TLDR: Chain mail is a type of armor made of small metal rings linked together to form a mesh. It was used by soldiers in Europe from the 3rd century BC to the 16th century AD, and even longer in other parts of the world. It was also used for protection in various industries and is still used today for historical reenactments and decorative purposes.
Chain mail, also known as mail or maille, is a type of armor that was commonly used by soldiers in Europe from ancient times until the 16th century. It is made up of small metal rings that are linked together in a pattern to form a mesh. This armor, often called a hauberk or byrnie, provided protection to the wearer by absorbing and distributing the force of blows from weapons.
The earliest examples of chain mail were found in the Carpathian Basin in Slovakia and Romania, dating back to the 3rd century BC. It is believed to have been invented by the Celts, although there are examples of Etruscan pattern mail dating back to the 4th century BC. Mail armor spread to other parts of the world, including North Africa, the Middle East, Central Asia, India, Tibet, Southeast Asia, and Japan.
In Europe, mail armor was commonly used during the Iron Age and the Middle Ages. It was gradually replaced by plate armor and firearms in the 16th and 17th centuries. However, mail continued to be used as a secondary armor to plate for the mounted nobility. It was also used in other parts of the world, such as Persia, Central Asia, and India.
Mail armor provided good protection against cutting and slashing attacks, but it was less effective against thrusting attacks and blunt force trauma. It was flexible and allowed for freedom of movement, but it could be heavy and unevenly distributed the weight, putting strain on the shoulders. Over time, mail armor was supplemented with plate armor to provide better protection.
Today, mail armor is still used in various applications. It is used as protective clothing for butchers and woodworkers, as well as for shark-resistant wetsuits. It is also used in historical reenactments and for decorative purposes, such as jewelry and sculptures. In films, both real mail and imitation mail made from materials like ABS plastic are used for costume purposes.
In summary, chain mail is a type of armor made of small metal rings linked together. It was used by soldiers in Europe and other parts of the world for centuries. It provided protection against cutting and slashing attacks but was less effective against thrusting attacks and blunt force trauma. Today, it is still used in various industries and for historical reenactments and decorative purposes.