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Gambesons

Welcome to section “Gambesons”. Here you can see various models of cloth armor, which were worn by medieval knights. European knights saw the true value of padded under armour only in the XII-XIII centuries. Producing our gambesons we use historically corect patterns and modern materials.

Every model is made according to the medieval patterns.

Products

 Linen gambeson

Linen gambeson (RG-18)

125.00€

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Women's gambeson

Women's gambeson (HG-16A)

99.00€

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Medieval Gambeson Of 11th-15th Centuries

Medieval Gambeson Of 11th-15th Centuries (CG-02A)

75.00€

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Knights Gambeson

Knights Gambeson (HG-02A)

90.00€

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Viking Gambeson

Viking Gambeson (HG-09A)

90.00€

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Medieval Gambeson 1 Layer set

Medieval Gambeson 1 Layer set (CPC-04Aset)

145.00€

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Medieval padded set

Medieval padded set (CG-02Aset)

170.00€

More detailed

 

Gambeson etymology

Perhaps, the most common definition of the gambeson is the long padded military garment worn under the armor. Historians associate the origin of this term with the French word Gambaison, the cognate of the Old German word Wambeis. The medieval padded armor was made of several layers of dense texture or leather. The gambeson was filled with sheep or goat hair, horsehair, soft rags or hurds. Sometimes the number of layers were between 15-20.

 

medieval gambeson

padded gambeson

Sepulchral figure

Burkhard von Belengin (fragment)

XV century, Württemberg, Germany

Knight Statue (fragment)

In the Saint-Florent Cathedral,

XIV century, Niederhaslach, France

 

Why do I need a gambeson?

The need for the gambeson resulted from the fact that it was impossible to put on an iron armor or chain mail just on undershirt. After all, steel plates and rings heavily chafed the body, especially if a person sweat, got wet or was injured. And with close and prolonged contact with the skin, the armor caused unbearable suffering in addition to the scorching sun that mercilessly heats it. In the cold season, the armor did not save from dampness, wind or frost, so it was easy to freeze without a dense underwear. In addition, without it the armor didn’t fit tight enough.

But the most important task of the gambeson was damage absorption. And I must say that a padded or stuffed gambeson (other variants of the name - aketon or a jacque) coped well with this task.

T.Weiss and J.Ambleton in the book "The War of the Rose" quoted Italian monk Domenico Manzini, who left a description of the protective gear of the English infantry of the XV century. In particular, he notes that soldiers wore comfortable jackets, “which are lower than the groin and are stuffed with cotton or other soft material. They (the soldiers) say that the softer the jacket, the better they resist the blows of swords and arrows, and in addition it is easier in summer, and is warmer than iron in winter”. 

padded armor

Subpicture from the manuscript “Maciejowski Bible”, 1250

Morgan Library & Museum, New York, USA

 

The gambeson: ancient and ubiquitous

Padded protective clothing was used by many peoples on almost all continents. We can mention the ancient Greek “linothorax”, and the Byzantine “kentuklon”, and the jackets of the Aztec “ichkahuipilli”, which were stuffed with salted cotton wool. Padded jackets were also used as soft armor in India, China and in the Middle East.

By the XIV century, the gambeson has gained the great popularity. Approximately at this time the fasteners in the form of lacing or buttons appeared on the gambeson. Prior to this, mostly padded one-piece armor was used. Sleeves were usually long, but the models with and without sleeves are also known. As for the length, the medieval cloth armor was sewed according to the type of plate armor. So, mid-thigh gambeson was worn under the cuirass of the Gothic armor. And much longer gambeson was used with armor of the Milan type. The lower edge of the carvings was often decorated with festoons – the long jagged or sheet-shaped strings that have become fashionable since the XII century.

padded armor

 

Archers in padded gambesones with festoons

Fragment of the XV century fresco, Mainz, Germany

 

Self-sufficiency, accessibility and efficiency 

Quite often, such a protective jacket was worn without steel armor, which poor soldiers from lower-class simply could not afford. And quilted armor was the only possible kind of protective clothing for them. It should be noted that even in the absence of armor cuirasses, infantrymen had good protection: a medieval leather jacket and a dense padded gambeson effectively absorbed cuts and stabs. There are cases when even arrows stuck in the stuffed armor (of course, fired from a long distance). This not only reduced injuries, but often saved lives, because even a small wound or scratch was enough to cause blood poisoning that had terrible consequences at that time. Another advantage of cloth armor was that it did not restrict mobility, providing much greater freedom of movement than armor. Therefore, for example, for archers or crossbowmen the padded jackets were just an ideal kind of protective clothing (especially in combination with a breastplate). 

Medieval armor

Hans Memling, St. Ursula Shrine, 1489

Old St. John's Hospital, Brugges, Belgium

 

Without gambeson you are not a happy warrior 

In our time, thanks to the growing popularity of historical reconstructions and role-playing games, the gambeson still remains in demand: without it you cannot wear a brigandine, chain mail hauberk or a plate cuirass. The gambeson provides not only the convenience of wearing steel armor, but also protects against bruises and fractures.

In order to be absolutely sure that your gambeson will be of the best quality, please contact us. As unquestionable leader in this area, we will quickly sew you quilted armor, individually according to your standards and considering all your wishes. Whatever the material, style or color of the fabric, you can be sure that your protective clothing will be reliable and durable. Our professionalism and experience are the best guarantee of the highest quality of the gambeson we have already sewed.

 

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