The Rondel or Basegew is a circular piece of metal attached to a helmet, breastplate, or gauntlet. It was worn as part of a harness for a plate armour.
Rondels hung off breastplates and covered the armpit, a usually vulnerable point. They were also used to steady the jousting lance – in which instance they would be called basegews. Armour without besagews usually employed larger shoulder defenses or leave the mail beneath exposed.
Rondels also appeared on the back of a type of medieval helmet called armet. Although their purpose is still unknown, they might have been used to protect strapping. Some historical guantlets designs also feature rondels.
History of the Rondel or Basegew
Next to their head, arms were the most important area a warrior had to protect.
By the 13th century, small plated had began to supplement chain mail in response to new weapons such as crossbows. By the 14th century, plate armour had become more widespread and the plates more shaped.
Elbow and shoulder cops emerged, and spaulders became articulated in order to protect the shoulders. As armour evolved, there was still an area between the spaulder and the breastplate that was not protected: the armpits. A small plate was added, the rondel. One of its main advantages was that it didn’t hinder movement. Rondels and besegews were attached directly to the spaulder or to the mail shirt underneath.