Back to the video list: History of the British Isles


During the 12th century the English king won the paramountcy over Ireland. The emerald isle remained a Lordship until 1541 when Henry VIII established the Kingdom of Ireland.






  • Date: 1171 – 1541
  • Location: Ireland
  • Start: Henry II is declared Lord of Ireland
  • End: Henry VIII elevates Ireland to a kingdom


Parties & Persons Involved

  • English kings, nobility & settlers
  • Irish Clans & regional chieftains


Formation of the Lordship of Ireland

  • 1167: The king of Leinster Dermot MacMurrogh loses his realm, flees to Wales & asks the Norman Richard de Clare (“Strongbow“) for help
  • 1169 – 1170: Strongbow’s troops take Wexford, Waterford & Dublin
  • 1171: MacMurrogh dies & Strongbow, married to MacMurrogh’s daughter, claims the throne of Leinster
  • 1171: Henry II lands in Ireland & takes possession of Waterford & Dublin
  • 1171: The Irish kings recognise Henry II as Lord Paramount & the Lordship of Ireland is born


Times of Prosperity

The 13th century is the heyday of the Norman Lordship of Ireland:

  • Extension of the Norman area of influence
  • Introduction of the feudal system
  • Norman /English plantation
  • Economic prosperity
  • Irish parliament from 1297


Norman Decline & Integration into the Irish Society

  • 1315 – 1318: The brother of the Scottish kin, Edward Bruce, invades Ireland during the Scottish War of Independence
  • 1315 – 1317: European famine hits Ireland
  • 1333: The murder of William Donn de Burgh, 3rd Earl of Ulster & Lord of Connacht, causes a war of succession which makes Connacht uncontrollable for the central governmant
  • 1350: The plague causes death, esp. in the cities where the Normans concentrate
  • 14th century.: The Normans assimilate with the Irish society & culture ( “The Normans become more Irish than the Irish”)
  • 1366: The Irish Parliament passes the Statutes of Kilkenny:
    • Separation of English & Irish church
    • Prohibition of English-Irish families
    • Obligation to speak English
    • Prohibition of fraternising with the Irish
  • The statutes are barely enforced because of a lack of resources & leads to a sustainable alienation of English & Irish
  • 15th century: Irish influence increases & English influence decreases, esp. because England is engaged in the Wars of the Roses (1455-1485) & the Hundred Years’ War (1337-1453)


Formation of the Kingdom of Ireland & Further Developments

  • 1542: Henry VIII elevates Ireland to a kingdom (Crown of Ireland Act)
  • Henry’s main reasons:
    • Larger influence on Ireland
    • Preventing a foreign invasion
    • Rejecting claims of the Pope
  • From 1542: Henry introduces the policy of “Surrender & Regrant“ (Irish surrender their land to Henry who regrants it as a fief) to bring Ireland under control
  • The Irish nobility formally accepts Henry but does not follow his rule in their own territories
  • Tensions rise because of:
    • Introduction of the English administration
    • Effective introduction of English law
    • Religious contrasts
    • Violence from both sides
  • Several rebellions, esp. the Desmond Rebellions (1569-1573 & 1579-1583), follow
  • 1584 – 1603: Ireland finally & fully comes under English control after the Nine Years’ War (1584-1603)