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Hello again!

Just to add more confusion to the topic of padded armour terminology, here are more definitions. This time I 've taken the definitions from the glossary in English Medieval Knight 1300-1400 by Christopher Gravett:
Christopher Gravett wrote:

Aketon A padded coat, usually quilted vertically, which was worn beneath mail to absorb blows, or on its own by ordinary soldiers.

Gambeson A padded coat usually quilted vertically. The term generally refers to a coat worn over the armor rather than beneath it.

Jupon Also spelt "gipoun". A cloth coat worn over the tunic and buttoned or laced down the front. The term also refers to a style of surcoat worn over armour.

Pourpoint See aketon.

Now, if I were to try and give names to the padded garments that Nathan posted, I think I would call A-O coat armours, or possibly jupons or even gambesons. I've even seen these sorts of garments worn between layers of armour, like that seen on the effigy of Walter von Hohenklingen, circa 1386. Von Hohenklingen wears a padded garment with "puffed" sleeves, quilted vertically, over his mail haubergeon (the dagged hem of which is visible from beneath the padded garment's hem) but beneath his breastplate. In An Historical Guide to Arms and Armour, Stephen Bull calls this padded garment a gambeson. In Medieval Costume, Armour and Weapons by Eduard Wagner, Zoroslava Drobna, and Jan Durdik, all these sorts of garments, worn either by themselves or over armour, are called gambesons. The early 14th century armorial treatise in the British Library that describes how to arm a knight talks about the aketon-hauberk-gambeson, plus plates, combination for tournament. The aketon is donned beneath the hauberk, the gambeson apparently was worn over the hauberk.

Images P-R might depict jacks. I would use this term just because of the apparent date of the images. I've always perceived jacks as being of that sort of cut. Again, I feel jack can be a fairly broad term.

The images from the Maciejowski Bible depict what I would call either gambesons or aketons. My feeling is that gambeson is a more general term. Aketon could be restricted to those garments that utilize cotton somehow, if you take the root of the word literally.

The term I feel is most specific is arming doublet - I believe that this is a specific, under-armour garment, usually with points and gusstes of mail.

These are just my thoughts on the matter!

Stay safe!
W. Stilleborn wrote:


Mr. Stilleborn -
I would like to know what this picture is from and what it is based upon (where, when etc.)? I assume the item pictured is a modern reproduction/reconstruction of an aketon. I am especially curious about the leather tab, reinforced ties in the front, as these are almost the only closure I've seen depicted besides lots of buttons.

Also, is this garment double-layered?

Richard Fay wrote:
Johan S. Moen wrote:
Actually, I believe the picture from the Maciejowski is also showing two layers of arming clothes. One standard gambeson underneath, and a thicker, sleeveless one on top.

Some authors suggest that the apparent doubling of gambesons in the Maciejowski Bible is really no more than a gambeson with inset sleeves. To support their argument they point to the fact that the sleeves are the same colour as the body of the garment. If you look carefully at the soldier in the green gambeson in the right hand corner of the image posted by W. Stilleborn, you can see that his sleeves also show a similar deep seam to that on the warrior in the long-sleeved red gambeson.

I, too, would like to interpret the gambesons like that as doubled gambesons - but there are arguments against it. I can see the point about colour - with all the different colours shown for padded garments in the Maciejowski Bible, you would think you would see a combination of colours with a doubling of gambesons.

(I didn't quote the whole post to save space...)

Good points Richard, and the arguments to support a gambeson with inset sleeves are sound. However, if we look at the following passage from the Speculum Regale, from the "Weapons for offense and defense" chapter;

"Above and next to the body he should Wear a soft gambison, which need not come lower than to the middle of, the thigh. Over this he must have a strong breastplate made of good iron covering the body from the nipples to the trousers belt; outside this, a well-made hauberk and over the hauberk a firm gambison made in the manner which I have already described but without sleeves."

Time-wise, the Speculum Regale and the Mac-bible are not too far apart, and this passage has made me stand more on the "layered armour" side. There are some images that look more like gambesons with inset sleeves, and some that look more layered, and there might for all we know be examples of both in the Mac-bible. Although I am leaning to one side, I really do not wish to make a firm claim towards any of the two possibilities...

Johan Shubert Moen
Hello all!


