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Crispin Yingst

Joined: 14 Oct 2006

Posts: 6

PostPosted: Thu 02 Nov, 2006 2:54 pm    Post subject: General armor questions         Reply with quote

I've been making a small piece of European 4-in-1 mail (greatly helped by the article at, and now I think mail is amazing Happy. It takes a while, but is not hard, and one can just assemble bits at a time in front of the tv or something. After making the patch of mail, I have a few questions, that are kind of related, so I thought it'd be good to put them in one thread.

1. I know that in the late 13th and in the 14th centuries, plates of leather and steel were being added to the limbs. After the whole (very rich) knight was covered in plates later on, was there still a full suit of mail under the plate armor, or was the mail simply used in the places like elbows and armpits?

2. Also, has anyone made a fuil hauberk of the stuff? For starting out, I've heard that a coif is best for beginners, but I want to make a sort of mitten gauntlet. Is that reasonable for a novice armourer?

3. Lastly, what is your favorite period of armor? I like that transition period, but also the 15th century gothic armor and salettes are spiffy.
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Jonathan Blair

Location: Hanover, PA
Joined: 15 Aug 2005
Likes: 4 pages
Reading list: 2 books

Posts: 480

PostPosted: Fri 03 Nov, 2006 4:04 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Welcome, Crispin.
Maille. I remember well the nine months of my life spent in coiling, cutting, and weaving 16 awg galvanized steel wire into a habergeon length shirt (mid-thigh with 3/4 length sleeves) for my wedding, then the two months later spent making a coif. Fun times. I'm thinking about selling it though (both pieces), since it is galvanized steel and I'm trying to put together a 14th century LH quality common man-at-arms kit (no galvanized and the maille has to be flat and wedge riveted). Coifs are harder to do because of the expanding row thing at the crown and along the mantle. I'd recommend doing a shirt first to make sure you know what you are doing, then graduate to the coif.

To answer question 1, maille could be found both as a primary armour or pieced on for joint defense. I've read that brigandines sometimes had maille attached. At first, full maille was worn with steel plates over the important areas (chest, arms, legs). As plate armor developed, less maille was worn with the plate. Pieces of maille (standards for the neck, faulds for the groin, and voiders for the arms and armpits) became the norm to reduce weight. Maille was also worn under, over, and inside of jacks. The Irish and Scots wore maille as a primary defense longer than the rest of Europe.

My favorite period is the late 14th-early 15th Century period, sometimes called the transition period, where maille was being combined with plate

"Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword." - The Lord Jesus Christ, from The Gospel According to Saint Matthew, chapter x, verse 34, Authorized Version of 1611
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Crispin Yingst

Joined: 14 Oct 2006

Posts: 6

PostPosted: Sat 04 Nov, 2006 12:52 pm    Post subject: Re: General Armor Question         Reply with quote

Thanks for the reply Johnathan, and clearing up these questions. It makes sense that a coif would be harder even though it has less rings than a hauberk. On the patch I have now, I attached a 20 ga. plate to the mail and put it on my arm, then tapped with a hammer. The mail on its own didn't dissipate much of the force, but the combo helped. I can see why these 14th century guys did it.
I think this 4in1 is dense as it is, but I have seen a picture of some 10in1 mail. That's crazy!, but it looked tough.

BTW, I tried quench-hardening one of the steel links to see if it would improve the mail, but the ring was still as soft as before. I don't think mild steel can be hardened. I have heard that mail was actually supposed to be mild steel, but does anyone know if this would help?

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Dan Howard

Location: Maitland, NSW, Australia
Joined: 08 Dec 2004

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Posts: 3,230

PostPosted: Sat 04 Nov, 2006 1:00 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

you can't quench harden mild steel. The carbon content isn't high enough. Most of the extant examples of mail that have been metallurgically examined have been made of wrought iron but there have been a handful that have links made of hardened steel.
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