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I was reading one day a book by Amin Malouf about the Crusades as seen by the Arabs. In his book, he states twice (as far as I can remember) that the crusaders had long hair. Now, I'm aware that a lot of Normans participated in the crusades, and during the days of William the conqueror (just several years previously) they shaved the backs of their heads. I also have seen several examples of iconography in which western Europeans are shown with more or less short hair. Can someone please enlighten me on the 'doos the crusaders wore?
Crusaders came from several European countries, even though French and Germans probably were predominant; however, we doi know of Italians, Brits, Spaniards and other countries' crusaders.
It's likely that their hairdoes varied; on the other hand, it's also likely arabs noticed those who resembled more different from them, in that as well as in other aspects, forgetting those whose appearance was more "normal" from their POV.
If any of you have gone through the Alexiad the perceptive Anna Comnena records the hairstyles of the leading crusaders when she says "and Bohemund, unlike the other crusaders, had his hair cut short (to the ears), unlike the other men who lets theirs vainly grow long past their shoulders". Most of the crusaders had fairly longish hair at the back but it was cut short at the front according to Anna and my history lecturer a couple of weeks ago mentions this also. So in the first crusade only one prominent crusader had short hair. It would seem a people from a cold, rough climate who are enduring the rigours and deprivation of a military campaign allowed their hair to grow long. Such rustic men rarely cared much for the affectation and attention needed to have short hair.
Anna Comnena actually notes that the leading crusaders, with the singular exception of Bohemond, kept their hair long for reasons of vanity. She thought Bohemond was more masculine because he did not follow this fashion, among other reasons (as a 14 yr old girl I suspect she had a bit of an infatuation with him). She records that all the other crusading leaders had hair grown past their shoulders. Considering most did not take more than several months to reach Constantinople after setting out and also that they had plenty of time to rest in Constantinople with access to its very extensive personal grooming facilities it would seem to indicate the crusading leaders thought long hair made them look more manly. It seems to be a fashion of warriors, the long hair hopefully making the wearer look fierce and untamed. For fashion trends we cannot really rely on the art of the time all that much, if the Bayeux tapestry were accurate the vast bulk of figures depicted would have beards.
[i]My opinion is to judge his clothing. A very important point. His tunic is all patched and torn meaning
a) he has been in battle for a long period and no time for hair cuts
b) he is not wealthy to carry servents with him so he can have a haircut
c) being in battle for a long period the hair will look a mess due to the heat and sweat