The Anglo-Norman Invasion of Ireland

Patrick Weston Joyce




IN this Third Part is told the story of the Anglo-Norman Invasion, beginning with the expedition of Fitzstephen and Prendergast, and ending with the reign of Henry VIII, the first English monarch who assumed the title of king of Ireland.

The conquest of Ireland, whose history we are now about to enter upon, might have been accomplished in a few years, if only proper measures had been adopted. Why it took so long was pointed out nearly three hundred years ago by Sir John Davies, an Englishman, who was attorney general of Ireland.

The force employed in the first instance was wholly insufficient for conquest.

The king did not reside in Dublin; and there was no adequate representative of royalty with state and power to overawe the whole people both native and colonial.

The great Anglo-Norman lords had too much power in their hands, and for their own selfish ends kept the country in a state of perpetual warfare.

Great tracts of land belonged to absentees living in England, who merely drew their rents and did nothing for the country.

But the most fatal and disastrous mistake of all was this. The native Irish, sick of anarchy, would have welcomed any strong government able and willing to maintain peace and protect them from violence. But the government, instead of treating them as subjects to be cared for, and placing them under the law that ruled the colonists, looked upon them as enemies, and refused them the protection of English law.

Henry II. did not conquer Ireland: it would have been better for both nations if he had. It took more than four centuries to do that—probably the longest conquest-agony recorded in history.