Danish Conversion

Margaret Anne Cusack
start of chapter | Chapter XIII

The year 948 has generally been assigned as that of the conversion of the Danes to Christianity; but, whatever the precise period may have been, the conversion was rather of a doubtful character, as we hear of their burning churches, plundering shrines, and slaughtering ecclesiastics with apparently as little remorse as ever. In the very year in which the Danes of Dublin are said to have been converted, they burned the belfry of Slane while filled with religious who had sought refuge there. Meanwhile the Irish monarchies were daily weakened by divisions and domestic wars. Connaught was divided between two or three independent princes, and Munster into two kingdoms.

The ancient division of the country into five provinces no longer held good; and the Ard-Righ, or chief monarch, was such only in name. Even the great northern Hy-Nials, long the bravest and most united of the Irish clans, were now divided into two portions, the Cinel-Connaill and Cinel-Owen; the former of whom had been for some time excluded from the alternate accession of sovereignty, which was still maintained between the two great families of the race of Nial. But, though this arrangement was persevered in with tolerable regularity, it tended little to the promotion of peace, as the northern princes were ever ready to take advantage of the weakness of the Meath men, who were their inferiors both in numbers and in valour.