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Putting on a Brave Face: Masks & Face Defenses

Helmet (Bascinet) and Visor, c. 1390–1400, Western European

One of the core functions of armor is to protect vulnerable parts of the human body, including the face, which is especially susceptible to harm. Face defenses were designed to be highly functional: they needed to offer a protective metal covering to prevent injuries, while also allowing the wearer to see and breathe well. At the same time, the stylistic forms and decorations of face defenses were frequently intended to distinguish the wearer, signify their bravery, and even intimidate opponents.