Did Henry IV have a Cossack hat….?

from https://richardhat.blogspot.com/2019/04/cossack-hat.html

I know that I have written before about the tall black hat that is worn by Henry of Bolingbroke, Duke of Lancaster, future Henry IV, in the illustrations of the deposition, death and funeral of his murdered cousin, Richard II. The illustrations are from Creton’s La Prinse et Mort du roy Richart.  

from illuminated manuscript of Jean Creton’s La Prinse et Mort du roy Richart (“The Capture and Death of King Richard”), w:Harleian Collectionw:British Library, once in the collection of Jean de Valois, Duc de Berry

The hat has always fascinated me because it is unlike any other illustration of English medieval headwear. And, to be frank, in the illustrations I think they make him look a little ridiculous. I have looked online, trying to find other examples of this style of hat, but no, although black turns up a lot, of course, tall hats like Henry’s do not. So where did it come from?

No sign of a hat like Henry’s at this royal funeral

Then, last night I saw a clip from an old black-and-white film of Cossacks riding wildly over a grassy landscape. I know that the distinctive hats of the Cossacks come in all shapes, sizes and colours, but they are generally along basically similar lines. The thing that caught my eye from this film clip was the shape of these particular hats. They were exactly the same as Henry of Bolingbroke’s mourning hat, even to the top of the crown being wider than the base. (He was in mourning at the time of the Creton illustrations because of the recent death of his father, John of Gaunt.)

Conspiring against Richard II?

Making a possible connection between Henry’s hat and Cossacks may seem to be stretching things, but in 1390-1, and again in 1392-3, Henry, then Earl of Derby, went on “crusade” or reyse to Prussia and the Holy Land. He went all over Europe, from the Baltic to the Adriatic/Mediterranean, and in that time came across all manner of people/races. Did he encounter any Cossacks? Was he much taken with their headwear?

Now, I’ve mentioned above that I think he looks ridiculous in those old illustrations, but I am not saying the Cossacks look ridiculous. Far from it. But Henry is otherwise dressed in the style of an English nobleman. The hat just doesn’t look right on him.

from Creton again

Anyway, I have to wonder if his parrot wasn’t the only novelty he brought back with him…did he bring a black Cossack hat as well? Or did he have one made for him on his return? If he did, and if he stood out so remarkably on account of it, I imagine there was a good deal of suppressed sniggering among his fellow aristocrats.


  1. Did it keep his head warmer? Was it practicality? (Classic western-style cowboys hats are practical and not just as a sunblock. I discovered that while standing in a pouring rain and having the rain fall off behind me and not onto my coat or pants.) Did he try one on and liked the way he looked in it? Did it make him look taller? Was it a political statement? It is quite different in style.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is a Caucasian hat. It’s called papakh. It was intended for shepherds of sheep, then it became popular. She became Cossack from the beginning of the 19th century (the military adopted her from the conquered peoples)

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Where did you get that hat? where did you get that tile?
    Isn’t it a funny one or
    Just the proper style?
    I would like to have one,
    Just the same as that.
    Where’er I go they shout “‘Ello!”
    Where did you get that hat?

    (Stanley Holloway).

    Liked by 1 person

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