood: Braveheart" special on the History Channel yesterday, and I remembered something I heard a long time ago about how the wearing of kilts by medieval scotsmen was an historical inaccuracy, and that the kilt was actually invented in the 17th century by Scottish Nationalists. Yet none of this was mentioned in the special. Does anyone know whether this is true?
Old 08-22-2001, 12:52 PM
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I'm not sure about that but theres plenty of inaccuracies in Braveheart you can find lots of them at IMDB.com

and wallace wasn't a high lander anyway so he would not have worn a kilt in the first place, these hollywood directors eh, and Mel, they sure do have something against
us Brits
Old 08-22-2001, 01:01 PM
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The kilt as it is known now was invented after the 17th century conquest by the British. It was called the "little kilt". Prior to the conquest, Scottish Highlanders wore a full sleeved knee length tunic called a "leine" under a great kilt, about 6 yards of tartan wool belted at the waist with the remaining draped over the shoulder. So if this is what the movie shows (and I believe it did) then it is historically accurate.

Today's kilt is a garment defined by the British in the 18th and 19th Centuries to allow the Loyal Scottish to wear their tartans. A Scotsman was only allowed to wear tartan if he were serving the English Crown.
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Old 08-22-2001, 01:06 PM
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At the time of Braveheart, the plaids used in kilts were not yet separated by clan, particularly since the various raids of one clan upon the other resulted in lots of fabric (and weavers...) being taken back home. The clan-specific tartans came later.

Also, they didn't wear the plaid in battle. It was far too valuable to risk getting blood on it, or having it hacked to bits.
Old 08-22-2001, 01:58 PM
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I also noticed that most paintings from the scottish medieval battles never show them with tartans. They usually wore the long shirt with a belt at the waist and stockings. I was given to understand that this was more the normal wear for scotsmen of the time.
Old 08-22-2001, 02:22 PM
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You might find this link interesting:

http://reconstructinghistory.com/kilts/never.htm
Old 08-22-2001, 02:26 PM
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Quote:
The kilt as it is known now was invented after the 17th century conquest by the British. It was called the "little kilt".
I'm not quite sure what Falafel Waffle thinks is "the 17th century conquest by the British", but, yes, the felie beg, philibeg or "little kilt" originated in the early 18th century. More precisely, it seems to have been invented c.1730 by one Thomas Rawlinson. An Englishman. (Fair's fair, we Scots have been too busy inventing Everything Important.) The people, like the Highland Society, who went on to popularise the design were undoubtedly influential in promoting things like Gaelic literature, but, being pro-Union, were not exactly Scottish Nationalists in the 21st century sense.

Quote:
At the time of Braveheart, the plaids used in kilts were not yet separated by clan, ... The clan-specific tartans came later.
Indeed, they only turn up about five centuries later. The idea of using them as an identifying "uniform" probably originates with the post-1745 Highland regiments. And few identifications of particular patterns with particular tartans date back much before the fashion craze associated with George IV's state visit to Edinburgh in 1822.

The classic debunking effort on the subject is Hugh Trevor-Roper's essay "The Highland Tradition of Scotland" in Hobsbawn and Ranger's The Invention of Tradition (Cambridge, 1983; there's a Canto paperback).
Old 08-22-2001, 02:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by Falafel Waffle
The kilt as it is known now was invented after the 17th century conquest by the British.
Um, conquest? I wasn't aware that Scotland was conquered in the 17th century (although a Scotsman named James Stewart did become king of England). My recollection also was that when Scotland revolted against James' son Charles I, and Charles sent an English army northward, the Scots handed him his head, which led Charles to call Parliament to beg for money, which led into the English civil war. Scotland had its own independent Parliament right up until 1707, and when that was dissolved it was by its own vote (doubtless well motivated by bribery) rather than by conquest.

I suppose Cumberland's butcheries after Culloden in 1746 could be called a conquest (albeit it was with the active help of Whiggish Scots clans), but that was in the 18th century.

Re the OP, you're right, kilts were unknown in Wallace's time. I don't know exactly when they were introduced, but according to W.H. Murray's Rob Roy MacGregor, they had been introduced by 1671 when Rob Roy was born. The tartan pattern existed in Wallace's time, but as Ethilrist notes, it was not yet clan-specific (and wasn't until well after the revolt of 1745).
Old 08-22-2001, 02:39 PM
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Use of Weapons...

Quote:
Originally posted by Danimal
Scotland had its own independent Parliament right up until 1707, and when that was dissolved it was by its own vote (doubtless well motivated by bribery) rather than by conquest.
Well, I blame the Texas educational system for failing to challenge me enough regarding the minutiae of Anglo/Scottish relations.

