Riveted Chainmail Hauberk
(About): A Sturdy Long-Sleeved Chainmail Hauberk for the Discerning Enthusiast
The expert chainmail-makers at House of Warfare have striven for the most historically accurate methods of constructing and finishing their chainmail, whilst using the minimum of modern techniques in order to keep it within affordability for roleplayers and re-enactors. We are proud to supply their long-sleeved Riveted Chainmail Hauberk to our roleplaying and re-enactment community. Each individual ring has been threaded into place and hand-riveted closed – just like the historical originals that they replicate. This means that, although fabricating it is more labor-intensive, it is far more robust than butted chainmail, where the rings have been closed shut but not securely riveted. Riveted chainmail is capable of standing up with ease to the wear and tear of re-enactment and roleplay with minimal maintenance. Our Riveted Chainmail Hauberk is available in a wide variety of configurations, including different materials, ring types, rivet-types and ring sizes – but they all share a scrupulous attention to detail.
Current Available Hauberks:
- Mild Steel / Round Ring / Round Rivet / 6mm Ring
- Mild Steel / Flat Ring / Round Rivet / 8mm Ring
- Mild Steel / Flat Ring / Wedge Rivet / 8mm Ring
- Aluminum / Round Ring / Round Rivet / 10mm Ring
(Curiosity): Choosing Your Ideal Riveted Chainmail Hauberks
Each different configuration has been carefully designed to fill a specific need identified by chainmail wearers – so, if you’re looking to buy riveted chainmail, read on for the lowdown on which suit will suit you!
Flat Rings / Round Rings
The type of rings used in chainmail will affect the way it looks and feels – but both are equally effective in terms of resilience. Flat rings were made in the medieval period by a smith beating a sheet of metal very thin and uniformly flat, and then stamping the rings out with a die and hammer. This meant they were comparatively quick to construct. Round rings were more complex to create: iron billets were heated in a forge and then extruded spaghetti-like through a series of holes of decreasing size known as a ‘drawplate’, until the right gauge was reached. The resulting wire was then wrapped around a cylindrical former called a ‘mandrel’, and then cut into open rings with nippers. The main difference between flat rings and round rings is the way the material moves: round rings create a more flexible fabric, with flat rings creating a stiffer feel – although many re-enactors swear that flat rings hang flatter and cause less snags. Either way, the choice between flat ring and round ring is largely an aesthetic one, as both were used in the medieval period.
Ring Types in the Medieval Period
Although in the Early Medieval period, most chainmail would have used a mix of flat solid rings with riveted round rings threaded into them, by the late-medieval era we have surviving examples of chainmail items made wholly from each. There is a particularly complete chainmail coif dating from c. 1250 CE that was discovered at Tofta, on the Swedish island of Gotland, which is made entirely from riveted flat rings. Archaeologists and re-enactors disagree as to why items made completely from flat rings emerged in the late-medieval period; some theorise that flat rings would have become work-hardened with hammering, becoming comparatively stronger than an equivalent round ring, although it is likely that some of that strength would be lost in the annealing required to rivet them. Another theory is that they can afford better protection from piercing weapons with a larger ring-size, cutting down on production time. Regardless, if you’re concerned about authentic historical accuracy, round rings are generally better at replicating riveted chainmail armor from throughout the Middle Ages, with flat rings appearing in the Late Middle Ages.
Iron / Mild Steel / Spring Steel / Aluminum
Your choice of material will have a significant impact on the purpose and characteristics of your chainmail. Modern reproduction chainmail is generally made from either iron, steel or aluminum. For the modern roleplayer or re-enactor, there are important differences that you should take into account when making your choice.
Iron is by far the most historically authentic form of modern chainmail, and can be easily repaired with simple tools – it is also usually cheaper than steel chainmail as well. However, it is the heaviest form of modern chainmail, and it tends to be softer and therefore more easily bent or burst in impact combat use.
Mild steel chainmail is an excellent mid-range chainmail for re-enactments and roleplay: it’s made from low-carbon steel, meaning that it is medium weight and very robust, as well as being a reasonable price-point. This is generally an excellent compromise for re-enactors who want the possibility of light combat, or roleplayers who seek an extra-robust riveted steel chainmail for physical roleplay.
Spring steel chainmail is the gold-standard for high-grade re-enactment riveted chainmail armor. It is extremely highly resilient, being made from the same highly elastic steels used in the automotive industry for heavy-duty springs. As such, it is the kind of chainmail that is required by Historical European Martial Arts / Historical Medieval Battle clubs and tournaments. Of course, such high-quality armor will generally be more expensive than your average tin suit!
