Couple of months ago we shared with you a process of bascinet’ making. Today we’d like to present for your attention introductory article, which opens cyclus “Bascinets”. What the helmet bascinet was? Which shapes of dome and visor were popular? What the word “klappvisor” means and many more interesting facts.
Enjoy the reading!
Helmet bascinet was popular not even in Medieval Ages, but it remains the same among modern reenactors. It was true to owners’ salt for about century and a half, protecting the most valuable part - a head.
1-2. Bascinets: illustration from “The Romance of Alexander", circa 1340 year; fragment of altar in Pistoia Cathedral, Italy, circa 1376 year.
The word “bascinet” (fr. bassinet) can be translated as “basin”, “helmet”, that the most adequately describes the primary usage of this armour type. In historians’ opinion, the word “bascinet” has started to use more actively in the end of the XIII - early XV centuries, but after this time, it was used less frequently. Bascinet was widespread all over the Western Europe and became one of the most popular type of helmets, that can find endorsement in frequency of use in illustrations, art and sculpture, which are dated of the 1st part of the XIV - early XV centuries.
3-4. Grave portrait sculpture of Edward “The Black Prince” of Woodstock in Canterbury Cathedral, 1376 year.
On some of gravestones of noble knights of these times, there was not uncommon thing to represent Topfhelm (Great Helm) together with bascinet. And if the last one had being worn as the main helmet, so Great Helm was placed under the head (pic. 3 & 4), was kept in hands (pic. 5-8) or over the head (pic. 9).
5-7. Gravestone of Günther XXI von Schwarzburg in Frankfurt Cathedral, Frankfurt Am Main, 1352 year.
8. Sculpture gravestone of Johann IV, Count of Katzenelnbogen in Eberbah Abbey, Eltville, 1370 year; 9.gravestone of Bernard I of Baden in Bad HerrenalbAbbey, Baden-Württemberg, 1390 year.
Not only gentlefolks were owning the bascinets, but ignoble knights as well. This fact is testified by numerous extant artifacts from the private collections and museums of all over the world.
10-11. Bascinets undercap or “cerveiler” from Hermann Historica catalogue.
Topfhelms, which were used in the XIII century on the battlefields as the main head protection, had been worn over the iron helmet or bascinet-undercap, also known as “cerveiler”. It could be worn either under or over mail coif. Over time, undercap assumes more round shape and becomes a helmet bascinet, which gained popularity due to its effective protection during the battle actions.
Approximately in the 1330 years, bascinets with hooks (vevelles) for mail aventail attaching had appeared. Aventail covered the bottom part of face, neck and shoulders of warrior. It has attached to the bascinet with leather string or metal wire, which was passed through the vervelles. As vervelles were placed on the periphery of helmet’s edge, it allowed the warrior to protect himself with mail aventail all around. For more comfortable wearing, there was leather or fabric lining between aventail and inner side of helmet.
14. Grand bascinet from Doge's Palace, Venice. Made approximately in the end of the XIV century, bevor (neck protection) has appeared later.
From the end of the XIV century, along with aventail, bascinets have started to be equipped with fixed movable plate - bevor, which covered the neck and bottom part of the face. This design triggered so called “Grand Bascinet”, which gained popularity in the XV century. Perfect example of this bascinet with bevor made by Italian crafters is kept in Doge’s Palace, Venice. It is interesting to note that helmet has been made in the end of the XIV century, whilst the bevor was welded a little later.
Evolution of bascinet shape
Primarily, shape of bascinet was defined with form of crown, or so called “skull” of helmet. Form of crown had been shaping up during all the time of bascinet’ using. Backsides of crown had being stretched a bit at a time and covered the head below the ears. This measure was necessary to provide the knights more reliable protection during the wearing of bascinet cerveiler without Great Helm. So, this way classical helmet of round conical shape has formed.
15. Bascinet of round conical shape, was founded during excavation near Wroclaw, Poland. Dated 1370 years, kept in The German Historical Museum.
In the 2nd part of the XIV century, armourers were experimenting with size-conscious design of helmets’ shapes, diverging the traditional round conical shape. Top of helmet is moved back, so back part becomes almost straight. Together with crown changing, front part of helmet becomes more strengthened, that was caused by military realias to fight face to face.
Early XV century, German armourers created a helmet of anatomical shape, known as “Ogival shape”. This type of bascinet had such name because of domed form, looked like onion or garlic. It is worth noting, that for more comfortable wearing of helmet, lining of soft material (wool or linen) was sewn from the inside of helmet.
16. Bascinet with off-center crown, dated 1385 year, kept in the Armoury of the Castle of Churburg
Development of face protection
There was extra attention paid to face protection. During all time of bascinet’s existence, German and Italian armourers invented few ways to solve this issue. Early XIV century, face protection was simple and weak, and was made as metal nasel, which were fixed on the forehead part of helmet. It slightly protected eyes, but were used rather long time because of cheapness. In 1340 years, first complete visors had appeared, and they covered owner’s face completely. Eye slots were narrow enough not to let enemy’s spear to get inside. Such visors were fixed after the manner of klappvisor (germ. klappvisier: klapp – falling back, clapping, visier – visor), that means visor hanging on the forehead part of helmet or on the side part - attaching with pin. In any moment, visor could be taken off.
