Military Review

Fortress for the head and body

“They dipped their heads in molten metal.” What is stuck is a helmet. That is why Savoyard has such a terrible guise. This fighter when dunking in the melt a little face poked and blew bubbles.
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To begin with, this material is ... anniversary! Exactly a year ago, my first material appeared on TOPWAR (17 February 2015 of the year), and today 250 is coming out! On the topic closest to me, that is, dedicated to the armor of knightly times. However, the topic (and most importantly the epigraph!) Was again suggested to me by the readers that they were writing their comments, and for that, thank you all very much! What to say: fun to read such comments. If it's true that five minutes of laughter prolongs life by half an hour, then I, at least, know three people who, having read the above comment, laughed so long that they probably earned themselves a few hours this way! But ... be that as it may, it’s really interesting, but how did people protect themselves from being hit by a sword, an ax, a mace? That is, what they came up with a "portable fortress" for the head, arms and legs.

The famous effect of Edward "The Black Prince" from the Canterbury Cathedral, who died in 1376. It clearly shows that even such a noble and wealthy person had a chain mail barmitsu. The armor on the torso closes the short heraldic jupon or surco.

About helmets from boar tusks, bronze helmets of the ancient Celts, Greeks and Romans, there were already articles here, and whoever wants can easily find them. There were also articles on defense armaments of the late 16th – early and mid – 17th centuries. There was material about warriors from the “Bayesky carpet” (embroidery, as we now know), but the most interesting period came later, namely after the Hundred Years War, when gunsmiths realized its experience, and ... when the war in England began and white rose.

Fortress for the head and body

Roman helmet with face mask from the Royal Museum in Toronto, Canada.

But this is also a Roman helmet - tasteless and artsy, which belonged to the horseman-officer of the sunset era of the empire. Viennese historical a museum.

Tibetan helmet with barmitsa from the plates of the XVI - XVII centuries. Very similar to other Eurasian helmets, isn't it? Metropolitan Museum, New York.

Let's start with periodization. English historians (and whoever knows this, if not them!), Such as T. Richardson, D. Nicole, E. Oakeshott and many, many others, singled out three eras in the history of knightly armaments, replacing one another in turn. The first is the “era of chain mail”, which lasted from the XI century and somewhere until the middle of the XIII century, and began in the era of Charlemagne. Then it was replaced by the “armor” of the “transitional period” - the “transitional” from chain mail to all-forged armor - the “era of chain-plate armor”.

Classics of the era - the armor of the knights of the middle of the Hundred Years War and the Battle of Visby. After that came the “great period” in the history of armor. The chronological framework is as follows: 1410 - 1500's. But then already began their sunset! And although the armor was used in the battles of the Thirty Years War and the Civil War in England, it was already “not at all”!

Classic “head-rest”: bascinet 1420 - 1430 with visor "dog muzzle". Germany. Weight 2986 Metropolitan Museum, New York.

The same bascinet with a raised visor.

By the way, where did the 1410 date come from, why not 1400? And this is why: effigies (gravestone sculptures) are known, about which, by the way, there was also a large article, and bras (there will be an article about them) - engraved tomb stones on which knights of this time are depicted. And everyone in the armor has a characteristic detail: a chain mail barmitsa, descending on the shoulders from under the helmet.

Helmet Arme, Italian 1450 - 1470 Weight 3618 Metropolitan Museum, New York.

And only on the 1410 armor of the year there is none, but there is a flat plate warlock. That is, the armor became solid forged! By the way, it was this year that the English knight John de Firless, having decided to surpass everyone, ordered the full armor, sword and dagger decorated with ... diamonds and pearls to the Burgundian blacksmiths. A luxury unprecedented is not what was at this time, but later also paid them 1727 pounds for it!

To understand this a lot or a little, let's see that later 100 for years King of England Henry VIII ordered 2000 sets of light infantry armor (cuirass and morion helmet) in Florence at 16 shillings for armor, and in a pound at that time there were 20 shillings. Of course, it is necessary to take into account inflation, but it still turns out that with the money that this same Firless paid for his armor, it was possible to buy 2150 of such kits, but he was not the king and did not have royal income!

