Relatively small scale settlements of both the Vikings and Normans in the Middle Ages gave way to complete English domination by the s. Protestant English rule resulted in the marginalisation of the Catholic majority, although in the north-east, Protestants were in the majority due to the Plantation of Ulster. A famine in the mids caused deaths and emigration. The Anglo-Irish War ended in with a stalemate and the signing of the Anglo-Irish Treaty, creating the Irish Free State, a Dominion within the British Empire, with effective internal independence but still constitutionally linked with the British Crown.
Northern Ireland, consisting of six of the 32 Irish counties which had been established as a devolved region under the Government of Ireland Act, immediately exercised its option under the treaty to retain its existing status within the United Kingdom. The Free State left the Commonwealth to become a republic in In both parts of Ireland joined the European Community.
Conflict in Northern Ireland led to much unrest from the late s until the s, which subsided following a peace deal in The population of the island is slightly under 6 million , with 4. This is a significant increase from a modern historical low in the s, but still much lower than the peak population of over 8 million in the early 19th century, prior to the Great Famine. Most other western European names for Ireland, such as French Irlande , derive from the same source.
A long cold climatic spell prevailed until the end of the last glacial period about 9, years ago, and most of Ireland was covered with ice. Sea-levels were lower then, and Ireland, as with its neighbour Britain, rather than being islands, were part of a greater continental Europe. Mesolithic stone age inhabitants arrived some time after BCE. Agriculture arrived with the Neolithic circa to BCE, when sheep, goats, cattle and cereals were imported from southwest continental Europe. Wheat and barley were the principal crops. The Bronze Age, which began around BCE, saw the production of elaborate gold as well as bronze ornaments, weapons and tools.
The Iron Age in Ireland was supposedly associated with people known as Celts. They are traditionally thought to have colonised Ireland in a series of waves between the 8th and 1st centuries BCE, with the Gaels, the last wave of Celts, conquering the island and dividing it into five or more kingdoms. Many scientists and academic scholars now favour a view that emphasises cultural diffusion from overseas over significant colonisation such as what Clonycavan Man was reported to be. Ptolemy in AD recorded Ireland's geography and tribes. Native accounts are confined to Irish poetry, myth, and archaeology.
The exact relationship between Rome and the tribes of Hibernia is unclear; the only references are a few Roman writings. In early medieval times, a monarch also known as the High King presided over the then five: These provinces too had their own kings, who were at least nominally subject to the monarch, who resided at Tara. The written judicial system was the Brehon Law, and it was administered by professional learned jurists who were known as the Brehons.
According to early medieval chronicles, in , Bishop Palladius arrived in Ireland on a mission from Pope Celestine I to minister to the Irish "already believing in Christ. There is continued debate over the missions of Palladius and Patrick, but the general consensus is that they both existed. The Druid tradition collapsed in the face of the spread of the new religion. Irish Christian scholars excelled in the study of Latin and Greek learning and Christian theology in the monasteries that flourished, preserving Latin and Greek learning during the Early Middle Ages.
The arts of manuscript illumination, metalworking, and sculpture flourished and produced such treasures as the Book of Kells, ornate jewellery, and the many carved stone crosses that dot the island. From the 9th century, waves of Viking raiders plundered monasteries and towns, adding to a pattern of endemic raiding and warfare. Eventually Vikings settled in Ireland, and established many towns, including the modern day cities of Dublin, Cork, Limerick and Waterford. From the 13th century, English law began to be introduced. By the late 13th century the Norman-Irish had established the feudal system throughout most of lowland Ireland.
Their settlement was characterised by the establishment of baronies, manors, towns and large land-owning monastic communities, and the county system. In the 14th century the English settlement went into a period of decline and large areas, for example Sligo, were re-occupied by Gaelic septs. This resulted in the complete conquest of Ireland by and the final collapse of the Gaelic social and political superstructure at the end of the 17th century, as a result of English and Scottish Protestant colonisation in the Plantations of Ireland, and the Wars of the Three Kingdoms and the Williamite War in Ireland.
Approximately , people, nearly half the Irish population, died during the Cromwellian conquest of Ireland. After the Irish Rebellion of , Irish Catholics and nonconforming Protestants were barred from voting or attending the Irish Parliament. This ban was followed by others in and as part of a comprehensive system disadvantaging the Catholic community, and to a lesser extent, Protestant dissenters.
