A History of Medieval Helmets

Helmets
When it comes to your medieval hobbies and armor collection, historical accuracy is just as important as functionality. Check out this historical guide to medieval helmets from the costume experts at Armor Venue.

10th Century

One of the first helmet designs to come out of the medieval era was known as the Norman or “nasal” helmet. It was so named because it had a distinctive piece of metal attached to the forehead section that came down over the nose. While not completely effective, it did help decrease accidents during hand-to-hand combat. The top of the helmet was usually tapered to a point like a bullet. This design helped deflect downward blows and protect the head.

12th Century

In the 12th century, helmets became more cylindrical in nature and offered more protection for the face and neck. Holes were made in the front of the helm that allowed the wearer to see and breathe but the scope of these functions was still very limited. In the heat of battle, breathing was severely restricted and the holes for the eyes limited the field of view. The Great helm and Sugarloaf helm are classic examples of a 12th-century headpiece. The angular or conical top, similar to the Norman helmet, helped deflect blows.

14th Century

It wasn’t until the 14th century that moving parts were incorporated into the helmet design. A hinged visor allowed the wearer to lift the face plate of the helmet up, increasing visibility and ventilation when needed.

Late Middle Ages

The addition of movable parts to the basic helmet design allowed for more complexity in future models. The Bascinet, also known as the “pigface” helmet, was the first of a more ornate line of protective armor. Advanced smithing skills allowed the metal to be better shaped and fit the skull more securely. The visor was attached at pivot points on either side of the head and it was either pointed like a pig’s snout or caged. Crests and feathered plumes were often attached to the top of the helm. The complexity of the helm naturally made it more expensive and therefore it was a piece more commonly worn by royal knights at tourneys and ceremoniously by the nobility.

No matter what time period, medieval helmets are great additions to any collection and fun to wear to local events.

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4 Useful Tips to Keep Your Armor Good as New

4 Useful Tips to Keep Your Armor Good as New

If you want to keep your armor looking new, you will need to take care of it with routine maintenance. Many companies will ship you armor that has grease and is wrapped in plastic. It is important to remove these when you get your armor. Use a solvent to get the grease off. Then protect the armor with an application of wax.

Once you have done the initial cleaning, you will want to make sure that you check the armor periodically. It should be stored in a place that is dry because rust will be your biggest problem. After each use, you will want to remove any grit or grime. You will then want to apply a coating of wax and give it a proper buffing.

If you display your armor, be sure to check it thoroughly once every couple of months. Small spots of rust are much easier to take care of than larger spots. Sometimes, people think because the item is displayed, they will see the rust spots happen. That just isn’t the case—many people do not examine their armor closely, and they end up losing a valuable piece.

At Armor Venue, we provide high quality, authentic armor for all ages. From the middle ages to ancient Rome, you can find a large selection of well-crafted armor for your next party, to provide interesting decorations, or to help you fit in at the next Ren Faire. All of our pieces are handmade to the highest standards.

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Beginner’s Guide for Roman Armor Collectors

Collectors looking to buy Roman soldier armor will have a lot of sections to assemble, so we’ve compiled a brief guide to the different pieces you may need to find. No matter what you’re buying, it’s not only important to make sure that the armor is sturdy and in good condition, but also that it fits well. Where there are buckles and straps, they should keep your armor in place, even when you move around in the armor.

Shields

Roman SoldierThe scutum, a large rectangular Roman shield, helped protect a large part of the soldier who carried it, especially since the curved surface is good at deflection. Roman soldiers practiced many different group formations, and soldiers could interlock their shields to form one large protective barrier all around the front of the unit as well as the top.

Helmets

The main part of the Roman helmet is the bowl-shaped piece of metal that fits around the head. It also had metal pieces protect the back of the neck and the sides of the face, while a ridge of metal across the forehead helped deflect swords if they slashed down at the soldier’s face. Roman soldier costumes can have some variations depending on the rank, which allowed for different decorative fittings, such as a feathered crest.

Body Protection

The armor protecting the soldier’s chest depends on the era. If you’re looking for older forms of armor, you may be looking for chain mail, a type of meshed armor made of metal rings, or scale armor, which is made of a series of metal scales attached to each other and to a backing material such as linen or leather. Both provided light protection only, and later Roman armor was made from broad iron strips fastened together.