18. Bascinet with nasel and aventail; 19. Bascinet with klappvisor, attached to the forehead pin; 20. Bascinet with visor, attached with side pins.
In age of bascinets’ progress, specific pointed prolonged visor, which looks like hound’s face, has appeared. Just because of this resemblance, Germans called it Hounskull (germ. Hundsgugel Hundsgugel – word-for-word translation “hounds hood”, that can be interpreted as “muzzle”). Such form of visor allowed free breathing and safe face protection.
22-23.Bascinet Hounskull, made in the end of the XIV century in the Northern Italy, kept in The German Historical Museum.
24. Hounskull of the 1400 – 1410 years, The Kunsthistorisches Museum; 25. Hounskull of the early XV century, work of the Italian armourers, kept in the Palazzo di Venezia, Rome.
Together with pointed “muzzles”, armourer were crafting bowed rounded visors, which were called “pigface”. Armourers’ imagination was not limited of “pig” and “hound” visors, everything was depended on the whims and favours of customer and armourer’ creativity. Sometimes, visor was simply grid and was attached to the dome as klappvisor. Such protection was called “wolf ribs”.
To be continued...
We used some information and illustrations for this article from “German Medieval Armies: 1300-1500” Christopher Gravett; “European Weapons and Armour” Ewart Oakeshott; "Helmet", Encyclopaedia Britannica 11, Harold Leslie Peterson and everpresent web:) Pictures are taken from the web. We do not pretend to be an owner of them and use them as illustrative example only.
A day in the life of medieval knight
There're few episodes of the daily living of knights for your attention at the dawn of Medieval time. What did they face to when entering on the knight path? What sinuosity were waiting for them at the war- and peace-time? Let's have a look at one day of the knight life.
During eight centuries: from the VII to the XV, knight institution had been transcribed from the entirely military one to the inaccessible inherited “coterie” with religious and political interests. To the XV century in German lands, to become a knight, you were ought to be a son of the knight, who achieved an armour and served as esquire. The most honorable thing was allegiance in the knightly religious order, where all young men were aspired to, wishing to give their lives for faith in the fight against the with heathenism.
XV century was a time of the Teutonic Order fall, besides it did not prevent the zealot of knight religious practise to join the Order. Joining the ranks of Order’s knights was the most important day of a young man’s whole life.
Joining the Order of Teutonic knights.
For a long time I had a dream in my heart to dedicate all my life and talent to the Teutonic Order. It's Christmas eve and very important day for me. Today is the day I'll be honoured to have a black cross on my clothes, finally after long time of different challenges.
I had been discouraged from the initiation of the Knight of Order, I was interviewed if I deserve to be a knight and if I will not smirch the honour of crusaders with my juvenile ardour. I answered steadily, but thoughtfully and zealously. My wish to live for Domus Sanctae Mariae Theutonicorum and the Lord God is wholehearted. Order’s members, interviewing me, they knew, that my decision is well-reasoned with all responsibility.
I had been discouraged from the initiation of the Knight of Order, I was interviewed if I deserve to be a knight and if I will not smirch the honour of crusaders with my juvenile ardour. I answered steadily, but thoughtfully and zealously. My wish to live for Domus Sanctae Mariae Theutonicorum and the Lord God is wholehearted. Order’s members, interviewing me, they knew, that my decision is well-reasoned with all responsibility.
I am a free man, a son of the knight from the noble kin, all-honored in Mark of Brandenburg and other land of Sigismund of Luxemburg. I have never jibed in the face of the death, stood steadily for the faith in the lord jesus christ and righteous paths.
I vowed the obedience to Order. My probation period has started from this vow. My body and soul suffered all the hardships, which are waiting for me in days to come in the service of Order. Within six months of hardships, I haven’t only losе my faith in to become a part of German Order, but also confirmed my opinion, that my life is meant for help, protection and healing.
A day before accolade, being an esquire, I repented the sins against the God, for the sake of which I join the mighty Order of crusaders, and also took communion, as every Christian is ought to do. Had standing the Ad Missam in nocte and Ad Missam in aurora, I’ve started to prepare emotionally to robe the knight garment with a Cross.
In the Christmas morning, once action has been finished, I bent my knee to altar and raised eyesight full of adoration to God and the Holy Virgin. In front of the Master of Teutonic Order and my future brothers in Order, I made a vow of obedience and vowed to live for Christ and to enrich the kudos of knightly order.
After solemn oath, I was belted with a sword in sign of accepted chastity and allegiance to justice forever. In sign of charity and memoriam of the given oaths, Holy Father bestowed me a kiss and gave a slap, so I couldn’t forget about imposed responsibility and honor to become a part of the Order.
It is time to garb the God blessed garments of the Order with a Cross. Starting this day, I am not an esquire anymore. Now I am a brother for all the Teutonic.
«A la guerre comme a la guerre» or how Teutonic knights defeated Polish army near the town of Konitz
The morning has been started with sustained preparation for the coming battle. Today is the 18th of September. The Order had to relieve the town of Konitz (or Chojnice, how Polack call it), but it didn’t happen though.
I woke up at first light - sinking feeling did not go out of me, and there was unbearable clash in my ears, just like I stand right under the stipple and one’s tolled an alarm bell. After substantial, but abominable breakfast, I went to wall tent to make myself knightly and head to the review. While scout were helping me to wear my armour, esquires fed the horses and prepared harness and munitions.