It could very well be that both gambesons with inset sleeves and doubled gambesons were worn at the same time period. Either interpretation can be applied to the Maciejowski Bible image. Since some of the padded garments were sleeveless, you can very well interpret the image as being a sleeveless gambeson over a sleeved one. Of course, since the garments are both the same colour, it can also be argued that it just represents inset sleeves. Who can say for sure?

Stay safe!
I'm extremley interested in cote/cloth armours so when I have time tommorow I'll post more. this is a GREAT thread.

Anyways for a little info now- About Walter Von Hohenklingen (I'm replicating his effigy for my kit) the garment is almost exactly like the one of Charles VI and is sometimes called a jupon but I hear it being called a lentner. (pronounced ledner). it is typically worn over the arm harness-hence the "banana sleeves" it has a very globus shaped chest- sometimes with a breastplate worn over sometimes under. often times the maille hauberk is also worn underneath.

I'll post a lot more on this tomrrow.

thanks for starting this awesome topic,


Walter Von Hohenklingens effigy:

Okay time to post some more.

what I think of the definitions:
-Gambeson: padded cote (coat) to be worn under the armour or over or as it's own armour.

-Aketon: defence worn usually underneath the maille

-jack: a heavily padded defence worn under armour or as armour as it's own right. some accouns saying 3-4 fingers thick so about 30 or so layers of cloth. also I think of a lot of jacks to have the "puffed shoulders" this gave freedome of movement just as the grand Asiette gave freedom of movement the centruy before.

-Jupon: a cote (coat) worn usually over the armour sometimes in layers like Hohenklingen. also called a lentner. has large exxagerated sleeves for for the movement of the arm harness underneath. some times the sleeves are called "banana sleeves".

-pourpoint: a vest like garment used to tie the leg harness to (mainly 14th cent) also a very tailored coat like garment similar to the one of Charles Du Blois.sometimes having point on them as well.

-Doublet (arming): a semi padded coat worn almost always under the armour with points and sometimes "puffed" shoulders.

-Cote armour: maily many of the garments listed above- the ones used primarilyin the 14th cent.- the lentner/jupon, gambeson, aketon, pourpoint.

those are the main ones that I Know a little about. please if anyone disagrees with me let ma know as ?i hate to post unaccurate info. :\ :confused:

Also, why do you all think that "cote armour" was worn? I have many of my own reasons but I want to see what you all think.



BTW do you want to include many of the 14th cent garments that may not qualify as cloth armours, but were worn in conjunction with armour? such as the angel wing houplande?

I think "cote armour" is used in a heraldic - armorial sense. There is a quote from the Agincourt campaign about Henry V refusing to turn back, having passed the village designated for shelter that night because he "had on his cote armour". He could not retreat, even in such circumstances, while he bore his heraldic arms on his person. Several effigies have a light, drapey garment stretched over the complete harness bearing heraldic symbols.

"Jupon" seems to be used either under or over armour depending on the source. Chaucer describes his Knight's "gypon" as "besmattered by his mail" perhaps an allusion to a hard life on campaign, where cleaning harness is of less concern.

Of fustian he wered a gypon
Al bismotered with his habergeon,
For he was late ycome from his viage,
And he wente for to doon his pilgrimage." (lines I [A] 72-78).

I don't have a ready quote for the jupon over armour. Von Hohenklingen's "lentner" is a garment for a similar purpose.

Its pretty confusing stuff. I think we modern students of armour are much more concerned with classifying these details than any medieval author was.

Kel Rekuta wrote:

I think "cote armour" is used in a heraldic - armorial sense.

Coat armour does indeed seem to be the most general term for a garment worn over armour, usually with heraldic devices, as per the definition I posted from The Complete Encyclopedia of Arms & Weapons (for the sake of keeping it relatively short, I had left out the section about the earlier surcoat, which was included under the heading of coat armour). It's also used in this same sense in Arms and Armour of the Medieval Knight. It's probably where our modern term "coat-of-arms" comes from; it was literally a coat that bore the wearer's heraldic device. Sometimes the coat armour can be padded (as in the Black Prince's jupon), so the difference between a coat-armour and a gambeson or some other padded garment can be blurred.


"Jupon" seems to be used either under or over armour depending on the source. Chaucer describes his Knight's "gypon" as "besmattered by his mail" perhaps an allusion to a hard life on campaign, where cleaning harness is of less concern.

