The Norman invasion of Britain, as depicted in the Bayeux Tapestry, is well known, but the later invasion of Ireland is much less well documented. Yet much of what we see today in Irish heritage has Norman roots. Ireland and Britain have many similarities, although relations between them have too often descended into bitterness and violence. This book goes back to the starting point of this, more than eight hundred years ago. Beginning with Irish history before the Norman invasion, the book describes how Ireland was conquered and settled by the French-speaking Normans from north-west France, whose language and culture had already come to dominate most of Britain.
It looks at the creation and government of a large region called the Liberty of Leinster between 1167 and 1247, a turning point in Irish history, identifying the Frankish institutions imposed upon Ireland by its Anglo-Norman conquerors. The Normans were not always belligerent conquerors, but they were innovators and reformers, who incorporated the sensible traditions and practices of their subjugated lands into their new government. In little over one hundred years the Normans had a transforming effect on British and Irish societies and, while different in many ways, both countries benefited from their legacy.