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Basinet (also known as a Bacinet, Bacyn, Bascinet, Basnet)
Time Period: 14th-15th century
Location: Northern and Western Europe
Common Construction: Steel

The basinet is a 14th century helmet used widely throughout northern and western Europe. It protects the entire head and extends down the sides of the face and neck. It was a common helmet among both foot soldiers and knights. It is believed to have been originally worn as a steel cap under a great helm and only later was it modified to be worn alone. Great helms are very heavy, provide limited sensory input, and are not ideal for fighting on foot. Over time, the basinet improved upon all of these areas and was arguably the most popular helmet in the 14th century.

The evolution of the basinet was constant throughout its use. Initially worn with a chain mail coif it was later attached to an aventail. The shape of the helmet was also revised over time. The back and sides of the helmet were extended from the original steel cap design so that it could be worn alone. The overall shape of the helmet also changed in order to deflect weapon blows more effectively. Germany, England, and other countries modified the helmet design to suit their own needs.

The average basinet weighs between 4 and 6 pounds, a massive improvement over the great helms of the 13th century. Metallurgical advances during the 14th century also helped to supplant the great helm as the primary form of head protection. Early basinets were made from low carbon steel, however in the late 14th century examples of basinets have been recovered with a higher carbon content and heat treatment to harden the metal.

The basinet is open faced, although those with the financial means wore it with a visor attached. The visor evolved from a simple nose guard to the characteristic "pig faced" basinet in the middle of the 14th century. Historically, they were called visored basinets, houndskulls, or dog-faced basinets. The term "pig-faced" is a modern term and did not exist during the basinet's use. Visor and helmet improvements culminated in the great basinet in the 15th century.

The basinet's popularity was limited to about 100 years. In the 15th century it was replaced by helmets such as the barbute, sallet, and later the armet. However, the basinet could be considered the inspiration for these later helmet designs, and they could not have existed without the metallurgical and structural advances made to helmets during the 14th century.

Armor, CE 14th Century, CE 15th Century, England, Germany, Helmet, History, Medieval Europe


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