Mail can besmirch the garment worn over it just as easily as the garment worn beneath it. I believe jupon is usually attributed to a garment worn over other garments, or over armour. Look at the definition from Gravett's English Medieval Knight 1300-1400 that I posted earlier for one author's take on the jupon. This would be the typical garment worn over the cuirass in the mid-late 14th century. Charles Henry Ashdown even referred to this period as the "Camial and Jupon Period" in European Arms & Armor (a rather outdated resource, but one full of nice and fairly accurate drawings of knightly brasses).


Its pretty confusing stuff. I think we modern students of armour are much more concerned with classifying these details than any medieval author was.

Kel, you hit the nail on the head with that statement! Most medieval terms were much more fluid than terms today. Medieval armourers and warriors probably wouldn't understand our overly-specific mindset. They would use whatever term they were familiar with, whether it be the "correct" term or not. Many of these terms were probably interchangeable.

Here's an interesting exvcerpt about this point from Claude Blair's European Armour Circa 1066 to Circa 1700:
Claude Blair wrote:

Quilted defences were certainly in general use by the second half of the 12th century and many texts of the period refer to them. Three terms are used, pourpoint, aketon, and gambeson, but in what way the garments they denote differed from each other it is difficult to determine. On the whole it seems likely that pourpoint was a general term covering any type of quilted defence and that aketon was a plain quilted coat usually worn under armour. Gambesons, on the other hand, are often described in early inventories as being made of silk or some other rich material, decorated with embroidery and coats-of-arms, a fact suggesting that, sometimes at least, they were designed to be worn as independent defences or as surcoats. This view is supported by a number of texts that refer to the gambeson being worn over the aketon, the hauberk or, from the end of the 13th century, over plate armour. Unfortunately, there are also plenty of references to gambesons being worn under armour and to aketons being worn independently, chiefly by the rank and file, and there are even a few references to decorated aketons. The answer to this rather confusing problem is probably that the terms were used very loosely and were to a large extent interchangeable.

This is echoed in Oakeshott's The Archaeology of Weapons:
Ewart Oakeshott wrote:

The panzar (gambeson) recommended as an alternative to the byrnie for fighting on foot was the garment generally worn as a reinforcement with it. However, in manuscript pictures up to the later part of the thirteenth century (the inevitable Maciejowski Bible in particular) no such undergarment is shown; nothing but the soft shirt which may perhaps be identified with the garment often referred to as an Aketon, though an attempt to identify these garments is probably futile since their names appear to have been interchangeable in contemporary usage, and we find the words aketon and gambeson applied to the same thing. The shirts shown so clearly in the Maciejowski Bible are probably just shirts (Chaucer, for instance, mentions "a breke and eke a sherte" as the essential underwear for a man in armour).

A. V. B. Norman's The Medieval Soldier has a slightly different but similar take on the issue:
A. V. B. Norman wrote:

The gambeson is first referred to by Wace as an alternative to the mail hauberk. Later references show this was a coat, usually made of two thicknesses of linen, padded with wool, cotton, or old rags, and quilted like an eiderdown to keep the stuffing in place. The quilting was usually in parallel lines, sometimes crossing like a trellis. This resisted sword cuts quite well and deadened the force of a blow. It was the common defence of those unable to afford a hauberk. The Assize of Arms of Henry II of England in 1181 gives it as a minimum requirement of all burghers, and of freemen with goods and rents worth less than 10 marks a year. A similar garment was worn under the hauberk to prevent the rings from chafing the skin, certainly from the early thirteenth century when references first occur to lances piercing shield, hauberk, gambeson, and breastbone. However, no illustration of a quilted undergarment of this period seems to be known. An alternative name for this coat is the aketon, from the Arabic for cotton, al-qutun, with which it was stuffed. Later inventories differentiate between aketons ans gambesons, but the distinction is not always clear.

I tend to agree with Oakeshott regarding terminology; I think trying to assign a specific name, whether aketon or gambeson, to one particular garment may be futile. I tend not to be a "purist" when it comes to terms. I like to use gambeson in a more general sense, as a padded garment worn with armour as either an undergarment or an over-garment. I guess we could use aketon for the undergarment, and gambeson for the over-garment, but what about those period references that contradict this? It may boil down to personal preference.

