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Ben Mudd





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PostPosted: Wed 27 Jan, 2010 12:39 pm    Post subject: Ralph Stafford's Helmet         Reply with quote

Hi all,

I'm very interested in getting a bascinet with a visor like that shown in Ralph Stafford's effigy for use in a c. 1340-1350 SCA kit.

#4 guy here:
http://www.kriegsturm.com/albums/album10/English_knights.jpg

And this effigy:
http://www.themcs.org/armour/knights/2006%20M...0%2079.jpg

So, my question is, does anyone have any idea what that visor might look like three dimensionally?

I'm going to have the armourer do an arrangement like this for the swivel:

http://i291.photobucket.com/albums/ll288/Blackfather/IMG_0820.jpg

But would like to have the visor look somewhat different than the round-faced klappvisors that seem to be everywhere, and like the look of good Lord Ralph's helm.

Thanks for the help!

Ben
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Ben Mudd





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PostPosted: Thu 28 Jan, 2010 3:29 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Bump?
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Ben Mudd





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PostPosted: Mon 01 Feb, 2010 3:30 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

No one?
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Gregory J. Liebau




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PostPosted: Mon 01 Feb, 2010 3:47 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Here's a wonderful reproduction made by Ugo Serrano. I believe his inspiration was German, but the visor shape is definitely about what you're after, I'd say.

Cheers!

-Gregory






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Ben Mudd





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PostPosted: Mon 01 Feb, 2010 3:53 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Yeah, I've seen plenty of these and similar, but they really don't seem to be quite the same thing as what's seen in that effigy, although this one is closer than any I've ever seen before. It looks like the one in the effigy continues down to cover the whole throat with plate.
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PostPosted: Mon 01 Feb, 2010 3:56 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I think it's just an exaggerated, stylized depiction of the lower part of the visor. In practice, such a design would be highly restrictive to vertical movement of the neck and chin.
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Ben Mudd





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PostPosted: Mon 01 Feb, 2010 4:23 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I considered that it might just be artistic license, but artistic license on that scale (that's a pretty major modification of the visor for no apparent reason) in an art form that's intended to be lifelike doesn't seem like a particularly watertight hypothesis.
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Gregory J. Liebau




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PostPosted: Mon 01 Feb, 2010 4:40 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ben Mudd wrote:
I considered that it might just be artistic license, but artistic license on that scale (that's a pretty major modification of the visor for no apparent reason) in an art form that's intended to be lifelike doesn't seem like a particularly watertight hypothesis.


Basing a helmet on a depiction from an effigy or two is also not going to secure a historical precedence over extant pieces. You have to go with your gut instincts and interpretation a lot of the time. I do not believe there is an existing helmet constructed as the pieces you're referencing seem to be. Therefore, it's a point of give and take. You have to weigh the aesthetic qualities of the images against probability for variance in form based on surviving examples and you must use logic to discern what is or is not practical.

A large spike protruding from the bottom of the visor is not practical. It may be that there was some form of broader extension that would cover a portion of the neck and flared outward. This would help protect the neck and allow a range of motion that would be nearly as great (if not the same as) a typical bascinet. This makes it a practical vision of what you are looking at in those effigies.

I personally think it's unlikely, but I drew up a quick picture of the jist of it anyway. I would assume that the helmets you are looking at probably looked a great deal like the reproduction I posted with the possibility of another inch or so in the extension at the bottom of the visor. This is an impractical detail and making it too long makes no sense and does not follow surviving examples. I'd be hard pressed to create a researched reconstruction based on a couple of pictures with such an outlandish detail incorporated into it.

Flared neck pieces below the visor became popular early in the 15th century on great bascinets, which points out the practical function of such a piece. On the other hand a single, long extension is harder to justify. The weapon evolution in the middle and late fourteenth century brought a great influx in thin, pointed blades among swords, daggers (such as the rondel) and tips of halberds and other pole-arms as well as in the war hammer and war axe projections opposite their primaries. In England longbowmen used very sharp bodkin tips at this time.

The reason being, of course, the evolution of plate and intricate composite armors that had a knack to stop blows from weapons with insufficient weight. Piercing was the way of the warrior in the late 14th century on the battlefield, as shown by the weapons of the day. There is no practical application for a protrusion other than a broad one on a visor during this era, as it would only be suitable to block the rarest of stabbings or sweeping blows, which I just made a point of to show was not in the cards.

That's how I typically think when I'm interpreting such mysteries as this one. Be sure to cover your bases. It is much more likely you will come up with a final product that would be familiar in form to your 14th century Joe!

-Gregory



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Ben Mudd





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PostPosted: Mon 01 Feb, 2010 5:00 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks! Are there any extant bascinet visors from 1350ish and before in England? I'm aware of several slightly later of the pointed houndskull variety, but I'm much more interested in the types that predate that development.

