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Putting the historical record straight on Henry VIII and declaration of the kingdom of Ireland

letter of the day: political perspective

Malachy Scott writes (Write Back, October 13) that the kingdom of Ireland was declared by Henry VIII in 1541, as though that was the beginning.

It is less than the full picture, but it flows like a subterraneous stream irrigating the minds on which Sinn Fein feeds.

Ireland, along with the by then more centralised England, were both conceded to the Bishop of Rome, Pope Innocent III, by King John at Dover on May 15, 1213, pledging in doing so a tax of 700 and 300 marks respectively for the realm of England and the realm of Ireland. The Archbishop of Dublin was among those who signed as a witness.

John received both England and Ireland back to be ruled as papal fiefdoms, having conceded with respect to England what William the Conqueror had earlier refused.

William had refused (in 1075), in a letter to Pope Gregory VII, to rule England as a fief, saying that he had never promised such (his only promise was the reform of the English Church) in return for Rome's recognition of his claim to the Crown and Gregory's blessing on his war of conquest.

Henry VIII's elevation from lordship to kingship in Ireland was accepted by the Irish parliament in 1536.

The political making of what the classical writers referred to as the geographical Britannic islands was all of a piece with the making and unmaking of Western Christendom.

Young people in the schools should know something about that as part of their common Christian culture.

The penalties and slaughter to which Malachy Scott refers was not an Irish peculiar; the Christianity of the time was akin to the condition of Islam today.

Ireland came out of those times rather lightly when compared with other parts of Europe.

WA MILLER

Belfast

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