Famous Historical Knight Helmets You Should Check Out

Throughout the history of warfare, several helmet styles stand out: the Imperial helmet, the medieval knight helmet, and the Japanese helmet. Keep reading to learn more about these unique pieces from the experts at the Armor Venue.

Knight’s helmet

The Imperial Helmet

By far, one of the most recognized helmets of ancient history is the Imperial helmet worn by Roman legionaries. This helmet replaced the Coolus helmet around the 2nd century AD. By comparison, the Imperial helmet was more form-fitting and ornate, and it provided better neck and ear protection. Plumes of feathers or dyed horsehair were often attached to the top of the headpiece, which helped distinguish military leaders in the heat of battle. It was also worn by famous gladiators who competed at the Roman colosseum. It’s one of the last evolutions of this style to come out of the Roman Empire.

The Medieval Helmet

The medieval era brought many innovations in the art of war. Several different helmets came out of this era including the Sugarloaf, the Norman, and the Great Helm. The most revolutionary device to come out of this time period, however, is the closed-style helmet. This protective piece of headgear had pivot points on either side of the head where a visor could attach. The visor could then be raised and lowered as needed. Ornate versions of this helm were popular at jousting tourneys where they were worn by knights in matching armor. As smithing technology improved, the design incorporated family sigils and took the shape of fearsome beasts. It’s also a must for medieval fairs and battle re-enactments.

The Japanese Helmet

The Japanese helmet, also known as the kabuto, served several purposes in the ancient orient. They were functional as well as ceremonial. The most recognized type of kabuto is the suji bachi that incorporated an angled neck guard made of metal and raised flanges on either side of the helm. The rounded top was often decorated with elaborate metalwork or etched kanji. Often, combatants would wear iron or papier-mâché masks modeled after demons. The masks were meant to intimidate the enemy into fleeing the battlefield.

The Imperial helmet, the medieval knight helmet, and the Japanese helmet are just some of the most well-known headpieces you’ll find at the Armor Venue.

 

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What Roman Soldier Costumes Teach about Roman History

The dress and costumes of various kinds of humans from ancient time periods can often illuminate much about the way they lived and the history of their people and times.

Roman soldier

Ancient Roman Clothing

While togas may be most commonly associated with the dress of the people from the Roman Empire, the costumes of the brave Roman soldiers proudly displayed the force and might of a proud society that ruled Europe for centuries.

The first thing to note about the Roman soldier costume and battle dress was the meticulous attention to detail regarding both form and function. The overlapping body armor strips create a formidable look while providing valuable protection. Their design and construction evolved over time through trial and error, with their successes and failures on the battlefields serving as a guide for adjustments and additions. For example, the Roman armor was at one time most commonly made of leather before advancing to the more protective metal.

Heavy Armor

The armor was extremely heavy. It took great strength to travel and put the armor to use, making it essential for soldiers to be in top physical form and shape. The Roman Empire lasted so long because of the intelligence of their leadership and tactical strategy, but the soldiers used to carry out those plans were also historically fit, strong, and ferocious warriors.

It was also very expensive to arm Roman soldiers with the proper weapons and protection. Helmets, or galeas, were often recycled after being collected from the battlefields after particularly costly skirmishes with the enemy.

Variations in the styles and protective elements changed and evolved throughout the years, giving further glimpses into various time periods throughout the Roman Empire’s reign. The weapons used, and the clothing and protection worn, were at least partially dependent on the time period, location, and the unique circumstances of the moment.

While there was never an official uniform for the Roman soldier costume, uniformity enabled soldiers to present a look of cohesion and strength to their formidable enemies.

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All You Need to Know about Roman Soldier Costumes

Roman Soldier Costume

figure dressed in Roman soldier standing in the rain

Whether you’re putting on a theatrical production of Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar,” or simply interested in dressing up as a member of the Roman legion for Halloween, you want to look polished and realistic rather than cheap and commonplace. Obviously, you want the materials to be of higher quality, but you also want the armor to make sense historically and while seeming authentic. The design and the styling must match what people expect from a Roman soldier uniform.

Let’s start with the style of helmet that Roman soldiers would’ve worn. Helmet designs changed several times throughout the history of the Roman empire as production became more advanced and intricate as the years passed. The earliest style of helmet was known as montefortino. Montefortino helmets were characterized by a conical or round shape with a raised knob in the center. These helmets were significantly less ornate than the Roman helmets that people expect when they imagine a Roman legionary. The iconic plumed helmets that have come to be associated with Roman soldiers are known as the imperial helmets. These imperial helmets varied in style (and name) depending on the location and rank of the soldier wearing them, but many were plumed, had sloped neck guards, and protective ear coverings.

Next, let’s talk about the body armor, also known as the lorica. As with the helmets, the style of lorica changed over time as well as with rank and location. Loricahamata was manufactured out of bronze and iron and then shaped into interlocking rings. This armor was very flexible and durable. Then, there was the loricaplumata, which was based on the hamata. The loricaplumata was reserved for military leaders and other high-ranking individuals due to the intricacy of its design and the cost associated with it. The term “plumata” refers to the feather-like scales decorating the rings of the armor. Finally, the most common type of Roman soldier armor was the loricasegmentata. This armor consisted of metal strips fastened to internal leather straps and is among the most iconic styles of Roman lorica.

Costumes can be fun, but they can also be impressive and authentic. You can find a Roman soldier costume that’s not only historically accurate, but also impresses those around you.

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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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