Tudor conquest of Ireland

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Tudor conquest of Ireland
Part of the European wars of religion and the English Reformation
Gaelic Ireland
FitzGeralds of Desmond and Kildare
Flag of Cross of Burgundy.svg Monarchy of Spain
Flag of England.svg  Kingdom of England
Banner of the Lordship of Ireland.svg  Lordship of Ireland (until 1542)
Royal Standard of Ireland (1542-1801).svg  Kingdom of Ireland (after 1542)
Commanders and leaders




The Tudor conquest (or reconquest) of Ireland took place under the Tudor dynasty, which held the Kingdom of England during the 16th century. Following a failed rebellion against the crown by Silken Thomas, the Earl of Kildare, in the 1530s, Henry VIII was declared King of Ireland in 1542 by statute of the Parliament of Ireland, with the aim of restoring such central authority as had been lost throughout the country during the previous two centuries.

Kingdom of England Historic sovereign kingdom on the British Isles (927–1649; 1660–1707)

The Kingdom of England was a sovereign state on the island of Great Britain from 927, when it emerged from various Anglo-Saxon kingdoms until 1707, when it united with Scotland to form the Kingdom of Great Britain.

Henry VIII of England King of England and Ireland

Henry VIII was King of England from 1509 until his death in 1547. He was the second Tudor monarch, succeeding his father Henry VII. Henry is best known for his six marriages, in particular his efforts to have his first marriage annulled. His disagreement with the Pope on the question of such an annulment led Henry to initiate the English Reformation, separating the Church of England from papal authority. He appointed himself the Supreme Head of the Church of England and dissolved convents and monasteries, for which he was excommunicated. Henry is also known as "the father of the Royal Navy", in which he invested heavily, increasing its size greatly from a few to more than 50 ships.

Crown of Ireland Act 1542 United Kingdom legislation

The Crown of Ireland Act 1542 is an Act of the Parliament of Ireland which created the title of King of Ireland for King Henry VIII of England and his successors, who previously ruled the island as Lord of Ireland.


By conciliation and repression the conquest continued for sixty years, until 1603, when the entire country came under the nominal control of James I, exercised through his privy council at Dublin. This control was increased after the Flight of the Earls in 1607.

A privy council is a body that advises the head of state of a nation, typically, but not always, in the context of a monarchic government. The word "privy" means "private" or "secret"; thus, a privy council was originally a committee of the monarch's closest advisors to give confidential advice on state affairs.

Dublin Capital of Ireland

Dublin is the capital and largest city of Ireland. Situated on a bay on the east coast, at the mouth of the River Liffey, it lies within the province of Leinster. It is bordered on the south by the Dublin Mountains, a part of the Wicklow Mountains range. It has an urban area population of 1,173,179, while the population of the Dublin Region as of 2016 was 1,347,359. The population of the Greater Dublin Area was 1,904,806 per the 2016 census.

Flight of the Earls Earls of Tyrone and Tyrconnell left Ulster for mainland Europe

The Flight of the Earls took place in September 1607, when Hugh O'Neill, Earl of Tyrone and Rory O'Donnell, 1st Earl of Tyrconnell, and about ninety followers left Ulster in Ireland for mainland Europe.

The conquest was complicated by the imposition of English law, language and culture, as well as by the extension of Anglicanism as the state religion. The Spanish Empire intervened several times at the height of the Anglo-Spanish War, and the Irish found themselves caught between their widespread acceptance of Papal authority and the requirements of allegiance demanded of them by the English monarchy.

English Reformation 16th-century separation of the Church of England from the Pope of Rome

The English Reformation was a series of events in 16th-century England by which the Church of England broke away from the authority of the Pope and the Roman Catholic Church. These events were, in part, associated with the wider European Protestant Reformation, a religious and political movement that affected the practice of Christianity across western and central Europe. Causes included the decline of feudalism and the rise of nationalism, the rise of the common law, the invention of the printing press and increased circulation of the Bible, and the transmission of new knowledge and ideas among scholars, the upper and middle classes and readers in general. However, the various phases of the English Reformation, which also covered Wales and Ireland, were largely driven by changes in government policy, to which public opinion gradually accommodated itself.

