Topic 56A – Historical relations between Ireland and great britain. Irish aunthors: sean o’casey and james joyce

Topic 56A – Historical relations between Ireland and great britain. Irish aunthors: sean o’casey and james joyce

Ireland laid outside the Roman Empire but it was greatly influeced by it. With the decline of the Roman empire in the centuries IV and V, the Roman grip in Britain weakens. The Irish in the west and the picts in the north begin to attack the province with growing success. Britain was devastasted by a simultaneous attack off Irish, Picts and Saxons, from the west, north and east.


Ireland is indebted overwhelmingly to Britain for its Christianity. The most famous of British missionaries is Saint Patrick. We know very few facts about his life, but his mission to Ireland must have been in the V century.

Monasteries soon spread through Ireland. The monasteries attracted the patronage of the rich and powerful, and themselves became influential institutions on many levels.


The vikings were bands of warriors,led by royals and aristocrats-pirates, looking for plunder in the first place and whatever they could get after that.

The development of excellent sailing ships made them exceptionally mobile and brought western Europe within easy reach.

The first raids in Ireland, Britain and France came almost at the same time, at the end of the 8th century.

In contrast with Scotland, where the incomers became farmers and fishermen, the Ostmen in Ireland became merchants and seamen, who dominated the coastline.

En Irlanda desempeñaron un importante papel en las sangrientas disputas entre los distintos clanes rivales irlandeses y fundaron las primeras ciudades comerciales: Dublín, Waterford, Wexford, Wicklow y Limerick.

Una de las bandas que asolaban Europa aceptó, mediante un tratado, la cesión en el año 911 de un vasto territorio al norte de Francia (conocido en la actualidad como Normandía o ‘tierra de los hombres del norte’ o normandos) y se asentaron allí.


O´Connor was the greatest Irish warrior king of the 12th century, he built fortresses, threw strategic bridges over the Shannon, and maintained a large army and navy. With his death in 1156 his power passed to the king Muirchertach Mac Lochlainn. When his power was declining, he appealed for help to Henry II

And changed the course of Irish history. The invitation became an invasion. Like most changes in history was a sort of accident, which opened up ireland politically to expansive Anglo-French feudalism.


It implied not only that she shared the experiencie of many other countries in Europe and the Middle East (from the Caroligian Empire) (including England, Scotland, Wales), but also that she entered a world of shared ideology, custom, law, and culture which gave most of western Europe in the high Middle Ages a sense of community.

From the conquest of England by William the Conqueror, in 1066, the various provinces of the islands had been independent entities ruled by an aristocracy, which in its turn was linked by ties of vassalage to a single monarch. William placed norman nobles in the highest posts of administration and government. French became the cult language, and English became the language of the lower class.


In 1171 King Henry II visited Ireland and accepted the homage of both the Norman conquerors and of many of the Irish Chiefs. He also established royal castles in Dublin, Waterford, Cork and Limerick. Throughout the feudal period these were going to remain symbols of a Crown presence in Ireland.

At the beginning, the Kings of England were merely “lords ” of Ireland, acting as neutral arbitrators between the Irish and the invading barons.

In 1177 Henry transferred all his rights as Lord of Ireland to his son , Prince John.

1st colonization: The end of the 12th century and the beginning of the 13th saw the last decades of a medieval population explosion in Europe which caused migration, high food prices and low labour costs. The sudden acquisition of large areas of underpopulated agricultural land in Ireland meant wealth for those who could take advantage of them. It is now when what had been a relation of lordship became a colonization. The England took root in the towns and among the peasantry. Norman-French became established as a literary language among the upper classes.

The occupation of these lands brought about the production of a wealth that is reflected in the great stone castles of the 13th century, normally built not as outposts, but as centres for the Anglo Norman lordships, housing not only the military garrison, but the administration of finance and justice.


Eduardo III (1312-1377), rey de Inglaterra (1327-1377), iniciador de la larga contienda con Francia denominada guerra de los Cien Años.

After the hundred years war, the Norman ascendancy dissolved into several constituent parts. During the 14th and 15th, a pattern emerged in the British islands that was nearer to that of the Iberian peninsula than to France, since local autonomies prevailed over a wider monarchy. In Ireland, the real authority were Anglo Irish lords. The crown had not a real power on these lords.

In 1349, the Black Death reduced the population of England by one third. The situation which led to the colonization of Ireland by England, was reversed. Now, the Norman colonies in Ireland and Wales lack manpower.

The situation changed in the 16th. During the reign of Henry VIII, Thomas Cromwell, his chief minister, takes action against the earl of Kildare, the lord that effectively rules in Ireland in 1535 and the royal power becomes a reality again, Ireland would be ruled more directly by the king by means of a lord deputy.

Enrique VII, el primer monarca Tudor. Los siguientes soberanos Tudor fueron Enrique VIII, su hijo y sus dos hijas, Eduardo VI, María I Tudor e Isabel I, los cuales murieron sin hijos. Los Tudor reunificaron el país después de un periodo de conflictos civiles e independizaron la Iglesia anglicana del Papado. La familia Estuardo les sucedió en el trono.


In the early 16th, a new period begins in the history of the british islands. It was characterized by the emergence of an English empire. An empire based in the wealth, population and resources of southern Encland over the rest of the British Islands and later over the east coast of northamerica and the west indies. The unity of the former Norman provinces, was followed by the Union Act of 1707, by which Scotland was anexionated to the English territory. Ireland became again a prime attraction for colonists from Scotland, England and Ireland. As it has been said, in Ireland, the English government was represented by a lord deputy, ruling with the aid of a parliament which was eventually dominated by the new colonists.

