Pourpoints and doublets

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Pourpoints and doublets

Postby X » Tue Apr 07, 2009 10:10 pm

I'm interested specifically in England in the late 15th century.

For the purposes of this post, 'doublet' will be defined as a short jackety garment with sleeves, and 'pourpoint' as nearly the same garment, but without sleeves. Both can be used for pointing your hose to.

I am currently under the impression that:

1. Contemporary sources sometimes used pourpoint and doublet interchangeably.

2. A civilian garment described thus would be what re-enactors call a doublet.

3. If you are describing a military garment, the sleeves could be subtracted, becoming what re-enactors call a pourpoint.

So, my questions are:

a. Is there any evidence for anyone in England in the late fifteenth century wearing a pourpoint in a civilian context? Any evidence, of people doing anything, would be welcomed.

b. Is there any evidence for anyone in England in the late fifteenth century wearing a pourpoint underneath a doublet?

Question a is the burning one; personally, I think the civilian pourpoint worn instead of a doublet is a re-enactorism ("But doublets are so hot") but I'd like to be sure.

Question b is born of seeing someone recently wearing a very nice pourpoint underneath an equally nice doublet, but no gown. It was the most shocking thing that I saw all day. Was I right to be shocked, or have I just led a really sheltered life?

I'd be ever so grateful for people's views (referenced views are even better).

Thanks in advance! :)

And while I think on, I'd also like to know if people have vast funds of knowledge on the subject and believe that there is no evidence for civilian pourpoints or the pourpoint-under-a-doublet thing.... basically, am I right or wrong?



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Postby Spurious » Wed Apr 08, 2009 6:01 pm

On question a, I am pretty sure I have seen 15th century depictions of farm laborers and such wearing pourpoints whilst gathering a harvest. I'm sure someone has a better memory for the location of these things than I, only clue I can offer is the name Testard.

Image

On question b, my first instinct is to wonder if its a matter of age? I seem to remember the general line of younger men tend to wearing shorter clothing or at least less in order to show off their physique better. :?



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Postby X » Wed Apr 08, 2009 9:09 pm

Ooh, thanks for him (he's a miner, by the way, if I read someone's Italian correctly). He is done by Robinet Testard, end of the 15th century. Testard was born in 1475 and died in 1523, which gives us some approximate dates - unfortunately for me, probablyly after my main period of interest, which ends at about 1490 max.

You can see the full image here, or at least more of it:
http://www.larchetipo.com/2001/feb01/redazione.htm

Our miner has a lady friend holding the sack for him ( :roll: ) and she is dressed in a very proto-Tudor way (square neckline) and a cap that tends to show up post-1480 at least.

Following the trail of Testard, I have found another man without sleeves, dated 1490, and yet another chap dated 1525 - both harvesting. But neither garment is doublet-like; it's more like a sleeveless tunic.

You can see them here:

http://www.ac-grenoble.fr/lycee/diois/L ... thumb.html

The question is, can we find anything earlier? If all we can find is 1490 onwards, this points to sleevelessness being associated with the changes in clothing that happened around the end of the 15th century, as everybody starts thinking, "It's nearly the sixteenth century, dahling, time for a new look, don't you think?"

Regarding part B, the short garments worn by fashionable young men - you know, the ones that are all pleated - are actually very short gowns, not doublets, which is a very different garment. Gowns tend to be loose, with nothing pointed to them, and held in with a belt. Doublets tend to be close-fitting and be pointed to hose.

But whether you call the pleated bumfreezer things those young men are wearing gowns or doublets, I'm not worried about them. I know they're OK no matter what we call them. It's the classic doublet (tight-fitting, pointed etc) worn over a pourpoint (the same thing all over again but with no sleeves) that bothers me... It just doesn't seem right.
Last edited by X on Wed Apr 08, 2009 10:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.



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Postby guthrie » Wed Apr 08, 2009 9:43 pm

I've not seen anything sleeveless before the 1490's, although I am not an expert...