Below the chest piece, the soldier would often fasten a pteruges, which is a type of belt with thick fabric or leather strips hanging down to protect the upper legs. Some of the strips had metal studs to help them withstand weapons a little better.

Limb Protection

Soldiers sometimes protected their legs with curved metal pieces called greaves or protected one or both arms with a sleeve-like piece of armor called manicas. Manicas could be made of leather or of metal and were originally worn by gladiators before soldiers started using them as part of their Roman armor.

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All You Need to Know about Chain Mail Armor

While chain mail has been around for centuries and had been used by many ancient cultures from Japan to Rome, medieval chain mail has its own culture and history. If you intend to start collecting chain mail, we have a few facts that you might want to know before you start.

Chain Mail

Construction

In medieval times, blacksmiths forged and linked individual metal rings in tight patterns that varied by country of origin. The blacksmith would sometimes press the ends of the rings together, and sometimes they would weld or rivet them together. The links made shirts lighter and more flexible than plate mail armor, which made them very useful for soldiers on the go.

One common chain mail creation was the hauberk, a short-sleeved mail shirt that fell to mid-thigh length and protected a large portion of the wearer’s body. Shorter shirts were also available, as were other chain mail pieces including socks, hoods, mittens, and collars.

Historical Use

While chain mail armor for sale today is relatively cheap, the blacksmithing process of old was difficult and time-consuming, making it fairly expensive. The materials used to make it also cost quite a bit, so common foot-soldiers didn’t usually get this sort of protection unless they looted it from the enemy. It was very common amongst the knights and nobility for quite some time, though, so much so that the word “mail” became synonymous with “armor.”

Eventually, the construction process got a little quicker and easier, but unfortunately, chain mail armor was being rendered less effective due to advances in other technologies. While chain mail armor is useful when deflecting bladed weapons, its effectiveness against long-range weaponry diminished. At first, wide-tipped arrows and spears found it difficult to get through armor and would leave the soldier only a little scratched. However, these tips shrank until they could get through the chain mail links, which is when knights began to supplement their chain mail with plate armor.

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Interesting Facts about Medieval Leather Armor

If you’re interested in purchasing authentic European style armor, chances are you may have done some research on medieval leather armor already. Leather armor, much like chain mail armor, was designed by blacksmiths for knights and soldiers to use as protection during combat. Leather armor was very popular in the early middle ages, because it was much cheaper to find than other types of armor; it was easier to make than metal ring or plate mail, and many soldiers could make their own repairs of this armor if necessary.

Who Used Leather Armor

Medieval Leather ArmorLeather armor was used by lower classes, but it was also used by nobles who either couldn’t afford more expensive armor or who chose to use leather armor as a base layer. Even as metal armors became more popular, leather armor was still used as the first layer of defense for certain areas of the body. During most of the middle ages this type of armor was the first choice for many soldiers and other individuals who needed protection during battle. Leather armor provided great protection from slashes from an enemy sword or dagger. As time went on, leather was used as an alternative to heavy metal armors when soldiers needed to maintain mobility and quickness on the battlefield.

Types of Leather Armor

Leather was the primary construction tool used for many types of armor. Originally, soldiers wore leather jackets or vests to block blows from enemies during battle. As blacksmithing became more sophisticated, people began to attach metal plates to their base layer of leather to provide additional protection. Leather armor that was left untreated only worked well for a short time. If left untreated, leather armor would often rot.

As a method of protecting the armor, people learned that boiled leather would last much longer. Boiling leather armor in a vat of oil or wax was one method to help the leather mold into certain shapes. Once boiled, the leather would be left alone to harden and dry. This would result in armor that was lighter than other types of metal armor, but was thicker and tougher than untreated leather. Boiled leather could be used to make chest plates, leather gloves, and elbow and knee pads.

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Popular Types of Medieval Helmets

If you’re interested in medieval history and armor, you’ve probably spent some time studying the different types of medieval helmets. If you spend some time online, you’ll be amazed how many types of armor can be purchased online for your personal collection, including helmets. These helmets, whether you look at Greek warrior helmets or knight helmets, are a great addition to any collection. It is helpful to have some context about when and how the various types of armor were used. Here are some of the types of medieval helmets that were used during the medieval period.

