Spangenhelm

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A surviving Spangenhelm, 6th century (Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna)
Spangenhelm (iron), Migration Period - Museum of the Cetinska Krajina Region - Sinj, Croatia

The Spangenhelm was a popular medieval European combat helmet design of the Early Middle Ages.[1] The name is of German origin. Spangen refers to the metal strips that form the framework for the helmet and could be translated as braces, and -helm simply means helmet. The strips connect three to six steel or bronze plates. The frame takes a conical design that curves with the shape of the head and culminates in a point. The front of the helmet may include a nose protector (a nasal). Older spangenhelms often include cheek flaps made from metal or leather. Spangenhelms may incorporate mail as neck protection, thus forming a partial aventail. Some spangenhelms include eye protection in a shape that resembles modern eyeglass frames. Other spangenhelms include a full face mask.

The spangenhelm arrived in Western Europe by way of what is now southern Russia and Ukraine, spread by nomadic Iranian tribes such as the Scythians and Sarmatians who lived among the Eurasian steppes. By the 6th century it was the most common helmet design in Europe and in popular use throughout the Middle East. It remained in use at least as late as the 9th century.[2]

The spangenhelm was an effective protection that was relatively easy to produce. Weakness of the design were its partial head protection and its jointed construction. It was replaced by similarly shaped helmets made with one-piece skulls (nasal helms), kettle hats and eventually the Great helm or casque.

Notes[edit]

Portions of this article were translated from the German Wikipedia.

  1. ^ From the German Wikipedia, in heraldry a different kind of helmet is known as a spangenhelm. The latter helmet was a fifteenth and sixteenth tournament helmet style.
  2. ^ Simon Coupland, "Carolingian Arms and Armor in the Ninth Century", (accessed 10 March 2006).

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