The importance of helmets to Knights during the Middle Ages is obvious – they protected the head. Over time, as weaponry and methods of warfare improved, helmets duly evolved. In this post, we will take a brief look at three types of medieval helmets.
From the Early Middle Ages to the end of the 12th century, helmets were primarily the type that had a casque protecting the nose and the face, also called the “nasal helmet.” This helmet was easy to make due to its simplistic design but it did not completely protect the head.
The great helm entered the scene towards the end of the 12th century. Unlike the standard helmet of the time, the casque in the great helm enclosed the whole head of the Knight. It was either one piece or featured a moveable ventail. There were different forms of the great helm during the 13th century, including the round-topped, flat-topped (see pic), and the sugar-leaf form. While there is no doubt that these helmets provided greater safety than their predecessors, they offered limited vision and little ventilation.
Helmets became more sophisticated in the 14th century. One such helmet was the bascinet, comprising the visor and the skull piece. The visor was removable, which enabled the great helm to be worn by placing it over the skull piece. However, there were times when the bascinet was the better choice on its own as it offered clearer vision and easier movement in melee combat.