The term Jacobean deals particularly with
the 17th century, that time when the House of Stewart/Stuart reigned over both
Scotland and England. A little history and a little Latin shall explain.
King James VI of Scotland had been king over that nation since 1567. King
James was a member of the House of Stewart/Stuart which had ruled Scotland for
several centuries and which was now to rule England for over a century as
well. In 1603 Queen Elizabeth of England died and James inherited the throne
of England where he was crowned King James I. From that point in time he ruled
over both nations until his death in 1625. Notable events during the reign of
King James I included the Gunpowder Plot of 1605 and the founding of the
colonies of Virginia in 1607 and Plymouth in 1620. He is most remembered
however for desiring and authorizing a new translation of the Bible into
English. This "Authorized" version was first published in 1611 and has been
popularly known as the "King James" version ever since. It was during the
reign of King James I that the Thirty Years War broke out in Europe
(1618-1648). But though many English and Scottish officers gained valuable
military experience as volunteers fighting for other nations, particularly in
the Swedish Army of King Gustavus Adolphus, yet on a national level England
and Scotland stayed clear of the struggle.
After the reign of King James I came that of his son King Charles I who
reigned from 1625-1649. The Massachusetts Bay Colony was founded during his
reign as well as the colonies of Connecticut, Rhode Island and Maryland. The
English Civil War began in 1642 with "Cavaliers" or "Royalists" supporting the
King and "Roundheads" supporting Parliament during this complex but colourful
struggle. The "Roundheads" were victorious in the end, Charles was executed in
1649, and his son, the future Charles II found refuge on the European
Continent as Oliver Cromwell and Parliament took the reigns of power.
During the "Commonwealth" (1649-1660), the period of rule by Cromwell
and/or Parliament, there was no reigning king, thus these years are also known
as the "Interregnum" (Latin for "between kings"). To this day "Lord Protector"
Oliver Cromwell is the most debated figure in British history. These years saw
the exodus of many Royalists (Cavaliers) to America, most notably to Virginia
which had been very sympathetic to the royal cause in the late Civil War
whereas the colonies of New England had been very sympathetic to the cause of
Parliament. (The whole polarized north-south thing in America goes way, way
back!) This period also saw the beginning of the intermittent
but enormous naval struggles known as the Anglo-Dutch Wars.
In 1660 the "Restoration" occurred when Charles II was invited to return
from exile and assume the throne. But even previous to this point a representative
had been sent to Charles by Virginia asserting that Virginians still
recognized him as the Stuart heir and thus the rightful king and inviting him
to come and reign as king in Virginia until the rest of his realm could be
restored. Though he did not follow through on the offer, the crowns being
reclaimed shortly afterwards, yet due to his appreciation of the loyalty of Virginia, once the
"Restoration" was complete King Charles II honoured Virginia by naming her a
royal "Dominion" along with England, Scotland and Ireland. Thus Virginia has
had the honour of being known as the "Old Dominion" to this very day. King
Charles II also authorized the establishment of a colony to the south of
Virginia which was named Carolina in his honour, Carol being Latin for
Charles. The settlement which was to become the colony's capital was also
named in his honour. This was Charles Towne, which is today's Charleston,
South Carolina, the colony having later been divided into North Carolina and
South Carolina. King Charles II ruled from 1660-1685.
Next in line was King James II (younger brother of Charles II) who assumed
the throne from 1685 until the "Glorious Revolution" of 1688. Before becoming
king this James held the title of Duke of York. When the English captured the
town of Nieuw Amsterdam from the Dutch in 1664 it was renamed New
York in his honour.
In the Latin language "James" is translated as "Jacobus" thus the period
from the reign of King James I through that of King James II is often known as
the Jacobean era. After King James II was overthrown those who continued to
support the claims of direct succession of the House of Stewart/Stuart to the crowns of Scotland
and England became know as "Jacobites". Repeated efforts to restore
this family line to the thrones of Scotland and England were very
much a part of European power politics until the defeat of Charles Edward
Stuart ("Bonnie Prince Charlie"), grandson of King James II, at the battle of
Culloden in 1746.
