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’Ireland in SchoolsÓ
Urmston Grammar School
Trafford Pilot Scheme
Irish pathway through Key Stage 3 History
Foundation unit for the Irish pathway
The Normans and Ireland
Part of Year 7 key question 8
’How far did the Celtic peoples survive the Norman attempt to conquer the British Isles?Ó
Introduction: an Irish pathway
Ireland before the Normans
The Normans come to Ireland
The Normans and Ireland: invitation or invasion?
The Normans and Ireland: conquest?
The Normans and Ireland: impact
The Normans and Ireland: an incomplete conquest - contrasts
The Normans and Ireland: artistic interpretation
The Normans and the British Isles
Homework exercises
The Normans and Ireland: greed?
The Normans and Ireland: Irish weakness?
An Irish pathway
Urmston Grammar School is re-organising its History curriculum at Key Stage 3 (Years 7-9) around a series of key
questions. Where appropriate, it is incorporating Irish material to help answer these questions, thus forming an Irish
pathway throughout Key Stage 3 History. This is part of a general policy to promote knowledge and understanding
of Ireland in the school and also an attempt to provide a sound basis for the more specialised study of conflict in
Ireland as part of the GCSE History in Years 10-11.
The key questions and their Irish dimensions are given overleaf.
This unit shows how Irish material is used to help the study of one key question in Year 7, dealing with the Normans
and the Celtic peoples. It is, so to speak, the foundation unit of the Irish pathway.
Year 7, key question 8
Key question 8 in Year 7 asks ’How far did the Celtic peoples survive the Norman attempt to conquer the British
The aims of the unit are to investigate:
the lives of Celtic peoples in Wales, Scotland and Ireland, and the impact of the Normans upon them; and
change and continuity in the lives of these peoples.
For each country pupils will answer the following questions:
How was the country ruled in the period 1066-1166?
When and why did the Normans begin to get involved?
What actions did the Normans take?
How successful were the Normans?
What was the impact of the Normans?
The resources required for Scotland and Wales will be drawn from Understanding History, pp 110-13. For Ireland
specially developed information and task booklets have been prepared, drawing on a wide range of sources.*
Literacy audit
The unit will help to develop literacy skills in reading and research (the causes and consequences of the Norman
intervention in Ireland, Scotland and Wales), using and interpreting sources (including contemporary sources - written,
such as Gerald of Wales and visual, such as representations of Irish and Norman life), note-taking, argumentative
writing (causes and consequences of the Norman intervention), analytical writing (the impact of the Normans on
Ireland), the use of key terms and the correct use of spelling, punctuation and drama.
Cultural difference
Evidence work/note-making
Evidence work/note-making
Group-work/Evidence work
Understanding History, pp 110-111
Understanding History, pp 112-113
Information sheets
3 weeks
British Library, Medieval Realms 1066-1500, British Library, London 1994.
M.E. Collins et al., History in Context 1: Uncovering the Past, Educational Company of Ireland, Dublin 1989.
P. Cremins, Footprints 3, C.J. Fallon, Dublin 1991.
R.F. Foster (ed.), The Oxford Illustrated History of Ireland, Oxford 1989.
Gerald of Wales, The History and Topography of Ireland, translated by J.J. OÓMeara, Penguin Book, Harmondsworth 1982
N. Johnston, The Norman Impact on the Medieval World, Colourpoint, Newtownards 1994.
M.. Llywelyn, Stongbow. The Story of Richard and Aoife, OÓBrien Press, Dublin 1992.
C. O Loingsigh, Pathways in History 3, Educational Company of Ireland, Dublin 1984.
The Normans and Ireland, page 1
’Ireland in SchoolsÓ
Year 7
Irish elements
Year 8
1. What history?
1. Did Richard III murder
the princes?
2. What can we learn
about the Romans from
the primary evidence at
HadrianÓs Wall?
2. How did Henry VII and
Henry VIII establish
the Tudor dynasty?
3. Why were the Romans
able to build such an
impressive empire?
Urmston Grammar School
Irish pathway through KS 3 History
Ireland and Roman
Irish elements
Re-assertion of rule in
3. Why did the European
Reformation take
Year 9
Irish elements
1. Why did the Industrial
Revolution take place
in Great Britain but not
in Ireland?
