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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 men. About 100 years later, women started to wear surcoats.[1] 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.[2]

Starting about the 12th century, knights wore long and flowing surcoats over their armour.[3] They would often show the coat of arms of the wearer. A knight's surcoat reached almost to the ankles.[3] It had slits (cuts) in the bottom front and back so a wearer could sit. It also had no sleeves.[3] One purpose for the surcoat was to protect armour from the rain.[3] Another use was during the Crusades to keep the armour cooler in the sun.[3]

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.[4] Once suits of plate (solid) armour became common, the surcoat was no longer used.

Related pages[change | change source]

References[change | change source]

  1. I. Marc Carlson. "Glossary of some medieval clothing terms". I. Marc Carlson/University of Tulsa. Archived from the original on December 28, 2016. Retrieved January 22, 2017.
  2. Joan Nunn,Fashion in costume, 1200-2000 (New Amsterdam Books, 2000), pp. 14, 23, 24, 28 ISBN 1-56663-279-X
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 Walter Clifford Meller, A Knight's Life in the Days of Chivalry (Kila, MT: Kessinger Pub., 2005), p. 77
  4. E. Farr, et al., The National History of England, Vol 1 (London; Glasgow: William Collins, Sons & Company, 1873), p. 386