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Postby hazy » Wed Apr 08, 2009 10:58 pm

I think I have, I'll just go check (although Im fairly sure that its a European thing anyway)

As for the pourpoint under doublet, I just don't know- it all goes back to the grand old argument as to whether one's hose should be pointed to the pourpoint (with doublet on top) or to the doublet directly (with no pourpoint) Either way, the pourpoint seems more European

*scuttles off to look at the pictures I saved*



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Postby hazy » Wed Apr 08, 2009 11:01 pm

then of course there is this complicated little arrangement
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Postby Sir_John_Thomas » Thu Apr 09, 2009 1:13 am

Is that a pourpoint over the top of a doublet?

or a doublet of 2 colours with the body in white and the sleeves and collar blue?


whatever, I do like the fact that he has not tied the back of his hose to his upper garment (for want of a better word), you can see his shirt hanging out


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Postby The Methley Archer » Thu Apr 09, 2009 6:23 am

No exact date:

"L'Annonce aux bergers. Danse champ�tre.Heures de Charles d'Angoul�me, Folio 20V. French, late 15th century"
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Postby X » Thu Apr 09, 2009 9:27 am

Hazy,

here is your chap again: http://mediaephile.com/forum/cgi-bin/ya ... 1212673997

This time with an attributed date and place: second quarter of the fifteenth century, South Netherlands, probably Bruges or Ghent.

If you look at the link, two pictures down is another Bruges picture, this time from 1520-30 (Simon Bening workshop), of a chap with some plough horses. He, too, is wearing an arrangement with blue sleeves and collar and a different-coloured body. The style is more early sixteenth century (duh, obviously) but it's equally puzzling regarding whether this was a two-coloured doublet or a sleeveless thingie over a doublet.

Could this be a local thing?

Methley Archer,

I like the dance in the garden. This is another Robinet Testard job (so French); apparently done during the early 1480s (we are getting closer to my target). Interestingly, the sleeveless thingie worn by the frolicking chap is also parti-coloured. And he seems to have left the points undone at the back, although he's still pointed at the front. Sensible decision, since frolicking is probably at least as active an occupation as ploughing.

All sorts of interesting things going on in this one; the young lady on the left is wearing a sleeveless gown over what looks like a white kirtle (and our 1480s tied 'rabbit' cap). The chap in the foreground who's wearing grey also seems to be wearing a red coif under his hat.

Interesting stuff. :)



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Postby gregory23b » Thu Apr 09, 2009 9:50 am

Why and what evidence is there for a pourpoint being a separate item?

The only written references that make a comment run as follows:

a doublet has poynings, whych is why it is cleped a pourpoint.

and the use of the word 'or' eg underneath shall he wear a doublet or pourpoint, or more than likely denoting an alternative word, this use was very very common at the time to account for local and regional variations.

as for a pourpoint being a sleeveless garment, what evidence apart from reenactment lore and myth circa 1985 - White Company (I remember it well, 'this is a pourpoint because it has no sleeves' based on a French description of one IIRC), is there?

Sleeves or no sleeves is the real issue, not 'pourpoint or doublet', do they have garments that have no sleeves?

As mentioned above, late 15thc shows a few images, however there are short sleeved doublets or jackets that go over other garments, plus pin on sleeves for men.

Am not at home

but here are the two instances I mentioned earlier

c1450 Pilgr.LM (Cmb Ff.5.30) 59: The doublet is maad with poynynges, For whi it is cleped a purpoynt.

a1475(?a1430) Lydg. Pilgr.(Vit C.13) 7232: Next thy body shal be set A purpoynt or a doublet. c1475(a1449) Lydg. Test.(Hrl 218) 357:


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Postby X » Thu Apr 09, 2009 10:04 am

Hi Jorge,

I think I did cover this in my original post: I said I was aware that the terms were sometimes used interchangeably. I'm using 'pourpoint' for sleeveless and 'doublet' for sleeved in this thread purely for clarity in trying to establish, as you say, whether sleeveless thingies were worn in the fifteenth century (other than about the last ten years when people were practicing to be Tudors and fashions were changing quite a bit in all directions).

Pourpoint = no sleeves/doublet = sleeves may well be a re-enactorism, but since it's one we've got we might as well get some use out of it before we kill it.

In fact, if we can't find any evidence of sleeveless thingies in the bits of the fifteenth century other than the very end, doesn't that pretty much dispose of the whole thing anyway? Pourpoints go back to being either another word for doublet (so we might as well all say 'doublet' and be done with it), or an armour-related thing for pointing bits of bent metal to.

Can you give us references for these short-sleeved doublets? I assume they just go on over a shirt? (I think I might have seen a few pictures actually, thinking about it. I've definitely seen short-sleeved coats over long-sleeved doublets.)



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Postby X » Thu Apr 09, 2009 10:45 am

And looking at this:

http://www.ac-grenoble.fr/lycee/diois/L ... tilly.html

French, 1455, some of the men have doublets which I think have different coloured collars on them. It doesn't look like a different garment showing from underneath.



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Postby hazy » Thu Apr 09, 2009 11:00 am

X wrote:
All sorts of interesting things going on in this one; the young lady on the left is wearing a sleeveless gown over what looks like a white kirtle (and our 1480s tied 'rabbit' cap). The chap in the foreground who's wearing grey also seems to be wearing a red coif under his hat.