I guess my thought, unformed and untested thought it may be, is that this might be a relatively broad plate (perhaps not as broad as you've rendered) that might give some extra protection to the neck during jousting, or in some other way functioned similarly to deflect attacks incoming frontally away from the neck that's relatively exposed under mail, which may or may not stop either a thrust from a dedicated thrusting weapon or the mass strike of even a blunted lance.
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Gregory J. Liebau




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PostPosted: Mon 01 Feb, 2010 5:14 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ben Mudd wrote:
Thanks! Are there any extant bascinet visors from 1350ish and before in England? I'm aware of several slightly later of the pointed houndskull variety, but I'm much more interested in the types that predate that development.


Boy, you know, you got me with that one. I have about a dozen books that cover in some detail the armor of the 14th century, but after flipping through several of them I couldn't find a single helmet with a visor that wasn't a hounskull. I think almost all of the evidence we have for bascinets pre-1370 or so comes from artistic representation and some helmets that lack visors from various locations that don't date too much earlier. I haven't been into this stuff for about a year, so off the top of my head I could be forgetting a particular example... But I can't find any right now.

Quote:
I guess my thought, unformed and untested thought it may be, is that this might be a relatively broad plate (perhaps not as broad as you've rendered) that might give some extra protection to the neck during jousting, or in some other way functioned similarly to deflect attacks incoming frontally away from the neck that's relatively exposed under mail, which may or may not stop either a thrust from a dedicated thrusting weapon or the mass strike of even a blunted lance.


Indeed, my rendering was just an example, and I could certainly see it being smaller, perhaps even covering the width of the lower portion of the visor then coming inward to a point at the bottom, flared upward maybe, for some style? Of course, the examples you're looking at lack this particular in those depictions, but I've drawn it in just for kicks. It looks more like the reconstruction I posted.

I want to assume (with no authority, since I'm not experienced with jousting in real life nor much of a student of the art's history) that the placement of an extension to the visor such as this would not be very viable for jousting, especially if you decide to assume it's depicted as coming to a point. If a lance were to hit a visor in the lower half and slide down or hit the extended plate itself, even with an aventail, haubergeon and gambeson beneath it would probably hurt like a bitch! A tilting escranche, or the typical shield used in such events, covered the area of the upper breast where this would likely sit and absorbed the shock of blows with much more practical dispersion of force. During this time plate chests were still a thing of the future except in perhaps the tiniest, richest corners of Europe, so to put such a plate over the upper breast and then have it pushed into the chest on impact would probably produce undesirable affects.

-Gregory



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Ben Mudd





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PostPosted: Mon 01 Feb, 2010 5:19 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Gregory J. Liebau wrote:
Ben Mudd wrote:
Thanks! Are there any extant bascinet visors from 1350ish and before in England? I'm aware of several slightly later of the pointed houndskull variety, but I'm much more interested in the types that predate that development.


Boy, you know, you got me with that one. I have about a dozen books that cover in some detail the armor of the 14th century, but after flipping through several of them I couldn't find a single helmet with a visor that wasn't a hounskull. I think almost all of the evidence we have for bascinets pre-1370 or so comes from artistic representation and some helmets that lack visors from various locations that don't date too much earlier. I haven't been into this stuff for about a year, so off the top of my head I could be forgetting a particular example... But I can't find any right now.


Yeah, this is exactly the same impasse I've come to. I can't find one from the period I want to do.

Gregory J. Liebau wrote:
Quote:
I guess my thought, unformed and untested thought it may be, is that this might be a relatively broad plate (perhaps not as broad as you've rendered) that might give some extra protection to the neck during jousting, or in some other way functioned similarly to deflect attacks incoming frontally away from the neck that's relatively exposed under mail, which may or may not stop either a thrust from a dedicated thrusting weapon or the mass strike of even a blunted lance.


Indeed, my rendering was just an example, and I could certainly see it being smaller, perhaps even covering the width of the lower portion of the visor then coming inward to a point at the bottom, flared upward maybe, for some style? Of course, the examples you're looking at lack this particular in their renderings, but I've drawn it in just for kicks. It looks more like the reconstruction I posted.

I want to say that the placement of an extension to the visor such as this would not be very viable for jousting, especially if you decide to assume it's depicted as coming to a point. If a lance were to hit a visor in the lower half and slide down or hit the extended plate itself, even with an aventail, haubergeon and gambeson beneath it would probably hurt like a bitch! A tilting escranche, or the typical shield used in such events, covered the area of the upper breast where this would likely sit and absorbed the shock of blows with much more practical dispersion of force. During this time plate chests were still a thing of the future except in perhaps the tiniest, richest corners of Europe, so to put such a plate over the upper breast and then have it pushed into the chest on impact would probably produce undesirable affects.

