Author Topic: Helmet types on VLPP coinage-- Spangenhelm and Ridge  (Read 1137 times)

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Online Victor

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Helmet types on VLPP coinage-- Spangenhelm and Ridge
« on: January 21, 2016, 11:14:45 AM »
The VICTORIAE LAETAE PRINC PERP (VLPP) coinage of Constantine the Great depicts two different types of helmets. I will specifically refer to coinage from Siscia, but these helmet types are depicted on all the bronze coins from the mints (London, Lyons, Arles, Trier, Ticinum and Siscia) that issued the VLPP coinage.

The two distinct helmets are depicted on different bust types. The first is the D bust type (D6, D2), which is laureate helmet and cuirassed bust. The second bust type is the H (H11, H12), which is helmeted and cuirassed with adjuncts like spear and shield.


The D bust types have a Ridge helmet, which is discernible by the short ridge running along the top of the helmet. These helmets are typically made of two or four parts, united by the ridge. The D bust types of VLPP show a Ridge helmet that appears to be made with two parts, so from the side there are no joining lines, so it looks like it was made from one piece. The rivets are not even shown on the coin, except perhaps the small dots on the ridge itself, but this might be some type of decorative element.


The H bust types have a Spangenhelm, which are typified by the crest, which is usually fairly tall. Spangenhelms are made with metal plates that are joined together with strips of metal and then riveted. On the VLPP, the helm is shown in profile, with one strip in the center visible and it is often decorated, but the example illustrated below shows just the rivets. There are also rivets running along the base of the helmet.

The Spangenhelm have stars in the field of each plate on either side of the center strip, while the Ridge helmet is normally plain, but on rare examples a single star decorates the helm. The center strips on Spangenhelm are also often elaborately engraved with a wide variety of designs and geometric patterns.

So the basic differences on the helmets depicted on VLPP’s are
1.   The crests- long and short for the Ridge and tall and thin for the Spangenhelm.
2.   The parts- the Ridge looks like a single piece from the side, while the Spangenhelm, from the side, is separate plates joined together.
3.   Rivets- the Spangenhelm has lots of rivets holding it together, which are depicted as dots on the coins, versus none on the Ridge helmet.



The VLPP Spangenhelm/crown of Constantine was also used later by Germanic kings. The Ostrogothic king Theodahad (534-536 A.D.) is shown wearing the same helmet, though it does not have a large crest or cheek flaps, the type is still recognizable. It even has the stars to the right and left of the center strip. The Spangenhelm became the most common type helmet in Europe in the sixth and seventh century and as late as the seventh century, a helmet was used in place of a crown in the coronation of Egbert, a King of Kent who ruled from 664 to 673.