Foreign Military Invasion, 1168-1171

From The Historic Case for Irish Independence by Darrell Figgis

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5. Such was the nation that was in the twelfth century to experience the invasion of a militarist system. The invasion came at an unhappy moment. For over a century before, Ireland had been divided by dynastic dispute. The National Polity being such that it could continue its own administration, this dispute, despite the internecine wars it caused, did not profoundly unsettle the country. So much is, evident from the fact that during these years scholarship and the arts continued in the greatest activity. But the central authority was weakened; and the nation, therefore, could not react to the new invasion as it had forcibly reacted to and overthrown the attempted Norse conquest over a century before. Moreover, the new invaders came in new guise, and the instant result of their coming was that the literary output of the nation was suspended. Ireland had ever welcomed strangers, and had made them part of her body politic, and the Normans came first as single adventurers with armed followings. They established themselves on or near the coast, and along the inland water-ways, and they built themselves castles. From these, they raided the country around for plunder. Having no economic life of their own, they ravished the economic life and industry of the nation, and forced submissions to that end. The surrounding Stateships could not sustain the effort to eject them, because they had necessarily to continue their economic life and had no separate military organisation. To ensure this continuance their freemen had enacted that they could not be called upon for more than six weeks' military service at a time, and then not during spring or harvest. This made it impossible for them to compete against a close military organisation, one of the codes of which was that it was not honourable for any of its members to work, but a knightly and honourable service to plunder the work of others. Therefore, it became necessary to buy off the adventurers by the payment of plunder, and to wait until Time drew them and gave them a place within the National Polity.

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