During the wappenshaw, we stood in few long lines. Bernard von Zinnenberg, Czech sellswords’ commander, rode past us. This Moravian knight being on active duty at Teutonic, he was cunning and brave one, and this helped him in the battles not for once. Some knights dislike him, believing, that sellswords (Czech in particular!) cannot be trusted. Or, in any case, you have to be ready for everything, because a lot of Czech are apostates and blasphemers.
This knight could encourage his army with proper words. He said, that Polack and Lithuanians have powerful force of more than 17000 soldiers. Silence fell. We were keeping bar bits, thinking over the real risk of this force. But baron Zinnenberg turned the words, which made our hearts shuddered not of fear, but of the strength and boding of victory. In keeping with his speech, Polack are a crowd, but they fall short of the moderation and organization to the German and Czech knights. The Lord God is on the side of the Order. Moreover, Konitz is nearby, forces if which may play into the hands.
Closer to the four o’clock, battle has been started near Konitz. Poland command dod not depart from their traditions of warfighting with German - it all started with the tip-and-run of Poland horse cavalry. They were succeeded to disrupt our force. Sharp battle were enacted, at hte time of which our Zinnenberg, our commander had been taken as prisoner.
Polack stood between Konitz and army of the Order. We had to burst out to the town with a blood, trying to reach the safety place. When Teutonic knights were hewing their way to the rescue, our foot soldiers organized protective fortifying of the wagons, known as wagenburg. This tactics allowed the soldiers to come out unscathed of the Poland horse troops.
While Pole were being concerned about us, gates of Konitz had being opened and Teutonics were flowing like water from the inside. Thunder of our exultance had run through the ranks. Polish army had nowhere to go. Panic and disarray covered the battlefield. Inspired with attack, we were charging the squibbing enemy, forcing them into the bog.
Warm with battle, I did not notice a polish horseman, who were galloping at me from the right ground flank. He stroke me with heavy mace with all his might. Rumble of alarm bell has appeared again. The world came dark before my eyes. I did not fall on the ground of the strike, but stay in the saddle. My horse were carrying me at the back, walking deliberately through the chaos of battle around us...
…I woke up only the next morning. Rumble has gone as well as the memory of glorious battle near of Konitz, where knights of the Order gained the victory. Only clotted blood near my ear was reminding me yesterday’s medley.
Not so long time ago, Steel Mastery finished handcrafting of the full-plate Churburg-style armour of the XIV century. And next to the Gothic armour, we’d like to tell about equally well know armour from the Castle of Churburg.
Starting the XIV century, handcrafting of armour in Milan raised to the higher level of quality. Many French, English and German knights were aimed to purchase plate armour, which was made by Lombardic and Milanese armourers. There are a lot of documents, according to which not only manufacture, but also delivery of Italian armour to the other countries had been rearranged.
In this sense, unique collection of plate armour, keeping in the Castle of Churburg is very illustrative. This castle is located in South Tyrol, and it was a part of German land. During centuries, the castle belonged to two families - to Matsch and to their heir apparent Trapp. In the Armoury of castle, base of which was established by Jacob VII Trapp (1529-1563), knight gear of both families is kept up to now.
The Castle of Churburg. The Armoury.
Plate armour, being made by Milanese crafters, was belonged to “white armour” and covered almost full body of knight. The earliest exemplars are named Churburg armour and are dated the end of the XIV century. Parts of the armour shown below, probably were in the different armour sets. But officially, this full-plate armour was belonged to Ulrich IV von Matsch (XIV century).
Initially, mail aventail was used together with breastplate to protect the neck. Later, body of knight was covered with circular-shaped cuirass, to which more movable rounded part had been attached with belts. This part were closing the bottom part of chest, so such construction allowed the knight to bend down without restraint. Back plate was also attached to the front part with belts and consisted of parts similar to the front parts. On the right side of breast plate, the was a hook - queue. Under the breastplate, knights often wore mail shirt to protect the parts of body, uncovered with plate parts of armour.
You can see an interesting detail on the Churburg-style armour - there is V-shaped strip, attached to the upper part of breastplate. Quite likely, it was used as a safety measure to protect the neck of the slipped spear of enemy.
Breast plates from Armoury of the Castle of Churburg.
Plate skirt - faulds, consisting of one or several plates - was attached to the bottom part of breast plate for hips protection. Often, additon plates was added on the early armour - so called tasses, which protected upper part of thighs.
Approximately from the 1425, breast plate, upper and bottom plates, and part of faulds had become to be attached together with hinges from one side and the leather belts with buckles - from the other. At that, vertical buckles on the breast had been started to be placed higher, and in time three buckles had been replaced with one only.
Churburg style armour of the XIV century is characterized segmental spaulders, which consist of few curved plates, attached to each other. In time, spaulder became larger and often asymmetrical. Left one was larger the the right one, and both of spaulder are almost contacted on the back side. Such type of spaulder was in use during the XV century.
Full-plate bracers were rather long to cover forearm and some part of arm over the elbow. Elbow in its turn was protected with heavy elbow caps with rondels. In time, as a spaulder, left elbow cap has become larger and was covered with enforced shell-shaped plate. It allowed to blow the hits, which usually were fallen exactly at this body part. Besides, so large elbow caps allowed the knight not to use the heavy and unhandy shield, that surely improved the speed and mobility of warrior.
