Colin Veach
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‘Lord of the Foreigners of Ireland’: 1177-86
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At the Council of Oxford in 1177, King Henry II expressed his desire that his youngest son, John, should be made king of Ireland, and also divided colonial Ireland into three divisions to be administered from Dublin, Wexford and Waterford. Hugh de Lacy was placed at the head of the Dublin administration, and given authority over the northern third. This chapter explores how Hugh used his royal commission as well as a pragmatic blend of war and diplomacy to cut an impressive figure for himself on the Irish scene. Hugh’s marriage to the daughter of the Irish high king, Ruaidrí Ua Conchobair led to whispers of royal ambitions at the Henry II’s court, yet Hugh was too useful to the colony to be permanently replaced. The chapter analyses Hugh de Lacy’s conduct in office, including during the future King John’s ill-fated 1185 Irish expedition (after which he was merely dominus Hiberniae ‘lord of Ireland’). When John returned home, both he and the native Irish commentators blamed Hugh for his expedition’s failure. Hugh’s spectacular assassination in 1186 while constructing a castle at Durrow in western Meath was noted by English chroniclers, who report that Henry II rejoiced at the news.

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Lordship in four realms

The lacy family, 1166-1241


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