Chain Mail

or chain Maille or mail armor or maille armor

Chain mail armor consists of a mesh of armor woven from small metal rings.  This mesh is used to protect the wearer from cutting and thrusting attacks.

History
Chain mail is linked to the Celts and it was in the Celts that the Romans first encountered chain mail.  They fought the Celts and soon after adopted chain mail into their own armor systems.  Chain mail became very popular during the middle ages in Europe.  The armor made the wearer mobile due to its flexible nature and the protection it afforded made them impervious to most attacks from edged weapons.  As the weapons changed, heavy plated armor came into vogue and they would wear chain mail with the heavier plate.  As the heavy plate armor went out of fashion, chain mail had a brief resurgence.  Arms and armor changed again and chain mail was lost to the annals of history.

Though chain mail was dropped as a form of armor, the significance of that type of armor cannot be overstated.  The Celts developed a movable system of armor that would adapt to their fast-moving fighting style.  The infantry of Rome soon found that this mobile armor provided their already amazing tactics with an increased speed and power, plus they were better armored.  The armies during the Dark Ages wore chain mail as their main form of armor.  When two infantries clashed, the strength and the skill of the chain mail ‘knitter’ could help determine the out come of the battle.

Style
Here is a set of basic chain mail patterns that were commonly used in Europe.  The number of rings used effected the density of the armor and therefore the durability and protection of the armor.

1 in 4 Chain Mail

 

 

1 in 4 Chain Mail
This is by far the most common version of chain mail.  It is the easiest to make and is the easiest to mass produce.  As you can see from the photo, the one center ring is hooked into four other rings and then it is worked into a pattern.  This pattern is flexible and light and provided basic protection.

 

 

1 in 6 Chain Mail

 

1 in 6 Chain Mail
In this version of traditional chain mail, one ring is put into 6 other rings.  This causes the pattern to be much closer and therefore much more dense.  It used another two rings per square and provided more protection due to the density of the pattern.  This is a much harder pattern to weave and because of the extra rings, it was much more expensive. This and 1 in 8 were the most common used for infantry soldiers.  Lots of protection without a huge cost.

 

 

King’s Mail

King’s Mail
Take a look at the pattern.  this is the courtly version of 1 in 4.  2 central rings are used on 8 outer rings.  The number f rings used meant that you had to have some skill in your fingers to work the pattern and it also meant that you were looking at a good bit of cost in the armor.  And While it would be weightier then the 1 in 4, it was still very flexible and highly protective.  Check out the spaces between the rings – you are not getting anything through the armor – knife, dagger, sword, arrow – nothing gets through King’s Mail – in theory.

 

 

Here is the drawback to chain mail.  Even though an edged weapon is not getting through to cut you, the force of the blow is going to leave contusions and fractures in its wake.  A heavy blow by a sword to the sword arm of the wearer is not going to cleave the arm from the wearer of chain mail but it is going to leave at the least a bruise and at the most a broken arm.  Technological advancement is certainly true when you speak of chain mail but it is not the end-all-be-all of armor. That said, when worn with plate armor you have a soldier that is almost impervious to attack… almost.