Finally, aluminum is an excellent light-weight metal that’s increasingly used in replica riveted chainmail hauberks for roleplay. It is by far the lightest chainmail metal, being around half the weight of a similar steel hauberk, meaning that it is perfect for all-day wear for roleplayers. However, although aluminum has good tensile strength, it is comparatively brittle – direct impacts can shatter it. It is therefore not combat-rated – but it is usually a cheaper price.
Historical Chainmail Materials
Historically, iron was used throughout the medieval period to make chainmail, gradually replacing bronze in the Roman period as the material of choice. It was fairly abundant, malleable, and easily repaired – which was likely done often, since the low-quality iron was probably fairly prone to stretching and breaking. Since steel could only be made in small quantities with specially-prepared iron bloomeries through almost the entire medieval period, steel chainmail only really began to emerge with the emergence of blast-furnacing in the 13th-century. But numerous surviving fragments of later chainmail armor do show that well-made, heat-tempered chainmail that would have been effective at stopping the heavy piercing weaponry of the age became increasingly common in the Late Middle Ages. Metallic aluminum was, of course, unknown to medieval people (although alum, a common aluminum salt, was used as a fixative in the dye-making industry throughout the Middle Ages). Modern aluminum chainmails are therefore an inexpensive and effective way at achieving the look of medieval riveted chainmail armor – without having to become an experimental archaeologist and live in a hut with only a pig for warmth.
Round (Dome) Rivets / Wedge Rivets
Our Riveted Chainmail Hauberk is available with either domed (round) rivets or wedge rivets. These are both means of securing the open ring once it has been threaded into place in the chainmail.
Riveting Techniques in the Middle Ages
The armorer would take the unriveted chainmail ring and hammer the ends of the open ring flat to make a surface to rivet through both, chasing a rivet hole out with an awl, before threading in the rivet and peening it shut. The earlier form of rivet was the dome (round) rivet. This was quite simply a short (1/4 in. / 5mm) length of wire, threaded into the rivet hole, and squashed into a dome-shape with a pair of specially-shaped pliers (known as ‘peening’). This seals the ring closed, as well as work-hardening the rivet, making it tough to split.
Toward the Late Medieval period, as chainmail became more and more susceptible to the crushing and smashing polearms of the era, armor-smiths developed wedge-rivets. For this type of rivet, instead of a single length of wire fitted into a round punched hole, the smith would punch a ‘slot’ a few millimeters long, using a wedge-shaped rivet in the shape of a shark-tooth. When riveted into place with the peening pliers, the rivet prevents lateral movement of the ring joint, and is generally marginally more robust than a domed rivet – although that difference is far less important than the general overall quality and material of the chainmail hauberk.
Choosing The Right Rivets
For the chainmail’s final wearer, the difference between wedge- and round-rivets is largely aesthetic. Some chainmail enthusiasts will insist that wedge-rivets are smoother to the touch and are less prone to snagging, but the difference is generally marginal, much more dependent on the quality and attention-to-detail of the manufacturer rather than the type of rivet. The significant difference in the rivet type is historical accuracy. Chainmail fragments are very rare and fragile, and remain few and far between, but the pattern of their construction generally indicates that wedge-rivets are from later in the medieval period, coinciding with the rise of plate armor in the 14th-century – although that comes with the heavy caveat that earlier wedge-rivet examples may have either rusted away or are yet to be discovered! That said, most sticklers for accuracy in re-enactment prefer to use round-rivet maille to depict armor before the Late Middle Ages.
6mm / 8mm / 10mm Rings
Chainmail ring diameters varied significantly in the Medieval period. Tighter, smaller rings were significantly better at defeating cuts from opponents, as well as being more tightly woven against piercing attacks. But, they were heavier, and required simply more rings and therefore more work; hence they were of finer but more expensive quality. The riveted flat rings that developed in the Late Middle Ages could be made a little larger with the same capacity to defeat thrusting blows due to their geometry. These choices and trade-offs are much the same for modern roleplayers and re-enactors: if you want a fine, authentic-feeling Riveted Chainmail Hauberk, you can opt for a smaller ring diameter which will create a more opulent, more authentic-looking chainmail. But equally, if you’re on a budget, a larger maille ring will reduce cost and weight, without compromising your outfit.
(History): Chainmail in the Medieval Age
Second only to shining suits of plate armor, chainmail is one of the most instantly recognisable forms of medieval armor, and one of the most reproduced in the modern era. Riveted chainmail hauberks began to be made way back in the mists of the Iron Age, they became the apogee of elite armor in the Early Middle Ages, and they were still worn right up until the age of gunpowder. If we take a quick tour through the historical construction and use of chainmail, we can glean some useful tidbits that we can incorporate into our re-enactment and roleplay outfits to give us the inside track to authenticity.
