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Shawn O'Hara





Joined: 12 Aug 2008

Posts: 4

PostPosted: Sun 28 Sep, 2008 2:05 am    Post subject: Late Medieval Armors         Reply with quote

Hello everyone. I'm new to these forums, although I've been trolling them for a few months now. This is going to be a pretty long post so please bear with me. I promise that the title of the thread will (eventually) live up to its name.

I guess giving a brief background might let you all know what exactly it is I'm looking to get out of this question. Well, I'm into medieval reenactment within the SCA. I know some people that would say the SCA isn't the best group to be in for accurate representation of any given medieval period, and I wouldn't say that to be inaccurate, but it's where I find myself and I'm happy where I am. That being said, I'm trying to put together an accurate a kit as possible given the safety requirements of my sport as well as realistic requirements of my self.

I know there have been discussions on these forums about the "Sugarloaf" style helm. I must say that of all the helm styles, this one appeals to me the most. For whatever reason, I want one. However, there are some things that I just cant seem to grasp when it comes to this particular helm. It seems to be the least alluded to, and in the meanest minority of all the great helms.

I can find evidence a-plenty that these helms existed, and just to site some examples, Arms and Armour of the Medieval Knight states that great helms were tapered every farther until the turn of the [14th] century and the brass of Sir Roger de Trumpington. Osprey Military's Men-At-Arms French Medieval Armies 1000-1300 sites a wonderfully detailed, yet modern, plate of a French Knight wearing the quintessential sugarloaf style (the plate description sites that great helms fall out of favor except for use in tournaments during the 14th century). There are also two images from French manuscripts, one using the description of "the latest form of conical great helm, perhaps with hinged visors," and the other "...the horsemen wear conical great helms with movable visors..."

Alright that was a lot of what most people already know. Here are my questions: where did the term sugarloaf come from? What, specifically, makes a sugarloaf a sugarloaf? When did they begin to make them with visors. I see modern examples of visored sugarloafs (that look awesome BTW) but I cant be sure that I've found a true example of one in historic record/tapestry/etc. Is it possible to confuse them with early visored bascinets? And the question I want answered the most, in what regions did sugarloaf style helms exist; where did they come from and where did they go?

I know that is a lot of questions and I *think* I know at least some of the answers, but I wanted the input of those who deal with this kind of information much more than I or my friends do. Thanks to everyone for helping me out on this.
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Chad Arnow
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PostPosted: Sun 28 Sep, 2008 6:40 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Shawn,
Have you checked out our article Spotlight: The Great Helm? It may help with some of these questions.

About visored great helms it says:

Quote:
In the early parts of the 14th century, we see a curious development in period art: great helms with moveable, removable, and/or pivoting visors. One of the clearest depictions of the visored great helm comes from a carving once located at the Bargello Palace in Florence. While clearly foreshadowing later helms, these helms do not appear to have been widely popular. Indeed, no known examples of this form survive to the present day.


And shows one from a carving once at Bargello Palace:



"Sugarloaf" is not a term used in-period with those helms. See here for info on the term.

Happy

ChadA

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Chad Arnow
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myArmoury Team

PostPosted: Sun 28 Sep, 2008 7:23 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Some more info:

Claude Blair and David Edge/John Miles Paddock put the visored great helms at between 1300 and 1340. There is a reference in 1298 to a "heaume a vissere" in the will of Odo de Roussillin. After c. 1340, I haven't seen mention of it in period art.

The true sugarloaf great helm is only known from period art, like the brasses of William de Staunton and Roger de Trumpington. I've never seen any surviving helms. Some crested great helms in period art look like they could be of sugarloaf form underneath the crest.

The great helm was at first very flat on top and cylindrical throughout and evolved in the 13th century (mostly toward the end) to have an upper section that was more conical. Surviving historical examples with noticeably rounded tops seem to be more of a 14th century thing. In the late 13th century the upper sections of helms had become more conical, but the tops didn't change much.

Check out our article for what was popular during the sugarloaf's era. Our article shows most of the published surviving examples. You'll see tops that are mostly flat in the late 13th/early 14th centuries with some rounding.

So period art shows us the truly conically-topped sugarloaf great helm, but surviving examples show a different picture. Since we have so few surviving 13th and 14th century great helms, I think we can safely say we don't have a large enough sample set to prove that sugarloafs in period art were an artist's fantasy.

