Richard de Clare, 2nd Earl of Pembroke, (Strongbow)

Strongbow saw an opportunity to extend his feudal lands from Wales when Dermot MacMurrough fled Ireland looking for help to recover his Irish lands. As a supporter of Stephen against Matilda in the Civil War, Henry had taken a dislike to Strongbow and had deprived him of his Pembroke lands. Strongbow was therefore searching for new lands. Strongbow leapt at the opportunity presented in Leinster. He sent a vanguard of Norman Knights with their superiour weapons, tactics and training. They transformed the battlefield in Ireland and quickly allowed Strongbow to extend his influence over the Irish lord seeking help. Strongbow further increased his involvement by marrying Aoife MacMurrough the daughter of Dermot (shown in the picture above). Dermot died in 1171 allowing Strongbow to claim kingship of Dermot's lands through this marriage. It was at this point that Henry II began to be concerned at the growing powerbase of this Norman knight. Henry II landed in Ireland and forced Strongbow to surrender his title of King of Leinster in return for his old lands in Pembroke being returned to him and 100 extra knights. He was also allowed to keep his lands in Leinster but only after restating his allegiance to Henry. Strongbow's significance is the way that he managed to drag the Norman Knights into the political sphere of Ireland. Their influence was to be significant and added to the already complex weave of loyalties and political actors in Ireland.

Ireland | Significant Individuals


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by Stephen Luscombe