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What was it like to live in the Middle Ages?

My favorite topic and one that I have written about extensively given that my actual collegiate degree is in Medieval History. Every day life was a bitter and difficult struggle to survive. But I want to answer this question from a particular standpoint that you won’t find in most history books. I want to present to you – the everyday life of the Middle Ages, as told from the Irish point of view. You will find that they view the Middle Ages quite differently than the French, Spaniards or English do.

The Conquest of Medieval Ireland

In the middle ages, Ireland was subject to marauding bands of peoples who possessed a Celtic Culture without possessing a Celtic Identity. The languages were similar, the culture was similar, but there was absolutely no political alignment of power that we would expect to find given the Roman Empire set as an example.

In these hectic times, Invasions came to Ireland one right after another. While the Vikings looted for gold, jewels, and portable goods, the Normans wanted land. The Emerald Isle was soon to be overrun by invaders. And yet the Irish would eventually absorb the invaders, making everyone within a new and proud entity. But in the Middle Ages there was a certain differential between peoples that was clearly evident at the time. The Normans had unusual haircuts. The Welsh had a certain look and a very unusual language. And the English were in charge, so there was no mistaking them.

I chose this era because it is where I most often find myself wandering. I cannot explain it really, for the Medieval World was a brutal one. It was neither kind nor gentle. And it is often an era where the very worst of mankind battled what few shreds of humanity that were left within it.

We tend to think of this era as one of nobility and kings and queens and clergy. This is because the literacy rate amongst the peasants was not usually high enough for them to leave their own personal accounts of life. But they are there, and you have to know where to look for them. For this task, I consulted several very helpful sources of Primary writings. The first one was the ‘’Records to the Parliament of Scotland’’ which has carefully scanned tens of thousands of documents pertaining to things that go all the way back to the days of the Celts and all the way up to the year Scotland and England unified in 1707.

This website can be found at ‘’ Records of the Parliaments of Scotland ‘’ Another website is the English National Archives. If you were to only use these two sources, you could write millions of papers about everything. But these two sources are a great place to start. You can find this information at Parliament – The National Archives

EMERALD FIELDS OF GREEN

History is a wonderfully elastic thing that changes with time. It is forever bending, forever yielding, but it never can break – unless there is a shortage of primary documentation. When that happens, it is usually a sobering thought to us all. Things are not always what we have been taught after all. We don’t like thinking that all this time we bought someone else’s lies or interpretation where there is clearly an axe to grind. Now, you have the unique chance to write your own history, using primary source information, actual letters, drawings and carvings. These are the people of the past yearning to speak to us. It is all right there, but it takes a lesson in learning how to read with one’s ears.

The story of Ireland really begins to take off with the rise of two influential men, Patrick and Columbanus. As the kings of Ireland were converted, a cultural revolution was underway. It happened when the Church of Ireland were undisturbed while the rest of Europe was in peril. The shift to Christianity sparked an incredible cultural wonder.

The protectors and the patrons mixed very well and the Gallic and Irish languages were now alongside the Latin, helping to give ‘Eire’’ its incredibly unique dispositions. At the center of this flowering were the monasteries.

Taking a ride up the Shannon River, one begins to see the hillside dotted with ancient buildings. But one of these abandoned settlements stands out due to its sheer size. At its height, Clonmacnoise probably had between 3000-5000 inhabitants.

The monastery would have been a scene of bustling commerce, trading, and religious piety. Throughout the Middle Ages, these monks were among the very few curators of civilization that existed in the world. The River Shannon was a super-highway for all of the people of Eire. But perhaps most profoundly, Christian scholars from elsewhere in Europe came to Eire to get their education. The interpretations and open discussions were historically similar to the discussions happening in the Greek Agora nearly a thousand years prior.

The monks transcribed the bible into their own Gallic tongues. Ireland had the most abundant vernacular in all of Europe. One of the most amazing examples of this is found in ‘’The Book of Invasions.’’

This extraordinary book is the first written history of Eire. Much of it came from the seventh century and has been mythologized. It tells the story of how the Irish came into being and would have a great impact of how they would see themselves in a world-view. Ireland was the ‘center’ of the universe, not some island on the fringes of the known world.

The ancestors of the Irish are shown at key biblical events. It’s an Irishman who is witness to the parting of the Red Sea. And it was an Irishman who appeared at the Transfiguration. And in reaching everyone with their own Gallic translation, Christianity spread very quickly over the Emerald Island.

