The Mystical Powers of the Crusader Helmet
From the seizure of Jerusalem in the First Crusade to the last toehold of Western Christian dominance in Acre in 1291, the medieval Holy Land was a crucible of military and civilian culture. Using known armoring principles and historical manuscripts, Darksword has created this flawless Crusader helmet replica.
Featuring very few openings, the Crusader helm protected its wearers against both piercings and blunt blows, but it also blocked knights’ vision and overheated quickly.
Was a formidable piece of armor, protecting the wearer against piercing blows and heavy impacts. The solid construction of the helm and its few openings made it impossible for enemies to thrust weapons through gaps, and the visor blocked their peripheral vision. However, despite its defensive capabilities, the helmet could also overheat quickly in hot weather and was hard to communicate with when wearing, given the tiny mouth slot used for breathing.
The cervelliere was the immediate predecessor of the bascinet, an essential element of Western Christian knightly culture from the Prince’s Crusade to capture Jerusalem in 1099 through the inconclusive Ninth Crusade and the final Crusader state’s collapse in 1291. These decades were a crucible of Middle Eastern and European societies, who influenced and shaped each other as they grappled with mutual threats in an era that often is depicted simplistically as a dialectic clash between Islamic Muslims and Christian Crusaders.
As it happened, this conflict was much more complex than that portrayed in the popular media. If you were to take a dispassionate look at the period from the perspective of an outsider, neither the Christians nor the Muslims would appear to be particularly civilized by today’s standards. But that is not to say they were crazy barbarians – the truth is, when push came to shove in medieval Europe or the Holy Land, both sides would have done anything necessary to protect their interests and survive, including cooperating with each other where a common goal was possible.
If you’re interested in learning more about the Crusades, we recommend our series of videos that debunk myths about this tumultuous and fascinating period in history. You can also check out our Crusader Helmet, a high-quality replica crafted by Darksword Armory from durable mild steel. This is the same kind of steel that medieval blacksmiths worked with, and it’s an ideal material for creating a lustrous helmet that would be perfectly at home in a fantasy setting as well as in a realistic portrayal of a chivalric knight battling his foes in battle.
From the seizure of Jerusalem at the end of the First Crusade in 1099 through to the final toehold of Western Christian domain at Acre in 1291, the medieval Holy Land was a crucible for military and civilian culture. The complex interactions between the various peoples of the region were shaped by a myriad of factors, including the burgeoning Islamic golden age expanding the frontiers of human knowledge in mathematics and physics, but also by dynasties of wealthy Western Christian nobles drawn from a rich tapestry of European languages and nationalities.
portrayed as the helmet of a knight, a man-at-arms or a member of a church order such as the Knights Templar. These were the men and women who fought in the crusades, the religious wars that were fought throughout the 13th to 15th centuries for control of the holy lands. The most popular form of helmet during this period was the Great Helm which covered most of the head and neck. It offered far superior protection than the open face nasal helmets that had gone before but limited the knight’s peripheral vision, restricted ventilation and was very heavy.
While surviving historical examples are thin on the ground, Darksword Armory has worked from known armoring principles and historical manuscripts to create our unique Crusader helmet. The defining feature of this style is the distinctive flat-faced visor. Bascinets were seen with a wide variety of visor shapes, but we have selected to make our helmet with this unique shape because it appears to be the most historically accurate.
We have crafted our helmet from mild steel which was the material of choice for armorers in this period. Bronze had ceased to be practical to manufacture hundreds of years before the start of the Crusades, and with the advent of larger-scale iron production in bloomeries and the introduction of new refining techniques, steel became the material of choice for armorers and weapon makers alike. Mild steel was a very durable and strong metal, suitable for making hard-wearing and long-lasting armor.
Often seen as a symbol of the chivalrous knight, but it also had a number of practical functions. It was a solidly constructed piece of equipment that could guard against both piercings and heavy blows to the head. It had only a few openings of small-sized, making it nearly impossible for enemy weapons to penetrate into.
It was also designed to be a menacing piece of armor that could add a fearsome look to any knight’s appearance on the battlefield. This is why you can often see the crusader wearing a chain mail shirt, along with a large helm and smaller faceplate. Our Crusader Helmet is a great example of this kind of gear, and it would make an excellent addition to any collection of medieval armor.
This type of helmet was a popular style for knights and men-at-arms throughout Europe during the 13th century and 14th century. It was especially popular for participants in the Crusades, the religious wars fought by Christian knights across the Middle East and into the modern states of Israel-Palestine and Turkey.
The first Crusade was launched by Pope Urban II, who sought to unite Western Christian kingdoms and dynasties around his papacy against the Islamic Seljuq successor states that had recently overrun the old Roman Empire. By the twelfth century, a series of Christian kingdoms had established themselves in modern Israel-Palestine and southern Turkey, ruled by various dynasties of European Christian nobles.
While the crusades were incredibly successful, they weren’t able to maintain a Christian state in the Levant for very long, which is an important reminder that, despite their vaunted virtue, the Crusades are ultimately just one of many military adventures in history.
Our Crusader Helmet is an example of a flat-faced bascinet, which was the most common helmet type used during the 13th and 14th centuries in Europe. It’s a style that would be very familiar to anyone who has studied medieval warfare, as it’s shown in countless depictions of armored knights in the Middle Ages. This type of helmet could be used to portray any knight who participated in the Crusades, or it can be paired with other crusader gear to create an historical impression of a man who fought for the Holy Land in the medieval era.
sturdy piece of armor built with the primary purpose of physically protecting the wearer during battle. This was why they only had a few small openings for the eyes and mouth. This allowed knights to speak and see their enemies without putting themselves at risk of severe blows. However, the solid construction and scarce openings meant that the helmet was prone to overheating very quickly, especially when worn in hot climes such as in the Middle East. This led to the crusader helmet eventually being supplanted by the bascinet.
With the capture of Jerusalem at the end of the First Crusade in 1099, a series of Western Christian Kingdoms were established across the Holy Land which included modern day Israel-Palestine, Syria and southern Turkey. These lands were a crucible of military and civilian culture. As such, an enormous range of diverse Middle Eastern and Western European societies shared and shaped their cultures with each other – including the design of effective armor pieces such as the helmets.
The design of the crusader helmet evolved over time. It began as a simple cylinder with a flat top called a pot helm, but it soon developed into a curved shape pointed at the front known as a sugarloaf helm that effectively deflected blows from sword, lance, and spear attacks. These later forms of the helmet also featured small slits to allow knights to talk and see, but they were still very heavy and hot when worn in warm conditions.
Eventually, the helm was lengthened into an ogive shape with an arched point which may have been influenced by the Muslim military helmets of their enemies – who were also likely to have looted the knight’s equipment. This new ogive style offered even better protection against sword and lance attacks, but it was very heavy again and restricted vision.
Epic Armory’s flawless Crusader helmet has been designed using a huge array of historic examples and contemporary depictions to create a helmet which offers both straight-out-of-the-history book authenticity and practical modern features for re-enactment, roleplay, and light combat. The helmet is constructed from mild steel which, when properly cared for, results in a rugged and durable piece of armor which can take the knocks of life and re-enactment with ease. The steel edges of the ogive have been rolled, rather than cut, so they are finger-safe and will not catch or snag on clothing and other armor.