However, Danimal, by hook or by crook, conquest is conquest. Bribes in place to make the Scottish nobles disolve their governing body cuts as surely as a claymore.
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Old 08-22-2001, 03:04 PM
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The common belief round my part of the world (lowland Scotland) is that tartan & kilts are inventions of Victorian times, as Queen Victoria was quite fond of the Scots (in the same way, I believe, as the current queen is quite fond of her corgis )

Here's a passionate article disbunking the "victorian invention" idea:

"[Sir Hugh Trevor-Roper's] absurd claim that tartan and kilts are 'Victorian Inventions' is entirely unfounded."
http://siol-nan-gaidheal-usa.com/arts.htm

[nitpick]
The terms "British" and "English" are not synonymous. Seems to me the former is being used quite a lot in this thread where the latter is more accurate.
[/nitpick]

Falafel: conquest is conquest, as you say, but the union of 1707 was (in theory at least) just that - a union of equals, not a vassilisation.
Culloden & its aftermath were much more a conquest, albeit as Danimal says, you couldn't draw clear national lines round the two sides.
Old 08-22-2001, 03:51 PM
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Quote:
"[Sir Hugh Trevor-Roper's] absurd claim that tartan and kilts are 'Victorian Inventions' is entirely unfounded."
Since I was the first in the thread to mention his essay, I suppose it falls to me to point out that Trevor-Roper makes no such claim.

And "passionate" seems a fair description of the article jinty's linking to.
Old 08-22-2001, 04:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by jinty
http://siol-nan-gaidheal-usa.com/arts.htm
Wow. Could you have found a more biased site? Whatever the truth of the question (I honestly don't care who's right) I wouldn't trust anything written in that pit.
Old 08-22-2001, 04:29 PM
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Murray's description of Highland wear, c. 1671

"Over all came his plaid of finely woven wool. It was twelve to eighteen feet long and nearly five feet wide. To put it on, he would go outside, unless in wild weather, lay his broad leather belt on a bank by the house, shake out the plaid and fold it lengthwise on top of the belt, make several pleats at the near end of the cloth, then lie on top, buckle the belt, and so rise kilted." (p. 5)
Old 08-22-2001, 05:26 PM
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The OED's earliest citation for kilt as a noun is c1730, which supports the 18th century origin of the modern kilt. (Of course, the citation spells it "Quelt" and refers to it as a "short Petticoat." )

The verb kilt, meaning "to gird up; to tuck up (the skirts) round the body," goes back much further (1300s), and you see this usage in Danimal's quote above.

The terms tartan and plaid in English both go back to the 1500s. The earliest citations seems to be related to Scotland, though the ultimate origin of both words is unknown. The origin of kilt, on the other hand, is Scandanavian.

I realize this doesn't directly address the question, but I thought it was interesting anyhow.
Old 08-22-2001, 05:33 PM
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...and so you have stumbled upon the most controversial debate there is where national costume is concerned. Congrats!

There are several theories, and many of them hinge on interpretation of terms like "kilt", "cloak" and "shirt" when used to describe an article of cloting that was none of the above by writers who had no better term for it.

Some say the kilt - or even the belted plaid - was invented in the 17th or 18th century and somehow instantly became the most common mode of dress across the Highlands. Others say it was copied from the Roman toga (I refer to this as the "hey, that looks comfy!" theory). The truth is probably in-between.

Remember that the Highlands are often cold and damp, and pants will chafe and cause all kinds of problems in these conditions while a nice thick wool garment like a belted plaid not only keeps you warm, but doesn't chafe, and the wool used back then had a lot of oil still in it so water rolled off it. It was also used as a sleeping bag when the wearer was out in the weather and could even be used as a rudimentary tent (remember, it was 50-60 inches wide and 8-9 yards long!) Evolution of the belted plaid makes perfect sense long before the 17th century.

Depending on how you read the various accounts of Highland dress, a case can be made for belted plaids as far back as the 12th-13th century, although Wallace probably wouldn't have worn one as he was a Lowlander. There are accounts of Robert the Bruce at various times adopting "Highland dress" while on the run in the Highlands before his later successes, but the description is vague.

As for the long shirts and stockings portrayed in pictures, remember that a plaid was often one of the most expensive items owned by the Highlander - they didn't tend to wear them on the battlefield, instead they'd belt their long shirts and collect the plaid later if they survived. Imagine getting into a fight in a biker bar, but first changing into your nicest suit to fight in...you'd at least have someone hold you jacket, wouldn't you?

Remember, there weren't many artists or writers in the Highlands before the 18th century, and not much fabric has survived from that climate that far back. Nobody knows for sure.
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Old 08-23-2001, 05:31 AM
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The essay by Hugh Trevor-Roper (a.k.a. Lord Dacre) is indeed the classic work on this subject, but most academic historians remain unconvinced by his bold claim that the kilt was 'invented' by Rawlinson. Trevor-Roper is not known either for his fondness for the Scots or for careful, measured conclusions. His essay appeared in a collection which was intended to be provocative. Its claims have since been much debated. On the basis of the sort of evidence which has been outlined in some of the posts above, the scholarly concensus is now that plaid long predated the eighteenth century and that it was worn in a way which approximated to a kilt, but that the modern style of kilt does date from the eighteenth century and that the idea of specific clan tartans dates largely from the nineteenth century. Having said that, Trevor-Roper's claim that it was only comparatively recently that the kilt came to be regarded as the Scottish national dress was spot-on, if only because the notion of 'national dress' was largely a product of nationalistic movements elsewhere in Europe in the nineteenth century.

