The Celts, The Vikings, The Anglo - Normans, The Tudors, The Irish Revolution, From Independence to the Present Day

The Celts

From 500 BC to 795 AD the Celts were the exclusive tribe of the island. They were not the first inhabitants. But when they arrived they assimitlated with the native people. Most of the Celts were, tall and blond and they learned to work with iron. they lived scattered on farms with high walls around. There were no urban centres and the economic basis of society was cattel rearing and agriculture. The Celts had no central political organisation, but there were many big families, wich they called „clans“, scattered all over the island. Sometimes the „clans“ consisted of up to five generations, and all the farmhouses, cows, sheep and fields belonged the „clan“.

In the social life of the celts the „druid“ was very important, who had the purpose of a priest, fortuneteller and magician. Another important person was the poet or bard. As society was non-literate, their function was to pass on history as well was to entertain.

The Romans never came to Ireland and so the celts could keep their own culture, but nevertheless the Celts and Romans artered.

During the fifth century AD Christianity was interoduced, and with Christianity came Latine culture and latine script. Now the bards were not that important any more, because the monks, Patricianus was one of the first monk in ireland (still ST. Patrick´s day), were able to write down Ireland´s history. 56282cmn17zej3v

At the time the most powerful clan leaders wished to have more power and so eventually they began to rule bigger areas. Politically, Ireland was organized into a number of kingdoms or tuatha, each of it was quite independent under ist elected king (a more powerful clanleader).Groups of tuatha tended to combine, but the king who claimed overlordship in each group had a primacy of honour rather than of juristiction. A division of the country into five groups of tuatha, known as the Five Fifsths occurred at the beginning of the Christian era.These were Ulster, Meath, Leister, Munster and Connaught. In 795 AD the Vikings invaded and severely reduced the power of the Celts.

But Celtic language is still spoken in the west of Ireland.

The Vikings

At the end of the eighth century broad ships reached the Irish coast, wich were able to resist wild storms. Those ships belonged to the Vikings, Scandanavian people from today´s Norway and Denmark. They sailed upstream and invlicted devastation. The Vikings plundered and destroyed monasteries, and killed all the monks and every Irish person they saw. me282c6517zeej

In 841 AD the Vikings conquered two harbours, Anagassan and Dublin, and changed them into fortresses, because they had decided to stay on the island forever. The natives did not put up tough resistance (they liked peace and, as there was no big war before, they did not know how to fight !). The climate was not as bad as in Scandinaia, and the land was much more fertible than the ground at home.

But in the long term the harbour in the north founded by the Norwegian Vikings (Annagassan), could not survive, in contrast to the more southern Harbour, Dublin, founded by Danish Vikings, wich expanded. Gradually the power of the Danish grew more and more inland. However, they also lost some of their warlike character and began to associate and marry the Celtic inhabitants.

At the beginning of the 11th century, many Celts became hostile to the Vikings at Clontarf (near Dublin), finally effected when Scandinavian allies of the king of Dublin were defeated by High king Brian Boru in 1014. The power of the Vikings was broken. Yet there was no peace. After Brian Boru died the local kings fought each other for the position of high king.

The Anglo - Normans

By 1166, there was widespread civil unrest. The king of Leister ( the biggest of the five ares) Rory O´Connor lost power and went to England to ask for help. Henry II. ( king of England) was glad to find a reason to interfere in Irish matters and so he allowed Leincester´s king to enlist soldiers from Wales. In 1170 a small but well equiped army arrived let by Strongbow (an Anglo-Norman adventurer). His modern weapons were far superior to anything the locals had so he easily overcame them. In 1172 the island became a part of Britain. By the Treaty of Windsor O´Connor, the high king accepted Henry II. as his overlord and restricted his own style to that of king of Connaught.

The Normans built big fortresses, wich the Irish people could not conquer, because they had littel war experience. But after a time the Normans could not maintain their own culture, the consequence of wich was that Normans picked up their language, culture, custome and traditions of the natives. They were afraid the Normans were „becoming more Irish than the Irish themselves“.

Britain was not happy to see that, and so passed two laws; overroling the Irish parliament.

- The Normans were not allowed to speak Irish anymore.

- Mixed Marriages were forbidden.

The king took this measure to stop integration, but there was only limited success.

At that time the importance of the towns rose and there was a flourishing trade between the Normans and the Irish people. Edward III. declared a law against that trade and against every relation to the native people e.g. the Normans had to keep their English names.

During the firth half of the 15th century Ireland was, in effect, ruled by the three great earls, of Desmond, Ormonde and Kildare, who combined to dominate the Dublin goverment.

In 1485 the House of Tudor gained power on the island.

