Brown Daniel, Fortune’s wheel: the rise, fall and restoration of Hugh II de Lacy, earl of Ulster, 1190-1242

Brown Daniel, Fortune’s wheel: the rise, fall and restoration of Hugh II de Lacy, earl of Ulster, 1190-1242, Thèse de doctorat soutenue en 2012, (dir. M.T. Flanagan, Queen’s University Belfast)


This thesis focuses on one of the most fascinating, and neglected, figures in Angevin Ireland. Forged in the crucible of a frontier society, the career of Hugh II de Lacy was in some ways comparable to those of other second-generation Anglo-Norman colonists grappling for power in a contested land. It is the singular aspects of de Lacy’s story which are of most value to the historian. Hugh’s earldom of Ulster was the first comital creation in Ireland, an honour made all the more intriguing by de Lacy’s relatively modest beginnings. Ulster itself was unique among Ireland’s great feudatories, connected to other constituent polities of the Irish Sea world by trade routes, political alliances and kinship. De Lacy was twice a rebel against the king of England, and spent a decade crusading against dualist heretics in southern France. A study of the earl of Ulster, utilising a wide range of source material, is also a touchstone through which wider themes and questions pertinent to thirteenth-century Ireland can be explored. In examination of Hugh’s written acta, we come to know more about how magnates in Ireland viewed themselves; how others perceived them; and how identity might be consciously shaped. The cohesiveness of the settler community in Ireland is also discussed, along with the factors that could make or break aristocratic relationships. Some assumptions about the development of royal power in Ireland are challenged, and de Lacy’s interactions with the English crown shed light on how nobles won, lost and regained favour with the Angevin Lords of Ireland.

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