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Early Medieval Helmets

Early Medieval Helmets

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Early Medieval Helmets

With consideration of historical science, the early Middle Ages followed the late age of antiquity in Europe and the Mediterranean region.

The term early Middle Ages describes a period from about 500 AD To 1050 AD, whereas modern research describes the transition from Late Antiquity to the Early Middle Ages as fluid and therefore not to be fixed at a precise year.

The era is characterized by religious, political, and social changes throughout Europe, often associated with warlike conflicts.

Accordingly, much energy was invested in the further development of military technology, not least of all the quality of armor.

The helmet was not a novelty in the Early Middle Ages. Some peoples already protected the sensitive head of the warrior in prehistoric and early historic times, that is, for more than 3,000 years. Others, for example, the Germanic tribes, only now increasingly began to wear helmets.

The most common helmet in the European Early Middle Ages is the Spangenhelm. It owes its name to four to six metal struts, the so-called clasps, which, starting from a conically bent forehead ring, converge at the top of the helmet. The resulting open spaces between the struts are closed by metal plates, so-called segments. The choice of material, simple iron, silver, bronze, or even gold, was ultimately a question of the financial capabilities of the wearer and thus their military and social rank.

If the Spangenhelm has a metal strut, which runs from the forehead ring, centered above the forehead, down and covers the nose of the wearer, one often speaks of a nasal helmet also with the Spangenhelm. However, this designation is strictly speaking not quite correct. The classic nasal helmet shows up from the 10th century and was characteristically forged from a single iron plate.

The classic Spangenhelm is also equipped with cheek flaps. The neck of the wearer is additionally protected by a chain mesh attached to the back of the helmet.

Of course, the clasp helmet is not the only head protection used in the early Middle Ages. Transitions between individual genera were on the one hand fluid, on the other hand, helmets of previous eras were also further used.

In addition to the clasp helmet and the nasal helmet, spectacled helmets in the Early Middle Ages enjoyed great popularity and regional distribution, especially in Scandinavia and the British Isles. After the historical period between 550 and 800 in Sweden, the design is also known as Vendelhelm or Nordic comb helmet.

Similar to the Spangenhelm, the basic framework of the Vendelhelm consists of three iron bands: one circles the head as a forehead ring, a second runs as a crown band from front to back over the head, and a third spans the head from ear to ear. The spaces in between are also filled by curved metal plates. The Vendelhelm owes its designation as a spectacle helmet to the spectacle-shaped face shield and characteristic fittings above the eye arches.

Named after an archaeological site in Gjermundbu, Norway, the Gjermundbu helmet differs recognizably from the classic Vendel helmet. It consists of two parietal bands as well as a band from ear to ear. Metal plates riveted underneath form a hemispherical helmet bell. Its wearer’s neck and the sides of the neck were also protected by chain mesh in the Gjermundbu helmet, as a goggle helmet identifies it as the characteristic face shield.

Your Character as a Mirror of the Time

With Zeughaus, you will find a large selection of early medieval helmets which factor in the historical knowledge of how helmets were constructed at this time. In addition to clasp helmets with nasal protection, there are classic nasal helmets, such as Viking helmets, Gjermundbu helmets, and Rushelms in various designs.

Whether your character is based in the Middle Ages or inspired by the period, you will find the right headgear for reenactment and LARP.

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