Surcoat vs Tabard: A Look into the Differences
In medieval times, surcoats and tabards were the clothing of choice for knights and other high-ranking officials. They were designed to showcase the wearer’s heraldry or coat of arms, and they were worn in a variety of different settings, from the battlefield to the royal court. But despite their similar appearance, these garments have some notable differences that set them apart from one another.
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the surcoat and the tabard, and explore their respective histories, styles, and uses. We’ll also provide a detailed comparison of the two, highlighting their similarities as well as their differences. Finally, we’ll answer some frequently asked questions about these two iconic pieces of medieval fashion.
The surcoat originated in the 13th century and was worn by knights over their armor. It was made of heavy fabric, usually linen or wool, and was designed to protect the knight from the sun and rain. The surcoat was also used to distinguish between different knights in battle, as each one would have their own unique coat of arms emblazoned on the front and back.
Over time, the surcoat evolved from a practical piece of clothing to a symbol of status and wealth. The fabrics used became more luxurious, and the designs more elaborate. By the 14th century, surcoats had sleeves and were worn without armor, as a standalone garment.
The tabard, on the other hand, originated in the 14th century and was a more lightweight garment than the surcoat. It was made of silk or linen and was worn over clothing rather than armor. The tabard was also used to showcase the wearer’s heraldry, but it was less practical for battle than the surcoat.
The tabard became more popular in the 15th century and was often worn by heralds, messengers, and other officials. It was also a popular garment among members of the nobility, who wore it to showcase their wealth and status.
While the surcoat and tabard share some similarities in their use and design, they differ in a number of ways.
– Material: The surcoat was made of heavier fabrics, such as wool, to protect the wearer from the sun and rain. The tabard, on the other hand, was made of lighter materials, such as silk or linen, and was designed to be worn over clothing rather than armor.
– Sleeves: The surcoat had no sleeves originally, as it was worn over armor. However, by the 14th century, it had sleeves and was designed to be worn as a standalone garment. The tabard always had sleeves and was worn over clothing.
– Heraldry placement: The surcoat had the coat of arms emblazoned on the front and back, while the tabard had it on the front only.
– Purpose: The surcoat was designed for battle and was meant to be practical and protective. The tabard, on the other hand, was more of a fashion statement and was worn to showcase status and wealth.
Q: Can the surcoat be worn without armor?
A: Yes, the surcoat evolved over time and became a standalone garment in the 14th century.
Q: Was the tabard worn only by the nobility?
A: No, the tabard was also worn by heralds, messengers, and other officials.
Q: Which garment was more practical for battle?
A: The surcoat was designed to protect the wearer from the sun and rain and was more practical for battle than the tabard.
Q: Did the tabard have sleeves?
A: Yes, the tabard had sleeves and was worn over clothing.
The surcoat and tabard are two iconic pieces of medieval clothing that were designed to showcase the wearer’s heraldry. While they share some similarities in terms of design and use, they differ in a number of ways, such as material, sleeves, heraldry placement, and purpose. Understanding the differences between these two garments can help us appreciate the rich and colorful history of medieval fashion.