Medieval HelmetTypes of Helmets

Medieval helmets were some of the most varied helmets ever made. Helmets, like most types of armour, were traditionally worn by knights, soldiers, body guards, and anyone else who may have the need to protect themselves from violence. They were made with several different materials and came in many different shapes and styles. Helmets were designed with protection in mind, and many of the varieties offered little comfort or visibility. Helmets worn by knights often included visors, and were designed to protect the wearer from blows to the face.

There were also a variety of soldier helmets, typically made of metal, that were designed to protect the wearer from catastrophic blows to the head. These included the sallet, arthurian, and barbuta helmets. As time went on, helmets became more sophisticated, and by the renaissance and enlightenment eras, metal helmets were both functional and practical, allowing the wearer increased visibility and protection at the fraction of the cost. Most commoners did not commonly use metal helmets.

Materials

Most knight and soldier helmets were made of iron or steel and were made of full pieces of sheet metal by a blacksmith. Some of these helmets could be quite expensive, and they were sometimes passed down by families for generations. Other helmets were made out of chain mail or ring mail, types of linked metal pieces that were used to make armour as well. For everyday protection, individuals would use helmets made out of boiled leather or heavy cloth pieces. These leather helmets would sometimes have studded pieces of metal woven into the cloth or fastened to the leather to add extra protection.

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The Uniforms and Weapons of Roman Soldiers

The legions of Rome are legendary and with good reason. Rome raised the first standing army, required their soldiers to work at a steady pace every day of the week, and trained them in more skills than Boy Scouts have badges. Some of the greatest battles come out of the Romans facing off against the barbarian hordes, and while their armor and weapons were important to those battles, many historians recognize that it was the Roman soldiers’ discipline that gave Rome an edge in most conflicts. The Armor Venue cannot help you with the discipline aspect, but we can share with you some amazing facts about Roman armor and uniforms.

Colosseum in RomeRoman Soldier Armor

Few examples of actual Roman armor have survived the ravages of time. Fortunately, history has several detailed descriptions of what the Romans wore into battle. Generally, they had a type of scale mail made from wood, bone, or metal. They also used leather boiled in wax to make it harder.

Roman Soldier Weapons

No Roman soldier costume will be complete without the right kind of weapons. It is important to keep in mind that the Romans were divided into the Legionnaires and the Centurions. They used spears, swords, and sling shots.

The Roman Soldier

While the Roman soldier often carried a pack that weighed 60 pounds in addition to his weapons and armor, chances are that your Roman soldier uniform won’t have to be that comprehensive. You may need to choose a shield and make sure that the armor is time-period appropriate, but you will also want to make sure that your costume is easy to move around in. For those looking for reenactment authenticity, it is important to do more research than can be expressed here. After all, the Romans ruled the known world for a long time and built roads from Great Britain to North Africa. They were never a stagnant nation when it came to advancing their territories.

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The Components of a Medieval Suit of Armor

One historian said that armor made the knights the equivalent of a medieval tank. They could wade through the battlefield dealing death without worrying too much about what was to come. Armor is complicated and full of French names that Americans may find difficult to remember and pronounce. Fortunately, when you need a suit of armor, the Armor Venue has got your back and everything else covered.

The Head

Everyone is familiar with some sort of medieval knight helmet. Depending on the era, there were helmets, mail coifs, and cervellieres. Of course, the three elements could be combined, and helmets came in many styles. Some styles provided full coverage, others allowed for easier breathing but less protection. The style that you might choose will depend on your comfort level and what age you want to represent with your suit of armor.

Components of Suit of ArmorAccessories for the Well-Heeled Knight

Knights carried huge swords because they knew they would have to cleave through armor. They also added medieval shields to their armor to provide an extra layer of protection that could be used directly against an impending blow. These shields were often decorated with the knight’s colors. They also provide a beautiful way to show the knight’s influence.

The Body

The medieval suit of armor was made to cover every part of the knight because even a small wound could result in infection, amputation, and sometimes death. A gorget or aventail may cover the neck and shoulders. A hauberk was made of chain mail and extended down to the knight’s knees. The chest may be covered with a cuirass while the belly could get an extra layer of protection with the plackart. Faulds protected the hips. The arms had their own protections that extended to the gauntlet. The legs were covered with cuisses, greaves and sabatons. All of the components were put together to allow maximum movement while also giving maximum protection.

