View Full Version : Under Armor

03-12-2009, 12:26 AM
Sorry if this has been covered before. I have Googled this and looked around a bit, but I am having trouble finding a truly good discription of what I am looking for. I want to know about the dressing and padding soldiers wore under their chain mail during feudal times. I have a young lad being given a gift of chain mail and a promise to outfit him with the rest that he needs, so I clearly need to be able to describe at least some of that equipment. I have a chain mail shirt myself (Halloween costume), and it is heavy and uncomfortable, so I assume they must have worn some form of padding. Anyone know the name and description? I guess another good question would be- is this type of padding something that could be commonly purchased, or would it typically have to be custom made?

Edit: I found some of what I am looking for. Apparently the under padding is a soft armor called a gambeson, typically made of either wool or linen. I haven't found anything to tell me whether it was usually custom made or not.

Deb Kinnard
03-12-2009, 12:58 AM
Google "arming tunic" and you might find what you need. There was a cap worn under the helmet as well.

Regia Anglorum runs a web site of re-enactors and students of all things medieval. There are pages for how to re-create medieval attire, armor, and the lot. I've used this site many times to let me know how a sleeve was constructed, what stitches they might have used for embroidery, etc.

And if you're working on a project set in the middle ages, ALL garments were custom-made unless they were inherited. Armor and its accoutrements figure in many, many wills, so my guess is that if the boy were gifted with armor, the ancillary garments might reasonably be included.

03-12-2009, 02:00 AM
I know about the coif, but I don't know what the cap worn under the helm is called. Thanks for the help. In my case, only the hauberk was given, and it makes sense in the story.

03-12-2009, 06:28 AM
Gambeson is correct. Quilted and padded undergarment worn under mail. Museum Replicas occasionally sells them, do a search, a lot of re-enactment and SCA suppliers carry them. Importing them to Iceland could prove pricey. You might find a local seamstress to make one up for the lad yourself.

Depending on the EXACT period, and country, a padded cap was worn under the coif, the "Nasal" or "Norman" helmET (the dimunitive of the word HELM or HAUME) was worn alone, OR the Helmet was worn IN ADDITION TO and underneath the GREAT HELM / Haume. Yeah, cumbersom.

I normally wear an 'arming cap' chainmail, and my great helm when I joust - that's me in circa 14th century partial plate in my avatar, much later period than I suspect you are looking at.

03-14-2009, 11:12 PM
I made my own gambeson, with basic quilting, from two thicknesses of blanket, and a top layer of linen, and it works pretty well under the chain - and I have pretty basic needlework skills. Some gambesons were made of many layers of linen, which was good for slowing down arrows.
Under the gambeson, I wear an under tunic and linen tunic.