Interesting stuff. :)


That dance in the garden pic is lovely- I can't beleive I havent seen it before!

I don't *think* she is wearing a sleeveless kirtle over a white kirtle- I *think* its a sleeveless just over her shift- although the bottom of the shift does look a bit fancy and the top dress is short- I've not sen that before. There is plenty of evidence for sleeveless kirtles though- although they seem to be only worn without the sleeves when being energetic- like the men without their coats.



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Postby wulfenganck » Thu Apr 09, 2009 11:14 am

X wrote:And looking at this:

http://www.ac-grenoble.fr/lycee/diois/L ... tilly.html

French, 1455, some of the men have doublets which I think have different coloured collars on them. It doesn't look like a different garment showing from underneath.
You'll find doublets with different coloured collars or different coloured sleeves quite often in the fencing manuscripts of Paulus Kal (AFAIK around 1479) and Hans Talhoffer in his 1459 treatise.
Another interesting detail for the clothing in the said fencing manuscripts is, that the fighters usually have loosened the points at the back or that it is not tied at all.

All the illustrations I know showing a sleeveless doublet/pourpoint/whatever were alike "heavy physical labour": a maison or stone-carrier at the building site; fencers excercising; a peasant; that one with the dance differs a bit, as it shows some physically demanding excercise, but for fun and not for work.
But the overall common denominator seems to be heavier physical excercise.



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Postby gregory23b » Thu Apr 09, 2009 11:33 am

I think to give or rely on a name for something that was not named as we call it is to either perpetuate a reenactorism or create a new myth.

We have no evidence for a sleeveless doublet being called a pourpoint, we do see in later MSS, mainly French it would seem, sleeveless doublets. It was these doublets plus the French description of what a pourpoint is that gave rise to the oddity known as the 'pourpoint'.

I will have a squint at home for some items that seem to have over garments or short sleeves, most are jackets over doublets though.

I do find it hard to believe that sleeveless doublets suddenyl appeared in France in 1480, it is not a conceptual leap in clothing and we know that sleeveless over garments were worn. Those that have known me a while will note my less than doctrinaire approach on this - didn't used to be with the only supply of info being my reenactment mates ;-)


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Postby X » Thu Apr 09, 2009 12:00 pm

I did consider the white was a shift (although I think we're supposed to call it a smock in the 15th century), but it just doesn't seem to hang right for a single layer of linen, being too bulky. Besides, its sleeves are tight, which is more kirtle-y than smock-y. Additionally, the orange/red sleeveless garment is shorter than the white one, which would be very unusual indeed if the white one were a smock: these were generally shorter than whatever you wore over them.

Regarding the unlikelihood of French peasants suddenly inventing sleeveless doublets at the end of the fifteenth century, as re-enactors, we run into a problem.

Sleeveless garments are a logical thing to have, but then so is steam power. If we start wearing sleeveless garments because 'they must have had them', then where do we stop?

On the other hand, if we go strictly by what is shown in pictures, that's probably just as inaccurate to reality.

So far, all our evidence for sleeveless doublets seems to be French. This might be because there are fewer English artworks of the period available - or it might be because France is further south and summers are hotter, so more likely to produce sleevelessness.

We also see that most of these sleeveless people are labourers, particularly on farms. Most people on building sites, for instance (having had a browse through the internet and my books) seem to have long sleeves. The parti-coloured frolicking chap is a bit of an anomaly in the trend.

I would therefore suggest that, in a UK re-enactment context, we who re-eanct the period 1450ish-1490ish should all be wearing long sleeves on our doublets unless we are currently actively engaged in heavy work that is also low-status. Also, that the proportion of sleeved to non-sleeved garments is heavily in favour of sleeved, so most of us should be wearing long-sleeved doublets even then.

I would also suggest that anyone using the term 'pourpoint' to mean a specifically sleeveless doublet-like civilian garment should be taken out, stood up against a wall, and summarily executed.

All in favour say AYE! :twisted:



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Postby zauberdachs » Thu Apr 09, 2009 12:33 pm

Aye!

Had pretty come to the same conclusion as yourself from my own research.

As a result, instead of having a sleeveless doublet I'm having a linen doublet made. Bound to be more suited to the summer weather!


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Postby Mad Mab » Thu Apr 09, 2009 12:53 pm

zauberdachs wrote:As a result, instead of having a sleeveless doublet I'm having a linen doublet made. Bound to be more suited to the summer weather!


