The Great Helm: A Medieval Helmet For The Ages

When fighting in the Crusades, all it took was a blow to the head

To ensure a fatal wound that would sometimes even leave you dead.

That is why a medieval helmet was key

Along with armor to have longevity.

Among the most effective head gear to abound

Was one called the Great Helm, the finest around.

It splashed on the scene as the twelfth century moved on,

Worn until the fourteenth century when it was gone.

Sported by heavy infantry and knights,

It protected in a great many fights.

Now you may be wondering “What made this medieval helmet stand out from the rest?”

Well, I’m glad you asked.  Give me a bit of your time to put this question to the test.

Famous for being the first medieval helmet to enclose the head in full,

The Great Helm was a flat-topped steel cylinder with max. protection as its goal.

It contained openings for the mouth and eyes

Boasting an appearance of substantial size.

Later designs saw a curved top which offered greater deflection

From adversaries’ weapons and various types of projection.

The head gear was secured in place with a strap under the chin

While an adjustable liner and padding was found within.

The Great Helm was worn over a mail coif and bascinet

Ensuring comfort and protective layering was set.


Further enhancement came from the helmet’s decoration,

Being multi-purposed with visual stimulation.

Cross shaped ventilation holes were pierced on the front, adding a nice pious touch,

In which a chain, attached to a belt or cuirass, could be threaded through and such.

Since the head was fully covered, warriors could not be easily recognized.

Thus crests and facial décor were adorned to have identities emphasized.

Indeed this medieval helmet emerged into a thing of fashion-

No longer just a protective piece in the heat of fighting passion.

Crusader Medieval Battle


The Great Helm may have been inspired by the Viking mask.

Since their civilization is gone, we can’t really ask.

What we know is the twelfth century Nasal Helm paved the way

For the grand entrance of the Great Helm to have a lengthy stay.

The Nasal Helm was of short, conical form,

In which only nose protection was the norm.

As heads were getting attacked, a need arose

For complete head coverage, not just fort the nose.

This is what brought about a change,

Expanding the protective range

To the full face rather than merely a part.

You must admit this design was pretty smart!


Medieval Helmet Great Helm








Century twelve is done. Enter thirteen

Where new developments here can be seen.

Protection for the back of the neck was also included,

Highlighting the excellent protection this helmet exuded.

In addition, ventilation holes increased

Allowing more breathing to be released.

Moving ahead to the fourteenth century, the Great Helm had reached its height

With moveable, removable, and pivoting visors coming to light.

Reinforced cross-bars were enhancements as well

And a shoulder length Great Helm had cast its spell.

When the fourteenth century closed, this medieval helmet said “goodbye!”

As the bascinet came into its own, hoping for its chance to fly.


Flash forward to today and the Great Helm is still around

Go to modern day re-enactments. There it can be found.

Or look in art and media- there also it does appear

As an iconic medieval helmet we cherish most dear.

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