Ireland's history has been shaped by the many invaders who have set foot on the country's shores. For centuries conflict raged amongst the native Irish, Vikings, Anglo-Normans, English and Scots, then the Catholics and Protestants. This real-life game of thrones has moulded the social, political and military history of the nation, so often its problems caused by its proximity to more powerful neighbours.
Being a largely `empty' land, Ireland was an attractive proposition for landless knights, and the Norman Conquest of Ireland in 1171 saw a group of carpetbagging Anglo-Normans begin to carve up the country. Without the incursions of the Vikings and Anglo-Normans, Ireland would not be the country it is today. Beginning with Ireland's earliest history, Ireland spans the centuries, covering the period of Scottish raiding during the War of Scottish Independence and the Elizabethan and Stuart plantations. The seventeenth century witnessed rebellions against English rule and Oliver Cromwell's storming of Drogheda and Wexford. Upon the installation of William III on the English throne, Ireland became a battleground between competing European powers, the struggle culminating in decisive defeats for James II at the battles of the Boyne and Aughrim, the bitter legacy of which has blighted modern times.
Jeffrey James has published numerous articles on military history and is the author of An Onslaught of Spears, a history of Viking attacks on England leading to Cnut's conquest in 1016, and Swordsmen of the King, covering the exploits of Charles I's German nephews during the English Civil War. He lives in Southsea, England.