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Sadurian Mike
586147.  Sat Jul 18, 2009 10:04 pm Reply with quote

I'll add to this thread fairly randomly as particular helmet designs appeal at the time, it would take too large a post to detail the history of helmet design in one go.

The word "helmet" comes originally from the Old German "helm". The word was taken by Old French as "helme", and the diminuitive became "helmet". Our English use of the word "helmet" can be traced to the C15th, before then we used the Old Germanic "helm" which still sees limited use but tends to be used to refer to the larger style of helmet.

Early helmets were simple leather or thick cloth caps and these date back to at least the early Bronze age Age, but it doesn't require a leap of imagination to suppose that protective leather hats were employed even before then. Since then there have been helmets of all shapes and sizes, usually made of metal, and with some great ingenuity in their design.

The compromise with any helmet is that of weight and perception over protection. The ideal protection would be a thick steel "bucket" that completely covered the head, but this would have been impossible to fight in. As it was, the jousting helms of the later medieval period followed this pattern fairly closely because they were not intended for use on a battlefield; instead the wearer needed to see only what was straight in front of him.

Despite the great protection this gave, it was not perfect and accidental deaths and facial injuries occurred. On July 10 1559, King Henry II of France was killed when a jousting lance splintered and a splinter entered the tiny vision slit and went through his eye and into his brain.

On the battlefield the priority was to see where your enemy was coming from, and helmets tended to be far more open. Designs could be simply "pot helms" which protected just the top of the skull, through to more elaborate ones with cheek, neck and nose guards. What was worn depended a lot on the role of the wearer as well as his financial resources; a footman expecting to fight in a rapid melee might prefer a helmet that protected but allowed him complete vision, a man in a shieldwall or close ranks would need protection from the front and top but not so much from the rear.

Helmets were used from Biblical times through to the Renaissance, but then dropped out of favour for most troops who did not expect to be attacked by overhead chopping weapons. They were still used by some cavalry regiments (in all armies) and saw a mass reintroduction during the middle of WWI as protection against shrapnel from artillery.

586170.  Sun Jul 19, 2009 2:18 am Reply with quote

Troops used to carry back decorative german helmets as trophies.
I believe the romans adopted various helmet designs (cheek guards) from gaul which for some reason came up with these ideas :S (like chainmail)

Combat helmets are becoming more important in modern warfare for carrying logistical information within the visor section.

Sadurian probably knows all this though -_-

586356.  Sun Jul 19, 2009 9:01 am Reply with quote

post 73291

According to the three yearly results of our QI Helmet Survey QIers prefer the Corinthian (Hoplite) helm.

Corinthian 31% [ 9 ]
Roman 3% [ 1 ]
Celtic 17% [ 5 ]
Coif 3% [ 1 ]
Great Helm 13% [ 4 ]
Salade with Bevor 3% [ 1 ]
Pig Faced Helm 0% [ 0 ]
Motor Bike 13% [ 4 ]
American Football 3% [ 1 ]
Rude 10% [ 3 ]

Total Votes : 29

I've worn one and they're great. Many of the votes for it seem to come from it being pretty, shiney and having a shoe brush on top but a worthy winner (perhaps I should say leader) none the less.

They make them in India made out of 18:8 steel these days!

Last edited by Celebaelin on Sun Jul 19, 2009 9:15 am; edited 1 time in total

586369.  Sun Jul 19, 2009 9:14 am Reply with quote

Celebaelin wrote:
post 73291

I've just been reading this - thanks very much for an entertaining thread!

586388.  Sun Jul 19, 2009 9:32 am Reply with quote

You may buy reproduction helmets from places such as this.

I have seen them on sale in the UK at various places at least since the late 1980s. They do look very good. The ancient Greek ones are great.

Sadurian Mike
586495.  Sun Jul 19, 2009 1:56 pm Reply with quote

Nyuk nyuk nyuk, good link, thanks Cel.

Close helmet wins for me by a country mile, and I will elaborate....

At the end of the C15th, the armoured man-at-arms was relying almost entirely on his armour for protection, having gotten rid of the shield some time before. This was for a combination of reasons; armour had become far more sophisticated in design, metallurgy had advanced rapidly to make steel stronger and lighter, and if your opponent wore similar armour then you needed a two-handed weapon to do him any damage and so couldn't use a shield.

With such armour, it would have been a bit daft to have had a helmet that screamed "hit me here" and so the fully-covered face and head designs were popular. The close helmet had a lifting visor and decent ventilation (although I doubt eating raw onion or garlic was encouraged before a battle). Enough space in front of the face was left so that a blow wouldnt knock your teeth out if it dented the face-plate. In addition, the helmet was rounded with reinforced ridgelines, making it able to deflect most blows and resist those few that landed squarely.