Limits of industrialisation
in Ireland outside NorthEast
2. What was the reality of
factory life in the early
19th century?
Belfast example condition in linen mills
3. How far did
governments take
responsibility for the
health and welfare of
its people in the 19th
Relief of Irish famines,
particularly the Great
4. Why did the Roman
Empire decline?
4. What were the causes
and consequences of
the English
Failure of Reformation in
4. Was there a transport
revolution in the 19th
5. Why did the Normans
win the Battle of
5. How serious were the
threats faced by
Elizabeth I?
Elizabeth‘s Vietnam - the
Niine Years War
5. Why was there no
political revolution in
the 19th century?
Irish causes, particularly
1641 rebellion
6. Was World War I
6. How serious were the
threats to the monarch
in the Middle Ages?
Raise question of Irish
threat - raiding Britain
and backdoor to invasion
6. Were James I and
Charles I responsible
for the Civil War of
7. How secure was
William IÓs control of
the British Isles?
William I and Ireland diplomacy and cooperation
7. Why did the Plague of
1665 have such a
terrible impact on 17th
century London?
8. How far did the Celtic
peoples survive the
Norman attempt to
conquer the British
Normans and Ireland:
reasons for Henry II‘s
intervention and
8. What were the causes
and consequences of
the Glorious
Revolution of 1688?
9. Why did the Black
Death have such a
terrible impact on
medieval society?
Irish experience
overshadowed by other
9. Why did the black
peoples of America
face such prejudice?
7. Why was World War I
unlike any previous
Battle of Boyne, Treaty of
Limerick and Protestant
Ascendancy over a
Catholic people
Compare limits of
Chartism with impact of
movements for Catholic
Emancipation and Home
Recruiting in Ireland,
Easter Rising, and
8. Why did dictators
emerge in Europe, and
what were the
9. How has your chosen
theme changed over
Ireland: two nations?
Ireland before the Normans
It was to be a century after the Battle of
Hastings before the Normans came to
Ireland. Unlike England, the AngloSaxons
had not settled in Ireland. Its population was
a mixture of Celts and Vikings. Most Irish
people spoke the Gaelic language and
followed Gaelic laws. Trade was largely
controlled by the five Viking ports.
Celtic society was very complicated. Ireland
was divided into about eight main territories
each ruled by its own King. Each of these
was divided further into sub-kingdoms each
with its own ruler, who was subject to the
main king. The most powerful of the eight
kings was called the High King. The High
King was rather like a champion boxer. He
only remained High King as long as he was
unbeaten. In 1166 the King of Tyrone, who
was High King, was overthrown and killed
in a rebellion by his sub-kings who then
gave their support to Rory OÓConnor, King
of Connaught. O Connor then became High
The main Irish Kingdoms and Viking settlements in 1166.
N. Johnston, The Norman Impact on the Medieval World, Colouproint, Newtownards, 1994,
Ireland was famous for its Celtic
monasteries. Compared to Norman monasteries their buildings were very simple, consisting of several
small stone beehive shaped cells for monks to live in, clustered around a small stone church. A wall
for protection surrounded the whole settlement and a tall round tower was used to store holy treasures
and protect monks if the Vikings attacked.
The Irish kings were generous patrons of the church. In 1134 Cormac McCarthy, King of Munster, built
the lovely church on the Rock of Cashel.
The People
Unlike England, which had settled farming villages with people growing crops, Irish people mostly
made their living by raising cattle. This meant that in some areas, particularly Ulster, the people were
semi-nomadic. Most warfare consisted of cattle raiding, often over long distances, into another
kingdom. Irishmen fought without armour, using short spears, javelins or large axes. The Irish had no
towns, apart from the Viking trading ports. Because they did not live in towns or farms, the Irish were
often despised by English writers.
N. Johnston, The Norman Impact on the Medieval World, Colourpoint, Newtownards, 1994, pp 20-1
The Normans and Ireland, page 3
The Normans come to Ireland
How we know about the coming of the Normans
The Normans arrived in Ireland in 1169, just one hundred years after the Battle of Hastings. We know about
their coming from two sources.
