Between 1169 and around 1240, large parts of Ireland were occupied by members of an Anglo-Norman upper class, which had already advanced into Wales and which was still engaged in acquiring land in Scotland. In their wake came peasants, craftsmen and traders, to settle mainly in the lowlands of the south and east. English law and forms of government were also transplanted, as the Plantagenet kings asserted their authority, turning Ireland into a lordship where they could reward those around them with lands and rights, and from which they expected financial returns and support in their wars. No part of the island was unaffected by the military and political activities of the Anglo-Normans, who upset existing power-structures and faced Irish rulers with complex pressures and choices. This book examines the processes of conquest and colonization, against the background of economic expansion and seigneurial enterprise apparent elsewhere in Britain and Europe. It also explores the nature and extent of colonial retreat, and the political and cultural adjustments that were evident amid the less favourable conditions of the 14th century. The book, originally published in 1981, has been revised and expanded for the present illustrated edition, which also contains a guide to more recent work.
Robin Frame, a graduate of Trinity College Dublin, is Professor Emeritus of history at the University of Durham. His publications include English lordship in Ireland, 1318–1361 and The political development of the British Isles, 1100–1400.