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Encyclopedia > Chainmail
"David rejects the unaccustomed armour" (detail of fol. 28r of the 13th century Morgan Bible). The image depicts realistically the method of undressing a hauberk.
"David rejects the unaccustomed armour" (detail of fol. 28r of the 13th century Morgan Bible). The image depicts realistically the method of undressing a hauberk.

Mail (also maille, often given as chain mail or chain maille, though this is a modern usage) is a type of armour or jewelry that consists of small metal rings linked together in a pattern to form a mesh. This construction can ward off a slashing blow by an edged weapon, preventing it from cutting through to the skin. It was also reasonably effective against most arrowhead types but it has several disadvantages. A well armed lance or spear, or an arrow with a thin head called a bodkin may burst the rings apart, and a heavy axe or sword blow may separate the chain links. The flexibility of mail meant that a particularly strong blow would often transfer to the user, often causing fractures or serious bruising. It is to be considered however, that most Medieval physicians or physicians of earlier time periods could usually set broken bones, but when it came to preventing infection they were woefully inadequate. Thus the mail was weak in defending against wounds which could be more easily mended but strong against those to which the soldier was most vulnerable. The word chainmail is of relatively recent coinage, having been in use only since the 1700s, prior to this it was referred to simply as mail [1]. Morgan Bible, fol. ... Morgan Bible, fol. ... David and Goliath by Caravaggio, c. ... The Israelites are repulsed from Hai (fol. ... hauberk, Museum of Bayeux. ... For other uses, see Armour (disambiguation). ... A blade is the flat part of a tool or weapon that normally has a cutting edge and/or pointed end typically made of a metal, such as steel used to cut, stab, slice, throw, thrust, or strike. ... American Indian arrowheads of several shapes and functions Japanese arrowheads of several shapes and functions Arrowhead can refer to: the point of an arrow; some plants in the genus Sagittaria; the Arrowhead region of northeastern Minnesota; a place name in southern California, derived from an arrowhead-shaped geologic formation in... Bodkin point arrows were invented in the Middle Ages, as an improvement of the earlier broadhead arrow. ... Astrology played a important part in Medieval medicine; most educated physicians were trained in at least the basics of astrology to use in their practice. ... A fractured bone in a living person is typically treated by restoring the fractured pieces of bone to their natural positions (if necessary), and maintaining those positions while the bone heals. ... An infection is the detrimental colonization of a host organism by a foreign species. ...


The word itself refers to the armour material, not the garment made from it. A shirt made from mail is a hauberk, if knee-length; haubergeon if mid-thigh length, and byrnie if waist-length. Mail leggings are called chausses, mail hoods coif and mail mittens mitons. A mail collar hanging from a helmet is camail or aventail. A mail collar worn strapped around the neck was called a pixane or standard. hauberk, Museum of Bayeux. ... hauberk, Museum of Bayeux. ... Chausses with poleyns, from an illustration by Villard de Honnecourt (13th century) Chausse is also an unrelated technical term in heraldry. ... An aventail is a flexible curtain of chainmail on a helmet, that extends to cover the neck and shoulders. ...

Contents

History

Statue of a Gallic warrior. This armor uses a highly unusual vertical orientation of the rings.
Statue of a Gallic warrior. This armor uses a highly unusual vertical orientation of the rings.

