History of Ireland
During the first centuries of the first millennium, the Gaels of Ireland were organized into túath, numerous chiefdoms and kingdoms ruled by clans. They traded extensively with the Romans, which eventually led to the importation and expansion of Christianity on the island. By the 6th century, much of Ireland was Christian and had exported Gaelic cultural influences to continental Europe. During late antiquity, five main states emerged in Ireland, corresponding to the modern territories of Leinster, Ulster, Connaught, Munster, and Meath. In the northern part of the island, the Gaelic monarchy of Dal Riada would be established, eventually merging with the Picts to form the Kingdom of Scotland centuries later.
At the outset of the 9th century, Vikings began plundering the coasts of Ireland and founded numerous settlements. At this point in time, a mostly ceremonial feudal position known as the Airdrígh claimed lordship of the entire island. Numerous dynasties would fight for the kingship until the rise of Brian Boru in 1002, who would go on to claim the title Imperator Scottorum and expel the Vikings from Ireland. Upon his death, the island became politically unstable once more, with the weakness of the O'Brien dynasty paving the way for a foreign invasion.
The late 12th century saw the invasion of the Normans, who had similarly invaded England. By 1200, swathes of Ireland were under the control of the Plantagenet dynasty, often being referred to as the Lordship of Ireland. In the 1310s, King Edward Bruce of Scotland attempted a failed liberation of the island. In the mid-14th century, the Black Death and economic decline allowed the resurgence of Gaelic clans and the assimilation of rural Norman lords. This marked the start of a campaign against Gaelic culture and customs, which were viewed as a threat to the supremacy of the English throne in Ireland.
By the dawn of the early modern period in 1500, Ireland was divided into numerous Gaelic and Anglo-Norman kingdoms with the exception of the region around Dublin, known as the Pale, which was subject to direct English influence. During the 16th century, the Tudor dynasty of England began a campaign to reconquer Ireland. In 1542, the Lordship would be elevated to a Kingdom - a status which it would retain for over 300 years. The English administration in Ireland would antagonize numerous Norman and Gaelic states alike, aiming to bring the entire island under their direct rule.
The Siege of Kinsale in 1601 and the 1603 Union of the Crowns marked the beginning of an extensive Anglicization program and the Plantations - state-sanctioned colonization of Ireland by British settlers. Starting in 1649, Oliver Cromwell, who abolished the Stuart monarchy after a series of civil wars in Britain, brutally invaded and conquered Ireland. Ethnic cleansing campaigns occurred during his tenure, complimented by confiscation of lands belonging to Irish nobles.