The Spangenhelm was a battlefield helmet that was fairly common in the early medieval period, used by both infantry soldiers and knights for long periods during this era.
The Spangenhelm was a fairly rudimentary form of the helmet which was essentially constructed from different metals and was used mainly to protect the head from any injuries during battle.
The name “Spangenhelm” is a German word that simply means a helmet made from metal strips. This refers to the overall structure of the helmet which was often held together using a metal skeleton joining different pieces of metal.
Although the helmet originated before the medieval period, its battlefield use continued at least as long as the 13th century.
The earliest instance of the use of the Spangenhelm, as recorded in history, is by the nomadic Iranian tribes such as Scythians and Sarmatians who came down from the Eurasian steppes during Late Antiquity.
In medieval times, the helmet had become a regular part of battlefield armies.
During this period, different variants of the Spangenhelm came into use and the helmet underwent significant changes in its design.
Norman Knights wore a Spangenhelm construction helmet with a nose guard which is known as the ‘Nasal Helmet’.
Helmets closely evolved from the original Spangenhelm design and continued to be used in medieval Europe all the way until the 13th century.
There is historical evidence that at the time of the Norman Conquest of England in the 11th century, the use of Spangenhelm was common among both the Normans and the Anglo-Saxons.
The original design of the Spangenhelm typically included a framework of metal strips that was used to join together pieces of metal. This then resulted in a helmet that covered the head and culminated in a slightly high and conic end above the wearer’s head.
The Spangenhelm was widely used by the Vikings during their raids on different European regions at the beginning of the 9th century.
The type of Spangenhelm typically used by Vikings came with eye protection a noseguard and often had a single-piece construction, making it a useful part of battlefield armor.
Some variants of the helmet came with attached eye gaurds or cheek flaps partially protecting the face, while others were used in conjunction with chainmail to add protection for the neck as well. The main metal used in the construction of the helmet’s headpiece was usually steel or bronze.
One of the major advantages of a Spangenhelm was that it was easy and relatively inexpensive to produce in the medieval ages. And it served as sufficient protection on the battlefield, at least protecting the head from any major injuries.
However, a key disadvantage of this type of helmet was the fact that it comprised of a joined network of metal pieces which could prove weak against the blows of a heavy weapon, it was also an open-faced helmet.
After several additions such as face plates, the Spangenhelm construction type helmet eventually came to be replaced, by a simpler helmet that took its place which was constructed in a single-piece design that protected and encased the whole head, the Crusaders Helm.