In addition to all that, it is just so purposeful in appearance that wearing it makes you look ready to take on the world.

Ion Zone
586519.  Sun Jul 19, 2009 2:52 pm Reply with quote

They were pretty smart back then.

587136.  Mon Jul 20, 2009 7:06 pm Reply with quote

I can imagine heavy two handed/long pole axes doing a mean job on them helmets :)
Has anyone any experience with falcatas; and the claim that they not only cut through a helmet but the impact causes the sides to buckle inwards??
Cause all these crazy claims about an awesome looking iron age weapon makes me rowdy, excited and frisky. :D

well.. I want one anyway :)

Sadurian Mike
587137.  Mon Jul 20, 2009 7:11 pm Reply with quote

Pollaxe, not pole axe.

The word comes from the same derivation as poll-tax, meaning "head".

That is all.

587143.  Mon Jul 20, 2009 7:20 pm Reply with quote

Sadurian Mike wrote:
Pollaxe, not pole axe.

The word comes from the same derivation as poll-tax, meaning "head".

That is all.

I have not studied the subject I have merely watched a strong mistress wielding a large axe on the end of a pole at a red vs blue fair... i think she was leader of blue team, anyways, she kicked ass with that axe... and it looked heavy enough to break a helmet if struck right..

though tbh she will have been well trained, and carrying something soft/lightweight so as to not severely injure the red opponent :)
But i think it would be a real fun thing to do; to host weapon skill battles in fancy dress like that :)

I would use priate, iberian, fantasy, or celtic design stuff :)
Anyways... my knowledge on warfare in the period of these helmet designs is very limited :P

Also im half your age Sadurian.
Leave those kids alone.

587449.  Tue Jul 21, 2009 11:31 am Reply with quote

I am a medieval combat instructor and fight in plate using a pollaxe.

I can confirm that even a pulled shot with a pollaxe on a 14 gauge steel helmet complete with padded coif is enough to send your world hazy!

(Assuming of course that you were wearing said helmet)

Sadurian Mike
587503.  Tue Jul 21, 2009 1:59 pm Reply with quote

Hi Steve, you sound an interesting man to interrogate....

In your studied opinion, would combat* blows from an arming sword against decent plate harness damage the target enough to make the sword a worthwhile weapon, or would it have been case of "whoops, there goes my polearm, I'd best make do with my sword"?

*Not with the armour strapped to a dummy and hit squarely.

587888.  Wed Jul 22, 2009 5:38 am Reply with quote

Sadurian Mike wrote:
Hi Steve, you sound an interesting man to interrogate....

In your studied opinion, would combat* blows from an arming sword against decent plate harness damage the target enough to make the sword a worthwhile weapon, or would it have been case of "whoops, there goes my polearm, I'd best make do with my sword"?

*Not with the armour strapped to a dummy and hit squarely.

I have fought at full power using blunted steel swords and I was able to receive many shots without feel any effect other than occaisional mild discomfort. Often if you can see the shot coming you can roll with it such that you barely feel it and do not need to spend time blocking with your weapon.

I would say that it is very much a case of lose your poleam and pull out a sword because it is better than nothing.

Although I was told in training that by the 15c the single handed swords used became much lighter and were used to thrust at eyes, armpits etc rather than swung at armoured locations. My experience supports that.

I do not like to fight in closed helmets (except in a tournament) as the peripheral vision which you lose negates the extra protection, spearmen simply trip you over and you cannot see it happening etc. So a thrust to the face is not a pleasant prospect.

587990.  Wed Jul 22, 2009 7:50 am Reply with quote

Steve I think back in the day they would be aware of the risk of facial disfigurement, and now there would be rules against that practice in modern training :)

It sounds like a hell of alot of fun, even though Im not that interested in newer full body armour style equipment. id rather train as iron age peoples, so I can do the phalanx, shield wall, turtle thingy, that thing where theyre spears in a circle, things like that :)
I found the formations, tactics, as well as the actual battle fun so Ive learned alot about weaponry from such periods out of interest.

Weapons and sexology are two very fine subjects Im interested in :D

588532.  Thu Jul 23, 2009 9:13 am Reply with quote

The advantage of maintaining peripheral vision if you're not fighting in formation or from horseback is exactly the point of my liking for the hoplite helm design. The historical materials used make it more vulnerable than later helms but given a liberal fantasy interpretation a steel version is a fine piece of kit indeed and is both aesthetically pleasing before the plume gets knocked/taken off and rather workmanlike and menacing afterwards.


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