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Jim Fanning




Location: West Wales
Joined: 22 Sep 2010

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PostPosted: Thu 23 Sep, 2010 5:33 am    Post subject: 12th Century Anglo-Norman Helms         Reply with quote

Hi all, this is my first post (hopefully of many) and I've had a look through the forums and articles but I haven't been able to find the information I'm after.

I'm doing some research into the forms of head protection worn by the Anglo-Normans and their ilk in the latter 12th Century. I've got a satisfactory amount on the helmets and coifs of the knightly class, but I've hit something of a brick wall when trying to find information, sources or finds of anything that would have been worn by the lower classes, particularly what sort of armour or style of helmet would likely have been worn by the local militia plucked from the farms and towns in a time of crisis. I generally get as far as the phrase 'iron cap' and that's it.

I was wondering if anyone here had any research, ideas or sources that could help me in this.
Much thanks in advance.

Historia Normannis
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Chuck Russell




Location: WV
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PostPosted: Thu 23 Sep, 2010 6:06 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

more than likely nothing at all
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Sam Gordon Campbell




Location: Australia.
Joined: 16 Nov 2008

Posts: 677

PostPosted: Thu 23 Sep, 2010 7:09 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well, basicaly what Chuck said.
Maybe a nice thick wool or felt or leather cap or hood?
But yeah, an iron cap would probably be minimal protection, possibly two halves just riveted together?
Maybe a chapel-de-fer?

Member of Australia's Stoccata School of Defence since 2008.
Host of Crash Course HEMA.
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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Thu 23 Sep, 2010 10:09 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'd second what Chuck said. Most people, especially militias of the sort that you're describing, would have no helmet at all. Helmets would be so rare among this group that it's almost not even worth mentioning what sorts they might wear, because doing so gives the impression that they did wear helmets. The reality is that they almost certainly did not.
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Randall Moffett




Location: Northern Utah
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PostPosted: Fri 24 Sep, 2010 10:04 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well we have some info but I am not sire it will help.

During the late Anglo-Saxon period the king required one man to be armed and equipped. It was paid for by those around him. I think it was one man of five went and the other four helped him pay for his helmet, shield and spear. (Anglo-Saxon Chronicle C)

Henry II also requires weapon and armour ownership but all classes of men in 1181 but I do not have that info with me. Needless to say the poorer men likely would not have.

Hard questions but generally speaking likely no helmet but clearly there are exceptions.

RPM
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Nathan Beal





Joined: 02 Apr 2006

Posts: 68

PostPosted: Sat 25 Sep, 2010 9:37 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'm going to suggest against the flow here, a basic helmet (probably a riveted spangenhelm or single piece conical) would have been an essential part of equipment.

If we look at the text of the assize at arms http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Assize_of_Arms (i believe the text here is correct, even though it's wikipedia) this tells us that:

1. Whoever possesses one knight's fee shall have a shirt of mail, a helmet, a shield, and a lance; and every knight shall have as many shirts of mail, helmets, shields, and lances as he possesses knight's fees in demesne.

2. Moreover, every free layman who possesses chattels or rents to the value of 16m. shall have a shirt of mail, a helmet, a shield, and a lance; and every free layman possessing chattels or rents to the value of 10m. shall have a hauberk, an iron cap, and a lance.

3. Item, all burgesses and the whole community of freemen shall have [each] a gambeson, an iron cap, and a lance.

Everyone had to have at least a gambeson (padded stand-alone armour) and a ion cap (helmet) and lance (probably a long spear).

10 marks (1 mark is 2/3 of a pound) is not a huge amount of property (a small farm with livestock would have been around this value), so even smaller land sub-holders would probably have been required to own a hauberk.

This gives us a picture of all armed men with some form of body protection (with mail being fairly common even among the non-knightly classes) and a helmet armed with a spear.

