Chainmail A to Z List

Chainmail was described as being a “net of armor” in the medieval tale Beowulf.

Medieval Poem Beowulf

Medieval Poem Beowulf

Chainmail that protected the upper body and was 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 Hauberk Detail

Chainmail could be used to cover separate 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.

French Chainmail close up detail

Detail of French Medieval Chainmail 4-1 linkage Chain Mail in close up detail

Chainmail Armour – A to Z List

Aventail (Mail Body Armour)

Mail armor attached to a helmet that protected the head and face. The 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 the mail, a battle shirt of mail. The Byrnie originates from old Norse and was originally 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.

Hauberk Chainmail Shirt

The Byrnie could be made from leather, metal scales, or rings that were sown to mail or leather.

Medieval Chainmail Haubert

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 its design. A Coif could be attached to body armor or used as a separate piece and was also described as a close-fitting cap by historians.

Anglo Saxon Wars

The Coif became a separate piece of armor around the 13th century.

The Coif was longer in later designs and covered the shoulders as well, it could be worn with a metal plate underneath or with a helmet on top, there were several variants in how Coif was worn and the design during medieval times. Other names for the Coif were Coifa or Coifia.

Coif chainmail for the head and neck

Chainmail *Coif

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 undergarment worn under mail, more recent historical evidence suggests that the mail description is more accurate.


Anglo Saxon Armour

Anglo Saxon Armour

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.

Chainmail Hauberk Detail

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.

Close Detail of Medieval Hauberk Shirt

The image shows the close-up detail of the interlocking rings of the Hauberk