Brief reminder. You live in Scotland! Dressing for the summer involves wearing just the two layers of wool rather than the usual 4. :wink:


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Postby Tod » Thu Apr 09, 2009 2:19 pm

Steam power and a lack of sleeves are not really the same, one requires a lot of knowledge the other a sharp knife :wink:
I don't agree with the France was warmer than Britain theory. Do a lot of work and you get hot, which may explain the labourers wearing sleeveless doublets (vests?). I don't know much about the late 15th C and have got a lot of info. from people here. There are pictures of people wearing sleeveless doublets, so that must mean they had them. You need some thing to hold your hose up and undoing the back makes sense when you are working etc (I wonder what the medieval word for wedgy was). So if the above is correct, they could have had a light weight material (linen?) sleeveless doublet that would hold up their hose, and because it was thinner/lighter it could have been worn when working, when it was hot, or under a sleeved garment. Or is that total rubbish?



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Postby Dave B » Thu Apr 09, 2009 2:23 pm

CUBA!

Tod, is your PM INBOX overflowing?


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Postby zauberdachs » Thu Apr 09, 2009 2:35 pm

Mad Mab wrote:
zauberdachs wrote:As a result, instead of having a sleeveless doublet I'm having a linen doublet made. Bound to be more suited to the summer weather!


Brief reminder. You live in Scotland! Dressing for the summer involves wearing just the two layers of wool rather than the usual 4. :wink:


That's true! I'll daub it with tar, that'll waterproof it and make me usefully flamable :)


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Postby X » Thu Apr 09, 2009 2:39 pm

Tod wrote:Steam power and a lack of sleeves are not really the same, one requires a lot of knowledge the other a sharp knife :wink:


Yeah, it's more of a sort of 'if you start making logical extensions to the evidence, where do you stop?' thing. Sleeveless garments are easy; steam power is hard: but they had hot water, so....

Tod wrote:I don't agree with the France was warmer than Britain theory. Do a lot of work and you get hot, which may explain the labourers wearing sleeveless doublets (vests?).


It was just one possibly explanation for why all the illustrations we've found so far are French - not necessarily the right one. The thing is, Europe in the 15th century wasn't homogenous when it came to fashion. English fashions and Flemish ones tended to be quite similar, I think, but French was sometimes quite different. Italian was very different from English, so you can't take Italian fashions as a guide to what people were wearing in England at all. Taking French fashions as a guide can sometimes get you into trouble too.

Tod wrote:There are pictures of people wearing sleeveless doublets, so that must mean they had them.


Yeah, but who is 'they'? So far, 'they' is French peasants working in the fields during the period 1483ish-1500+, which is after the period I'm really interested in (not to mention the wrong country). While one can say that sleevelessness came in a bit earlier than this, unless French fields were full of artists waiting to capture the first moment a peasant appeared in a sleeveless state (which is highly unlikely), it's a bit of a grey area evidence-wise.

Tod wrote:You need some thing to hold your hose up and undoing the back makes sense when you are working etc (I wonder what the medieval word for wedgy was). So if the above is correct, they could have had a light weight material (linen?) sleeveless doublet that would hold up their hose, and because it was thinner/lighter it could have been worn when working, when it was hot, or under a sleeved garment. Or is that total rubbish?


I wouldn't say total rubbish. That would be rude and uncalled-for. :) But, as a wearer of doublets, it is possible to leave the back points undone and the front ones done up. Because of the way you bend, this means that although your hose will not fall down, the back tends to sag, showing one's shirt and (possibly) one's 'lower cheeks'. Or, as happened to one re-enactor of my acquaintance, one's Calvin Klein underpants.

So there is no need to have a special garment for holding up your hose, other than your doublet. As long as you keep at least your front - and maybe side - points done up, your hose won't fall down around your knees.

Regarding the fabric weight, I believe doublets tended to be of pretty lightweight stuff. A lot of re-enactors' doublets are made of wool that is really too thick, so not unnaturally, re-enactors get hot and believe that sensible mediaeval people would never have dressed like that really.

The trouble is that it's quite difficult, nowadays, to get lightweight worsted that's suitable for doublets but still affordable (I was eyeing up some the other day, priced at £35 a metre, and apparently this is very good value :shock: ). Cheaper stuff is thicker, so we all end up with doublets made of fabric that is actually more suitable for garments such as gowns/coats, which are more likely to have been taken off for strenuous work.

If you see what I mean?



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Postby gregory23b » Thu Apr 09, 2009 3:24 pm

"Sleeveless garments are a logical thing to have, but then so is steam power."

They already have sleeveless garments, tabards, hukes, it is not an invention at all.


