Gauntlet (glove)

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Almain rivet gauntlets of Emperor Maximilian I, c. 1514. Museum of Fine Arts (Kunsthistorisches Museum), Vienna HJRK A 7 - Gauntlets of Maximilian I, c. 1514.jpg
Almain rivet gauntlets of Emperor Maximilian I, c. 1514. Museum of Fine Arts (Kunsthistorisches Museum), Vienna
Pair of gauntlets, Germany, late 16th century Pair of gauntlets, Germany, late 16th century.jpg
Pair of gauntlets, Germany, late 16th century
Gauntlets, about 1614. V&A Museum no. 1386&A-1888 Gauntlets.jpg
Gauntlets, about 1614. V&A Museum no. 1386&A-1888

A gauntlet is a type of glove that protects the hand and wrist of a combatant. Gauntlets were used particularly in Europe between the early fourteenth century and the early modern period and were often constructed of hardened leather or metal plates.


Gauntlets, which cover the hands, wrists, and sometimes forearms, are not to be confused with bracers, which cover the wrists and forearms but not the hands; bracers are common in medieval and fantasy cosplay.



Japanese (samurai) Edo period gauntlets (han kote). Kote gauntlets 1.JPG
Japanese (samurai) Edo period gauntlets (han kote).

Beginning in the 11th century, European soldiers and knights relied on chain mail for protection of their bodies, and chain armor "shirts" with wide sleeves that hung to the elbow were common. However, it wasn't until the 12th century that chain mail shirts with longer, narrower sleeves began to be worn, and these on occasion had chain mail mittens or "muffs" resembling fingerless gloves and with a pocket for the thumb (though some of these did have complete fingers as well). These attached at the lower edge of the sleeve, and protected the wearer's hands from cuts and lacerations during combat but offered no protection against crushing blows. It wasn't until the early 14th century that armorers began to design fully articulated plate armor: along with this development of the use of plates as a means of protecting the body from blows was the development of hand protection in the form of gauntlets made of overlapping plates of steel. [1] These were created both in the fingerless "mitten" style (which offered plate armor protection and allowed the fingers to share heat but limited the wearer's ability to move those fingers) as well as the fully fingered "glove" style (which though still ungainly and less comfortable in cold weather, permitted full use of all of the fingers).

A variety of gauntlet called a "demi-gauntlet" or "demi-gaunt" also came into use around this time. A demi-gaunt is a type of plate armour gauntlet that only protects the back of the hand and the wrist: demi-gaunts are worn with gloves made from chain mail or padded leather. The advantages of the demi-gaunt are that it allows better dexterity and is lighter than a full gauntlet, but the disadvantage is that the fingers are not as well protected.

Contemporary protective gauntlets

Daniel Patrick Driscoll DSO, member of the Legion of Frontiersmen, wearing brown leather gauntlets. Vanity Fair caricature 15 February 1911 Daniel Patrick Driscoll Vanity Fair 15 February 1911.jpg
Daniel Patrick Driscoll DSO, member of the Legion of Frontiersmen, wearing brown leather gauntlets. Vanity Fair caricature 15 February 1911
Hat, sword, LeMat Revolver and gauntlets of Major general J. E. B. Stuart (Museum of the Confederacy, in Richmond, Virginia) Stuart's sword.jpg
Hat, sword, LeMat Revolver and gauntlets of Major general J. E. B. Stuart (Museum of the Confederacy, in Richmond, Virginia)

Modern protective gloves called "gauntlets" continue to be worn by metal workers and welders when handling hot or molten metals or in contexts where sparks are common. These gauntlets no longer sport the metal plates of the originals, but instead are highly insulating against heat. Similar varieties of gauntlet are worn by automotive technicians to protect their hands when handling car components, and meat and fishery butchers often wear chain mail gauntlets to protect their hands from the sharp edges of knives. Motorcyclists wear gauntlets made of leather to protect their hands from abrasion during an accident, and snowmobile drivers wear fingerless gauntlets made of nylon to protect their hands from wind and cold temperatures while driving their vehicles. Falconers wear leather gauntlets to protect their hands from the sharp claws of the birds of prey that they handle, and lastly, modern competitors in fencing, particularly those competing with the épée, routinely wear fingered gauntlets to protect their hands from possible cuts and puncture wounds from their opponents' weapons.