Stay safe! :)
Steven H wrote:
I would like to know what this picture is from and what it is based upon (where, when etc.)? I assume the item pictured is a modern reproduction/reconstruction of an aketon. I am especially curious about the leather tab, reinforced ties in the front, as these are almost the only closure I've seen depicted besides lots of buttons.

Also, is this garment double-layered


You are looking at a reenactor’s version of a 15th century jack pictured in an Eye Witness children’s book. Do not give any validity to that reconstruction without some hard evidence to back it up.


I have put up a collection of images of jacks on Lord Grey's website. I plan to later add drawing of how I think each jack is constructed:



Last edited by James Barker on Fri 26 Jan, 2007 5:49 am; edited 1 time in total
James Barker wrote:
I have put up a collection of images of jacks on Lord Grey's website. I plan to later add drawing of how I think each jack is constructed.


Thanks for the link. Interesting stuff, especially the imagery.

Stay safe!
Coat armour, jupon, or gambeson?
Hello all!

I just reread something interesting regarding the issue of naming certain garments worn over armour in Claude Blair's European Armour Circa 1066 to Circa 1700. I thought I would share what I read, since I often like to follow Blair's example in regards to terminology (with some exceptions). This is from the chapter "Early Plate Armour c. 1330-c. 1410":
Claude Blair wrote:

The coat-armour also remained in general use during the period c. 1330-c. 1410, although to varying degrees in different areas. In Germany and Flanders it had by c. 1340 shrunk to above knee-level and was frequently open down the sides. After c. 1360 it seems to have gone almost completely out of use in Germany for some forty years, although a few late 14th-century effigies show tight-fitting jupons of the type described below. Elsewhere, and particularly England, the tight-fitting surcoat cut short in the front was gradually replaced after c. 1340 by a modified version with a skirt of even length all around extending to just above the knees (so-called skirted jupon). By c. 1350 the skirt had been discarded and the surcoat thereafter usually consisted of a tight-fitting garment that extended to just below the hips, a form shown on numerous English effigies and brasses of the second half of the 14th and the first twenty years of the 15th century. This was still generally called the coat-armour at the time when it was in use, though there is evidence to show that it was sometimes referred to as the jupon or gipoun, like the similar civilian garment of the period. Jupon is the term generally used by modern students and I shall therefore continue to employ it here.

In its most popular form the jupon consisted of a short sleeveless garment, probably padded; it was shaped closely to the body and had an opening down the centre of the back fastened by buttons or laces. There are, however, many illustrations of jupons which open down one or both sides, or down the front, and which have long sleeves and knee-length skirts. Only two jupons are known to survive and, as both of these are quilted, it is not clear whether they should not, strictly speaking, be classified as gambesons. The better-known of these, that of the Black Prince at Canterbury, is unfortunately in very poor condition although it was possible to reconstruct it with a fair degree of accuracy in 1954 when a replica was made to hang over the Prince's tomb in place of the original. It is made of red and blue velvet - representing the quarters of the English royal arms - mounted on linen stuffed with wool, the whole being quilted together with vertical lines of stitching and lined with satin. It opens down the front, where it was laced together through a series of eyelet-holes, is shaped closely to the body and probably originally exyended to about the middle of the thighs, though a good deal of the lower part is missing. The fleurs-de-lys and leopards of the Royal Arms have been embroidered in gold thread on separate pieces of cloth, stitched to the main fabric. Unlike the jupon shown on the Prince's effigy, the original had short sleeves, each embroidered with the upper two quarters of his arms, a fact suggesting that they may originally have extended to the wrists.

The other surviving 14th-century coat-armour, which is in almost perfect condition, forms part of the little boy's armour of Charles VI at Chartres. It is made of white linen, thickly padded with wool, quilted vertically, and faced with red silk brocade. Its form is simply that of a coat with long, fairly loose sleeves, narrowing at the wrists, and a slightly flaring skirt that probably extended to about the level of the knees. It has a central opening at the front, fastened with twenty-five brocade-covered buttons, and the lower edge is cut all around in a shallow wavy pattern. An unusual feature at this date (c. 1380) is a slit for a sword low down on the left side. A lion-mask embroidered in gold, holding a ring for the attachment of the guard-chain of the sword, was originally fastened to the left side of the chest but this was removed during the Revolution.

