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Knights played a crucial role in medieval society. Though a knight had to be noble by birth, knighthood was not guaranteed and he had to work extremely hard, starting first as a squire (a knight's assistant) before embarking on a rigorous training program which gave him the necessary military skills required to fight for his lord.
The clothing of a medieval knight was designed to be practical but also to reflect his military role. Underneath his armour, the knight wore the typical medieval undergarments: a linen tunic or shirt with underpants and usually woollen stocking to protect his legs. Over these, the knight also wore a padded coat called a gambeson which would further protect the body when in battle.
Knights also wore suits of armour which consisted of a helmet, with holes for seeing and breathing, and a chain-mail shirt, which was called a hauberk and was very heavy. He also wore special gloves called gauntlets which were made from metal or leather, and special metal armour on the legs and arms. Plate armour, to protect the body, was worn from the thirteenth century onwards, and the knight might also wear a sash which displayed his lord's colours or emblem.
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