Mail (armour)

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Mail or chain mail is a type of armour consisting of small metal rings linked together in a pattern to form a mesh.

The word chainmail is of relatively recent coinage, having been in use only since the 18th century; prior to this it was referred to simply as mail.[1]

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.

Mail was a highly successful type of armor and was used by nearly every metalworking culture in North Africa, Europe, and Asia. Its use spans from around 300 BC to the dawn of the 20th century and beyond, a period of over 2500 years. Today it remains in limited use in stab vests and a number of other applications. It is also used in reenactments, decorative uses and jewelry.

Contents

Etymology

In the Dark Ages coin mail was often referred to as "ring maille" to distinguish it from other types of mail, such as lamellar and splinted mail. In the Middle Ages scale armor died out, but chain mail remained under the French term "maille" or "mayle", meaning "mesh or net" which derived from Latin macula, or "mesh in a net".

In the Victorian period, interest in the Middle Ages was rekindled, and the Gothic revival began. Because of its resemblance to chains, "maille" took on the name of chain mail.

History

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