I accidentally found this in some 15th century painting

in "The Arrest of Christ" in the "Karlsruher Passion"

enter image description here

from Master of the Karlsruhe Passion (Hans Hirtz?) "The Disrobing of Christ" enter image description here

and after further search in Google

image from https://www.reddit.com/r/ArmsandArmor/comments/bm2wea/medieval_rope_helmet_used_from_the_1200_to_the/
enter image description here

My question is: how effective are these helmets against attack, such as slash, cut, and pierce, and maybe blunt force especially to range weapons and shrapnel. And: are rope helmets similar in principle to function like a gambeson? And were these helmets actually used historically?

  • 1
    Might this video answer your question? Sep 19, 2019 at 4:54
  • @DenisdeBernardy yeah i know, in the reddit link it also show that video, but since this is a helmet and shape it like that, it may have some different effect unlike hanging it like that. and who know the rope material maybe different compare to the rope in the video, also seems like the cut also require high precision there as it was a competition.
    – Li Jun
    Sep 19, 2019 at 5:01

2 Answers 2


One of the images in your question seems to be from the metmuseum's website, which explains what it is.

These weren't intended to be used as is. Rather, caps or cervellieres made of padded cloth or rope were worn underneath chainmail coifs. Besides comfort considerations, this allows to absorb some of the shock should you ever receive a blow to the head.

enter image description here

  • from the painting it look thicker though doesnt seems fit for metal helmet including the (chainmail coif) there which shown thinner.
    – Li Jun
    Sep 19, 2019 at 5:52
  • 3
    @LiJun: if you meant to say that the padded head protection in the image I inserted is thinner than the rope example, it is because it's ridiculously thin compared to what it would have been. Sep 19, 2019 at 5:57
  • no i mean the rope as Cerveliere, judging from the painting by karlsruher passion it doesnt seems like a padded cap, since the distinction thickness between the rope helmet and the metal including the chainmail coif shown in the painting is thinner or shown very different.
    – Li Jun
    Sep 19, 2019 at 6:05
  • 3
    That can be used 'as is'. Not ideal, far from it, but cheap and thus much better than nothing. Not only for shock absorption. Think linothorax or kevlar-vest. Confronted with longsword it probably fails for a direct controlled hit, but glancing blows…? Sep 19, 2019 at 9:47
  • 2
    This is actually a bit confusing: Can you detail what this thing is called, exactly? The Met calls it Cervelière, but isn't that the metal skull-cap, as in the middle of your pic? Isn't the rope thing a type of coif, or cale as in the left part? Or if used as sole skull cap it's then called a Cervelière as well? Sep 19, 2019 at 13:30

While cervellieres were definitely a thing worn under other helmets, they were more common in the 12-13th centuries, rather than the 15th. So, I don't think that is a complete answer.

You have to remember that most depictions of Christ before/during/after the Crucifixion were intentional in showing the armor of the common soldiers, so these are actually great sources to know that the armor we're looking at was more typical of the poorer classes, rather than the gentry.

In this case, I think it is safe to say that you're looking at the sum total of the actual helmet. As in, all this guy had was a coil of rope between him and an opponent's weapon. Yikes, right?

Well, consider the alternative of getting hit in the bare scalp with a three foot long razor blade. A coil of rope is still better, right? Rope is hard to cut, so it should prevent a lot of damage to be considered, "good enough".

Also, not all troops were front line troops, so not all troops needed to be fully armored. Think about a bloke having to march for weeks on end. How much armor would be practical to haul around with you for all that, if you're going to be stuck guarding the baggage in the rear? Or what if you were one of the guys whose jobs were to plunder the countryside and burn down the villages? Maybe a cap that was cut-resistant was enough to protect you from angry farmers?

  • yeah i agree with you, this is unlikely chervallier as i mention in that comment, and it obvious this is not the best or at least it just good enough as material, just wondering how much effective the protectiveness of it or at least against what kind of damage.
    – Li Jun
    Sep 3, 2021 at 3:16

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