Churburg-style armour and early Milanese armour from the collection of the Castle of Churburg (app. 1410 year)
Plate “hourglass” gauntlets were a type of glove or mitten. Hand plates were prolonged to the fingers and had double attachment with them. Also, there was one more wrist bend. In years, wristband become longer and almost cover the forearm.
Full-plate legs with knee caps protected front side of the leg. Double-wing greaves had hinges and leather belts with buckles for fixation on the calves. Caps had rondels with wide flute in the center. Such rondel hidden uncovered back part of knee, and the central flute fixed the hit. Sabatons - plate shoes - had not so pointed top as their late fellows. But anyway, there we used not too often, as they detained walk and run.
Few types of helmet typical for these times complete plate armour of the Castle of Churburg. First of all, there are two or three helmet of type bascinet “Hounskull” (“Hundsgugel”) with pins on the sides as a system of visor attachment. Such visor had narrow eye and mouth slits. On one or both side of visor, there were holes for breathing. The Armoury of the Castle of Churburg has bascinets in very good condition (even with liners stuffed with wool) nowadays. Bascinet from the Castle of Churburg was weighed about 5.5 kg, and weight of full-plate Churburg-style armour was about 30-40 kg.
Bascinet Hounskull, the Armoury of the Castle of Churburg
Recent researchers set up an experiment. The results of it contradict the opinion of the great historian Claude Blair, the author of “European armour, circa 1066 to circa 1700”. He claimed, that plate armour did not put the owner to physical troubles, so it was not so hard to move and to fight wearing the armour, as it seems us now. During the experiment, healthy young man had been suggested to wear full plate armour and to do some physical exercises on the exercise equipment. Special device detected the pulse frequency, breath and energy demands. Research suggested, that when running, energy requirements were beyond the identical rates of a man wearing the usual clothing. And when walking, efforts were increasing twofold. Also, deep breathing is not possible in such outfit, so a man had to make frequent short inhales, and got tired faster.
Well, we cannot but admire staying power of the medieval knights! Now people, taking participation in medieval tournaments or go for HEMA or HMB, have wonderful opportunity to feel themselves a real knight! And in our turn, Steel Mastery may help you, crafting not only beautiful, but historically correct armour!
We used some information and illustrations for this article from Rudolf H.Wakernagel, Ian Eaves “The armory of the castle of Churburg” , Mario Scalini “L’Armeria Trapp di Castel Coira”, Claude Blair “European armour, circa 1066 to circa 1700”, Dr. Sabina Kasslatter “Museums of South Tyrol” and everpresent web:) Pictures, not belonging to "Steel Mastery", are taken from the web. We do not pretend to be an owner of them and use them as illustrative example only.
Handcrafting of helmet Bascinet with curved visor.
Medieval helmet bascinet has appeared early XIV century. There was a lot of types of such helmet. They were differ in dome’s shape, type and way of visor attaching. For example, late Italian bascinets had almost straight back side. Frontal attaching of visor was called “klappvisor” and it was typical for German bascinets.
In this article, we’d like to tell you, how our crafstman makes a bascinet with curved visor, typical for the middle of the XIV century.
1. The first and the most important thing is to take measurements over the head. If you don’t plan to install liner, take measures over the liner or padded cap, on which you’ll wear the helmet.
2. Make line pattern according to the taken parameters. Transfer pattern on the leaf and cut on the line pattern.
3. Now we have cutouts. Hammer out semi-spheres for our bascint with 1 kg sledge. To speed up the process of dome making, we use argon torch. At work, always remember the safety instructions: when cutting the metal, use safety glass, gloves, duck bib overalls or hoover apron.
4. The next task is to even the helmet’s hem and fit two halves before welding.
5. Welding process.
Weld two halves with argon torch and leave the dome to cool down. Do the frst flattering with beakiron. Later, this procedure will allow us to spend less time for the main polishing.
6. Now, let’s make our visor. Unbend nose part and curve work-pieces a little. Frame it with argon torch and fit to the dome.
After we’ve welded a visor, we proceed with an over-nose “platform”. It is very important not to make it too close to your face. Be sure, that it doesn’t touch your nose or bridge, in other case you may get hurt!
7. Depending on the type of attaching system for visor, we make hinges or side pins and install it to the visor. After that, attach visor to the helmet by drilling a hole and fixing with small bolt.
8. Mark and drill holes for liner’s sewing. We use twist drill of 3 mm diameter for such holes. With twist drill of 6-8 mm, make holes for breathing on the visor. At this stage, we also make and install button for visor fixation.
9. Helmet is ready for polishing.
10. Crafting of brass strips with etching. Make line pattern and cut out brass strips of 1.5-2 cm width. For preliminary fit check, install them with small bolts on the visor’s edge.
Remove the strips and start to etch. Here you can see an example of text layout and how it’s placed on the strips. The most inportant thing! If you’ll write phrases/text on foreign language, don’t be lazy and check the correctness of spelling (better with native-speaker, if it is not Latin:), so in the fututre you’ll be not put to shame:)
11. Polish the helmet with abrasive discs.
12. Final assembling. All parts of helmet are ready and we just need to recompose them as a constructor.
Try to have a perfect mood when you do such work, then you’ll enjoy all the process!