As clothing

Bride wearing fingerless gauntlets, 2009 "...Luchshee, konechno, vperedi!" "... The best, of course, ahead!" ) (3527495977).jpg
Bride wearing fingerless gauntlets, 2009

In Western women's fashion, a gauntlet can refer to an extended cuff with little or no hand covering. Such gauntlets are sometimes worn as elements of an evening gown or by brides at weddings. [2]


In the Roman Catholic Church, the full-fingered gloves traditionally worn by the pope or other bishops are also known as gauntlets or episcopal gloves, though their use has largely been relaxed since Paul VI.

"Throwing down the gauntlet"

Portrait of Andries de Graeff - Rembrandt.jpg
Portrait of Andries de Graeff (with a gauntlet in front of him), painting by Rembrandt in 1639
A Chronicle of England - Page 328 - Arundel, Gloucester, Nottingham, Derby, and Warwick, Before the King.jpg
The Lords Appellant throw down their gauntlets and demand Richard II let them prove by arms the justice for their rebellion

The practice of throwing a gauntlet in response to a challenge has its origins in antiquity. In Book 5 of the Aeneid, Entelus responds to the challenge of the boxer Dares by throwing his caestus (boxing glove, or gauntlet) into the boxing ring.

To "throw down the gauntlet" is to issue a challenge. A gauntlet-wearing knight would challenge a fellow knight or enemy to a duel by throwing one of his gauntlets on the ground. The opponent would pick up the gauntlet to accept the challenge. The phrase is associated particularly with the action of the King's Champion, which officer's role was from medieval times to act as champion for the King at his coronation, in the unlikely event that someone challenged the new King's title to the throne.

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Chain mail</span> Personal armour of metal links

Chain mail is a tautology for a type of armour consisting of small metal rings linked together in a pattern to form a mesh. It was in common military use between the 3rd century BC and the 16th century AD in Europe, and longer in Asia and North Africa. A coat of this armour is often called a hauberk, and sometimes a byrnie.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Motorcycle personal protective equipment</span> Protective clothing and helmets for motorcycle safety

To improve motorcycle safety many countries mandate the wearing of personal protective equipment such as protective clothing and helmets. Protective clothing may include certain types of jackets, gloves, boots, and pants. Jackets meant for motorcyclists are typically made of leather or specialized man-made fabrics like cordura or Kevlar. These jackets typically include padding on the elbow, spine, and shoulder regions. This was once quite bulky, but modern technology and materials have made it unobtrusive. Gloves are generally made of leather or Kevlar and some include carbon fiber knuckle protection. Boots, especially those for sport riding, include reinforcement and plastic caps on the ankle and toe areas. Pants are usually leather, cordura, or Kevlar. Except for helmets, none of these items are required by law in any state in the USA, or in any part of the UK but are recommended by many of those who ride.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Glove</span> Covering worn on the hand

A glove is a garment covering the hand, with separate sheaths or openings for each finger and the thumb. Gloves extending past the wrist are called gauntlets. Gloves protect and comfort hands against cold or heat, damage by friction, abrasion or chemicals, and disease; or in turn to provide a guard for what a bare hand should not touch.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Hauberk</span> Thigh-length sleeved shirt of mail

A hauberk or byrnie is a shirt of mail. The term is usually used to describe a shirt reaching at least to mid-thigh and including sleeves. Haubergeon is a smaller shirt of mail, generally with short sleeves and not reaching the thighs.

<i>Bōgu</i> Training armor worn in kendo

Bōgu, properly called kendōgu, is training armour used primarily in the Japanese martial art of kendo, with variants used for jūkendō, tankendo, and naginata.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Plate armour</span> Personal body armour made from metal plates

Plate armour is a historical type of personal body armour made from bronze, iron, or steel plates, culminating in the iconic suit of armour entirely encasing the wearer. Full plate steel armour developed in Europe during the Late Middle Ages, especially in the context of the Hundred Years' War, from the coat of plates worn over mail suits during the 14th(1300s) century.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Baseball glove</span> Large leather glove worn by baseball players

A baseball glove or mitt is a large glove worn by baseball players of the defending team, which assists players in catching and fielding balls hit by a batter or thrown by a teammate.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Mitten</span> Type of handwear

