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Fashion - Haircuts

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319688.  Fri Apr 18, 2008 6:25 pm Reply with quote

Ahoy, Frederick the Monk! I know you won't let me get away with asserting that the 100 Years' War was started by a bad haircut, but what if we ask this unanswerable-but-amusing question and then offer up the attached note as a tongue-in-cheek anecdote?

What was the most disastrous haircut ever?

Forfeits: "That one", "This one".

Obviously there are many candidates for the most disastrous haircut in history, but QI proposes this one for your consideration: the French King Louis VII was a very devout man whose first wife, Eleanor of Aquitaine, said that she thought she was marrying a king but found she had married a monk. At this time (the C12th) there was a rash of preachers speaking out against long hair, which they said would condemn the wearer to Hell, so Louis had his hair cropped short. Unfortunately, Eleanor hated the new ‘do. Eventually their marriage was annulled and she went off and married Henry II of England, taking with her the Duchy of Aquitaine, a huge chunk of south-western France, and thus setting up the conditions for the 100 Years’ War (or the War of the Dodgy 'Do, as we like to call it). (Mainstream historians prefer a rather workaday version of history in which Eleanor and Louis fell out because he bottled out of the 2nd Crusade and she failed to produce a male heir, but we like to think that the dodgy haircut might at least have been the final straw. The formal ground for the annulment was ‘kinship’, an obvious fudge.)

A line from The Simpsons: "The French were fighting the English in the Hundred Years War ... which was then called 'Operation Speedy Resolution'."

Picture Researchers: disastrous haircuts, please

Frederick The Monk
319828.  Sat Apr 19, 2008 4:03 am Reply with quote

Hmmmmmm. I doubt all the other little historians would ever speak to me again. Where exactly does this gem come from? If it's from a contemporary source you have to remember that the papacy and hence the clerical chroniclers hated Eleanor as they considered it inappropriate for a woman to interfere in matters of State - i.e. the Pope's attempts to overawe and control a weak king of France. I think the reasons for the annulment are -

- they hated each other
- no son was forthcoming from the marriage
- Louis was ineffectual
- Eleanor was rumoured to have had an affair with her uncle Raymond of Antioch
- Pope Eugenius III's ludicrous attempts at reconciliation ( he made a special bed for them to sleep in)
- Hostility of the French barons towards Eleanor
- The prospect of joining Henry's Angevin territories with Aquitaine (which Eleanor still independently held) to form a powerblock on the continent to rival France.

Once these things had been taken into consideration I suppose haircuts might have come into it. But who told him to cut it and when? Haircuts are not normally recorded in the State papers of France.

319853.  Sat Apr 19, 2008 4:34 am Reply with quote

Oh, phooey.

319868.  Sat Apr 19, 2008 4:58 am Reply with quote

The immediate source is this passage from "Memoirs of Extraordinary Popular Delusions and The Madness Of Crowds", Charles Mackay, 1841:
In France, the thunders of the Vatican with regard to long curly hair were hardly more respected than in England. Louis VII. however, was more obedient than his brother-king, and cropped himself as closely as a monk, to the great sorrow of all the gallants of his court. His Queen, the gay, haughty, and pleasure-seeking Eleanor of Guienne, never admired him in this trim, and continually reproached him with imitating, not only the headdress, but the asceticism of the monks. From this cause, a coldness arose between them. The lady proving at last unfaithful to her shaven and indifferent lord, they were divorced, and the Kings of France lost the rich provinces of Guienne and Poitou, which were her dowry. She soon after bestowed her hand and her possessions upon Henry Duke of Normandy, afterwards Henry II of England, and thus gave the English sovereigns that strong footing in France which was for so many centuries the cause of such long and bloody wars between the nations.

but of course Mackay is a secondary source at best so I don't claim much weight for him - he's really just an indicator that there may be a story out there.

But come on, the phrase "her shaven and indifferent lord" is worth the price of admission on its own.

