September 2nd, 2009

ireland

September Books 1) Anglo-Norman Ulster, by T.E. McNeill

This is a fairly slim volume detailing archæological and historical records of the Anglo-Norman Earldom of Ulster, which was set up by a lightning conquest of Downpatrick by the Norman adventurer John De Courcy in 1177, and then gradually subsided out of history in the fourteenth to fifteenth centuries. I have a personal genealogical interest in the subject, which I will save for another post; but most people who have lived in Northern Ireland will be familiar with the monuments of the Norman period - most notably Carrickfergus Castle, possibly also Inch Abbey and Greyabbey, with their ruined Gothic arches still visible, and Dundrum Castle farther south.

But the Normans did not penetrate very far inland, as this map from the book demonstrates:

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The story of the Earldom is not just a landgrab by adventurers (of the kind the Normans and their kin were engaged in from Newfoundland to Palestine) then eroded by the natives coming back. Collapse )

Lots more here about architecture and economics (and far more about pottery than one would have thought possible, given that a) there is very little of it and b) it is very boring), but it is inevitably the politics that grabbed my attention.