Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Irish history Essay Example for Free

Irish history Essay Rose Fitzgerald – wife of Joseph Kennedy, Sr. and matriarch of a U. S. political dynasty – was born of a proud Boston Irish family. Her last name however betrays origins that were other than Irish. In fact, the name â€Å"Fitz-Gerald† indicates that her first Irish ancestor to bear that name was the son of a Norman knight or nobleman who was begotten â€Å"in the wrong bed,† so to speak. Irish legends say that the island had been invaded several times before the arrival of the Celts around 250 B. C. E. (Austin, 2007). In historical times however, Ireland was virtually untouched for centuries; Romans never got to the island, nor did the early Germanic invaders that turned Romano-Celtic Britain into England starting around 450 C. E. By the time of the first Viking raid nearly 350 years later, the Celtic inhabitants of Ireland had retained their unique and ancient Celtic culture and language in a pure form for nearly a millennium. Even Christianity didn’t have a huge effect on the core culture, and there is evidence that suggests some druidic practices were integrated into early Celtic Christianity, which differed significantly from Roman Catholicism prior to the Council of Whitby (Griffin, 2000). Interestingly, Celtic languages historically are lost in the face of an invasion by a more aggressive culture. The Celtic language of Gaul was almost completely replaced by Latin, and in the face of Germanic invaders from the Continent, Brythonic (Welsh and Cornish) and Scots Gaelic retreated into the mountainous fringe of Britain. However, Scandinavians (from whom Normans were descended) invading Gaelic-speaking Ireland ultimately wound up adopting the language and the culture. This is probably due less to the durability of Irish culture than it is to Scandinavian adaptability. Wherever Scandinavian Vikings conquered and settled – from Russia to Normandy, or around the Mediterranean – they eventually became assimilated by the culture and language of those they had conquered. In the case of the early Norsemen, political conquest and colonization of Ireland was not a primary goal. For the first two centuries, raids were conducted for the purpose of booty. Only later, starting in the tenth century, did Norse Vikings begin building their port cities – Dublin, Wexford, Waterford and Cork – and begin to settle in. The purposes of the towns were to serve as bases from which raids on England could be launched. Archaeological evidence suggests that over the following two centuries, the Norse who started to spread out into the countryside around their towns were â€Å"heavily Hibernicized† (Oxford Companion, 1999). In the case of the Anglo-Normans however, there were additional factors – political, social and environmental – that led to the decline of their dominance and subsequent assimilation into Irish culture. The first Anglo-Normans in Ireland actually arrived as mercenaries two years prior to the â€Å"official† date of 1169. They had been hired by the ousted King of Leinster, Dermot MacMurrough in order to reclaim his throne. At the time, their was a great deal of internecine warfare in Ireland at the time over the throne and title of High King, providing what was basically an opportunity for the bastard offspring of Norman knights who otherwise would remain landless. Anglo-Norman intervention began in earnest with the arrival of over five hundred fighters between May of 1169 and August of 1170 (Oxford Companion, 17). Eventually – and despite attempted intervention (with papal blessing) on the part of King Henry II, Norman families such as Le Gros, Prendergast, FitzStephen, FitzGerald, FitzHenry and Le Poer had secured virtual kingdoms for themselves by 1200 (Wikipedia, 2007). Events in Ireland during the early 13th Century eventually led to the dissolution of these Norman principalities as the native Gaelic-speaking Irish began to reassert themselves. Part of the reduction of Norman influence in Ireland had to do with inheritance laws; land was divided among all sons, not just the eldest, which led to the reduction in size and power of Norman lands. Periodic famines also served to reduce Norman power in Ireland. Over the next hundred and fifty years, two additional events led to the decline of Norman power in Ireland. First was the invasion of Scottish king Edward Bruce, who rallied the Gaelic nobility against the Sassunach. The other was the Black Death 0f 1347-1350. This plague reduced the population of Europe by a third. Urban dwellers – such as the Anglo-Normans of Ireland – were affected in much greater numbers than those living in the countryside, which was the case of Gaelic-speaking Irish. As the English-controlled areas became confined to the lands in and around Dublin (called â€Å"The Pale†), the Hiberno-Norman lords in the hinterlands began to adopt the Irish language, allying themselves with the native Irish in politics and warfare, and remained Catholic despite the Reformation (Barry, 1988) . This