Spanish Empire world empire from the 16th to the 19th century

The Spanish Empire, historically known as the Hispanic Monarchy and as the Catholic Monarchy, was one of the largest empires in history. From the late 15th century to the early 19th, Spain controlled a huge overseas territory in the New World, the Asian archipelago of the Philippines, what they called "The Indies" and territories in Europe, Africa and Oceania. The Spanish Empire has been described as the first global empire in history, a description also given to the Portuguese Empire. It was one of the empires described as the most powerful of the 16th and 17th centuries. The Spanish Empire became known as "the empire on which the sun never sets" and reached its maximum extension in the 18th century.

Anglo-Spanish War (1585–1604) 1585–1604 war between the kingdoms of Spain and England.

The Anglo-Spanish War (1585–1604) was an intermittent conflict between the kingdoms of Spain and England that was never formally declared. The war was punctuated by widely separated battles, and began with England's military expedition in 1585 to what was then the Spanish Netherlands under the command of Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester in support of the resistance of the States General to Spanish Habsburg rule.

Upon completion of the conquest, the polity of Gaelic Ireland had been largely destroyed and the Spanish were no longer willing to intervene directly. This left the way clear for extensive confiscation of land by English, Scots, and Welsh colonists, culminating in the Plantation of Ulster.

Gaelic Ireland Gaelic political and social order that existed in Ireland from the prehistoric era until the early 17th century

Gaelic Ireland was the Gaelic political and social order, and associated culture, that existed in Ireland from the prehistoric era until the early 17th century. Before the Norman invasion of 1169, Gaelic Ireland comprised the whole island. Thereafter, it comprised that part of the country not under foreign dominion at a given time. For most of its history, Gaelic Ireland was a "patchwork" hierarchy of territories ruled by a hierarchy of kings or chiefs, who were elected through tanistry. Warfare between these territories was common. Occasionally, a powerful ruler was acknowledged as High King of Ireland. Society was made up of clans and, like the rest of Europe, was structured hierarchically according to class. Throughout this period, the economy was mainly pastoral and money was generally not used. A Gaelic Irish style of dress, music, dance, sport, architecture, and art can be identified, with Irish art later merging with Anglo-Saxon styles to create Insular art.

Plantation of Ulster plantation in Ireland

The Plantation of Ulster was the organised colonisation (plantation) of Ulster – a province of Ireland – by people from Great Britain during the reign of King James VI & I. Most of the colonists came from Scotland, the majority having a different culture to the natives. Small private plantations by wealthy landowners began in 1606, while the official plantation began in 1609. Most of the land colonised was forfeited from the native Gaelic chiefs, several of whom had fled Ireland for mainland Europe in 1607 following the Nine Years' War against English rule. The official plantation comprised an estimated half a million acres (2,000 km²) of arable land in counties Armagh, Cavan, Fermanagh, Tyrone, Tyrconnell and Derry/Londonderry. Land in counties Antrim, Down and Monaghan was privately colonised with the king's support.

Situation before the Tudors

Ireland in 1500 was shaped by the Norman conquest, initiated by Anglo-Norman barons in the 12th century. Many of the native Gaelic Irish had been expelled from various parts of the country (mainly the east and southeast) and replaced with English peasants and labourers. A large area on the east coast, extending from the Wicklow Mountains in the south to Dundalk in the north (covering parts of modern counties of Dublin, Louth, Meath, Westmeath, Kildare, Offaly and Laois), became known as the Pale. Protected along much of its length by a ditch and rampart, the Pale was a defended area in which English language and culture predominated and where English law was enforced by a government in Dublin.

Norman invasion of Ireland 12th-century Invasion of Ireland by Normans

The Norman invasion of Ireland took place in stages during the late 12th century and led to the Anglo-Normans conquering large swathes of land from the Irish. At the time, Gaelic Ireland was made up of several kingdoms, with a High King claiming lordship over the lesser kings. The Norman invasion was a watershed in the history of Ireland, marking the beginning of more than 800 years of direct English and, later, British involvement in Ireland.

