Way Back When:
Around 400 A.D., a well-to-do boy living on the coast of Britain was kidnapped by pirates and sold into slavery in Ireland. He escaped on a merchant vessel headed to the continent. They got lost, and were at the point of slaughtering the passengers to feed the Irish Wolfhounds (who were worth more than the passengers). The boy prayed for food, and immediately a herd of wild swine appeared, which they ate. The boy entered the church service, and eventually was inspired to return to Ireland and teach the people about Christ. Many people listened to him, and he established the church there. He later became Saint Patrick.
In 793, Viking raiders from the Norwegian coast of Scandinavia showed up in Ireland. The Viking method was to suddenly show up at a coastal settlement, kill anyone who resisted, grab gold and children (to sell as slaves), and sail away before any organized force could be gathered against them. Because there weren’t really any “towns” in Ireland (the Romans never conquered Ireland, and never set up their system of market towns, surrounding suburbs, and farther out farms), the Vikings targeted the places in Ireland that did hold concentrated wealth: monasteries and abbeys. During the next several hundred years, Vikings expanded their raiding activities to include large-scale invasions and land grabs, especially in southern Ireland. They established cities like Waterford, Wexford, and Dublin. Vikings were happy to intermarry with locals. They had a high respect for the warriors they encountered when they tried to enter central Ireland, and they never conquered that area.
1066– Normans (who are Vikings who were invited to take land in Normandy when one of Emperor Charlemagne’s descendants ran out of silver to pay off the Viking raiders) successfully invaded England under Henry the Conqueror.
In the mid-1100’s, an Irish king named Dermot MacMurrough was fighting with his neighbors, and got the worst of it. He fled to Britain and asked Henry II to help him invade Ireland to get back his lands. Dermot engaged in some political and religious maneuvering. He got the support of one of Henry II’s underlings, Strongbow, with a promise of marriage with Dermot’s own daughter and succession to Dermot’s kingdom.
In 1170, Strongbow took Waterford and Dublin. The next year, Henry II got scared that his underling was getting too powerful, so he personally invaded Ireland. While there, he noticed that people from all sorts of cultures (e.g., Scandinavian Vikings, Normans, English) had intermarried with the Irish and had adopted their styles in clothing and other cultural practices. He held a big meeting where he demanded pledges of fealty from the Irish High King and all the other kings, required the native Irish to move out of Dublin, and made laws forbidding English to adopt Irish customs. After staying through the winter, he and his entourage went home to Britain in spring of 1172. Immediately, the Irish kings resumed fighting with each other.
During the late 1100’s and 1200’s, there were essentially two separate legal systems, one for Irish people, and one for English people.
In the 1200’s, many castles were built, and market towns started appearing.
History just before or contemporary with “Incubation”
During the early 1300’s, King Donal O’Neill wrote to Pope John XXII with grievances against the treatment of the Irish by the British, detailing their abusive practices. Scottish groups invaded Ireland down to Dublin. There were huge population declines– whole towns disappeared– which caused widespread decay of organized society. In the 1320’s there was an epidemic of small pox, followed closely by an epidemic of influenza.
History immediately after the events in “Incubation”
In 1348, the Black Death arrived in Ireland, further decimating the population. Monks kept records of how many hundreds and thousands were dying week by week, and then succumbed to the plague, themselves.
By 1360, the economy was so ruined that even the English overseers found it impossible to generate enough taxes to pay for basic necessities.
In 1367, the English passed the Statutes of Kilkenny, which, among other things, attempted to keep English from marrying into Irish families or adopting Irish culture.
In 1394 and 1399, there were sporadic attempts to reassert English rule.