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Monday to 8.30pm
The award-winning investigative series returns, in which Mike Thomson takes a document as a starting-point to shed new light on past events.

A Laudable Invasion

Monday 17 July 2006
Image victim from A Laudable Invasion
Mike Thomson investiagtes King Henry 11's dodgy dossier which he used to justify invading Ireland.Follow this link to view a gallery of images taken by Document during the making of this programme.
In 1171 King Henry 11 invaded Ireland waving a letter from Pope Adrian 1V. History has it that this papal parchment, known as the Laudabiliter, gave the Vatican 's blessing for the invasion which has led to eight centuries of English domination of Ireland . But Document has new evidence which suggests that King Henry 'sexed up' this piece of paper to make it say what he wanted it to. In other words, the people of Ireland were conned.

It all started when one of his own knights, Richard De Clare, better known as Strongbow, invaded Ireland . Word reached Henry that Stongbow was about to declare himself King of Ireland, a move which potentially threatened his kingdom from the west. So, Henry pulled out of his back pocket a Papal letter he had received several years before. This is our laudabiliter.

The original Papal bull was lost centuries ago and so historians have long relied on the word of King Henry's scribe, one Gerald of Wales, to know what it said. The story, according to Gerald, is that the Pope fully sanctioned a take over by Henry in the belief that he would restore order to the Irish church as well as the country at large. King Henry is then alleged to have shown this document to church leaders in Ireland soon after landing and they all agreed to accept his authority.

Professor Anne Duggan, is having none of it. She has concluded after years of research that Gerald of Wales was up to no good. The version of the laudabiliter that he later printed as proof that the Pope approved of Henry's invasion, fails to follow the format of almost every other document of it's kind during this period. She concludes that Henry spin doctor in chief, who then seeking promotion to a top church post, doctored the document. Passages that expressed the Pope's reservations, or urged Henry to restrain were left out and only those that appeared to give his backing were left in.

Professor's Duggan's conclusions cast fresh doubt over the legitimacy of Britain 's long rule over Ireland , which continues in the north today. However, Desmond Fitzgerald, the last Knight of Glin, whose family have owned land in Ireland since Henry's invasion, is not accepting defeat. On being asked what he will do if his family's holdings are now questioned in court he told Document: " I'm not going anywhere. I'll resort to squatter's rights if necessary . "

Do you have a document you want us to investigate? Follow this link to email the Document programme team with your submission which will be considered for the next series.
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