By setting Ireland in a worldly context, the book shows the acceptance that the Irish are multi-ethnic. But the one group they do NOT identify themselves with are Celtic!

The words of Abraham rang everywhere that an Irish monk would travel. ‘’Get thee out of my country, and from thy kindred and onto a land that I will show thee.’’ (Genesis 6:10) Brendan the Voyager, Colin Keel, or Aden of Lindesfarne would travel throughout Europe, stirring up a national pride in Ireland that began to cause others to take notice.

One of the most outspoken of these monks was Colombanos, (543-616 AD) and he was a vociferous opponent of wealthy clergy. A full five hundred years before Francis of Assisi, Colombanos was paving the way. He even had the confidence to stand up to the Pope over the official date of Easter.

In 795, Irish monks in Dublin noticed long-ships on the horizon with horrifying dragons carved on the bow on the front of the vessels. By now, the monasteries were growing wealthy and this wasn’t lost on the surrounding peoples. This new power of the Northern Seas would change everything.

The force of warriors would plunder the monasteries, taking with them two centuries of relics and artwork along the way. A contemporary monk writes of the ‘’never ending wave of hundred hard steel heads on every neck and hundreds of unceasing screaming voices in every tone and with which such savagery hadn’t been seen.’’

The Vikings offer us the earliest examples of the sudden turn in Irish history. They came from Norway and destroyed some of the most beautiful churches and monasteries in Ireland. Lindsfarne is probably the best known, but there was also Cork, Watsford and Eblani. They created a maritime empire that stretched all the way to the Americas in the west and Central Europe in the east.

An unexpected boom in population in Scandinavia in the sixth and seventh centuries created a crisis for the Vikings. But there were other drivers for the Vikings. The Chieftains had a practice of giving huge tracts of land, either in negotiation or within their own culture. Pretty soon, they were depleting their own resources.

They needed more land. And so they set sail and conquered, and plundered, and murdered all along the way. But they also brought with them an advanced culture, rich in farming techniques, tools and methods that the Irish had not heretofore known.

For over forty years the Vikings plundered and took slaves. The Irish were completely unaware and this only emboldened the Vikings, who began to set sail up rivers, and eventually became settlers. In 842, a Viking force hauled their long-boats ashore in the village of Dublin and began to construct forts and marketplaces. Dublin had a huge trading network that brought goods all the way from Byzantium and even North Africa. Dublin became a wonder and a cosmopolitan city with a lot of cultural inter-change. Scandinavian and irish cultures melded into one.

The Vikings would settle in Wexford and Limerick and inter-marry with the Irish. Their language, Christian faith, and royal intermarriages caused a boom in Ireland by the end of the tenth century.

It’s easy to see how the Irish and the Scots and the Welsh intermingled. The distance at its shortest points is just twelve miles

All over the Isles the Vikings were making their mark. Even in England, the House of Wessex was a Viking stronghold. The devil barbarians were all over Eire. They wore heavy metal helmets and swung heavy axes that the Irish were unprepared for. The monks told sordid takes of vicious raids and unspeakable atrocities committed on their Scots-brethren and it was a matter of time that the nightmare began.

They were masterful seamen. They certainly had a lot of practice in making ships in their native countries. There are fjords and rivers throughout Scandinavia. Their ships were well made and had such a shallow hull that they were capable of not only sailing on the high-seas but the narrow rivers where so many settlements in Ireland were built.

The Vikings were also traders. In Wales, we see evidence of how far the Viking network was to become. Cloth and Silk from faraway Asia have been found in early Viking settlements in Wales. A series of peculiar collars were located at a number of Viking settlements, all the way down to Portugal. In Ireland and Wales, one of the most valuable items of trade – were slaves.

By 841, Vikings had established a year-round settlement around a timber-and-earthen fort known as a longphort where two rivers, the Liffey and Poddle Rivers come together, in the heart of modern Dublin. The living conditions in the Scandinavia seems to have gotten so bad – that the Vikings were in mood to return. They intermarried into powerful clans and slowly merged with the Irish.

The rise of Christianity and the benevolence of St. Patrick stood in stark contrast to the homicidal gods of the Norse. Ritual human sacrifice was a part of Viking life. For centuries the words written about the Vikings by others shows them in a very poor light. Within the last twenty years several critical clues have confirmed the evidence left behind in Viking wells.

