Thursday 15 March 2012

Richard Armitage & Historical Costume (4)

Thursday, March 15th

Half over, already!
• In King Richard Armitage, Servetus admits to (gasp!) stray thoughts while lecturing
• In fanfic, Margaret Hale guestposts at John Thornton's on why she loves him
Jo Ann continues her story
• In freeform, Jas Rangoon jokes about potential reproductive partners for Mr. Armitage
Itsjsforme reveals another Guy of Gisborne PSA (still not safe for work!)
Gratiana Lovelace needs more help captioning "Whimsical Moments with Deadly Serious ChaRActers!"
• In fandom, IngeD3 focuses on Ricky Deeming
Fabo confesses her Richard Armitage eyelash fetish!
• In the Hobbit, it's calories galore as Antonia Romera discusses fingerlicking at the Hobbit table
The Queen takes on Hobbit cakes

Links to all FanstRA 3 posts appear here at the end of each day.

Are Men Especially Attractive in Historical Costume?

Analysis on basis of Mr. Richard Armitage

This question in regard to Mr. Armitage in general is quite difficult to answer. With an attractive actor to begin with, it is hard to judge objectively. But I will try and will give you examples to judge for yourself.

The earliest historic reference we have of Mr. Armitage, is of him being a Roman soldier, around 40 BC.
(I have not seen the film, so no more exact dating or comment about the film here.)

Source: (edited & combined)
He certainly cuts a fine figure on a horse and the Roman style is not exactly unbecoming.

Unfortunately then, Mr. Armitage takes a long break and does not appear for more than thousand years.
From the strange style of his clothing, it is a bit hard to exactly date his next appearance in time as Sir Guy of Gisborne. But I would say, something about high Middle Ages (and lots of Fantasy-land).

He perhaps traveled with the Roman invaders, as now, he is in England (that for a strange coincidence is situated in Hungary, another part of the Roman Empire) and certainly developed a liking for dark colours in his clothing.

Then again Mr. Armitage leaves us for many a hundred years, though reminiscent to his earlier appearances either jumps from the Roman Empire to the British Empire and continues his preference for black cloths. As John Thornton he continues his way north, though only slightly from his last appearance in Nottingham castle.

Mr. Armitage's next sightings are closer together and he slowly approaches our time.
Here some excerpts of his later appearances in history:

Malice Aforethought - Source:

Mr. Armitage seems to develop a liking for top-hats, reminiscent to Mr. Thornton.

Mary Lloyd (around 1900 AD) - Source:

Ordeal by Innocence (around 1910 AD) -

Clearly not happy without a hat.

Captain America (around 1910 AD) -

But Mr. Armitage really would make a good gangster boss in Chicago in the 1920th, though the hat is missing ...

George Gently (around 1950 AD) -

Even after the Great Wars in the 20th century, Mr. Armitage has historic coverage of the time.

We then already come to more contemporary roles, but as we all know those well, I will leave them out, as they do not especially classify as 'historical', at least not from our point of view as contemporaries.

But what we discovered in this overview, Mr. Armitage still has wide historical gaps to cover. So to come back to my favourite topic, a King Richard III really would fill one of the gaps nicely.

But for imagining him in such a time, we mostly must rely on (unmanipulative manipulations of) historical material.

Topic Excursion about King Richard III and Venice:
What I would rather rule out for King Richard is, that he, like William Shakespeare depicted him, was a bodily impaired king.
Though at a timebreak and at the end of our later defined time period of the "Middle Ages", still some rules of reign significant for the earlier Middle Ages dominated the thinking of the population.
King Richard III by Shakespeare is described as the hunchbacked king.
In my view, for the time of the late 15th century it is not possible for one to become king, have a hunchback and this stay unmentioned for his whole life. If that would have been the case, it would have been discussed not only in England by all his subjects, but also on the continent by all visiting diplomats and traders coming into or hearing news about the country. The topic would have spread, together with a firestorm of a debate, if an impaired king could hold the divine right to rule a country. (As impairement still in a way was recognized as God's punishment.)
Especially when even the healing ceremony is documented for King Richard III’s coronation and nobody would have believed an impaired king to have the divine healing ability, when he could not even heal himself.

It also must be mentioned, that the late 15th century was a time of spies, informal informants and a well established news system covering the whole of Europe. Among the best informed diplomats and chroniclers of the time are the Venetians, though all Italian states were well informed, to support their trade and interests.
Unfortunately, there is a reason why we have rather little knowledge about King Richard III’s time from sources in Italy, the first and mostly reliable (or at least reliable to act in their own interest and write history under that premise) chroniclers of that time. The War of the Roses brought insecurities  and something traders can’t use is insecurity, especially when each side of the rivaling parties tended to gilden their war coffers by confiscating the goods of foreign traders. Therefore, the most reliable and effective sources of the time, the Venetians with a well established state propaganda (today we would call it “well advised advertisement”) and state collected history, are mostly silent about King Richard III.
Venice was hit by anti-foreigners assaults against their property once too often during the War of the Roses and so they drew back their diplomats from England.
Unfortunately that leaves us without the best chroniclers of the time, as they only returned after King Richard III’s reign.
Though their informal sources, as a well informed town like Venice never left a potential market completely, did not mention a hunchbacked king, but rather a just king. It even is, as far as some researchers go, due to King Richard’s levelheaded reign that Venice decided to send their diplomats back. It only came to fruition after King Richard III’s death and so the Tudor dynasty passively profited from King Richard III’s good management of the state once more.
King Richard III is said to have preferred the Italian style of clothing and also admired and supported learned men from the University of Padua, which belonged to The Serenissima, the town of Venice, at that time.
Still, King Richard III also limited the power of the foreign traders, by demanding an exchange in goods, so that the foreigners could not only draw out money and gold from England, but also had to buy goods from England in return for their own goods as well. (A fair trade principle, but when we see today’s markets, it did not survive into our days.)

