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The Making of a Myth: Giraldus Cambrensis, Laudabiliter, and Henry II's Lordship of Ireland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)249 - 312
Number of pages64
JournalStudies in Medieval and Renaissance History
Publication statusPublished - 2007

King's Authors


For the whole of the Middle Ages and beyond, Adrian IV's bull Laudabiliter (1155/56) was regarded as the authority behind Henry II's seizure of Irish territory in 1171–2, an action that had momentous consequences for the history of England and Ireland over the next eight hundred years. This article re-examines the text and its context, and it argues (a) that all known versions derive ultimately from that transmitted by Gerald de Barri (Giraldus Cambrensis) in his Expugnatio Hibernica (Conquest of Ireland) and other works (supported by the collation: Appendix 1); (b) that Gerald substantially altered the text by omitting passages that had been intended to dissuade the English king from any such venture (supported by a reconstruction of the original: Appendix 2); and (c) that Gerald falsified the context by making Laudabiliter the cornerstone of his justification for “English” rule over the island of Ireland.

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