The Ole Mail and Chain

Have you ever put on a mesh bracelet and thought to yourself, “This is wonderful. If only it covered my entire body!” If so, you have a lot in common with Medieval warriors, the crew that popularized the armor called “mail” or “chainmail.” This term refers to the material; the actual shirt-like garment is called a “hauberk.”

Full Sleeve Chainmail

The Full Sleeve Chainmail Hauberk

And if you’re into accessorizing, a mail hood is called a “coif,” mail mittens are “mitons,” and mail socks are “chausses”!

Chainmail Coif

The Chainmail Coif (Or Hood)

Chainmail Gloves

Chainmail Gloves or Mittens

The earliest remains of chainmail is from the 3rd century B.C. The Romans first encountered mail while fighting the Gauls and adopted this armor, like a metal-ringed child of their very own. Ancient smiths would not have had the technology to make larger sheets of metal, like those required to create plate armor. However, mail could be formed using smaller, individual rings of metal woven together – an easier task with ancient tools. Also, if the mail armor incurred any damage in battle, the smith would only need to replace the damaged links, rather than attempt to fix the whole piece.

Chainmail became the main armor of the Roman Empire in the 3rd century A.D. and continued to be top dog in the armor world well into the Middle Ages. Its popularity stretched from the northern Viking lands throughout Europe to the Middle East and even as far as Japan! In the 13th century, mail armor began to cover fighters’ entire bodies, even their legs. But by the 14th century, plate armor had appeared and began to replace mail as the warrior’s primary covering, though mail was often still worn underneath to compensate for the plates’ weak spots. With the invention of the musket in 1520, chainmail slipped into disuse.

Chainmail is particularly effective against cuts– only a well-made sword could slash through the mail. However, mail was largely ineffective against blunt weapons, such as a heavy axe or sword, and could be punctured by spears.  In addition to the mail, a helmet was necessary to protect the soldier’s head, and padded garments were generally worn underneath the mail to help absorb any heavy blows.

If you’ve been feeling an empty space in your life, or your armored wardrobe, that only a hauberk can fill, look no further! We’ve got all you need right here:

This entry was posted in Chainmail and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *