described the appearance of the Anglo-Norman army to the inhabitants of Ireland. He stressed that the Irish were unfamiliar with the Anglo-Normanarmour and that they were intimidated by the apparent strength thearmour signified. This emphasis on the technical inferiority of the GaelicIrish was just part of the propagandist message espoused by de Barry inhis two great works dealing with Ireland,
(‘TheConquest of Ireland’) and
(‘The Topography of Ireland’), wherein de Barry aimed to delineate the legitimacy and theinevitability of the Anglo-Norman rule in Ireland. De Barry’s interpretationof the Anglo-Norman invasion of Ireland was propagated by laterhistorians, particularly G. H. Orpen, who used the
uncriticallyas a basis for his narrative of the conquest in
Ireland under the Normans
However, it is necessary to critically analyse de Barry’s history as well asother sources, to attempt to define the armour worn by both the Anglo-Normans and the Gaelic Irish during this period and to attempt to assessthe effectiveness of the armour in the context of the conquest of Ireland.Any analysis of the body armour worn in twelfth-century Ireland isdifficult to undertake due to the relative scarcity of archaeologicalsources. Archaeological remains of chainmail, for example, are particularlyrare. Ian Peirce, a historian specialising in eleventh- and twelfth-centuryarmour, illustrates the rapid deterioration of mail armour by recounting adiscovery of “a knight buried face downwards” in a mail shirt, whichdeteriorated too quickly for even a photographic record to be made.
G. H. Orpen,
Ireland under the Normans, vol. i
Ian Peirce, ‘Arms, Armour and Warfare in the Eleventh Century’, in R. Allen Brown (ed.),
Anglo-Norman Studies X: Proceedings of the Battle Conference, 1987
(1988), p. 239.