The Tudor Society
  • How were ruffs stiffened?

    Thank you to Rioghnach for asking this question. Here is her question in full:

    “I’m a predominantly Dark Ages re-enactor and I’m frequently in awe of Tudor era female reenactors who tend to have the most amazing lace ruffs and collars. If I use the Armada Portrait of 1588, the Rainbow Portrait of 1600 and Marcus Gheeraerts the Younger’s rather unflattering 1595 portrait of Elizabeth as examples, how were these magnificent lace collars made to remain stiff? I’ve heard tell that Arum italicum and Arum maculatum (aka “Lords and Ladies”) were used to create the starch needed to keep such flamboyant ruffs stiff. Is this true, and if so how was it done?”

    Historian Toni Mount, a specialist in the social history of the medieval and Tudor periods, was the perfect person to answer this question, particularly as she had mentioned the use of starch in the Elizabethan period for ruffs in her June 2017 expert talk. Here is Toni’s answer…

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