Normans In Ireland
To speak of the coming of the Normans to Ireland is slightly misleading. Seeking mercenary help, after being thrown out of his kingdom, King Diarmait of Leinster applied to Henry Plantagenet, the French-speaking ruler of Anjou, who had also through his mother inherited the kingdom of England, for help from one of his vassals. As a result, The Earl of Clare, known as Strongbow, was allowed to collect a contingent of knights and soldiers of fortune, many of them Flemish families who had settled in south Wales, and take them to Ireland. Only when Strongbow seemed about to succeed Diarmait in his local kingdom, did the opportunist Henry Plantagenet come over himself and, through a process of trickery, and with the connivance of the Pope, persuade the other Irish kings to acknowledge him as overlord, with consequences that would change Irish history down the centuries. This subtle and extraordinary story provides the political framework of the family drama told in the 'Strongbow' chapter of Rutherfurd's first Irish book.