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Ringmail is a term that was used in the Victorian study of history to refer to personal armour constructed as series of metallic rings sewn to a fabric or leather foundation. Though the term is occasionally still used, modern historians prefer the term "ring armour" as being actually correct. Whereas historians of Victorian times used the terms "ring mail" and "ring armour" interchangeably and applied the term "mail" to any form of metallic body armour, modern historians reserve the term "mail" for chain mail and its varieties - specifically an interlinked mesh of metal rings.
Ring armour is closely related to scale armour, but provides less protection and is more flexible. Chain mail is composed entirely of a mesh of interlocked metal rings, and is heavy, 7 to 15 kg for a typical hauberk. In contrast, ring armour is essentially a leather or textile item of clothing (a jacket, or trousers) that has a large number of small metal rings sewn directly into the foundation garment, or alternately, with a small tab of leather sewn over a small part of the top of each ring.
Unlike chain mail, the rings are not physically interlocked with each other, but they are so close and numerous they effectively form a contiguous physical barrier. Ring armour is flexible and the wearer can move easily, since the restrictiveness of the armour is essentially only that of the leather base layer. Although the standard description of ring mail involves a leather backing, there is considerable indication that a different form was used in Carolingian France and Germany (known in French as a broigne maclée) a metal reinforced version of the simple cloth tunic that was the traditional Frankish fighting garb.
In the Renaissance a form of ring armour called an "eyelet doublet" was developed. It was known as a "Schiessjoppe" in Germany. Ring armour seems to have also been used in Asia but was rare (see External Image).
Some artwork such as the Bayeux Tapestry depicts armour that appears similar to ring armour but most likely was chain mail, given the difficulty of rendering the former in embroidery. The Bayeux Tapestry depicts some of these methods and this has been misinterpreted as different types of armour. It is generally acknowledged today that virtually all the armour on the Bayeux Tapestry is standard chain mail and not "ring mail" or "trellised mail" or "mascled mail" or any other Victorian construction.