Random Ramblings from a Republican
Tuesday, March 23, 2004
1169.... and after....

Rory O'Connor would eventually be known as the last High King of Ireland. After Brian Boru's death in the Battle of Clontarf there remained no clear successor to the seat at Tara and the Kings of the four provinces went to war over the issue. Rory O'Connor, who had been King of Connacht since 1156, gained power and reputation gradually over time so that by 1166 he was essentially the recognised High King.

(It is important to remember that the succession to each of these kingships was often not orderly and that as king, O'Connor would not have governed even Connacht. His role was more to deal with the other kings throughout Ireland. As High King he definitely did not govern all Ireland, though there was probably some hope that he could maintain an alliance of other kings throughout the island.)

Dermot MacMurrough was the King of Leinster and wasn't at all happy that Rory O'Connor had beat him out for the High Kingship. He kidnapped O'Connor's daughter and fled Ireland to appealed to King Henry II of England (as well as countless other lands on the European Continent) for assistance against Rory.

In 1155 the Pope gave Henry II permission to "reform the Church" in Ireland. Historians are still debating if the Papal Bull of Adrian IV was genuine or a forgery used by Henry to obtain Ireland with the church's blessings. Adrian, suspected, though never proven, to be an Englishman, would have had a definite soft spot for the King of his homeland.

Dermot MacMurrough enlisted the assistance of Richard FitzGilbert de Clare, earl of Pembroke (in Wales), and a group of Cambro-Norman barons including the half-brothers Maurice FitzGerald and Robert FitzStephen, both sons of the Welsh princess Nesta. Maurice and Robert were promised the town of Wexford and the countryside surrounding that settlement, while de Clare, also known as Strongbow, was offered Dermot's daughter Aoife in marriage and promised the whole province of Leinster upon Dermot's death.

Between 1168 and 1171 the Cambro-Normans accompanied by Dermot MacMurrough and his forces not only conquered all of Leinster including Dublin, but invaded the neighbouring province of Meath and ravaged Tighernan O'Rourke's kingdom of Breifne. Dermot MacMurrough died in May 1171, and Strongbow established himself as lord of Leinster after crushing a popular revolt of the Leinster Irish.

Fearing Stongbow's new found power in southwestern Ireland, King Henry II landed with a large army near Waterford on October 17, 1171. In his Irish campaign Henry received recognition and hostages from the Ostmen (Vikings) of Wexford, as well as from many other kings in Ireland. Henry made a formal grant of Leinster to Strongbow in return for homage, fealty, and the service of 100 knights, reserving to himself the city and kingdom of Dublin and all seaports and fortresses on the east coast of Eire.

In 1175, having seen the Normans extend their control and build more cities and garrisons, O'Connor signed the Treaty of Windsor , leaving him with a kingdom consisting of areas outside Leinster, Meath, and Waterford, as long as he paid tribute to Henry II. His power continued to decline and he retired to a monastery before his death in 1198.

Henry II granted the kingdom of Meath, from the Shannon to the sea, to his own right-hand man Hugh de Lacy. By 1177 John de Courcy conquered Ulaid in northeastern Ireland. Parts of Cork went to Robert FitzStephen and Miles de Cogan, who took possession of seven small towns and exacted tribute payments from McCarthy for the remaining twenty-four hamlets. Limerick went to Philip de Braose and others, who failed to conquer any land at all on their own.

Strongbow died in June 1176 of an infection in his leg. He was buried in Holy Trinity Church in Dublin. William Marshall, his son in law, was placed in lordship of Leinster. In 1185 Theobald Walter, Philip of Worcester and William de Burgh were introduced into the northeast portion of O'Brien's kingdom of Limerick. In 1189 the kingdom of Airgialla was divided between Gilbert Pipard and Bertram de Verdon following the death of King Murchadh O'Carroll. By 1200 the roots of the Cambro-Norman influence in Ireland had been firmly planted by Henry II and his son and successor, John. What followed was a period of both Norman and Irish provincial lords and kings.  
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Ta ar la anois.

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