So, exactly what is chainmaille?

Dating back to antiquity, it is believed that chainmaille (pronounced "chain mail") was invented by the Celts and later adopted by the Romans after they realized its potential after fighting the Celts. A variety of materials were used to make chainmaille including brass and iron and eventually steel.In the early feudal period of the Middle Ages a knight wore a cloth or leather tunic covered with interwoven iron rings (now referred to as a European 4 in 1 weave) or scales. 

This video shows you the outfitting of a 14th century knight who was able to afford plate armor as an additional protective layer on top of his chainmaille armor. Very interesting to watch. While I don't make chainmaille armor because of the time (and cost) involved, I certainly can, but I instead use the same technique to make jewelry and other items. There is such history in what I do! Cool, huh?  

Click here for video

About the beginning of the twelfth century the knight adopted chainmaille garments with a hood, or coif, woven of the same material.  In the 14th century, plate armor began to replace the chainmaille worn by knights.  However, the chainmaille was not completely discarded by the knights who continued to wear a shirt of chainmaille beneath plate armor to protect the joints and the groin. Plate armor was extremely expensive and the average soldier during the Middle Ages still used chainmaille as their best protection. 

Examples of elements of a suit of chainmaille armor:  
left to right: Chauss, Coif, Gauntlets



Modern Uses for Chainmaille

The art of chainmaille has been adapted for a variety of purposes including exquisite jewelry, elaborate inlays, household items, and figurals, and it is still used as armor for renaissance fairs and cosplay. 

There is really very little limit to what you can create with chainmaille.  You just need a good imagination, pliers, lots of rings, and a considerable amount of time and talent - plus a fair amount of band aids for the inevitable flying plier injuries.  Ouch!

In the ancient and medieval worlds, before firearms became prevalent, armies employed dogs to strike fear into the hearts of their foes. 

The ancient Romans had whole companies comprised of vicious dogs, which were often starved before battle and equipped with knife-covered collars and anklets. And according to The New Dog Encyclopedia, “During the Middle Ages, dogs were armored as completely as the knights and their charging horses. Suits of canine armor — plate, chain and canvas — were worn into battle and for the chase.” We’re guessing none were as cute as this guy, though.

Here are some more pictures of adorable animals whose owners have decided to equip for battle.



For additional information, check out this Wikipedia page.