Original 15th-century barbute of the T-shaped design from the Philadelphia Museum of Art's Kretzschmar von Kienbusch Collection of arms and armour
A modern reconstruction based on the Y-shaped barbute design

A barbute (termed a barbuta in Italian) is a visorless war helmet of 15th-century Italian design, often with distinctive "T" shaped or "Y" shaped opening for the eyes and mouth. The name is first recorded in an inventory made for the Gonzaga family of Mantua in 1407. It can be considered as a specialised form of the sallet. The barbute resembles classical Greek helmets (most strikingly the Corinthian) and may have been influenced by the renewed interest in ancient artifacts common during this period.[1]


The defining characteristic of the barbute is the helmet's downward extension, fully covering both sides of the user's face. Regardless of the type of opening, T-shaped, Y-shaped or arch-shaped, this characteristic was always present. This helmet design enabled the user to wear a gorget.[2] In place of a plate gorget, the barbute was often worn with a stiffened mail collar, termed a "standard," which protected the throat and neck. In some examples, there is a central, narrow protrusion extending down from the top of the opening, designed to protect the wearer's nose. Sometimes, like Italian sallets, barbutes were covered by a rich decorative fabric, typically heavy velvet.

Unlike the sallet, the barbute seems to have enjoyed little popularity outside Italy.

The main differences between the barbute and the Greek hoplite's helm to which it is often compared is the difference in material and the lack of a prominent decorative crest. Ancient Greeks used bronze, while most barbutes were constructed of steel.

Barbutes were made most commonly from a single sheet of steel using the metal smithing process of raising until the piece assumed the desired shape.[3] Many barbutes feature a low ridged crest forged into the top of the helmet's skull which served to strengthen the helmet without adding a significant amount of weight.

In Popular Culture


  1. Oakeshott, pp. 109-110
  2. Leonello Boccia, Armi Italiane, Zanichelli, Bologna, 1966.
  3. Quattro Secoli di Armi Bianche, I Documentari, Novara, 1973.


This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 11/23/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.