Talk:Great helm

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Weight[edit]

Compared to other medieval helmets, and other period armour in general, the weight of the Great Helm, stated in this article, seems incredible. It's safe to assume the weight of those helmets varied a lot but the article states they often weighed as much as 40 to 50 pounds. There may be an explanation, such as equipment normally considered necessary for wearing a Great Helm being included in the weight. Comparatively, the figure still seems very high. Karlgun 04:09, 1 February 2007 (UTC)

40 to 50 lb is bullshit. Divide that number in ten, and you get to the weight of a modern re-enactment combat great helm. Great helms have been used in the Society for Creative Anachronism for almost 40 years in both tournament and field combat, and the modern re-enactment helms are actually made from heavier steel than the surviving period examples. Simply because the modern re-enactment combat just cannot afford any fatalities. I've owned one and fought in it almost weekly since 1992, so I presume I know by experience what I am talking about. Mine weighs 2.5 kg (5 lb) with padding. It is by no means anyhow cumbersome or uncomfortable to wear - its biggest drawback is poor ventilation. After two hours of field combat on a sunny summer day leaves you a bit dehydrated and a lot sweatty.62.237.141.27 (talk) 20:42, 25 March 2008 (UTC)

I agree I once read that a knights combat armor was not to exceed 70 pounds, I'm positive. However jousting armor was made heavier for safety purposes.

Flat-topped helms[edit]

Flat-topped helms would present and angled surface to falling missile weapons. Further the front corner is a mechanically sound place to take a hit. A blow directly to the flat is more likely against infantry than a knight. Previous eras and neighboring territories has round-topped helms. Altogether this leaves me feeling shaky about the reasons given for why one design was better than the other. So I'd like references. Mercutio.Wilder 22:27, 12 October 2007 (UTC)

A round-topped helm has no straight angles, presenting no flat surfaces on arrows or edged weapons. Furthermore, a blow of a bludheoning weapon, such as mace or flail, is more likely to glance off from a "sugarloaf" helmet than "barrel" helm. This is again verified in modern re-enactment combat.
However flails and maces are almost entirely unused in the era where flat topped helms show up. Additionally they are only ever seen on mounted soldiers. SCA does very little mounted so I suspect that you have not verified anything relevant in modern re-enactment combat.
This is simply not true. Maces became commonplace already in the early 12th century, well before the emergence of great helm. Byzantine bardukion existed already in the 10th century. Likewise, infantry flails are nothing but agricultural implementations. Likewise, when the fighters fight on the same level, the height advantage of the horseman disappears - that is the only relevant issue. The very same laws of physics apply both horseback and mounted, and the effects of an impact are nothing but mere physics.
The Maciejowski Bible (and here) is perhaps the single best source of images from the period where flat-topped helms are in use. In this source I see an overwhelming preponderance of bladed weapons. Bludgeoning weapons are the uncommon exception. How many maces and flails can you show me in there? While flails are "nothing but agricultural [implements]." Can you show me evidence of their use in this period? Look at fechtbuchs on fighting on foot and horse back. They are not the same. The "footwork" is entirely different, the way you can move and generate power are different etc. Again, when I point out that the SCA has limitations this is the sort of thing I mean. You've not done rossfechten and you think it would be the same; but it's not. Mercutio.Wilder (talk) 20:01, 30 March 2008 (UTC)
The smiths who made flat-topped helms did so alongside of, after and on top of round helms. So clearly they knew how to make round top and it's advantages - but didn't. WHY? No amount of insisting that flat-topped fails against this that or the other changes these facts. They must have had some advantage and we don't know what it is. Mercutio.Wilder (talk) 01:58, 29 March 2008 (UTC)
It is more difficult to make a round-top helm than a flat-top. Ergo, a flat-topper is cheaper and quicker to manufacture. You can make more flat-toppers in the same time as you could make round-toppers. That is the only advantage I can think of, since in the aspects of physics of a mace, sword or axe blow physics, the flat-toppers are inferior in all aspects. Even an inferior helm is still better than no helm at all.
Again I reference the Maciejowski bible. The mounted, fully armoured men have flat-topped helms while the infantry who can't afford mail universally have round topped helms [1]. The flat-topped helms are the only decorated helms, strongly suggesting that they are in fact the most expensive. If cost is the only factor then why are the most expensive helms flat and the poorest soldiers wearing round-topped helms? So, once again, we must conclude that there is some advantage that we are missing. Mercutio.Wilder (talk) 20:01, 30 March 2008 (UTC)

The weight and poor visibility was not a problem as it was usually only worn while advancing/charging towards the enemy, once in combat the owner threw it off. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 122.106.42.89 (talk) 10:19, 1 February 2008 (UTC)

Again bullshit. Have you ever worn a great helm - or even fought in one? I have almost sixteen years' experience on re-enactment combat and great helms, and I can assure the alledged "poor visibility" is a myth (the narrow slit actually provides a good sector of vision, as it is very close to eyes), and NO great helms need to be thrown off after charge if they are well padded and strapped. They may not be as comfortable to wear as a baseball cap, but certainly they are no one-shot safety measures either.62.237.141.27 (talk) 20:42, 25 March 2008 (UTC)
And yet the historical record makes is quite clear that they were sometimes discarded for melee. This is why chains for them exist. We have contemporary documentary evidence. Have you ever fought without a helm? I've done both; and I can fight just fine with a helm but I still have better visibility without. Mercutio.Wilder (talk) 01:58, 29 March 2008 (UTC)
Which historical evidence? Can you cite a period primary source or record for such? The only reason why I would see a chain on a helm is to prevent it from accidentally being lost - just the same reasons why swords and daggers were often attached to breastplate with chains. Both kendo and SCA regulations require headgear for safety reasons, but I've done fighting without helm as well, on live steel and mail coif. The visibility is better without helm, but it is no reason to sacrifice your safety. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 62.237.141.27 (talk) 05:43, 30 March 2008 (UTC)

Remember this arguement is not how would you fight with this helmet, but how did historical sources portray it's use. SADADS (talk) 16:10, 29 April 2009 (UTC)

Art is not a good source. maces and flails aren't really good weapons. This article provides an explanation for the flat top, knights would take the helmet off after the first charge, and had another helmet under it. Tinynanorobots (talk) 04:38, 3 May 2012 (UTC)

Use by Contemporary Reenactors[edit]

There was substantial amounts of un-cited information dealing with the use of the Great helm by Reenactors, I created this new section in order to distinguish between the historical information from what appears to be personal experience or information based on percieved trends. Though I am unsure if this information belongs in the article, I think if it does stay it needs to be substantially separated.

Also the statement about the helmet being light even though it is made of thicker steel, probably is a result of the type of modern steel processing. Contemporary steel is substantially lighter and stronger then pre-modern steel. I don't think this is proper justification for this argument by any means. SADADS (talk) 16:06, 29 April 2009 (UTC)

should that information even be there? Tinynanorobots (talk) 04:44, 3 May 2012 (UTC)

Invention of Great Helm[edit]

There used to be an article about how the great helm was first forged somewhere in Italy in the 13th century, but I can't find it now. If it got removed, I'd like to know why?


Greathelm Crests in Battle[edit]

There is a popular image of the Teutonic knights wearing big winged greathelms yet I can't seem to find any evidence of such helmets actually being used in battle. Contemporary battle depictions don't seem to show such helmet styles and the only real helmets with crests I can find are either decorative tournament helmets or funeral helmets. What's the state of knowledge about helmets with crests in actual battle?--MacX85 (talk) 06:48, 13 October 2016 (UTC)