One source is a long poem called The Song of Dermot and the Earl. It tells the story of the King of Leinster,
Dermot Mac Murrough and his dealings with the Norman Earl of Pembroke whose nickname was Strongbow.
We do not know who wrote this poem, but as it is written in French, he was probably a Norman. Poems like this
which tell of the brave deeds of Norman knights in battle were often recited at the feasts that the lords gave in
their castles.
Our second source is a book called The Conquest of Ireland. It was written by a priest called Gerald of Wales,
around the year 1186. Gerald was in Ireland about 12 years after the Normans first arrived, but his brothers, the
de Barrys and his cousins, the FitzGeralds, were among the first of the Normans to come here. For those reasons
he probably knew what happened.
This is the story which our sources tell.
Dermot Mac Murrough
In the year 1166 the King of Leinster was Dermot Mac Murrough. The Song of Dermot
and the Earl says
In Ireland of this day, There was no more worthy king
He was very rich and powerful‘
He loved the generous, he hated the mean.
Gerald of Wales says that King Dermot:
was a tall and well-built, brave and war-like man, but his voice was hoarse as
a result of always being in the noise of battle. He preferred to be feared rather
than loved. He was disliked by his own people and hated by others‘.
Dermot Mac Murrough had many enemies. The most bitter was Tiernan O Rourke, the ruler of Breffini
(Roscommon). Some years before, Dermot had run off with Tiernan's wife, Dervorgilla, and Tiernan wanted
revenge. Another of Dermot's enemies was Rory O Connor, the ruler of Connaught. In 1169, they joined together
and marched with their armies into Leinster. They defeated Dermot and drove him from his kingdom.
But Dermot did not give up easily. His kingdom of Leinster was on the Irish sea and its people traded with the
English and the Welsh. Because of this, Dermot had heard how the Normans had conquered England. He knew
they were the best soldiers in Europe so he decided to go to England and hire some of them to help him recover
his kingdom.
Dermot gathered his family and a few loyal friends together and set sail for Bristol. It was an important trading
city on the border of England and Wales. There were many Norman knights nearby and Dermot hoped to find
some who would help him.
Dermot meets King Henry II
But he soon discovered that no Norman would come to Ireland without the permission of their king, Henry II.
Henry was a grandson of William the Conqueror and was Duke of Normandy as well as King of England. When
Dermot arrived in Bristol, Henry was in France fighting the King of France who was trying to take over
The Normans and Ireland, page 4
Dermot went to France to see Henry and, according to the Song, said to him:
Hear me, Noble King Henry!
In Ireland I was acknowledged a king
But wrongfully my own people
Have cast me from my kingdom.
To you I make complaint, good king,
In the presence of the barons of your Empire.
You, I shall acknowledge as king and lord
Henceforth all the days of my life,
On condition that you be my helper
So that I shall not lose all.
Dermot s bargain with Strongbow
Dermot went back to Bristol and met Strongbow, the Earl of Pembroke. He was a powerful Norman lord.
Dermot offered him a bargain. Strongbow would lead an army of Normans to Ireland and help Dermot recover
Leinster. In return, Strongbow would get Dermot's daughter, Aoife, as his wife and become King of Leinster
when Dermot died. Strongbow accepted the bargain and Dermot returned home to wait for his new friends to
The Normans land in Ireland
The first Norman soldiers landed near Wexford in 1169. By the following year when Strongbow himself came,
Dermot had a Norman army of about 500 knights and two or three thousand horsemen and archers.
They quickly captured Waterford, where Strongbow and Aoife were married immediately after the battle. They
then marched to Dublin which was the main city in Leinster. It was ruled by the Vikings who appealed to Rory
O Connor for help. But the Normans defeated the Vikings and the Irish and took over the city. Soon after this,
in May 1171, Dermot Mac Murrough died and Strongbow became King of Leinster.
Henry II in Ireland
When King Henry heard of this, he was afraid that Strongbow would set up his own Norman kingdom in Ireland.
He decided to come to Ireland himself to make sure the Normans accepted him as their king. He got together
a fleet of 400 ships in Bristol and set sail for Ireland with an army of 500 knights and 4,000 soldiers.
The Irish rulers welcome Henry
Irish rulers outside Leinster had watched these things with interest. They saw how powerful the Norman soldiers
were and feared a Norman attack on themselves.