Maximilian Armor from Nuremberg, 1520 g. Weight 26,15 kg. Metropolitan Museum, New York.

The more these armors were better than chain mail, besides holding the blow better, it was that she pressed the warrior on her shoulders, and the weight of these armor was evenly distributed throughout the body. D. Nicole refers to the medieval chronicles and emphasizes that the giants were not so worn that many knights had a fragile (!) Physique and elegant ankles, narrower than ours, but had developed muscles.

The armor of George Clifford (1558 – 1605), the third Earl of Cumberland and a favorite of Queen Elizabeth. Metropolitan Museum, New York.

Interestingly, the first armor cuirass, front and rear, consisted of two parts, connected by a belt - the top and bottom, that is, only four, and the top went under the bottom. Sometimes to arm more warriors, such cuirass was divided. One got the top, the other the bottom! And only in the XVI century. cuirass began to consist of two parts - chest and dorsal.

The German helmet and 1630 breastplate. The helmet weighs 3,65 kg, the breastplate and other parts of the armor are 18,825 kg. It is not by chance that the weight has increased for the sake of increasing the armor bullet resistance. Metropolitan Museum, New York.

The Italian armor was designed in such a way that the left half of the body was better defended, which is why the knights abandoned their shields, but the Germanic “Gothic” parts were more elongated and angular. Armor mixed became widespread: for example, in the painting of the Dutch artist Friedrich Herlin “St. George and the Dragon ”(1460) the knight is dressed in Italian armor, but he has a German helmet on his head.

"St. George and the dragon. Painting F.Herlin.

The reason for such a wide distribution of all-metal armor (they were also called "white" for the color of the polished metal) was ... the widespread use of throwing weapons. For example, it is precisely known that during the battle of Montleri in 1465, 38400 arrows were used in one day, and during the siege of Dinant that lasted one week, the Burgundians launched 27840 arrows and 1780 crossbow bolts! By the way, the decree of Henry VIII is known, forbidding his shooters to shoot at targets that are closer than 220 yards (that is, around 220 m).

The legendary battle of the knights in Azenkur 1415. Painting by Milek Dzhakubika.

At the same time, already in 1482, the Milanese had in their arsenal 1250 various firearms, including X-NUMX arquebuses with a spring wick lock. And at the time of the death of Henry VIII himself in the arsenal of the Tower 352 bows and 3000 bundles of arrows were stored, and in each bundle of 13000 arrows! But there were also enough firearms. It numbered more than 24 units, although in England itself it was not produced at that time!

Horseman from Samarkand, XIV century. Royal Arsenal in Leeds.

It is interesting that in the East the situation was approximately the same. But there the riders used a bow and therefore the helmets were always open, the back of the saddle bow was flat, and the arms were usually protected by chain mail, not by armor. However, in Europe - sunset - sunset, but it was the first half of the 16th century that became the “golden age” for European gunsmiths, as the demand for armor increased in these conditions. By the way, the fashion for the so-called "Maximilian armor" (with grooves) very quickly passed and already in 1530, the armor became smooth again, although the edges of the plates became fashionable to trim with a narrow brass border.

Grotesque German helmet, 1520 - 1530 Hermitage, St. Petersburg.

There were "grotesque helmets" with monstrous faces on the visors, although classic helmets continued to be used. In 1614, in Greenwich, for Prince Henry of Wales, armor worth 340 pounds was made. Even more expensive were the armor donated by the city of Brescia to the French king Louis XIV, but he was unlikely to ever wear them. Not to mention the fact that the wearing of full knight armor, King Henry IV, banned even in 1604 year!

Japanese helmet to ashigaru (and wealthy daimyo!) Jingasa, XVIII century. It is very similar to the English helmet - “the shaving bowl” of two world wars at once. Photo presented by the company "Antiques of Japan" (

And, actually, the story of the knight’s armor ended there, and then ... then they were worn by mercenaries, not knights, and legs below the knees, and then they didn’t close their hands. The torso and head remained the most valuable, which the French cuirassier cavalry covered with metal even in 1914. But it was a ridiculous tribute to tradition, not more. Helmets and cuirasses used at the same time turned out to be the same relapse, but they didn’t become so massive at the time.
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  1. cth; fyn
    cth; fyn 17 February 2016 07: 07
    . But the details of the German - "Gothic" were more elongated and angular.