Evolution of knights’ hand protection
Not so long time ago we showed you how Steel Mastery’s craftsmen make knight gauntlets of the XIV-XV centuries. And this model is one of the great quantity of middle-age hands’ protection. In this article we’d like to tell you, how this type of armour were progressing.
Up to XI century, success of armourers in manufacture of hand protection was insignificant, so mostly hands defence have been ignored. By the end of the early Middle Ages, they began to pay more careful attention to the protection of this body part. The reason was a high injury risk, as enemy’s weapon defeats the hands firstly, and then – the other parts. To avoid cuts on the fingers, palms, hands, wrist or their total loss, medieval warriors begin to go in for the creation of more reliable hands’ protection.
Leather gauntlets (from the left) and muffers (from the right) as elements of warrior’s garment of the XII-XII century.
From the 2nd part of XI century, gauntlets of thick leather were put into practise. Wristbands were a differential characteristic of the leather gauntlets. Gauntlets of tannage were integral part of mail armour. Despite of the rather unreliable protection, tannage is actively used as basis for hand protection, as the leather provides with flexibility and allows to hold weapon tight. Series of miniature paintings in Codex Balduineus suggests the usage of leather gauntlets as hands’ protection up to the middle of the XVI century.
Miniature paintings in Codex Balduineus.
After chain mail shirt with long sleeves (hauberk, haubergeon) have become usual for medieval warriors, they started to add mail gauntlets (muffers) to it. Mail gauntlets (muffers) had been added to mail shirt. Muffers covered the outer part of hand, so palm was left not protected. Mail gauntlets had been attached to the sleeves of hauberk and was a peculiarity of knights during XII-XIII centuries. Muffers were more reliable hand protection, than tannage gauntlets. However, despite of leather base for gauntlets was popular and was being used for palm protection, it did not make gauntlets’ protective properties more effective, especially in case of serious injuries.
Muffers with leather palm on miniature painting, Westminster Psalter (British library), around 1250.
In the 2nd part of XIII century, an alternative to baggy mail gauntlet has appeared. So called “gagnepain” had outer side enforced with metal plates. Gauntlets of high firmness buckskin were prevailing in France and Italy in XIII century as well. During the battle, an additional leather strap were put on such gauntlets. It covered arm from the fingers’ bent to the elbow and was fastened on the inner side of arm.
To enforce protective effect of such gauntlet, warriors covered wrist part and the first knuckle joint of thumb with metal plates, that were sewn over the leather, and then were fastened to the gauntlets with leather strings. Wendelin Boeheim, the weaponologist, considers that “an example of safety discs on the stand” can be traced in the type of wrist protection with round metal plates, that had being used on the metal gauntlets till the early XVI century.
Together with “gagnepain”, plate mitten gauntlets with whalebone as base have come into use from the 2nd part of the XIII century. For the moment, the exact construction of such mitten gauntlets is not known. In all probability, this type of protection had a form of the usual gauntlets covered with scales of whalebone.
1 - Painting of mail gauntlet; monumental brass of Sir Robert de Septvans, circa 1306 (St. Mary's Church, Chartham, Kent, UK).
2 - Painting of mitten gauntlet, manuscript "The Life of Saint Denis" (the National Library of France, Paris).
3 - Scaled gauntlets from brass of Sir Richard de Burlingthorpe, circa 1310.
4 - Metal gauntlets, brass of a knight of the Eresby family, circa 1410 (Spilsby Church, Lincolnshire).
Further, metal mitten gauntlets came into general use by knights in the end of the XIII century. Iron plates had being attached to the fabric base or fixed between two layers of fabric. To prevent the oxidation process, a coat of copper or tinning had being applied on the iron plates. It was a necessity, as there were no possibility to remove and polish the plates. A gauntlet, that consisted of a large amount of metal parts attached to the leather base, is called “brigandine”.
1, 2, 3 – Reconstruction of brigandine gauntlets, founded on Gotland in the 1929 year.
Few great finds of brigandine gauntlets had been founded out in Sweden near Visby, that is placed on the island Gotland. Quantity of parts are varied from 22 to 106 pieces (without rivets). Metal plates has being attached under elastic base (leather or fabric) either over flexible bottom. Also, “mixed” types of gauntlets had taken place, large-sized details of which were attached over the basis. Such type of protection was used till the 2nd part of the XIV century.
Over time, metal plates were being enlarged and being shaped into hand’s form, covering the wrist as well. Based on the leather gauntlet with metal discs and the first mitten gauntlets, the main elements of full-metal gauntlet has appeared, such as wristband, wrist plate, movable plates on the leather basis, which are shaped into the fingers’ shape. Only in the end of the XIV century, full-plate gauntlets displaced leather gauntlets with metal plates over it. One of the oldest model of full-plate gauntlets were belong to the knight of the Eresby family. Pattern of knight’s garment was founded out on his grave, dated 1410 year. This model of gauntlets consists of the backside plate with five fingers, wristbands are flat and belled.
From the left - gauntlet with rondle, part of armour of Federico I Gonzaga, Marquess of Mantua (Italy, circa 1480 year);
from the right - gauntlet with lock mechanism part of armour of Ferdinand I (circa 1560 year).
