Link by Link: A Chain of Sorts

When you hear the term “chainmail”, you most likely think of those annoying e-mails that so inconveniently flood you inbox, asking you to forward them so your wish will come true or something ridiculous like that.  While this is indeed an appropriate use of the word, you may be unaware that chainmail is also a form of armor used back in the day, as well as having modern uses too.

Chainmail is a type of armor with small metal rings connected together in a pattern to create a mesh.  The origins of European chainmail date back to the 3rd Century and it is believed to be invented by the Celts, although there were also traces of Etruscan influence.  Chainmail was used as battlefield armor during the Iron Age and the Middle Ages and spread from Europe and spread rapidly.  Among those who adopted chainmail were the Romans, who realized its potential after fighting the Celts.  The armor provided great protection against slashing blows and penetration from thrusting, piercing, and sharp bladed weapons.

Chainmail Armor Shirt:

Chainmail Shirt

Chainmail effectiveness in protecting against weapons is derived from four factors: linkage (riveted, butted, or welded), material used (iron, bronze, or steel), weave density (lighter or heavier), and ring thickness (general range: 14-18 gauge).  For skilled warriors, chainmail offered them a big advantage.  Still, chainmail didn’t guarantee invincibility.  If a warrior was hit at just the right angle, they could be wounded.  And chainmail did not provide head protection.  Therefore, chainmail clad fighters would often wear separate rigid helms over their coifs to guard the head.

Today, chainmail is worn by butchers, woodcarvers, animal control officers, British police officers, and scuba divers.  It is also used in industrial settings and for electrical application.  In addition, chainmail can also have decorative use and is sometimes viewed as a high status symbol.  It also has application in sculptures, headdresses, chess sets, ornament, and jewelry when precious metals or anodized metals are used for these things.  There are even chainmail forums where practitioners can commune to show off their work and share techniques and creations.

Chainmail Half Sleeve – Steel:

Chainmail half sleeve

Going back to its roots, historical re-enactment groups, especially those dedicated to Antiquity and The Middle Ages, use chainmail for both practical armor and costuming.  Chainmail offers flexibility, as it can be worn under regular clothing.  The only issue is that wearing this armor can cause uneven weight distribution, with the weight stressing the shoulders.  However, wearing a belt over the chainmail can provide better support to remedy the weight issue.  Present day chainmail used by re-enactors is most commonly made from stainless steel, but can also come from aluminum, bronze, titanium, and copper.  The most common style is butted links, but riveted chainmail, which offers better protection, can also be found.

Whether you wish to enhance your style, expand your historical collection, decorate your home, or protect yourself in dangerous work environments, there is no better time than now to get linked.  Take a glance at our selection of chainmail at:

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