Morion (helmet)

Morion (helmet)
Spanish comb morion
An ornate morion with cheek-guards. Note the slight resemblance to the lobster tail pot.
A Cabasset, somewhat similar to the morion though it lacks the comb and has a taller crown, and is a different shape.

A morion is a type of open helmet used during the 16th and early 17th centuries, usually having a flat brim and a crest from front to back. The morion, though generally identified with Spanish conquistadors, was common among foot soldiers of European nationalities, including the English; the first were issued during Edward VI of England's reign.[1] Inexpensive production costs aided its popularity and dissemination although officers and elite guards would have theirs elaborately engraved to display their wealth and status.[2]

The crest or comb on the top of the helmet was designed to strengthen it. Later versions also had cheek guards and even removable faceplates to protect the soldier from sword cuts.[3]

The morion's shape is derived from that of an older helmet, the Chapel de Fer, or "Kettle Hat."[4] Other sources suggest it was based on Moorish armor and its name is derived from Moro, the Spanish word for Moor;[5] the New Oxford American Dictionary, however, derives it from Spanish morrión, from morro 'round object.'[6]

In England this helmet (also known as the pikeman's pot) is associated with the New Model Army, one of the first professional militaries.[7] It was worn by pikemen, together with a breastplate and buff coat as they stood in phalanx-like pike and shot formations, protecting the flanks of the unarmored musketeers.[8]

It provided protection during the Push of pike maneuvers known for their high casualty rate.[9] Although mostly issued to Cromwell's troops many cavaliers wore the morion as well, leading to confusion in battles; soldiers risked being shot by their own allies. It was for this reason uniforms were introduced to identify armies. First these were simple colored sashes but soon the roundheads introduced colored coats which were retained by the army after the 1660 Restoration of Charles II of England.[10]

Surviving morions from the 1648 siege have been unearthed and preserved at Colchester Castle [11] along with a lobster tail pot, a helmet associated with Oliver Cromwell's heavily-armored Ironside cavalry.

Some captured Spanish armor was worn by Native Americans as late as the 19th century as protection from bullets and a sign of their status.[12] The most famous of these was the Comanche chief Iron Jacket who lived in Texas and wore armor that originally belonged to a conquistador.[13]

Cabasset

A similar helmet, the Cabasset, was introduced around the same time in Italy.[14] Like its Spanish counterpart it was worn by infantry in the pike and shot formations. The stalk-like projection on the top resembled a pear, which is how it gained its name.[15] It was popular in 16th century England and was used during the Civil War. Several of these helmets were taken to the New World by the Pilgrim fathers, and one of these has been found on Jamestown Island.[16]


Modern times

  • The morion may have influenced the design of the Adrian Helmet issued to French and Italian troops during World War 1. Both are of a similar shape and have a comb reinforcing the top of the helmet.[17]
  • The comb morion (with a red crest added) is part of the uniform of the Pope's Swiss Guards.[18]
  • In the 20th century (from 1928 until 1961) the morion was the logo of automobile manufacturer DeSoto, named after the 16th century explorer Hernando de Soto. It appeared as the hood ornament on cars of the 1940s and 1950s like the DeSoto Deluxe.[19]
  • In the Disney movie Pocahontas English soldiers like Captain John Smith wear morions.[20]
  • Morions appeared in the fantasy film The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian. They were worn by the Telmarines: soldiers of the evil king Miraz and descendants of pirates from Earth.[21]
  • In Dances With Wolves the Indian chief presents Lt. Dunbar with a morion.
  • Helmets like the morion and cabasset feature in historical dramas set in the Elizabethan period (where they are worn by extras portraying guards).[22] Such films include Elizabeth: The Golden Age, Cromwell, Witchfinder Generall and BBC TV series like The Tudors and Blackadder 2.[23]
  • In The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, orc sappers wearing morions plant explosives in the wall of Helm's Deep. Other Uruk-hai wear helmets resembling the lobster tail pot.
  • In both the stage and film versions of the musical Man of La Mancha, the soldiers of the Spanish Inquisition all wear morion helmets, and in the film (but not the play), Don Quixote's helmet is a morion with a makeshift visor artificially attached to it, as Cervantes describes in his novel Don Quixote de la Mancha. (In the play it is a regular knight's helmet, and the visor is not makeshift.)
  • The Swiss guardsman in his morion appears on the Vatican City's commemmorative 2 Euro coin.
  • The City seal of Cupertino contains a Morion

References


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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Morion — may refer to: Morion (helmet), a type of military helmet Morion (mineral), a variety of smoky quartz MV Morion formerly Empire Fang, an Empire F type coaster This disambiguation page lists articles associated with the same title. If an …   Wikipedia

  • Morion (casque) — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Morion. Morion . Le morion est un casque européen en usage aux XVIe et XVII …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Helmet — Hel met, n. [OF. helmet, a dim of helme, F. heaume; of Teutonic origin; cf. G. helm, akin to AS. & OS. helm, D. helm, helmet, Icel. hj[=a]lmr, Sw. hjelm, Dan. hielm, Goth. hilms; and prob. from the root of AS. helan to hide, to hele; cf. also… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Helmet beetle — Helmet Hel met, n. [OF. helmet, a dim of helme, F. heaume; of Teutonic origin; cf. G. helm, akin to AS. & OS. helm, D. helm, helmet, Icel. hj[=a]lmr, Sw. hjelm, Dan. hielm, Goth. hilms; and prob. from the root of AS. helan to hide, to hele; cf.… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Helmet shell — Helmet Hel met, n. [OF. helmet, a dim of helme, F. heaume; of Teutonic origin; cf. G. helm, akin to AS. & OS. helm, D. helm, helmet, Icel. hj[=a]lmr, Sw. hjelm, Dan. hielm, Goth. hilms; and prob. from the root of AS. helan to hide, to hele; cf.… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Helmet shrike — Helmet Hel met, n. [OF. helmet, a dim of helme, F. heaume; of Teutonic origin; cf. G. helm, akin to AS. & OS. helm, D. helm, helmet, Icel. hj[=a]lmr, Sw. hjelm, Dan. hielm, Goth. hilms; and prob. from the root of AS. helan to hide, to hele; cf.… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Morion — Mo ri*on, n. [F. morion, Sp. morrion; cf. Sp. morra the upper part of the head, morro anything that is round.] A kind of open helmet, without visor or beaver, and somewhat resembling a hat. [1913 Webster] A battered morion on his brow. Sir W.… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • morion — morion1 [mōr′ē än΄, môr′ē än΄] n. [OFr < Sp morrión < morra, crown of the head, snout: see MORAINE] a hatlike, crested helmet without beaver or visor and with a curved brim coming to a peak in front and in back, worn in the 16th and 17th… …   English World dictionary

  • morion — noun /ˈmɒrɪən/ a) A kind of open helmet used in the 16th and 17th centuries, having no visor or bever, and somewhat resembling a hat. <! The definition above is verbatim from Websters 1913. The quotation below was found by me. Surprisingly… …   Wiktionary

  • morion — morion1 /mawr ee on , mohr /, n. an open helmet of the 16th and early 17th centuries, worn by common soldiers and usually having a flat or turned down brim and a crest from front to back. [1555 65; < MF < Sp morrión, equiv. to morr(o) top of head …   Universalium

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