Medieval Helmets – c. 500 – c. 1500

Medieval Helmets *Learn about the evolution of the Medieval Helmet worn by Gallant Knights and Infantry Soldiers such as Crossbowmen, Longbowmen and Pikemen.

Discover popular Medieval Helmets such as the Great Helm of the Crusader Knights, The Sallet Helmet of English and Italian Infantry and the Great Bascinet Helmet of the Great Medieval Knight in Shining Armour and Much More!

Bascinet

Bascinet

Bascinet helmet was basically a skull cap that protected the head, later Bascinet design protected the neck Read more about the Bascinet >>

Crusader Helmet

Crusader Helmet

The crusader helmet was worn by the Crusader Knights such as the Knight Templar and the Teutonic Knights during the Crusades Read more about the Crusader Helmet >>

English Sallet Helmets

The English 'Sallet Helmet' was also called the 'English-Burgundian' Sallet! Read more about the English Sallet Helmets >>

German and Italian Sallet Helmets

Discover the evolution of German and Italian Sallet helmets of the Middle Ages! Read more about the German and Italian Sallet Helmets >>

Medieval Helmets A to Z List

Learn about the Helmets worn by medieval Infantry and Knights such as the Great Helm and Bascinet... Read more about the Medieval Helmets A to Z List >>

Spangenhelm

Spangenhelm

The Spangenhelm was a popular medieval helmet used mainly in early medieval times on the battlefield, there were different Spangenhelm designs Read more about the Spangenhelm >>


Early Medieval Helmets

Although the Spangenhelm and the nasal helmet were the most popular medieval helmets during the early medieval period, the latter began to lose popularity with the knights and royalty as newer more advanced medieval helmets with better protection began to emerge in the Late Middle Ages.

Spangenhelm

Before better medieval helmets were available, these helmets were used for almost seven centuries by soldiers of all ranks. The nasal helmets were called so because they protected the nose and were also referred to as the Norman Casque.

Open helmets such as the Spangenhelm were easy and relatively cheap to produce in large numbers due to its simple design. That said, since it protected the head only partially, these helmets put soldiers at a disadvantage which ultimately led to development of closed helmets being introduced in time.

Anglo Saxon Armour

Anglo Saxon Helmets & Armor

Helmets of the High Medieval Period

Among a host of helmets that were in use during this time, the early great helm was the first to replace the helmets in the Early Middle Ages after which a number of improvements were made in the form of the great helm (worn over Cervelliere), Templar’s helm, kettle hat and the horned helmet.

While a number of them were used by knights, as they offered greater protection, the kettle hat was primarily used by foot soldiers and infantry while the others were used by royalty and knights.

Medieval Cavalry Shields of the KnightsTemplars

Late Medieval Helmets

In line with developments with better weapons, a number of medieval helmets were developed during this time which offered better protection in comparison to those from the Late Middle Ages.

While both the knights and infantry used the bascinet (with and without a visor), sallet, close and frog-mouth helm, the armet, which was popular in Italy, was used exclusively by men-at-arms. The barbute, although simpler, was used widely by infantry.

 

Italian-Archers-Sallet-Helmet

Italian Archers Sallet Helmet

 

An important feature of helmets during this period was the presence of crests on helmets that identified their ancestry and were considered rather fanciful in design. In some cases, simple feather plumes were used to denote the same.

Medieval Knights Helmet

Medieval Helmet Types

Regardless, there was no one design throughout the Middle Ages considering how helmet styles evolved during those times. Yet it was clear that there were two distinct types of medieval helmets namely helms and helmets where the former were of the closed type while the other was open.

Spangenhelm

Prominent examples of these types of helmets included the nasal helmet and the great helm which were used for an extended period of time during the Middle Ages.

How Were Medieval Helmets Made?

As mentioned earlier, a number of metals were used to create these of helms and helmets whether it was iron, steel and bronze among other types of metals. Since combat was prevalent during the Middle Ages, both the creation of weaponry and armory went hand in hand as the need for stronger weapons and armor became a pressing need with the passing of each century.

Medieval Blacksmith at Work

Simply put, dedicated armorers, smiths, and craftsmen were responsible for making swords, spears, and shields but also armor such as helmets, chainmail as well as other parts of body armor too.

Greenwich Armour Clifford Armor

It can be safely said that this need to make continual improvements to armor and medieval helmets turned out to be a race against the weapons makers which led to improvements that lasted for almost 10 centuries.

Medieval Armourers in medieval times

Medieval Armourer

Best Medieval Helmet Designs?

Among a number of medieval helmet designs, there were a few that lasted for a number of centuries. However  the bascinet is considered the best of all  not only sophisticated in terms of the technology used but also in the way it was used to as a piece of decorative armor as well.

Knights Helm Helmet

Great Helm

It was for this reason that these helmets were used primarily by royalty and knights too. With the Spangenhelm, kettle hat and Barbute used extensively by infantry, a number of other helms and helmets that were used by soldiers in the higher ranks. Yet without a doubt, the great helm is still considered to be the best medieval helmet for war.

Iron Medieval Helmet

Medieval Helmets Summary

It goes without saying that medieval helmets were important for the simple reason that they protected the head from attack and which is why a number of models of these helmets evolved during the Middle Ages.

Pikemen in a Pike Formation

Pikemen

Consisting of both simple as well as complex models for both royalty and infantry, a number of these medieval helmets were designed specifically for the function that their wearer performed and their importance in rank. That said, and with the invention of gunpowder, helmets were rendered obsolete in future wars even if a variation of the kettle hat was still used up until as recently as World War II.

Yet even though combat headgear has changed drastically since then, there are a number of practical daily uses that meet the same purpose: to prevent injury to the head.