A mitten is a type of glove that covers the hand but does not have separate finger openings or sheaths. Generally, mittens still separate the thumb from the other four fingers. They have different colours and designs. Mittens provide greater thermal insulation than gloves as they have a smaller surface area exposed to the cold, but have a trade-off in dexterity.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Glove (ice hockey)</span> Any of various sorts of gloves worn by ice hockey players

There are two styles of gloves worn by ice hockey players. Skaters wear similar gloves on each hand, while goaltenders wear gloves of different types on each hand.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Body armor</span> Protective clothing; armor worn on the body

Body armor, also known as body armour, personal armor or armour, or a suit or coat of armor, is protective clothing designed to absorb or deflect physical attacks. Historically used to protect military personnel, today it is also used by various types of police, private security guards or bodyguards, and occasionally ordinary civilians. Today there are two main types: regular non-plated body armor for moderate to substantial protection, and hard-plate reinforced body armor for maximum protection, such as used by combat soldiers.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Cycling glove</span>

Cycling gloves are gloves designed for cycling. They may provide warmth, comfort and protection.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Chausses</span> Armour for the legs

Chausses were a Medieval term for leggings, which was also used for leg armour; routinely made of mail and referred to as mail chausses. They generally extended well-above the knee, covering most of the leg. Mail Chausses were the standard type of metal leg armour in Europe from the 11th to the 14th century. Chausses offered flexible protection that was effective against slashing weapons. However, the wearer still felt the full force of crushing blows.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Bunker gear</span> Person protective equipment used by firefighters

Bunker gear is the personal protective equipment (PPE) used by firefighters. The term is derived from the fact that the trousers and boots are traditionally kept by the firefighter's bunk at the fire station to be readily available for use.

Weightlifting gloves are gloves worn by weightlifters. These gloves provide extra grip strength to the wearer by mitigating friction from the bar and to reduce the potential for injury.

<i>Sangu</i> (armour)

Sangu is the term for the three armour components that protected the extremities of the samurai class of feudal Japan.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Buff coat</span> Type of thick leather coat

The European buff coat is an item of leather clothing that was primarily worn by cavalry and officers during the 17th century, but also worn by a small number of infantry. It was often worn under iron or steel armour for the torso. The buff coat was derived from the simple leather jerkins employed by huntsmen and soldiers during the Tudor period, these in turn deriving from the arming doublet. The name of the jacket, as well as its characteristic tan or buff colour, derives from the buffalo or ox hide from which it was commonly made.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Japanese armour</span> Armor originating from Japan

Scholars agree that Japanese armour first appeared in the 4th century, with the discovery of the cuirass and basic helmets in graves. During the Heian period (794-1185), the unique Japanese samurai armour ō-yoroi and dō-maru appeared. The Japanese cuirass evolved into the more familiar style of body armour worn by the samurai known as the dou or dō, with the use of leather straps (nerigawa), and lacquer for weatherproofing. Leather and/or iron scales were also used to construct samurai armours, with leather and eventually silk lace used to connect the individual scales (kozane) of these cuirasses.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Usage of personal protective equipment</span>

The use of personal protective equipment (PPE) is inherent in the theory of universal precaution, which requires specialized clothing or equipment for the protection of individuals from hazard. The term is defined by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which is responsible for PPE regulation, as the "equipment that protects employees from serious injury or illness resulting from contact with chemical, radiological, physical, electrical, mechanical, or other hazards." While there are common forms of PPEs such as gloves, eye shields, and respirators, the standard set in the OSHA definition indicates a wide coverage. This means that PPE involves a sizable range of equipment. There are several ways to classify them such as how gears could be physiological or environmental. The following list, however, sorts personal protective equipment according to function and body area.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Driving glove</span>

A driving glove is a hand covering, typically constructed of very thin, soft leather. It is used to give a driver better control of the vehicle by enhancing grip of the steering wheel and gear stick.


  1. Paul F Walker (1 March 2013). History of Armour 1100-1700. Crowood. p. 124. ISBN   978-1-84797-515-7.
  2. Wedding Planning: Wedding Accessories - Gloves| Archived 2007-10-21 at the Wayback Machine Gauntlet Glove

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