Medieval Ireland: The Enduring Tradition is an overview of Irish society from the coming of Christianity in the fourth century to the Reformation in the sixteenth. Such a broad survey reveals features otherwise not easily detected. For all the complexity of political developments, Irish society remained basically stable and managed to withstand the onslaught of both the Vikings and the English. The inherent strength of Ireland consisted in the cultural heritage from pre-historic times, which remained influential throughout the centuries discussed here.
Irish history has traditionally been described either in isolation or in the manner in which it was influenced by outside forces, especially by England. This book strikes a different balance. First, the time span covered is longer than usual, and more attention is paid to the early medieval centuries than to the later period. Secondly, less emphasis is placed in this book on the political or military history of Ireland than on general social and cultural aspects. As a result, a more mature interpretation of medieval Ireland emerges, one in which social and cultural norms inherited from pre-historic times are seen to survive right through the Middle Ages. They gave Irish society a stability and inherent strength unparalleled in Europe. Christianity came in as an additional, enriching factor.
`... a new look at a period which has been studied more for its military and political activity than for anything else. This excellent book corrects the tilt by concentrating on social and cultural life.' Irish Independent
Michael Richter taught medieval history at University College Dublin and the University of Konstanz, Germany. He published a number of works on the medieval period, including Medieval Ireland, Ireland and her Neighbours in the Seventh Century and Bobbio in the early Middle Ages.