Mail was invented some time in the mid 1st millennium BC, but it is unknown where and by whom it was first used. It may have been invented independently in Japan and in Europe. The earliest finds are from a 5th century BC [citations needed] Celtic chieftain's burial located in Ciumesti, Romania. The Greek term, cataphract, came to be associated with heavy cavalry (as opposed to light mounted archers). The Roman Republic first came into contact with mail fighting the Gauls in Cisalpine Gaul, now Northern Italy. The Roman army adopted the technology for their troops in the form of the lorica hamata which was used as a primary form of armour through the Imperial period where it was used alongside the lorica segmentata. Image File history File linksMetadata Download high-resolution version (504x700, 204 KB) Sujet : Statue gallo-romaine de guerrier gaulois portant des habits et un armement romains ; Trouvée : vers 1850 à Vachères, Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, France ; Emplacement : Musée Calvet, Avignon, France ; Image originale : Image:Guerrier_de_Vachères_(profil). ... Image File history File linksMetadata Download high-resolution version (504x700, 204 KB) Sujet : Statue gallo-romaine de guerrier gaulois portant des habits et un armement romains ; Trouvée : vers 1850 à Vachères, Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, France ; Emplacement : Musée Calvet, Avignon, France ; Image originale : Image:Guerrier_de_Vachères_(profil). ... Map of Gaul circa 58 BC Gaul (Latin: ) was the name given, in ancient times, to the region of Western Europe comprising present-day northern Italy, France, Belgium, western Switzerland and the parts of the Netherlands and Germany on the west bank of the Rhine river. ... (2nd millennium BC – 1st millennium BC – 1st millennium – other millennia) // Events The Iron Age spread to Western Europe Egypt declined as a major power The Tanakh was written Buddhism was founded by Siddharta Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha (6th century BC) Jainism was founded by Mahavira (6th century BC... World map exhibiting the location of Europe. ... (2nd millennium BC - 1st millennium BC - 1st millennium) The 5th century BC started on January 1, 500 BC and ended on December 31, 401 BC. // The Parthenon of Athens seen from the hill of the Pnyx to the west. ... Celts redirects here. ... Sarmatian cataphracts in a representation found at Tanais. ... Soldiers or warriors who fought mounted on horseback in combat are commonly known as cavalry (from French cavalerie). ... A horse archer (or horsed archer, mounted archer) is a cavalryman armed with a bow. ... See also Roman Republic (18th century) and Roman Republic (19th century). ... Cisalpine Gaul (Latin: Gallia Cisalpina, meaning Gaul this side of the Alps) was a province of the Roman Republic, in Emilia and Lombardy of modern-day northern Italy. ... Northern Italy encompasses nine of the countrys 20 autonomous regions: Emilia-Romagna Friuli-Venezia Giulia Liguria Lombardia Piemonte Toscana Trentino-Alto Adige Valle dAosta Veneto Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Trentino-Alto Adige and Valle dAosta are regions with a special statute. ... Detail of metal links. ... A reenactor dressed as a Roman soldier in lorica segmentata The lōrÄ«ca segmentāta was a type of armour primarily used in the Roman Empire, but the Latin name was first used in the 16th century (the ancient form is unknown). ...


The use of mail was prominent throughout the High Middle Ages, and reached its apex in the 13th century, when full body suits of mail armour were developed. The Middle Ages formed the middle period in a traditional schematic division of European history into three ages: the classical civilization of Antiquity, the Middle Ages, and modern times, beginning with the Renaissance. ... (12th century - 13th century - 14th century - other centuries) As a means of recording the passage of time, the 13th century was that century which lasted from 1201 to 1300. ...


In the 14th century, plate armour began to supplement mail. Eventually mail was supplanted by plate for the most part. However, mail was still widely used by many soldiers as well as brigandines and padded jacks. These three types of armour made up the bulk of the equipment used by soldiers with mail being the most expensive. It was quite often more expensive than plate armour. A mail shirt interwoven between two layers of fabric is called jazzeraint, and can be worn as protective clothing. This 14th-century statue from south India depicts the gods Shiva (on the left) and Uma (on the right). ... Gothic armour Plate armour is personal armour made from large metal plates, worn on the chest and sometimes the entire body. ...


Extant mail is common, but it is not proportionately represented in museum collections.


The Japanese used mail (kusari) in a limited fashion in armor beginning during the Nambokucho period (1336-1392). Two primary weave methods were used: a square 4-in-1 pattern (so gusari) and a hexagonal 6-in-1 pattern (hana gusari). Kusari was typically made with rings that were much smaller than their European counterparts, and on a much smaller scale - rather than creating full garments of mail, small sections were used to link together plates and to drape over vulnerable areas such as the underarm. The rings were not welded shut, though some pieces were constructed of rings that consisted of two or more turns, similar to the modern split ring commonly used on keychains. The rings were lacquered to prevent rusting, and was always stitched onto a backing of cloth or leather. The kusari was sometimes concealed entirely between layers of cloth or leather.


