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The bascinet was a close-fitting metal cap that was very popular in the 14th and 15th centuries, along with the kettle hat. It developed from the cervelliere, a simple, tight-fitting skull cap. The bascinet was retained the tightness of fit, but its sides were extended to protect the cheeks and neck.

Since it was so tight-fitting, at times the bascinet was worn underneath the great helm. In this situation, the great helm was removed after the first shock of battle, leaving only the bascinet for protection. This did not, however, put the knight at too much of a disadvantage; bascinets could be fitted with an aventail, which was a chain mail device that would connect directly to the bascinet and flow downwards, overlapping the knight’s hauberk.

Since the bascinet itself was also lighter and allowed more movement than the great helm, it increased in popularity and soon replaced the great helm for many knights. Early versions of the bascinet did not have heavy face protection, but with its growing importance came a new development: the visor.

Visors connected with a single hinged or two pivot points, and protected the front of the face while allowing sight through two slits, and breathing through a series of holes. As visors progressed, one type emerged that we know call the “pigface” visor. Its shape resembled the snout of a pig, or even a dog, as it was called the “hounskull” as well.

As the era of the bascinet came to a close, other popular helmets, such as the sallet and barbuta, took over where it left off, leaning heavily on the ideas used in the bascinet.

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