-Gregory


Yeah, that diagram is a lot more along the lines of what I was thinking, glad to know that's not a likely explanation . . . in which case, I dunno.
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Gregory J. Liebau




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PostPosted: Mon 01 Feb, 2010 5:26 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I edited the second portion of my post to reflect my uncertainty in the jousting scenario. I'm fairly certain it would hold up with a more seasoned or knowledgeable patron, though! Some input there would be jolly welcome.

As for its practicality in combat, I can see that being quite so! The area below the visor where the neck was only covered by the loose extension of the aventail and possibly a bit of padding around the top of the gambeson in the form of an upright collar, would be considered one of the most vital points of contact on a man-at-arms wearing a full harness. The point I made about discomfort upon impact in such situations would hardly outweigh the benefit of its being used in war to protect a wearer from life-threatening situations.

To make two more critical notes regarding conjecture here - the vast majority of men-at-arms during the fourteenth century still used great helms during the joust, under which they would wear a visorless bascinet or a "cervielles," resembling a steel cap that covered only the top of the head. Also, during the course of this war-torn period, 1350 being so soon after the battle of Crecy and the surrounding campaigns into France, most English gentlemen were likely depicted wearing their gear of war on their effigies. So there's no reason to associate a bascinet under these circumstances with jousting for two reasons.

-Gregory

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Mark Millman





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PostPosted: Tue 02 Feb, 2010 1:08 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dear Mr. Mudd,

A search of the forum using the keyword "klappvisor" turned up twenty-two threads. You might also try the alternative spelling "klappvisier", with which I didn't bother. Photos of at least a couple of surviving originals that may be similar to the style for which you're looking, one from an auction house and one in the Royal Armouries at Leeds, appear in this thread. No doubt there are others; I seem to recall some iconographic representations of similar visor designs, but again didn't look for them in this quick review.

I hope that this proves helpful.

Sincerely,

Mark Millman
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Allan Senefelder
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PostPosted: Tue 02 Feb, 2010 5:39 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Its for lifting the visor up. The visor shown in the thread Mark referenced, third post down, second and third pics is quite virtually identicle to Ugo's. The helmet shown in the 9th post down, second pic has a similar, but slighly smaller projection.
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Ben Mudd





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PostPosted: Tue 02 Feb, 2010 6:27 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Two problems, though.

First, all of those are, to the best of my knowledge, still firmly dated to the later 14th century. I've seen plenty of those.

Second, while many such helms have a small knob or projection by which to life the visor, none have what seems to be an attempt at an integral, functional gorget as seen on the Stafford helm and a similar helm in the effigy brass of Thomas Beauchamp. Equating the two without an argument to explain the massive artistic license required to go from one to the other seems somewhat silly, in my opinion.

Now whether that strange plate for the front of the neck would actually do you any good is a whole different question. Would it give much protection or just get in your way? Very similar (or at least they look similar to me, in a broad sort of way) sorts of protections are seen integrated into later helms, so I feel that the concept is at least a good try, but the later versions are articulated and made of several plates for mobility. It really seems, though, that there is no more information about what I want and that it's therefore up to guesswork. Sad


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Chad Arnow
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PostPosted: Tue 02 Feb, 2010 7:01 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ben,
If you look at monumental brasses (not the same as effigies) a lot, you'll find artistic license in terms of proportions and other things quite frequently. Heads and/or hands will be too large or too small for the body, the men will be contorted into S-shapes none of us make on a daily basis, wasp-waists will be exaggerated, etc. Brasses (which you've been showing) are 2D representations and run the gamut from pretty accurate from a proportional standpoint to ludicrously skewed.

While I think it's possible this is some early attempt at throat protection, I think it's much more likely to be an exaggeration of visor forms people have show you in this thread already.

If you want more info on brasses, you can check this out:


Monumental Brasses

An article by Chad Arnow

Happy

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Ben Mudd





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PostPosted: Tue 02 Feb, 2010 7:22 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks very much for that information. Good to be able to read more and learn more. Happy

That being said, I'm going to have to continue to disagree with you. Take a close look at the brass of Thomas Beauchamp that I linked in the previous post--it would appear, to me at least, that the artist is making a very clear attempt to show a wide, three dimensional plate projecting from the bottom of the visor. There's actually a lot more dimensionality than in the Stafford brass.
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Chad Arnow
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PostPosted: Tue 02 Feb, 2010 7:29 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ben Mudd wrote:
Thanks very much for that information. Good to be able to read more and learn more. Happy

That being said, I'm going to have to continue to disagree with you. Take a close look at the brass of Thomas Beauchamp that I linked in the previous post--it would appear, to me at least, that the artist is making a very clear attempt to show a wide, three dimensional plate projecting from the bottom of the visor. There's actually a lot more dimensionality than in the Stafford brass.


