Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



First Advisor

John Cramsie




ireland, irish, authority, gaelic, political


Ireland in the 16th century was by far the most self-governed domain under the authority of King Henry VIII. Within Ireland there were two distinct groups of people, the Gaelic Irish and the Anglo-Irish, whose cultural differences divided the island into two distinct political nations. The majority of Ireland was dominated by Gaelic Irish lordships. Gaelic Irish lords recognized the English king as their overlord, but followed Gaelic customs and laws within their lordships. The small sphere of English influence in Ireland was reduced even more by the political hegemony of the Anglo-Irish magnates. The most powerful magnate, the 9th earl of Kildare, whose landholding, relationship with England as the king’s Lord Deputy, and personal retinue allowed him to retain powerful influence in both in the English Pale and Gaelic Ireland. The Kildare affinity in Ireland increasingly in the 16th century produced resentment among both the Anglo-Irish nobility and gentry of the Pale and the king. Throughout the first two decades of his reign, Henry VIII was developing a strong sense of his authority as king. The development of his sense of kingship led to a political ideology that centered around increasing his authority in his outer lying territories, including Northern England, Wales, territories in France, and Ireland. Even before the Henrician revolution of the 1530s, efforts by the crown to strengthen their authority in Ireland were already evident. However the nature of the political scene in Ireland presented Henry with serious challenges during his endeavor to apply his imperial authority. The complex situation of the Irish political nation, and Henry’s efforts to apply his imperial authority in Ireland resulted in instability throughout Ireland in the 1520s.