Etymology

The word chainmail is a pleonasm and a neologism: in the Middle Ages and Renaissance, "mail", "mayle" or chain was the English name for it, while maille was the common French name for it. This—and the alternative spellings "maile" and "maille"—derive through the Italian maglia, from the Latin macula, meaning "mesh of a net". Spanish corresponding word is malla and Portuguese malha. Cymric term lluric refers to Latin lorica. Pleonasm is the use of more words (or even word-parts) than necessary to express an idea clearly. ... A neologism (from Greek νεολογισμός νέος [neos] = new; λόγος [logos] = word) is a word, term, or phrase which has been recently created (coined) — often to apply to new concepts, to synthesize pre-existing concepts, or to make older terminology sound more contemporary. ... The Middle Ages formed the middle period in a traditional schematic division of European history into three ages: the classical civilization of Antiquity, the Middle Ages, and modern times, beginning with the Renaissance. ... Raphael was famous for depicting illustrious figures of the Classical past with the features of his Renaissance contemporaries. ... The English language is a West Germanic language that originates in England. ... Latin is an ancient Indo-European language originally spoken in Latium, the region immediately surrounding Rome. ...


Many modern armourers prefer the French spelling "Maille" in order to avoid confusion with the term chain letter for "chainmail" or postal delivery for "mail". It has been suggested that chain e-mail be merged into this article or section. ...


Manufacture

Detail closeup of 1-to-4 chainmail material
Detail closeup of 1-to-4 chainmail material

Several patterns of linking the rings together have been known since ancient times, with the most common being the 1-to-4 pattern (where each ring is linked with four others). In Europe, the 1-to-4 pattern was completely dominant. Mail was also common in East Asia, primarily Japan, with several more patterns being utilized and an entire nomenclature developing around them. 1-to-4 is commonly referred to as 4 in 1, or 4-1. Image File history File linksMetadata Chainmail_closeup-1. ... Image File history File linksMetadata Chainmail_closeup-1. ... World map exhibiting the location of Europe. ... East Asia is a subregion of Asia that can be defined in either geographical or cultural terms. ...

Modern mail being made by hand. The coif is worn as a fashion statement and is not required as job-related protective gear.
Modern mail being made by hand. The coif is worn as a fashion statement and is not required as job-related protective gear.

Historically, in Europe, from the pre-Roman period on, the rings composing a piece of mail would be riveted shut, to reduce the chance of the rings splitting open when subjected to a thrusting attack or a hit by an arrow. Due to the triangular points of the rivet heads, many armorers designed their mail with the pointed sides out, thus creating a very distinct "inside" and "outside". Image File history File links Chainmaillecrafting. ... Image File history File links Chainmaillecrafting. ... A fashion consists of a current (constantly changing) trend, favoured for frivolous rather than practical, logical, or intellectual reasons. ...


Up until the 14th century mail was made of alternating rows of both riveted rings and solid rings. Both would have been made using wrought iron. Wire for the riveted rings was formed by either of two methods. One was to hammer out wrought iron to roughly the correct size. The other, more labor-intensive method was to draw a thin piece of it through a metal cone, reducing it in diameter, lengthening it, and forming it into a round shape. This was done repeatedly until the desired gauge was achieved. The solid links would have been made by punching from a sheet. Forge welding was also used to create solid links, but the only known example from Europe is that of the 7th century Coppergate mail drape. Outside of Europe this practice was more common such as the well known "theta" links from India. Drawing is a manufacturing process for producing a wire, bar or tube by pulling on a material until it increases in length. ...

