Roman Chain Mail


Mail (Photo credit: awrose)

(photot credits: Wikipedia)

Chain Mail is a peculiar type of armor, made to allow easy movement. It was farly heavy, however, and so it was used quite a lot for cavalry, of whom the riders did not have to run and jump such as an infantryman would. However, they did do a lot of movement, as they would have to twist their bodies to hack at enemies on either side. Infantry as well, used it quite a lot, especially the Principes, who were richer and able to purchase better equipment than the Hastati. And yes, people who joined the army in those days had to supply their own equipment.

So what is this, Chain Mail? You may have seen photos of it, but up close? Do you know how it was made? If not, that’s why you are reading this article. Chain Mail is made with a whole bunch of small rings. How it is made is the smith makes one small ring, rivets it closed, and places it in the center of his workbench. He makes four more rings, and put them all on the first, riveting them closed. To each of these rings he then attaches three other rings, and rivets them closed. He keeps going, making sure that each ring has four others attatched to it, and gradually fashions into whatever piece of armor is needed. One way that this was done, is the smith would make a bunch of strips of chain mail, and so he could then attach them to eachother easily and without confusion in making the armor. Trust me, I have made a bit of chain mail myself, (I didn’t get very far as I had very little wire) and it is hopelessy confusing unless you know exactly what to do.

Once the armor was finished, say, as a tunic, it would be sent off to the legion, where the soldier who received it would wear it just as he would a regular tunic, though this is much stronger. However, some chain mail was not riveted together, and just bent so the ends of the ring touched. Though MUCH less work, this armor was ineffective against arrows, wich could just punch through and burst open the rings. Even with riveted armor, a hard spear thrust could burst open the rings as well. Also, against a mace, the mail served little protection, as the mail would just transfer the force of the blow through it into the body of the soldier. The advantages is that against a slash from a sword, it was nearly impenetrable as each ring was much thicker than plate armour, even though it weighed just as much.




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