I did take a close look at it before and have done so again. Happy

We will have to agree to disagree, I suppose. Happy I am a little surprised you're so willing to believe that the visor must be correct when a cursory glance at Thomas's body proportions, shaping, and position shows a lack of complete realism in other places in the brass. The spear/lance also seems to be pretty slender and short and not quite correctly proportioned. The occularia on the visor look pretty large as well, larger than we see on surviving helms. If the eye slits are too big, that's a safety hazard.

So, if some aspects of the brass are pretty clearly stylized and/or out of proportion, is it safe to assume that other elements like the visor are not and must therefore be accurate representations? Happy I personally don't think so, but your mileage may vary.

Happy

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Ben Mudd





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PostPosted: Tue 02 Feb, 2010 7:43 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote





I'm not saying the proportions are necessarily correct, or really accurate to life, but I will say that it looks to me that the artist is trying to depict a plate coming down off the front of the helmet, with roughly the same lateral curve as the visor. Look at the area encircled in red, that appears to me to be a perspective view (crudely rendered, maybe, but to my eye clear enough) of the inside of the plate.

The possibility that it's an exaggeration or made up by the artist is possible, but that doesn't seem to fit the trend of the style of that particular piece or of 14th century art in general. The proportions of the artwork show the body of the man as it was idealized at the time--this is to be expected. The lance is short so that it fits in the frame. These are normal things that you see pretty commonly, yes? The depiction of his visor, on the other hand, seems to be restricted to these two effigies, both from Elsing (I don't know their history, though, or where they were made so place of current deposition might be irrelevant), and seems to be large and intentional. I guess the gut problem I have with that is that exaggerating helmet visors doesn't seem to be part of the style of the time, and the artist would (correct me if I'm wrong, here) be making this for the family of the man, or possibly the man himself shortly before his death, who in any case are very familiar with his armour. So why chose that particular part to overemphasize to such a degree, when the people who ordered it would look at it and probably see something wrong, not something that's just "the way we draw a man to make him look nice to us."

That's my reasoning, or the short version anyway.

EDITS: Urgh, me no do grammar good before coffee. (Hits self on head with club). Sorry if I missed any important little words that I left out in the first go.
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Mark Millman





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PostPosted: Tue 02 Feb, 2010 2:35 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dear Mr. Mudd,

On Tuesday 2 February 2010, you wrote:
Two problems, though.

First, all of those are, to the best of my knowledge, still firmly dated to the later 14th century. I've seen plenty of those.

I'm afraid that Mr. Senefelder, who refers to the second and third images in that post, is not thinking of the same kind of visor that I am. But that's not the issue, I think. The Stafford brass dates the appearance of this visor design. In your initial post, you asked:

Quote:
So, my question is, does anyone have any idea what that visor might look like three dimensionally?

And the thread to which I linked gives a plausible analogue for the construction seen on the Stafford brass and in the image to which you linked. In fact, on review, I notice that the first visor in this style (which is shown in the first image of the third post) is dated to c. 1350, exactly at the period in which you're interested. It's unfortunate that more complete information on it isn't readily available. With the visors to which I refer, foreshortening could make their free ends appear to taper when lifted, as shown in the brass and the image. By the way, as the image is almost certainly drawn from the Stafford brass, I think its chief value may be as a possibly clearer version of the image on the brass, if the artist has been faithful to his source. If he hasn't, then it's that much less helpful, and may be altogether useless.

However, if you can find the iconographic representations to which I referred earlier, you may be able to find both closer approaches to the visor shown on the Stafford brass and more dating information for the visor style.

Quote:
Second, while many such helms have a small knob or projection by which to life the visor, none have what seems to be an attempt at an integral, functional gorget as seen on the Stafford helm and a similar helm in the effigy brass of Thomas Beauchamp. Equating the two without an argument to explain the massive artistic license required to go from one to the other seems somewhat silly, in my opinion.

The extended bottom of the visor to which I refer is hardly "a small knob or projection", and would seem perfectly capable of covering the length of the throat like a gorget.

Quote:
Now whether that strange plate for the front of the neck would actually do you any good is a whole different question. Would it give much protection or just get in your way? Very similar (or at least they look similar to me, in a broad sort of way) sorts of protections are seen integrated into later helms, so I feel that the concept is at least a good try, but the later versions are articulated and made of several plates for mobility. It really seems, though, that there is no more information about what I want and that it's therefore up to guesswork. :(

I would respectfully disagree with this conclusion. If we know what the construction was like--and clearly I think that the information to determine it is available--then we can test it and get an answer that's better than simple guesswork. But this doesn't address your initial inquiry.

Very sincerely,

Mark Millman
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