Wire coils, rings, and tools of the trade
Wire coils, rings, and tools of the trade

In modern re-enactment societies (such as the Society for Creative Anachronism and Regia Anglorum) and live action role-playing games (LARPs), suits of mail and mail jewelry are handmade from rings of wire. They may or may not be welded or soldered but are rarely riveted. They may also be made of split sprung steel washers. Usually two pairs of pliers are used to bend the washers open and closed while "knitting" the mail. Many makers may have an apprentice, sometimes called a "ringmonkey", to pre-open or close rings for faster and easier weaving. The resulting mail is usually heavier than traditional wire-wound mail, but very durable. When not used for combat, aluminium is sometimes used to reduce the garment's weight by as much two thirds, with a proportional decrease in strength. Image File history File linksMetadata Chainmail_coils_and_tools. ... Image File history File linksMetadata Chainmail_coils_and_tools. ... The Society for Creative Anachronism (usually shortened to SCA) is a nonprofit educational organization whose goal is described in their By-Laws and Corporate Policies as a group devoted to the study of the Middle Ages and Renaissance life and culture of the landed nobility in Europe prior to A... Overview Regia Anglorum (Latin for Kingdoms of the English) is a medieval reenactment organisation covering the period of time in England around AD 950-1066. ... A live action role-playing game (LARP or LRP) is a form of role-playing game where the participants perform some or all of the physical actions of the characters they are playing within a pre-determined space for a pre-determined span of time. ... If youre looking for the TV show, see The Apprentice. ...


Mail can be made with household tools (cutters, mandrel for wire coiling and pliers for knitting). Making a hauberk and chausses will take roughly 180 hours. Modern mail makers often refer to the size of rings they are working with by the inner diameter, which is approximately equal to the diameter of the rod around which the wire was wrapped to create the rings. Wire thickness is measured in either millimeters, American Wire Gauge or Standard Wire Gauge, or in decimals of an inch to avoid confusion. In modern mail-makers' terms, mail made of rings with an inner diameter larger than about 10 mm (3/8") are known as "macromaille," whereas mail with rings with an inner diameter smaller than 3 mm (1/8") are known as "micromaille." Mandrel (pronounced mandrul, and also transliterated as manderil) is a term that can refer to: an object used to shape machined work; a tool component that grips or clamps materials to be machined; or a tool component that can be used to grip other moving tool components. ... hauberk, Museum of Bayeux. ... Chausses with poleyns, from an illustration by Villard de Honnecourt (13th century) Chausse is also an unrelated technical term in heraldry. ... A millimetre (American spelling: millimeter), symbol mm is an SI unit of length that is equal to one thousandth of a metre. ... American wire gauge (AWG), also known as the Brown and Sharpe wire gauge, is used in the United States and other countries as a standard method of denoting wire diameter, especially for nonferrous, electrically conducting wire. ...


Probably the easiest means of producing mail is to wrap wire around a rod, also called a mandrel, to produce a coil of uniform size and shape. The mandrel may be turned by hand or driven by a power tool, such as a drill. The coil is then cut into rings. Depending on the material, rings may be cut with a jeweler's saw, a rotary tool with a cut-off blade, mini-bolt cutters, diagonal cutters, aviation or tin snips, or a hack saw. Stretching the coil slightly before cutting is an easy means of opening a gap in the rings for assembly. (With practice, deformation of rings resulting from this stretching can be eliminated.) Mandrel (pronounced mandrul, and also transliterated as manderil) is a term that can refer to: an object used to shape machined work; a tool component that grips or clamps materials to be machined; or a tool component that can be used to grip other moving tool components. ... A lower quality cordless power drill. ... A handheld power tool with a variety of rotating accessory bits and attachments that can be used for cutting, carving, sanding, polishing and many other applications. ... Diagonal pliers. ... Tin snips are tools used to cut thin sheet metal. ... A panel hacksaw. ...


Protective mail for industrial or other practical applications is knit and welded by machine from wire.


