The origins of the historical myth, or why the Vikings have a horned helmet
Why do the Vikings have a horned helmet?Modern images often represent these medieval warriors with ferocious and desperate fighters with impressive axes and awesome armor. But why do the Vikings have a horned helmet? After all, it's no secret that the main purpose of medieval armor, an important component of which was the helmet, was the protection of their master.
Mythology of the Middle Ages
Medieval armors were forged enoughstrong, but at the same time as light as possible, which was an important factor in the battle. At the same time, we often come across the ideas of contemporaries and the fact that medieval armor weighed incredibly much, that the knight, chained in armor, was not able to independently rise to his feet or climb a horse. Of course, all this had nothing to do with reality. Any modern historian, a reconstructor of that era or simply interested in it, will easily disprove these myths. So, for example, on average, full knight armor in the XV century, when he reached the apogee of his improvement, weighed no more than thirty kilograms. This is quite comparable with the layout of modern infantrymen. By the way, most of the weight of modern fighters is concentrated in the backpack and presses on the shoulders. The armor was evenly distributed throughout the body. The same goes for the notion of inalienable artistic and sculptural additions for the sake of the beauty of the armor. All this could only hinder the battle, and consequently, such impractical things could have only a ceremonial purpose, but were in no way intended for combat.
So why do the Vikings have a horned helmet?
As the reader has already understood, here we are, toowe are dealing with a myth. There was absolutely no need for the Vikings to have a horned helmet. Indeed, in the history of archaeological excavations, no such artifact belonging to Scandinavian warriors has ever been found. It was found more than a thousand of the most diverse helmets: pointed, blunt-ended, with naves and visors. However, there was not one horned among them. There are several similar helmets that belonged to other peoples, but not one of the Normans. Of course, they were not fighting, but they served in some ritual activities. After all, the main function of the helmet is effective defense of the warrior's head against enemy strikes. This goal was pursued for centuries by blacksmith designers. The greatest effect can be achieved only by having the smoothest surface of the helmet. The sword, which has fallen on the horn, will not slip off safely, but it can disrupt the helmet from the head, turn it into an uncomfortable position for the owner, or even cause it to split. In reality, the helmets of medieval Scandinavians were similar to the famous helmet of St. Wenceslas (on the second photo), helmets with a half-mask were also presented, which were called "giernmundby" by modern archaeologists at the location of the find (image in the third photo).
Where did the legend about the horned helmet originate?
With this element of the Scandinavian defense occurredinteresting story. Surprisingly, the horned helmet to the Vikings was attributed not by later writers, directors, or simply philistine consciousness. They were made by their contemporaries. Here it is worth remembering that these warriors, who in the X-XII centuries were creating fear for the whole of Europe, were pagans. They regularly destroyed and plundered the coastal settlements of the continent. Catholic churches and monasteries, which at that time were the main citadels of culture and education, were often looted. The barbarous and harsh behavior of the Vikings was not something particularly new for Europe at that time. But the blasphemous treatment of Christian shrines made them in the eyes of the clergy not just enemies, but literally the children of the Devil. So why the Vikings had a horned helmet in this situation? It is in spiritual images that they first appear with horns on their heads, which became a transparent hint of their essence. Such an image they soon found throughout the continent. Therefore, the question of why the Vikings have a horned helmet, you can answer this: they did not wear such armor, it's just a legend.