Gaels Ethnic group in Europe

The Gaels are an ethnolinguistic group native to Ireland, Scotland and the Isle of Man in northwestern Europe. They are associated with the Gaelic languages: a branch of the Celtic languages comprising Irish, Manx and Scottish Gaelic. Historically, the ethnonyms Irish and Scots referred to the Gaels in general, but the scope of those ethnicities and nationalities is today more complex.

Wicklow Mountains Mountain range in Ireland

The Wicklow Mountains form the largest continuous upland area in the Republic of Ireland. They occupy the whole centre of County Wicklow and stretch outside its borders into the counties of Dublin, Wexford and Carlow. Where the mountains extend into County Dublin, they are known locally as the Dublin Mountains. The highest peak is Lugnaquilla at 925 metres.

Ireland at the beginning of the Tudor period. Irelandmap1500.png
Ireland at the beginning of the Tudor period.

The Gaelic Irish were, for the most part, outside English jurisdiction, maintaining their own language, social system, customs and laws. The English referred to them as "His Majesty's Irish enemies". In legal terms, they had never been admitted as subjects of the Crown. Ireland was not formally a realm, but rather a lordship; the title was assumed by the English monarch upon coronation. The rise of Gaelic influence resulted in the passing in 1366 of the Statutes of Kilkenny, which outlawed many social practices that had been developing apace (e.g. intermarriage, use of the Irish language and Irish dress). In the 15th century the Dublin government remained weak, owing principally to the Wars of the Roses.

Statutes of Kilkenny Language laws in medieval Ireland

The Statutes of Kilkenny were a series of thirty-five acts passed at Kilkenny in 1366, aiming to curb the decline of the Hiberno-Norman Lordship of Ireland.

Irish language Gaelic language spoken in Ireland and by Irish people

Irish is a Goidelic language of the Celtic languages family, itself a branch of the Indo-European language family. Irish originated in Ireland and was historically spoken by Irish people throughout Ireland. Irish is spoken as a first language in substantial areas of counties Galway, Kerry, Cork and Donegal, smaller areas of Waterford, Mayo and Meath, and a few other locations, and as a second language by a larger group of habitual but non-traditional speakers across the country.

Wars of the Roses Dynastic civil war in England during the 15th-century

The Wars of the Roses were a series of English civil wars for control of the throne of England fought between supporters of two rival cadet branches of the royal House of Plantagenet: the House of Lancaster, associated with the Red Rose of Lancaster, and the House of York, whose symbol was the White Rose of York. Eventually, the wars eliminated the male lines of both families. The conflict lasted through many sporadic episodes between 1455 and 1487, but there was related fighting before and after this period between the parties. The power struggle ignited around social and financial troubles following the Hundred Years' War, unfolding the structural problems of bastard feudalism, combined with the mental infirmity and weak rule of King Henry VI which revived interest in the House of York's claim to the throne by Richard of York. Historians disagree on which of these factors was the main reason for the wars.

Beyond the Pale, the authority of the Dublin government was tenuous. The Hiberno-Norman lords had been able to carve out fiefdoms for themselves but not to settle them with English tenants. As a result, in the 14th and 15th centuries, in the wake of Irish rebellion, Scottish invasion, the Black Death and a lack of interest on the part of the London government, the territories controlled by those lords achieved a high degree of independence. The Butlers, Fitzgeralds and Burkes raised their own armed forces, enforced their own law, and adopted Gaelic language and culture.

Beyond those territories large areas of land previously held by authority of the English crown were taken by the resurgent Gaelic Irish, particularly in the north and midlands. Among the most important septs were the O'Neills (Uí Néill) in central Ulster (Tír Eóghain)—flanked to their west by the O'Donnells (Ua Domnaill)—the O'Byrnes (Ua Bróin) and O'Tooles (Ua Tuathail) in County Wicklow, the Kavanaghs (Ua Caomhánach) in County Wexford, the MacCarthys (Mac Cárthaigh) and O'Sullivans (Ua Súilleabháin) in County Cork and County Kerry and the O'Brien (Ó Briain) lordship of Thomond in County Clare.