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Postby Tod » Thu Apr 09, 2009 3:26 pm

I know it no consolation but we have same problem getting good wool for 18th century stuff (especially tartan). Sorry if my posting above appeared rude I wasn't intending to be, I find this very interesting, especially as I'm getting a sleeveless doublet made, so far its going to have to be linen. Unless I can find some light wool as you describe.



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Postby gregory23b » Thu Apr 09, 2009 4:12 pm

Doublet wool depends to some extent on what people are prepared to pay and for which kind of work, or non-work they do. I agree that the idea that they all wore thickest coating wool seems a little odd.

All kinds of wool was used, cheap and dear.


or even badger fur

(1445) Deed Yks.in YASRS 63 8: [To..my servant a doublet (duplitecam) of skins of] gelle.


(1452) Will York in Sur.Soc.45 135: j togae furratae cum geles.


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Postby Mad Mab » Fri Apr 10, 2009 12:32 am

gregory23b wrote:or even badger fur


Early pin strip suit...?
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Re: Pourpoints and doublets

Postby Zachos » Fri Apr 10, 2009 8:04 am

X wrote:
b. Is there any evidence for anyone in England in the late fifteenth century wearing a pourpoint underneath a doublet?

Question b is born of seeing someone recently wearing a very nice pourpoint underneath an equally nice doublet, but no gown. It was the most shocking thing that I saw all day. Was I right to be shocked, or have I just led a really sheltered life?



Its possible that the person you saw was me. I've been wearing a doublet over what I call a petticoat because my doublet was made in a rush and there was no time to put all the eyelets in. We've since found that the cut and material of the doublet are wrong so will make a new one , but it seems pointless to put points in at this stage.

That gives you a possible answer as to why it was that you saw a doublet and petticoat together.

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Re: Pourpoints and doublets

Postby Laffin Jon Terris » Fri Apr 10, 2009 9:55 am

X wrote:It was the most shocking thing that I saw all day. Was I right to be shocked, or have I just led a really sheltered life?


I would say from that statement that you have definately led a sheltered life! :lol:

Don't worry Zachos, you're not the only one who does this. I too have been (apparently) guilty of wearing a sleeveless, skirtless doublet under my sleeved one, it allows me to remove one layer when I'm working and still keep my hose up!

I don't believe there are that many references to pourpoints per se, Sarah Thursfield recently suggested the use of petti-coat as a more fitting (and also more historically frequently used) term for the same garment- I don't know if that does crop up more in texts, but I can understand the arguement.

Personally, if the wearing of a petti-coat means that some folks will no longer be wandering around using a belt to hold up their hose then I'd consider it an improvement- wether or not some people believe them to be a purely French fashion. (Because we all know that fashions never travel at all, which is why "Burgundian" sleeved doublets in England are a such huge fashion faux-pas too eh!?)

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Postby X » Tue Apr 14, 2009 8:13 pm

Zachos - it wasn't you. :)

LJT, yes, fashion travels - but the thing is, how far and where to? Those steeple pointed hennins that are the ladies headwear in the late fifteenth century never really made it over the channel from France; here in England the ladies were wearing the truncated, flowerpot-like hennin instead (possibly because you were less likely to have your entire Look - not to mention dignity - wrecked by a low doorway?). While there may be a few women who wore them, they certainly weren't the must-have item over here that they were over in France. Here in England we apparently more followed Burgundian and Flemish fashions than French. Maybe because we were pretty much allied to the Burgundians (and Mary, Edward IV's sister, married the Duke of Burgundy) and we always had an awful lot of trade with Flanders because of the export of English wool and its re-import as finished cloth. We didn't have those kind of close political or mercantile links with France, which may explain the relative lack of French influence on our fashions.

There's always going to be [i]someone[i/] wearing any particular style, if you look hard enough, but there's a difference between wear by the few who've travelled, or who have strange taste in clothing, or whatever, and wear by the general population.

So now I get to chase down petti-coats. I've always understood those to be something you wore under armour - often cut so that the fronts don't meet, to make sure that you lace it tightly.

Oh, joy....



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Postby Marcus Woodhouse » Wed Apr 15, 2009 5:13 pm

Was the Queen of England not French? Would that not have influenced some to follow Franco-Burgundian fashion? Is Burgundy not a vassel of France? Were French fashions never adopted in Burgundy (especially post 1477)?
My own feeling is that they aren't mentioned because they were just regarded as being another form of doublet and that the term was used to cover sleeved, sleeveless and tie on sleeved versions of the same thing.
Like sallets and spears being used to describe just about every form of helmet and polearm. I think we tend to make distinctions where they may not have existed.
But I know nothing.


OSTENDE MIHI PECUNIAM!


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