This is a lobster-tailed pot helmet from the English Civil War period. The pot helmet was popular in Western Europe during the first half of the 17th century. It was popular among medium cavalry, called harquebusiers, as it provided adequate protection without unnecessary weight. By the end of the 17th century the presence of armored cavalry declined drastically and the pot helmet fell out of use.
The pot helmet began as the Ottoman çiçak of the 16th century. The çiçak would become the ornate szyszak of the Polish winged hussars before a simplified version was adopted in Western Europe. The pot helmet was particularly common among cavalry during the Thirty Years War.
During the English Civil War, pot helmets were produced in English munitions factories and imported from armorers in Germany and the Netherlands. It was frequently used by cavalry in both Royalist and Parliamentary armies. As the war progressed, the pot helmet would become particularly associated with Oliver Cromwell’s Ironsides. Both a single bar (shown here) and a triple bar visored variant existed. The central bar was able to move up and down to allow for better visibility when not in combat.
While made of thick iron plate to provide some protection against musket and pistol shot, the helmet was primarily designed to protect the wearer’s head from sword blows sustained during cavalry combat. The articulated plates riveted to the rear were intended to protect the neck, raised ridges reinforced the crown, and the visor and central bar protected the face.
Jonah Powell, 5/14/2020
The zischägge, also known as a lobster-tailed pot helmet, was used throughout Europe during the early to mid 17th century and was popular during the Thirty Years War. It is a type of riding and combat helmet often worn by the cavalry, infantry, and officers. During the English Civil War, these helmets were common among Oliver Cromwell's Ironsides.
This zischägge is made of steel and has lobster tail-like plates protecting the neck as well as a nose iron on the front secured with a wing screw. There are also cheek plates with ear roses on the sides, popular among the cavalry, also known as harquebusiers.
The zischägge is derived from the Ottoman Turkish çiçak of the 16th century and has many types of variants including the szyszak of Poland. Although useful in protecting the wearer from bullets, it was designed primarily to protect against sword blows during combat.
1600 – 1660
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Gift Of Joe Kindig
100 Years of Design (June 8 2016) Museum School students selected artifacts from the collection, researched them, and then designed what they believe they will look like 100 years from now.