But what of Jacobean Fashion?
The Jacobean era of the 17th century covers a number of fashion changes.
Even very early in the
period men were wearing breeches. The breeches of the period were fly front
and a looser fit than the future 18th century variety. Around 1600 they were
often ballooned in the upper part but this soon passed and a more
symmetrical shape was adopted. Sometimes breeches fastened snugly below the knee and sometimes
they simply hung loose, perhaps being decorated by a lace fringe around the
bottom of each leg opening. The ruff of the early part of the era gave way to
the "falling bands" type collar that one tends to associate with the Pilgrims.
Misleading stereotypes of Puritans in drab garb notwithstanding, this was
undoubtedly the most colourful and ostentatious era in all of history for men
who could afford to be fashionable. Bright colours, ribands (ribbons), frills,
lace, large hats of varying styles and large plumes were all worn as was
ostentatiously long hair. In fact it was during this period that wigs came
into fashion for men. Poor King Louis XIII of France went prematurely bald at
a time when it was fashionable for men to wear their hair down far below their
shoulders. The King of France must be fashionable - so he has a large, long wig made.
Others quickly imitated him and wigs in various forms would be fashionable for
men for the next 175 years or so. This was also a period when men went about
wearing the type of sword known as the rapier. It is the era of the "Three
Musketeers" of "Lorna Doone" and of the first golden age of Caribbean piracy.
Ladies' fashions transitioned from the Elizabethan look with its
"farthingale" corset, barrel shaped petticoat and large ruff to a high-waisted
gown worn with short, curled hair at the time of the English Civil War and
then back to a very long-waisted gown and long, flowing hair. All ladies wore
stays (corsets) though the shape and length changed through the period.
Necklines could be square or oval in the early and middle parts of the era
though oval much predominated in the latter part.
The Puritans are worth a mention here as they played a large role in the
early English settlements in America and were thickly involved in the
political and religious debates that preceded and followed the English Civil
War. History has often unkindly stereotyped the Puritans as being drab in
their attire and dour in their countenances. Some did fit this pattern but
overall the classification is unfair as many more did not. Puritans
believed in modesty within the context of whatever social level to which they
believed that God had assigned them. Puritan members of the nobility dressed
in finery but perhaps not to the extent of some of their more splendidly
garbed fellow aristocrats. Puritan commoners wore a number of colours (not
just black and white) but were modestly fashionable within their means and
social level. Puritan men tended to wear shoulder length hair - which was
after all shorter than the length at which many men wore their hair through the last 3/4 of
the 17th century - and some even cropped it up around there ears, thus engendering the term "roundhead". In summation, the Puritans
dressed just as other people except that for modesty's sake they tended to be
toned down (according to their respective social levels) in terms of
ostentation and finery. (The words "modest" and "modesty" had almost
completely different connotations then than now ... but that as they say ...
is another story.) But did Puritans dance? Why yes! John Playford, the most
distinguished dancing master of the period - was a Puritan!
The best simple visual Jacobean Fashion resource we know of for laymen is
actually a colouring book! Go to your favourite online bookseller and type in a
search for ISBN #0486433331.
For those desiring to sew Jacobean attire be warned that good patterns are
almost non-existent. However, we have discovered a few offerings representing
this era. Write for details.
Also and otherwise .... Study period artwork from the reign of King James I
or go a bit earlier to the reign of Elizabeth I or a bit later to the English
Civil War - and then go freestyle, designing if you have the skills to do so.
