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In northern Europe, from the early centuries AD until the beginning of the Middle Ages, these were a loose form of shapeless trousers worn by men. They were held in place by a drawstring at the waist and could be knee-length or longer, the bottom edge being either tucked into stockings or bound with leg wrappings. The Teutonic tribes and the Celts generally referred to the garment as bracchae. From about the twelfth century, with the advent of the long tunic, braies became an undergarment and as the hose became more fitting and longer, the brales gradually shortened until, in the fifteenth century, when the hose had become 'tights', the braies were mere shorts or underpants (see also Hose).
| © Ragnar Torfason|
2006 March 28