The steel helmet (in various forms) was probably the most common type of defensive armor worn during the period of interest by both foot and horse.
English Style Three-bar Pot Helm (circa 1650):
This is arguably the most iconic representation of the entire period. Worn by the horsemen of all factions it is most popularly associated with Cromwell’s “Ironsides”. The example below is in my own collection BUT I have no proof that it is original to the mid-seventeenth century. It does, however, show the typical form of the harquebusier’s helmet of that time.
The English form (shown in right profile above) derived from Ottoman and Eastern European helmets (zischagge) which had the characteristic neck protection (“lobster tail”) in the rear. The major English contribution to the form is the three-bar face protection (replacing the typical single nasal bar of the European helmet). Typically the helmet would also have cheek pieces which could be tied together under the chin of the wearer. This example shows no evidence of ever having had them.
The left profile view (above) shows the peak (visor) in the raised position, a convenience to improve the vision of the wearer when not actually engaged in combat.
The front view (above) shows the peak down and the details of the three bars protecting the wearer’s face. Each bar is square (6 x 6mm) steel stock and would provide effective protection against a slashing sword. The photo does distort the shape of the face mask because of the closeness of the shot – the outer bars are actually about 15.5 cm apart, center-to-center.
The down view shows the details of the skull portion of the helmet. Typical of English manufacture the skull is made of two halves that have been joined by lapping over (and by rivets). The more typical way to joint was lap the two halves into a raised crown. Again, because of the close-up effect of the camera the peak and tail appear smaller than they are.
The under view (above) shows the details of the construction of the helmet. The remnants of a leather liner can be seen along the rivet line as well as the rivet heads along the joining seam in the skull. There are also remnants of black paint inside and along edges suggesting that the helmet was once painted black (which was typically done for most armor in field use – the paint acting as an anti-rust agent). The helmet weighs 2.25 Kg which reminds us that these were almost always worn over a thick knitted or felted cap.
The rear view (above) shows the “lobster tail” neck guard. The tail was frequently made from several overlapping pieces of metal (lams) that were riveted together OR from a single metal piece etched to simulate lams (as in the example). The tail, like the face guard, was added to protect against sword cuts.
The final photo (above) shows the etched details of the simulated lams on the neck protector. This detail also shows the brass rivets that are used through out the helmet. Although partly decorative, brass was also used to reduce corrosion at metal-to-metal contact points (although the rivets joining the skull halves together and those joining both the peak and the “lobster tail” to the skull are steel). The brass rivets appear to have been used for attaching the original leather lining.
European Style Nasal Bar Pot Helm (Circa 1630 – 1640):
Given the overall condition, the cheek pieces, IMHO, are modern replacements as is likely the nasal bar.
European (likely German) Burgonet (circa: 1560 – 1570)
In Britain this style is often associated with the Border Ruffians.
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