When fighting in plate armor the historical sources tell us to attack the weak points of your opponents harness. These weak points include the armpits, backs of the knees, palms of the hands, and the visor that covers the face. All of these points have weaknesses because you cannot simply cover them with a solid plate of steel and still have a mobil warrior who can see and breath.
Getting ready to stab him in the face
The visor is a particularly vulnerable target for a few reasons. First, it is perforated with holes for seeing called oculariae, and holes for breathing called breaths. Despite the fact that visors are made to deflect blows, these holes have the possibility of catching the point of a weapon and giving it purchase. Furthermore, these holes are positioned above particularly vulnerable parts of the body where it is bad to get stabbed -- ie, the eyes and brain. Below you can see an example o a 14th century bascinet visor with these vulnerabilities.
A 14th century visor
In this today's video Nathan uses a Wallace Ballock Dagger, a 12th Century Spear, and a Horseman's Axe against a bascinet visor made of raised mild steel.
Got an itch?
Nathan Clough, Ph.D. is Vice President of Arms and Armor and a member of the governing board of The Oakeshott Institute. He is a historical martial artist and a former university professor of cultural geography. He has given presentations on historical arms at events including Longpoint and Combatcon, and presented scholarly papers at, among others, The International Congress on Medieval Studies.
Craig Johnson is the Production Manager of Arms and Armor and Secretary of The Oakeshott Institute. He has taught and published on the history of arms, armor and western martial arts for over 30 years. He has lectured at several schools and Universities, WMAW, HEMAC, 4W, and ICMS at Kalamazoo. His experiences include iron smelting, jousting, theatrical combat instruction and choreography, historical research, European martial arts and crafting weapons and armor since 1985