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William P




Location: Sydney, Australia
Joined: 11 Jul 2010

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PostPosted: Tue 28 Nov, 2017 9:08 am    Post subject: what were gambesons and aketons and arming doublets made of?         Reply with quote

im under the impression you can make this sort of thing 2 ways, 1 is with layers and layers of some sort of fabric

the other is with loose material, i know the byzantine kavadion used raw cotton as its material. but i do believe ive seen people here mention that one word used for the internals for a gambeson translated to 'bunch of rags' ie also heard of the idea of stuff like horsehair etc being used.
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Joonas Pessi




Location: Finland
Joined: 05 Oct 2017

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PostPosted: Tue 28 Nov, 2017 12:03 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

i have heard someone mention a source where having scrap cloth in store for stuffing gambesons is mentioned, but i cant seem to remember the name of the source material so dont quote me on that :P
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Mart Shearer




Location: Jackson, MS, USA
Joined: 18 Aug 2012

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PostPosted: Tue 28 Nov, 2017 3:00 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Gambesons may be stuffed with loose cotton fiber, linen tow, wool fluff, old rags, or combinations of these. Aketons originally were stuffed with cotton, hence the name. Later, as aketons and arming doublets become synonymous, the construction may change. The armors made from numerous layers of fabric are called jacks.
ferrum ferro acuitur et homo exacuit faciem amici sui
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Mart Shearer




Location: Jackson, MS, USA
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PostPosted: Tue 28 Nov, 2017 5:01 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Joonas Pessi wrote:
i have heard someone mention a source where having scrap cloth in store for stuffing gambesons is mentioned, but i cant seem to remember the name of the source material so dont quote me on that :P

1296: Ordonnances des Metiers de Paris
Que nus (armuriers) ne puisse fere cote ne gamboison de tele dont I'envers et I'endroit ne soit de tele noeve, et dedenz de coton et de plois de toiles, et einsi que est qu'il soient dedenz d'escroes.
That we (armourers) shall make neither coat nor gambeson of fabric, of which the lining and outside are not made of new fabric, and of cotton inside, and of more fabrics, and also that they be inside made of rags.


1298 Chronicon Colmariense
..., et qui wambasia, id est, tunicam spissam ex lino et stuppa, vel veteribus pannis consutam,....
...and his gambeson, that is, a thick tunic made out of linen and tow, or sewn with old rags,....

1311 Armor Regulations of Jean Plébaut, Provost of Paris
Item, que nul ne face cote ou il ait bourre de soie, escroes nulles, ne de toiles ne de cendal, et elles ne sont fort, enfremées et couchiées.
Item, that none shall make a coat where he has silk wadding or worthless rags, neither of canvas nor of sendal, unless they are not strong, enclosed, and laid down together.

1322 London Armourer's Guild, 15 Edward 11. A.D. 1322. Letter-Book E. fol. cxxxiii. (Norman French.)
(Unfortunately I do no have the original text for this, which might reveal more interesting tidbits.)
And that white haketons shall be stuffed with old woven cloth, and with cotton, and made of new woven cloth within and without. (It seems likely that the "old woven cloth" is, in fact, rags.)

And a late example -

1568 'The Wowing of Jok and Jynny', Bann. MS. 138 a/51
I haif … fyve fidder of raggis to stuff ane jak;
I have ... five wooden buckets of rags to stuff a jack;

ferrum ferro acuitur et homo exacuit faciem amici sui
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Joonas Pessi




Location: Finland
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Posts: 30

PostPosted: Tue 28 Nov, 2017 11:18 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks for the sources Mart Happy
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Alan E




Location: UK
Joined: 21 Jan 2016

Posts: 42

PostPosted: Wed 29 Nov, 2017 2:25 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Note though, that period descriptions also include the phrase "stuffed with mail". "Stuffed" did not mean (or was not restricted to mean) what it does now, but was used to describe layers of material.

Hence (IMO) gamboised should simply be interpreted as layered, usually with old materials inside. Pourpointed simply meant sewn through. Either could refer to garments for the body, the legs, the head etc.

Member of Exiles Medieval Martial Arts.
Currently teaching Fiore's art in Ceredigion
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Dan Howard




Location: Maitland, NSW, Australia
Joined: 08 Dec 2004

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PostPosted: Wed 29 Nov, 2017 6:07 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Alan E wrote:
Note though, that period descriptions also include the phrase "stuffed with mail". "Stuffed" did not mean (or was not restricted to mean) what it does now, but was used to describe layers of material.

Hence (IMO) gamboised should simply be interpreted as layered, usually with old materials inside. Pourpointed simply meant sewn through. Either could refer to garments for the body, the legs, the head etc.


The above phrase "laid down together" also referred to layered stuffing.

Author: Bronze Age Military Equipment, Pen and Sword Books
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Robert S Field




Location: Wales
Joined: 02 Dec 2017

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PostPosted: Sat 02 Dec, 2017 4:51 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Interestingly enough, I recently started my own gambeson project, and while not 100% historically accurate (mine shall be linnen, but stuffed with polyester down wadding for the sake of machine-washability) I did some reading around the topic before beginning to make my own.
I found a few sites that said they were made from linnen, and stuffed either with horse hair or rags of old clothes. Not sure this is of a huge amount of use, but it is the very small comment that I can offer.
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Bram Verbeek





Joined: 27 Mar 2007

Posts: 216

PostPosted: Sun 03 Dec, 2017 6:49 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Do keep in mind that polyester filling is very warm! If you are training, overheating is a thing to contend with, using cotton, linen or bamboo stuffing is a lot cooler.
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