Henry VIII

By 1500, English monarchs had delegated government of Ireland to the most powerful of the Hiberno-Norman dynasties (the FitzGeralds of Kildare) to keep the costs of running Ireland down and to protect the Pale. The King's Lord Deputy of Ireland was chief of the administration, based in Dublin Castle, but maintained no formal court and had a limited privy purse. In 1495 laws were passed during Poynings' parliament that imposed English statute law wholesale upon the lordship and compromised the independence of the Irish parliament.

Silken Thomas; his family the FitzGeralds had strong Yorkist leanings and he led a rising in Kildare against the Tudor monarchy of Henry VIII. Thomas FitzGerald, 10th Earl of Kildare.jpg
Silken Thomas; his family the FitzGeralds had strong Yorkist leanings and he led a rising in Kildare against the Tudor monarchy of Henry VIII.

The head of the Kildare FitzGeralds held the position of lord deputy until 1534. The problem was that the House of Kildare had become unreliable for the English monarch, scheming with Yorkist pretenders to the English throne, signing private treaties with foreign powers, and finally rebelling after the head of its hereditary rivals, the Butlers of Ormonde, was awarded the position of Lord Deputy. The Reformation also led to growing tension between England and Ireland as Protestantism gained sway within England. Thomas, Earl of Kildare, a fervent Catholic, offered control of Ireland to both the Pope and Emperor Charles V of the Holy Roman Empire. Henry put down the rebellion by executing the leader ("Silken Thomas" FitzGerald), along with several of his uncles, and imprisoned Gearóid Óg, the head of the family. But now the king had to find a replacement for the FitzGeralds to keep Ireland quiet. What was needed was a cost-effective new policy that protected the Pale and guaranteed the safety of England's vulnerable west flank from foreign invasion.

With the assistance of Thomas Cromwell, the king implemented the policy of surrender and regrant. This extended Royal protection to all of Ireland's elite without regard to ethnicity; in return the whole country was expected to obey the law of the central government; and all Irish lords were to officially surrender their lands to the Crown, and to receive them back in return by Royal Charter. The keystone to the reform was in a statute passed by the Irish parliament in 1541, whereby the lordship was converted to the Kingdom of Ireland. Overall, the intention was to assimilate the Gaelic and Gaelicised upper classes and develop a loyalty on their part to the new crown; to this end, they were granted English titles and for the first time admitted to the Irish parliament. One of the more important was the earldom of Tyrone, which was created for the Uí Néill dynasty in 1542. In a felicitous phrase, the king summed up his efforts at reform as "politic drifts and amiable persuasions".

In practice, lords around Ireland accepted their new privileges but carried on as they had before. For the Irish Lordships the English monarch was but another overlord similar to that found in the Gaelic system. It was however the Tudors' increasing encroachment upon their local autonomy by the development of a centralised state that was to bring the English system into direct conflict with the Gaelic Irish one. Henry's religious Reformation—although not as thorough as in England—caused disquiet; his Lord Deputy, Anthony St Leger, was largely able to buy off opposition by granting lands confiscated from the monasteries to Irish nobles.


Henry Sidney, Lord Deputy of Ireland under Elizabeth I, sets out from Dublin Castle. Detail from a plate in The Image of Irelande, by John Derrick (London, 1581). Henry sidney ireland detail.jpg
Henry Sidney, Lord Deputy of Ireland under Elizabeth I, sets out from Dublin Castle. Detail from a plate in The Image of Irelande , by John Derrick (London, 1581).