The new English Protestant ruling class was known as the Protestant Ascendancy. Towards the end of the 18th century the entirely Protestant Irish Parliament attained a greater degree of independence from the British Parliament than it had previously held. In , many members of the Protestant dissenter tradition made common cause with Catholics in a rebellion inspired and led by the Society of United Irishmen. It was staged with the aim of creating a fully independent Ireland as a state with a republican constitution.
Despite assistance from France the Irish Rebellion of was put down by British forces. The passage of the Act in the Irish Parliament was achieved with substantial majorities, in part according to contemporary documents through bribery, namely the awarding of peerages and honours to critics to get their votes. The Great Famine, which began in the s, caused the deaths of one million Irish people, and caused over a million to emigrate.
By the late s, as a result of the famine, half of all immigrants to the United States originated from Ireland. Mass emigration became entrenched as a result of the famine and the population continued to decline until late in the 20th century. The pre-famine peak was over 8 million recorded in the census.
The population has never returned to this level. The 19th and early 20th century saw the rise of Irish nationalism among the Roman Catholic population. Daniel O'Connell led a successful campaign for Catholic Emancipation, which was passed by the United Kingdom parliament. A subsequent campaign for repeal of the Act of Union failed. Later in the century Charles Stewart Parnell and others campaigned for self-government within the Union or "Home Rule".
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Unionists, especially those located in the Northern part of the island, who considered themselves to be British as well as Irish, were strongly opposed to Home Rule, under which they felt they would be dominated by Catholic and Southern Irish interests. This was followed by the Irish Volunteers, formed in to support the enactment of the Home Rule Act, which was suspended on the outbreak of World War I. Armed rebellions, such as the Easter Rising of and the Irish War of Independence of , occurred in this period.
In , a treaty was concluded between the British Government and the leaders of the Irish Republic. Northern Ireland was presumed to form a home rule state within the new Irish Free State unless it opted out. Northern Ireland had a majority Protestant population and opted out as expected, choosing to rejoin the United Kingdom, incorporating, however, within its border a significant Catholic and nationalist minority. A Boundary Commission was set up to decide on the boundaries between the two Irish states, though it was subsequently abandoned after it recommended only minor adjustments to the border.
Disagreements over some provisions of the treaty led to a split in the nationalist movement and subsequently to the Irish Civil War. The Civil War ended in with the defeat of the anti-treaty forces. Alba is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the southwest.
In addition to the mainland, Scotland consists of over islands including the Northern Isles and the Hebrides. Edinburgh, the country's capital and second largest city, is one of Europe's largest financial centres. Edinburgh was the hub of the Scottish Enlightenment of the 18th century, which transformed Scotland into one of the commercial, intellectual and industrial powerhouses of Europe.
Glasgow, Scotland's largest city, was once one of the world's leading industrial cities and now lies at the centre of the Greater Glasgow conurbation. Scottish waters consist of a large sector of the North Atlantic and the North Sea, containing the largest oil reserves in the European Union. The Kingdom of Scotland was an independent sovereign state prior to 1 May , upon which date she entered into a political union with the Kingdom of England to create the united Kingdom of Great Britain. This union resulted from the Treaty of Union agreed in and enacted by the twin Acts of Union passed by the Parliaments of both countries, despite widespread protest across Scotland.
Scotland's legal system continues to be separate from those of England, Wales, and Northern Ireland and Scotland still constitutes a distinct jurisdiction in public and in private law. The continued independence of Scots law, the Scottish education system, and the Church of Scotland have all contributed to the continuation of Scottish culture and Scottish national identity since the Union. Although Scotland is no longer a separate sovereign state, the constitutional future of Scotland continues to give rise to debate. Repeated glaciations, which covered the entire land-mass of modern Scotland, have destroyed any traces of human habitation that may have existed before the Mesolithic period.
It is believed that the first post-glacial groups of hunter-gatherers arrived in Scotland around 12, years ago, as the ice sheet retreated after the last glaciation. Groups of settlers began building the first known permanent houses on Scottish soil around 9, years ago, and the first villages around 6, years ago. The well-preserved village of Skara Brae on the Mainland of Orkney dates from this period. Neolithic habitation, burial and ritual sites are particularly common and well-preserved in the Northern Isles and Western Isles, where a lack of trees led to most structures being built of local stone.