This helm is probably the closest we have to a sugarloaf, but it has a separate, flat-ish top plate:

Schweizerisches Landesmuseum, Zurich, circa 1325-1350

Happy

ChadA

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Shawn O'Hara





Joined: 12 Aug 2008

Posts: 4

PostPosted: Sun 28 Sep, 2008 11:11 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks Chad. I completely missed the picture in that article. You also confirmed most of my suspicions that I had about it. Now I just need to figure out how far spread their use was. My SCA persona is Irish, so I'm looking to see if these types of helms saw use in the British Isles, especially in Wales, Scotland, and Ireland. I know the English were spread out as far as their armies go, attempting to secure Normandy and later with their Welsh and Scottish campaigns and the attempted conquering of Ireland. I can find information on armors of major powers (England, France, Germany, etc.) but it seems that specific sources on smaller countries are hard to find. Does anyone have any sources that I could reference to find out more about armor in the "minor" countries of the British Isles?
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Chad Arnow
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PostPosted: Sun 28 Sep, 2008 11:24 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Shawn,
The Luttrell Psalter shows a great helm that could have a visor. It's cited by either Edge/Paddock or Claude Blair as an example. It's an English publication from circa 1325-1335. So they weren't unknown in England. And the Bargello example is Italian. So they could have been used in many places throughout Europe, though we don't have tons of evidence.

I'm not sure if nobility in Ireland would be significantly different in their accoutrement than English or continental nobles, though.

Happy

ChadA

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Randall Moffett




Location: Northern Utah
Joined: 07 Jun 2006
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PostPosted: Sun 28 Sep, 2008 11:45 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The problem with the term sugarloaf is that it has come to lump up a few possibly different helmets among people. Likely because it is a modern word though I do not know who coined it. If you are looing for a round or conical topped great helm or a type of early visored bascinet. The only difference in art I can say may or may not seperate them is it it is made with multiple plates. The queen Mary Psalter from 1300-1310 has what likely a multiplate curved top much like the early 3/4 bascinets. If you pm me with your email I will send you some pictures I have but there are quite a few and largish. 1300-1360 has become somewhat of an obsession for me. Look at the Holkham (1326) or Taymouth Hours(1325-1335) as well to get an idea of the early bascinets I am refering to. A look at the article in the RA Journal on GReat helms from Spring 2006 I think also would be helpful.

As far as if a irish knight or lord would wear one I guess it decides what side of the pale you are one. If you are somewhat anglified (sp?) would seem much more likely so though the 'other' Irish seem to retain much of their old tactics, arms and armour. There are a few posts on here on Irish armour worth a look. These 'sugarloaf' great helms and early bascinets were common in english artwork (all the sources above I mentioned are english as far as we know).

Good luck!

RPM
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Shawn O'Hara





Joined: 12 Aug 2008

Posts: 4

PostPosted: Sun 28 Sep, 2008 5:41 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks for the replies. Would it be safe to suppose that, before the English came to Ireland, that the integration of the Normans would have had some influence on the style of arms and armor found in the region? And on a similar note, would it be possible for one who dealt with those who did come to Ireland to adapt the styles, or steal them from the Invaders?
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Randall Moffett




Location: Northern Utah
Joined: 07 Jun 2006
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PostPosted: Sun 28 Sep, 2008 10:20 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Shawn,

Yes and no. The main issue is what great helms would be integrated. Its almost always seen on mounted men fighting. It was designed to keep a lance hea from driving into your face. Now if Irish-Irish did not integrate the couched lance charge or other heavy cavalry tactics for engagement it seems unlikely they'd take up the helmet unless it was for a status things which might not help in your current tactics. Some artwork of Richard II in Ireland shows the Irish faction as weaing mail, open faced bascinets without visors and throwing javelins. So in some things yes its possible through trade or pillaging they acquired English goods but the questions is then does it fit into their style of fighting. For those Irish who served under English lords of Irish Lords under English authority it would seem more likely as an irish knight might be expected to fight outside Ireland and as any English Man at Arms. If you really want to use it do so by all means just giving some aspects you might want to look at.

RPM
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Shawn O'Hara





Joined: 12 Aug 2008

Posts: 4

PostPosted: Sun 28 Sep, 2008 11:57 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thank you Randall. Those considerations are exactly what I'm looking for. My next question has to do with nobility and mercenaries. Of all the Irish nobility, including the knightly class, who would have been the most likely to use that style of helm, and to who did their allegiance lie? I also want to know if mercenaries would have traveled abroad. I dont really have a problem with leaving the country and adopting other countries arms and armor, but I really want to keep the name I've given my persona.
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