After the king's death, successive Lord Deputies of Ireland found that actually establishing the rule of the central government was far more difficult than merely securing the lords' pledges of allegiance. Successive rebellions broke out, the first in Leinster in the 1550s, when the O'Moore and O'Connor clans were displaced to make way for the Plantation of Queen's County and King's County (named for Mary I of England and Philip II of Spain; modern counties Laois and Offaly). In the 1560s, English attempts to interfere in a succession dispute within the O'Neill sept, or clan, sparked a long war between Lord Deputy Sussex, and Seán Mac Cuinn Ó Néill. Irish lordships continued to fight private wars against each other, ignoring the government in Dublin and its laws. Two examples of this are the Battle of Affane in 1565, fought between the Ormonde and Desmond dynasties, and the Battle of Farsetmore in 1567, fought between the O'Donnells and O'Neills. Elsewhere, clans such as the O'Byrnes and O'Tooles continued raiding the Pale as they had always done. The most serious violence of all occurred in Munster in the 1560s, '70s, and '80s, when the Fitzgeralds of Desmond launched the Desmond Rebellions to prevent direct English influence into their territory. After a particularly brutal campaign in which up to a third of the population of the province was reported to have died, the rebellion was finally ended when the Earl of Desmond was killed in 1583.

There were two main reasons for the chronic violence that dogged the central government in Ireland. The first was some of the aggressive acts of the English administrators and soldiers. In many instances, garrisons or "seneschals" disregarded the law and killed local chiefs and lords. In other cases, it was the seizure of native-owned land that provoked rebellions.[ citation needed ]

The second cause of violence was the incompatibility of Gaelic Irish society with English law and central government. In Irish custom, the chief of a "sept" or clan was elected from a small noble lineage group called a derbfine . This often caused violence between rival candidates. However, under Henry VIII's settlement, succession was, as was the English custom, by inheritance of the first-born son, or primogeniture, which was intended to result in fewer disputes over inheritance but also in an increasing reduction in the distribution of landed wealth. Imposing this law forced the English to take sides in violent disputes within Irish lordships. Finally, important sections of Irish society had a vested interest in opposing the English presence. These included the mercenary class or gallowglass and Irish poets or file – both of whom faced having their source of income and status abolished in an English-ruled Ireland.


Multilingual phrase book compiled by Sir Christopher Nugent for Elizabeth I of England. Elizabeth I's primer on Irish.jpg
Multilingual phrase book compiled by Sir Christopher Nugent for Elizabeth I of England.

Under Queens Mary I and Elizabeth I, the English in Ireland tried a number of solutions to pacify the country. The first such initiative used martial government, whereby violent areas such as the Wicklow Mountains were garrisoned by small numbers of English troops under commanders called seneschalls. The seneschal was given powers of martial law, which allowed execution without trial by jury. Every person within the seneschal's area of authority had to be vouched for by the local lord—"masterless men" were liable to be killed. In this way, it was hoped that the Irish lords would prevent raiding by their own followers. However, in practice, this simply antagonised the native chieftains.

The failure of this policy prompted the English to come up with more long-term solutions to pacify and Anglicise Ireland. One was composition, where private armed forces were abolished, and provinces were occupied by English troops under the command of governors, titled Lords President. In return, the pre-eminent septs and lords were exempted from taxation and had their entitlements to rents from subordinate families and their tenants put on a statutory basis. The imposition of this settlement was marked by bitter violence, particularly in Connacht, where the MacWilliam Burkes fought a local war against the English Provincial President, Sir Richard Bingham, and his subordinate, Nicholas Malby. In Munster the interference of the Lord President was one of the major causes of the Desmond Rebellions. However, this method was successful in some areas, notably in Thomond, where it was supported by the ruling O'Brien dynasty. Composition merged into the policy of surrender and regrant.

The second long-term solution was Plantations , in which areas of the country were to be settled with people from England, who would bring in English language and culture while remaining loyal to the crown. Plantation had been started in the 1550s in Laois and Offaly, the former being shired by Queen Mary as "Queen's County", and again in the 1570s in Antrim, both times with limited success. In the 1590s, after the Desmond Rebellions, parts of Munster were populated with English in the plantation of that province, but the project was half-hearted and ran into legal difficulties when Irish landowners chose to sue; the largest grant of lands was made to Sir Walter Raleigh, but he never really made a success of it and sold out to Sir Richard Boyle, who later became Earl of Cork and the wealthiest subject of the early Stuart monarchs.