The written protohistory of Scotland began with the arrival of the Roman Empire in southern and central Great Britain, when the Romans occupied what is now England and Wales, administering it as a province called Britannia. Roman invasions and occupations of southern Scotland were a series of brief interludes. In AD 83—84 the general Gnaeus Julius Agricola defeated the Caledonians at the Battle of Mons Graupius, and Roman forts were briefly set along the Gask Ridge close to the Highland line none are known to have been constructed beyond that line.
Three years after the battle the Roman armies had withdrawn to the Southern Uplands. They erected Hadrian's Wall to control tribes on both sides of the wall, and the Limes Britannicus became the northern border of the empire, although the army held the Antonine Wall in the Central Lowlands for two short periods—the last of these during the time of Emperor Septimius Severus from until The extent of Roman military occupation of any significant part of Scotland was limited to a total of about 40 years, although their influence on the southern section of the country occupied by Brythonic tribes such as the Votadini and Damnonii would still have been considerable.
The Kingdom of the Picts based in Fortriu by the 6th century was the state which eventually became known as "Alba" or "Scotland". The development of "Pictland", according to the historical model developed by Peter Heather, was a natural response to Roman imperialism. Another view places emphasis on the Battle of Dunnichen, and the reign of Bridei m. The Kingdom of the Picts as it was in the early 8th century, when Bede was writing, was largely the same as the kingdom of the Scots in the reign of Alexander — From a base of territory in eastern Scotland north of the River Forth and south of the River Oykel, the kingdom acquired control of the lands lying to the north and south.
By the 12th century, the kings of Alba had added to their territories the English-speaking land in the south-east and attained overlordship of Gaelic-speaking Galloway and Norse-speaking Caithness; by the end of the 13th century, the kingdom had assumed approximately its modern borders. However, processes of cultural and economic change beginning in the 12th century ensured Scotland looked very different in the later Middle Ages. Feudalism, government reorganisation and the first legally defined towns called burghs began in this period.
These institutions and the immigration of French and Anglo-French knights and churchmen facilitated a process of cultural osmosis, whereby the culture and language of the low-lying and coastal parts of the kingdom's original territory in the east became, like the newly acquired south-east, English-speaking, while the rest of the country retained the Gaelic language, apart from the Northern Isles of Orkney and Shetland, which remained under Norse rule until This led to the intervention of Edward I of England, who manipulated this period of confusion to have himself recognised as feudal overlord of Scotland.
Edward organised a process to identify the person with the best claim to the vacant crown, which became known as the Great Cause, and this resulted in the enthronement of John Balliol as king. The Scots were resentful of Edward's meddling in their affairs and this relationship quickly broke down.
War ensued and King John was deposed by his overlord, who took personal control of Scotland. Andrew Moray and William Wallace initially emerged as the principal leaders of the resistance to English rule in what became known as the Wars of Scottish Independence. He was crowned king as Robert I less than seven weeks after the killing.
Robert I battled to win Scottish Independence as King for over 20 years, beginning by winning Scotland back from the English invaders piece by piece. Victory at The Battle of Bannockburn in proved that the Scots had won their kingdom, but it took 14 more years and the production of the world's first documented declaration of independence the Declaration of Arbroath in to finally win legal recognition by the English.
However war with England was to continue for several decades after the death of Bruce, and a civil war between the Bruce dynasty and their long-term Comyn-Balliol rivals lasted until the middle of the 14th century. The Stewarts ruled Scotland for the remainder of the Middle Ages. The country they ruled experienced greater prosperity from the end of the 14th century through the Scottish Renaissance to the Reformation.
This was despite continual warfare with England, the increasing division between Highlands and Lowlands, and a large number of royal minorities. With the exception of a short period under the Protectorate, Scotland remained a separate state, but there was considerable conflict between the crown and the Covenanters over the form of church government.
On 22 July the Treaty of Union was agreed between representatives of the Scots Parliament and the Parliament of England and the following year twin Acts of Union were passed by both parliaments to create the united Kingdom of Great Britain with effect from 1 May The deposed Jacobite Stuart claimants had remained popular in the Highlands and north-east, particularly amongst non-Presbyterians. However, two major Jacobite risings launched in and failed to remove the House of Hanover from the British throne. The threat of the Jacobite movement to the United Kingdom and its monarchs effectively ended at the Battle of Culloden, Great Britain's last pitched battle.
