Jean Sans Peur and his marvelous hat

I'm trying to get better about hats as they seem to be an integral part of Burgundian fashion and ducal pimpitude, so I've gathered all the images I can find of duke John the Fearless (Jean Sans Peur). He's probably the most colorful duke, having earned his moniker by charging forward during the battle of Nicopolis in 1396 in the culmination of a Burgundian led crusade in eastern Europe. He had his cousin and rival duke Louis of Orleans assassinated, and John himself was likewise killed years later in a similar scenario. John adopted three main symbols: a wood plane with shavings, which was an overt statement that he intended to smooth down the knotty club which Louis of Orleans used as an emblem) a level, and hop vines. Maybe he liked carpentry and beer. How can you not dig this guy? He has one signature hat that shows up a lot.
Like here where he's receiving a copy of Marco Polo's Book of Marvels:

Or in this picture where he's watching Charles VI get a book in 1411 (Jean's on the right):

Or here (this may be a later copy of a portrait done in his lifetime):

Or here:

Rappers with their name on a big ring that covered three knuckles had nothing on John the Fearless. Notice that in three of the paintings one of his hands is doing something that looks a bit like he's flashing a gang sign. He might well be holding a ring, but there's got to be some significance to it that I'm still trying to unravel. There are a lot of portraits by van de Weyden of jewelers holding rings, but all the ones I've seen have them holding them from below, rather than in this OK sign way.

In this anonymous portrait in the Musee de Besancon:

This one is in 20000 years of Fashion. It's a great book but I think they're mistaken when the caption says this is Charles VI, since the guy's 1. Not wearing a crown 2. Not on the classic throne of France 3. Has no fleur de lys anywhere 4. Has John's hat on 5. Has John's planes and vines in the background.

It's probably not a coincidence that Jean's holding an axe and his arch rival had his arms hacked off. Yeah, hacked off while he was still alive. Remember, Jean ordered the hit.

He's sporting a different look here. The caption says he's the one in green and bearing the initials and floral motif of his wife, Margaret of Bavaria. He's so defined by the hat I'm not sure I believe it:

And a rare hatless picture, which also explains why he wore hats so much:

Even when he's praying he's rocking the wood plane. I bet he's praying that Louis gets his arms chopped off...

Late addendum. Somehow I omitted this portrait:


Isungr said…
One of my professors in grad school told me, "Who knew that Jean sans peur was so fly?!!!!"


Herr Bernhart von Bruck
Patrick said…
For your information, Louis d'Orleans was Jean sans Peur's cousin and not his uncle.
You're correct, Patrick. What led you to notice?

Popular Posts