Medieval & Early Modern Ireland
Instuctor: D’Arcy Ryan
Office: 5 Mackinnon Drive #101
Office hours: T Th 10:00-11:30
Phone # 819-822-9600 ext. 2830
TEXTS: Foster, R.F. The Oxford History of Ireland. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 2001.
Course pack for Medieval & Early Modern Ireland.
Work sheets: 20%
Final Exam: 30%
This course is intended as a broad survey of Irish political and social history in the
medieval and early modern periods.
The kingship of all Ireland was never very secure but began to be seriously
challenged by outsiders with the incursion of Norman lords who aggressively sought to
extend their influence into new territory by taking advantage of disputes between native
Irish territorial rulers. Thus began seven hundred and fifty years of the extremely
charged and rarely peaceful relationship between England (subsequently Britain) and
Ireland. To make sense of modern Ireland and how this small nation on the western
fringes of Europe got to where it is today, it is essential to understand how this process
unfolded over the centuries.
The course is divided into three parts. In the first section we will look at the
Norman invasion and the struggle for the lordship of Ireland and the difficulties of the
English monarchy to maintain control outside of a small area around Dublin. The second
part will deal with the Tudor conquest and the effect on Ireland of the Reformation and
the English civil war and its aftermath. The third part will chronicle the state under the
Protestant ascendancy and its efforts to free itself from British domination. It will end
with the emergence of the United Irishmen.
PART I: Medieval Ireland, 1152 – 1534
Week of Sept. 1: Introduction
Week of Sept. 8: Gaelic Ireland in the 11th and 12th Centuries.
Reading: The Course of Irish History, Ch. 7 (Worksheet #1 due Sept. 11)
Week of Sept. 15: The Norman invasion and settlement.
Reading: The Course of Irish History, Ch. 8 (Worksheet #2 due Sept. 18)
Week of Sept. 22: Consolidation of the English colony.
Reading: The Course of Irish History, Ch. 9 (Worksheet #3 due Sept. 25)
Week of Sept. 29: The Gaelic resurgence.
Reading: The Course of Irish History, Ch. 10 (Worksheet #4 due Oct. 2)
PART II: Early Modern Ireland, 1534 – 1691
Week of Oct. 6: Introduction to Tudor Ireland.
Readings: Course pack #1; #2.
Week of Oct. 13: The Tudor Conquest
Reading: The Course of Irish History, Ch. 11 (Worksheet #5 due Oct. 16)
Week of Oct 20: The Colonization of Ulster and the Rebellion of 1641
Reading: The Course of Irish History, Ch. 12 (Worksheet #6 due Oct. 23)
Week of Oct. 27: The Curse of Cromwell
Reading: Course pack #3.
Reading: The Course of Irish History, Ch. 13 (Worksheet #7 due Nov. 6)
PART III: Ireland’s Long Eighteenth Century, 1691 – 1798
Week of Nov. 10: The Protestant Nation
Reading: Course pack #4
Week of Nov. 17: The Age of the Penal Laws
Reading: The Course of Irish History, Ch. 14 (Worksheet #8 due Nov. 20)
Week of Nov. 24: The Rise of the United Irishmen
Reading: The Course of Irish History, Ch. 15 (Worksheet #9 due Nov. 27)
Students will be required to write a paper of approximately 2000 words on a topic to be
selected from the attached list. The term paper is due on November 13. NO PAPER
WILL BE ACCEPTED AFTER THIS DATE. Regarding style, refer to the handout
‘Citation in Historical Essays’ which accompanies this course outline. A term paper
checklist must be attached to your essay.
1) Examine the relationship between the English monarchy and the papacy in pre-
2) Examine the difficulties of the English monarchy to establish lordship in Ireland.
3) What were the circumstances leading up to the signing of the Treaty of Windsor
and how was it honoured by the English and the Irish?
4) Describe the circumstances and consequences of the Bruce invasion of Ireland in
5) Examine the circumstances leading up to the collapse of the Kildare Dynasty.
6) Examine the relationship of Henry VIII and Ireland.
7) Describe the advance of the counter-reformation in Ireland.
8) Explain the significance of the Elizabethan plantation of Ireland.
9) Was the Battle of Kinsale the end of Irish Ireland?
10) What really led to the Rebellion of 1641?
11) Describe the consequences of the Cromwellian conquest of Ireland.
12) What were the effects of England’s ‘Glorious Revolution’ on the subsequent
history of Ireland?
13) Explain the Treaty of Limerick and its implementation.
14) Explain the justification, in the minds of the Protestant Ascendancy, for the
passage of the Penal Laws against Catholics and Dissenters.
15) What is the relationship between the Protestant Ascendancy and the rise of
16) What was the effect of colonial nationalism on the achievement of parliamentary
17) Describe the rise of the United Irishmen.
18) What were the causes of the Rebellion of 1798?