A surcoat is an outer garment commonly worn by both men and women. It can either refer to a coat worn over other garments or the outer garment of a person. It is a long, wide coat reaching down to the feet without sleeves.

In earlier times 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. Surcoats were worn to protect mail from direct sun, which heated the mail, making the soldier even more uncomfortable than he was before. The surcoat also serves in areas of poor weather to keep the rain and muck of battle away from the easily corroded maille-links.

The surcoat displayed the “arms” of a knight (origin of coat of arms) which identified him, which, with the rise of the great helm became more and more crucial. Some sages even cite this as a reason behind the spread of heraldry across Lesherac. Later knights also began to add plates of armor to the surcoat, the armored surcoat later became the coat of plates. Once suits of full plate armor became common, the surcoat was seen less commonly- at least among those rich enough to afford full plate.

Knights wearing two different varieties of surcoats.


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