Back in medieval Europe, with the rise of the merchants and craftsmen classes and the growth of urban industry, such as it was in the 10th Century, peasants started a general migration into the cities. With that migration these peasants came in close daily proximity to more genteel types of folks of both sexes. The laid back fashion standards of the fields — basically a simple tunic with one’s nether regions exposed on occasion — simply would not fly in the close quarters of the city where such exposures were the subject of great ribald humor. (Some things never change, I might add.)
So the demand for underclothing grew: shifts, briefs, the occasional undershirt in the colder climates, that sort of thing. Moreover, since they were worn so close to the more, shall we say, sensitive parts of the body, these articles were more comfortable, and therefore more popular, when they were made with cloth that was professionally woven in linen or cotton, not the coarse homespun stuff of the field.
The growth in urbanized communities also created the rise of the Medieval Bureaucrat, and with him came an increased demand for documents, which in turn spurred the development of paper making, because papyrus or animal skins, the accepted “channels” of their time, were expensive and hard to make or procure.
And what do you need to make medieval paper? You need rags, preferably those made from the longer weaves provided by, you guessed it, professionally woven linens and cottons, the very same materials used in used in underwear. Continue reading