Tabard Vs Surcoat


Tabard Vs Surcoat: The Ultimate Comparison

In medieval times, a knight’s outfit was not just a mere piece of clothing but a part of their identity. It was their armor and represented their lordship and nobility. Two of the most common and popular pieces of clothing worn by knights were tabards and surcoats. While they may seem similar at first glance, there are some notable differences between the two. In this article, we’ll dive deep into the world of tabards and surcoats and provide a comparison of the two.

What are Tabards?

Tabards are sleeveless tunics that are worn over a shirt and armor. They are usually made from wool, linen, or silk and come in various colors and designs. They were primarily used to display a knight’s coat of arms or the emblem of the lord they served. Tabards were also used in jousting tournaments where their bright colors and bold designs helped identify knights from afar.

What are Surcoats?

Surcoats, like tabards, were sleeveless tunics that were worn over a shirt and armor. They were made from similar materials such as wool, linen, or silk and were also decorated with the coat of arms or emblem of the knight. However, surcoats were longer than tabards and reached almost to the knee. They were commonly worn during battle and would often have slits to allow for maneuverability and easy access to the knight’s sword.

Tabard Vs Surcoat – What’s the Difference?

1. Length

The most notable difference between tabards and surcoats is their length. As mentioned earlier, surcoats are longer and reach almost to the knee while tabards end at the waist or hip. This difference in length was not just for aesthetic purposes but also practical. Surcoats provided extra protection to the legs and allowed for more movement during battle.

2. Use

Tabards were primarily used during jousting tournaments to identify knights from afar. They were also worn during other non-combat events such as parades and ceremonies. Surcoats, on the other hand, were mainly used during battle. Their longer length provided more protection to the legs and they had slits to allow for better movement and accessibility to weapons.

3. Design

Both tabards and surcoats were decorated with the coat of arms or emblem of the knight. However, tabards were more flashy and colorful compared to surcoats. They were meant to be seen from afar and were often embroidered with intricate designs. Surcoats, on the other hand, were more plain in design and were meant to blend in with the knight’s armor to avoid making them a target on the battlefield.

FAQs

Q. What was the purpose of the coat of arms or emblem on tabards and surcoats?

A. The coat of arms or emblem on tabards and surcoats served as an identification of the knight’s lord or family. It represented their loyalty, honor, and nobility.

Q. Were tabards and surcoats comfortable to wear?

A. It’s hard to say for sure as there are no surviving garments from that time. However, they were made from materials such as wool, linen, and silk which were comfortable and breathable. It’s also worth noting that knights would have worn these garments over their armor which would have added extra weight and discomfort.

Q. Did all knights wear tabards or surcoats?

A. No, not all knights wore tabards or surcoats. It was mainly reserved for high-ranking knights and nobles.

Conclusion

In conclusion, tabards and surcoats were both important parts of a knight’s outfit. While they may seem similar at first glance, their length, use, and design set them apart. Tabards were more ornate and were used mainly for non-combat events while surcoats were plainer in design and were worn during battle. Both garments, however, served as a representation of a knight’s identity, loyalty, and nobility.