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Construction of a classic armet (c. 1490), it is fitted with a wrapper and aventail, and the method of opening the helmet is shown

The Armet is a type of helmet which was developed in the 15th century. It was extensively used in Italy, France, England, the Low Countries, Spain and Hungary. It was distinguished by being the first helmet of its era to completely enclose the head while being compact and light enough to move with the wearer. Its use was essentially restricted to the fully armoured man-at-arms.

Appearance and origins[edit]

Armet of an English Greenwich armour c. 1585. The method of locking the cheek-pieces can be seen at the chin: a swivel-hook engages a pierced staple. The lower edge of the helmet has a gutter-like rim which engages with a flange running around the upper edge of the gorget.

As the armet was fully enclosing, and narrowed to follow the contours of the neck and throat, it had to have a mechanical means of opening and closing to enable it to be worn. The typical armet consisted of four pieces: the skull, the two large hinged cheek-pieces which locked at the front over the chin, and a visor which had a double pivot, one either side of the skull. The cheek-pieces opened laterally; when closed they overlapped at the chin, fastening by means of a spring-pin which engaged in a corresponding hole, or by a swivel-hook and pierced staple. A multi-part reinforcement for the bottom half of the face, known as a wrapper, was sometimes added; its straps were protected by a metal disc at the base of the skull piece called a rondel. The visor attached to each pivot via hinges with removable pins, as in the later examples of the bascinet. This method remained in use until c. 1520, after which the hinge disappeared and the visor had a solid connection to its pivot. The earlier armet often had a small aventail, a piece of mail attached to the bottom edge of each cheek-piece.[1]

The earliest surviving armet dates to 1420 and was made in Milan.[2] An Italian origin for this type of helmet, therefore seems to be indicated. The innovation of a reduced skull and large hinged cheek pieces is such a radical departure from previous forms of helmet that it is highly probable that the armet resulted from the invention of a single armourer or soldier and not as the result of evolution from earlier forms.[3]

Use and variations[edit]

An armet with a German form of construction, but possibly of Florentine, Italian, manufacture (notice that it opens in a manner different from that of a classic armet).

The armet reached its height of popularity during the 15th and 16th centuries when western European full plate armour had been perfected. Movable face and cheek pieces allowed the wearer to close the helmet, thus fully protecting the head from blows. The term armet was often applied in contemporary usage to any fully enclosing helmet, however, modern scholarship draws a distinction between the armet and the outwardly similar close helm on the basis of their construction, especially their means of opening to allow them to be worn. While an armet had two large cheekpieces hinged at the skull and opened laterally, a close helm instead had a kind of movable bevor which was attached to the same pivot points as its visor and opened vertically.[4]

The classic armet had a narrow extension to the back of the skull reaching down to the nape if the neck, and the cheekpieces were hinged, horizontally, directly from the main part of the skull. From about 1515 the Germans produced a variant armet where the downward extension of the skull was made much wider, reaching as far forward as the ears. The cheekpieces on this type of helmet hinged vertically on the edges of this wider neck element.[5] The high quality English Greenwich armours often included this type of armet from c. 1525. Greenwich-made armets adopted the elegant two-piece visor found on contemporary close helmets; armets of this form were manufactured until as late as 1615. The lower edge of such helmets often closed over a flange in the upper edge of a gorget-piece. The helmet could then rotate without allowing a gap in the armour that a weapon point could enter.[6]

Comparison of close helm and armet in open position. Note the close helm uses a single pivot point for the double visor and bevor, while the armet has hinged cheek plates that lock in place.

The armet is found in many contemporary pieces of artwork, such as Paolo Uccello's "Battle of San Romano," and is almost always shown as part of a Milanese armor. These depictions show armets worn with tall and elaborate crests, largely of feathered plumes; however, no surviving armets have similar crests and very few show obvious provision for the attachment of such crests.[7]

The armet was most popular in Italy, however, in England and Western Europe it was widely used by men-at-arms alongside the sallet, whilst in Germany the latter helmet was much more common. It is believed that the close helm resulted from a combination of various elements derived from each of the preceding helmet types.


  1. ^ Oakeshott, pp. 118-121
  2. ^ Oakeshott, p. 118
  3. ^ Oakeshott, p. 118
  4. ^ Oakeshott p. 121
  5. ^ Oakeshott p. 123
  6. ^ Gravett, pp. 20, 62
  7. ^ Oakeshott, pp. 119-120


  • Gravett, Christopher (2006) Tudor Kight. Osprey Publishing, London.
  • Oakeshott, Ewart (1980) European Weapons and Armour. From Renaissance to the Industrial Revolution. Lutterworth Press ISBN 0-85115-789-0.

Жуков К.А. Armet a rondelle. Функциональное назначение одной детали шлемов позднего средневековья. http://mreen.org/OZRclub/armet-a-rondelle-funkcionalnoe-naznachenie-odnoy-detali-shlemov-pozdnego-srednevekovya_2.html

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Armet — Please support Wikipedia.
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37 news items

Church Times
Wed, 16 Apr 2014 16:43:48 -0700

THE parish of Oakley with Wootton St Lawrence, in the diocese of Winchester, is not, after all, to be allowed to sell a rare artefact that hung in the church for almost 300 years (News, 18 October 2013). The artefact is a rare 15th-century Flemish ...

Museums Association

Museums Association
Wed, 23 Apr 2014 05:43:31 -0700

The Court of Arches, the Archbishop of Canterbury's appeal court, ruled that the armet could not be legally sold by Wootton St Lawrence Church. It had been on loan to the Royal Armouries for more than 30 years. The museum tried to acquire it at public ...

Windsor Star

Windsor Star
Fri, 11 Apr 2014 12:29:01 -0700

In 2012, a federal grand jury in the United States indicted a Canadian military contractor that supplied armoured vehicles to the U.S. military in Iraq. The indictment alleges the contractor, Armet Armored Vehicles, falsely represented the level of ...
Tue, 15 Apr 2014 10:21:53 -0700

The Court of Arches has ruled that the armet - a kind of helmet developed in the 15th century and used extensively across Northern Europe for over two centuries - cannot be sold legally after a church near Basingstoke attempted to sell it at auction.
The Verge
Mon, 21 Apr 2014 09:33:48 -0700

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The Times (subscription)
Mon, 21 Apr 2014 10:03:45 -0700

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Thu, 17 Apr 2014 23:11:15 -0700

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Mon, 14 Apr 2014 10:48:45 -0700

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