Roman chainmail, called the lorica hamata (“armor of hooks”), was made by Celtic smiths from alternating rows of solid flat rings and riveted wire rings in order to cut down the amount of labor required, significant reducing the number of rivets that had to be made. Most surviving chainmail fragments from the Migration Period follow this pattern – for example, the stunning Vimose chainmail, the most complete set of Iron-Age chainmail from this period, dating from around the 3rd-century CE. As the Dark Ages began to recede, the states which had sprung up in the wake of the Roman withdrawal saw chainmail as a vital marker of status. The Frankish brunia chainmail hauberk worn by the nobles in Charlemagne’s court was greedily envied by the Norse peoples of Northern Europe – so much so that Charlemagne was forced to ban the sale of chainmail to foreigners! By the Crusades, chainmail had become more common, with gauntlets, chausses (leggings), coifs and sabatons (foot armor) made of maille emerging to create head-to-foot riveted chainmail – for those who could afford it. For the finest chainmail garbs, medieval armorers sometimes wove multiple links together, creating 8-in-2 or even 12 in 4 linkages, but the latter of these were almost wholly inflexible and would probably have only been any good for tournament use.
The end of the High Middle Ages saw the emergence of ‘transitional armors’, as armor-makers sought to grapple with the problems posed by the powerful new weapons of the age like the longbow and the poleaxe. Metal splints and plates began to augment chainmail, and eventually, began to eclipse chainmail altogether. With the emergence of full plate harnesses in the late 14th-century, chainmail began to slowly fall out of favour – but it did attain a new life as a secondary sub-armor. Armor-makers never fully managed to solve the problem of articulating complex joints, leaving vulnerable spots like the back of the knee, the armpit and the groin. Chainmail goussets or voiders bridged the gap, worn under plate armor; these were a fabric-like covering of fine steel maille which protected vulnerable spots on the fully armored knight.
Our Riveted Chainmail Hauberk is a fantastic piece of historical recreation, which is flexible enough to fulfill a broad range of re-enactment and roleplay uses.
Complete the kit! Check out this selection of tabards to go above your chainmail:
- Material: Mild Steel / Aluminum
- Ring type: Round / Flat
- Rivet type: Round / Wedge
- Ring size: 6mm / 8mm / 10mm
- Configuration: 4-in-1
- Weight: Various, see sizing
Mild Steel / Round Ring / Round Rivet / 6mm Ring
Length – 38 Inches, Chest – 43 Inches, Sleeve Length – 22 Inches, Waist – 44 Inches, Weight – 27 lbs.
Length – 39 Inches, Chest – 50 Inches, Sleeve Length – 22 Inches, Waist – 48 Inches, Weight – 29 lbs.
Mild Steel / Flat Ring / Round Rivet / 8mm Ring
Chest – 42 Inches, Length – 35 Inches, Neck Circumference – 19 Inches, Sleeve Length – 21 Inches, Weight – 23.5 lbs
Chest – 44 Inches, Length – 38 Inches, Neck Circumference – 21 Inches, Sleeve Length – 21 Inches, Weight – 26 lbs
Chest – 48 Inches, Length – 41 Inches, Neck Circumference – 23 Inches, Sleeve Length – 22 Inches, Weight – 31.4 lbs
Chest – 58 Inches, Length – 42 Inches, Neck Circumference – 23 Inches, Sleeve Length – 23 Inches, Weight – 36. 8 lbs
Mild Steel / Flat Ring / Wedge Rivet / 8mm Ring
Length: 39 Inches, Chest: Up to 45 Inches, Sleeve Length: 24 Inches, Weight: 23 lbs.
Length: 41 Inches, Chest: Up to 50 Inches, Sleeve Length: 24 Inches, Weight: 26 lbs.
Length: 45 Inches, Chest: Up to 55 Inches, Sleeve Length: 24 Inches, Weight: 28 lbs.
Length: 46 Inches, Chest: Up to 60 Inches, Sleeve Length: 24.5 Inches, Weight: 30 lbs.
Aluminum / Round Ring / Round Rivet / 10mm Ring
Length: 38.5 Inches, Chest: Up to 44 Inches, Sleeve Length: 18.5 Inches, Weight: 10 lbs.
Length: 40 Inches, Chest: Up to 50 Inches, Sleeve Length: 21 Inches, Weight: 12 lbs.
Length: 45 Inches, Chest: Up to 57 Inches, Sleeve Length: 24 Inches, Weight: 14 lbs.
Length: 46 Inches, Chest: Up to 62 Inches, Sleeve Length: 24.5 Inches, Weight: 17 lbs.