This defeat paved the way for large-scale removals of the indigenous populations of the Highlands and Islands, known as the Highland Clearances. The Scottish Enlightenment and the Industrial Revolution made Scotland into an intellectual, commercial and industrial powerhouse. Only in recent decades has the country enjoyed something of a cultural and economic renaissance. Economic factors which have contributed to this recovery include a resurgent financial services industry, electronics manufacturing and the North Sea oil and gas industry.
Following a referendum on devolution proposals in , the Scotland Act was passed by the United Kingdom Parliament to establish a devolved Scottish Parliament. Cymru has been inhabited by modern humans for at least 29, years. John Davies has theorised that the story of Cantre'r Gwaelod's drowning and tales in the Mabinogion, of the waters between Wales and Ireland being narrower and shallower, may be distant folk memories of this time.
The area became heavily wooded, restricting movement, and people also came to Great Britain by boat, from the Iberian Peninsula.
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These Neolithic colonists integrated with the indigenous people, gradually changing their lifestyles from a nomadic life of hunting and gathering, to become settled farmers—the Neolithic Revolution. In common with people living all over Great Britain, over the following centuries the people living in what was to become known as Wales assimilated immigrants and exchanged ideas of the Bronze Age and Iron Age Celtic cultures. By the time of the Roman invasion of Britain the area of modern Wales had been divided among the tribes of the Deceangli, Ordovices, Cornovii, Demetae and Silures for centuries.
The first documented history of the area that would become Wales was in AD Following attacks by the Silures of south-east Wales, in AD 47 and 48, the Roman historian Tacitus recorded that the governor of the new Roman province of Britannia "received the submission of the Deceangli" in north-east Wales. A string of Roman forts was established across what is now the South Wales region, as far west as Carmarthen Caerfyrddin ; Latin: Maridunum , and gold was mined at Dolaucothi in Carmarthenshire.
There is evidence that the Romans progressed even farther west. They also built the Roman legionary fortress at Caerleon Latin: Isca Silurum , of which the magnificent amphitheatre is the best preserved in Britain. It was in the 4th century during the Roman occupation that Christianity was introduced to Wales. After the Roman withdrawal from Britain in , much of the lowlands were overrun by various Germanic tribes.
They endured, in part because of favourable geographical features such as uplands, mountains, and rivers and a resilient society that did not collapse with the end of the Roman civitas. This tenacious survival by the Romano-Britons and their descendants in the western kingdoms was to become the foundation of what we now know as Wales. With the loss of the lowlands, England's kingdoms of Mercia and Northumbria, and later Wessex, wrestled with Powys, Gwent, and Gwynedd to define the frontier between the two peoples. Having lost much of what is now the West Midlands to Mercia in the sixth and early seventh centuries, a resurgent late-seventh-century Powys checked Mercian advancement.
Aethelbald of Mercia, looking to defend recently acquired lands, had built Wat's Dyke. According to John Davies, this endeavour may have been with Powys king Elisedd ap Gwylog's own agreement, however, for this boundary, extending north from the valley of the River Severn to the Dee estuary, gave Oswestry Welsh: King Offa of Mercia seems to have continued this consultative initiative when he created a larger earthwork, now known as Offa's Dyke Welsh: Davies wrote of Cyril Fox's study of Offa's Dyke:. In the planning of it, there was a degree of consultation with the kings of Powys and Gwent.
On the Long Mountain near Trelystan, the dyke veers to the east, leaving the fertile slopes in the hands of the Welsh; near Rhiwabod, it was designed to ensure that Cadell ap Brochwel retained possession of the Fortress of Penygadden. However, Fox's interpretations of both the length and purpose of the Dyke have been questioned by more recent research.
Offa's Dyke largely remained the frontier between the Welsh and English, though the Welsh would recover by the 12th century the area between the Dee and the Conwy known then as the Perfeddwlad. By the eighth century, the eastern borders with the Anglo-Saxons had broadly been set. Following the successful examples of Cornwall in and Brittany in , the Britons of Wales made their peace with the Vikings and asked the Norsemen to help the Britons fight the Anglo-Saxons of Mercia to prevent an Anglo-Saxon conquest of Wales.
Like Cornwall in , this decisive defeating of the Saxons gave Wales some decades of peace from Anglo-Saxon attack. The southern and eastern lands lost to English settlement became known in Welsh as Lloegyr Modern Welsh: Lloegr , which may have referred to the kingdom of Mercia originally, and which came to refer to England as a whole. The Germanic tribes who now dominated these lands were invariably called Saeson , meaning "Saxons".
