History of 16th Century Ireland

With the Normans and the English planted into Ireland our society was in a state of confusion. Most Anglo settlers had been heavily influenced by the Irish culture and were forced to stop after the introduction of the Statutes of Kilkenny.

These rules were not followed by every Anglo Norman or English man so desperate measures needed to be taken by those who ruled England.

In England the Tudor revolution was begun when King Henry VIII renounced the Catholic Church and the authority of the Pope and declared himself the leader of the Church of England. He was determined to be the one and only ruler and wanted to reduce the power of the provincial magnates. This of course was to affect Ireland. The English lords in the Pale in Dublin supported Henry VIII’s new regime.

The Earl of Kildare was summoned to London in 1534 where he was imprisoned in the Tower of London. Word was sent to Ireland that the Earl had died where as he did not actually die until 1537.

The Earl had left his only son Lord Offaly, (more famously known as silken Thomas) in charge with instructions that if he was dismissed from office that Lord Offaly should make it known that the FitzGerald’s were a force to be reckoned with. This show of strength turned into a rebellion which was quickly quashed by the English army. Culminating, with the execution of silken Thomas himself, in 1537. Within three years the FitzGerald reign was over.

Henry VIII dissolved the monasteries in Ireland and remitted their revenues to the state. In 1541, he declared himself King of Ireland and introduced the Crown of Ireland Act 1542. He subdued the Irish chieftains by taking their lands then returning them but with an English legal title.

After the death of Henry VIII his daughter, Mary, encouraged British colonisation of Ireland in the 1550’s. However, the religious reformation waited even longer until Mary’s sister Elizabeth became queen in 1558. Although Henry VIII had created the Church of England he did not practice the new faith. Elizabeth on the other hand did and she reigned for 45 years.

The first 30 years of Queen Elizabeth’s reign saw a constant stream of settlers into Gaelic and Anglo-Norman areas for the Tudor plantation of Ireland. In the 1560’s and 1570’s Eastern Ulster was planted. The Earldom of Desmond which had so far clung to the old religious and political traditions rebelled and was totally and brutally defeated.

History Timeline of 16th Century Ireland

1541 – The introduction of the Crown of Ireland Act 1542
1556 – Tudor plantation of Ireland begins
1559 – Shane The Proud Ó Néill becomes chief of the O’Neill’s of Ulster
1565 – The Battle of Affane
1567 – The Battle of Farsetmore
1569 – James Fitzmaurice flees Ireland
1579 – Fitzmaurice returns to Ireland
1580 – The Battle of Glenmalure
1580 – The Siege of Smerwick
1592 – Trinity College Dublin is founded
1592 – Red Hugh O’Donnell is inaugurated as chief of the O’Donnells
1594 – The beginning of the 9 years war
1597 – The English capture and behead Feagh MacHugh O’Byrne
1598 – The Battle of the Yellow Ford
1599 – Robert Devereux arrives with 17,000 English troops




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