High King of Ireland

High King Of Ireland

High King of Ireland

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The High Kings of Ireland () were sometimes historical and sometimes legendary figures who had, or who are claimed to have had, lordship over the whole of Ireland. Medieval and early modern Irish literature portrays an almost unbroken sequence of High Kings, ruling from Tara over a hierarchy of lesser kings, stretching back thousands of years. Modern historians believe this scheme is artificial, constructed in the 8th century from the various genealogical traditions of politically powerful groups, and intended to justify the current status of those groups by projecting it back into the remote past.Dáibhí Ó Cróinín, "Ireland, 400–800", in Dáibhí Ó Cróinín (ed.), A New History of Ireland 1: Prehistoric and Early Ireland, Oxford University Press, 2005, pp. 182–234. The concept of national kingship is first articulated in the 7th century, but only became a political reality in the Viking Age, and even then not a consistent one.

Until quite recently the development of the pre-Norman kingship of Ireland has been expressed in simplistic terms, with both unionist and nationalist historians—for their own respective purposes—happy to portray pre-Norman Ireland as an immutable hierarchy of kings. In Unionist historiography the picture painted has been one of tribal chaos (with Norman invasion supposedly "creating...
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