319892.  Sat Apr 19, 2008 5:16 am Reply with quote

On the subject of Louis VII, Gerald of Wales has this:
That king Louis (VII, 1137-80) was once attacking a stronghold in Burgundy very dangerous for pilgrims and travellers, named Nonette. After the campaign had dragged on for nearly two months, he had to return to Orleans with so severe an illness that his life was almost despaired of. Doctors, both his own and from all over, came flooding in to investigate the causes of his sickness with all the subtlety at their command. At length all agreed that this inconvenience had happened to him because of his prolonged continence and the deprivation from sex ("defectu coitus"), for this was very early in his marriage to his (second) queen, Alice, from whom he later received king Philip and whom he loved greatly ("non mediocriter"). Once this had been explained to him in the presence of the city's bishop, and an assembly too of many abbots and priors and other religious personages and men bearing the monastic habit, the king at once responded: "Let us therefore send for the queen." But since she happened to be in far-away parts and the disease proved persistent, the common counsel of all was that in the meantime some girl ("puella") should be brought to him, through whom he might find a remedy and, as it were, regain his life. The bishop and other ecclesiastical dignitaries present explained all this to the king, declaring that it was his only chance of a cure, and they all promised that he would not be punished for the sin and that they would stand as his guarantors for this before God. The good man answered: "If there is no other cure than this for the illness, let the Lord do his will on me. I prefer to die chaste ("castus") than to live an adulterer." And so he committed all to God, and by the mercy of Him who does not abandon those who lay their hopes upon Him, he conquered the malice of the sickness and soon recovered with the aid of a divinely granted remedy. Oh how healthy ("sanum"), how conducive to salvation ("salutiferum") and how very worthy of memory the words of the prince!

319922.  Sat Apr 19, 2008 5:55 am Reply with quote

As far as I can see, Mackay doesn't give a source for the haircut assertion; but then, he frequently doesn't bother with such niceties. I suggest we quote him in quote marks. "According to Mackay ..."

Frederick The Monk
320537.  Sun Apr 20, 2008 7:24 am Reply with quote

You mustn't let your admiration for MacKay's anti-corn law stance cloud your historical judgment, Mat old bean.

Frederick The Monk
320540.  Sun Apr 20, 2008 7:30 am Reply with quote

And as for Gerald of Wales, one should always be so careful about trusting a man called Gerald. He had so many axes to grind it's deafening. I particular he hated the Angevins and went to ludicrous lengths to prove the Capetians were lovely - which there weren't. The DNB says this:

"[Gerald's] vanity and his disappointed ambitions could make him solipsistic and obsessional. In Powicke's words, ‘Gerald lived every day an existence of dramatic egotism’ (Powicke, 114). A large part of his output was dedicated either to proving himself right or to castigating the vices of others. Sometimes this was in the context of his own quarrels, as in the works on the St David's case or on his dispute with his nephew. Sometimes he adopted a moral, quasi-pastoral stance, as in the Gemma ecclesiastica or the Speculum ecclesie, which was concerned primarily with criticisms of the monastic orders. In the De principis instructione it was the Angevin kings who were the targets of Gerald's vitriol, as he created an image of damned and violent rulers whose replacement by the serene Capetians of France would be a blessing for England."

As my daughter would say - ' clearly bonkers'.

320739.  Sun Apr 20, 2008 12:08 pm Reply with quote

And I think we can all guess who she's talking about.

321069.  Mon Apr 21, 2008 4:19 am Reply with quote

Those corn laws still rankle, though. It's all very well saying "geddover it," but .... grrrr .... those corn laws.

Frederick The Monk
321841.  Tue Apr 22, 2008 7:12 am Reply with quote

I know - sometimes it's just not enough to say 'it was all a long time ago'....

321895.  Tue Apr 22, 2008 8:36 am Reply with quote

Some people just won't let it lie. There are even a few folks who get rather excited over a guy who was nailed to a tree 2,000 years ago. I mean, talk about dragging up ancient history!

323721.  Thu Apr 24, 2008 7:15 am Reply with quote

Hats were not rationed in Britain during WW2; ironically, this meant that they became scarce and expensive. The government was forced to ask the Archbishop of Canterbury to issue an official statement assuring women that it was not improper to attend church bareheaded.

Many older women made their own hats, but many younger women were delighted for any excuse to give up millinery altogether. They were influenced by Hollywood, where female stars had hairstyles instead of hats.

Snoods and headscarves became popular. One memoir of the war, praising the simplicity of the snood, noted also that “It was a mark of defiance then for young women to have shoulder-length hair, as it meant that you weren't in the forces, and therefore, not conforming.”

Hence a possible Q: “When did long hair become a symbol of anti-establishment youth?” with various correct answers, and a forfeit for the 1960s, and the interesting point that no panellist is likely to associate the question with girls instead of boys. (Also links to the Q under Fashion on “When did it become fashionable [for middle-class men] to look scruffy?”)

Can’t remember if we ever used the stuff about Veronica Lake’s wartime hairstyle crisis?
post 21962

S: ‘London 1945’ by Maureen Waller (John Murray, 2005).

Links: Feminism, Fashion

326369.  Mon Apr 28, 2008 7:35 am Reply with quote

The Bank of England said it would swap at least 50 billion pounds in government securities with the banks' mortgage-based assets but would impose "variable haircuts". A haircut, the article helpfully explained, is the name of the percentage discount applied in each case to the value of the assets being swapped under the scheme. "The riskier the collateral, the larger the haircut."

- World Wide Words, 26 Apr 08

1325317.  Wed Jun 26, 2019 6:13 am Reply with quote

Any resources on this?


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