The Tudors

Henry VII. repieled the autonomy of the Irish parliament in 1494. Now every English law was also in force in Ireland; this resolution was called „ Poynings Acts“. It subjected the meetings and legislative drafts of the Irish Parliament to control of the English king and council. At the time of the Reformation Henry XIII. broke all relations with the Pope. He forbade all monastic orders, including the Irish and confiscated their estates. The Irish people were inceuded because at that time the monasterie were very important for records of Irish history, culture and education. Marry Tudor stopped this supression a few years later, but she was afraid of the strong Celtic traditions, and so, many English men, mainly farmers settled in Ireland to bring Irish culture to an end.As a result resistance in Ireland grew against the English.

The Irish policy of Elisabeth I. had the destinction of having reduced the country to obience for the first time since the invasion of Henry II. Economically, the towns and the countryside were exloited by the new administrators while the Queen´s expenditure was increased.

Most resistance came from Ulster were the clan tradition was strongest.

James I. continued Elisabethan policy and as a result the exodus of Irih soldiers and churchmen to catholic countries on the continent was unabated.That made the Irish question an international one.

However they realised they could not defeat the English king James I. and so the leaders flet to Rome. This flight was called „The Flight of the Earls“. That consequence of that was that the king of England confiscated all the estates and setteled protestant farmers, comming from England and Scotland.

Oliver Cromwell stopped civil riots in England, but in 1641 civil riots also began in Ireland. The Catholics, who fought against the newly settled Englishmen, were persecuted by the protestant.In Ireland there were far more Catholics than Protestants, but the Catholics were not organized and so they lost. In 1549 Oliver Cromwell wanted to stop that civilwar in the way he had done in England. He came to the island and defeated all opposition. By 1652 all Irish resistance was over.

His methodes were hard. The Irish were forced into the west of the country where the ground was poorest. His phrase was „to hell or to Connaught“. After he left, he rewarded his soldiers by giving them the best land.

At that time many Irishmen emigrated to America or in Europe or India.

A renewed campaign against Catholics and Anglicans was not successful. Charles II. declared then complete religious toleration.

Protestantism existed mainly in the North, wich meant Ulster. The new inhabitants, most of them Scots, were very hard working people, who did not damage the economy, quite the reverse; now the economy in the Noth improved. This led to tension between the „ Economy-North“ and the „Farming-South“.

In 1689 there was a battle between the Irish, the Catholics, the English and the Protestants, wich today is called the „Battle of Boyne“. The catholic Ex-king James II. lost the battle to his son-in-law, William of Orange and flet to France. Irish Catholicism suffered ist most humilitating setback.That victory of the English is celebrated every year. The Protestants arrange a procession though the towns of northern Ireland with orange flags and pennats: that´s often the cause of endless riots and feuds.

Tension between North and South became worse because the farming industry in Southern, and Central Ireland was weakened by a law wich stated it, was forbidden to export wool except to England. That means, that the English could control the woolprices and so Ireland became more dependent on England.

From the 19th century to Independence

Because the fear of the French and local rebellions, Enland and Ireland came closer and had an act of Union in1801.That provided that Ireland would have in the United Kingdom about a one-fifth of representation of Great Britain.

In 1829, the „Catholic Emanicipation Act“ declared that Catholics and the Protestants should have the same voting and other rights. Now Catholic Irish people were able to attend the „House of Lords“ and the „House of Commons“.

The aim of the nineteenth century was to give equal rights to Protestants and Catholics, and to improve the farmer´s social and economic situation.

In the first half of the 19th century Daniel O´Conell though to give equal rights to Catholics. 1840 he organised mass demonstrations and for a while he was sucessful. But he began to get worried that the demonstrations would lead to puplic disorder and eventually cancelled them. This lost him his popularity.  

Most Irish people lived on farmes. Their main diet was potatos. In 1845, because of bad weather the poteto-crop failed. This lead to famine in rural areas. England supplied grain, but there were distribution problems and, whereas the towns had enough food many country people starved. Asa consequence many people emigrated to Norther America or industriel cities. A further and even greater famine occured in 1849. The result of the combined famine were:

- 1 million irish people emigrated

- 1,5 million people died of starvation

Evictions were widespread and cottages were demolished by landlords to prevent other impoverished tenants from occupying them.

In 1870 there was a further land reform. Many Catholics were given their own land. Now, most Catholics wished to have a parliament in Dublin as an opposit to London. This craeted tension with many of the Protestant „Anglo-Irish“ who, did not wish to see any change.

In 1912 when the demand of Home Rule was granded, the Protestants of northern Ireland refused to abide by the new law and killed it. They prefered British rule because they were afraid of being dominated by a Catholic majority on the island.

