The thousand years explored in this book witnessed developments in the history of Ireland that resonate to this day. Interspersing narrative with detailed analysis of key themes, the first volume in the Cambridge History of Ireland presents the latest thinking on key aspects of the medieval Irish experience. The contributors are leading experts in their fields, and present their original interpretations in a fresh and accessible manner. New perspectives are offered on the politics, artistic culture, religious beliefs and practices, social organisation and economic activity that prevailed on the island in these centuries. At each turn the question is asked: to what extent were these developments unique to Ireland? The openness of Ireland to outside influences, and its capacity to influence the world beyond its shores, are recurring themes. Underpinning the book is a comparative, outward-looking approach that sees Ireland as an integral but exceptional component of medieval Christian Europe.