A surviving Spangenhelm, 6th century (Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna)
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The Spangenhelm, or segmented helmet, was a popular medieval European combat helmet design of Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages.[1] They are often contrasted with Eastern lamellar helmets.

Construction

Spangenhelm (iron), Migration Period - Museum of the Cetinska Krajina Region - Sinj, Croatia
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The name Spangenhelm 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, and are thus sometimes called "spectacle helmets". Other spangenhelms include a full face mask.

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.

History

Sarmatian warriors with Spangenhelms, Trajan's Column (around 110 A.D.)
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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. However, helmets of the spangenhelm type were used much longer. Some of the nasal helmets depicted on the Bayeux Tapestry from the 11th century appear to be built as a Spangenhelm construction. The same is true for illustrations of the Morgan Bible from the 13th century.

warriors in the Kizil Caves, following the events of 552 CE Turk uprising and the subsequent Turk expansion. 2nd half of the 6th century CE. The helmet is a characteristic pear-shaped segmented helmet of the Turkic type.[2][3]

In the Kizil Caves in the Tarim Basin, knights wearing segmented pear-shaped helmets are depicted. It is thought that these depictions follow the events of 552 CE Turk uprising and the subsequent Turk expansion, giving a date of the 2nd half of the 6th century CE. These helmets are characteristic pear-shaped segmented helmet of the Turkic type.[2][3] They immediately follow the use of lamellar helmets, also visible in the Kizil Caves.[2]

Similar helmets

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Similar but more simple helmets, the so-called broadband helmets were used in parallel. These helmets may have been used until the 10th century, as depicted in the Leiden Maccabees manuscript from the early 10th century. Related to the Spangenhelm were also lamellar helmets or intermediate Lamellar-Spangen helmets, like the helmet from a 6th-century boys grave, found under the Cologne Cathedral.[4]

A similar construction principle is found in the northern ridge helmets, a group, which includes Scandinavian Vendel Era helmets and Anglo-Saxon helmets, like the Coppergate Helmet or the Pioneer Helmet.

Notes

Portions of this article were translated from the German Wikipedia.

References

  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 century tournament helmet style.
  2. ^ a b c Kubik, Adam (2018). "The Kizil Caves as an terminus post quem of the Central and Western Asiatic pear-shape spangenhelm type helmets The David Collection helmet and its place in the evolution of multisegmented dome helmets, Historia i Świat nr 7/2018, 141-156". Historia i Swiat. 7: 145–148.
  3. ^ a b Karamian, Reza; Farrokh, Kaveh; Syvänne, Ilkka; Kubik, Adam; Czerwieniec-Ivasyk, Marta; Maksymiuk, Katarzyna. Crowns, hats, turbans and helmets The headgear in Iranian history volume I: Pre-Islamic Period Edited by Katarzyna Maksymiuk & Gholamreza Karamian Siedlce-Tehran 2017. pp. 1157–1163, 1247.
  4. ^ Paul Mortimer: Woden's Warriors: Warfare, Beliefs, Arms & Armour in Northern Europe During the 6-7th Centuries. Anglo-Saxon Books, 2011. ISBN 978-1898281603