After a neutral period in 1558–70, Pope Pius V declared Elizabeth a heretic in his 1570 papal bull Regnans in Excelsis . This complicated the conquest further, as her authority to rule was denied and her officials were considered by observant Roman Catholics to be acting unlawfully. Most Irish people of all ranks remained Catholic and the bull gave Protestant administrators a new reason to expedite the conquest. The Second Desmond Rebellion in 1579–83 was assisted by hundreds of papal troops. Religion had become a new marker of loyalty to the administration.

The prospect of land confiscation further alienated the Irish. But the alienation wasn't confined to the Gaelic Irish: those who claimed descent from the original conquerors under Henry II were increasingly referred to as the "Old English", to distinguish them from the many administrators, captains and planters (the New English) who were arriving in Ireland. And it was mostly amongst this Old English community that fervent commitment to Catholicism was gaining ground.


Hugh O'Neill, 2nd Earl of Tyrone Hugh O Neill, 2nd Earl of Tyrone.jpg
Hugh O'Neill, 2nd Earl of Tyrone

The crisis point of the Elizabethan conquest of Ireland came when the English authorities tried to extend their authority over Ulster and Aodh Mór Ó Néill, the most powerful Irish lord in Ireland. Though initially appearing to support the crown, Ó Néill engaged in a proxy war in Fermanagh and northern Connacht, by sending troops to aid Aodh Mag Uidhir lord of Fermanagh. This distracted the crown with military campaigns in the west while Tyrone consolidated his power in Ulster. Ó Néill openly broke with the crown in February 1595 when his forces took and destroyed the Blackwater Fort on the Armagh-Tyrone border. Later named the Nine Years War, Ó Néill focused his action in Ulster and along its borders, until Spanish promises of aid in 1596 led him to spread the conflict to the rest of Ireland. What was a war for regional autonomy had become one for the control of Ireland. The Irish victory at the Battle of the Yellow Ford, the collapse of the Munster Plantation, followed by the dismal vice-royalty of Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex brought the power of the crown in Ireland to the point of collapse.

In wider European terms, it was a part of the Anglo-Spanish war that ran from 1585 to 1604. Ó Néill enlisted the help of lords throughout Ireland, yet his most significant international support came from the Spanish, whose king, Philip III of Spain, sent an invasion force, only to see it surrender after a winter siege at the Battle of Kinsale in 1601. Outside Kinsale, Ó Néill's own army was defeated. In early 1603 the war ended, and thereafter crown authority was gradually established throughout Ireland. Ó Néill and his allies were treated relatively generously, considering the cost of the rebellion, and were regranted their titles and most of their lands. Unable to live with more restrictive conditions, they left Ireland in 1607 in the Flight of the Earls, their lands in Ulster were confiscated, and thereafter great numbers from all over Britain were encouraged to move there in the Plantation of Ulster.

As plantation policy expanded to outlying districts including Sligo, Fermanagh, and Monaghan the English occupation of Ireland grew increasingly militaristic. The Counter-Reformation created an environment of anti-Protestantism within the native population which hindered English influence and led to a massive uprising ending in 1603. It became increasingly clear that the only profitable gain from its recent subjugation of Ireland was the land it yielded. Tens of thousands of Protestants, mainly Scots, were emigrated to Antrim and Ulster, replacing the Irish residents.


The first and most important result of the conquest was the disarmament of the native Irish lordships and the establishment of central government control for the first time over the whole island; Irish culture, law and language were replaced; and many Irish lords lost their lands and hereditary authority. Thousands of English, Scottish and Welsh settlers were introduced into the country and the administration of justice was enforced according to English common law and statutes of the Parliament of Ireland.

As the 16th century progressed, the religious question grew in significance. Rebels such as James Fitzmaurice Fitzgerald and Aodh Mór Ó Néill sought and received help from Catholic powers in Europe, justifying their actions on religious grounds. However, the Pale community and many Irish lords did not consider them to be genuinely religiously motivated. In the new century, the country would become polarised between Catholics and Protestants, especially after the planting of a large English population into Ireland and Scots Presbyterians in Ulster (See Plantation of Ulster).