Carved into a stone and found in Sweden seem to confirm the thirst for blood amongst the Viking gods. and their women were capable warriors on their own. Their fascination with death spooked the Irish and legends of their brutality only increased the paranoia. One of their gods, Odin, hung himself in order to gain knowledge. These gods carries huge hammers and swung them with bloody force.

And so it happened that the Viking invasion began on Rechaninn Island off the northeast coast. For the next 40 years, raids on coastland and island based monasteries became commonplace.

The Norseman weren’t the only ones who were plundering the religious centers. In fact, the Irish themselves were known to plunder their own churches. For a 25 year period, from 800-825, the Irish themselves burned down more than THREE times the number of monasteries than the Vikings!

But after 825, the Vikings began to really do their damage. These were becoming less of a hit-and-run affair than a case of a hit-and-occupy. Terrible armadas of 50-60 ships prompted great fear in the populace. Some of the great Irish cities of Lorrha, Terryglass, and Clonfert fell one-by-one.

If the Irish were going to halt the Vikings, they needed to unite. The O’neill’s and the McDounough’s; the Conrad’s and the McMahons; they all needed to come together. But how?

The Rise of an Irish Legend – Brian Boru

Brian Borunga, (Brian Boru) was born in the year 951 to King Cennedi, leader of the powerful tribe of the Dal Cais of North Munster. The Dal Cais were quite wealthy at the time although Cennedi himself lived modestly. His sons were like so many others, farmers and ranchers who could offer military support if needed.

Cennedi’s land straddled a key part of River Shannon. It gave the family control over the regions lakes and subsequently to its finest crop land. Cennedi had two strong sons, Mathgamain and Brian Boru.

As the first-born son, Mathgamain ascended to the throne of Miunster in 963. Well educated, Mathgamain was an excellent arbitrator and an agile warrior. In 968, both brothers led a raid on a Viking village of Limerick and carried away loads of treasures that had been plundered by the Vikings years earlier. They also burned the city, giving the Vikings a taste of their own medicine and freeing the captive slaves that were Irish.

The increase in power was a threat to the Ui Neill clan in the north who appointed their own, Mael Sechnaill II as the ‘’Ard ri’’ or ‘’High King’’ of the Ireland. But the title proved to be little in actual power. Ireland – quite honestly – had a laughable attempt at having one ruler, or one ‘’High King’’ due to the nature of Irish land owning.

A Loyal Friend and Ally Murdered

In 976, Mathgamain was suddenly and shockingly betrayed and murdered. Brian Boru did not take this news well. He was devastated with the assassination and was more than determined to avenge his brother’s death. One of the traitors was a Viking mercenary named Imar, who was also part Irish. He and his sons turned on Mathgamain and Boru sought revenge.

The father and his two sons were chased out of the city and into the dense forest. Boru relentlessly never let up. He pursued them to the point of exhaustion until they ended up in a church on Scattery Island.

Despite the fact that they were claiming to be Christians and under the protection of the Church, Brian followed them in and killed them in cold blood. Usually, murdering anyone in cold-blood in a church was grounds for immediate excommunication. But Boru was having none of it.

Boru went on to conquer all of Munster in the far southwest of Ireland. He quickly made his way up the west coast and set himself as a rival to the Un Neill’s. Boru wasn’t stopping now and he made the claim that he was the High King. For close to twenty years, battles persisted between Boru and the Un Neill’s. Finally, in 997, they met at Clonfert and negotiated a treaty much like so many, where one king, Sechnaill, and the other Boru, split Ireland into two. Such a truce wasn’t really going to agree with either parties.

In Dublin and in Leinstermen, revolts occurred within two years. Boru put them down with a never ending brutality. At Glen Mama, Boru took their king as a prisoner and exacted heavy tribute from everyone in the city.

The Making of a King

Finally it came to pass in the year 1000 that Brian Boru became king of all Ireland. He wore down Mael Sechnaill until he ceded his power. Brian Boru had done the one thing no one could do before him – he ruled the entire island of Ireland.

His rule was mainly peaceful and he united the clans in order to stimulate trade and commerce. Moreover, he figured out a way to get along with the Vikings, negotiating laws that allowed them to assimilate more easily into Irish culture not as brutal victors but as repentant Christians. The Golden Age of the Emerald Island had begun.

Henry II Applies Military Pressure

In 1166, Ireland stands on the verge of disaster. Henry II of Britain was the Great-Grandson of William the Conqueror and although he led his court form the city of Anjou in France, he was very much a part of Ireland’s history. A land-grab for power hungry knights gave Henry an opportunity to take advantage of the scattered rulers of Ireland.

