I'm probably opening a can of worms with this one, but I've seen the old "800 years of English oppression" line being trotted out in politics forum on the subject of the poppy a lot at the minute. Is this still a strongly held belief, that the English actually ruled over this country for 800 years with some sort of pre-Stalin Iron fist, only to be saved by the brave boys of 1916??
I don't mean to suggest that Ireland was always in a good position because of British rule, but certainly we can agree that 800 years is inaccurate at best and wrong at worst, and that the oppression part, well I think that's a matter of interpretation so perhaps we should leave that to one side for the moment.
Am I wrong? Is "800 years" what comes to mind when you think of Ireland's history from the Normans on?
beat me to it!!
From the Cromwell era I can understand, but 800 years seems a long time.
btw, since when were the Normans British??
Not English.. though our Normans probably came from there..
Anyway before the british invaded we had no civilisation, no government, no infrastructure etc... Everything we have today we have from them... They may have raped the country of resources etc but they brought with it civilisation.
Im happy being Irish and independant now but i do not have any bad feelings to the British. If they did not invade us then maybe the French would have as a strategic base against Britain.
I find it hard to pin down exactly when Irish autonomy ended but I imagine the flight of the earls to be a good starting point, just because it was the end of Irish resistance for a long time after. But before that there wasn't much in the way of English rule. And as far as I'm concerned the Normans don't count, not just because they were still Anglo/Franks, but also because they didn't establish themselves in most of the country and they didn't enforce rule-we've all heard the old chestnut of becoming "more Irish than the Irish themselves"! Not what I'd call oppresion personally.
Offhand I would be one of the last people to jump on the anti-British bandwagon but I would not agree with the OP.
From my rather inexact studies, I recall that Ireland preNorman invasion had a culture that was known in Europe for its scholarly appitudes. Our level of technology was on par with a majority of Western Europe and as a people we had weathered the Norse/Viking invasions & re-asserted control over most of the country (except Dublin, nothing new there).
The 800 years might allude to the Crown authority, which had waxed and waned for centuries, but was still theorically the ultimate policatal authority in Ireland, starting from Strongbow's conquest.
I know what it alludes to, but that's the easy answer. First off, claims of crown authority are a lot of the time more symbolic more than anything. This is what I mean by inaccuracy. Just because Henry II claimed control of Ireland doesn't make it so. And so for someone to claim that we suffered 800 years of oppression is by extention inaccurate, since no credible historian could claim that Ireland was controlled by England for 800 years.
What is the point about pre-Norman Irish civilisation supposed to prove btw? I don't see how it contributes to an argument.
I think the whole idea of the "800 years" comes from the Nationalist social memory that was created sometime in, I'm not sure, maybe in the 19th century? If you are looking for an exact grounding in fact I don't think it is possible.
When it is invoked especially in this day and age it is usually a generalistion or a bit of rhetoric. the fact that it is specifically 800 years is meant to imply that the oppression is ongoing and that it didin't end with the "brave boys of 1916".
If anyone can rememeber the bit in the film Michael Collins, which is the most accessible example I can think of, where the Free State Troops are taking over the barracks from the British. When Collins arrives the British officer says
something like, "you are seven minutes late MR. Collins"
to which Collins replies, "We waited 700 years you can have your 7 minutes."
I think the date it is supposed to have started is sometime in the 1200s and has to do with how the King of England's authority was first recognised and Ireland became a Lordship? (although I'm not precisely sure of the specifics here so don't quote me on that)
The pre-Norman section of my reply was a response to Saruman's point.
Sorry if it seemed off-topic.
Oh right it makes sense now, thanks for that.
I could not let this go unchallenged.
the fact is the British brought their version of civilsation and because of the "700 years" at least they were here they left their indelible mark on government infrastructure etc.
But don't take this as evidence that the Gaelic Irish who inhabited the island pre invasion were in any way less civilised than British.
This idea that the British were bringing civilisation to the uncouth savages was often used in defence of their aggression policies of colonisation not just in Ireland but everywhere.
the Gaelic Irish traditions of inheritance for example, were in some respects fairer and more democatic than the British method of the oldest son getting everything.
That's really just untrue. Our kingship structure was comparable, if not better than, most of the kingship structures which existed in continental europe. Britain, while greatly, developed, was perhaps the exception to the rule. Furthermore, the Normans weren't the ones with the great administrative structure, it was the Anglo-Saxons, which the Normans just stole.
As for 800 years, well, for about 700 years Dublin had been under the control of the British.
The only 'resource' they really 'raped' was the people.
Civilisation was here long before they arrived.
That's true, but it was hardly oppression was it?
1169 was a long time ago.
Anyway blame the pope.
That's a bit crypic for me. can you expand a ittle.