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He dwells there all that day, and dresses in the morning,
Asks early for his arms, and they all were brought.
First a crimson carpet was uncurled on the floor,
And much gilded gear laid gleaming upon it.
The strong man steps onto it and inspects the steel,
Clad in a doublet of dear Tarsian silk,
And a fine-crafted cape à dos, closed at the neck,
That with fair white fur was trimmed within.
Then they set the sabatons upon the strong man's feet,
His legs lovingly lapped in steel greaves,
With clean-polished polaynes attached to them,
Fastened about his knees with knots of gold;
Clean cuisses then, that quaintly closed
About his thick strong thighs, attached with thongs;
And then the hauberk, the body of bright steel rings,
Woven to guard that warrior over the doublet he wore,
And well-burnished braces upon both his arms,
With couters good and gay, and gloves of plate,
And all the goodly gear that should be to his gain
A rich cote over his mail,
His gold spurs sprung with pride,
A sword that could not fail
On a silk sash by his side.

When he was wholly armed, his harness was rich;
The least latchet or loop gleamed with gold.
So harnessed as he was, he goes to hear Mass,
Makes offerings and does honour to the high altar.
After, he comes to the king and his courtly companions,
Takes a loving leave of lords and ladies,
And they kissed him and came with him, commending him to Christ.
By then Gryngolet was groomed, and girded with a saddle
That gleamed gaily with many gold fringes
Newly nailed everywhere, enriched for the new quest;
The bridle striped about, bound with bright gold.
The apparel of the breastplate and of the proud skirts,
The crupper and caparisons, accorded with the saddlebows,
And all was adroned with rich red-gold nails,
That all glittered as the sun's gleam glanced off them.
Then he takes the helmet, and hastily kisses it,
That was stapled together strongly and stuffed within.
It was high on his head, fastened behind
With a light cloth covering the mail aventail,
Embroidered and bounded with the best gems
On its broad silken border, and birds on the seams,
Painted parrots preening between,
Turtledoves and true-love knots entwined so thick
As if many maidens had spent seven winters to make it
In town.
Yet of far greater price
The circlet that bound his crown:
Of diamonds a device,
That were both bright and brown.

Date: 2009-02-27 05:21 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Whew. Big shoutout to the Arms and Armour Glossary, whoever compiled this section of Wikipedia, the Wallace Collection, the Ork and all the armour geeks of my acquaintance.

Date: 2009-03-03 12:38 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I know the story's moved on, but I've been a bit pre-occupied.
If it's useful to anyone to see what he's wearing, then take a look at these brasses, which show the transition from mail to plate going on in the 14th C. Not surprisingly, Gawain's attire is right up to the minute.
Sir John D'Aubernoun ('Aubernoun+the+Younger&source=bl&ots=sOyOR9lrJ1&sig=51YDfL49YfeXyHLjd8Br0zZ-Ud8&hl=en)
Sir John de Creke (
Or, for the Osprey book collectors, there are some good examples in the 'Scottish and Welsh Wars' one.

Date: 2009-03-04 05:38 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Those are great sources! Interesting that the arming procedure in Hastings MS. agrees pretty much precisely with the arming of Gawain, right down to the repetition of "Then... then... then...". This poet wanted to do more than tell a gallivanting story: s/he really cared about getting the details right (as we'll see again when we get to the Gawain Poet's Guide To Field Dressing A Freshly Killed Stag.)

Date: 2009-03-04 05:42 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
One of your commentators elsewhere was saying that there could be a PhD in medieval descriptions of attire, well, I could probably come up with a good list.


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