The movie "Cromwell" has some very good costuming circa the 1640s, right in
the heart of the Jacobean era, and might be a good source for ideas. Polish
your language skills as well. 17th century English is beautiful! The King
James Bible, Pilgrim's Progress and the works of Shakespeare are excellent
Good Newes from Virginia
first time visitor…
Dear Lord and Lady Scott,
I want to thank you for hosting the Jamestown Ball last month. I must honestly
say, I have not had more fun in MONTHS!!!! I came alone, as a first timer,
and was warmly welcomed into the fun by every person in attendance. I was
impressed by the sweetness and innocence of the youth and the warmth and
kindness of the adults. Lady Trudy, Lady Mary Jane, and Pilgrim Christopher
were particularly gracious and I thank them! I knew no one when I arrived.
When I departed, I feel that I took dear friends with me. The evening was
perfect, and my deepest thanks to you for making it not only possible, but a
I came on a "reconnaisance mission" and then reported back to the family. I
had such a wonderful time that my teenage son and I have made plans to attend
the Pride and Prejudice Ball in the autumn, and I cannot wait! I've already
begun to make our historic attire! We both look forward to seeing you again.
I sincerely thank you again for a fabulous evening.
What a nice Ball! It's amazing how hours
can pass by so quickly. Everything was so well arranged and planned. It's so
nice to just go and enjoy good music, pretty dresses, good company and lots
merriment of the best style. Every moment was so special and enjoyable. It
was different than any other Ball yet just as nice and perhaps even more
best. She always looks so pretty. I really appreciate all the work she does.
Sometimes we can forget the wife's work behind the scenes but I do notice all
her labour. Sewing is time consuming and she surely has golden hands.
appreciate all the work you put into planning such a beautiful evening. It
was truly wonderful.
Dear Lord and Lady Scott,
The Jamestown Ball now has a place on my list as one of my favorites. I do
hope I helped erase the popular myth that Puritans didn't dance.
As one guest put it during the jig, "You look like you're having entirely too
much fun." That, kind sir, is precisely the idea!
But I shall remember another moment too, in our re-creation of the landing at
Jamestown, where we gave thanks to God and prayed for the Gospel to spread
across the land. I carried the cross. Given the recent re-affirmation of my
faith, it was a poignant parallel to my own life.
Thank you so much! God Bless You and the Family of We Make History!
Your Friend And Humble Servant,
Chaplain Christopher the Puritan
My dear Lord Scott
Jamestown Ball was a welcome change despite the fact that all the other balls
are simply splendid. The level of dress, the colorful characters, and theater made it a most
memorable evening. I was most relieved that the native peoples behaved
themselves so well, and not like savages. It was most fortunate that a young
Indian woman came to the rescue of Captain John Smith, which was a most heroic
act and set the proper tone for the evening. It almost makes me think that we
two peoples can live side by side.
thee for all of thy hard work to make these balls so unforgettable.
and Humble Servant,
Sir Michael of Glendale
It is so delightful to see the excitement in the patrons
at the balls, . . . especially for the neophytes. It helps to make the
evening magical. And today I heard on the radio that Queen Elizabeth is coming
US to celebrate the 400th
Birthday of the first permanent English settlement in the New World . . .
Jamestown!! Her Royal Highness is
a week late! Did she not get your invite to the ball? Do doubt, some
chicanery in the Royal Court was at work.
Lord & Lady Scott,
Elizabeth and I had a wonderful experience at the Jamestown Ball. The music
was enchanting, the re-enactments engaging, and the efforts shown by so many
of the guests to attire themselves in period fashion was inspiring. The
evening was also very instructive, as I discovered the inability to
distinguish one’s right from left on demand and under pressure is not
necessarily unique to young children. As the gentleman can attest, (though I
know he would not, as a gentleman, admit he noticed), whatever “poise” I may
have developed does not as yet extend to the dance floor. Being a hopeful
person, however, I remain optimistic that with the saint-like patience of
knowledgeable dance partners in the future, I might improve. Time will tell.
Elizabeth has gone on to tell all her friends at school and her teacher how
incredible her experience was. As it happens, her teacher is from the East
Coast, and was amazed that such an event commemorating the founding of
Jamestown occurred here in the wilds of the Arizona Territory. I’ve clued her
in to your website. Opportunity abounds.
