Friday, January 18, 2013
Layers Beneath Armor
An image from Lancelot du Lac et la Quête du Graal, BNF Francais 343, showing the layers a man-at-arms normally wore beneath his armor: breeches, shirt and arming doublet. Note that this differs from How a man schall be armyd, which I believe is specific to a judicial duel.
Modus armandi milites ad torneamentum, a manuscript compiled around 1330 and Chaucer's Sir Tophas both describe a man-at-arms wearing a shirt as his innermost layer. Cloth worn next to the skin accumulates sweat, skin oils, dead skin cells and dirt. For a soldier on campaign, it is both pleasant and convenient to be able to simply put on a clean shirt in the morning.
However, a shirt worn beneath a tight fitting doublet can ruck up awkwardly. A man planning to fight a judicial duel won't need to wear the same doublet the next day, so having the doublet lining the innermost layer is a reasonable approach in that context.