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The Gambeson was worn over chain mail. If the point of a sword was driven through chain mail, it could carry pieces of the damaged metal rings deep into the wound. The Gambeson, a padded, vest-like garment made of heavy cloth or leather, helped prevent these types of injuries.
The Brigandine could be called the 'poor knight's armor'. A suit of plate armor was more effective protection than either a Gambeson or chain mail, but only the wealthiest knights could afford armor. It was heavy and expensive, and required a master armorer to keep it maintained. The Brigandine, a leather garment with pockets in the lining for inserting metal plates, was the answer. Lighter and more maneuverable than armor, it enabled the warrior to make and repair his own, and it was not long before fighting men from knights to archers had adopted this versatile garment.
The Tabard might also be called a 'Renaissance poncho'. Open on both sides, it was often split in front and/or back for ease of movement. It was worn over gambeson and mail, and displayed the colors and often the emblem of the king or noble house for which the knight fought.