Upon a century, scale part of thumb has started to be attached with hinged joint. Besides the hinges, in the XV century scale gauntlets had gained popularity. Such-like elements of armour had rondel (on the left gauntlet only). According to expert opinion, rondel was intended for two purposes: to fix the halter and as additional block for shield. Also, full-plate gauntlets with lock mechanism were popular these times. To make lock mechanism, additional plate length to the wrist was required. This plate had splined hole, where wrist pin had been inserted. When reed were being rotated, the fist was fixed in the closed position, so weapon could be held even on hard blow. This mechanism was required to hold sword or spear on like grim death.
To the end of the XV century, development of the functional elements had been almost finished and swordsmen began to pay more attention to the design of their creation. Gothic gauntlets became the most outstanding example of the armourer craftsmanship. So, the perfect example of eye appeal and functionality is gauntlets, part of armour of Sigismund, Archduke of Austria, which are dated 1480 year. German craftsmen made these gauntlets with distinctive handiness: knuckles are covered with figured cuts and elegant extended wristbands have brass plates with lilies on it.
Generally it may be said, that in time of gothic style craftsmen paid such high attention to gauntlets, that it was never before. And gauntlets had being made not only as part of armour, but up armour’s owner as well.
1 – perforated gauntlet, part of armour of Emperor Maximilian I (circa 1480 year)
2 – gauntlet of Sigismund, Archduke of Austria (Germany, circa 1480 year)
3 – gauntlet of Emperor Charles V (circa 1550 year).
Illustrations from “Handbuch der Waffenkunde”, W. Boeheim.
But refinement of such workpieces did not fix such weaknesses as heat-retaining effect, which didn’t allow hands ‘to breathe”. There were some attempts to correct such defect with appearance of Maximilian armour. For example, there were perforation of gauntlets, that were a part of armour of Emperor Maximilian I, made approximately in the 1480 year. Little holes on the surface of gauntlet made sweating lesser, when wearing this hand protection.
Also, armourers started to work at the ergonomics of metal gauntlets. Landsknechts had a big influence at this process, as they “set the pace” to armourer with demands for lighter and more mobile gauntlets. From the 1530 years, gauntlets without plates for knuckle protection had appeared. It happened in chase of better mobility of hand protection. Plates over the fingers had being replaced with mail or little metal rings, which were sewn on the leather basis. Sometimes you can see italian brigandine gauntlets of the middle of the XVI century, in which mail and little iron plates are combined effectually. Such mix was very good for protection from rapier, spadroons or falchion thrusts, but was absolutely useless against the heavier weapon.
1 – Gauntlet, part of landsknecht armour of Kaspar von Frundsberg (Germany, circa 1527 year).
2 – Italian style brigandine gauntlet with mail inserts (Germany, circa 1560 year).
3 – ‘Pikeman“ gauntlet attached to the bracer (Italy, circa 1620 year).
Illustrations from “Handbuch der Waffenkunde”, W. Boeheim.
Necessity in good mobility was reflected in metal gauntlets with scaled fingers, which had one or few of them covered with mail only. Such particularity could be explained by active use of pointer finger when handle the sword or pole-arms.
Some of the last models has elongate wristbands, which acted as bracers and protected the forearm as well. It is so called “pikeman” gauntlet, that was in use up to the end of the Thirty Years’ War 1618-1648 years.
We used some information and illustrations for this article from Wendelin Boeheim’s “Handbuch der Waffenkunde. Das Waffenwesen in seiner historischen Entwicklung vom Beginn des Mittelalters bis zum Ende des 18 Jahrhunders”; Claude Blair’s “European armour” and everpresent web:) We do not pretend to be an owner of pictures, we used them as illustrative example only.
Surely, you’ve seen wonderful photos of black knight of “Steel Mastery” latest photo-shoot. Beautiful, shiny armour with carving elements and brass decorative strips attracts attention at the first sight! And in this article, we’d like to tell you about this medieval body protection.
Claude Blaire, the well-known English historian and weapon and armour expert, was right to name XV century as “The Golden age of armour”. At this particular time full plate armour a.k.a gothic armour has appeared.
Starting on the 1420 year, knight’s armour had being revolutionized. Full plate suit of armour (called also “white armour”) has replaced colourful brigandines decorated with emblems. In Germany, “white armour” has been called “Kasten-burst armour” - “box-shaped breast” because of angular form. Cuirass of Kasten-burst armour had long steel flared skirt, and the most popular model of head protection - helmet bascinet - completed the armour. Kasten-burst armour was widespread in Germany and Flanders in the beginning of the XV century.
Full kasten-burst armour, altar of Saint Leonard churge in Basele by Conrad Witz, 1435 year.
At this time, main european schools - german and italian - has finished its developing. What is more, in the first part of the XV century, italian masters had a strong lead, and only by the 1480-1490 year german masters were able to compete with them, and even surpass in a short time. Nuremberg and Augsburg masters achieved a great fame, guaranteeing perfect quality and high reliability of armour.
In the end of the XV century, full plate gothic armour has appeared in Germany. It had been developed for complete protection of knight’s body during the battle. Sharp and piercing corners of armour’ parts (especially, on pass-guards, sabatons and gauntlets) had become outstanding characteristics of gothic armour. It combined two main features: reliable protection and good mobility. Metal used for armour was light, but firm at the same time.
