Costumes & Culture

The costumes and fashions, historical events, and the books and movies we consume that surround and are influenced by them.

We at SewYourCosplay created this timeline to help give cosplayers a sense of historic context and framework. To know what was happening in history, to know who the important figures were, that can help bring life to the characters portrayed. We have also tried to find many supporting sewing patterns to fit into that framework, whether you're planning King Arthur (~456CE) or Peggy Carter (1946). We want to be where ordinary patterns become part of your extraordinary life.

McCall's 5214

View C adaptable for a Knight Templar.

The Crusades

A series of wars, mostly between the Roman Catholic Church and Islamic factions, over the Holy Lands.

Kingdom of Heaven

A French blacksmith travels to Jerusalem to aid in its defense against the Sultan Saladin.


Loosely based on the historical Children's Crusade, a young knight joins Richard the Lionheart to protect orphans from the Black Prince.

Burda 7976

Musketeer & Page (View A, Page, adaptable for a Crusader costume)

McCall's 5500

Middle Ages knights and a loosely interpreted Samurai of about the same time period.

McCall's 5499

Note: The hennin (pointed cap) wasn't worn until around 1430.

Viking Age

A period of European history when Norsemen explored Europe by way of rivers and seas, creating many scattered settlements.

Vikings (series)

A drama series based on the Viking sagas of Ragnar Lothbrok of Norse legends.

Simplicity 1552

View C coat in particular could be excellent for Viking cosplay.

Simplicity 1347

Views A and D could be adapted for Viking / shield maiden cosplay.

Legend of King Arthur

There is some historical basis for King Arthur, but it's greatly debated. He is supposed to have lived in the late 5th and early 6th centuries.

Monty Python and the Holy Grail

A parody of the Arthurian legend by the British comedy troupe Monty Python, released in 1975.

McCall's 5500

Easily adapted into King Arthur and his Knights.

Mists of Avalon

Novel by Marion Zimmer Bradley retelling the Arthurian legends from the female perspective, and shows how the women in Arthur's life influenced him.

The Black Death

A massive pandemic of the plague beginning in Asia and spreading along trade routes reduced the world's population by at least 100 million people.

Erik the Red

Some Norse traditions suggest he discovered Greenland, but this is disputed. He is credited for creating the first Norse settlement there. He is also the father of Leif Erikson.

Leif Erikson

A Norse explorer widely regarded as being the first European to discover North America, establishing a settlement in the northernmost tip of what is now Newfoundland.

First War of Scottish Independence

The English fought to maintain their rule in Scotland as the Scots tried to throw them out of the country.


A movie adaptation of an epic poem by 15th century bard, "Blind Harry."

William Wallace

One of the main leaders in the First War of Scottish Independence

Robert the Bruce

He successfully fought for Scotland's independence against Edward I, later defeated Edward II re-establishing Scottish sovereignty. He is regarded as a national hero in Scotland.

Hundred Years' War

Isabella of France, mother of King Edward III, tried to claim the French throne for Edward when Charles IV of France died. The rejection of her attempted claim led to conflict between the two countries which eventually became the Hundred Years' War.

Wars of the Roses

The "roses" refer to the White Rose of York and the Red Rose of Lancaster, rival factions for the throne of England, following a period of instability in the wake of the Hundred Years' War, plus a mentally unsound king in Henry VI.

Henry VI, Part 1

Shakespeare's play written in 1591 (possibly in collaboration with another writer), it is essentially the prologue to the Wars of the Roses.

St. Joan of Arc

A saint and heroine of France, she received visions from Archangel Michael, St. Margaret and St. Catherine telling her to to support Charles VII in the Hundred Years' War, and regain France from the English.

Henry VI, Part 2

Shakespeare's play written in 1591, dealing with Henry VI's inability to rein in rising arguments of the noblemen and the rising conflict leading to the War of the Roses.

Henry VI, Part 3

Shakespeare's play, written in 1591, picks up where Part 2 leaves off, and is about the horror of the conflict of the Wars of the Roses.

Richard III

Shakespeare's play written about 1592, often regarded as part of a tetralogy with Henry VI, 1-3. It depicts a scheming Duke of Gloucester murder his way to the throne.

William Shakespeare

An English poet and playwright, whose works have greatly influenced the English language and literature.

