Monday, May 23, 2011

Historic Hair

Lady Arbella Stuart
Lady Arbella Stuart was acknowledged as the heir to the English throne by Elizabeth I, although political intrigue kept her from actually becoming queen. In this portrait, biographer Sarah Gristwood writes, "(h)er light brown hair hangs loose down her back: a symbol of virginity and marrigeability."
Arbella once wrote a letter to her grandmother, Bess of Hardwick, and enclosed the ends of her hair, 'which were cut the sixth day of the moon.' According to Gristwood, "Bess, who kept an astrologer in her household, presumably wanted Arbella's hair - thus dated on the lunar calendar - for astrological or magical purposes." (From Arbella: England's Lost Queen by Sarah Gristwood.)

Eleanor of Aquitaine

Legendary beauty Eleanor of Aquitaine, Queen of France and England, was believed to have had reddish-brown hair. During her lifetime in the 1100s, very long braids were essential for all fashionable ladies. They were often bound at the ends with metallic tassels, pearls or beads. Eleanor usually wore a veil over her hair and may have covered her braids in a snood.

Anne Boleyn

Katharine of Aragon

"Anne Boleyn and Katherine of Aragon both had hair so long they could sit on it... (In the 1500's) only queens might have their hair flowing after marriage, and then only on state occasions when it was necessary to wear a crown." Anne Boleyn was described this way: "Her eyes were black and her hair dark brown and of great length; often, she would wear it interlaced with jewels, loose down her back."
At her coronation, Katherine of Aragon was described as "...dressed like a bride, in an embroidered gown of white satin, with her hair - 'of a very great length, beautiful and goodly to behold' - falling loose down her back beneath a coronet set 'with many rich Orient stones'." (From The Six Wives of Henry VIII by Alison Weir.)

Lady Jane Grey

Lady Jane Grey, who was Queen of England for just 9 days before being imprisoned and executed by Mary Tudor, was said to have had her long, red hair braided with pearls at her wedding in 1553.

Queen Victoria

As a young woman, Britain's Queen Victoria was depicted with long, flowing hair.

Marie Antoinette

Marie Antoinette reportedly shampooed her hair with a mixture of eggs, white wine vinegar and rum.


Cleopatra reportedly shampooed her hair with a combination of egg yolks and vinegar. She then rinsed her hair in water that had been steeped with rosemary, thyme and sage.

Empress Elisabeth

Empress Elisabeth of Austria, known affectionately as "Sissi," washed her floor-length hair with egg yolks and 20 bottles of the best French brandy mixed with pressed onions and Peruvian balsam. She was described by one of her attendants the following way: "Her hands were the smallest I ever saw, and her hair the longest - it fell around her like a cloak when unloosed." (From Death By Fame by Andrew Sinclair.)

Maria Sophia, Queen of Naples

Empress Elisabeth's three sisters were said to copy Elisabeth's hairstyles, which could only be accomplished with very long hair.
Helene, Princess of Thurn and TaxisMathilde, Countess Trani

Marie de Medici

Marie de Medici darkened her gray hair by rinsing it in water in which the skins of onions had been boiled.

Queen Anne

Britain's Queen Anne used a honey and oil concoction to keep her long hair thick and shiny.

Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough

Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough, used her own secret recipe for a honey water to keep her hair beautiful.

Tsarina Alexandra

Tsarina Alexandra's red gold hair was so long that she could easily sit on it when it was unbound.

Empress Josephine

Napoleon's love, Josephine, had "long hair (that) was glossy chestnut brown, whose sunny richness harmonized delightfully with a clear and transparent complexion, and a neck of almost dazzling whiteness." (From Gems of Literature, Wit and Sentiment, Philadelphia, June, 1832.)
Josephine also considered rose water to be a powerful love potion and most likely used it as a hair rinse as well as a perfume.

Catherine The Great

Russia's Catherine The Great was painted in several portraits with her hair in a long braid placed gracefully over her shoulder.

Mary, Queen of Scots

A lock of red hair believed to have belonged to Mary Queen of Scots sold for $2,700 to a Scottish museum in 2001. The hair was found in a dresser at Edinburgh's Palace of Holyroodhouse in the late 19th century, about 300 years after Mary was beheaded.

Mary Tudor

Mary Tudor, sister of Henry VIII and Queen of France, then Duchess of Suffolk, was said to have a clear complexion and long red-gold hair, the Tudor trademark.

Elizabeth of York

Elizabeth of York, daughter of Edward IV, wife of Henry VII and mother of Henry VIII, was described as tall with long, golden hair and blue eyes.

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