Gothic cuirass, South Germany XV century. Steel. The Cleveland museum of art.
Usually, cuirass was consisting of two or more plates, partly overlapping one another. Oftentimes, edges of plates were saw-edged or figured. It also was repeated on the back plates. Vertical reinforcement rib was placed centrally on the breastplate. All cuirass was decorated with fluted lines, that could override direct blow and change sliding path of weapon. Besides that, goffer essentially raised reliability and durability of armour and did not affect the weight too much. Cuirass was waist-suppressed and flared at the bottom a little. Such construction were allowing the knight to bend, unbend and ride without movements’ constraining.
Often, movable tassets for thighs protection had being attached to the lower part of cuirass, despite of the some discomfort they caused during the riding. Shoulder were protected with spaulder, which were attached to the cuirass with leather strings with steel points. Large spaulder could cover upper parts of breast, back and arms.
Armour’s pass-guard were closed. Outer side was shaped into pointed corners, so pass-guards covered not only the joint, but bend of elbow as well. Side wings were serrated and could be decorated with grooves. Gauntlets of the gothic armour were more movable, than preceding models of gauntlets. Often, the first phalanges of four fingers had being closed with one movable plate and the farthest phalanges could move independently. Extended gauntlets were narrowed at the wrist and decorated with sharp spikes and divergent lines.
As well as cuirass, greaves had reinforcement ribs which harden the armour. Greaves were consist of two parts, connected with hinges.
Sabatons had being made of slim plates and had main peculiarity - very long and narrow toe-cap. There was not only fashion statement: such toe-cap was functionally useful, when knight were riding, as it prevented the loss of stirrup. Besides, rider could cause grievous bodily harm to enemy foot-sloggers. There was also specific design of sabaton, where extra long top-caps could be unstrapped not to impede the walking or running.
Late german gothic armour of Sigismund, Archduke of Austria Gothic armour. Augsburg, about 1470-1480, By Lorenz Helmschmied.
Perhaps, helmet sallet was the main characteristic of gothic armour. This hollow helmet without comb and with lumiere had long tail - neck plate, that protects back side of the head and neck. In particular, sallet has become a prototype of german helmet in the time of the Second Reich in the XX century, but with shorter neck-flap. Sallet had been complemented with bevor - a part, which protect chin and the front part of the neck. Some of german and italian armourers were making sallet with movable visor, that could be fold back, opening the face. Often, dome of helmet and visor was decorated with reinforcement rib as well as the other parts of gothic armour.
Small mail elements were addition to the armour. They were covering inner side of the elbow and knee joints, armpits and groin.
Full-plate gothic armour consisted of a few tens of elements, but at the same time it wasn’t very bulky. Despite of the weight was about 20-25 kg, it’s apportioned on all the body. Historian M. Gorelik in his issue “About Balmung, Durendal and their lords” provides an interesting example: nowadays, actors engaged in movie about knights wearing the full-plate gothic armour and additional equipments, and they are able to work in such outfit for a few hours, running, jumping and performing. So, wide-spread belief, that battle armour is very comfortless and extremely heavyweight, is not absolutely truth. In this regard, german and italian armourers did their bests. Armour almost hadn’t blown and there was a big insufficiency of it, as inside the armour there was very hot during the battle.
There was too hard for knight to indue the armour by himself. But with help of proficient esquire, it had taken about 20 minutes only to wear the armour. First of all, shirt, pants and padded armour had been worn. Often knights were winding fabrics around the knees to prevent chafing. Then greaves and tasses, cuirass, to which tasses had being fastened. Then there was turn of spaulders and arm protection, after which servant were helping to wear and fix sabatons. To complete garment, knight should wear sallet and gauntlets, take weapon - and here is he ready for battle!
Pictures without "Steel Mastery" logo are taken from the web. We do not pretend to be an owner of them and use them as illustrative example only.
How to make knight gauntlets of the XIV-XV century.
Primary knights were not wearing plate gauntlets: only shield and sword’s handguard protected the hands. Starting on the 1180 year, mail gauntlets came into use. In fact, these gauntlets were a part of mail shirt sleeve. In the end of the XIII century, first separate gloves had appeared. They were made
of firm leather with whalebone or metal plates. And by the 1350 year, almost all knights were wearing plate five-fingered gauntlets, covered with metal scales. In the 1430 year, gauntlets had become one of the most part of any armour, and gainedgreat popularity in the end of the XV century.
Let’s have a look at how Steel Mastery makes plate knight gauntlets of the 1350-1400 years step-by-step!
1. First of all, you need to take precise measurements of your hand. Preferred is to
take parameters over the glove, which you’ll sew into the plate gauntlet.
2. Then make a pattern on the thick paper with taken measures. Cut the pattern of leaf very accurately to avoid any problems with sizing during gauntlets’ making.
3. Making of wrist. Roll the main pattern in the shape of cylinder. Use semi-automatic welding to connect butting position with little weld.
We recommend having a photo of historical analogue as spectacular example at working place, so you could see and compare your work piece during manufacture. For example:
Shape the work piece with hammer, beakiron and argon torch. Sure, you can make it with cold metal,
but this will extend the wrist making. At work, always remember the safety instructions: when cutting the metal, use safety glass, gloves, duck bib overalls or hoover apron.