The Tragedy of Macbeth

Shakespeare's play loosely based on Mac Bethad mac Findlaích (Anglicized to Macbeth), probably written between 1599 and 1606. It shows the corruption of ambition for power, and is generally considered one of his more powerful plays.

The Tragedy of Hamlet, the Prince of Denmark

Shakespeare's play, written about 1600, is based on the legend of Amleth, recorded by Saxo Grammaticus in the 13th century.

Vlad the Impaler

Vlad III, Prince of Wallachia, was a Romanian folk hero for his protection of that population against corrupt boyars and the invading Ottomans.


Bram Stoker's gothic novel Dracula, published in 1897, is the story of a vampire moving to England from Transylvania. It has inspired countless movie interpretations.

Elizabeth Báthory

A countess from a noble Hungarian family, she may be one of the most prolific serial killers in history, accused of torturing and killing hundreds of girls. The highest number cited during her trial was 650.

Mary, Queen of Scots

Though English Catholics regarded her as their legitimate Queen, Elizabeth (her first cousin once removed) saw her as a threat to her own rule and had her confined in various properties in England for 18 years. Mary was found guilty of plotting to assassinate Elizabeth and was executed.

Coronation Queen Elizabeth I

Elizabeth (1533-1603) was the daughter of Henry VIII and his second wife Anne Boleyn. Her rein lasted 44 years.

Movable type printing press invented

Johannes Gutenberg developed a movable type printing press based on existing screw presses. The accessibility of information and increasing rates of literacy led to a "middle" class where none had existed before.

42-Line Bible printed

Gutenberg prints the Bible on his movable type press, making it the first major book printed with this method in the West.

First book printed in English

Twenty-five years after Gutenberg revolutionized printing, the first book in English is printed.

Columbus lands in the Bahamas

Christopher Columbus, with his three ships, lands on an island he names San Salvador (in what is now The Bahamas). He was trying to reach Japan, and never admitted that the land he found was not Asia.

English Civil War

Primarily over the manner of government, the English Civil War was armed conflict and political conniving between the Royalists (or "Cavaliers") who wanted to preserve the status quo and the monarchy, and the Parliamentarians (or "Roundheads") wanted political control themselves.

Oliver Cromwell

Cromwell was a member of the English Parliament, part of the English Civil War and one of the signatories for Charles I's death warrant in 1649. He was the 1st Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England, Scotland and Ireland. A Puritan, he was intolerant of Catholics, and his measures against them in Scotland and Ireland have been called genocidal. "Tobacco Island" by Flogging Molly indicates a level of enmity against him still.

Jane Austen

Austen was an English novelist who wrote about the gentry of which she was part. Her social commentary was written with humor and irony, and scholars consider her works to be of historical importance because of her realism.

Pride and Prejudice

Jane Austen's second novel, published in 1813. Like her first novel, it deals with the convoluted manners the gentry apply to life and love. It follows Elizabeth Bennet's contentious relationship with Mr. Darcy and is considered even today one of the most popular books in English literature.

Lord Byron

George Gordon Byron was an English poet and an influential figure in the Romantic movement. He was notorious for his bisexual love affairs and financial excesses. He traveled extensively, and died in Greece, fighting in the Greek War of Independence against the Ottoman Empire.

Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley

An English novelist perhaps best known for her book Frankenstein: or, the Modern Prometheus, which was published in 1818, anonymously. She was married to Percy Bysshe Shelley, and the daughter of journalist William Godwin and feminist author Mary Wollstonecraft.

Mary Wollstoncraft

An English feminist, author and philosopher, who's best known for A Vindication on the Rights of Woman in 1792. She has inspired generations of feminists. She was the mother of Mary Shelley (author of Frankenstein), and died of septicemia 10 days after her birth.

Magna Carta created

The Magna Carta ("Great Charter") was drafted by the Archbishop of Canterbury and agreed by King John as a peace treaty between the king and rebel barons. It was reissued (with offending bits removed) in 1216. It was issued again in 1225 for a grant of new taxes, and again in 1297. The laws contained in that version are part of English statutory law.


Full title: Frankenstein: or, the Modern Prometheus. The story takes place at an unspecified date, with the dates in the story written as "17--". A scientist plays god with disastrous consequences.

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