No, a gorget is not a mythological monster with snakes for hair. A medieval gorget is not a petite woman who still manages to shovel down tons of food. A gorget happens to be precisely the piece of armor you need if you’re not a fan of being beheaded! (I assume that’s everyone, but you’d be surprised how you can never tell…)
The original gorget was a piece of armor worn around the neck. A knight’s breastplate left the throat vulnerable, so the gorget was needed to ensure deathlessness. Unlike a collar, this armor also covered parts of the clavicles and sternum, as well as the equivalent area in the back. Gorgets were usually made of leather or steel and were often composed of two pieces that clasped together.
Medieval gorgets were basic neck protectors that were worn beneath the breastplate and backplate and supported the weight of the armor. Many had straps to attach to the heavier armor plates. Renaissance gorgets, however, were not worn with a breastplate but over clothing. These pieces were often beautifully decorated with etching, engraving, embossing and enameling… basically any fancy artistry beginning with “e.” That “e” stands for “expensive,” which these gorgets assuredly were.
Heading East, the samurai also had their own version of the gorget called a “nodowa.” Nodowa were classified according to how they tied: The “menguriwa” was fastened on by hooks, while the “eriwa” was clasped on with a buckle. For less practical purposes, in colonial Australia, gorgets were used as gifts from government officials to the Aboriginal people. These “breastplates,” as they were called, came to be signs of “high rank” or reward for services to the settlers.
At the advance of the 18th century, the gorget became mostly ornamental, usually featured as an accessory on military uniforms. Today, a gorget is still used in the U.S. Army and Marine Corps as a part of their Tactical Vest systems. For the LARPers among us, the Medieval Gorget is a requirement, essential to keeping injuries at bay.
So all you knights at heart – find the gorget you need here: http://www.armorvenue.com/armor-medieval-armor-gorgets.html