Recently there has been a movement within the modern medieval plate armour reproduction industry to make more historically authentic mail through the painstaking creation of flattened wedge-riveted mail garments. While this type of mail is extremely durable, its high level of labor tends to make it too cost-prohibitive for all but the most discerning collectors of reproduction armour. Many reenactors tend to prefer the use of welded steel rings that take less time to produce while offering the same benefits of riveted mail. Gothic armour Plate armour is personal armour made from large metal plates, worn on the chest and sometimes the entire body. ...


Modern uses

Practical uses

A woman models a haubergeon and coif of modern make.
A woman models a haubergeon and coif of modern make.

Mail is now used in protective clothing for butchers (against meat-packing equipment), scuba divers (against shark teeth) and animal control officers (against animal teeth). Shark expert and underwater filmmaker Valerie Taylor was among the first to develop and test the chainmail suit in 1979 while diving with sharks. The British police use mail gloves for dealing with knife-armed aggressors. The military also uses mail vests for the same reason. Modern re-enactors of medieval battles and living history also use mail. Image File history File linksMetadata Download high resolution version (1704x2272, 1951 KB) Description: File links The following pages link to this file: Chainmail Metadata This file contains additional information, probably added from the digital camera or scanner used to create or digitize it. ... Image File history File linksMetadata Download high resolution version (1704x2272, 1951 KB) Description: File links The following pages link to this file: Chainmail Metadata This file contains additional information, probably added from the digital camera or scanner used to create or digitize it. ... hauberk, Museum of Bayeux. ... Please wikify (format) this article or section as suggested in the Guide to layout and the Manual of Style. ... The British police are a group of similar but independent police services which operate in the United Kingdom. ...


During World War I, mail was evaluated as a material for bullet proof vests, but results were unsatisfactory as the rings would fragment and further aggravate the damage. A mail fringe, designed by Captain Cruise of the British Infantry, was added to helmets to protect the face but this proved unpopular with soldiers, in spite of being proven to defend against a three-ounce shrapnel round fired at a distance of one hundred yards (92.3m). Combatants Allied Powers: Russian Empire France British Empire Italy United States Central Powers: Austria-Hungary German Empire Ottoman Empire Bulgaria Commanders Nicholas II Aleksei Brusilov Georges Clemenceau Joseph Joffre Ferdinand Foch Herbert Henry Asquith Douglas Haig John Jellicoe Victor Emmanuel III Luigi Cadorna Armando Diaz Woodrow Wilson John Pershing Franz... A bulletproof vest – also called body armour (U.S. body armor) – is an article of protective clothing that works as a form of armour to minimize injury from being hit by a fired bullet. ... A sectioned Shrapnel shell displayed at the Canadian War Museum, Ottawa For other uses, see Shrapnel (disambiguation). ...


Mail suits are also used as protection from high voltages - they form a faraday cage around the wearer. Entrance to a Faraday room A Faraday cage or Faraday shield is an enclosure formed by conducting material, or by a mesh of such material. ...


There is anecdotal evidence to suggest that mail is a viable alternative to heavy leather for protecting motorcyclists from injury should they be thrown from their motorcycles.


Historical re-enactment

Many historical reenactment groups, especially those whose focus is Antiquity or the Middle Ages, commonly use mail both as practical armor and for costuming. Mail is especially popular amongst those groups which use steel weapons. A fighter wearing hauberk and chausses can run, lie, stand up, jump, do somersaults (or even cartwheels), and even swim wearing full armor, depending on the fitness of the wearer. A modern hauberk made from 1.5 mm diameter wire with 10 mm inner diameter rings weighs roughly 10 kg and contains 15,000–45,000 rings. Mail can be used under everyday clothes and many reenactors wear a hauberk under their regular clothes to accustom themselves to it. The only real drawback of mail is the uneven weight distribution; the stress falls mainly on shoulders. Weight can be distributed by wearing a belt. Reenactors of the American Civil War Historical reenactment is an activity in which participants recreate some aspects of a historical event or period. ... Ancient history is the study of significant cultural and political events from the beginning of human history until the Early Middle Ages. ... The Middle Ages formed the middle period in a traditional schematic division of European history into three ages: the classical civilization of Antiquity, the Middle Ages, and modern times, beginning with the Renaissance. ...


