Armor in the Period of the Marshal

Part II: Helmets

Many different styles of helmets were in use during William's fighting career.

“Great Helm” – The Great helm (see illustrations A and G) was a typical crusader style helmet in the 13th century helmet, and was already in use by the late 12th century.

Illustration G    Illustration G: Great Helm

A great helm is a fairly simple helmet to construct (see illustration H.)

Illustrations B & C    Illustration H: Great Helm layout

“Kettle Helm” – Another helmet style pictured in the Maciejowski bible is the kettle helm (illustrations A and I).

Kettle Helm    Illustration I: Kettle Helm

For SCA use, this is a bit more involved, as in addition to the rounded top, it has to be adapted by adding a bar grill and surrounding the sides and back of the helm with steel. The surrounding metal then be easily disguised by adding a “ventail” of mail or leather.

“Salt Shaker” – The salt shaker (see illustration I) is another crusader favorite with a very distinctive look.

Illustration J: Salt Shaker Helm    Illustration J: Salt Shaker Helm

Illustration K: Salt Shaker Layout

Illustration K: Salt Shaker layout
(Click image for larger version.)

While fairly simple (see illustration K), there are some tricks to making the faceplate of this helmet work out. I do not recommend it if you don't have a torch available to heat the face plate for forming.

Conical – The Norman conical helm (see illustration L) was still in use during the 12th century, but was becoming more rounded and nasals were becoming less and less common. Several variations of these can be seen in illustrations A, B, and F, and they are quite representative of a 12th century knight's helm.

Norman style Conical Helm    Illustration L: Norman style Conical Helm

If your current helmet is not appropriate for the time period, and you have the time and optimism – make a new one! Several of these helmets are easy to make.

If making another helmet is not in the cards, you can do some things to your existing head defense. A twisted torse and lambrequin can be added to the top of another helm to make it look more like an earlier period (see illustration M).

Torse and Lambrequjin

Illustration M: Torse and Lambrequin
(Click image for larger version.)

A temporary ventail of leather or mail over the back of your helmet can also give you a more period appropriate look (see illustration N.) You could fasten this with rivets, but this will put holes in your helm, however, double sided tape or some other sort of tie might work depending on your helmet.

Illustration N: Ventail   Illustration N: Ventail
(Click image for larger version.)

Continued, Part III: Leg Defenses

Marshal – Flower of Chivalry   •   Coming to Three Rivers Memorial Day Weekend 2009