Our modern chain maille jewelry takes its inspiration from medieval armor.  Today the jump rings we use are open ones. In the past though, maille was most often made up of riveted rings. They had to be riveted in order to withstand most sword blows. Open rings would give way too easily.

Watch this fascinating video of two traditional maille makers at work creating riveted maille pretty much the way it was made (except for the blow torch for annealing!).  Maille should technically be called just maille as the chain maille moniker came about in Victorian times. The craft still thrives as maille is sought after by historical re-enactors.

It takes about 2.8 km of wire to make a full suit of armor.  A lone maille maker will need a whole year to create it! Back in its heyday, many people were involved in the manufacture of maille. The European 4-in-1 weave was the predominant weave in medieval Europe.

Then as now, maille has to be maintained. Today, we have electric tumblers to do the job.  In medieval times, chain maille was cleaned by rubbing with sand.  They sometimes used a rudimentary form of a tumbler by putting the maille in a barrel of sand which was rolled about! "When not worn, chain mail armor was rolled with pieces of linen to keep it dry. By packing it really tightly, the natural movements of the horse carrying the armor made the rings scrape one another. That helped the armor to be in good state when it had to be used."  They also oiled the rings for extra protection.

Medieval knights had to be pretty fit and strong to wear a full suit of armor, let alone carry and wield his weapons. Just the maille shirt (hauberk) could weigh 20-26 lbs!

Watch this re-enactor, with the help of his "squire", get full kitted out in a 14th century inspired European recreation. Each component has a special name.

The tunics showing the knights' coat of arms were essential for identification when visors were down and faces could not be seen in the battlefield.

Before You Go:

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Original Post by THE BEADING GEM
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