But now you really deserve an Italian styled 'King Richard' image:

RA as Italian Nobleman (15th century) -
Source: Catalogue by Frick Collection (edited)

As now also the 'hunchback'-topic is out of the way, I will show you some (slightly manipulated) contemporary sources for Mr. Armitage appearing as King Richard III: (Please excuse the sometimes bad picture quality. I did not have better source material available to use.)

Anne Neville - Richard III and their son -
Source: (edited)

King Richard III -

RA as Man in King Richard III's time -
Source: Dion Clayton Calthrop "Historical Costume"

As a result of today's journey through time, we found out, that Mr. Armitage fits into all periods and traveled far and wide through time. He still has some large gaps to cover, but otherwise, at least I come to the result, that he can wear and make each costume work excellently for him and his character.
Time difference is no hindrance for him, so the historical roles can come flowing in now. I would not mind at all ;o)

Please let me know your thoughts and what time period you especially would like Mr. Armitage to select.

Doge Loredan -
And as I have talked so much about Venice today, I will also reveal a secret wish of mine to you:
I would also like Mr. Armitage to play that historic person, when King Richard III is finished, of course ;o)
(Portrait is by Giovanni Bellini of the Venetian Doge Leonardo Loredan.)
The high age this person reached, leaves Mr. Armitage quite some more time, though I am not sure how Mr. Armitage would look with the hair hiding cap of the Venetian Doges. But more regarding 'Hair' tomorrow ;o)

Have a wonderful FanstRAvaganza Week!

<<  Tomorrow I will continue this topic with adding my musings about Mr. Armitage and historic hairstyles.  >>

I don't need to mention who made this wonderful banner and you will know anyway ;o)


  1. I would like to see Mr A back in a cravat to be honest. regency or Edwardian :).

    1. Thank you, Mulubinba! I must admit, I am partial to cravats as well. One man once asked me, how I could be so cruel to men, but they just look so great ;o)

  2. This is so good, CDoart! My favourite things - costume and history. (RA would be an excellent Doge, to rival The Borgias) As for the chroniclers, history is written through the eyes of those with a view to their interests. Richard III was royally scuppered by the Tudors. And foreign visitors didn't help the record. :D


    1. Thank you very much, fitzg, and welcome here!
      The problem with me is, that I could imagine RA in almost any leading role, but the Venetians and especially this Doge were a fascinatingly individual community.
      I am absolutely insatiable, I know ;o)

  3. A very interesting post! Reminds me when I was studying fashion design and got to analyse fashion of different periods based on costumes from films. At the time I didn't know of RA, so never wrote about N&S or The Impressionists :(
    I did write about Charlie's Angels, the original series... Nevermind...
    I'd love to see a carefree RA character from the Roaring Twenties. That would entail him dancing and flirting with Flappers ;)

    1. Thank you, iwanttobeapinup!
      The image of a carefree RA in the Twenties really fascinates me. Perhaps we would even get the chance to see him dance the Tango? Hmmm.... delicious thought ;o)

  4. Great Post!
    I do like the Roman get up without the plumes. One of my favorite pictures is a b&W of him dancing wearing a kilt. Ahhh.

    Cravats should be worn or removed as part of any seduction scene..

    Richard in leather is always a winner and I liked the white scarf touch of Ricky's

    I noticed in your last Richard 3rd picture that he is sporting a nice pair of Mary Janes. I like MJ's

    I enjoy period costumes on RA and men in general. I kind of feel sorry for men today because their fashion is so boring compared to other times.

    How about RA featured in a costume from Clan of the Cave Bear?

    1. Thank you very much, Phoebe!
      Had to look up what Mary Janes are ;o) But they look lovely and comfortable. I like the clothing style for RA very much and the long frock of that time 'almost' looks a bit like a kilt, so perhaps it could make you happy as well ;o)
      I am not so much a fan of cave clans and the cave men, though with RA, I would give it a try. The behaviour of the cave-men reminds me so much of some of the men around me ;o)
      But with the cravats, I absolutely agree with you. Fortunately it is a secret among us, otherwise men would use that knowledge against us ;o)

  5. It's so true that historical figures wore hats and headgear much more often than today. :)

    I stubbornly want to see Richard Armitage in a romantic comedy before I can dedicate any brain cells to period dramas. ;)

    1. Hello bccmee ;o)
      I am really glad, that I have no say in what RA does, otherwise he would never get some recreation or even have time to sleep. A romantic comedy really sounds lovely and ideal for him, but please with him wearing (and at some time removing) a cravat ;o)! Nothing more 'indecent' necessary for me ;o)

    2. I'm with Bccmee on this one, CD.
      If only RA would get to be in a nice Rom-Com where he gets the girl and doesn't die, I think I would die and go to heaven. Ha!
      Cheers! Grati ;->
      P.S. I love the lavish period costuming. They really knew how to dress. Of course, the peasants were at a slight disadvantage there. But as RA proved in Sparkhouse, he can wear sack cloth and still look good. As I've said elsewhere, clothes may make the man, but RA makes the clothes. Ha!

    3. Hello Grati, I see your point, as all historic persons automatically have a disadvantage ;o)
      But a romance, where RA does not die (or land in prison) at the end, would be nice for a change.

  6. Wow, putting Armitage into the Rous Roll? INSPIRED!

    1. Thank you very much, Servetus! (You see, no respect for historical documents ;o)

  7. Oh, he would look great as a musketeer, but the truth is that he always looks great *sigh*

    1. Oh, a musketeer indeed sounds lovely, Ania.
      You see, we have such a lot of suggestions, that with us, RA never would be out of work and we would have continuously new films. ;o) Dream ...