I regret we
will probably have to wait until October for the next ball, but the lure of
Anne Bonny and Mary Reid may drive us to Prescott, after all.
again for your diligent efforts toward the Jamestown Ball, and for all your
endeavors to serve and inspire.
most faithfully yours,
of Faulbrooke Manor
I am writing to tell you how much I enjoy the newly posted page! :)
We brought three newcomers this time and all of three of them just LOVED the
experience! They are so pleased to have found a group of people who can
reenact history so well with so much merriment!
Prescott was certainly taken by surprise with us... especially when we went to
take pictures by the Log Cabins at the Sharlot Hall Museum... It was quite
funny as we walked over there because a tourist came up to Sean saying, "I
thought that this town was so quiet and charming... until I saw YOU!
HOODLUM!!!" She was just kidding, but she did take us by surprise ;) And
while mom and dad were taking pictures of Sean by the cabin, Tony, Josh, and I
waited on the street by the car... There were several stares coming our way,
some of which can't even be described ;)
Thank you so much for one of the most enjoyable and memorable balls ever!
Kristen K., known in 1607 as Socatoa, Indian Princess ;)
I just wanted to thank you for the opportunity to be part
of the Jamestown ball. It was tremendous fun for me, and from the looks of it
the dancers were having just as much fun. I always have a bit of trouble
getting back to real life after our SCA events, and the same was true after
I was also impressed with the way you began and ended the
ball. In our society today it is very refreshing to attend any event that
dares to open with the Pledge of Allegiance and close with words recognizing
the many blessings that God has given us.
If my meager skills would suit your needs for future 17th
century events, please do contact me.
Simon de Rouen
I doth had a most wonderfull time at the Jamestowne Ball, and was glad to be
of assistance as Ensign (e.g. Guidon-Bearer) for the landing-party. Our
company was well met, the Algonkian natives a nice enough bunch of Fellowes
once you got to know them -- and the distaff companionship, superb as always!
Twas a most wondrous evening indeed and I doth most sincerely hope that we
shall nott have to waite until AD 2020 and the Plymouth Anniversary for our
next soiree/excursion back to the glorious 17th C.
Yrs. Most Sincerely
in Christ Our Lord
Yeoman Adventurer & Parliamentarian
Thank you once again for a fantastic evening. I had a great time doing the
skit, and showing off my impressive linguistic skills as one of Powhatan's
tribe. Granted, it sounded more like a caveman than anything else, but I'm
sure I'll get the dialect down sooner or later. I also had a great time
participating in the native dance of Powhatan's people. I'm sure it was a
sight no one had ever seen before, (or wishes to see again). Thank you once
again for all of the splendid work you put in to making these balls possible.
I hope we get to do another 17th century ball like that again.
Josh the Algonquian
I had a most
pleasant time at the recent ball which was
held in honor of Jamestown's founding.
Everyone (even the "savages") was well behaved and gave one the impression of
being in King James' court. I would be in favor of attending such a ball again
due to the wonderful gentlemen, ladies,
natives, and musicians.
We did arrive late, but my
brothers managed to be photographed in the
charge for all of the ladies shoes. I always find these dances (and the
pineapple dance) most amusing and some of the most fun dances of the evening.
I do hope that we will be visiting this time period again as I had fun
learning about some of the people who lived then.
Thank you (and your wife) for
the enjoyment that you have brought to my family. Thank you again for the
Dear Lord Scott,
I was delighted by the
creative costumes worn to the Jamestown Ball. What an enjoyable group of
people that attend your events! Having attended other group's events, I have
come to appreciate your high standards all the more and consider myself
blessed to be counted among the members of the 1st VA. and We Make History.
Thank you for all of your hard
celebration of The New World, as established in Jamestown 400 years ago
this year and honored by
We Make History.
Adapted From The Journals Of Chaplain Christopher the Puritan
Presented In Iambic Pentameter in Tribute to Shakespeare and Bunyan.
