Roman Imperial Gallic Helmet
Medieval and Renaissance warriors weren't all that dissimilar from zombies, really. They tended to smell bad. They grunted a lot. They attacked in hordes. And the only way to ensure death was to hit them in the head.
Unlike zombies, Medieval and Renaissance warriors were aware of this weakness, and they tended to encase their heads in metal (and I'm not talking about the golden crown that Khal Drogo gave to Viserys, for you Game of Thrones fans). Of course I'm talking about my favorite piece of medieval armor--the helmet!
There is a lot of confusion about the different helmet types. What's the difference between an armet and a close helm? Why do frog's mouth helms have such sissy names? Could you really cook in a kettle helm? What's so great about a great helm? Well, I'm here to tell you! I'm going to go through each of the helms in Chronological order. And yes, I know I'm skipping a few, but in the interest of brevity, I'm going to stick to some of the most common types. As always, if you find that I missed something, feel free to not contact me and complain. Kidding. If you have any comments or ideas, I'd love to hear them in the comments below, or on our Facebook page. Corinthian Helmet
The helm that launched a thousand movies.
Corinthian Helmet - 8th century B.C.E.: Yeah, we loved the movie 300. Leonidas and his happy few, taking on the entire Persian army (and some really strange creatures that apparently the Persians brought out for battles). The Spartan helmet worn by Leonidas and his crew is a creative design based on the Greek Hoplite helmet (otherwise known as the Corinthian helmet). Another Corinthian style helmet was the Troy helmet, used in the Troy movie. The Hoplites were among the most heavily armored soldiers in history. Their helmets covered most of their face, with huge cheekplates and a long nasal that left very of the face exposed. A tall horsehair crest (front to back, or from temple to temple) was often added to the helmet to indicate rank or unit, or just to make these helmets that much more bad-ass. Variations of the Corinthian helmet were seen in Greece and Italy for hundreds of years. Spangenhelm
Spangenhelm, 6th to 10th century: That's the 500s to the 900s, for those of you chronologically challenged. Spangenhelm is German for "Please buy Volkswagens." These types of helmets were usually a bit conical (pointy toward the top). These are the helmets you typically see in movies when the time period is somewhere between the fall of the Roman Empire and the start of the Norman conquest. They usually have cheek pieces and can be highly decorated, sometimes have face masks, and occasionally have chain mail aventails that protect the back of the neck. Variations of this type of helmet go all the way back to the first century A.D., but only a very few are capable of this sort of time-travel. Yeah, not funny. But, seriously, this is an ancient type of helmet. Some Viking helmets came down from this family tree. And the Sutton Hoo helmet, although it has more in common with a Roman Cavalry helmet, is "spangenhelmish." Which, in German, means, "Pretty please buy Volkswagons." Norman Helm.
Nasal Helm/Norman Helm, 11th to 13th century: Yes, I know that nasal helms have been around since the Byzantine Empire, but the height of their popularity in modern culture is the 11th-12th centuries. These helmets gradually replaced the spangenhelms. They're the ones you see soldiers wearing in the Robin Hood movies. The ones worn by the Normans who fought at the Battle of Hastings under William the Conqueror.
A lot of Viking helmets are actually similar in design to Norman helmets (although probably having more in common with spangenhelms). Nasal helms are usually conical, and they make your voice sound really pinched, which is why they call them nasal helms. Okay, not true. But kinda funny? Maybe? They're called nasal helms because of a piece of metal that extends over the nose, preventing a Tyrion Lannister sort of nose-chopping-off injury. (For those who actually read the books.)
Want to read more about helms (And see the images that go with this article)? Then go to the Strongblade History of Helmets page.
See Strongblade's Roman Imperial Gallic Helmet