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8 Tips on Selecting the Right Ancient Armor

8 Tips for Selecting the Right Ancient Armor

When it comes to getting authentic armor for your event or experience, many people will just settle for a run of the mill, off the rack costume that doesn’t even come close to representing the type of armor worn during a specific time period or in a specific fantasy game. A Russian Centurion will look out of place in a castle during the middle ages and a Templar would be anachronistic in ancient Greece. Details will make all the difference when putting together an event or working with a movie or theater production. Those details include having the right armor for the time period that you are representing.

At the Armor Venue, we are dedicated to providing our customers with the armor that they want and deserve. You won’t have to worry if the armor fits the time period because we’ll help guide you through the process of selecting the right ancient armor. Even better, your armor will be sure to fit you well. While metal armor can be uncomfortable and hot, especially when you are looking for authenticity, we will get you the best fit possible given the parameters of the outfit that you choose.

Whether you are looking to wow them at the next Renaissance Faire, want something awesome to rock at the next comic con, or you have something else in mind for your ancient armor, check out our inventory and contact us when you’re ready to find the armor that will fulfill your medieval or ancient cosplay needs.

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Beyond Medieval Leather Armor And Nerds: A Brief LARP History

In today’s world, people have many options of how to entertain themselves.  They can watch movies, read books, play sports, go hiking, and even engage in live action role playing, more commonly referred to as LARP.  Now let’s be honest…when most people think of LARPers, they associate this activity with a group of super nerds dressed in goofy medieval leather armor and other fantasy garb frantically winging latex swords at one another.  While this train of thought is not unfounded, the truth of the matter is that we are all nerds in our own fashion and this is okay.  In fact, the concept of LARP – people assuming roles and characters to play out a given scenario – doesn’t come out of left field.  After all, isn’t this what actors do?  When it comes down to it, actors and LARPers have a lot in common – they are both interactive storytellers.  Sure, one may not wear the elven attire or medieval leather armor on a consistent basis, but both actors and LARPers essentially strive for the same goal of crafting a good story.

In recent years, LARP has seen a huge surge of popularity, but be not fooled.  The invention of LARP goes all the way back to pre-history where games like “cops and robbers”, “cowboys and Indians”, and the like were favorite childhood past times.  Moving forward, history saw a transition from childhood “pretend” to grown adults joining the fun.  This surfaced in historical re-enactments among the ancient Romans, medieval Europeans, Han Chinese, and many other civilizations.  Primarily serving as entertainment at various social gatherings, people would re-create various situations from past historical periods.  Even royalty, such as Queen Elizabeth, were known to bring in re-enactors for their delight.  In the 20th century, these were manifested in theatrical re-enactments.

Medieval leather armor

The bridge between historical re-enactments and modern-day LARP occurred in the 1960s where the Society for Creative Anachronism was founded in Berkeley, California in 1966.  Along with this organization came the Markland Medieval Mercenary Militia in 1969, who held their first events at the University of Maryland.  This also may have signified the beginning of LARP medieval leather armor and latex swords, as this group’s main focus was re-creating medieval life and times.  Hints of fantasy were implemented here, but it was not yet full force.  It wasn’t until the 197s with the emergence of “Dungeons and Dragons” and other LARP groups that fantasy really struck a chord.  Once it hit, the wave moved rapidly on a national and international basis.

Not only as LARP given people a community to belong to and a recreational activity to foster creativity, it also has influenced other forms of entertainment.  Among them is improvisation which is essentially a kind of role-playing.  Evidence of this can be traced back to the 16th century Commedia del’arte stock characters that were placed in different scenarios and basically free-styled their way through them.  Modern-day examples of this would be comedy groups such as Second City and the Groundlings.  LARP also aided to the creation of Renaissance faires and other such events where people can come in their Scottish kilts, medieval leather armor, and Renaissance wardrobe and take on a character type for a day.

Indeed, LARP has a legacy that extends far beyond nerds in medieval leather armor with latex swords and at the rate things are going, it doesn’t look like it’s dying off any time soon.

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