Aug. 2, 2004
Jan. 4, 2006 update
Objects > Mithril
> Mithril Shirt
for a good telling by Daeron-(V) of the
ancient history of Bilbo's and Frodo's mithril shirt.
"Not at Home"
Thorin's company enters the Mountain while Smaug is
gone to attack the Lake-men of Dale. The group comes across some of the
treasure and use it to armor and arm themselves. Thorin gifts Bilbo
with the mithril shirt:
"'Mr. Baggins!' he
cried. 'Here is the first payment of your reward! Cast off your old
coat and put on this!'
"With that he put
on Bilbo a small coat of mail, wrought for some young elf-prince long
ago. It was of silver-steel, which the elves call mithril, and with it
went a belt of pearls and crystals. A light helm of figured leather,
strengthened beneath with hoops of steel, and studded about the brim
with white gems, was set upon the hobbit's head.
magnificent,' he thought; 'but I expect I look rather absurd. How they
would laugh on the Hill at home! Still I wish there was a looking-glass
"A Thief in the Night"
Bilbo brings the Arkenstone to Bard, leader of the
Dale-men who wait with their allies, the Elves of Mirkwood, to force
peace between them and the Dwarves. Bilbo is wearing the mithril shirt
and the Elf-king, King Thranduil, comments, "You are more worthy to wear the armour of
elf-princes than many that have looked more comely in it..."
"The Clouds Burst"
Thorin agrees to give Bilbo's one-fourteenth share
of the silver and gold, not counting gems, to Bard in return for the
Arkenstone, except the mail-coat Bilbo is wearing, the mithril shirt.
Of the mail, Thorin says, "You have
mail upon you, which was made by my folk, and is too good for you. It
cannot be pierced by arrows..."
"The Ring Goes South": Bilbo gives Sting and the mithril shirt to Frodo.
Bilbo "held up a
small shirt of mail. It was close-woven of many rings, as supple almost
as linen, cold as ice, and harder than steel. It shone like moonlit
silver, and was studded with white gems. With it was a belt of pearl
Bilbo had taken it out of the Michel Delving mathom
house before he started, and packed it with his luggage, along with all
the rest of the momentoes of his journey.
Bilbo commented, "You
hardly feel any weight when you put it on."
"Lothlorien" Aragorn finds the shirt when he tries to tend Frodo's
wounds after they pass Moria:
corslet shimmered before his eyes like the light upon a rippling sea.
Carefully he took it off and held it up, and the gems on it glittered
like stars, and the sound of the shaken rings was like the tinkle of
rain in a pool.
friends!' he called. 'Here is a pretty hobbit-skin to wrap an
elven-princeling in! If it were known that hobbits had such hides, all
the hunters of Middle-earth would be riding to the Shire.'
"'And all the
arrows of all the hunters in the world would be in vain', said Gimli,
gazing at the mail in wonder."..."I have never seen or heard tell of one so
Aragorn comments, "The
mail is marvelously light."
Gimli states that Gandalf undervalued the mithril
shirt. He refers to the chapter, "Journey in the Dark", where Gandalf
tells about mithril and Bilbo's mithril shirt, saying, "I never told him, but its worth was
greater than the value of the whole Shire and everything in it."
the King: "The Scouring of the Shire"
Frodo had the good sense to continue wearing the
mithril shirt, even after the One Ring was destroyed. After the Hobbits
had ended Saruman's power in the Shire, Frodo commands Saruman to
leave, which he obeys, but with malice:
to go, and Wormtongue shuffled after him. But even as Saruman passed
close to Frodo a knife flashed in his hand, and he stabbed swiftly. The
blade turned on the hidden mail-coat and snapped."
"Not at Home",
"A Thief in the Night", "The Clouds Burst".
of the Ring: "Journey in the Dark", "Lothlorien"
the King: "The Scouring of the Shire"