Fashion Wig Short Hair European 16th, 17th, 18th Century Background Plays, You Know?

Fashion wig short hair European 16th, 17th, 18th century background plays, you know?

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A brief history of European wigs

Watch European plays set in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, such as the tragedy of Jean Racine, Pierre Corneille and the comedy of Molière, as well as operas or movies describing that era, in which the princes and nobles, All have long curly hair, and some even drape down to the shoulders. In the paintings of that period, the protagonists are often also curly hair shawls. In fact, it’s not that their hair really grows so long, but that wigs were popular in that era.

When Peter the Great saw the famous paintings of Louis XV, all of them wore wigs.

These wigs are generally made of other people’s hair or horsehair, wool, yak hair, and buffalo hair. One is relatively short and only reaches the neck. And comb to the back of the neck.

Today, such wigs may seem odd, but at the time, wigs were considered necessary as decorations, disguise items, and even a sign of a position. People without status or poor people are not even qualified to wear wigs.

In Balzac’s “Old Man Gao”, the fugitive convict Vettel, whose real name is Yoger Gaoleng, always wears a wig, in order to make others think he is a person of status until he is arrested. “The plainclothes policeman headed straight for him, slapped him head-on, shot down his wig, and made him show his hideous face…” (translated by Zhang Guanyao)

In fact, wigs are not only in the 17th and 18th centuries. According to scholars’ research, the ancient Syrians, Phoenicians, Greeks and Romans all used wigs as fashionable.

The ancient Roman poet Ovid (43-17 BC) even wrote in “The Art of Love” that some “women come forward with the thick hair she just bought, and spend only a few Money, other people’s hair will become theirs. And they are not shy to buy wigs openly in front of Hercules and the Muses.” (translated by Dai Wangshu)


British judicial wigs have been developed for more than 300 years from the seventeenth century to the 21st century, and finally faded out of the historical stage in 2008.

For many of us, our first impression of curly wigs came from TVB’s legal drama.

fashion caused by syphilis

After the fall of the Roman Empire, wearing wigs stagnated for more than 1,000 years, and it was not until the 16th century that it became popular again to compensate for hair loss or to improve appearance.

Wigs are back in fashion, and an initial factor is due to royal patronage. It is said that in 1562, Queen Elizabeth I of England suffered from smallpox, and her hair fell off a little (it is also said that Elizabeth did not lose her hair, but her hair was a little gray). The queen was only 29 years old this year. To cover up, she began to wear a wig. A carefully crafted Roman-style auburn wig matched the Queen’s luxurious dress and makeup so well that she kept her youthful.

Elizabeth I in red wig

Later, Charles II (1630~1685) also began to wear wigs around 1770 because his hair was gray before the age of 40. In France, King Louis XIII (1601~1643) also started to lose hair prematurely at a very young age, so he started wearing wigs from 1624.

His eldest son and heir, Louis XIV (1638-1715), was only 17 years old, possibly suffering from mercury (mercury) poisoning from the treatment of syphilis, and his hair began to thin, and by the age of 22 he lost more.

For a king, losing his hair is particularly embarrassing: kings have historically claimed to be God’s representatives on earth, and what would the public think of a bald king?

In fact, a king who loses his hair is often regarded as a lunatic in the royal family, and he will have difficulty finding a bride in the royal family; and the people believe that the hair loss is caused by syphilis, and will rise up against the king. In order to save his image, Louis XIV secretly invited 48 masters in 1655 to make wigs of various styles for him.


Louis XIV with a thick wig

“Merry King” Charles II

Syphilis is thought to have been brought back by Columbus and his crew when they returned to Europe after discovering the New World. Arsphenamine, a special drug for syphilis, commonly known as “606”, was invented by German physician Paul Ehrlich in 1909, more than 300 years later.

During these 300 years, at first, doctors used guaiac, and more mercury, that is, mercury, to wash or fumigate. Although mercury has a certain curative effect on syphilis, it cannot cure syphilis. What’s worse, it often leads to mercury poisoning in patients due to long-term or excessive use of mercury, and a lot of hair loss.

Although there are many reasons for hair loss, in the context of the syphilis epidemic and the increasing number of syphilis patients, it is always easy to associate syphilis and mercury treatment directly from hair loss.

Therefore, in the minds of the public, hair loss often means that because of sexual confusion and syphilis, hair loss is also seen as a symbol of this shameful behavior; on the contrary, having long flowing hair has become a sign of decency and health.

Samuel Pepys (1633-1703) was a British chief executive, former Lord of the Admiralty, member of Parliament, and also known as a diarist. The diary he wrote from the age of 27 to 36, with a total of 1.25 million words, has vivid descriptions of major events such as the restoration of the king’s government, the coronation of Charles II, the epidemic of the plague and the Great Fire of London. It is regarded as a history of the time. A true record of fashions and times.

Pepys’ brother died of syphilis in 1663 or 1664. Pepys wrote in his diary on March 14:

If he was alive, he wouldn’t let anyone look at his head – it made me feel extremely ashamed too.

Short hair wigs were fashionable in those days , hair loss or thin hair was very humiliating in front of others. As a result, various hats such as wide-brimmed hats, narrow-brimmed hats, and beanie hats to cover hair loss have been favored like never before. The most sought after are, of course, well-crafted wigs that are suitable for all seasons in warm or cold weather.

assorted wigs


In 1665, the famous Black Death occurred in London, that is, the great plague of plague, which killed at least 100,000 people, accounting for a quarter of the city’s population. For this reason, Pepys has been afraid to wear short hair wigs in the following time , for fear that it is made from the hair of people who died in the plague. In his diary of September 3, 1665, he wrote:

September 3, 1665: Get up, put on my very fine silk coat, and put on my new wig, which I have been afraid to wear since I bought it, because when I bought it, Weiss There is a plague (referring to the Black Death) in Minster.

The strange thing is that after the plague passed, no one was afraid of buying hair and other things and getting infected, so that after people died of the plague, wigs became fashionable.

Even pirates wear wigs to pretend to be nobles

(The picture shows Captain Barbossa in “Pirates of the Caribbean”)

During the English Civil War (1642-1651) and the post-war period, when the Puritan “Roundheads” gained power in Parliament, these short-haired or shaved-headed Puritans opposed wigs, and some Puritan priests didn’t even allow anyone wearing a wig to enter the church . But none of this can stop the popularity of wigs.

But the wig is not without its shortcomings. In addition to being panicked, it is also easy to be targeted by thieves.

In fact, in 18th century England, you’d better be wary of any hands that come close to you, as they could take your wig at any moment. People train monkeys to steal wigs. Boys on the side of the road, monkeys in trees, strong men on horses all threaten the wigs of the rich.

A book called The Way We Are describes a classic robbery method: a boy rushes out to distract the rich, while another pulls off a wig and throws it at a trained dog, and the gang splits up. Three ways to escape. The rich tend to take into account their own image rather than chasing.

Centuries have passed, the pathogenic bacteria of syphilis have been transmitted from generation to generation, and the toxicity has declined from generation to generation, and people no longer have to be as fearful as before.

With the death of Louis XIV in 1715, the luxury of the “Louis XIV era” declined, and the pretentious wig fashion became less popular. The “French Revolution” sent aristocrats with wigs to the guillotine, and the wig fashion never recovered.

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