Equipment Showcase: Sallet and Bevor

Dada a extensão deste artigo, achei por bem publicar as versões inglesa e portuguesa em separado. Para a versão portuguesa, cliquem aqui.

Some of you may have noticed a certain silence (a distinct lack of publications) in this blog lately. On the one hand, doctoral work piles up like wintry snows upon the mountains. Tempus fugit. On the other, my desire to show some of the latest reenactment pieces I have come to own lately has involved overcoming some delays from the Portuguese post office. However, I can now show you these two spectacular pieces, finally finished: my sallet and bevor, made by the über-talented Maks Izobov. Because I don’t want this to be a mere display of vanity, this showcase also includes Maks’ own words (and a few pictures) about the making of the pieces.


Profile view of the sallet.

This sallet is a combination of several sources, always subjected to the aesthetics displayed in the Pastrana Tapestries. Unlike other reproductions of helmets, which usually begin as copies of existing pieces or entirely original designs, this piece began its life with its visor, heavily based on a visor from LIsbon’s Military Museum, which I’ve previously shared on this blog before (here). It wasn’t easy to find another sallet which fit my requirements to serve as the basis for the skull, but I became rather enamoured with the skull of a sallet at the Musée de l’Armée in Paris (which you can see here). The graceful, subtle shaping of this French sallet fit perfectly with the shapes we see in the Tapestries. ‘ The biggest challenge was choosing the right skull for the Lisbon visor. It is clear that the style was supposed to be Italo-Franco-Flemish, it was possible to draw parallels with similar helmets that have survived, but taking into account the more convex frontal part of the Lisbon visor and the absence of a pronounced comb (beginning of comb on the upper part of visor)’, according to Maks.

Semi-frontal view of the sallet.

It is possible to see a fracture running from the tip of the ‘nose’ to the lower edge. This line, which is also found on the original visor, is the result of a moulding process Maks tried to reproduce, in an authentic exercise of experimental archaeology. According to him, ‘It was suggested that this marks the metal overlap during the formation of the initial blank into a cone. This method can be found on contemporary pieces. It helps to quickly form the initial volume, avoiding the effort of raising’.

The visor blank, ready to be molded (all rights of the photograph belong to Maks Izobov).
The same sheet, bent, to create the volume of the nose. The fold is set in place with a rivet, as shown (all rights of the photograph belong to Maks Izobov).

‘[The original] Also shows a hole in which there may have been a rivet connecting the overlap. The overlap isn’t visible from the inside – the museum piece has layers of corroded metal from the inside, which is noticeably rusty. At least I can’t see it in the photos. The task was to try to repeat this method.’

The visor, with its details being shaped (all rights of the photograph belong to Maks Izobov).

‘I must say that despite some initial time savings, I fiddled with this visor for a long time. Despite the apparent primitiveness, there were certain difficulties with forming the eye slits and capturing the visor’s geometry. This is a common problem in ‘reconstructions by photo’. I always regret not being able to hold a museum piece in my hands, photograph and measure it myself….’

The sallet in use, strapped at the chin.
The sallet with is visor lowered.
Interior view, showing the textile liner and the sallet’s straps.

The fit of the sallet to the head is perfect, as you can see in the photos above. Part of the responsibility for this excellent fit lies with the quilted inner lining, made of raw cotton stitched between layers of thick linen. This lining can be adjusted – tightened or loosened – with the help of a cord. We can also see the strap with its brass buckle. ‘The length of the strap on the helmet allows it to be fastened it over the bevor, and not under. This method is often found in pictorial sources’, one of which is a famous tapestry of c. 1477-1480 depicting Jean de Daillon (which can be seen here).


Side view of the bevor. Note the decorative indentations of the buckle plate.

This bevor is based on two pieces: a Spanish bevor from the Vila Viçosa Palace collection (inv. 136), and a piece sold by the auction house Hermann Historica. The upper edge is aesthetically coordinated with the lower edge of the salled, a purposeful approximation between two pieces that were nevertheless conceived from scratch not to be a uniform set – a pair – but rather a credible pairing.

Top view of the bevor.

It is always necessary, in this process of combining different sources, to adjust the pieces to their specific use: ‘It should be noted that the lower part of the [original] visor is quite narrow (meaning the distance from the eyes to the lower edge), which led to the need to hypertrophy the bevor in order to avoid a gap between the lower edge of the visor and the upper edge of the bevor.’

Inner view of the bevor.

The bevor is also lined with a padded layer to cushion blows against the chin. This padding is sewn to two leather bands, one running along the top edge of the chin plate and the other along its bottom edge; if the lining needs to be removed for cleaning or replacement, it can simply be unstitched from these bands and then sewn back on.


Sallet and bevor worn together.

Here you can see the perfect symbiosis between the parts. It is a relatively artificial symbiosis: in regular use, it is almost impossible to prevent a small gap from opening between the helmet and the bevor, with the chin strap buckled inside the bevor. Such an opening is normal, and unavoidable. Nevertheless, the two parts fit together as they should.

One of the good points of a well-made reproduction is its versatility and possibility to be combined with other pieces. As you can see in the pictures below, I effortlessly combined the sallet and bevor with a maille standard, as well as the bevor and the standard with my war hat. Mobility remains the same. This interchangeability between pieces was normal in the Middle Ages, and it is the mark of an excellent armourer that this interchangeability can be achieved without any problems.

Sallet, bevor, and maille standard.

Bevor, war hat, and maille standard. The war hat wasn’t fastened at the chin (which explains the loose straps either side of my head).


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