The Welsh continued to call themselves Brythoniaid Brythons or Britons well into the Middle Ages, though the first use of Cymru and y Cymry is found as early as in the Gododdin of Aneirin. In Armes Prydain, written in about , the words Cymry and Cymro are used as often as 15 times. It was not until about the 12th century however, that Cymry began to overtake Brythoniaid in their writings.
From the year onwards, a series of dynastic marriages led to Rhodri Mawr's r. His sons in turn would found three principal dynasties Aberffraw for Gwynedd, Dinefwr for Deheubarth, and Mathrafal for Powys , each competing for hegemony over the others. Rhodri's grandson Hywel Dda r. Maredudd ab Owain r. Maredudd's great-grandson through his daughter Princess Angharad Gruffydd ap Llywelyn r. Historian John Davies states that Gruffydd was "the only Welsh king ever to rule over the entire territory of Wales Thus, from about until his death in , the whole of Wales recognised the kingship of Gruffudd ap Llywelyn.
For about seven brief years, Wales was one, under one ruler, a feat with neither precedent nor successor. Later however, a succession of disputes, including the imprisonment of Llywelyn's wife Eleanor, daughter of Simon de Montfort, culminated in the first invasion by Edward I.
As a result of military defeat, the Treaty of Aberconwy exacted Llywelyn's fealty to England in Peace was short lived and with the Edwardian conquest the rule of the Welsh princes permanently ended. With Llywelyn's death and his brother prince Dafydd's execution, the few remaining Welsh lords did homage for their lands to Edward I. Llywelyn's head was then carried through London on a spear; his baby daughter Gwenllian was locked in the priory at Sempringham, where she remained until her death fifty four years later.
To help maintain his dominance, Edward constructed a series of great stone castles. In Owain was reputedly crowned Prince of Wales in the presence of emissaries from France, Spain and Scotland; he went on to hold parliamentary assemblies at several Welsh towns, including Machynlleth. The rebellion was ultimately to founder, however, and Owain went into hiding in , with peace being more or less restored in Wales by Although the English conquest of Wales took place under the Statute of Rhuddlan, a formal Union did not occur until , shortly after which Welsh law, which continued to be used in Wales after the conquest, was fully replaced by English law under the Laws in Wales Acts In the 20th century, Wales saw a revival in its national status.
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Plaid Cymru was formed in , seeking greater autonomy or independence from the rest of the UK. In , the term England and Wales became common for describing the area to which English law applied, and Cardiff was proclaimed as capital city. In the Welsh Language Society Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg was formed in response to fears that the language might soon die out. Nationalism grew, particularly following the flooding of the Tryweryn valley in to create a reservoir supplying water to the English city of Liverpool. Despite 35 of the 36 Welsh Members of Parliament MPs voting against the bill, with the other abstaining, Parliament still passed the bill and the village of Capel Celyn was drowned, highlighting Wales's powerlessness in her own affairs in the face of the numerical superiority of English MPs in the London Parliament.
Welsh Defence Movement were formed as a direct result of the Tryweryn destruction, conducting campaigns from In the years leading up to the investiture of Prince Charles as Prince of Wales in , these groups were responsible for a number of bomb blasts—destroying water pipes, tax and other offices, and part of a dam being built for a new English backed project in Clywedog, Montgomeryshire.
In , the Wales and Berwick Act was repealed for Wales, and a legal definition of Wales, and of the boundary with England was stated. Unwilling or unable to missionize among the Saxons in England, Briton refugees and missionaries such as Saint Patrick [b] and Finnian of Clonard were then responsible for the Christianization of Ireland  and made up the Seven Founder Saints of Brittany.
Extreme weather as around and the attendant famines and disease, particularly the arrival of the Plague of Justinian in Wales around and Ireland around , may have contributed to these missionary efforts. The title of " saint " was used quite broadly by British, Irish, and English Christians. Extreme cases are Irish accounts of Gerald of Mayo 's presiding over 3, saints and Welsh claims that Bardsey Island held the remains of 20, Such communities were organized on tribal models: Similarly, the distance from Rome, hostility to native practices and cults, and relative unimportance of the local sees has left only two local Welsh saints in the General Roman Calendar: Saints David and Winifred.