The causes of this south England dominion over the rest of the islands were the rise of the cloth industry, which brought about a more prosperous society, more populated, with more markets and comercial activity. The south also enjoyed the advantages of political, administrative and economic centralisation around the capital, London.

This extension of Southern criteria of law and order to Ireland (and also Scotland), after 2 centuries of withdrawal, implied the introduction of protestantism, Lutheranism, into a catholic territory. The reign of Elizabeth saw the increasement of England´s involvement in Ireland.

This brought about a second English colonization of Irish territories. There was no county in Ireland where some English men did not establish themselves as new, progressive landowners. The arrival of so many settlers added enormously to the country productivity.

James I (1603-1625) and later his son Charles I (1625-1649 executed) did not wish to have their diplomatic relations with governments damaged by the excessive religious zeal of their officials and clergy in Ireland. This gave tacit toleration to the existence of Catholiscism in Ireland as a separate religion from that of the state.

Two separate societies were developing in Ireland and it was religious rather than cultural factors that now distinguished them. In 1641, Catholic landowners in Ulster decided to strengthen their claims for special consideration, rising in arms. 200 protestant settlers were killed in the rebellion. What begun in Ulster quickly spread to all the country.

At the same time, a civil war had broken between Charles I and parliament. The parliament army, led by Oliver Cromwell emerged fictorious. Cromwell was lord protector from 1649 to 1659. He was determined to take revenge from the massacre of protestant in Ireland. He confiscates all catholic states in the country.

The restoration to the throne of Charles II (1659-1685) brought an immediate recovery of their ancestral property by those Irish landowners who had found refuge in France.

In 1685 Charles the II dies and his son James II becomes the king of England. He places many catholics in important posts of the government, administration.

The glorious revolution (1688-89), led William III prince of Orange, from the Low Countries, to the throne. The revolution transformed the absolute monarchy of the Stuarts in a constitutional and parlamentary monarchy. James II, son of Charles II, fled to France. The bill of rights, prevented the catholics from taken the throne. The Glorious Revolution succeed without derramamiento of blood. It was a victory of the whig party, since if catholics couldn´t reign, no monarch could be absolutist. Those who refused to swear loyalty to William III were called jacobites. They were mainly Irish and Scottish. These regions were subdued but the price to pay was very high. The massacre of Glencoe in Scotland and the battle of Boyne in Ireland put an end to the conflict. The result was an increased repression of catholics in Ireland.


From the middle eighteen century, Ireland benefits from the economical revival that would lead to the industrial revolution in England. A rural and urban middle class appeared, most of it catholic. In 1772 the Catholic Committee was formed to bring pressure on the government.

In 1790 the United Irishmen, led by Wolfe Tone, rose in revolt, after pressing unsuccessfully for political change. Nearly one hundred protestant were executed in Wexford town and a number of others were burned alive. This rebellion led to conclude that a union of Ireland with Britain was a political necessity. The Act of Union (1800) joined Ireland to England, and provided for irish representation in parliament.


It was characterized by a catholic political fight to repell the Act of Union. In 1845-1849, the potato famine takes place. The protestant north, where oats rather than potato were the main element of popular diet, was spared from famine, when the potato crop failed. It was the catholic small farming and labouring classes in the south, heavily dependent upon the potato, (SPUD) which bore the main consequences of the crises. By 1851, Ireland had lost a quarter of his population by emigration or death, a social tragedy which had its greatest impact upon the catholic poor. From this moment, Irreland is left behind as supplier of agricultural products.

A nationalistic feeling is born , which grows and acquires great importance in the 80´s under the leadership of Charles Stewart Parnell (one of the leit-motifs of Ulysses). The proyect of legal recognizement of the Irish authonomy (Home Rule), was passed in 1886 by the Chamber of Commons, but not by the chamber of Lords. Besides, Parnell was taken to the judge by an offended husband. The clergy and many followers abandoned him.


The authonomist party disappeared with Parnell, and it was replaced by several forces, among which we have Sinn Feinn (we alone). It was created in 1902, by Arthur Griffith. At first, this organization was devoted to promote the economical Irish prosperity and to get the complete independence or Ireland. Afterwards, it became an important political party of the island and the most important political force claiming for independence. Other groups created after the disappearance of the authonomist party were the Irish labourism, the Irish Republican Brotherhood, Gaelic League, literary movement (Lady Gregory, W. B. Yeats) The tragedy of this movement was that Joyce and Shaw left the country.

In 1916, the Easter Rising is produced. The rebellion is dominated by the British army, and their leaders are executed.

In 1920, Ireland gets a national government. A part of the Ulster, the northern irish province, chose to seceed politically from the rest of Ireland and keep a closer relation with Great Britain. It gave place to a separate division called Northern Ireland, with its own constitution, parliament and administration of local matters. Most people of Northern ireland, protestant, found this secession as the possibility to maintain their religion and their dominant position into the Irish society.

In 1948, the Free State of Ireland becomes the Irish Republic. In 1955, the terrorists, or freedom fighters of the Irish Republican Army, began a campaign of terrorism directed to get the union of Northern Ireland with the Republic of Ireland.

From the first times of the division of the two Irelands, the catholics of the north became a minory with disadvantages in subjects as employement, dwelling and effective participation in politics. In 1968 they created the Movements for Civil Rights, to protest against what they considered a discriminatory treatment, which often provoked violent reactions. The Unionist Party in the power were against every kind of reformations. In 1969, British troops are sent to Northern Ireland to help the local police. In 1972, the British abolish the Parliament of Northern Ireland and impose a direct government. In 1973, the protestant majority chose the mantenimiento of the union with England. Nowadays, the Sinn Feinn and the Union Party have established negotiations to solve the problem.