When Henry II arrived they saw a chance. If they accepted him as their Lord, perhaps he would protect them
from the Normans . Many of these Irish rulers went to the king and submitted to him. After receiving the
Normans and the Irish in Waterford, Henry and his army marched up through Leinster to Dublin. There, outside
the walls of the city, the king built a wooden hall of the kind the Irish rulers had. Gerald of Wales tells us that:
As the solemn feast of Our Lord's birth (Christmas) drew near, the princes of Ireland came to
Dublin in great numbers to view the royal court. There they greatly admired the sumptuous and
plentiful fare of the English table and the elegant service by the royal domestics.
Henry II, Lord of Ireland
Henry II left Ireland in April 1172. By then, most of the rulers of Ireland had accepted him as their overlord.
Almost by accident and without fighting a single battle, Henry II, King of England and Duke of Normandy, had
also become the Lord of Ireland. His successors were to keep that position for almost 800 years ....
M.E. Collins et al, History in Context1: Uncovering the Past, Educational Company of Ireland, Dublin 1989, pp 167-71
The Normans and Ireland, page 5
The Normans and Ireland
Invitation or invasion?
Cut out the event‘ strips below and then put the events in the order that they took place.
Later, many Irish kings get Normans (English)to help in their battles. The Normans use this
to take many lands from Irish people.
Tiernan and Rory bring their armies to fight Dermot in 1169 and he flees to England.
Dermot MacMurrough is king of Leinster in 1166. He has many enemies. Tiernan OÓRourke,
the king of Breffini, hates him because he has run off with TiernanÓs wife. Rory OÓConnor,
the king of Connaught also hates him.
Dermot knows that the Normans (English) are good soldiers and wants to get their help
against his enemies in Ireland.
Strongbow, one of Henry IIÓs lords agrees to help Dermot against his enemies. Dermot says
that in return for helping him Strongbow can marry his daughter, Aoife, and become king of
Leinster when he dies.
The Normans help Dermot to win many lands. Strongbow and Aoife marry, and he becomes
king of Leinster in 1171 when Dermot dies.
Strongbow arrives in Ireland with over two thousand horsemen and archers and 500 knights.
In 1170 he captured Waterford and went on to take over Dublin
Henry II is worried that Strongbow is becoming too powerful and he goes to Ireland in 1171
to make sure that Strongbow still accepts him as his king.
Many Irish kings accept Henry as their king in 1175. They hope this will stop the Norman
lords from attacking them.
Dermot promises to accept Henry II as his king if he allows anyone to help him.
The Normans and Ireland, page 6
The Normans and Ireland
Norman power in Ireland, c. 1260
P. Cremin, Footprints 3, C.J.Fallon, Dublin, 1991, p. 90
Irish names often begin with O‘ or Mac‘.
Look at this map of Ireland in 1260.
How much control did the Normans have over Ireland in 1260?
The Normans and Ireland, page 7
The Normans and Ireland
The Normans left a permanent mark on Ireland.
They put an end to the possibility of Ireland being united under one Irish High King.
They brought about many changes, many innovations, including
new ways of fighting (organised, using horses and chain mail)
new ways of farming (manorial system)
new kinds of people (Normans and Anglo-Saxons with a new range of skills)
a new kind of law and government, feudal system (a new administrative system, with
Dublin as the centre of government and the division of Ireland into counties - by 1200,
there were eight counties, Dublin, Louth, Waterford, Cork, Kerry, Limerick, Tipperary and
Connacht; new laws enforced by sheriffs and a jury system)
the English language.
They also developed further existing things, particularly
- building inland towns, usually around a castle (whereas Viking towns were in coastal areas).
Which of these changes do you think would have had the most impact on the way people lived in
Ireland? Give reasons for your answer.
How far do you think that these changes were similar to those made in England by the Normans?
The Normans and Ireland, page 8
However, the Normans never won complete control over Ireland as they had done in
There were powerful Irish leaders in the north and west who were never conquered and
during the 1300s the Normans began to lose their power in many parts of Ireland.
By 1500 there were three distinct areas in Ireland, often with different customs and
People were loyal to the King of England in the Pale, an
area around Dublin, and in major towns.