The Irish Revolution

The Easter Rebellion, an uprising of Irish nationalists in Dublin on Easter Monday,1916, was doomed to failure, in part because of limited support from Irish people. Britain´s overreaction, however, including the execution of 15 Irish nationalist leaders, set the stage for Sinn Fein to replace Home Rule as the dominant political party. Founded in 1902 by Athur Griffith, a Dublin journalist, Sinn Fein called for Ireland to become a Republic independend of Britain, and for an end to the partition movements in the Protestant north. In 1918 election Sinn Fein canditates won 73 of the 106 seats allotted to Ireland in the British parliament.

In Jannuary 1919 the Sinn Fein members of parliament met in Dublin as the Dail Eireann or national assembly. They proglaimed Ireland´s independance, and formed the goverenment with Eamon De Valera as president. There followed guerilla attacks by Irish in surgents, later called the Irish Republican Army ( IRA), on British forces, paticulary the black and tans the much hated auxiliary force of the Royal Irish Constabulary. these attacks and British reprisals escaleted into an ugly war in wich hundreds of people were killed.

In december 1920 the British parliament enacted the goverenment of Ireland bill, providing one parliament for the six counties of Protestant „northern“ Ireland and enother for the remaining twenty six counties forming „souther“Ireland. The Protestant majority in norther Ireland accepted this limited Home Rule, and elected a seperate parliament in Mai 1921.The partitation was, however, not accepted by the Roman Caatholic minority in the north, and majority in the south. Afforts to implement the new goverenment in the other 26 counties served only to solidify Sinn Fein´s position. The gurrila war ended with a truze on July 11th.Negations between representatives of the Dail and the British goverenmentof prime minister David Lloyd George produced a Treaty signed on december 19921. Under the traty the 26 counties of Saorstat Ireman would become the Irish freestate within the Commonwealth of Nations, with a status equal to that of Canada, and a modified oath of alligance to the British monarch. The Dail redefested the Traety on January 1922 by o vote of 64 to 25 De Valera who oposed the Treaty resigned as president of the Dail and was replaced by Sinn Fein founder Athur Griffits.Mikel Collins another Sinn Fein leader, became chairman of the provisional goverenment.

The Irish Freestate

Under the leadership of De Valera, the disident Sinn Fein Group known as the Republicans, called for a resumtion of the struggle against Britain and instituted a compain wich amounted to civil war, against the provisional gouverenment.With the question of the Treaty the chief issued an election for a provisional Dail was held in June 1922. Canditates supported the Treaty won a majority of the seats. The Republicans, refusing to recognize the autority of the new Dial, proclaimed a rival goverenment and intensivid their attacks on the Irish freestate. In the insuin the struggle hunderts were killed on both sides, including prominet Republican leaders such as Collins. Meanwhile the Dail, headed now by William Cosgrave, trafted a consitution providing for a picameral legislature: The Dail Eireann (House of Representives) and Seanat Eireann (senate) the constitution was adopted on October 1922. Following aproval by the British goverenment, it became operative on december 6. The official goverenment of the Irish freestate was instituted

In 1916, about 2 tousand people (Republicans) began an armed rebellion in Dublin. After a week the police and the army put it down. Yet the Republicans achieved great electural sucess. In 1919 there was a renewed rebellion (The Easter Rebellion) troughout the country.

From Independence to the Present Day

A peace agrement was reached between the Republicans and the Irish goverment. This agreement devided the country into two self-govering areas Northern and Southern Ireland.

Northern Ireland (6 counties in Ulster) and Republic of Eire (23 counties + 3 in Ulster). The two new states had their own parliaments, but nevertheless Northern Ireland was part of United Kingdom.The IRA ( Irish Republic Army) refused to accept this devision and there was a civil war wich the new Irish goverement won.

Present Day

In 1937 De Valera created a new constitution.This document abolished the Irish Free State and established Eire as a „sovereign independent democratic state“. The constitution provided for an elected president as head of state; a prime minister as head of government; and a two house legislature. In 1938 Douglas Hyde became the first president of Eire and De Valera became prime minister.

In 1949, the 30th anniversary of Easter Rebellion, Eire became the Repuplic of Ireland, formally free of alligance to the British crown. Northern Ireland status was confirmed as a part of the United Kingdom until the parliament chose otherwise. Sinn Fein and the IRA have never accepted this, the slight improvement in relations between Eire and Britain was marred by a violent terrorist campain in Britain. In 1962, in Northern Ireland major civil unrest began. In with a three-sidet conflict including the IRA, the British goverement and the UDA, a protestant para military group. Over three thousand people were killed when a cheasefire was declared in september 1994.

There have been important developements in Eire. It became a member of the European Community in 1972.. This had led to economic improvement and increased national confidence though unemployment, emigration and inflantation is still high. In 1991 the Treaty on European Union on Maastricht was signed.

( De Valera: The establishment of the autonomy of the Irish republic was predominated by his influence: 1th prime minister; 1959 elected president - after 7 years elected again - )

At the time of writing the prospects for peace are uncertain with a renewed IRA compain in London.