While chain mail has been around for centuries and had been used by many ancient cultures from Japan to Rome, medieval chain mail has its own culture and history. If you intend to start collecting chain mail, we have a few facts that you might want to know before you start.
In medieval times, blacksmiths forged and linked individual metal rings in tight patterns that varied by country of origin. The blacksmith would sometimes press the ends of the rings together, and sometimes they would weld or rivet them together. The links made shirts lighter and more flexible than plate mail armor, which made them very useful for soldiers on the go.
One common chain mail creation was the hauberk, a short-sleeved mail shirt that fell to mid-thigh length and protected a large portion of the wearer’s body. Shorter shirts were also available, as were other chain mail pieces including socks, hoods, mittens, and collars.
While chain mail armor for sale today is relatively cheap, the blacksmithing process of old was difficult and time-consuming, making it fairly expensive. The materials used to make it also cost quite a bit, so common foot-soldiers didn’t usually get this sort of protection unless they looted it from the enemy. It was very common amongst the knights and nobility for quite some time, though, so much so that the word “mail” became synonymous with “armor.”
Eventually, the construction process got a little quicker and easier, but unfortunately, chain mail armor was being rendered less effective due to advances in other technologies. While chain mail armor is useful when deflecting bladed weapons, its effectiveness against long-range weaponry diminished. At first, wide-tipped arrows and spears found it difficult to get through armor and would leave the soldier only a little scratched. However, these tips shrank until they could get through the chain mail links, which is when knights began to supplement their chain mail with plate armor.