Did 16th Century German Women Wear Fur?

This winter I went to an outside event where I knew the temperatures would be low. So I made myself a faux fur and wool goller and hat. Did I research them in advance? Nope. I just wanted to be warm! But, of course, I found myself wondering if German women wore furs. I hadn’t come across any evidence of it, but — logically — it only made sense. Germany had cold winters in the 16th century. Women would have gone out into the cold. Furs kept humans toasty warm. Germany had plenty of critters with warm fur. Men wore fur. Thus, German women would have probably have worn fur, too. But there’s really no evidence of it in paintings. Artists rarely painted portraits of people in their outside clothing. I did find evidence of 16th German men wearing fur hats in portraits, but the ladies mostly wear scarves or other head coverings.

Today, however, I believe I’ve found evidence for both a fur partlet and fur hat … on German females! I was searching through 16th century German artifacts in the Victoria & Albert Museum and I discovered an obstetrical book from Frankfurt, German, published in 1587, by Jacobus Rueff. The illustrated title page shows a birthing chamber with several woman helping a pregnant woman.

If you look closely, the attendant kneeling before the pregnant woman has what looks to me to be a fur partlet, or partlet-shaped goller. The woman on the right has what definitely looks like a fur hat.


So next winter I plan to make fur accessories more along these styles, though my fur hat is already pretty similar to the one depicted.

Red and black faux fur hat

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3 Responses to Did 16th Century German Women Wear Fur?

  1. Heike Kubaschmiretar says:

    There is a sixteenth century woodcut from Nurnberg that shows sleeveless gowns being lined with fur. I don’t have the reference but I remember the image vividly. One gown is being lined and several completed gowns showing the fur lining were hanging in the background. I can remember marvelling just how much these gowns must have weighed and wondering how the ladies actually moved in these heavy garments.

  2. Elße says:

    GASP!! The woman in the fur partlet! Her head cover! Could that be what’s under the gravity defying steuchlien?! Thank you SO much for that picture!

  3. Inge says:

    Just stumbled across this one. Now there is a German woman wearing fur. (last image)http://www.kleio.org/de/geschichte/stammtafeln/wettiner/Cranach11.html

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