Saturday, 12 November 2011

Strongbow Ireland

The Influence of Strongbow in Ireland

The King of Leinster went overseas to seek assistance, and sailed to Bristol to ask Henry 2nd of England for help. From there he was taken to Normandy to see Henry and although Henry did not wish to get involved in another war as he was already at war with France, he did agree to help in other ways.

Diarmuit, King of Leinster offered to become Henry's vassal, and to hold his kingdom as a fief of the crown of England. King Henry accepted his oath of fealty and issued him with letters authorising his other vassals throughout various lands to come to Diarmuit's aid. Diarmuit returned to Wales and recruited a group of men in the Pembrokeshire area and returned to Ireland with these fighting men in 1167.

You will remember that I have discussed the Norman Conquest with relation to Irish History so it is now important to note that it was Normans who came to Diarmuit’s aid and not the English.  This is a crucial point, often over looked by those who claim that the English invaded Ireland.

It was these Normans who came at the request of the ousted King of Leinster, Diarmuit Mac Murchada (Dermot McMurrough).  The Normans spoke Norman French and they came, not in the interest of England, but in search of power, land and wealth. Many people mix this up with the English invading Ireland.

When in Wales Dermot had met the Lord of Pembroke and Strigoil, a man known as Richard de Clare or better known as Strongbow. Dermot had promised Strongbow his daughter's hand in marriage, and that also; he would become heir to the King of Leinster, providing he offered him assistance in Ireland to win back and build his kingdom.

It was also important for Dermot that he kept Strongbow in Ireland to act as a defence mechanism, in case he was once again attacked by his enemies. This was a significant landmark in Irish history as in essence Strongbow was heir to a provincial kingdom in Ireland and also controlled the ports of Waterford and Dublin.

This actually posed a threat to King Henry II as his authority was in doubt with Strongbow's sudden and unexpected rise to power and so Henry made plans to come to Ireland. Strongbow sailed to meet Henry and as a gesture of goodwill, handed over Dublin, but Henry continued with his planned expedition. Henry II had brought with him a large enough army to give a clear message that he meant business.

Pope Adrian IV, the only English pope, had issued a Papal Bull in 1155 giving Henry his full authority to invade Ireland as a means of curbing ecclesiastical corruption.  Henry landed with a huge English fleet and became the first English king to set foot on Irish soil.

Dublin and Waterford were proclaimed Royal Cities and in November 1171 Henry accepted the submission of the Irish kings in Dublin.  Pope Alexander III who had replaced Pope Adrian then ratified the grant of Ireland to Henry and this was approved by all the bishops at the synod of Cashel.

It was this moment when all of the Irish Kings had submitted to Henry II that Ireland came under the rule of England, and all at the invitation of a weakened Irish King, Dermot of Leinster.

They did this mainly as they viewed Henry as their protector against the likes of Strongbow and the other Anglo-Norman barons who had joined him.

Henry then awarded his Irish territories to his younger son John and when John unexpectedly succeeded his brother as king, the Kingdom of Ireland fell directly under the English Crown, and this is how the English came into Ireland.

You should now read about Henry II in Ireland.