Incidently, the costume designer of Braveheart knew that the kilts were anachronistic.
Old 08-23-2001, 06:51 AM
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A most interesting discussion, indeed.

But what I for one would like to know is this: Given that the Braveheart kilts were not 100% accurate, what should they have been wearing to be totally authentic? I get the impression that it'd have to be a "long plaid" or whatever ----a 'round the waist and over the shoulder thing--- in green or brown wool cloth, perhaps occasionally with a grid type pattern that would be the beginnings of plaid patterns as we've come to know them.

As for the clan-specific plaids of Geroge IV and later times: Is there a specific vocabulary that describes the patterns, as there is a vocabulary to describe heraldry? If I say "Azure, a St. Andrews' cross Argent" most people know what I mean, but how does one verbally describe, say, the Hay tartan?
Old 08-23-2001, 09:00 AM
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To be perfectly accurate, the Lowlanders in Braveheart would've probably been wearing long-tailed linen shirts over homespun pants with ankle-high shoes. They'd have had woolen cloaks and mantles to keep them warm. Highlanders probably would've worn belted plaids over long-tailed linen shirts with footwear much like everybody in the movie was wearing - low cut shoes with cloth wrapped around the shins to keep the lower leg warm.

Of course, in a Hollywood movie for mass consumption by folks who know nothing of Scottish history, it avoids needless confusion by just dressing all Scots as Highlanders.
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Old 08-23-2001, 12:43 PM
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ARGHHHHHH

Scotland was never conquer at anytime, its just that the english beat them rather often, then sometime about 1700-1800 watnot ( ican never recall the date but it was long before the panama canal) the scots made a bussiness venture
to make a trading post at the thinnest point at panama so that ships did not have to go via cape horn, this bussiness venture had 1/3 of all scottish gold involved in it and, it failed, failed badly and then the English went
to scotland with a chest full of gold equal to the amount
the scots had spent and said "your debt will be ourdebt"
etc etc something like that and scotland became our allies

heh, the only reason we're letting scotland go free soon is that the oil in scotland is running rather dry, most scots forget they agreed to join england
Old 08-23-2001, 01:37 PM
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Ordinarily, I am all for historical accuracy, but I admit I loved all the kilted men in Braveheart.

There is nothing finer than a Scot in a kilt! Or sexier.

When my younger brother wore his kilt with all of it's accompanying finery to his high school graduation, the women swooned and the men were jealous!

Skirt, my ass!
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Old 08-23-2001, 01:40 PM
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Of course, at the time, no-one thought to ask if he went regimental (which he did). Nowadays, that would probably get your diploma withheld!

I wonder who's job it would be to check...

Funny- he had a knife in his sock and no-one even noticed. Ah, the times they are a-changin'.
Old 08-23-2001, 01:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by geepee
ARGHHHHHH

Scotland was never conquer at anytime, its just that the english beat them rather often, then sometime about 1700-1800 watnot ( ican never recall the date but it was long before the panama canal) the scots made a bussiness venture
to make a trading post at the thinnest point at panama so that ships did not have to go via cape horn, this bussiness venture had 1/3 of all scottish gold involved in it and, it failed, failed badly and then the English went
to scotland with a chest full of gold equal to the amount
the scots had spent and said "your debt will be ourdebt"
etc etc something like that and scotland became our allies
The venture you are referring to is the Darien colony. 1697 to 1698, IIRC. It devoured close to half of Scotland's capital, and failed in no small part because of royal sabotage; King William ordered Jamaica and all the other royal colonies to boycott the Darien colonists.
Old 08-23-2001, 02:01 PM
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There is nothing finer than a Scot in a kilt! Or sexier.
How about watching a Scottish regiment "die" feet downhill during a historical reinactment.

...With the wind blowing uphill.

...And the tv cameras rolling.

...And the museum director running about flipping down the wayward kilts of the "dead" men.
Old 08-23-2001, 02:26 PM
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Mmmmmmmmmm... Interesting....


"Lad, I don't know where ya been, but I see you won first prize!"
Old 08-23-2001, 04:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by EJsGirl
Ordinarily, I am all for historical accuracy, but I admit I loved all the kilted men in Braveheart.

There is nothing finer than a Scot in a kilt! Or sexier.

When my younger brother wore his kilt with all of it's accompanying finery to his high school graduation, the women swooned and the men were jealous!

Skirt, my ass!
If you have a local St. Andrew's Society, it's worth joining for the scenery - they wear their kilts for every meeting, event, etc.!
Old 08-24-2001, 08:48 AM
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Or you can just go to Scottish festivals in Texas - then you'll get to try to guess which one's me!
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What does a Scotsman wear under his kilt? Shoes.
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