What Did Knights Wear Over Arming Caps

What are Arming Caps?

Arming caps were the earliest close-fitting head coverings worn by medieval knights. They were usually made from lightweight cloth or canvas and were stuffed with wool to provide some padding and additional comfort. Arming caps were worn under helmets and other headgear to absorb sweat and protect the scalp from direct contact with metal.

How were Arming Caps Made?

Arming caps were typically crafted from wool or linen cloth that was stuffed with different materials such as feathers, wool or cotton. The material was cut to fit the knight’s head size and then sewn together into a cap like shape. The edges were then bound with a small cord to secure the seams. The inside of the cap was lined with leather or fabric to make it more comfortable to wear.

What did Knights Wear Over Arming Caps?

Knights typically wore a variety of helmets over their arming caps. These ranged from basic skullcaps to elaborate and intricate headdresses that featured ornately crafted designs and embellishments. Helmets were designed to protect the knight’s head during battle and were often made from a combination of metal, leather and fabric.
Knights also wore chainmail coifs over their arming caps. These coifs provided additional protection by preventing blades and arrows from penetrating directly through to the knight’s scalp. The coifs were typically made from interlinked metal rings that were sewn or riveted together.

Benedictine Helmets

The Benedictine helmet was one of the most popular helmets worn by knights. It was typically made from iron or steel and featured a domed top with an adjustable nose guard and a flap that covered the entire face. The Benedictine helmet was designed to deflect blows and provide maximum protection to the head and neck.

Ceremonial Helmets

Ceremonial helmets were typically worn in religious ceremonies and other prestigious occasions. They were usually intricately crafted and featured elaborate designs which reflected the knight’s personal coat of arms or family crest. Ceremonial helmets were also often equipped with face visors which were made from metal or sculpted from wood.

What Other Items Did Knights Wear?

Once they had put on the arming cap, helmet and chain mail coif, knights would don additional protective garments. These included mail suits which were made from interlinked metal rings and padded garments such as quilted fabrics or gambesons. Knights also carried a variety of weapons including swords, lances, maces and battle axes.

Design and Functionality Influences

The design of the knight’s clothing and headwear was usually informed by the functionality of the pieces. Helmets, for example, were crafted to be lightweight so they did not impede movement or vision. On the other hand, chain mail coifs were designed to provide as much protection as possible, often weighing up to 20 lbs or more.

Symbolism and Prestige

The clothing and equipment worn by knights was also used as a symbol of their rank and prestige. For instance, the design of helmets often reflected the knight’s accomplishments or social standing. On the other hand, certain types of headgear were reserved for knights of high status such as members of the nobility or those who had been awarded knighthood by a monarch.

Military Use

Throughout the Middle Ages, knights were used as shock troops in battle and constituted the core of many armies. Their protective equipment and clothing allowed them to fight in close quarters and penetrate enemy lines. helmets, for example, served as a key line of defence by providing physical protection as well as intimidation.

Influence on the Fashion World

The clothing and equipment worn by knights has also had a lasting influence on the fashion world. Many of the designs and styles utilized in modern times have been directly inspired by medieval armoury such as the dome-shaped zinc helmets worn by British bobbies or the iconic bolero jackets which were derived from traditional gambesons.

Symbolism and Cultural Significance

Over the centuries, knights and their equipment have taken on a cultural significance beyond their original purpose. In many cultures, knights continue to be held in high esteem as heroes and symbols of courage, honour and justice. This is reflected in popular culture through films, books, and other entertainment which often portray knights as noble and heroic protagonists.

Impact of Technology

The introduction of new technologies, such as gunpowder, also impacted the design of knight’s armour and other equipment. As firearms became more prevalent, metal plate armour became increasingly heavy and impractical. This led to the introduction of lighter forms of armour, such as the back and breast plates, which offered increased mobility and flexibility.


The clothing and equipment worn by knights was essential to their success on the battlefield. The various pieces of armour and headwear, such as arming caps, helmets and chain mail coifs, were designed to provide both protection and comfort while also adding to the knight’s prestige and prestige. Over the centuries, knights and their equipment have continued to influence the fashion world and popular culture in a variety of ways.

Debi Davis

Debi J. Davis is a passionate and experienced hat-lover with over 20 years of experience in the fashion industry. She has worked in the millinery business for many years, learning the craft of hat-making from her father who was also a milliner. She has written extensively about hats, including articles for magazines and blogs.

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