The windy voyage now complete and lo,
A merry Puritan am I, clothed in
Black and brown and eager for some dancing!
My friends bestow me with thy title Chaplain.
A preacher now? I shall honor God with
Joyous, num’rous steps of high refinement.
Our fellow voyagers have made it here,
Kind ladies and fine gentlemen stroll in.
Explorers meet and greet about thy room.
Chief Powhatan in fully painted mirth.
His subjects all around him brave and strong.
Pocahontas in three persons, showing
Young girl, then older, then an English Lass!
A tribute to thy country of the now,
And then the watch wound back four hundred years
Promenade we all back to the time of
Newfound land and cur’ous native dwellers.
An unsure lady calmed with steady hand
Extended to her with a courtly bow
We very much enjoy Sellenger’s Round.
Thine eyes observe a Pilgrim woman to
Thy corner of thy hall. I waste no time
In off’ring her the opportunity
To share a dance and disprove myths long told
Of Puritan contempt for dances all.
Our many steps do surely show the world
We are not strangers to the land of joy
If though our brownish garb doth paint us blue.
We caper through the Fields of Frost and Snow.
To honour to the brave who came before,
We pay tribute with a re-enactment
Of first steps taken on the New World land
A cross over my shoulder as I walk,
Heavy and yet such a glor’ous burden.
All knees do bend upon the blessed Earth,
Prayers offered that the Gospel may spread forth
Across this new and wonderful country.
I share so many moments with such fine
And charming ladies of the lands afar.
I gaze into their eyes as my feet glide
O’er the ballroom. Come, let us be merry!
A bow with sweeping hand, a clap and turn,
And skip with grace amongst the couples all.
Such poise doth nourish health and spirit both.
The jigs are up! And we are all about,
Prancing about in freeform style, the lads
And ladies showing off their fancy feet,
Although the natives do prefer less bounce.
They sloweth down the pace, walking in style.
A low-impact sort of jig I cannot
Help but try to emulate, yet some shall
Recognize my steps as “Thy Egyptian.”
John Smith is spared by native Algonquians,
Young Pocahontas makes the saving cry!
Years later she would marry a John Rolfe.
All Haste to the fair Wedding, so we say.
Oh ‘tis my fav’ourite! But I smile too soon.
This version is but new and diff’rent than
Thy dance that I learned sev’ral years ago.
But still, my heart doth not complain, for I
Treasure learning with all its challenges.
A winner of thy contest? Oh, Huzzah!
Ten balls hath I attended, prize not won.
But unlike other winners drawn from lot,
I have my fact of history in mind,
No dance shall I perform to satisfy
Thy yearnings of the unforgiving ones,
Ye who delight watching solo jigs.
Mind must be exercised as sure as foot.
But be not laggard in ye steps or ye
Shall find no lady to engage for dance
When they shall cast thy footwear to thy floor,
Thy quick shall have the honour of first choice,
If thou can stand thy weight of rushing charge,
The glor’ous crush of noble gentlemen
Upon the back of one who halts too soon.
All is wond’rous, yet so tiring, yet this
Pilgrim puzzles how thy time could slip so
Far so fast, and leave us at the end, too
Soon for many, but the ticking clock has
Brought us back into our modern lives and
Times yet with promise that the journey is
Not over, and we shall meet here again.
Click ye here for more images and words of celebration!
COMING IN JUNE:
Lord Scott to ye Virginia Company
Ye Merriment at Jamestown
Ye Gallant Adventurers,
Noble Savages, Ladies of England, Carefree Carousers, Dainty Dancers,
Prancing Puritans, and what all may be more than any one could recount...
It cometh to pass that Lord Scott hath acquainted His Most Gracious Majesty
King James of thy heroic exploits scarce equaled since ye days of Jason & ye
Argonauts ... whose adventures are cloaked in the mists of time and shrouded
in fable while those of ye Virginia adventurers be real and well attested
His Majesty King James expresses His pleasure in noble exploits which accrue
to ye Honour of England.
