Surcoat

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Example of a surcoat worn over armour

A surcoat, or surcote, was an outer garment commonly worn in the Middle Ages by both men and women. It can either mean a coat worn over other garments or the outer garment commonly worn over armour. The name comes from the French meaning "over the cotta", a long, wide coat reaching down to the feet without sleeves.[1]

Starting about the 12th century, knights wore long and flowing surcoats over their armour.[2] They would often show the coat of arms of the wearer. A knight's surcoat reached almost to the ankles.[2] It had slits (cuts) in the bottom front and back so a wearer could sit. It also had no sleeves.[2] One purpose for the surcoat was to protect armour from the rain.[2] Another use was during the Crusades to keep the armour cooler in the sun.[2]

By the middle of the 14th century the long surcoat was replaced with the "Jupon" (or "Gipon"). This was a much shorter garment, which was often padded for extra protection.[3] Once suits of plate (solid) armour became common, the surcoat was no longer used.

See also[change | edit source]

References[change | edit source]

  1. Joan Nunn,Fashion in costume, 1200-2000 (New Amsterdam Books, 2000), pp. 14, 23, 24, 28 ISBN 1-56663-279-X
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 Walter Clifford Meller, A Knight's Life in the Days of Chivalry (Kila, MT: Kessinger Pub., 2005), p. 77
  3. Farr, E.; et al (1873). The National History of England. 1. London & Glasgow: William Collins, Sons & Company. http://books.google.com/books?id=L0oBAAAAQAAJ&pg=PA386. Retrieved 2011-04-06.