I always return to this picture when pondering armor designs. Not that i ever actually draw them, but it helps to think.
What i like the most about this work is that there is no unnecesary vitriol towards fictional armor here. No judgements of value about the alleged stupidity of fictional designs, no harsh words for either fans or designers. A clear and factical explanation.
I like this a lot. Actually shows the reasoning for both designs in the context of what their intended purpose was. So many fucking armchair historians shit on designs because they don't seem to understand that artistic fundamentals are drastically different than those used when designing actual, functioning weapons and armor.
Your sense of neutrality is a very respectable quality that I believe more should follow.
Well the sad thing about it is that you could marry both approaches in a quite successful way - some designs even showcase it.
It's very hard but also in the realm of possibility. Just a lot of work which requires a lot of prior background in both disciplines.
Some questions though:
1) About visors/eye-slits, it seems to me that the helmet in the sample Fantasy armor still has a fairly narrow visor, with everything that isn't metal appearing a shadowy void. That doesn't seem like it's exposing much of the actor's face to be seen. Also, didn't earlier Medieval helmets that lacked clamp-down visors expose more of the face?
2) What would you say to helmets like this one: br.pinterest.com/pin/336221928…
One thing about Fantasy armors that I notice is that many helmets tend to be more decorative or have various animal motifs and the like. But so long as the warrior can still see in such a helmet, are they really so impractical? If, for instance, a knight helmet looks like a standard knight helmet but the clamp-down visor has dragon wing decorations on the side to make the helmet more of a "dragon helmet", such as what you see here: ic.pics.livejournal.com/grrm/7…
...would that really hinder a knight realistically? I would think it is still possible to fight with such a helmet on, since the eyes aren't obscured and so the warrior can still see. I would be curious to hear your thoughts.
3. Although the armors in the Lord of the Rings movies are obviously more elaborate then the standard set of Gothic plate armor, John Howe went to great lengths to stress that the armors must still work properly, and so were designed so that the actors could still move and fight in them, even Sauron's super-spiky armor. Do you have any thoughts on this?
Anyway, once again, thanks for this analysis. As I said, I like the very analytical, not-snide tone of this piece. Good work.
I am also not a real expert on the topic ;)
More of a very interested person. Glad you like this. The Self-proclaimed experts as you call it mostly come down to the entertainment side of things and entertaining in a snarky way seems to work for watcher counts I believe. I rather like sources which are more credible, like the real historians, doctors and academics who put out the books.
1) We have to ask ourselfes what is the main feature of a closed helmet. It's for a battlefield helmet always deflecting arrows and other sharp objects. Now if an unlucky arrow hits the eyeslit, it ideally still shouldn't pierce through. In most fantasy armors or most reenactment suits straight flying arrows are not at all a problem (rain of arrows or no arrows at all) so they don't consider that the widest opening should be thin enough to catch an arrow, or even thin enough to catch a wider blade.
Open helmets are mostly soldiers helmets. This means helmets which are worn at any occassion, which still allow you to speak, shout, breath and hear. But knights who are only getting geared up for serious business also had serious gear specifically designed for that occassion and optimal for the short time necessary.
2) The hounds helm idea is generally cool, because many real armors had helmets in animal shapes or in an alla-antica style which emulated classical locks etc. The movie prop here is not really well made, because it would really hamper your vision and add a lot of weight in a cumbersome way. The idea however gets applause, but then again in the book all of the main characters have unique helmets (which also was like that in medieval times - and grr martin is a big medievalist, and most initial fans of the first three or so seasons of GoT are more from the history, than from the pop culture audience)
The dragon wing decorations exist in real helmets - mostly from eastern Hussaria
The fantasy helmet of the book cover is kinda without purpose, because you easily could hit in with a blade cleaving the skull of the wearer for no real reason. I am not sure why they would like to show the eyes/faces of the warriors here with closed helmets, instead of just going with half open helmets.
3) Lord of the Rings had very good designed props. Some of it goes over the top (Sauron, Witch King etc. is a bit more comical in proportion and look), but generally it was incredibly well made and most props would be very effective.
Glad you enjoyed it =)
2. How would the skull be cleaved with a plate mail helmet? Shouldn't the helmet protect the head? Or are you referring to the open space being an easy target? Would a knight helmet with a thinner visor and no obvious weak spot but still having the same dragon decorations as the ones on the book cover work?
3. Agreed. Though again, even Sauron's armor was designed to be fairly practical.
2. Referring to the wide open Eyeslit which levas place on the sides for a clean cut. Open helmets usually have a nasal protection or bar to prevent this scenario.
With decorations it's always the question if it's a cavalry or an infantry helmet. In infantry battle you simply do not want to give your enemy any opportunity for easily grabbing parts of your armor or even worse, let them push momentum through your armor on you. That's why those winged helmets are usually for riders, who are out of reach of hands.
Thanks for the info
Both, I would say, serve a purpose.
To me, personally, I would stay faaaaar away from the guy wearing the Fantasy armor (left) if I ever met one on the battlefield, since in my mind - No B-grade peasant will be wearing armor of such a high quality design into battle. Secondly, the design featuring as it does, would tell me, the blacksmith (or smiths) that worked on that armor piece, are definitely not from your local corner blacksmith shop down at market square.
The practicality of the Gothic armor (right) I would say, not only revolves around the armor pieces protecting the wearer as they do, but a lot around the fact that armors like those, are far easier to replicate and mass produce for a group of knights, than it's counterpart fantasy armor. The more detail that goes into metal work, the higher the costs (resources and time both), which in a time of war, are valuable.
Great work though! I enjoyed every bit of it!
Therefore it's quite easy to roughly tell when a specific suit was made and of course technology improved.
Today innovations just happen a lot quicker, the kevlar example indeed is a good one
Thanks for sharing.
In Vienna in the treasure chamber, there is a unicorn horn (Einkhürn) which is the teeth of a narwhale.
I am from Austria and German happens to be my native language