Encyclopedia > Surcoat

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A surcoat was an outer garment commonly worn in the Middle Ages. It can either refer to a coat worn over other garments or the outer garment of a person. The name derives from French meaning "over the cotta", a long, wide coat reaching down to the feet without sleeves.

From about the 12th century, knights wore long and flowing surcoats over their armor, which were frequently emblazoned with the arms of the wearer. They usually extended to about mid-calf, had slits in the bottom front and back, and were sleeved or sleeveless. Historians believe that surcoats were worn to protect chain mail from water. It is also likely that they were used to identify the knight, especially helpful if he was wearing a helm (that covers the face).

(todo: Find an image of knight wearing a surcoat; need something on the female medieval surcoat)

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