Happy Birthday Jamestown!
Happy Birthday Virginia!
Happy Birthday America!
Thanks to all who so creatively immersed themselves in the spirit of the
occasion! I must say that I expected this time period to "catch on" and fire
the imaginations of the WMH family yet I am impressed by the sheer quantity
of those who made serious efforts at portraying English or Algonquians of
the Jacobean era and the quality of the apparel of many as well as the
passionate dramatic interpretations!
Bravo & Huzzah!
This all doth beg the question....
Shall we hold another 17th Century Ball in the future? What say all?
In the meantime you will be pleased to know that your 17th century attire is
quite appropriate for the Buccaneers' Ball coming up in Prescott on June
23rd, 2007. Though the early 18th century often grabs the focus of those
with an interest in the pirates of yore, the truth is that the middle
decades of the 17th century was really the "golden age" of the buccaneers,
the early decades of the 17th century saw the Dutch "sea beggars" and the
late 16th century was the era of such famed privateers and sea fighters as
Drake and Hawkins. "Captain Blood" starring Errol Flynn is still far and
away the best pirate movie ever made and is set in the historical backdrop
of the wake of Monmouth's rebellion of 1685. See
information and inspiration!
as we journey
in this noble cause
For the sake of the scholars, character actors and historically insatiable
among us I present the following (partial) list of interesting personalities
of the greater Jacobean era and a bit beyond.
Capt. John Smith
Sir William Berkeley
Metacomet ("King Phillip")
King James I
Sir Anthony Van Dyck
King Charles I
Queen Henrietta Maria
Prince Rupert of the Rhine
King Charles II
Sir Christopher Wren
King James II
The Duke of Monmouth
William & Mary
Please also see our “Etiquette
& Expectations” page as well as our "All
About Us" page.
Why did they come?
In the present age when various biases and spins so often enter
into conjecture regarding the attitudes, motivations, values and even core
beliefs of those who went before us it is valuable to simply go to first person
sources and allow people to speak for themselves. Here then are a few unedited
quotes - with neither sugar nor salt added - from persons who were directly
The group of men known as "The Virginia Company" who were the
responsible parties behind the vision, planning and establishment of Jamestown
had this to say in a pamphlet they published called “A True Declaration of the
State of Virginia” which announced the primary purposes of the new colony.
"…our primarie end is to plant religion, our secondary and
subalternate ends are for the honour and profit of our nation."
King James I supported the Virginia Company and had this to say
of the plan for colonization.
"We greatly commend and graciously accept their desires for the
furtherance of so noble a work, which may, by the providence of Almighty God,
hereafter tend to the glory of His Divine Majesty, in propagating of Christian
religion to such people as yet live in darkness and miserable ignorance of the
true knowledge and worship of God and may in time bring the infidels and
savages living in those parts to human civility and a settled, quiet
On April 26th, 1607, after more than four months at sea, 105
colonists and 45 sailors finally reached the shore of Virginia at Cape Henry.
Led by their pastor, Robert Hunt, they underwent a time of spiritual examination
and prayer. On April 29th they waded ashore, raised a seven foot wooden cross,
thanked God for His grace and mercy and consecrated the continent to His glory.
With his hands raised to heaven Rev. Hunt uttered these prophetic words
“…from these very shores the Gospel shall go forth to not
only this New World, but the entire world.”
Sailing up the river they named for King James, the settlers
reached the place where they would establish the settlement that would also
bear their king's name, Jamestown. Capt. Newport then opened and read the
instructions from the Virginia Company which were to be made known upon the
expedition's arrival. The final article states
"Lastly and chiefly, the way to prosper and obtain good success is to
make yourselves all of one mind for the good of your country and your own, and
to serve and fear God the giver of all goodness. For every plantation which
our Heavenly Father hath not planted shall be rooted out."