Assembling a crusader outfit

Users who are viewing this thread


Hello there! I was wondering if you guys could help me put together a crusader outfit. So far I have a gambeson, arming cap, chainmail coif and hauberk, but I'd like the outfit to be accurate for the period I'm aiming for (+/-1192AD). I could really use some input, since my knowledge of the military back then is somewhat limited.

Here's a picture of yours truly, wearing everything I've collected so far. :razz:

Just a quick question to add: were crusaders, or knights in general, supposed to wear both an arming cap and a coif underneath their helmets? It doesn't sound excessive at all, though it makes me wonder how huge their helmets must've been. If I measure my head circumference with both cap and coif, I get about 68 cm. Whenever I check out helmets online they are never bigger than 61 - 64 cm.  :neutral:
Some helmets are designed to have mail underneath them, some aren't. I'm not an expert on the weaponary used by the franks at the time, but the size of even the conical helmets with the nasal bridge varies quite a lot.

The problem, on in your case the benefit, is that there's no strict uniform at any one time during the crusades. It depends who you were. If you were a fresh-off-the-boat European it's most likely that you were wearing whatever your lord gave you back in burgundy or milan or whatever, and there are plenty of sources on european armour in the 1200s. but it was different in the levant. A sizeabke number of the men involved in arsuf and the siege of acre (and by extension the whole of Richard's campaign) would have been born in the levant, or at least have lived there for a long time. Even more of them would have been actual natives, mostly greek orthodox. There were even a few muslims in Richard's army iirc.
As a result it's assumed that the common footsoldier would have been armed similarly to some of the men in Saladin's army - mail tunic/shirt/hauberk, with padded cloth on top, and a conical helmet, perhaps wrapped up like a turban.

In the north, although the kingdom of antioch was practically gone by the 1190s, they were well within the byzantine sphere of influence and became a vassal for a long while. They were also in a weird sort of psuedo union with the armenians. I'm not super familiar with them but their army was similar (read: copied) from the Byzantines. So in the north the crusader armies would have looked quite byzantine.
But for the knights arriving with the kings on the third crusade, they'd have been wearing a lot of colourful tunics over mail, sort of like this:


Hope this helps you a little bit - and i hope i haven't rambled too much. :razz:
Definitely wear an arming cap under your coif. It'll stop your maille cutting your forehead up (just got back from a reenactment in which one of our Knights cut his nose open whilst putting his hauberk on.)

You'll need braies, hose, and probably padded chausses or something similar to put your maille leggings onto. Some ankle boots, which you don't necessarily need maille sabatons over - it looks nice, but it's perfectly accurate to have your boots sticking out, and is a lot easier.

I don't have any 1190s images, but this is far closer to it than what's been shown so far.
(I'd recommend a helmet with a face-plate such as the number 6 image here, rather than a full greathelm)

Much appreciated, all of you! This'll make things easier for a novice crusader. :razz:

@Ililsa: Do you happen to have some images of your reenacting band/troupe? I might join such a group later on, an I can't help but wonder what it's like.
This is a good one of everyone preparing to go into the arena in our first show this year - also my first show overall.


Two of our knights mid-fight.


We're pretty fight orientated so we have a rank structure based on skill and equipment. Our time period is around 1250, but we keep spare helmets and a few other things that mean we can go earlier.

As a tip, if you're planning on fighting and want to avoid those awful leather armadillo gloves in the first picture, make sure your hand protection is up to scratch.
I just got a nice pair of authentic looking hand protection which I'll be able to put maille over when I get a hauberk.
Not sure what side of the pond you are on, but here on the US side I found getting maille chausses with a foot particularly difficult.  Some people wear leather turnshoes or the like with maille covering the legs only, but this is not as common historically as maille chausses.  During the period you are interested in I think both fully enclosed leg chausses and open-backed maille chausses were both common.

As for the helmet, they were indeed large enough to encompass an arming cap and coif.  Some of the later ones were even placed over an additional skull cap, but I think that was after the time you are interested (1200's).

Anyway, the guys that posted before on this thread pretty much hit it on the head.  Good luck with getting your gear.
Hehe, I live on the European mainland, so I've got a pretty wide range of options. :razz: At the moment I'm trying to keep costs down a little bit, but maybe once I get in contact with a reenacting group I might buy more expensive equipment of a higher quality. For now I buy most, if not all of my stuff from Battle Merchant, which has ridiculously low prices imo. One thing I'll have custom made is my helmet.

Speaking of which, do any of you know more about so-called "phrygian cap helmets"?



I really like the model, but I'm not sure it would be "historically correct".  :neutral:
EDIT: some pictures of Druzhina and Matmohair seem to depict similar shapes.
From what I have seen, only some nasal helmets (spangelhelms) had the Phrygian style.  I don't know of any Great Helms with it.  Mind you, I am talking of Central and/or Western Europe.  Other areas like Hungary or Byzantium might have used them (but I don't know as much about the regions' armor).
Godfrey: keep in mind that hauberk, coif and mittens were one single piece and you should also consider a pair of mail chausses. with a head circumference of 68cm incl. cap & coif, I'm afraid you'll have to go for an individual made helmet, but some helmets from your selected period are not that difficult for d.i.y. (just in case you don't want to pay for a helmet, made by a professional armourer)
Thanks for the heads-up Mauritius. I've just placed an order for a custom-made helmet, which, indeed, cost me quite a penny. Thankfully I don't plan on ever having another one made, so it's a once in a lifetime expense.

It'll take a month or two, but I'll definitely place a picture in here when it's finished.
Top Bottom