Chainmail was described as being a “net of armour” in the medieval tale Beowulf. Chain mail that protected the upper body and worn as a long full body shirt was known as a Hauberk. Mail that protected the head and neck was known as a Coif.
Chainmail could be used to cover seperate parts of the body and there really were no limits to how it could be used. The common type of chainmail was constructed using the 4 to 1 linking system, more links were used to make the chainmail stronger.
Chainmail Armour – A to Z List
Aventail (Mail Body Armour)
Mail armour attached to a helmet that protected the head and face. Term applies to mail covering the head like a coif or tippet. Aventails could be riveted inside bascinet helmets, later Aventails were removable.
Byrnie – (Mail Body Armour)
A Tunic made from mail, a battle shirt of mail. The Byrnie originates from old Norse and was orginally worn by the Vikings. Similar to the Hauberk in design it was worn by the legendary Beowulf as a battle shirt. Commonly worn by army units and commonly associated with the Vikings. The Byrnie could be made from leather, metal scales or rings that were sown to mail or leather.
Coif (Head and Neck Mail Armour)
The Coif was similar in appearance to a balaclava helmet, it had an open front and there were slight variations in it’s design. A Coif could be attached to body armour or used as a seperate piece and was also described as a close fitting cap by historians.
The Coif became a seperate piece of armour around the 13th century. The Coif was longer in later designs and covered the shoulders as well, it could be worn with metal plate underneath or with a helmet on top, their were several variants in how Coif was worn and the design during medieval times. Other names for the Coif were Coifa or Coifia.
Haubergeon (Mail Body Armour)
A Haubergeon was basically a smaller version of the Hauberk, a chain mail shirt or tunic that was shorter in length. 14th and 15th century historical records describe the Haubergeon as being made from mail, however contradictory sources suggest that the Haubergeon was a quilted under garment worn under mail, more recent historical evidence suggest that the mail description is more accurate.
Hauberk (Whole Body Mail Tunic)
The Hauberk was a mail tunic from the middle ages, it originally protected the neck but later covered the whole body, a Hauberk could be long or short sleeved and there were varying lengths throughout history. Hauberks could be worn with a coif to protect the neck and head areas.
There were various Hauberk designs and the skirt could be split in various places. Some historical sources suggest that a Hauberk was also referred to as being made with scales or plates. Historical literature mentions Hauberks as far back as 837. One Famous person who wore a Hauberk was “William the Conqueror” in the Battle of Hastings and other important battles.