At the time, farmers ruled by clan chieftains were a counter to feudal Europe. There was no centralized figure to unite the clans and the days of Brian Boru were long past. Out of the shadows steps Dermot McDonough, a high king who owned a good portion of the east coast of Ireland. He had ruled the county of Leinster in Ireland which is where the now heavily populated city of Eblani (Dublin) bordered.

It was said of Dermot that he would rather be ‘feared’ than loved. Those close to him where ritually blinded and castrated so that they wouldn’t produce heirs. At Kildare Abbey, Dermot took his actions out on his peoples. His characteristic ruthlessness was on display when a rival dynasty appointed the Abbotess of Kildare, he acted.

It was shocking even by his own standards. He captured the Abbottess of Kildare and had her tied down while his soldiers took turns raping her. This of course disqualified her from the important position within the Church at that time. He then abducted and raped the wife of one of the land owners who had sworn loyalty to him. By now, the people had turned against Dermot and he fled Ireland. He sailed to the one place he knew he would be received. The English Court an Anjou and the British king, Henry II. Even the Irish didn’t anticipate such a traitorous turn.

Kildare Ireland

His fleetness of foot altered the course of Irish history. Dermot had land that Henry needed. In the traditional story of the Irish, this man, Dermot, is seen as the father figure of all traitors. Selling out his native Ireland he sought the assistance of the most hated people on the Irish planet – The English.

Yet in all reality, Dermot was simply doing what any other chieftain would have done in order to survive. The challenge wasn’t his military ambition, but his complete lack of character, something which the Irish valued with a high degree of importance.

Dermot swore loyalty and submission to the English King Henry II. These were still Normans in every sense of the word. Their manner of governing, through Feudalism required land in order to perpetuate growth. Moreover, the Norman military ideas that would be so instrumental in their success meant that an organized cavalry and mounted armored fighters were now at Dermot’s disposal. The Irish had no idea what was about to befall them.

An Interesting Twist

Henry had contemplated attacking Ireland already. He was more than a match in political cunning and in the first ever Irish-Anglo summit, a contract was struck. Henry II would now be able to pay French knights to switch sides to the English by giving them land in Ireland. Henry II had created the ultimate ‘’Win-Win’ scenario.

Believing that he was also going to ‘’civilize’’ Ireland, the Pope gave his blessing- in part due to the fact that the Irish church has become worryingly independent. Irish scholars were writing their own scriptures in Gallic instead of the traditional Latin. With so few people to speak Gallic, these translations could say just about anything and the Pope nor his Cardinals would have any idea. Repeated requests to keep these things in the traditional Latin went unheeded. And so, Pope Adrian IV had no qualms in blessing Henry II. For his part, he promised a tithe of a ‘’pennye per hearth’ would go directly back to Rome.

It was a time of incredible educational growth in Ireland. All over Europe, the expansion and population boom is happening. The crusades were well under way. Henry II had a greatly depleted military and now had a means with which to pay new men. Revolts sprung up elsewhere at the same time and Henry had no choice but to work out an agreement with them. Moreover, the world was opening up trade routes to the rest of the known world and Ireland was seeing an incredible economic explosion as well. But all of this was about to change.

Henry II appointed a brutal land baron from Wales, Richard De Claire, known to his friends and enemies as ‘’Strongbow.’ In exchange for Dermot’s daughter’s hand in marriage and huge tracts of land, Strongbow would carry out the war against the Irish.

Richard De Claire

Strongbow was a man of ambition. On August 23, 1170, and Anglo-Norman vessel arrived on the shores of Wexford. With so many ships in the channel, they can be forgiven for not thinking much about it. But indeed, this would change he course of Irish history. It was a small force of raiders, but they were well armed against the unprepared Irish.

They lacked armor and weapons. They were throwing stones at the Anglo-Norman knights. In one refinement to the act of murder, they took pleasure in breaking the legs of the Irish before casting them into the seas. It was a savage affair and there is one story of a woman, Alice the Vicious, who used the equivalent of a meat cleaver with a hook to disembowel two dozen Irishmen. (Other accounts claim up to seventy)

These were Welsh fighters too. The Welsh had their own reasons for despising the Irish. They had always felt as if the Irish treated them as second-class and for every poor account of the Irish written by the English, there are just as many accounts of the Welsh, as written by the Irish!

The account of this battle and of Alice the Vicious is found in Chanson de Dermot et du comte and gives an interesting look at the Welsh.

