Also in this section, pages on specific aspects of this style:

Overview ¦ Dresses and Kirtles ¦ Underpinnings ¦ Accessories ¦ Warmth

There are three types of hats worn by the women of Leiden.

Béguin hood and bongrace

The first style is the béguin hood, a black hood reminiscent of styles worn by Anne of Brittany and the Hapsburg princesses at the end of the 15th century.

The béguin hood, see image 1, is composed of at least two layers, a coloured cap with a decorated edge, and the black hood, which is also decorated along its edge and lined with fur or other decorative fabric. The front of the béguin is usually turned back on the top of the head to reveal the cap underneath, although there are examples where it is not worn this way.

In van Leyden’s paintings the béguin is usually worn by women wearing richer styles of clothing.

Van Leyden also depicts a couple of versions of the bongrace, for instance in “the Fortune Teller” 1508. This is a black hood similar in shape to the béguin however the back of the hood is flat and is drawn up onto the top of the head. The edge of this flat surface is then pulled out from the forehead.


The second style of hat is the Hovetcleet, literally “headcloth” (image 7), known in modern Dutch as a sluierkap. This is the white peaked linen hood that is most frequently worn by Dutch and Flemish women. I’ve seen other costumers refer to it as a Flemish White Hood, or a Netherlandish White Hood.

Between the  1490s and the 1510s the hood is composed of three layers, a black band which is worn around the head, a very short truncated hennin to give shape to the back of the head and a rectangle of white linen starched into a peak and pinned into shape. All of these items can be seen in image 8. After the 1510s the hennin and black band are replaced by a white band and either dressed hair or a net or cap.

This style of head covering is worn by married women from all social groups and is one of the most distinctive features of Dutch dress.

I’ve written a much longer article on Hovetcleets if you want more information, and this is my attempt to recreate this item if you’d like to try to make one yourself.


The third style is the caps that are found in van Leyden’s engravings. They generally comprise a piece of fabric which frames the face and a larger piece of fabric gathered into the back in some fashion, as can bee seen in image 9. The length, fullness and decoration of the “bag” part of the hat varies greatly and I think they are one of the most interesting aspects of women’s clothing from Leiden.

These caps are portrayed exclusively by van Leyden, with ornate versions depicted in in Flemish tapestries of the period. No other painting that I have seen has anything resembling these styles of hat.

3 responses to “Headwear

  1. Pingback: Mathilde’s making a hat « Clothing the Low Countries

  2. Pingback: After some bling? Look at Flemish tapestries « Clothing the Low Countries

  3. Pingback: Lucas van Leyden’s The Chessplayers – hats and trade « Clothing the Low Countries

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