In the other areas, the Gaelic and Anglo-Irish areas, the
kingÓs government had no control.
The Gaeli were the Irish, the descendants of the Celts.
They spoke Irish. The Anglo-Irish were the descendants
of the Normans. There was some inter-marriage.
In the Pale English laws were enforced by royal sheriffs.
In Irish areas, however, such as Ulster, the old Irish laws,
the Brehon laws, were still kept and the royal sheriffs
seldom ventured.
A list of the differences is given on the next page. As
you will see, the differences were very great.
Choose one Gaelic lordship in the northern part of
Ireland (Ulster). Complete a Magna Carta showing
your rules are different from those of the English.
Gaelic and Anglo-Irish lordships in the late fifteenth
M.E. Collins et al., New History in Context 1, The Educational Company,
Dublin, 1995, p. 147
The Normans and Ireland, page 9
The Normans and Ireland: an incomplete conquest
Gaelic Lords
The people of the Pale*
The names of the Gaelic Irish began with O or
No distinctive names
Their ancestors had been in Ireland since the
Celts came, about 500 BC.
Like the Anglo-Norman lords, they were
descended from Norman lords who first went to
Ireland in the middle of the twelfth century.
Gaelic lord ruled over a clan, a group of people
who shared a common name. The man who
ruled over the clan was known by the clan name.
He was called The OÓNeill, The OÓConnor etc.
In theory, all the freemen in a clan elected the
lord from among the recent descendants of a
lord. In practice, the new lord was often the
brother or son of the previous lord.
They recognised the king of England as their
overlord but unlike the Anglo-Norman lords
they kept close ties with England.
Ordinary people in the Gaelic areas spoke Irish.
They spoke mainly English.
They had their own style of dress:
men wore (I) a knee-length tunic, (ii) an
Irish mantle - a very thick coat, and (iii) a
long moustache and a fringe which was
called a glib;
women wore a long tunic like a dress with an
Irish mantle over their shoulders;
both men and women often went barefoot.
They wore English-style dress.
Irish mantles were forbidden and richer people
wore shoes, hats and stockings.
Men were either clean-shaven or wore full
The Gaelic lords used these ancient Gaelic laws,
Brehon laws.
They followed the English system of law. It was
called ’the common lawÓ because it was common to
all the kingÓs subjects.
Judges and
The Brehon (judge) administered the laws. The post
was usually passed from father to son.
The BrehonÓs court was usually held on a hillside
and was open to all.
The king appointed judges to go from place to place
and try serious crimes.
Courts were held in a courthouse in a town
Law and
There were no jails or executions.
Fines were the form of punishment. The family of a
person found guilty had to pay a fine to the victim of
the victimÓs family.
Sentences were harsh. People found guilty were
executed by beheaded or hanging or were put in
prison for a long time.
A Gaelic lord did not own the land he ruled over.
It belonged to the whole clan who grazed their huge
herds of cattle on it. Cattle belonged to the freemen.
A personÓs wealth was measured in the number of
cows he or she had.
The tenants and labourers who looked after the herds
had few rights. There were no set rents or leases.
Lord owned all they land they ruled over. They got it
from the king who gave them a legal document (title
deed) showing they were entitled to it.
When a lord died, all his land usually went to the
eldest son.
Tenants usually leased their land for a set number of
years at a set rent.
Wives could keep their own names and property
when they married.
Divorce was allowed.
Children born outside marriage were entitled to a
share in their fatherÓs property.
A wives took her husbandsÓs names and her husband
took control of her property and money.
Divorce was forbidden.
Children born outside marriage could not inherit their
fatherÓs property.
The three most powerful Anglo-Norman families the Butlers (Earls of Ormond), Fitzgeralds (Earls of Desmond) and their cousins
the Fitzgeralds (Earls of Kildare). They were descended from Norman lords who first went to Ireland in the middle of the twelfth
century. The Anglo-Norman lords recognised the king of England as their overlord. However, they lived far from London and some
gradually became more like their Gaelic neighbours. They intermarried with them and adopted many Gaelic customs. Some spoke
Irish and often used the Brehon laws. Sometimes, on the surface, they seemed more Gaelic than English.