HTH
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Beware of dragons, for you are crunchy and good with ketchup.
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Sam Gordon Campbell




Location: Australia.
Joined: 16 Nov 2008

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PostPosted: Sat 25 Sep, 2010 10:56 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

In Arms and Armour of the Medieval Knight they had two helmets Itowards the begining 'd say would be practicle.
Member of Australia's Stoccata School of Defence since 2008.
Host of Crash Course HEMA.
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Randall Moffett




Location: Northern Utah
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PostPosted: Sat 25 Sep, 2010 8:13 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Nathan,

I think we are missing a bit of info here though that changes things a great deal. In the 12th most men owned 0 land and rented it from major land owners. Further freemen and burgesses are only the upper end of the commoner class. It is a title or social position. Freemen owned land and had wealth. So while the rules remain just as you said the majority of men still are landless renters... and do not have 10 marks of land. During the 12th, but more so in the 13th, this starts to really change but it is not till the 14th when it really hits full force which is where the yeoman class really comes into being.

Just to be clear- non freemen were not slaves and could leave more or less when ever they wished but they did not own land so leaving was usually out of the question unless things got really, REALLY bad. They hoped to save up enough money that someday they could buy land, and as time passed, many did.

RPM
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Lafayette C Curtis




Location: Indonesia
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PostPosted: Sun 26 Sep, 2010 3:59 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Craig Peters wrote:
I'd second what Chuck said. Most people, especially militias of the sort that you're describing, would have no helmet at all. Helmets would be so rare among this group that it's almost not even worth mentioning what sorts they might wear, because doing so gives the impression that they did wear helmets. The reality is that they almost certainly did not.


On the other hand, people who had such poor equipment were also quite unlikely to be called up for war. The only kind of "warfare" they were likely to encounter were inter-village brawls or vendettas and perhaps the rare occasion of the villagers having to band together against a roving band of bandits or raiders (and usually losing).
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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Sun 26 Sep, 2010 4:16 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Nathan,

Aside from what Randall Moffet says, we might also note that the Assize of Arms is a prescriptive document, which lays out what King Henry desired to be the case in England. But prescriptive documents tell us only what someone in society desired to be true, not what actually was true. Under the laws in most modern countries, for instance, everyone earning over a certain amount of money is expected to pay taxes, but we all know that many people make cash under the table or illegally for which they pay no taxes. If later historians took governmental documents from the 21st century at face-value, they would believe that everyone paid their income tax, but obviously, this is not true. Prescriptive documents can be misleading.
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Randall Moffett




Location: Northern Utah
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PostPosted: Sun 26 Sep, 2010 7:20 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

True, but these were enforced. We have loads of evidence of men being fined for failure to provide their gear. The fines were expensive, more than the gear at times so it was more than just a paper. In towns the town usually made the money of the fines so you can imagine how well they enforced these laws.

RPM
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Craig Peters




PostPosted: Sun 26 Sep, 2010 10:30 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Randall Moffett wrote:
True, but these were enforced. We have loads of evidence of men being fined for failure to provide their gear. The fines were expensive, more than the gear at times so it was more than just a paper. In towns the town usually made the money of the fines so you can imagine how well they enforced these laws.

RPM


Okay, but in a funny way, this provides evidence that, at least initially, many of the men who were expected to have these helmets did not.
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Randall Moffett




Location: Northern Utah
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PostPosted: Mon 27 Sep, 2010 6:45 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Yes and no. When you have hundreds of people being questioned and only a handful are charged seems like most were OK. In Southampton in the 15th a review of the muster lists nearly 2.7 weapons per person and more armour than people by a large margin. Since it was at the front of the book of fines but none are listed looks like that part of town government was in charge of keeping these rules, whether they made money or not.

RPM
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Richard Schneider




Location: Des Plaines, IL
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PostPosted: Wed 29 Sep, 2010 8:25 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I know how everyone feels about Wkipedia but I think a moment reading the entire text of the Assize of Arms is worthwhile.

Especially in item 9. where it clearly states how the list of men required to have arms is made and how each is responsible for proving he meets the requirements.

Note the mention of the octave of St Michaels which since today is the feast of St. Michaels the octave is in 8 days hence.

Also the penalties are not just monetary, it mentions ". . . the lord king will take vengeance . . . on his limbs."

Ut ferreus caput capitis quod stabilis terminatio
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