Dark Souls’ Domhnall of Zena’s Historical and Cultural References
Domhnall of Zena is a mysterious trader and adventurer from the video game Dark Souls.
He is a trader who sells a variety of goods and weaponry such as crystal weapons, and boss armors after a boss have been defeated in the game. But aside from his goods, we know very little of the odd trader. We know he comes from Zena, but as to what Zena is, is still somewhat of a mystery in the game, But based on his greeting, outfit, and even his name, I can say he radiates a multitude of cultures from the from British, To Welsh, and Gaelic Scotland and Ireland. Domhnall’s homeland seems to have gotten inspiration from all over the United Kingdom
The first clue as to where Domhnall is from is his armor, called the “adventurer set”. Each piece represents a different aspect of something the people of Zena appreciate The pieces include; The boots of the explorer, gauntlets of the vanquisher, the armor of the glorious, and the helm of the wise. And while I know practically nothing about most of his armor, his helmet, however, is a clear replica of “the horned helmet” owned by King Henry the VIII of Britain. The real life helmet was made by Konrad Seusenhofer a famous Austrian armor maker who presented the helmet with a suit of armor. The armor was commissioned by Emperor Maximilian of the Holy Roman Empire who gifted it to King Henry in 1514. Sadly only the helmet survives today as the armor was, sadly, most likely destroyed after the British Civil war to made into scrap metal. Seusenhofer did, however, make three similar pieces The one that survived was given to Charles V and survives in Vienna today.
The Horned Helmet is what is known as an Armet, which is a medieval helmet. Like an Armet the Faceplate of the Horned Helmet could unhinge from the helmet. Because of the Helmets horns and glasses, thin metal face plate, and excellent craftsmanship, the helmet was for decoration only. This is something that would offer little protection, and be an annoyance in combat. It’s said Henry would come down wearing the helmet to frighten guests, with its grotesque design. The face looked like something of an oaf, and the horns were a symbol of a cuckold. The glasses it’s theorized were added because Henry was nearsighted. The helmet would later be owned by the court jester Will Somers, because of its odd look and symbolism in design
The Next bits of Trivia is less historical and more cultural but it is still a fun nod to the United Kingdom. The character is Famous for his pleasant and welcoming greeting Aye, siwmae, of which he cheerfully says every time the player visits. Many players would and have assumed this to be a made up greeting in the world of Dark Souls when it’s actually a Welsh greeting.
Aye, siwmae can be roughly translated to “how’s it going?” of which the character delivered with a Welsh accent. The Name Domhnall is also a reference to the United Kingdom with Dòmhnall being a Gaelic name which roughly translates to Donald in English. Domhnall could also be a reference to how another word for Gaelic can also be Dòmhnall. It seems our mysterious traveler has visited all across the Isles.
It’s always fun to see one culture try and replicate and reference another, to see nods to history and culture. These simple nods can be both an educational bonus and provide a bit of inspiration for creating a charming, and extremely odd looking merchant.
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