History of War

HOW DID TOURNAMENT HELMETS DIFFER?

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At first tournament­s were like small battles but by the 14th century individual jousts with lances had become popular. The helm was usually worn, but the blunted lances and jagged splinters of broken shafts posed a real threat. There were efforts to increase protection for the eyes: from about 1350 the plate below the eyes had begun to jut forwards slightly, the sights losing some lateral width and also the central vertical bar.

Sometimes an additional plate bevor was strapped over this lower faceplate, while some others instead had a permanentl­y riveted reinforce on the left side (where the opponent was attacking from). As well as thickening the metal, by about 1400 the lower jutting plate had begun to curve forward away from the eyes, which gave rise to the name ‘frogmouthe­d’ jousting helm. This feature made it virtually impossible for a lance point to slide up the lower part of the helm to enter the sight.

The helm had grown deeper and was now fastened down at front and back, first by straps then by hasps or screws, to prevent the head being flung back by the impact of a lance strike. The usual padded lining of German helms had by the late medieval period become an internal suspension system of straps and laces to keep the wearer’s head from hitting the inside of the helmet. Great basinets continued in use for foot combat. A special form of combat was sometimes seen in the 15th century: a version of the mounted mêlée called the club tourney. As the name suggests it was fought with wooden clubs or blunted swords and the helmets used were great basinets, often of leather, with a metal barred face-guard.

 ?? ?? A German illustrati­on (c.1500) of a frog-mouthed helm for the Gestech, a joust run with blunt lances. The helm was screwed down to the plate breast and backplates. Here the straps and laces of the internal padded cap are clearly visible.
A German illustrati­on (c.1500) of a frog-mouthed helm for the Gestech, a joust run with blunt lances. The helm was screwed down to the plate breast and backplates. Here the straps and laces of the internal padded cap are clearly visible.

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