• Comital Ireland, 1333–1534

    Peter Crooks (see profile)
    Twelfth century, Thirteenth century, Fourteenth century, Middle Ages
    Item Type:
    Book chapter
    11th to 14th century, Medieval history
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    The history of late-medieval Ireland is not exactly littered with dates that command general recognition, so it is surely suggestive that two which have achieved a degree of notoriety concern the fortunes, or rather misfortunes, of Ireland’s earls and earldoms: the murder of William Burgh, the ‘brown’ earl of Ulster, in 1333; and the rebellion in 1534 of Thomas Fitzgerald (‘Silken Thomas’), soon-to-be tenth earl of Kildare. These are dates of demarcation. In the broadest terms, 1333 has been understood to mark the end of the expansion of royal power under the Plantagenets, 1534 the start of its vigorous reassertion under the Tudors. What occurred between these chronological bookends? For Goddard Orpen (d. 1932), writing in 1920 when the Anglo-Irish tradition he cherished seemed imperilled by the prospect of Irish secession from the United Kingdom, the murder of the earl of Ulster in 1333 was a moment of dark, almost metonymic, significance: ‘the door was now closed on a century and a half of remarkable progress, vigour, and comparative order, and two centuries of retrogression, stagnation, and comparative anarchy were about to be ushered in’.
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    Last Updated:
    6 years ago
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