The Online Encyclopedia and Dictionary







 wearing a metal pickelhaube
Otto von Bismarck wearing a metal pickelhaube

The pickelhaube (German Pickel = "point"; Haube = literally "bonnet", a general word for headgear) is a spiked helmet worn in the 19th century by German military forces. The famous spike is said to have been a feature to protect the infantrymen against sabre-blows by cavalry.

The pickelhaube was originally designed in 1842 by King Frederick William IV of Prussia. and its use slowly spread to other German principalities. In 1887, the Kingdom of Bavaria was the last German state to adopt the pickelhaube. Several other nations adopted the pickelhaube or at least something very similar.

The basic pickelhaube was made of leather with metal reinforcements and the metal point. All-metal versions of the pickelhaube were worn mainly by cuirassiers, and often appear in portraits of high-ranking military and political figures (such as Otto von Bismarck on this page).

During World War I it was found that the leather helmet offered little protection to troops in the trenches. In 1916 it was slowly replaced by the Stahlhelm or "steel helmet" that would still be worn by German troops in World War II. The pickelhaube was reduced to ceremonial wear. With the collapse of the German Empire in 1918, the pickelhaube was completely abandoned.

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Last updated: 09-12-2005 02:39:13