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Medieval Ireland

IRS7012: Kingship and Colonisation in Medieval Ireland: Interdisciplinary Perspectives

This interdisciplinary Irish Studies module will introduce students to the study of kingship and colonisation in Medieval Ireland through the perspectives and methodologies of History, Archaeology and Literature. The module will encourage students to consider how each of the disciplines contributes to the generation of knowledge and scholarly debate about Irish kingship and colonisation on the island, and how each disciplinary approach can enhance a holistic approach to the past. The teaching weeks will be divided between the three disciplines.

The course will focus on the period between 700-1350 and so trace important changes in Irish kingship over time and in response to the incursions of the Vikings and later the Anglo-Normans.

Using historical materials and approaches, students will examine the innovations of Irish kings in the military, ecclesiastical and administrative spheres and the increasing power of several dynasties of provincial kings following the rise of Brian Boru. The impact on Irish kingship of the Viking presence in Ireland and particularly Hiberno-Norse port towns like Dublin will be considered as will the impact of the wider reaching programme of colonisation and urbanisation by the Anglo-Normans in the later 12th century.

Students will be introduced to the literature of medieval Ireland as well as theoretical concepts and methodological approaches for analysing this material. Using these approaches they will discuss what these sources can tell us about the ideological underpinnings of Irish kingship. These sources will also be used to discuss the Irish understanding of colonisation and how Irish learned elites made sense of the island’s history.

Landscapes of kingship and specific royal sites – including royal residences, defensive structures and ceremonial sites like those used for inaugurations – will be discussed and students will be encouraged to think about the ways in which Irish kings modified and used the landscape to preserve, extend and project their power.

This module will be available as an option to students on MA Irish Studies, MA History and the Arts and Humanities MRes programme.

Teaching staff include: Dr Simon Egan (Convenor), Dr Patrick Gleeson and Professor Greg Toner.