    Do you practice gut?
    Everything is very interesting, but there was no sunset in the era of armor; there was a temporary crisis. Now the armor has returned in the form of body armor and ballistic helmets, they have already passed a sufficient path to become a reliable defense of a modern warrior. And the competition of the sword and shield flared up with renewed vigor.
  2. parusnik
    parusnik 17 February 2016 07: 50
    and today comes the 250th! ..Vyacheslav, happy anniversary! Creative success!
    1. kalibr
      17 February 2016 08: 10
      Thank! I didn’t even expect it myself ...
  3. Kombrig
    Kombrig 17 February 2016 07: 53
    In the photo of the Tibetan helmet, restorers obviously messed up with the weaving of plates, very often in museums I came across a similar ....
    1. kalibr
      17 February 2016 08: 15
      So after all, they often buy a bunch of parts and rotten straps, how to knit "in the original" is often not even clear.
    2. abrakadabre
      abrakadabre 17 February 2016 11: 34
      The crooked weave on that helmet may be a sign of repair. The fact is that such plate versions are assembled from woven horizontal stripes. In case of tearing or cutting of a leather strap (and such armor is gathered on narrow leather belts, and not from strings of vegetable fibers) To repair it beautifully, you need to completely untangle the entire strip. Therefore, minor repairs can be made outwardly clumsily.
      And yes, there may be a mistake museum workers in the repair.
    3. Hurray
      Hurray 19 February 2016 21: 27
      You're right. The plates are woven in reverse. A helmet is similar to Oirat or Mongolian.
  4. Fox
    Fox 17 February 2016 07: 56
    I read the book: the story of Segriy and Abenserrakh "... so, it seems, it describes in detail how and what was put on the knight during the events in Grenada in the shaggy years ... cool book, only the language from the names will break))))
  5. igordok
    igordok 17 February 2016 07: 59
    But this is also a Roman helmet - tasteless and arrogant, belonging to the officer-rider during the decline of the empire. Vienna Historical Museum.

    Tasteless and artsy- This is a view from our time. Who knows how it was evaluated, this is in its native time.

    Somewhat off topic. I like the clip.
    But again, it is created from today's views on those times.
    1. kalibr
      17 February 2016 08: 13
      Probably rated not so bad if he ordered it and wore it. Well, yes, all the same, the thing is "fancy" and tasteless. Although, yes, among his "homies" may be "the very thing", as we had crimson jackets and chains in the finger. I knew a dentist, worked in the zone, walked with such a chain. "Otherwise they won't understand!"
    2. ICT
      ICT 18 February 2016 07: 02
      the original is more interesting there about tactics and about moral SPIRIT wink
  6. D-Master
    D-Master 17 February 2016 08: 26
    Just great stuff - reading is a pleasure. The author is very grateful and willing to continue his path of enlightener. The article is unambiguously archived, in favorites.
  7. Voice of the Mind
    Voice of the Mind 17 February 2016 09: 13
    On mobility in armor.
    Swiss students decide to try
    1. abrakadabre
      abrakadabre 17 February 2016 11: 42
      More about mobility in armor from the Russian national team on HMB:

      More about mobility in full armor from a two-handed sword master and reconstructor Frolov. Video master class. To watch about mobility from the moment of 7 minutes 10 seconds:
      1. brn521
        brn521 17 February 2016 14: 35
        Quote: Voice of the Mind
        Swiss students decide to try

