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Medieval hairstyles – 15 magnificent looks and elaborate braided hairstyles

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The delicate and silky texture of hair has always fascinated people. Countless superstitions, myths and legends entwine around it. In the past, hair length was associated with social and religious significance. Today’s women still care a lot about how to best show off their hair. For special occasions or theme parties, medieval hairstyles are more popular than ever. They feature lots of braiding accents and intricate details. This results in a wealth of ideas, the implementation of which requires a little skill. In the process, something new is always created and no hairstyle looks the same as another.

Medieval hairstyles – The importance of hair in the Middle Ages

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The hair was given a very great importance by the medieval people. It was a symbol of power and authority, and to lose one’s hair was considered the greatest humiliation. Both women and men wore their hair long. The kings had long hair and beard and the nobles under their authority wore it shorter. In battles, they tied it up in a knot on their heads to appear taller and more formidable. The women’s hair went down to their knees, sometimes even longer. The slaves and the captives were shaved as a sign of submission. The Catholic Church exerted a great deal of influence on how men and women should look. For example, men had to shave their beards to become better Christians and women had to wear a veil.

Medieval hairstyles – men

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For men in the Middle Ages, short hair was anything but a sign of freedom. They were forced to establish a real hierarchy according to the length of their hair. Cutting their hair was considered a complete disqualification. Only the priests in the monastery wore the so-called tonsure, where the upper part of the head was shaved. The “pageboy hairstyle” became very popular at that time. In this, the hair was curved above the ears to the nape of the neck and with a fringe on the forehead. The whole face was neatly shaved.

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Only those who owned their own land or were noble could let their hair grow. Centuries later, it was considered a special sign to wear a wig with a long braid. And in the late Middle Ages, the hairstyles of the nobility became even more extravagant and braided into elaborate shapes, which were kept in shape with hairnets.

Medieval hairstyles – women

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Until 11th century women wore their hair very long – down to the knees or longer. Usually they were tied in two long braids at the sides or tied in knots. The forehead was considered an important part of the face at that time and it remained uncovered. It was decorated with precious jewelry, flowers or hair ribbons, but never with hair. Even the hair around it was often shaved to make the forehead appear larger.


The married women had to wear their hair tied and cover it with a veil or with a Rise (a flat hood made of cotton fabric that hides the hair, head, ears and neck). This was because hair was considered a man’s possession and was considered seductive. At that time, the most popular hairstyle was a braid tied in a knot or two, held over the two ears with a gold or silk ribbon. However, this usually remained under a covering and invisible to the public.

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During this period, women wore large hats and bonete when going to church or visiting public places. Showing hair in public was unusual and considered inappropriate and disrespectful. Nevertheless, hair should be cared for and kept healthy. In a book for health and personal hygiene there were recommendations and recipes for hair care. Special formulas made it possible to dye hair – for example, in blond with peanuts and alum.

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All noble women wore their hair very long. In the 13th or 14th century, they braided it into 3 or 4 braids, which they held at the back of their heads and decorated with jewelry. These elaborate hairstyles, of course, took hours. Meanwhile, what originally took place only in the women’s bedroom and in a very small circle, has grown into a kind of vocation.

Medieval hairstyles for long hair – “ram’s horn”.

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Since women in the Middle Ages wore their hair very long, most medieval hairstyles are more suitable for a long mane. The long hair is divided in the middle and each side is braided into a single long braid. Now the braid is wound up into a sort of chignon or bun over the ear. Finally, one or more hairpins are used to secure it.

Simple medieval hairstyles

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Similarly, two braids are braided on the two sides and then allowed to converge over the head. In between them, a golden net lattice can be attached.

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Basically, it was unusual for noble ladies to appear in public with long, free-falling hair. For everyday life, they usually preferred to go for simple long braids or an uncomplicated variation of the ram’s horn style. For accent, a hoop or a tiara was added.

Accessories for medieval hairstyles

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Women have always decorated their hair with ribbons, beads, scarves and others. Unmarried girls decorated their hair with precious stones, artificial flowers of gold and jewels.

Medieval hairstyles to do yourself

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Medieval hairstyles are possible in many different variants and are considered, above all, very ostentatious and elaborate. Nevertheless, it is possible to make yourself a beautiful braided hairstyle in medieval style. With a little patience and a few tricks, which we will reveal soon, a very complex-looking braided hairstyle is easily conjured. We present here a very simple tutorial.

Medieval hairstyles braiding – tutorial for long hair

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At first glance, this medieval-inspired braided hairstyle seems to be very complex. However, if you take a closer look at the instructions, you will definitely notice that actually only one braid is braided. The rest of the hair is simply twisted and inserted into this braid, then perhaps discreetly secured with bobby pins.

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To make the hairstyle last longer, it is recommended to wash the hair at least a day before, as with other elaborate hairstyles. To achieve the loose look and good adhesion at the same time, there should be a grippy hair structure. For this, you can add slight waves to the hair if it is not naturally curly or wavy.

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Medieval hairstyles for short hair

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It is difficult to create medieval hairstyles for shoulder-length or short hair, because they require a certain hair length. However, braided details and accents that look very classy and medieval can be done by yourself with a little skill.

Medieval hairstyles modern interpretation

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