process of â€Å"Hibernicization† was well underway by 1400; it so troubled the English authorities in Dublin that they passed laws in 1367 in an attempt to stop those of English (Norman) descent from intermarrying with the Irish and adopting the language and culture. The statutes had little effect, however because of the Dublin government’s limited authority outside of The Pale. Archaeological evidence of Norman occupation of the Irish countryside includes the remains of numerous â€Å"mottes,† or remains of castles, scattered throughout the country. However, there are some places where Normans are indicated to have lived in written records such as the Irish Annals, where remains of these â€Å"mottes† are not found. It is possible that â€Å"ringworks† – earthen forts – may have been present in these areas (McNeill, 1999). An archaeological dig at Caherguillamore in County Limerick sheds some light on daily life in Ireland during the late Middle Ages. The construction and layout of the houses discovered in this area is similar to those on feudal Norman manors one would expect to find in France and England (Barry, 1988). They appear to be long houses with a central hearth, typical of Scandinavian construction which Normans retained long after becoming culturally and linguistically French. A coin found at the site from the reign of Edward I dates the houses’ construction to the decades on either side of 1300. There does not appear to have been any sort of genre as â€Å"Norman-Irish† or â€Å"Norman-Gaelic† literature, although the latter term was used in the 1940’s by Austin Clarke to describe poetry such as Feuch fein an obair-se a Aodh , which, while strongly Irish in its subject matter and structure, bears some resemblance to the â€Å"courtly love† poems of the French troubadours, which whom most Norman nobility would have had some familiarity with (Carney, 1955). This cross-pollination seems to have gone both ways; Bebedeit’s Voyage of Saint Brendan, dedicated to the wives of Henry I, was adapted from the Irish saga Navigatio Sanctis Brendani, an account of what may have been an early Irish voyage to North America in the 5th Century (Harper-Bill, 2003). Beyond this, there is little in the way of true â€Å"Anglo-Norman-Irish† literature or prose. According to an article in The Cambridge History of English and American Literature, there were three reasons for this. First of all, the vernacular language of Ireland – Irish Gaelic – was difficult for English speakers then as now, and very few inside The Pale would have bothered to learn it. Secondly, those Norman-English living within The Pale were busy trying to hold on to what they had in the face of rebellion by the native Gaels. The Third reason has to do with the entire assimilation issue: separated from their kinsmen in England and on the Continent, surrounded by native Irish speakers, it was inevitable that the Anglo Normans living outside The Pale should be drawn away from the Anglo-French literary traditions and into the Irish Gaelic forms (Bartleby, 2005). The Scandinavian influence – particularly that of the Normans – on European history can hardly be underestimated. The Vikings and their Norman descendants were a dynamic people who, for all their violent ways, created energetic societies wherever they went. Had William the Conqueror failed in 1066, English would presently sound a great like Dutch or German, and the socio-political landscape would look very different today. This energy may be exactly what has allowed Irish culture to survive, despite seven centuries of what was often harsh, cruel and even murderous oppression on the part of the Protestant English beginning around 1600. This vigorous culture was ultimately transplanted to the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. In the U. S. especially, people of Irish descent read like a â€Å"Who’s Who† of American history. The fact that the Irish who came to the U. S. – who were initially despised and discriminated against violently – eventually rose to prominence and produced some of the greatest political leaders and literary figures in the nation owe their energy in part to the contribution of Scandinavians and their Anglo-Norman descendants. Works Cited The Cambridge History of English and American Literature. (1907–21). (Vol. XIV). The Oxford Companion to Irish History. (1999). ). Oxford: Oxford University Press A Companion To The Anglo Norman World.(2003). ). Suffolk: Boydell Press. Norman Ireland. (2007). Wikipedia. Retrieved 2 April 2007, from http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Norman_Ireland Barry, T. B. (1988). The Archaeology of Medieval Ireland. London: Routledge. Carney, J. (1955). Studies in Irish Literature and History. Dublin: Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies. Griffith, P. (2000). Celtic Cross Development. Retrieved 2 April 2007, from http://www. bluhorizonlines. org/cros/cros2. html Mcneill, T. (1999). Castles in Ireland: Feudal Power in a Gaelic World. London: Routledge.

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