        In the first frames, a full-fledged knight’s weapon, a polearm, with spikes and a striker. Which was used against such armor.
    2. kalibr
      17 February 2016 12: 09
      Wonderful shots! By the way, such fights are held every day at the Leeds Arsenal - very spectacular! There were no fools among people to lie under the hooves of horses and not be able to stand up. Of course, the fallen stunned and wounded lay. But if the person was healthy, then he rose himself and he did not need any crane!
  8. Nikolay71
    Nikolay71 17 February 2016 09: 39
    Author with a jubilee article! And about oriental armor, I would like to know more.
    1. cth; fyn
      cth; fyn 17 February 2016 10: 03
      Duc about samurai the whole cycle was.
    2. kalibr
      17 February 2016 12: 10
      Will be, two materials are already ready! Based on the book by D. Nicolas "The Army of the Great Mughals".
  9. AlexSK
    AlexSK 17 February 2016 10: 14
  10. abrakadabre
    abrakadabre 17 February 2016 11: 51
    Author with a jubilee article. You are doing a good and necessary thing.
  11. PSih2097
    PSih2097 17 February 2016 12: 01
    The torso and head remained the most valuable, which the French cuirassier cavalry covered with metal even in 1914. But it was an absurd tribute to tradition, no more. Helmets and cuirasses, which were used at the same time, turned out to be the same relapse, but at that time they still did not become mass equipment of armies.

    first world ...

  12. Rivares
    Rivares 17 February 2016 15: 43
    By the way, in the first photo in the article, a cross is "welded" on the breastplate over the lilies. It seems that initially it was not provided for on the shell, and then, due to considerations of Catholic political correctness, it was added ...
  13. Denimax
    Denimax 17 February 2016 20: 22
    It is difficult to imagine how you can fight in these armor. And as far as this fighter is enough, there you don’t run and pull the trigger, but you have to wave your sword and in all the iron. The question arises, but did they really fight, or is it just tournament equipment, or maybe a special order for coolness. What they wrote and painted before may also not really correspond to reality, as now.
    1. cth; fyn
      cth; fyn 17 February 2016 21: 42
      Well, for starters, let's remember that a knight is an equestrian warrior, and that’s enough.
      1. abrakadabre
        abrakadabre 17 February 2016 22: 42
        You can add just and the battle was not like: got up in the morning and until the evening like a propeller wave your sword without stopping. Long battles from dawn to dusk during the knightly era are a very rare occurrence. In most cases, everything was decided within an hour or two. And even during this time there was no continuous melee. And this is the most physically intense part of the battle. More than maneuvering in armor on the battlefield.
        1. voyaka uh
          voyaka uh 18 February 2016 14: 36
          Men in those dark times were accustomed to carry over
          large weights over long distances. Whether it is the armor of a knight, all "spare parts"
          and the weapons of his squire, provisions and baggage of porters.

          Recall that it was the most difficult thing that Roman soldiers carried on campaigns?
          Armor? - no. Sword? -no.
          The heaviest (and uncomfortable) legionnaire luggage was 2 hefty
          wooden stake logs, from which the picket fence for the camp was built for overnight stays and
          parking lots. And they also carried pickaxes / shovels (and all by themselves!). belay
    2. Zefr
      Zefr 23 February 2016 10: 20
      I think so. The knights slowly converged, put on their helmets, greeted (or insulted) each other, took a stronger sword and began to chop. Who was the first to get tired, asked for mercy, he was taken prisoner for ransom, and the battle ended. Therefore, there was no requirement to run in armor all day.
      As for the infantry in the mass cabin, there were no Hollywood fights on the contrary. They came together closely and squeezed, trying to destroy the enemy system. If it came to cutting, then after a couple of minutes of the battle at the signal, the first row went to rest. Otherwise, there is no point in such detachment constructions. For fights you need a squad in one row.
  14. Aljavad
    Aljavad 17 February 2016 21: 50
    Happy anniversary, Vyacheslav! I wish you new articles, books and, in general, success! drinks
    To summarize: in order not to get a single minus, you need to write 250 articles on one topic! laughing
  15. Hurray
    Hurray 19 February 2016 21: 39
    The rider from Samarkand is very interesting. Residents of these places are relatives of modern Tajiks. This rider does not even have a sword and boots with bent tips, which is unusual for Persians or Uzbeks. It turns out this is the rider of the Chagatai state. And time is the emir of Timur and Samarkand is its capital. That is, at least his light cavalry had steppe roots.
  16. lupus
    lupus 21 February 2016 15: 31
    Physically strong and hardy people were in olden times, to carry such a burden on themselves both in the heat and in the cold.