With chisel and beakiron, shape the ribs on the knuckles.
After this, polish and make the first fitting up with screws. Drill the holes for rivets, which will hold the
leather. Prepare the wrist for polishing.
Then make the mobile segment of narrow metal strip and fit it to the knuckles. This element is very important part of gauntlet, because leather of fingers will be attached exactly to this segment. It allows bringing the weapon without any problems, and is also an additional protection of hand part between the gauntlet wrist and fingers.
4. The next step is fingers’ making.
Make the pattern on the leaf and cut it carefully. Bend the metal phalanges, hammer the knuckles and put into the shape of sphere, which will hide area of phalanges bend.
Polish finish with abrasive discs. As there is the dirtiest part of our job, do not forget to use face masking (respirator) to avoid breathing abrasive dust.
Cut leather for fingers. Rivet metal parts of phalanges to the leather with steel or brass rivets.
Cut the leather and rivet it to the metal part of wrist with steel or brass rivets.
So, here we lift a veil on how we make knight gloves of the XIV-XV century. This safety, historically correct hand protection will come in use during knight tournaments, medieval fencing and reenactments.
Probably, described process is seemed to be easy. But believe, making of such armour requires considerable amount of time, attention and zeal.
Do you like this review?:) Then pretty soon we’ll tell you how to create the most popular model of medieval helmet bascinet.
We're happy to announce the launch of Armory World, a subsidiary brand of Steel Mastery.
Why did we decide to create another brand?
Steel Mastery produces custom-made products, which means longer manufacturing times and higher prices. We analyzed the feedback from our customers and realized that a large portion of them have needs that require a different approach from us. Not everyone is willing to wait weeks and pay extra for their custom-made items. Many just want their orders delivered fast and don't need any customization.
So here comes Armory World online store, where we offer you:
- products in standard sizes (XS, S, M, L, XL, XXL) and standard colors, but same high quality of materials and manufacturing
- immediate shipping, as the goods you order are already in stock
- and last but not least, considerably lower prices (circa 30% less) compared to those from Steel Mastery
What will we be selling on the Armory World website?
Armory World will offer bestseller Steel Mastery products, in the most popular configurations, in standard sizes and for less money :)
Check out our new online store Armory World and let us know what you think!
Live action role-playing games have become more popular in the recent years. That’s why Steel Mastery decides to make fantasy-addicted customers with line of unique hand-made leather and steel armour.
To create bracers, greaves, helmets, cuirasses and other armour, our craftsmen used natural firm waxed leather. Thickness of such type of leather is usually 3.5-4 mm – there is ideal thickness for light, but safety leather armour. For riveting simple rivets and burrs are used. We paint them in black, brown or iron-grey colour.
Women corset is dainty craftsmanship, so we make them of soft and thin leather – about 2 mm thick. Such leather takes the needed shape easily, so happy owner of our handmade corset will look not only breathtaking, but also very comfortable. And decorated spaulders and bracers will not leave any girl cold!
Armour is easy in fastening on the body and limbs with firm leather belts with steel or brass buckles. Separate parts are joined with leather straps creating full armour, e.g. arm protection.
Every workpiece can be decorated with tooling on leather, aerographics, decorative stones or another fashion jewelry. Please send pattern and desires of decoration and we will make it on your armour!
Amazing leather bags and belts will be perfect addition to your character in fantasy style. And using accessories made by Steel Mastery even in daily living, you’ll draw the delighted eye.
Make your order right now and create your unique character! And if you do not like realization of some item, please send a photo of wished model to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will craft it by your measurement.
For sure, our armour is ideal for LARP, as they not only distinguishes the owner from the crowd, but also protects you at worthy stage!
Bright and recognizable charachter of german sellsword landskneсht recently gains in popularity on the medieval festivals. As a result, separate events dedicated to culture and life-style of landsknechts have appeared. In our turn, we’d like to say few words about the main detail of lansknecht’s look - costume.
By the last quarter of the XV century, fashion had evolved into the tight-fitting laced garments with a lot of colourful panels and details. But on the beginning of the XVI century, it was to go into reverse accenting not the tenderness of body, but strength and robustness.
The main elements were left unchanged.
For example, paned sleeves were popular in the XV century, and in the XVI century outer lay was split in a way to let the interliner spill out. Victorius Swiss troop, who plundered the defeated Burgundian camp and stuffed the doublets with rich looted fabrics, is consider to be an ancestor of such style. Landsknechts were german variant of swiss mercenaries, and mode of dress was partially taken from them.
Urs Graf, 1527-1600
Simply cutting on the chausses and the jerkins was as popular as paning. Long strips of material, sometimes with lining, were sewn down the base of garment. Thin and soft materials were used for lining, e.g.silk that was appeared through the panes.
Allaert Claescz, 1520-1550
Undershirts of that period had T-shaped cut with stand-up collar, to which ruffs were sewn down. Often but not always, there were no fastenings on the collars, so shirt could be pushed through the neck like a pullover. But on the woodcuts you can see shirts with buttons or lacing on the neckline.
Leather jerkins were very important piece of clothing those times not only for practical resons, e.g. protection from weather, but also during the battles. It created a character of agressive masculine warrior, as that particular character of german soldier dominated in the first part of century.