The Norman conquest of Ireland was seemingly achieved by the English or, at best, the Anglo-Normans. A better term for these half-Welsh conquerors, few of whom would have even been able to speak English, is Cambro-Normans. Frustrated by their failure to make progress in Wales these descendants of Princess Nest turned to a more profitable field of conquest.

This was the same Norman ferocity that came with a message: Submit or be Killed. When they made it to Waterford, the Irish were overwhelmed. Surrounded by the Irish dead, in smoldering ruins, a forced marriage of England and Ireland occurred. Strongbow and the rest of his Welsh-Irish-Norman Knights, he began his land-grab.

But it was the ever present fear of a counter-attack from the Irish countryside that put fear into the hearts of the British. It would remain that way well into the 19th century. A war on one front is bad enough – but having to defend England from an attack on its backside was just too much.

Henry II never trusted Strongbow despite his prowess on the battlefield. To Henry, he seemed a bit too much of an opportunist and it was evident the Welsh leader of the Anglo-Norman armies was a man on a unique mission and the English king wanted no part of a Welsh uprising any more than he wanted an Irish uprising.

In 1171, Henry confronted the Gallic chiefs with his archers and horsemen, the Irish kings considered him to be a stabilizing force. They accepted the English king as Lord, and feasted on a dish that the Irish would come to identify with their own submission – Roasted Crane.

Here is an entry in the ‘’Illustrated History of Eire’’ on the dinner with Henry II and this unusual dish.

‘’ Henry’s “winter palace” was extemporized with some artistic taste. It was formed’ of polished osiers. Preparations had been made on an extensive scale for the luxuries of the table—a matter in which the Normans had greatly the advantage of either Celt or Saxon. The use of crane’s flesh was introduced into Ireland for the first time, as well as that of herons, peacocks,[9] swans, and wild geese. Almonds had been supplied already by royal order in great abundance; wine was purchased in Waterford, even now famous for its trade with Spain in that commodity. Nor had the King’s physician forgotten the King’s health; for we find a special entry amongst the royal disbursements of the sum of £10 7s., paid to Josephus Medicus for spices and electuaries. Yet Henri-curt-mantel [1] was careful of his physical well-being, and partook but sparingly of these luxuries. Fearing his tendency to corpulency, he threw the short cloak of his native Anjou round him at an earlier hour in the morning than suited the tastes of his courtiers, and took exercise either on horseback or on foot, keeping in constant motion all day.’’

The legacy of the conquest of Waterford is told to us in the ‘’Great Charter of Waterford.’’ This book tells us of the earliest accounts of English kings and tells a complete story of how the Welsh, Normans, Anglos, French and Irish melded together to produce the environment we have today. Within twenty years there were thirty-two counties with great estates in a transformational sense.

The Normans embraced a Roman tradition as treating conquered peoples as barbarians. The Irish were portrayed poorly by the Normans. But the roots of this stereotype came from Gerald of Wales. In his ‘’Topagraphia Hibernia’’ he draws maps and other locations. Gerald goes to great lengths at the beginning of the book to state its authenticity. ‘’This book is a combination of accounts told or seen directly by me and so their truths are certain.’’

Still, Gerald painted a pretty horrible picture of the Irish. It was clear that the Welsh held their Irish counterparts with certain disdain. In one of the pictures, an Irish woman is seen having sex with a goat. Young boys are castrated for no reason. And a horse is sacrificed in a torrential blood-letting that was said to include human sacrifice and even cannibalism. Beyond the towns, the Anglo-Normans hold no power.

But the Irish lived in the woods. They had thrown their pastoral world into retreat. With the huge structures, a stone-curtain separated the older land-owners from their new English rulers. The country was seething with anger.

But the Irish still held sway over the Church. Scholars came from abroad to study in Ireland. So they did the only things that came natural to them, and they went to plea to the Pope. The loyalties of clan were being tested.

As it was a Pope who gave his blessing, they sent a note of the ‘’Remonstrance of The Princes’’ (1317) And it was now in front of the Pope. The brutality shown to the Catholics in Ireland. In one account, a banquet ends in savage bloodshed. Thomas De Claire is taken from the table and amputated and rolled on the floor.

The book is a fascinating look into the world as viewed by the subjugated Irish. Pope John XXIII in Avignon.

Whence, by reason of all this and much more of the same kind, relentless hatred and incessant wars have arisen between us and them, from which have resulted mutual slaughter, continual plundering, endless rapine, detestable and too frequent deceits and perfidies.