Decorative uses

Major's shoulder chains

Mail remained in use as a decorative and possibly high-status symbol with military overtones long after its practical usefulness had passed. It was frequently used for the epaulets of military uniforms. It is still used in this form by the British Territorial Army. Image File history File linksMetadata Download high resolution version (1600x1200, 614 KB) Summary This photograph shows epalets of a British Army major. ... Image File history File linksMetadata Download high resolution version (1600x1200, 614 KB) Summary This photograph shows epalets of a British Army major. ... Epaulette [pronunciation: ĕp-ǝ-lĕt] is a French word meaning verbatim, little shoulders (epaule, referring to shoulder), often describes the shoulder decorations such as insignia or rank, especially in military or other organizations worn on the shoulder. ... In the United Kingdom the Territorial Army is a part of the British Army composed of reserve units, or part-time soldiers. ...


Mail also has applications in sculpture and jewelry, especially when made out of precious metals or colorful anodized metals. Recent trends in mail artwork include headdresses, Christmas ornaments, chess sets, and all manner of jewelry. For these non-traditional applications, hundreds of new weaves or patterns have been invented.[2] These inexpensive carabiners have an anodised aluminium surface that has been dyed and are made in many colors. ...


In film

Double mail
Double mail

In many films, knitted string spray-painted with a metallic paint is used instead of actual mail in order to cut down on cost (a notable example being Monty Python and the Holy Grail, which was filmed on a very small budget). Films more dedicated to costume accuracy often use ABS plastic rings, for the lower cost and weight. Thousands of such ABS mail coats were made for The Lord of the Rings film trilogy, in addition to many metal coats. The metal coats were used rarely because of their weight, except in close-up filming where the appearance of ABS rings would have been clearly distinguishable. Kings Mail, or 8 in 2 chainmail File history Legend: (cur) = this is the current file, (del) = delete this old version, (rev) = revert to this old version. ... Kings Mail, or 8 in 2 chainmail File history Legend: (cur) = this is the current file, (del) = delete this old version, (rev) = revert to this old version. ... Film is a term that encompasses individual motion pictures, the field of film as an art form, and the motion picture industry. ... Monty Python and the Holy Grail is a film released in 1975. ... This article or section is not written in the formal tone expected of an encyclopedia article. ... Monomers in ABS polymer Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene, or ABS, (chemical formula (C8H8· C4H6·C3H3N)x) is a common thermoplastic used to make light, rigid, molded products such as pipes, golf club heads (used for its good shock absorbance), automotive body parts, wheel covers, enclosures, protective head gear, and toys including... The Lord of the Rings: The Motion Picture Trilogy poster (2003) The Lord of the Rings film trilogy comprises three live action fantasy epic films; The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001), The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002) and The Lord of the...


In Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, Tina Turner wore a real metal mail dress. Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome was a 1985 film, the second sequel to the action movie Mad Max. ... Tina Turner (born Anna Mae Bullock on November 26, 1939) is a Grammy Award-winning American pop/rock singer, Buddhist and occasional actress. ...


Weta Tenzan Chain Maille, a division of Wingnut Entertainment, specialises in the production of chain mail (plastic, aluminium and steel) for films. This article lacks information on the importance of the subject matter. ... Peter Jackson in Wellington (New Zealand) Peter Jackson CNZM is a film writer, director and producer born in Pukerua Bay, New Zealand to Bill and Joan Jackson on October 31, 1961. ...


See also

Banded mail is the term used for a form of chainmail reinforced with bands of leather. ...

External links


  Results from FactBites:
 
Chainmail (353 words)
Chainmail is a material used to make armour, and consists of small rings of metal put together to form a mesh.
Chainmail has been used at least since the time of the Roman Empire, and was an important armour material up until fully articulated plate armour became available.
Historically, the rings composing a chainmail armour would be riveted or welded shut, to reduce the chance of the rings splitting open when subjected to a thrusting attack or a hit by an arrow.
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