Object Title

Close helmet

Close helmet



Object Number



Purchased at auction, Christie's 5 March 1855, lot 2689. From the Bernal collection.

Physical Description

Fluted skull pierced by six pairs of small holes for securing the lining. There is a low, boldly roped comb running fore and aft, pierced by large circular threaded holes for the attachment of a skull-reinforce. The bevor pivots on the skull at the same points as the visors. The bottom edge of the skull and of the bevor are finished with hollow roping so that the helmet can turn on the top plate of the gorget. Double vizor pivoted over the ears, the inner one of thin metal pierced in a trellis pattern, the outer one skilfully embossed as a grotesque face with twisted moustaches. There are two vision slits of conventional form. The mask below these is pierced on each cheek with thirteen circular holes for ventilation in four horizontal rows, and also with a slit at the mouth. The outer vizor is attached to the pivots by hinges with removable pins to enable it to be removed easily and one of different form to be substituted. Both bevor and outer visors are secured by spring catches on the right side. That of the bevor is secured by means of a wing-nut which, as it is tightened, draws the locking peg outwards and secures the bevor. There are traces of gilding around the lining rivets.





HelmetDepth341 mm
HelmetHeight261 mm
HelmetWeight3820 g
HelmetWidth235 mm

Bibliographic References

A.R. Dufty and W. Reid, European Armour in the Tower of London, 1968, plate XC b.

C. Paggiarino, The Royal Armouries, masterpieces of medieval and renaissance arms and armour, Milan, 2011, volume 1


Similar visors featuring large noses and moustaches appear on helmets for the 'Hungarian' or 'Hussar' tournaments introduced by Emperor Ferdinand I at a time when Turkish incursions into Europe were of significant concern. This tournament involved one side appearing as Central European Christian warriors, wearing the masked helmets, whilst the other acted the part of Turks. However, not all helmets fitted with such grotesque visors were made purely for parade purposes nor were all intended for the 'Hussar tournament'. The grilled visor of this helmet indicates the helmet was also suitable for the tourney with clubs or blunt swords. A 'Tourney course' with sharp lances followed by combat with bastard swords in which four of those taking part wear visor embossed with grotesque faces with prominent hooked noses is illustrated in a painting by Hans Leonhard Schauffelein at Schloss Tratzberg. Grotesque visors also occassionaly appear in illustrations of battles, such as those accompanying the works of the Swiss historian Johann Stumpf (1500-1578).