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A. Gallo

Joined: 08 Jan 2011

Posts: 53

PostPosted: Sat 22 Jan, 2011 5:04 am    Post subject: "Records of the Medieval Helmet"?         Reply with quote


For a little under a decade I've been studying historical arms and armor of all types, both academically and recreationally. I'm especially interested in Byzantium, medieval France, and the pre-islamic Middle East at the moment, but I go through 'stages' and like just about anything within that general vicinity.

I have a pretty large collection of books and websites regarding the subject of swords from that period; especially European cruciform swords. My favorite is one probably shared by many of you: Oakeshott's "Records of the Medieval Sword".

What I'm seeking is a resource (website is fine) of a similar nature to that book, but dealing with specific components of medieval armor rather than arms (or, to a lesser degree, non-sword arms).

Is there an equivalent to a hypothetical "Records of the Medieval Helmet", "Records of the Medieval Cuirass", etc. (obviously not by those names, but in the same format as Oakeshott's book on swords)? Perhaps a website I haven't stumbled upon which is solely dedicated to high-quality photographs of medieval armor? I've found a few, but each took less than 10 minutes to 'finish'.

Just like myArmoury is sort of the nexus for reproduction collectors (and I love those as well), it seems like there's a niche for a gallery-heavy website dealing with pieces in museums and private antique collections. A place where someone seeking for example, the earliest steel barbutes, or 13th century lamellar (I needed both today, and it took way too long), would find both in numerous photo galleries in the same place rather than 120x120 pixel Google image results scattered around blogs.

If the answer is no, I'm actually considering creating one myself. If nothing else it would be a nice excuse to take photos in museums... Although I'm sure it would decade years to build up a solid database, it would definitely be worth it long-term.
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Chad Arnow
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PostPosted: Sat 22 Jan, 2011 5:59 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

There's nothing exactly equivalent to Oakeshott's Records for specific armour pieces. While there are heavy pictorial sources for helms (Howard Curtis' 2,500 Years of European Helmets comes to mind), Oakeshott's book also includes typology info for his whole typology system (don't stop at the blade number! Happy) and the appendices are invaluable.

The Curtis book for helmets may be the closest relative, but it's made up of pictures and descriptions. No background info to tie everything together. That said, it's a great book and prices have fallen on it recently. You can sometimes find it for $70 on Ebay, where it used to go for closer to $200 or more.

Doug Strong is supposed to be publishing a book on helmets this year, entitled Surviving Examples of Early Plate Armour 1300-1430. Volume I: Head Defenses. It will be released in 2011 by Freelance Academy Press in hardcover. It will be part of a series that maybe close to what you're seeking. According to Doug:

[The helm book] will be about 400 pages and contain catalog entries, line art and photographs of about 260 helmets from the period. It is the first of three volumes. The second volume will be Limb Defenses and the final volume will be Body Defenses. The subsequent volumes are planned for 2012 and 2013 respectively.

On our Features page, you'll find Spotlight articles on bascinets, great helms, and burgonets. Plans are in place for spotlights on the sallet and other helm forms.


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A. Gallo

Joined: 08 Jan 2011

Posts: 53

PostPosted: Sat 22 Jan, 2011 6:39 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

At least judging by the cover, Curtis' book looks on par with what I'm looking for, as does Strong's from the description, although the period is a tad specific. I'm still very interested in collecting material for an online equivalent.

I'm a long-time visitor of myArmoury and have read probably all of the features word for word, the Great Helm piece was particularly nice. I always look forward.

Thank you, and additional suggestions from anyone are welcome.
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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Sat 22 Jan, 2011 11:52 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

If you can find it, get The Medieval Armour From Rhodes. Narrower time span but absolutely essential for students of armor of the late 15th and early 16th c. Pair that with the Met's inexpensive monograph on helmets and you have a set that leaves Curtis in the dust in most ways and exceeds ROTMS in scholarship, information and accuracy.

"Everywhere I have searched for peace and nowhere found it, except in a corner with a book"- Thomas a Kempis (d. 1471)
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Mark T

PostPosted: Sat 22 Jan, 2011 2:39 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

For helmets, there's also Europäische helme, Heinrich Müller & Fritz Kuner.

As for online photo collections, have you seen THoog's 'The Armoury' collection on flickr:?:

With 3750 images, it should take a bit longer than 10 minutes to look through! Happy

Chief Librarian/Curator, Isaac Leibowitz Librarmoury

Schallern sind sehr sexy!
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Chad Arnow
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PostPosted: Sat 22 Jan, 2011 3:16 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The book Mark recommends is one of the great German-language titles. It is not the same idea as Records and is, like most everything else mentioned in this thread, more of a catalogue in many respects than Oakeshott's Records, which is what they're being compared to. Many, great pictures in Muller's book, though. However, the catalogue entries after the pictures (not with them), are more brief than Oakeshott is in his descriptions in most cases. There is a bunch of text in the beginning of the book that may be great, but I don't read German. Happy

If one looks at Oakeshott's Records primarily as a pictorial source, there are many comparisons in the field of armour. But there is valuable info in Records beyond the pictures--in the typology sections, the section that discusses sword familes, and the appendices--that provides more context than you get is some of these books, including Curtis and some of the others mentioned in here.

Direct comparisons to Records are hard to find, because it's a somewhat unique book. But there are armour books that match (or best it) as solely pictorial resources.


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