3 - THE NEW ORDER CONSOLIDATED  pp. 52-84

THE NEW ORDER CONSOLIDATED

By J. A. Watt

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THE REIGN OF JOHN

Distribution maps of motes and bailies and of castles show how quickly and penetratively the invaders had swarmed over the country by the beginning of the reign of John. Similar maps of chartered towns and of religious houses founded by the conquerors would indicate to some degree the areas where settlement was most secure. ‘By the end of the twelfth century’, it has very justly been concluded, ‘the whole of Leinster, the ancient kingdom of Meath including not only Meath and Westmeath but also south Longford and the north west part of the modern co. Offaly, Ulster east of the Bann and a great part of Munster, were effectively dominated by the new power.’

In ecclesiastical terms, this was domination of all the provinces of Dublin (Leinster) and almost all of Cashel (Munster), of the Armagh (Ulster) dioceses of Meath, Down and Connor, with such dioceses as Dromore, Ardagh and Clonmacnois overshadowed by the Anglo-French (Map 3). The Shannon at this time still remained a major frontier so that the province of Tuam (Connacht) was as yet outside the occupied area, though the first serious attack on it had been as early as 1177.

This dominance was not however very quickly manifested in an anglicized episcopate. At the end of John's reign in 1216 there were still after very nearly half a century of Anglo-French expansion only nine of the thirty-six sees held by foreign bishops.