A hauberk is a shirt of mail armour. The term is usually used to describe a shirt reaching at least to mid-thigh and including sleeves. Haubergeon ("little hauberk") generally refers to a shorter variant with partial sleeves, but the terms are often used interchangeably. [http://www.arador.com/construction/glossary.html#H] Slits to accommodate horseback-riding are often incorporated below the waist. Most are put on over the head. "Hauberk" can also refer to a similar garment of scale armour.


The word "hauberk" is derived from an old German word "Halsberge", which originally described a small piece of mail that protects the throat and the neck (the 'Hals'). The Roman author Varro attributes the Celts with inventing mail. The earliest extant example was found in Ciumeşti in modern Romania and is dated to the 4th-5th centuries BC. Roman armies adopted similar technology after encountering it. Mail armour spread throughout the world with the expansion of the Romans and was quickly adopted by virtually every iron using culture in the world, with the exception of the Chinese, who used it rarely despite being heavily exposed to it from other cultures.

The Bayeux Tapestry illustrates Norman soldiers wearing a knee length version of the hauberk, with three-quarter length sleeves and a split from hem to crotch. Such armor was quite expensive — both in materials (iron wire) and time/skill required to manufacture it — so common foot soldiers rarely were so equipped.

The hauberk stored in the Prague Cathedral, dating from the 12th century, is one of the earliest surviving examples from Central Europe and was supposedly owned by Saint Wenceslaus. In Europe, use of mail hauberks continued up through the 14th century, when plate armor began to supplant it, and mail armour started to be recycled into other metal objects or used for scouring pads.Fact|date=June 2007 In parts of Central Asia, it continued to be used longer.


The hauberk is typically a type of mail armour which is constructed of loops of metal woven into a tunic or shirt. The sleeves sometimes only went to the elbow, but often were full arm length, with some covering the hands with a supple glove leather face on the palm of the hand, or even full mail gloves. It was usually thigh or knee length, with a split in the front and back to the crotch so the wearer could ride a horse. It sometimes incorporated a hood, or coif.

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  • Hauberk — Hauberk, Museo de Bayeux. Hauberk es una armadura de mallas europea, cuyo nombre es de origen alemán (Halsberge). Los romanos atribuyeron su invención a los celtas, de quienes las adaptaron. El ejemplar más antiguo perteneció a Venceslao I de… …   Wikipedia Español

  • Hauberk — Hau berk (h[add] b[ e]rk), n. [OF. hauberc, halberc, F. haubert, OHG. halsberc; hals neck + bergan to protect, G. bergen; akin to AS. healsbeorg, Icel. h[=a]lsbj[ o]rg. See {Collar}, and {Bury}, v. t.] A coat of mail; especially, the long coat of …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • hauberk — c.1300, from O.Fr. hauberc coat of mail, earlier holberc, from a Germanic source, perhaps Frankish *halsberg, lit. neck cover (Cf. O.E. halsbearh, O.H.G. halsberc), from hals neck (see COLLAR (Cf. collar)) + bergan to cover, protect …   Etymology dictionary

  • hauberk — [hô′bərk] n. [ME hauberc < OFr < Frank * halsberg (akin to OE healsbeorg), protection for the neck, gorget < hals, the neck (see COLLAR) + bergan, to protect] a medieval coat of armor, usually of chain mail …   English World dictionary

  • Hauberk — A chainmail protective shirt with sleeves and it usually reached down to about thigh height. It was sometimes made from materials other than chain mail. Coat of mail (armour). See also Fief de Haubert. a long coat of mail, knee length or longer,… …   Medieval glossary

  • hauberk — noun A coat of mail; especially, the long coat of mail of the European Middle Ages, as contrasted with the habergeon, which is shorter and sometimes sleeveless. The hauberk was a complete covering of mail from head to foot. It consisted of a hood …   Wiktionary

  • Hauberk — A long coat of mail reaching below the knees; the most important piece of protection worn defensively. In the 11c a hauberk might be worth about 30s. These coats were obviously subject to rust. The solution was a kind of varnish which gave the… …   Dictionary of Medieval Terms and Phrases

  • hauberk — noun Etymology: Middle English, from Anglo French hauberc, of Germanic origin; akin to Old English healsbeorg neck armor Date: 14th century a tunic of chain mail worn as defensive armor from the 12th to the 14th century …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • hauberk — /haw berrk/, n. Armor. a long defensive shirt, usually of mail, extending to the knees; byrnie. [1250 1300; ME < OF hauberc, earlier halberc < Frankish *halsberg, equiv. to *hals neck (see HAWSE) + *berg protection (see HARBOR); c. OHG halsberc… …   Universalium

  • HAUBERK —    a coat or tunic of mail made of interwoven steel rings and extending below the knees …   The Nuttall Encyclopaedia

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