Mithril Shirt


by Varda-(Valar)
Aug. 2, 2004
Jan. 4, 2006 update

Objects > Mithril > Armor > Mithril Shirt 
    See "Mithril" for a good telling by Daeron-(V) of the ancient history of Bilbo's and Frodo's mithril shirt.


    The Hobbit: "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.
    "'I feel 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 handy!'"

    The Hobbit: "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 Hobbit: "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..."

    Fellowship: "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 and crystal."
    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."

    Fellowship: "Lothlorien" Aragorn finds the shirt when he tries to tend Frodo's wounds after they pass Moria:
    "The silver 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.
    "'Look, my 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 fair.'"

    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."

    Return of 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:
    "Saruman turned 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."

    Hobbit: "Not at Home", "A Thief in the Night", "The Clouds Burst".
    Fellowship of the Ring: "Journey in the Dark", "Lothlorien" 
    Return of the King: "The Scouring of the Shire"