BBC HomeExplore the BBC
This page has been archived and is no longer updated. Find out more about page archiving.

18 September 2014
Accessibility help
Wars and Conflict - The Plantation of Ulster

BBC Homepage
History
Wars and
Conflict

»
  The Plantation
  Ireland before the Plantation
  Planters
  Cartographers
  London Companies
  American connection
  Architecture
  Tully Castle
  Religious legacy
  Perspective
  Ulster Scots
  Settlement map
  Bardic poetry
Audio gallery

 

  Go further
 

Contact Us

by topic by time by people
 
Audio Gallery
 
<< Back to article
 

Brehon law had no concept of constitutional law
- Prof. Fergus Kelly

Hear audio version
Audio Clips

There was no notion of constitutional law in the modern sense. Early Christian Ireland was very much a fragmented society: there would have been more than 100 petty kingdoms, each with their own king, and then most of those kings would have recognised the overlordship of another greater king. Then there were five kings of provincial status: there seems to have been no real single king over the whole island, although a number of kings would have claimed this but in reality they would not have controlled the entire area.

Q: - So there was no concept of invasion of territory during the Anglo-Norman period, when the Anglo-Normans arrived? Did the Brehons not feel this was an intrusion on their national territory?

The Brehons would have had different ideas of national territory. As we know the Anglo Norman invasion was an extraordinarily successful phenomenon and this would partly have been that there wasn’t that very strong sense of national identity - obviously they would have known that they were Irish and spoke Irish - but in general the people would have identified with their own particular part of the country, rather than having had a sense of Irishness.
 

<< Back to article Index
Index
Printable versionPrintable version
Top of Page


Reading room Multimedia zone For kids How to


About the BBC | Help | Terms of Use | Privacy & Cookies Policy