Under James I, Catholics were barred from all public office after the gunpowder plot was discovered in 1605; the Gaelic Irish and Old English increasingly defined themselves as Catholic in opposition to the Protestant New English. However the native Irish (both Gaelic and Old English) remained the majority landowners in the country until after the Irish Rebellion of 1641. By the end of the resulting Cromwellian conquest of Ireland in the 1650s, the "New English" Protestants dominated the country, and after the Glorious Revolution of 1688 their descendants went on to form the Protestant Ascendancy.

See also

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Plantations in 16th- and 17th-century Ireland involved the confiscation of land by the English crown and the colonisation of this land with settlers from the island of Great Britain. There had already been smaller-scale immigration to Ireland as far back as the 12th century, which had resulted in a distinct ethnicity in Ireland known as the Old English, or Hiberno-Normans. Unofficial plantations carried out privately by landlords also took place, such as those in County Antrim and County Down.

History of Ireland (1169–1536) Aspect of history

The history of Ireland from 1169–1536 covers the period from the arrival of the Cambro-Normans to the reign of Henry II of England, who made his son, Prince John, Lord of Ireland. After the Norman invasions of 1169 and 1171, Ireland was under an alternating level of control from Norman lords and the King of England. Previously, Ireland had seen intermittent warfare between provincial kingdoms over the position of High King. This situation was transformed by intervention in these conflicts by Norman mercenaries and later the English crown. After their successful conquest of England, the Normans turned their attention to Ireland. Ireland was made a Lordship of the King of England and much of its land was seized by Norman barons. With time, Hiberno-Norman rule shrank to a territory known as the Pale, stretching from Dublin to Dundalk. The Hiberno-Norman lords elsewhere in the country became Gaelicised and integrated in Gaelic society.

History of Ireland (1536–1691) aspect of history

Ireland during the period 1536–1691 saw the first full conquest of the island by England and its colonization with Protestant settlers from Great Britain. This established two central themes in future Irish history: subordination of the country to London-based governments and sectarian animosity between Catholics and Protestants. The period saw Irish society transform from a locally driven, intertribal, clan-based Gaelic structure to a centralised, monarchical, state-governed society, similar to those found elsewhere in Europe. The period is bounded by the dates 1536, when King Henry VIII deposed the FitzGerald dynasty as Lords Deputies of Ireland, and 1691, when the Irish Catholic Jacobites surrendered at Limerick, thus confirming British Protestant dominance in Ireland. This is sometimes called the early modern period.

The Second Desmond Rebellion (1579–1583) was the more widespread and bloody of the two Desmond Rebellions in Ireland launched by the FitzGerald dynasty of Desmond in Munster against English rule. The second rebellion began in July 1579 when James FitzMaurice FitzGerald landed in Ireland with a force of Papal troops, triggering an insurrection across the south of Ireland on the part of the Desmond dynasty, their allies and others who were dissatisfied for various reasons with English government of the country. The rebellion ended with the 1583 death of Gerald FitzGerald, 15th Earl of Desmond, and the defeat of the rebels.

ODohertys rebellion

O'Doherty's rebellion took place in 1608 when the landowner Sir Cahir O'Doherty began an uprising against the authorities in the north-west of Ireland. O'Doherty had been a long-standing supporter of the Crown, but having been angered at his treatment by local officials he launched an attack on Derry, burning the town. O'Doherty may have hoped to negotiate a settlement with the government, but after his death in a skirmish at Kilmacrennan the rebellion collapsed with the last survivors being besieged on Tory Island.

Reformation in Ireland

The Reformation in Ireland was a movement for the reform of religious life and institutions that was introduced into Ireland by the English administration at the behest of King Henry VIII of England. His desire for an annulment of his marriage was known as the King's Great Matter. Ultimately Pope Clement VII refused the petition; consequently, in order to give legal effect to his wishes, it became necessary for the King to assert his lordship over the Catholic Church in his realm. In passing the Acts of Supremacy in 1534, the English Parliament confirmed the King's supremacy over the Church in the Kingdom of England. This challenge to Papal supremacy resulted in a breach with the Catholic Church. By 1541, the Irish Parliament had agreed to the change in status of the country from that of a Lordship to that of Kingdom of Ireland.


  1. Black, Jeremy (2004). The British Seaborne Empire. Yale University Press. pp. 32–34.