Henry VIII

Henry VIII stamped his authority on Ireland more than any other pervious English King. He was the first English King to grant himself the title of 'King of Ireland'. This was after a 1535 rebellion led by the Silken Thomas Fitzgerald. Events in Ireland got tied up with the greater Reformation as Henry was concerned that European powers might be willing to use Ireland as a base to attack England. He therefore put a lot of time, effort and energy into subduing the Fitzgerald rebellion.

To help bring Ireland under his control, he requested that all lords forfeit their land claims to him with the promise that he would re-issue them with English titles and claims to the land. Suprisingly, many Irish lords were happy with this arrangement as it promised to clarify land ownership and bring it within English law which supported property rights to a greater extent. It also allowed Gaelic lords to enter the Irish parliament for the first time and so gain parity with the Old English of Norman descent. The only cost to the Irish lords was accepting Henry as their King which was proclaimed in 1541.

In reality, Henry's power was more theoretical than actual. It was going to be left to his children to try and impose real authority on the island.

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by Stephen Luscombe