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High Medieval Helmets

High Medieval Helmets

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High Medieval Helmets

Medieval studies and research roughly narrow the phase of the High Middle Ages to the period between 1050 and 1250. This era was characterized by steady population growth, resulting in expansion to conquer new territory and further development in crafts and trade. Militarily, the High Middle Ages were characterized by the first Crusades. The incipient struggle of Christianity against Islam and other ideologies, which flared up over the territories claimed by both sides of the “Holy Land,” Canaan and Palestine respectively, set the course for the Middle Ages into the 13th century and beyond. The campaigns, which were ultimately also strategically and economically motivated, were presented by the church as a God-given mission, and volunteers were additionally driven to arms by the promise of forgiveness for all sins ever committed. During the first crusade alone, proclaimed in 1095 by Pope Urban II with the mission of reconquering Jerusalem, some 100,000 soldiers marched into battle from Constantinople, but only about 12,000 reached Jerusalem.

The Knight Templar - The Chivalric Ideal

The High Middle Ages also saw the birth of the Knights Templar, the ideal type of knight that is still firmly associated with the Middle Ages in the imaginations of most people. Founded as a military order, the Knights Templar were supposed to protect conquered territories and follow “chivalric” ideals with a monastic lifestyle. One of their goals was to prevent riots against local populations after conquests through regulations. While the Knights Templar, with their heavy armor in the unfamiliar climate and environment, proved to be inferior to the lightly armed native fighters, they remain one of the most iconic representations of a knight to this day.

Art Comes From Skill

Armor technology at the time was in a constant flux of development. This could also be seen in the helmets of the High Middle Ages. While the possibilities of material processing improved, the requirements for the protective effect of armor grew as a result of parallel improvements in weapon technology. In particular, the increased use of lances and long-range weapons, such as bows and arrows, but also crossbows and bolts overtaxed the protective effect of simple chain armor and light helmets. The clasp helmet of the Early Middle Ages also appears in the High Middle Ages to an even more widespread extent. By the 10th century, blacksmithing had developed to the point where helmets no longer had to be assembled from a basic framework and individual plates, but could be made from a single metal plate. The conically shaped helmets that emerged in this way were also equipped with a built-in nose guard that widened towards the bottom. As a result of this feature, this helmet which was commonly used throughout Europe was known by the name “Nasalhelm.” The conical helmet shape is increasingly replaced from the 12th century by a cylindrical form. Initially, it also resembles the classic Nasalhelm and is equipped with a nose guard. However, this design was replaced after a short time by the so-called transitional helmet. Due to its historical significance in the development of helmet technology, it was known as the transitional helmet and featured a fixed face mask with vision and air slits. The transitional helmet is a step towards the pot helmet, which appears as a high medieval small pot helmet at the end of the High Middle Ages. In addition to the face mask, this helmet also features a massive neck guard. This element served primarily to protect the mounted soldier and could ward off blows from the enemy while riding past. These high-quality and elaborately crafted helmets were reserved for wealthy knights. However, in the field, they were rather impractical because of the restriction of circulation. Consequently, the lack of air supply resulted in increased temperatures underneath. Alternatively, foot soldiers wore the simpler iron hat. Its name resulted from the often conical shape of the helmet bell and wide brim. This type of helmet offered far more freedom of movement and also did not restrict air circulation. Nevertheless, it offered protection against the usual dangers those on foot were exposed to, such as sword blows from above or projectiles.

Your Step into the High Middle Ages

The High Middle Ages is an exciting era for anyone interested in the history of our ancestors. Whether through LARP or reenactment, if your character is based around the time of the first crusades, you’ll find just the equipment for a historically accurate depiction. With Zeughaus, you’ll have a wide selection of historically accurate models of helmets from the High Middle Ages to choose from.

You’ll find pot helmets worn by crusaders as well as the iron hat worn by foot soldiers at the time.

All helmets are made of at least 1.6 mm thick, polished metal and are protected on the inside by a varnish against rusting.

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