The Jupon / Schope / Scoep / Joupon / Gipoun / Jope in 1360-1370

Monday, July 10, 2017

So, I got myself a jupon! In this post I want to look at some of the sources we have for this martial garment between 1360 and 1370, as well as my reconstruction.



What's a jupon?

A jupon was a coat that was worn as an outer layer of body armour. Of course spellings varied from region to region, but the correct terms in the Low Countries and northern Germany seem to have been scoep (the 'oe' was pronounced as 'oo') and schope. By the third quarter of the 14th century, these coats were lined, stuffed and quilted to keep the stuffing in place. When very heavily stuffed and quilted they were also known as jacks. In 1364, the city council of Paris ordained a new law for their makers. It stated:

Se l'en fait cottes gamboisiées, que elles soient couchées duement sur neufves estoffes et pointées enfermes, faites à deux fois, bien et nettement emplies de bonnes estoffes, soie, coton ou autres estoffes, par lesdits maistres. Et quiconquefera euvre de gambesine, soit paletot, juppon, jacques ou houppelandes gamboisiées, que lesdits maistres puissent avoir Visitation, en quelques lieux que elles soient faites, pour sçavoir se l'euvre sera bonne et loyale et de loyaulx estoffes, et que tout ce soit fait à deux fois, excepté les houppelandes armoyés.

"This is how they make gamboised coats: in them are duly laid down new stuffings and then quilted thoroughly, done twice and well, using good stuffings of silk, cotton or other stuff, by the said masters. And whoever makes gambesons (doublets), or paletots (type of doublet), juppon (jupons), jacques (jacks) or gamboised houppelandes (gowns), shall be visited (by the city council) to check that their work is good and that they use the right stuffings and do it (quilt) twice, except for the armed houppelandes (gowns)."

A law of 1358 that stated what prices the tailors of Danzig could ask for their services, said that they could charge 3 'scot' for a Jope with 1 pound of cottonwool stuffed inside, and 0,5 'scot' extra for each extra pound of cottonwool. Very similar the tailors of Stendal had a law in 1379 governing that they could charge 1 'lot' for a Jope that was quilted 'as usual', but could charge more for a Jope that was called a Jack and was quilted 'more costly'.

When was it worn, and Who wore it?

As said, padded jupons were worn from about 1350-1360 and onwards. This evolution was described in general by Jacques de Hemricourt from Liège, when he wrote (around 1398) about a battle near his hometown in 1325. He compared the armour worn at the battle with that worn in his own time:

Et estoiient armeis de plattes ... et lachiet sor les plattes, bons ryches wardecors d'armes, armoiiez de leurs blazons. ...
Mais, à present, cascons est armeis d'unne cotte de fier appelée panchire, ... ; et ont vestut on joupon de festaine aile deseur, sy que nus n'est conus encontre son compangnon

"And they were armoured with (a pair of) plates ... and covering their (pairs of) plates, (they had) good expensive coats of arms, armed with their heraldry. ...
But, in the present, each is armoured with a coat of iron called panchire (mail coat) ... ; and they are dressed with a jupon of fustian over this, so that they can not recognize each other (because of the lack of heraldry)."

And it is described more explicit by Tilemann Elhen von Wolfhagen, who wrote in his Limburger Chronik (1377-1398) in Limburg an der Lahn concerning the years 1350-1359:

In der selben zit da vurgingen di platen in disen landen, unde di reisige lude, herren, ritter unde knechte furten alle schopen, panzer unde huben. ... Di manirunge unde gestalt von den schupen hatten bescheiden lengde, unde di arme wanten endeiles ein spanne von der asselen oder zwo spanne, unde endeiles hatten nit me dan da man die armen ussstiss.

"In these same times, the (pairs of) plates went away in these lands, and the mounted people, lords, knights and riders all wore schopen (jupons), panzers (mail coats) and huben (bascinets). ... The manner and form of the jupons (is that they) had a modest length, and some of the sleeves measured one span from the armpits or two spans, while some did not have more than (a hole) which the arms stick out of."

