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Gambeson
Time Period: 10th-16th century
Location: Europe
Common Construction: Leather, linen or wool stuffed with canvas, cloth or hair

The gambeson is a padded jacket worn as armor protecting the arms and torso. It was typically worn by poorer soldiers that could not afford chain mail and later plate armor.

Gambesons were originally designed to be worn under a hauberk as additional protection and to prevent chafing. In this role they are classified as an aketon (a distinction that is not universally recognized). The gambeson proper evolved in the 11th century to be worn as the sole form of torso protection. As such it was constructed of a heavy outer material such as leather or canvas, and "quilted" or stuffed with many layers of canvas, cloth, or hair.

Gambesons are thicker than aketons and cover slightly more area, particularly the neck. It is said that some were even powerful enough to stop an arrow.

Armor, CE 10th Century, CE 11th Century, CE 12th Century, CE 13th Century, CE 14th Century, CE 15th Century, CE 16th Century, History, Medieval Europe, Torso


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