Front Page Titles (by Subject) Sect. III.—: Influence of the Court of Rome. - Ireland: Social, Political, and Religious, vol. 1
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Sect. III.—: Influence of the Court of Rome. - Gustave de Beaumont, Ireland: Social, Political, and Religious, vol. 1 
Ireland: Social, Political, and Religious, ed. W.C. Taylor (London: Richard Bentley, 1839). Vol. 1.
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Influence of the Court of Rome.
The third cause favourable to the invasion was, the influence, then all-powerful, of the court of Rome, which gave Ireland to the conquerors.
It was the time of the temporal and spiritual supremacy of the popes, the rivals of kings, the tribunes of the people in the middle ages; it was the time in which, when the most powerful prince resisted the court of Rome, the successor of St. Peter deposed him from his throne, and found the people submit to his decrees. At this time Ireland was eminent for its piety and sanctity amongst the most Christian nations. Its priests were at the head of political as well as religious society.* In this country, where the social powers were feeble, uncertain, and ill defined, there was no fixed and invariable rule but that of religion,—no undisputed authority common to all but that of the priest.† I find, in 1160, ten years before the Conquest, the Archbishop of Armagh regulating, as supreme arbiter, the quarrels of several Irish kings, between whom he alone could restore harmony.‡ Now, this clergy, supreme in Ireland, had for a quarter of a century been subject to the church of Rome.§
It was under such circumstances that Henry II. came to Ireland. He offered himself as a prince, the friend of peace and justice, who came not to strip the Irish of their rights, but to ensure their tranquil enjoyment of them; when he departs, he will leave their political power to the great, their domains to the proprietors, their spiritual authority to the priests, their country, their laws, and their institutions, to all. He only wants one thing, the title of Lord of Ireland, and he will only avail himself of it to promote religion and morality;* and he claims not this great mission as his own; he has received it from Pope Adrian IV. and Pope Alexander III.; he seizes Ireland, not to satisfy ambition, but to obey the papal bulls. Religious Ireland, which at this period recognised the authority of the Romish church, could not receive harshly a monarch who presented himself to her with so solemn a mandate as that of the sovereign pontiff. Thus, all the great dignitaries of the Catholic church in Ireland were seen to proclaim the rights of the king of England.† It may well be conceived how this moral assistance of the clergy, the most powerful that could be directed against Ireland, must have protected an invasion already favoured by so many other causes.
Thus the social and political condition of the Irish,—the presence of the Danes in the midst of them,—their very religion,—all these causes combine to explain the facility with which the Anglo-Normans gained a footing in Ireland.
We are now to inquire how, when the invasion was made without difficulty, the conquest could not be completed without perils continually renewed for centuries.
This fact is also explained by three principal reasons; the first equally derived from the political condition of the Irish; the second, from the relations between the Anglo-Normans and England; the third, from the condition to which the natives were reduced by the conquerors.
[*]Mac Geoghegan, vol. i. p. 464.
[†]Gordon, vol. i. p. 105.
[‡]Mac Geoghegan, vol. i. p. 462.
[§]The papal authority was for the first time formally recognised at the synod of Kells, ad 1152.—Tr.
[*]Lingard, vol. ii. p. 205.
[†]The sovereignty of Ireland was solemnly granted Henry II. at the council of Cashel, over which the papal legate, Christian bishop of Lismore, presided. The only Irish prelate absent was Gelasius, Archbishop of Armagh, but he subsequently came to Dublin, and publicly gave his full assent to the proceedings of his brethren.—Tr.