The Normans and Ireland, page 10
A medieval Irish woman, wearing a great cloak or
mantle, made from wool with a fringed edge.
A medieval Norman woman, from the Pale, with
tailored dress and wimple.
The Irish pastoral economy: cattle-raiding, 1581.
The Norman economy: the Manor of Cloncurry,
County Kildare. P. Cremin, Footprints 3, C.J.Fallon, Dublin, 1991, p. 90
P. Cremin, Footprints 3, C.J.Fallon, Dublin, 1991, p. 90
C. O Loingsigh, Pathways in History 3, The Educational Company, Dublin, 1984, p. 82
P. Cremin, Footprints 3, C.J.Fallon, Dublin, 1991, p. 90
The Normans and Ireland, page 11
The OÓHagan hill-fort, Tullaghoe, Ulster
Hugh de LacyÓs castle, Trim, County Meath
The MacSweeneys dining, 1587.
Impression of the Fitzgerald family dining in the
Great Hall of Maynooth Castle, County Kildare
P. Cremin, Footprints 3, C.J.Fallon, Dublin, 1991, p. 106
A woodcut from an English book, it emphasises the barbarity of the proceedings - the
lack of a proper table, the proximity of the slaughtering and cooking, and the less than
delicate manners of all concerned (as in the strategic use of a fire to warm frozen
R. Foster (ed.), The Oxford Illustrated History of Ireland, Oxford, 1989, p. 281
P. Cremin, Footprints 3, C.J.Fallon, Dublin, 1991, p. 65
P. Cremin, Footprints 3, C.J.Fallon, Dublin, 1991, p. 86
Describe and explain the main differences between the native Irish‘ and the Norman settlers in the ways they lived
and fought.
The Normans and Ireland, page 12
The Normans and Ireland
Artistic interpretation
The Marriage of Strongbow and Aoife (painted in 1854 by Daniel MacLise) - a watercolour study for a very celebrated heroic oil-painting.
The recurrent theme is that the Anglo-Irish relationship is a forced marriage.
The painting contains at least two symbols of the oppression of native Irish culture:
the lamenting harpist in the foreground (left); and StrongbowÓs foot planted on the broken
Would you regard this painting as a primary or secondary source? Give reasons for your
Many Irish people see the Norman invasion as a betrayal of Ireland.
How far does this picture agree with that view? Give your reasons.
The Normans and Ireland, page 13
The Normans and Ireland, page 14
How far did the Celtic peoples survive the Norman attempts to conquer the British Isles?
The Normans and the British Isles
Homework exercises
The Normans and Ireland, page 15
The Normans and Ireland
It is easy to understand why Dermot wanted the Normans to go to his aid in Ireland. The reasons for
the Normans agreeing to go to Ireland are more complex. The motives of the Norman barons were
mixed and were different from those of their king, Henry II.
Norman barons
A. We are restoring the fortunes of this honourable
man, our excellent and generous benefactor,
who has been cheated by the treachery of his
own people.
B. Perhaps the outcome of this present action will
be that the five divisions of Ireland will be
reduced to one, and the sovereignty over the
whole kingdom will devolve upon our race in
Fitzstephen speaking of Dermot, 1169, quoted by
Gerald of Wales.
Fitzstephen speaking of Dermot, 1169, quoted by
Gerald of Wales.
C. It is not, then, greed for monetary rewards or
the blind‘ craving for gold that has brought us
to these parts, but a gift of lands and cities in
perpetuity to us and to our children.
D. With my parents dead, I became the guardian of
my infant sister. I wanted to give her a good
life. She would be a Norman noblewoman, she
should have fine gowns to wear and jewels, and
there should be lute-players in her chambers,
making music for her all day ... But it all took
money. Property. Power....
Fitzstephen speaking of Dermot, 1169, quoted by
Gerald of Wales.
Morgan Llywelyn, Strongbow, OÓBrien Press, Dublin
1992, pp 29-30
E. The island is rich in pastures and meadows,
honey and milk, and wine, but not vineyards....
Imported wines, however, conveyed in the
ordinary commercial way, are so abundant that
you would scarcely notice that the vine was
neither cultivated nor gave its fruit there.