Jupons of the type just described continued to be used until the third decade of the 15th century. In Germany, in particular, the long-sleeved, long-skirted variety, often with a girdle of pendants and bells, was especially popular in the early 15th century. Outside Germany there was a general tendency after c. 1410 for all fabric coverings to be discarded, revealing the fully-developed white armour. By c. 1420-30 this process was complete and thereafter the armour wsas rarely covered by anything more than a cloak or an heraldic tabard open at the sides.

So, if we follow Blair, A-O in the images Nathan originally posted are jupons, or possibly coat-armours. Jupons and coat-armours don't necessarily have to be padded, although jupons often were, and coat-armours don't have to have the heraldic charge. The Chartres jupon (the red garment in the one post by W. Stilleborn) is also often called a coat armour. Those types of garments that are definitely padded could also be called gambesons, but jupon seems to be the most accepted term for the garment, of varying construction, worn over armour in the mid-late 14th century.

Isn't the ambiguity of some of these terms great?

Stay safe!
Re: Coat armour, jupon, or gambeson?
Claude Blair wrote:
The other surviving 14th-century coat-armour, which is in almost perfect condition, forms part of the little boy's armour of Charles VI at Chartres. It is made of white linen, thickly padded with wool, quilted vertically, and faced with red silk brocade.

I just spotted this thread again and noticed an error here. The Charles VI garment is seven layers of material with two layers of raw cotton (aka cotton wool) as stuffing. From the inside to the outside it is stacke like this:

2 layers of linen
1 layer of raw cotton
2 layers of linen
1 layer of raw cotton
2 layers of linen
1 layer of silk brocade
W. Schütz wrote:
And one more to clear up;
Civilian doublet WITH points, that where just for fashion and not used.

This is civilian but it is an arming doublet, I have seen a few pictures of arming doublets worn in court settings. There was a fashion back then it seems (as there is now) to wear "army clothes"....

Nothing changes it seems.
Currently working on a 1360's era harness for SCA combat.
As I have not been able to turn up a rough date when jack chains came into use, but know splints were in use throughout the the 14th century; I ask this question. How anachronistic would they be with a late coat of plates (Kussnach style) over a gambesson?
Any data that could be provided about likely dates of jack chain use would be helpful. I like the look and think it would go well over an arm harness hidden inside the gambesson. :?:
I've never seen jack chains in art outside of the 15th century. Maybe something from the early 16th...but not 14th. Maybe there are some depictions out there, but I haven't seen them.
Hey there, I'm currently making preparations to make the jupon of Walter Von Hohenklingen.

With this in mind I have a couple of questions.

A). It can be seen that it is buttoned on the outside of the cuff and wrist.

B). This is definitely more heavily incised than the 'lines of quilting'. I've checked this in several images.
Do you think it's an opening allowing the choice to free the arms from the jupon?

C). In support of that. Lacing?

really useful info, keep up the good work!
Saima Rajput wrote:
really useful info, keep up the good work!

Yes there is a lot of good information on this site. :D

And welcome to the site. :) :cool:
:wtf: When wearing a jupon would one not wear cloth armor underneath as a base garmet for elbow and arm armor and just strap it to your mail or regular clothes?
As for a reconstruction of a jupon, I would really really use the one in chartes as a base in construction, and only change the details according to the one I'm aiming for.

As for the garment worn underneath the metall armour, it does not gave to be cloth armour- after all you are wearing such over it- the jupon ;) Basically a simple sturdi doublet would be enough for attaching the armour to. I know of no clear evidence for special textile armour being worn underneath late 14th century armour, or at least for the shape of it.

@G Webster: I recommend looking at http://www.effigiesandbrasses.com/
It really depends on who and where you let your armour base on. Some minor knight in southern france and germany in the 1360s still would have worn a coat of plates combined with textile armour and maille, there are several effigies showing that (Walther von Bopfingen for instance). Splinted defenses however generally speaking point to a more modern armour, and jack chains appear in the second half of the 14th century, but being worn over maille by knights. Here in germany we had some discussions of those in the 15th century are not simply left-overs from the 14th century, because this type of denfense in inventories of the 14th century, but I've never came across a mentioning in the 15h.
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