Power & Abuse: The Irish Struggle (Part I)

Tower of London (B. Collowan, 2013)

Part I ~ 1166 to 1603 A.D.

King Henry II & Strongbow

King Henry II of England (House of Plantagenet/Angevin) reigned in the mid-12th century. He had trade interests in Ireland and allied with the Irish King Dermot MacMurrough of Leinster. (Ireland had several city-states during this period with separate rulers.) At the time of Henry’s Irish Sea interests, he was also in the process of conquering Wales. In 1166–67, Henry gave Dermot permission to recruit mercenaries from among Henry’s subjects to remove disgruntled Anglo-Saxon knights from Wales. Henry’s plan was to remove the knights away from Wales to give himself a better position in acquiring Welsh lands. One of Dermot’s recruits was a man by the name of Richard FitzGilbert de Clare, Lord of Striguil, also known as “Strongbow.” Henry gave his subject Strongbow permission to go to Ireland with Dermot. Dermot made Strongbow his heir through marriage to Dermot’s daughter (Hayes & Jones, 1990). The marriage of Strongbow and Dermot’s daughter was to begin the Anglo-Norman infiltration of Ireland.

King Henry II

King Henry II of England

After Strongbow’s arrival in Ireland in 1170, he immediately took control of Waterford and Dublin. Henry became increasingly concerned with Strongbow’s interests in the Irish Sea and the fact that Strongbow was a descendant of William the Conqueror (King of England in the 11th century). Consequently, Strongbow’s power in Ireland and his claim to the English throne concerned Henry. In response, Henry closed all English ports to Ireland and recalled all his subjects. Failure of subjects to return would result in the seizure of their lands by Henry. Strongbow stayed in Ireland and Henry seized his lands. However, Strongbow sent emissaries to England to plead with the King. Consequently, Henry returned lands back to Strongbow in return for Strongbow’s limited power in Ireland (Hayes & Jones, 1990).

The Tudors

In the 15th century, the House of Plantagenet still ruled England as they did during the Anglo-Norman invasion of the 12th century. To be more specific, King Henry VI was an offshoot of the Plantagenet called the Lancastrians (House of Lancaster). There was a rival offshoot called the House of York. In 1464, war broke (part of a series of conflicts called War of Roses between Lancaster and York) out on the British Isle for none other than the claim to the throne. Edward IV’s (York) army captured, and imprisoned Henry VI in the Tower of London and Edward ascended to the English throne. Additional problems ensued that temporarily restored Henry VI to the throne. Henry’s reign did not last long, and he returned to the Tower of London and died by execution. Edward IV regained the throne until his death in 1483. Upon Edward’s death, his brother Richard III assumed the throne. Richard alienated those loyal to the House of York and they turned favor to Henry Tudor. Henry’s army fought Richard’s at Bosworth Field in 1485, where Henry’s army killed Richard. Consequently, the Tudor Dynasty commenced with King Henry VII (The Triumph of Edward IV).

King Henry VIII Tudor
Thomas FitzGerald, 10th Earl of Kildare
Queen Elizabeth I of England
Hugh O’Neill, Earl of Tyrone
Dunluce Castle, Northern Ireland (Sonse, 2019)


Bohm, M. (2020). Kildare rebellion (1534–1535) in the Annals of the Four Masters. Open Military Studies, 1, 36–43. doi:https://doi.org/10.1515/openms-2020-0103



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Anthony J. Falconeri

Anthony J. Falconeri

Founder and Senior Editor of in2mundus.com. A center for knowledge and perspective. We go to the origin of the story to tell the full story.