Insular Christianity developed distinct traditions and practices, most pointedly concerning the computus of Easter , as it produced the most obvious signs of disunity: Although the clasau were rather modest affairs, great monasteries and monastic schools also developed at Llantwit Major Llanilltud Fawr , Bangor , and Iona. The tonsure differed from that elsewhere and also became a point of contention. A distinction that became increasingly important was the nature of church organisation: Prior to their conquest by England, most churches have records of bishops and priest but not an established parish system.
Pre-conquest, most Christians would not attend regular services but relied on members of the monastic communities who would occasionally make preaching tours through the area. At the end of the 6th century, Pope Gregory I dispatched a mission under Augustine of Canterbury to convert the Anglo-Saxons , establish new sees and churches throughout their territories, and reassert papal authority over the native church.
Gregory intended for Augustine to become the metropolitan bishop over all of southern Britain, including the existing dioceses under Welsh and Cornish control.
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Augustine met with British bishops in a series of conferences—known as the Synod of Chester —that attempted to assert his authority and to compel them to abandon aspects of their service that had fallen out of line with Roman practice. The Northumbrian cleric Bede 's Ecclesiastical History of the English People is the only surviving account of these meetings: Augustine focused on seeking assistance for his work among the Saxons and reforming the Britons' obsolete method for calculating Easter ; the clerics responded that they would need to confer with their people and await a larger assembly.
He told them to respond based on Augustine's conduct: As it happened, Augustine did keep his seat, provoking outrage. In the negotiations that followed, he offered to allow the Britons to maintain all their native customs but three: The British clerics rejected all of these, as well as Augustine's authority over them.
The Norman invasion of Wales finally brought Welsh dioceses under England 's control. The development of legends about the mission of Fagan and Deruvian and Philip the Apostle 's dispatch of Joseph of Arimathea in part aimed to preserve the priority and authority of the native establishments at St David's , Llandaff , and Glastonbury. It was not until the death of Bishop Bernard c. Such ideas were used by mediaeval anti-Roman movements such as the Lollards and followers of John Wycliffe ,  as well as by English Catholics during the English Reformation.
The legend that Jesus himself visited Britain is referred to in William Blake 's poem " And did those feet in ancient time ". The words of Blake's poem were set to music in by Hubert Parry as the well-known song "Jerusalem". According to Bede, Saint Ninian was born about , in what is present day Galloway, the son of a chief of the Novantae, apparently a Christian.
He studied under Martin of Tours before returning to his own land about He established himself at Whithorn where he built a church of stone, "Candida Casa". He converted the southern Picts to Christianity,  and died around Ninian's work was carried on by Palladius, who left Ireland to work among the Picts. The mission to the southern Picts apparently met with some setbacks, as Patrick charged Coroticus and the "apostate Picts" with conducting raids on the Irish coast and seizing Christians as slaves. Ternan and Saint Serf followed Palladius. Serf was the teacher of Saint Mungo ,  the apostle of Strathclyde, and patron saint of Glasgow.
A Welshman of noble birth, Saint Petroc was educated in Ireland. He set out in a small boat with a few followers. In a type of peregrinatio , they let God determine their course. The winds and tides brought them to the Padstow estuary. Saint Endelienta was the daughter of the Welsh king Brychan. She also travelled to Cornwall to evangelize the locals. Her brother Nectan of Hartland worked in Devon.
Saint Piran is the patron saint of tin miners. An Irishman, he is said to have floated across to Cornwall after being thrown into the sea tied to a millstone. By the early fifth century the religion had spread to Ireland, which had never been part of the Roman Empire. There were Christians in Ireland before Palladius arrived in as the first missionary bishop sent by Rome. His mission does not seem to have been entirely successful. The subsequent mission of Saint Patrick established churches in conjunction with civitates like his own in Armagh ; small enclosures in which groups of Christians, often of both sexes and including the married, lived together, served in various roles and ministered to the local population.
During the late 5th and 6th centuries true monasteries became the most important centres: Besides Latin, Irish ecclesiastics developed a written form of Old Irish. Connections with the greater Latin West brought the nations of Britain and Ireland into closer contact with the orthodoxy of the councils. The customs and traditions particular to Insular Christianity became a matter of dispute, especially the matter of the proper calculation of Easter.
