View Full Version : Medieval children's clothing (leash?)

09-30-2011, 09:36 PM
[ETA: SOLVED! post #5]


A long time ago, I saw a drawn picture of a child's dress with long ribbons or straps attached to the back or shoulders. I'm not certain that it was from the medieval period, but I know it was European. And I remember the captions saying the ribbons were used to keep the child close to the nanny or mother.

What were those straps called?

I've tried looking up medieval children's clothing, but I get pages and pages of "costumes" especially since it's nearing halloween.

I've tried looking up children's leashes or leads, but that populates the page with blogs on the controversy of using leashes for children...

Do you have any tips for narrowing or changing the search parameters?


09-30-2011, 09:57 PM
I've just had a google and you're right! It's tough!

Might be worth contacting someone at the V+A museum. They may know.

ETA: This link might help: http://collections.vam.ac.uk/search/?offset=60&limit=15&narrow=&q=children%27s+clothing&commit=Search&quality=0&objectnamesearch=&placesearch=&after=&after-adbc=AD&before=&before-adbc=AD&namesearch=&materialsearch=&mnsearch=&locationsearch=

09-30-2011, 10:18 PM
Typically enough a google on "leashes on medieval clothes" turns up THIS EXACT PAGE as the first link :rolleyes:

09-30-2011, 10:35 PM
Reins, perhaps? Here's an SCA article that touches on the whens and wheres: http://www.sandradodd.com/duckford/children

Alessandra Kelley
09-30-2011, 10:43 PM
They are called "leading strings" and as far as I know they're mostly 18th century. They might be earlier, too.

09-30-2011, 10:48 PM
Throws confetti on Alessandra! Oh man, that's so awesome! Thanks dudette.
Leading strings. I'd tried "Leash" "Ribbon" "Lead" and "Strings" but never the right combination....

09-30-2011, 11:00 PM
Mid 17th century by the look of it.

09-30-2011, 11:48 PM
When I was a kid my mother called them reins, like on a horse.

I believe I wore them myself when I was a toddler. I know my younger brother did, I remember them.

That was the 60s.

10-01-2011, 08:34 AM
I doubt you'd find them used in a medieval setting. Kids were expected to function and fend for themselves at such a young stage that I have a hard time believing such aids were used at any time.

10-01-2011, 09:47 AM
I agree with Bereheath. Working class people might have found the cost of fabric prohibitive.

At one of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trusts houses there is a child restraint thing. Not sure what to call it - it is a vertical piece of wood from floor to ceiling and a horizontal piece of wood about a yard or so from the floor. At the end of the horizontal piece of wood is a D shaped piece of wood that opens on the flat side of the D and the child is inserted into it and the thing is closed. The child can go round and round in circles but not much else.

10-01-2011, 02:21 PM
They are definitely not medieval. Most medieval dress for children was simply the same as adult clothing but smaller - basic tunics and the like. You only really have a concept of 'childhood' being special in the later 1700s/early 1800s and especially as you get into the Victorian period in the late 1800s.

10-01-2011, 06:35 PM
Leading strings, yep, but I'm not sure I've seen them before the early modern period.

10-01-2011, 07:16 PM
Cool! Thanks guys. It's for a sprite pretending to be human in a pacific islander myth-based fantasy novel, and the only clothes that will fit him are toddling clothes. The strings are going to be attached to a leopard skin vest.

Thanks for the help!