Chain mail

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Chainmail close-up.

Mail, or chain mail[1], is a type of armour. It is made of small metal rings linked together in a pattern to form a mesh. The Celts are usually credited with inventing mail armour.[2] Celtic mail was usually made in the form of a vest.[2]

Etymology[change | change source]

The origins of the word "mail" are not fully known. One theory is that it originally comes from the Latin word macula, meaning "spot" or "opacity".[3] Another theory relates the word to the Old French "maillier", meaning “to hammer” (related to the modern English word "malleable").[3] A mail shirt is a called a hauberk (haubergeon or byrnie). Mail leggings were called chausses. A mail Hood is called a coif and covered the head, neck and shoulders.

History[change | change source]

"Mail" was invented by ancient Celts about the 3rd century BC.[4] At that time their iron work was probably the best in Europe.[5] The Romans quickly adopted it for their own army. A shirt of mail armour weighed about 30 pounds (14 kg).[4] After a battle it was common practice to strip weapons and armour from the dead.[6] Vikings were known to wear mail armor whenever they could get their hands on it. Mail was expensive, time consuming to make, and required a supply of iron. So only those who could afford it could pay to have it made for them. Mail armour was in use in Europe until the 15th century.[7]

Gallery[change | change source]

References[change | change source]

  1. "chain mail" Cambridge dictionaries online
  2. 2.0 2.1 Hazel Richardson, Life of the Ancient Celts (New York: Crabtree Publishing Co., 2005), p. 28
  3. 3.0 3.1 "mail, n.3". OED Online. December 2011. Oxford University Press.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Richard A. Gabriel, The Great Armies of Antiquity (Westport, CT: Praeger, 2002), p. 21
  5. Richard A. Gabriel, The Ancient World (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2006), p. 79
  6. Encyclopedia of Military Science, ed. G. Kurt Piehler (Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc., 2013). p. 270
  7. Michèle Byam, Arms and Armor (New York, NY: DK Publishers, 2011), p. 24