F. This is the most temperate of all countries. The
air is so healthy that there is no disease-bearing
cloud, or pestilential vapour, or corrupting
breeze. The island has little use for doctors. You
will not find many sick men, except those that
are actually at the point of death.
Gerald of Wales
Gerald of Wales
Look at sources A-C. In your own words list the reasons Fitzstephen gives for coming to Ireland.
Look at all the sources, A-F. How powerful a reason do you think restoring the fortunes of an
honourable man‘ was in explaining why the Norman barons went to Ireland?
The Normans and Ireland, page 16
Henry II
A. Adrian, bishop, servant of the servant of God, to
our beloved son in Christ, the illustrious King
of the English, greeting ... as becomes a
Catholic prince, your purpose to enlarge the
boundaries of the Church, to proclaim the
truths of the Christian religion to a rude and
ignorant people ... we therefore do declare our
will and pleasure that, with a view to enlarging
the boundaries of the Church ... you shall enter
that island and execute [carry out] whatsoever
may tend to the honour of God and the welfare
of that land.
B. When these [Strongbow‘s] successes had
become known to the King of England, he was
moved to anger against the earl for having
attempted so great an enterprise, not only
without consulting him but even in defiance of
him, and also because the Earl had taken to
himself the glory of so noble a conquest, which
ought rather to have been given to the king as
his superior.
From the Papal Bull Laudabiliter by which Pope
Adrian IV granted Ireland to King Henry II in England
in 1155.
William of Newburgh, The History of England, 1197.
Look at source A.
a. Why do you think that Pope Adrian IV gave Henry II his blessing to enter Ireland?
b. Do you think the fact that the Pope was an Englishman may have helped?
Look at source B.
What two reasons had Henry for being angry with Strongbow?
The Normans and Ireland, page 17
The Normans and Ireland
Irish weakness?
There were far fewer Normans than Irish, yet the Normans successfully conquered large parts of the
country. There were two reasons for this:
Irish rulers fought among themselves. We saw how Dermot Mac Murrough invited the Normans in
because of his quarrel with Tiernan 0 Rourke and Rory O Connor. Other rulers later invited Norman
knights to help them fight their enemies and this allowed the Normans to gain a foothold in other parts
of the country.
The second reason the Normans were so successful was that they had better weapons than the Irish. We
do not have pictures from the time to show us what weapons each side had, but we think they were like
this - on the right.
Look at the picture carefully and answer these
Look at the picture carefully and answer these
1. How is the Norman knight prepared for
2. Why is he wearing chain-mail?
3. Do you think the chain-mail was more or
less suitable than a suit of armour?
Why do you say so?
4. Look at the archer. What weapon is he
5. The Normans planned their battles
First the archers shot the arrows at the
Then the mounted knights charged.
Finally the footmen rushed to fight hand to
hand with the enemy.
(a) Do you think this was a good plan?
(b) Why did the archers shoot before the
knights or footmen went into battle?
1. How are the Irish warriors prepared for
2. Do you think that they are as well-protected
as the Normans?
3. The Irish raced into battle, roaring loudly.
They had no special battle plan.
Would this have been a disadvantage when
fighting the Normans?
4. Unlike the Normans, the Irish had no
Was this a disadvantage?
5. Draw pictures of a Norman Knight and an
Irish warrior.
Peadar Cremin, Footprints 3, C.J. Fallon, Dublin 1991, pp 60-1
The Normans and Ireland, page 18
The Normans and Ireland, page 19
Gerald of Wales
When they [the Irish] are riding they do not use saddles or leggings or spurs.... Moreover,
they go into naked and unarmed into battle. They regard weapons as a burden, and they
think it brave and honourable to fight unarmed.
Gerald of Wales, The History and Topography of Ireland, translated by J.J. OÓMeara, Penguin Book, Harmondsworth 1982, p. 101
Gerald of Wales tried to show that the Norman soldiers were better than the Irish soldiers. Why do you
think he did this? Pick one of these reasons and explain your answer.
The Norman soldiers were better.
Gerald wanted to show the Irish as a backward people who deserved to be conquered.
He wanted to encourage Norman soldiers to come to Ireland as it would be easy to win land there.
K. Gormley & S. Johnson, The Middle Ages, Colourpoint, Newtownards 1997, p. 62
The Normans and Ireland, page 20