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Company of Saint Sebastian kit and equipment standards (continued)



Livery coats


Example of Yorkist livery

Livery of Henry Tudor

Livery with Cross of Saint George

Illustrations WW Forsythe, 2009


  Notes on liveries

It was common for a livery to be provided to members of retinues and levies. Often they were of one or two bright colours providing an army with a consistent, uniform appearance. This was important, given the variety and different grades of armour and clothing worn underneath. Liveries made a bold and intimidating statement on the battlefield and had the practical application of making it easier to identify members of the opposing side, reducing the risk of attacking/being attacked by one's own army.

Livery coats tended to be relatively loose fitting garments in a variety of styles, dependent on the nature of the combat and types of protective armour and clothing worn. For example, a long-sleeved coat would easily cover an arming doublet where as a short-sleeved variant would be preferable to fit over a padded jack or brigandine. When worn, livery coats would be tightly gathered into neat pleats at the waist ('ponced'), creating a bold silhouette and exaggerating the broad-shouldered, masculine profile - as recorded in artwork from the period. (Similarities can be drawn with the Ancient Greek ideal of the inverted triangular form).

Colours used reflected those of the faction supported. Some examples include; Murray/Azure for the Yorkists; Blue/White for the Lancastrians; and Green/White for the supporters of Henry Tudor). Often the livery coat would carry a badge or emblem which related to the person or family household heading the retinue (e.g. The Sun in Splendour of Edward IV; The Dragon of Henry Tudor). If a local militia had been called under Commission of Array, they would  often be liveried bearing the insignia of their town of origin.


Illustrations: (left, from top to bottom):

Yorkist livery with 'Sun in Splendour' of Edward IV

Livery with 'Red Dragon' from time of Henry Tudor

Lancastrian livery

Livery with 'Cross of Saint George'





Example of Yorkist livery

  Making a livery coat

Livery coats are a relatively easy garment to make. They can be single colour or two-tone (though special care has to be taken to ensure that the colours match properly).

Image: Tips

You will need about four metres of heavily felted wool (or 2 metres of each colour if making a two tone coat) and four metres of basic linen from which to make a pattern.

Cut your linen pattern first, pin and adjust.

Cut front and back panels and sleeves.  Stitch the back panels together along the centre and then attach the front panels at the shoulders. Fold downwards so that the garment is inside out.

Stitch along the outer seams.

Fold the sleeves into tubes and stitch along their outer seams.

Attach sleeves to the body (use pleats and padding at the shoulders if required).

Hem along the cuffs, the front opening of the jacket and along the collar. Do not hem at the bottom as this will interfere with the way the garment hangs.






Illustration WW Forsythe, 2009

Additional notes: Generally, when using two colours, the darker colour is on the wearer's left - providing a strong contrast for any livery badges. The colours are generally consistent for each side (i.e. matched front to back and on the sleeve). When making the garment make sure you are clear which panels  are on which side and remember, the side you stitch on is on the inside.

Livery coats and shirts can be fastened using brass hooks and eyes at the top section of the front gap. (Two pairs will usually suffice as a belt will draw the garment together at the waist)


Making a livery shirt

An alternative to the livery coat is the livery shirt. This is convenient to wear with a brigandine or a padded jack as, without sleeves, it imposes less limitations on the movement of arms. The manufacturing process is exactly the same as the body portion of the livery coat above. (Though in this case you will need to hem around the shoulder section.

Illustration WW Forsythe, 2009


Positioning a livery badge

The illustration below indicates some common locations of livery badges. (This example uses the 'Sun in Splendour' motif but it could be any of the livery emblems).

 Large badges on the back could be seen from a long distance whereas the badges on the front were more noticeable face-to-face, in close quartered combat. (Owing to the positioning of the body, a badge on the shoulder or sleeve would be visible when using pole weapons).

Illustration WW Forsythe, 2009


Note: If using a small badge at the front, ensure it is positioned quite high up (close to the neckline) as it is less likely to disrupt the pleats when the jacket is 'ponced'.

Livery badges do not have to be particularly detailed or perfect as they are intended to be seen from a distance and not close up.

Use silk thread that closely matches the colour of your badge design to anchor and attach the emblem to your livery coat/shirt.






Commission of Array
Archery & Archers' Equipment
Armour & Sallets
Padded Jacks & Arming Doublets
Pole Arms & Hand Held Weapons
Doublets & Gowns
Livery Coats
Shirts & Other Linen Garments
Joined & Single Leg Hose
Belts, Pouches & Accessories
Boots & Other Footwear
Hats & Headgear
Miscellaneous Other Items
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This site was designed by WW Forsythe and is Company of Saint Sebastian, 2009. All photographs and other artwork are property of their respective owners, used with permission and credited accordingly.