The Pernik Museum Reconstructions

A year ago the local archaeological museum of Pernik, Bulgaria commissioned 3 full outfits for their exposition. As a member of “Chigot – medieval reenactments” I was given the task to make the clothing, footwear, and padded armors for the mannequins.

The 3 outfits included: a classical roman legionnaire, a late roman legionnaire (5-6th century), and a 10-11th century Bulgarian soldier. The romans were pretty easy to reconstruct when it comes to clothing and footwear. The Bulgarian, however, took me some more time. That’s why I have decided to dedicate more attention to him in this article.

Bulgarians slaying Byzantines – Menologion of Basil II

He is wearing a thick fur-lined kaftan,typical for the 10th century. The reconstruction is based on depictions from the “Menologion of Basil II” and the Skylitzes Chronicle – “Codex Græcus Matritensis Ioannis Skyllitzes”. The lamellar armor is based on find from Provadia, Pliska, and other places, and the helmet is based on 2 finds – 1 from Dobrich, and 1 from Asenovgrad.

Sorry for the bad quality of the reconstruction photos but we weren’t able to make a proper photo-shoot of the projects. Enjoy!




How much padding for an arming doublet?

“How much padding for an arming doublet” is one of the most frequent searches used to find Medievalisticals, and it turns out it is a legitimate question, that requires some thought. How much padding? How much Layers? Is this safe for modern reenactment or living history? Cost?

Luckily for us there are a few surviving examples and a number of references of how people did things back in the days, and, if you ask me, in most of the cases the best thing to do is follow what people did.

So how much?
The answer, like with everything in the middle ages is “It depends”.

In this case it depends if it will be used on it’s own or with some armour on top. Of course period and place are also important, espexially for style, but this is not discussed here.

A disclaimer: Here I’m using gambeson and doublet interchangeably, and am not discussing aketons, jacks, pouprpoints and other such words  – it’s not entirely correct, but it will do.

So  back on topic – when you’re making a gambeson that will go under the armour or an arming doublet you can make it quite thin. (IMHO, you can get away without one. a thick lined tunic seems just enough.). Judging from pictorial sources, arming doublets specifically are just regular doublets with laces for the different pieces of armour. You’ll find a lot of images of arming doublets in this excellent  MyArmoury thread.

And if we judge by depictions of earlier time, say the Mciejowski:


 The maille is very form-following and does not have the typical ‘bulky’ look of many a reenactor (the fit of maille is often not good, and this is also a factor).  Compare to this, where the gambeson just looks bulky.

So we can speculate that even in this earlier time, the gambeson that goes under your armour is thin. This is true even sometimes  when you want to use it on it’s own:

“… The mounted archer must possess a horse worth not less than six francs, and should wear a visorless sallet, a gorget (I’d translate bevor or standard), a brigandine, or a sleeveless mail shirt under a ten layer jack….” –
Ordinance of St. Maximin de Treves, published October of 1473.  MyArmoury

Ten layers seem quite thin, but then there are other sources that mention doublets of 24 layers or even 30 ( a burgundian ordinance, which I cannot find, but it is quite popular…). And I would bet on thicker arming garments for use on their own. Both for safety and accuracy.

Thickness is not the only factor – how you manage this thickness and how ‘hard’ it is is also important. For example the Lubeck garment is soft on the top, where a breastplate would lay, but the skirt is ‘rock-hard’,  The garment itself is composed of a linen shell and padding made from cotton


The Lubeck padded garment. Photo Roland Warzecha

The Lubeck Garment also fits this description from the 14-th century:

“That a haketon and a gambeson covered with sendale, or with cloth of silk, shall be stuffed with new cotton cloth, and with cadaz, and with old sendales, and in no other manner. And that white haketons shall be stuffed with old woven cloth, and with cotton, and made of new woven cloth within and without.” – 15 Edward 11. A.D. 1322. Letter-Book E. fol. cxxxiii. (Norman French.) Quoted from MyArmoury .

The arming garment of Charles VI is also made in a similar manner. It is composed of two ‘quilts’ stitched in the aboce described manner that  are stitched one to the other.

The garment of Charles VI


So, in conclusion:  

Make your arming doublet thinner. Make your over the armour gambeson, or the parts that will be ezposed thicker and harder.  And in doing so follow the originals. but don’t forget safety.

Since you’ll probably be using it for re-enactment  fighting – a bit  of thickness  would not hurt you. What I would do is use two layers of cotton padding and two layers of linen. Probably I’ll add a third layer on the shoulders/torso if I’m doing it for use without armour. And I’ll use a single layer of padding for under armour garment.

And finally don’t forget fit – a poorly fit armour even if lighter would restrict your movement and will be uncomfrotable. This applies for gambesons too. So plan accordingly.

What about the other part of Europe – byzantium, the balkans etc…

It is quite a complicate topic, and we will devote to it another  article, sometime in the near….-ish future.



Edit: So I basically rewrote the article, edited bits here and there and removed the balkan part – it is a long topic and as mentioned in the article, we’ll devote another post to it.

Nobleman suit up!

This is a reconstruction I made a few years back. It`s a nobleman`s outfit based on a mural from a 14th century bulgarian church in Dolna Kameniza, Serbia. The church is one of the best preserved medieval churches in the area and has beautiful murals.
The costume belongs to one of the men who donated the money for the temple.
My reconstruction is made of velvet and cotton, both available in Bulgaria at that time. I liked this coat because of the strange sleeves and the furry lining on the neck. I used fox fur and silver buttons.
The main reason I chose to recreate this outfit however was the guy`s long hair and beard. 🙂 He`s one of the few men in medieval murals with long and untied hair.

So I made the outfit, grew my hair just a little more and in summer 2010 I even visited the church. And that`s how we do things in Medievalisticals.


Western European Woolen tunic – XI-XIVth centuries

Turns out, quite a lot of our post recently seem to be based on the ever-present Mac-bible. This one will be no-exception.  As I am working towards a reconstruction of a low-to-mid level knight in the time frame 1150-1250, this is just another element of it.
The tunic is made from 100% wool, machine-stitched and finished by hand.
As one can see from the pictures it really goes well with the red hood, so my next task (after i finish my winter hosen – stay tuned) will be to make an apropriate hood to go with this earlier reconstruction.

It will also serve as a base for my wizard’s personna for larping. How cool is that?
Also sorry for the bad quality of some of the pictures.


Teardrop Templar’s Shield XII-XIIIth century

A teardrop shaped shield.
Basis is made from plywood, then covered with linen and painted on. The edges are covered with rawhide


Two Bulgarian Round Shields

These shields are characteristic for the Balkans and byzantine empire in the time of the Second Bulgarian Tsardom – XII-XIVth century.

Material – rawhide, plywood, linen, acrylic paints.