In short, these two gentlemen described that many mounted men at arms no longer wore their heraldic surcoats after c. 1350-1360 but preferred to wear a non heraldic but stout jupon instead. Not only the noble soldiers wore jupons. If we look at prescribed pieces of armour that citizens should own we see that even poor people could be obliged to have one. For instance in the lawbook of the town of Nordhausen of ca. 1350, we find that whoever owned only 3 marks worth of goods should still own:

eyne schopen. Isenhut. wapenhenschu. eynen spiz. vnd eyn swert

"a jupon, iron hat, gauntlets, a pike and a sword"

Next to the poor guy also the wealthiest Nordhausen citizens that had 60 marks worth of goods should own a jupon on top of a full suit of armour. The wealthy and the crossbowmen of Braunschweig had to own two jopen in 1371, next to a coat of mail, iron hat, helm, collar, gauntlets, lances, etc. In the city accounts of Deventer of 1378 there is an entry for the purchase of fustian to give to the crossbowmen guild to make dobbel schopen for its men. The doubling possibly meant that these jupons were extra thick, mayhaps they were jacks. Fustian, a fabric with a linen warp and a cotton weft, seems to have been used a lot for jupons. When in 1372 nobleman Jan van Blois ordered a jupon to be made for him, he had 3 ells of fisteyns linnen lakens bought for it. And in the Canterbury Tales (1387-1400) the attire of the Knight is described thus by Chaucer:

Of fustian he wered a gipoun
Al bismotered with his habergeoun

"Of fustian he wore a jupon,
All besmudged by his haubergeon (mail coat)"

As the jupon was worn over the mail coat, it was the inside that got 'besmothered' while the outside stayed (relatively ...) clean. In some instances the outer layer of fustian of the jupon had an extra cover of silk or woollen cloth. The purchase accounts of Jan van Blois state this and we can also see it on the (slightly later) extant jupons of the Portuguese king João I (c. 1385), the English crown prince Edward of Woodstock (+ 1376) and the French crown prince Charles VI (c. 1378).

That's a funky Shape

As stated by Tilemann Elhen von Wolfhagen, the length of the sleeves could vary. We encounter this in the numerous depictions of the jupon in art as well, for example in the Rhineland where they seem to have favoured a diamond cross hatch quilting pattern. These depictions also show that the jupon was really close fitting in the 1360-1370 timeframe with a pronounced waist and chest. While the chroniclers state that the pair of plates became relatively impopular, we know from other text sources that from 1360-1370 the separate breastplate came into use as a substitute. It is very well possible that it was worn on top of the mail coat but beneath the jupon and therefor hidden from sight of the chroniclers. Next to the corset-like doublet, such a hidden breastplate would have added significantly to creating that typical greyhound chest look that was so popular from about 1360. Plus, it would have been some nice rigid protection against lances .... !

Upper left: Folio from a c. 1360 Speculum Humanae Salvationis manuscript from Cologne of Westphalia (Univ.- & Landesbibl. Darmstadt, Hs-2505). Upper right: depiction of Johan I von Nassau (+1371) from Kloster Arnstein, now in the Landesmuseum in Münster. Lower left: effigy of Johann von Brandscheid (+1370) in the Stiftskirche, Kyllburg. Lower right: drawing of the no longer extant effigy of Johann III von Rappoltstein (+1361), from the church in Rappoltsweiler (now Ribeauville).

Reconstruction time

Since the new jupon had to fit me: over my doublet, mail coat and breastplate, I had Isis help me make a pattern while wearing these items. As you can see, we designed a small triangular cutout on the front of each small sleeve, like on the effigy from Kyllburg to give a bit more freedom of movement of the arms forward and upwards. Likewise, we accounted for circular cutouts on the lower hem of the skirt, like in the Kyllburg and Rappoltsweiler effigies, to allow the legs to move better and straddle a horse. Quite practical when you want to joust (or ride to the battlefield for that matter).


For the outer shell I chose a medium thick broadcloth from the Bavarian cloth company Mehler, in their '409' shade of blue. The lining was to be made of a handwoven fustian that I bought at an event at Ystad in Sweden in 2009. Like the Charles VI jupon I wished a flap lying underneath the buttons and buttonholes to protect this weak spot. Because buttons were one of the most common ways of closing this garment, I opted for this with my reconstruction. I wanted the thickness of the jupon, when stuffed with cotton batting, not to exceed 1 cm as it should be a jupon and not a thicker jack. All my wishes and the following overall design, together with the fabrics and patterns, I sent to A.D. 1410, who did a splendid job of turning it into a jupon.

Here's what the lining of my new jupon looked like after its first use: already quite besmothered by my mail coat. ;-)

And last week I used it for real, in a joust of war without central tilt and with historical solid lances. It performed splendid! Though with such a tight fit, it is quite a challenge for people to help me get it on or off...

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