Why is an ostensible Milesian wearing Norman chainmail? You are misrepresenting culture! — unwanted graffiti on my most recent Facebook drive.
I will ignore the obvious response: “it’s a novel, not a history book, so I have artistic license” — okay, so I won’t — it is too easy not to. Of course, there are no history books on the topic of the Milesians, so most of what we think we know is supposition. It’s all mythology and open to interpretation.
Leaving that aside, I feel bound to respond.
The question was couched by someone on a recent MilesianKings page drive, referring to the female warrior on the cover of Milesian Daughter of War. Of course, it raises all sorts of questions, not the first of which is “was chainmail worn only by the Normans?” But also, is the romantic image of the Ancient Celts charging into battle bare chested in triús, if not completely naked, longswords waving, and moustaches flapping, an accurate one?
Despite the question being flawed (unlike the Ancient Irish, the Normans did not have female warriors and wore conical helmets, not pot helmets), the romantic image of Ancient Celtic culture has slowly been changed through archaeological discovery and the study of contemporary accounts (notably Julius Caesar). It is believed the Ancient Celts invented chainmail around the third century BCE. They were the most advanced iron workers in Europe at that time. The Romans later stole the idea from them. Because it gave warriors more mobility than inflexible armour, chainmail remained a preferred body protection method for many hundreds of years and for many peoples, including the Saxons, the Scandinavians (Vikings), and, yes, the Normans.
So, is the cover art “Norman” chainmail?
I am no expert, but I would imagine one full length coat of mail looks much the same as another: hundreds of iron rings linked together and fashioned into a coat. The warrior is definitely not Norman and the helmet is definitely not Norman. So, in defence of the cover artist, I think it is safe to assume that there is no “cultural misrepresentation” taking place.
If you want to check it out for yourself, take a look at the artwork: