14th Century Ireland & Wales

There are two more countries from the British Isles we cannot forget to talk about: Ireland and Wales.

Ireland at this point is fighting tooth and nail to maintain its independence and has been since the Anglo-Norman invasion led by Henry II of England in 1171. The attempts to hold Ireland failed. In 1210 King John tried again to tame Ireland. He succeeded in some ways but failed to maintain long term control as Lord of Ireland. He was victorious in establishing a civil government with some feudal lords, improving farming techniques, and dividing the land into counties. The height of this movement was the creation of the Irish Parliament (though it failed to properly represent native Irishmen) in 1297. 

The English saw their control fade with the rise of Edward de Brus, brother to King Robert de Brus of Scots. The brothers had a lengthy relation to the Garlic royals who had ruled Ireland before 1186 and so in 1315 Edward decided to declare himself King of Ireland. His reign would not last long though, as he was killed in 1318 at the Battle of Faughart.

To help strengthen their hold on Ireland, Edward II created three Earldoms: Kildare he gave to Leinster Fitzgerald; Ormonde to the Butlers; and Desmond went to Munster Fitzgerald’s. The increase in Anglo-Irish power became a disadvantage though, as the lords married more and more Irish women and adapted to Irish customs. Irish language, law, and traditions continued to flourish, much to the dismay of the English. Irishmen outside what they called the “pale” were considered enemies and their attacks struck terror on the English settlers. 

At the end of the century, Richard II traveled here three times (1394,1395, 1399) without any success. The spirit of the Irish was impossible to tame, but over the next few centuries the English will do everything they can to assert dominance over the island.

Wales is full of resentment at this time for England has recently succeeded in doing just that. They had been fighting to remain at least a principality, and in 1301 Edward used that to both satisfy and humiliate them by making his son, the future Edward II, Prince of Wales (a title still used for the heir of the English crown today). He would then go on to consolidate his victory by building elaborate fortresses all over Wales, but specifically in the north. Many still survive as the prideful national symbols of the difficulty it took to “bring Wales to heel” so to say. The most significant Beaumaris, Caernarfon, Conway, and Harlech. The humiliation as well as factors like the plague took their toll and the people were quiet for the time period, though many lords were dragged into the conflicts of England. They spent the time letting their wounds heal and waiting for what they perceived was the appropriate opportunity which came right at the beginning of the next century when they decided to defy newly crowned Henry IV. Owain ap Gruffudd will come forth as their chosen Prince of Wales and in the next century we will learn more about their rebellion. 

These two countries have a tendency of being clumped into English/Scottish history and while it may be reasonable to say their histories overlap, they had their own struggles during these periods. Their determination to maintain their own identities when the English were determined to strip them of what they considered ‘improper’ traits was inspirational. They have spent centuries under the rule of them and to this day find ways to assert their differences and still fight to keep their own traditions alive. In the next few centuries we will learn how Welshmen changed the bloodline of England, how the Irish would continue to be a thorn in England’s side, and how both carve out their own names in history. 

Notable Source:


  • “Ireland.” Google Books, Google, books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=nL1q1ijut8gC&oi=fnd&pg=PR5&dq=ireland%2Bhistory&ots=WxlMPyLpqq&sig=r6cLuaj3fcxZ0UYgfQufA6km53U#v=onepage&q=ireland%20history&f=false. 
  • “The Oxford Illustrated History of Ireland.” Google Books, Google, books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=loeoi9tnWm0C&oi=fnd&pg=PP13&dq=ireland%2Bhistory&ots=J4_igFuyuJ&sig=zDLD8Labqc8KWGlWguaMDFGJFRg#v=onepage&q=ireland%20history&f=false. 
  • “The 14th and 15th Centuries.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., http://www.britannica.com/place/Ireland/The-14th-and-15th-centuries. 


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