Gloves certainly were made and worn in the early medieval period – they are mentioned in a list of goods made by a leather-worker in Ælfric’s ‘Colloquy’ in the late tenth century. However, there is no evidence that they were worn as protection in battle during our period. In the later twelfth century the sleeves of mail hauberks could be extended to include integral mittens.
Combat gloves are therefore a re-enactorism. They are mandatory for all combatants as basic safety gear – no gloves, no fighting!
All combatants must wear stiff leather-backed gloves that give protection to the hands and fingers. These must be safe for the wearer and their opponent. We expect to see around 6mm of padding. Having gloves backed with maille may reduce the amount of padding needed, but probably not by much – maille will not stop your fingers getting bruised.
We recommend buying strong leather or hide gardening/pruning gloves, which should be big enough to fit padding into the fingers. We recommend adding layers of leather or sheepskin to the back of the hand and fingers. Get a friend to tap you smartly on the hand with something solid – then think what it will feel like if you’re hit with the edge of a sword (concentrating the force in a couple of millimetres of hand…).
Combat gloves must not appear obviously modern – which basically means no bright colours or visibly dyed leather. Green pruning gloves are widely available and worth using – but please change their colour first! This is very easy to do – just rub boot polish into the leather and let it dry. You’ll get a nice dark brown glove. Don’t forget to darken the inside of the glove (at least the inch or so round the mouth).
Please note that warriors will be expected to bring their combat gloves with them to authenticity assessments. We want to check that the gloves are safe (most importantly) and that they are of acceptable appearance.
Acceptable combat gloves
The examples here are by no means the only acceptable style of gloves.
This style is very well protecting, but at the cost of dexterity. Often chosen by pole arm users. The yellow gardening glove could do with a bit of dark shoe polish to be less yellow.
Depending on construction, these still have high protection, but with a design focusing on dexterity. This style is preferred by most sword fighters.
Unacceptable combat gloves
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