But alas! all correction and due reform fail us, for want of a head. And so for many years the native Irish clergy and people have stood in too serious and terrible danger not alone as regards what is perishable and bodily, but further still, through this want, the greatest danger, that of souls, is hanging over them, and that beyond an ordinary degree.

For we hold it as an established truth that more than 50,000 human beings of each nation, in addition to those cut off by famine, distress and prison, have fallen by the sword in consequence of that false representation and the grant resulting from it, since the time when it was made. Let these few general particulars of the origin of our ancestors and the wretched position in which a Roman Pontiff placed us suffice on this occasion

The Pope passed the document to Edward II and he did nothing. The truth didn’t matter in Rome and the English kings were mired into their own struggles and considered Ireland minuscule in comparison.

FAMINE

From the Apocalypse in a Biblia Pauperumilluminated at Erfurt around the time of the Great Famine. Death sits astride a manticorewhose long tail ends in a ball of flame (Hell). Famine points to her hungry mouth.

As it was, Ireland was divided between Irish dynasties and Anglo-Irish lords who ruled parts of Ireland. In 1258 some of the dynasties and clans elected Brian Ua Neill to this position; however he was defeated by the Normans at the battle of Downpatrick in 1260.

Edward didn’t seem to have a real plan as to what he was going to do as King of Ireland, but that changed quite quickly. Robert the Bruce needed Edward to open up a second front in the war with Ireland. A war in Ireland would also result in the draining her of much needed men, materials and finance by creating havoc in Ireland.

This became critical when the Isle of Man was recaptured by English-backed Scots from King Robert’s control in January 1315, thereby threatening the south and south-west of Scotland and also reopening up a potential source of aid to the English from the Anglo-Irish and native Irish.

Added to this was an odd request for aid from the King of Tír Eóghain, Domhnall mac Briain Ó Néill. Ó Néill had been troubled by Anglo-Irish incursions to the south-east (the de Verdons), the east (tenants of the Earl of Ulster) and west (also by the Earl of Ulster) of Tír Eógain and in order to retain his lands, he and some twelve of his vassals and allies jointly asked for aid from Scotland.

The de Verdon’s were perhaps one of the wealthiest families on the British Isles. But their ties to British royalty went back almost a hundred years. And, their ties to Scotland ALSO went back almost a hundred years. If ever a family was in position to gain power and land, it was the de Verdon’s.

The Bruce brothers agreed, on condition that they would support Edward as King of Ireland, as the brothers envisaged themselves as separate rulers of Scotland and Ireland, while Robert would regain Man and Edward possibly making an attack on Wales, with Welsh support. They thus foresaw “a grand Gaelic alliance against England”, between Scotland and Ireland since both countries had a common heritage.

Ayr Scotland was established as a Royal Burgh in just 1205. It’s importance was established by the fact that it is one of the closest landing points from Ireland. It was also a marketplace and harbor for Medieval ships coming from Europe.

The day before the invasion, Ireland was in the midst of a terrible drought. Today we know Ireland to be a wet island with vast amounts of rain. On May 26th, 1315, an invasion force landed on the island in a largely uninhabited part of the country.

For most people in Ireland there was often not enough to eat, and life was a relatively short and brutal struggle to survive to old age. According to official records about the British Royal family, an example of the best off in society, for whom records were kept, the average life expectancy in the years from 1276-1330 was just 35.28 years.

The Irish were not impressed with these new arrivals. Because they landed in the countryside, they trampled over good farmland. The soldiers were unsympathetic to the farmers, at one point threatening some of the farmers. Edward’s invasion of Ireland was faltering before it had a chance to get off the ground.

Unable to feed his troops over a prolonged invasion, Edward was forced into a series of stalled negotiations. For almost a year the Anglo-Norman barons did little to retake any land since the famine made it difficult for either side to provide food to soldiers in the field. Once again, the Irish were in position to assimilate the invaders.

A Scottish army fighting the English opened a new front in Ireland when, in July of 1348, a new enemy arrived. The Black Plague riddled the Irish countryside and the English and Welsh took advantage of the weakness. One in every three people would die in Ireland, just as they had in mainland Europe. The plague changed the Irish world view. Mainland Europe seemed to have more doctors, more resources and more means by which to handle the tragic consequences. Ireland was seemingly all alone, left to suffer as an outpost on the European continent.

The Next Phase of Ireland is set to begin.

I hope you enjoyed this!