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A question of Maille

Posted: Sat Apr 28, 2012 10:32 pm
by duster
Hello everyone. what i want to know is 'what would you call someone who makes chain maille' is it a maille maker, a mailler, does anyone know???

Re: A question of Maille

Posted: Sun Apr 29, 2012 1:32 am
by Kairra
Wow, good question. I've just done a little Google search and from what I came up with, apparently 'Amourer' works, but outside of that a 'Mailler' or 'Linker' works too. I've never actually heard anyone referred to by any of those names besides Amourer though.

I was wondering too, am I correct in thinking that one should not refer to it as chainmail, but just Maille or chain? I remember being told that Maille means chain, so essentially you're just said 'Chain chain'?

Re: A question of Maille

Posted: Sun Apr 29, 2012 11:51 am
by Malvoisin
Maille means stitch.
Mailler means mesh.

Re: A question of Maille

Posted: Sun Apr 29, 2012 12:46 pm
by Mike Garrett
In modern French, maille translates as 'net', which would make sense.

That font of knowledge, Wikipedia says -
The origins of the word “mail” are not fully known. One theory is that it originally derives from the Latin word macula, meaning "spot" or “opacity” (as in macula of retina).[4] Another theory relates the word to the old French “maillier”, meaning “to hammer” (a cognate of the modern English word “malleable”).[4]

The first attestations of the word “mail” are in Old French and Anglo-Norman: “maille” “maile”, or “male” or other variants, which became “mailye” “maille” “maile”, “male”, or “meile” in Middle English.[5


With regard to that horrible term 'chainmail' it's a Victorianism -
The modern usage of terms for mail armour is highly contested in popular and, to a lesser degree, academic culture. Medieval sources referred to armour of this type simply as “mail”. “Chain-mail”, however, has become a commonly-used, if incorrect neologism first attested in Sir Walter Scott’s 1822 novel The Fortunes of Nigel.


I remember reading somewhere (which has slipped my mind), that maille-making was an industry that an entire village could be doing - some pulling wire, some winding wire and cutting for links, some making rivets, some assembling etc. This may not be true (but would make a certain sense, given the amount of work that it takes to make maille), so I'm given to wonder if there is actually a term for a maille-maker. Personally, having tried to make maille and seeing what goes into it and the vast levels of fiddliness and boring repetition, I feel that the most appropriate noun for an individual maker of maille is 'masochist'. :wink:

Re: A question of Maille

Posted: Sun Apr 29, 2012 3:39 pm
by Kairra
Having watched other half slave away over a tiny bit of Maille, I'm inclined to agree with that final thought... :p

Re: A question of Maille

Posted: Mon Apr 30, 2012 8:04 pm
by duster
Thank you all, helpful as always, :thumbup:

Re: A question of Maille

Posted: Mon Apr 30, 2012 10:30 pm
by Cap-a-pie
Armourer would work and makes more sense, although I have heard and used the term maille maker, but that's more a description of the whole process as opposed to the actual construction of the maille item.

thinking along those lines i would not call a person that makes plate armour a "plate maker"

I think it would be fair to say both trades are linked, pun not intended, and so Armourer be it maille, plate or other would sound the sensible option.

Oh and yes there are accounts of entire villages undertaking this noble art of putting holes together. If I can recall the source, I will post on this thread.

To me it makes sense and I would imagine it to be like an apprenticeship in some respects, with making the rings before moving onto the construction aspects. Overall I find it a fascinating subject, not only the fact that it was used for over 2000 years as a defensive form of armour but also the fact we still have a number of aspects that are yet to be answered. An insomniacs dream as far as I'm concerned at times LOL

Re: A question of Maille

Posted: Tue May 01, 2012 2:48 pm
by Langley
I may be guilty of being the secondary source for some of this in an article I wrote some years ago for the Scriptorium web site. I don't have the original source but was quoting Chris who was the Royal Armouries armourer before they moved to Leeds. He told me about a document which was an order for 5,000 maille shirts which was addressed to a small Italian town. If memory serves, possibly Modena. There are illustrations of the separate trades doing the wire drawing etc but little on the assembly. I have experimented with making pre-fabricated chunks and knitting them together - doesn't work too well. I think the master Maille Armourer may have suprevied apprentices and journeymen as in other trades when there was a big order but illustrations generally only show one person at a time working on garments. I also believe there were guilds of Linen Armourers (making jacks etc), Plate Armourers and Maille armourers. I tend to call myself a Maillr Armourer when doing demos.