Medieval Armour was not always made from chainmail or plate metal and there were also garments that were worn in conjunction with armour.
These type of garments could either be worn as armour, under armour for comfort, or for symbolic or identification purposes when knights or soldiers needed to be identified on the battlefield for example. In this article we have listed the different types of non metal armours that were commonly worn in medieval times.
Aketon (Padded Body Armour)
Aketon was a stuffed Jacket worn under mail with either quilted sleeves or no Sleves made with linen and stuffed with tow or cotton. It could be worn without armour and was worn by lesser military like foot soldiers. Other names or Similar armour – Jupon, Gambeson or Aketon
Cuir Bouilli (Moulded Leather Armour)
Cuir Bouilli was commonly used to make armour that was difficult to shape in other materials such as plate metal. Cuir Bouilli could be used to mould shapes for a wide range of armour and other products such as sword sheaths, horse saddles, leg armour, shields and many more items.
A special process, the exact nature of which is debated by historians led to a process of treating leather that made it easy to mould into shape but resulted in a tough and strong leather material when dried out
Gambeson (Tunic or Quilted Jacket Worn under Armour)
A Gambeson was usually worn under armour to make it more comfortable for the wearer, it was also worn on it’s own and even on top of armour as a fashion item. The Gambeson could be worn for both comfort or for fashion purposes.
In earlier medieval times the Gambeson was worn on it’s own and probably originated around the 12th Century. Historians indicate that the Hauberk made from chainmail was a preferred option rather than the Gambeson for wealthy medieval people.
Jack (A Quilted Coat or Jacket)
A Jack also called a Jake was made of quilted fabric that was worn by medieval infantry, sometimes metal plates were added to offer better protection. The Jack or Jake was mainly worn by Common soldiers, similar items to the Jack are the Aketon and Brigandine.
Pourpoint (Padded Jacket)
Quilting for padded armour, sometimes described as a jacket that was worn by common soldiers, it was similar to other padded clothing prevalent at the time such as the Aketon or Gambeson.
Surcoat (Material Garment Worn Over Armour)
The surcoat was a long light weight material coat with a loose split skirt that was worn on top of a knights armour. The surcoat is one of the items of a knights clothing that is recognizable as being quintessential part of a knights appearance.
The surcoat was also called the “coat a armer”. It could be long or short sleeved. The wearers coat of arms was displayed. The Surcoat and Heraldry both appeared in the 12th century and were popular in the 13th century.
Some of the crusader knight orders were known to wear the surcoat as a uniform, they were the white and red cross garments worn over the body armour by the Knights Templar and other crusader knights.
Tabard (Material Garment Worn Over Armour)
Similar to the Surcoat the Tabard was a shorter garment that was with or without short sleeves. Sometimes it displayed the coat of arms. The Tabard was worn by common soldiers, Heralds, Pursuivants and other medieval people. The Tabard was popular in the 15th Century.