Helmets evolved considerably in the twelfth, thirteenth and fourteenth centuries.
- The conical helmet remained in use through the twelfth century.
- The flat-top helmet evolved in the later twelfth century.
- The face-plate helmet was a later twelfth-century flat-top helmet with a plate at the front to provide protection against arrows, probably originating in the crusader kingdoms of the middle East.
- The great helm was a thirteenth-century evolution of the face-plate helmet, enclosing the entire head with all-round protection, at cost of considerably reduced visibility and awareness.
- The cerveilliere was a simple skull-cap, often worn over a padded arming cap and maille coif, either as a helmet in its own right, or under a great helm.
- The bascinet was a late thirteenth-century evolution of the cerveillière, often with a moveable visor. It remained popular into the early fifteenth century.
- The chapel de fer was a simple domed helmet with a metal brim, popular with lower-status combatants from the later twelfth century onwards.
The knightly elite (the lords, barons and other substantial landowners who had their own coat of arms) should always aim to have the latest form of helmet for any particular period. Since a great helm is not the easiest thing to fight in, there is always the option of removing it and relying on the protection of a cerveilliere or bascinet underneath.
|Conical or spangenhelm||Any||Any||Any||Any|
|Chapel de fer||1185+||1185+||1185+||1185+|
|Arming cap and padded coif||Any||Any||Any||Any|
This image from the Maciejowski Bible (c.1250) shows the range of helmets in use in the mid-thirteenth century. Great helms, conical helmets and the simpler chapel de fer are all depicted, alongside warriors just wearing a maille coif; the unarmoured archer wears a cerveilliere.