In addition to Easter dating, Irish scholars and cleric-scholars in continental Europe found themselves implicated in theological controversies but it is not always possible to distinguish when a controversy was based on matters of substance or on political grounds or xenophobic sentiments. The Easter question was settled at various times in different places.
The following dates are derived from Haddan and Stubbs: Cornwall held out the longest of any, perhaps even, in parts, to the time of Bishop Aedwulf of Crediton A uniquely Irish penitential system was eventually adopted as a universal practice of the Church by the Fourth Lateran Council of Caitlin Corning identifies four customs that were common to both the Irish and British churches but not used elsewhere in the Christian world. Easter was originally dated according to Hebrew calendar , which tried to place Passover on the first full moon following the Spring equinox but did not always succeed.
In his Life of Constantine , Eusebius records that the First Council of Nicaea decided that all Christians should observe a common date for Easter separate from the Jewish calculations, according to the practice of the bishops of Rome and Alexandria. Various tables were drawn up, aiming to produce the necessary alignment between the solar year and the phases of the calendrical moon. The less exact 8-year cycle was replaced by or by the time of Augustalis 's treatise " On the measurement of Easter ", which includes an year cycle based on Meton.
This was introduced to Britain, whose clerics at some point modified it to use the Julian calendar 's original equinox on 25 March instead of the Nicaean equinox, which had already drifted to 21 March. This calendar was conserved by the Britons and Irish  while the Romans and French began to use the Victorian cycle of years. The Romans but not the French then adopted the still-better work of Dionysius in , which brought them into harmony with the Church of Alexandria. In the early s Christians in Ireland and Britain became aware of the divergence in dating between them and those in Europe.
The groups furthest away from the Gregorian mission were generally the readiest to acknowledge the superiority of the new tables: The abbey at Iona and its satellites held out until ,  while the Welsh did not adopt the Roman and Saxon computus until induced to do so around by Elfodd , "archbishop" of Bangor. All monks of the period, and apparently most or all clergy, kept a distinct tonsure , or method of cutting one's hair, to distinguish their social identity as men of the cloth. In Ireland men otherwise wore longish hair, and a shaved head was worn by slaves.
The prevailing "Roman" custom was to shave a circle at the top of the head, leaving a halo of hair or corona ; this was eventually associated with the imagery of Christ's Crown of Thorns. The exact shape of the Irish tonsure is unclear from the early sources, although they agree that the hair was in some way shorn over the head from ear to ear. Mabillon's version was widely accepted, but contradicts the early sources.
In Christian Ireland — as well as Pictish and English peoples they Christianised — a distinctive form of penance developed, where confession was made privately to a priest, under the seal of secrecy, and where penance was given privately and ordinarily performed privately as well. In antiquity, penance had been a public ritual.
Penitents were divided into a separate part of the church during liturgical worship, and they came to mass wearing sackcloth and ashes in a process known as exomologesis that often involved some form of general confession. The Irish penitential practice spread throughout the continent, where the form of public penance had fallen into disuse. Saint Columbanus was credited with introducing the medicamenta paentitentiae , the "medicines of penance", to Gaul at a time when they had come to be neglected.
A final distinctive tradition common across Britain and Ireland was the popularity of peregrinatio pro Christo "exile for Christ". The term peregrinatio is Latin , and referred to the state of living or sojourning away from one's homeland in Roman law. It was later used by the Church Fathers , in particular Saint Augustine of Hippo , who wrote that Christians should live a life of peregrinatio in the present world while awaiting the Kingdom of God. Augustine's version of peregrinatio spread widely throughout the Christian church, but it took two additional unique meanings in Celtic countries.
In the first sense, the penitentials prescribed permanent or temporary peregrinatio as penance for certain infractions. Additionally, there was a tradition of undertaking a voluntary peregrinatio pro Christo , in which individuals permanently left their homes and put themselves entirely in God's hands. In the Irish tradition there were two types of such peregrinatio , the "lesser" peregrinatio, involving leaving one's home area but not the island, and the "superior" peregrinatio, which meant leaving Ireland for good.
This voluntary exile to spend one's life in a foreign land far from friends and family came to be termed the "white martyrdom".
Most peregrini or exiles of this type were seeking personal spiritual fulfilment, but many became involved in missionary endeavours. The Briton Saint Patrick became the evangelist of Ireland during what he called his peregrinatio there, while Saint Samson left his home to ultimately become Bishop in Brittany. The Irishmen Columba and Columbanus similarly founded highly important religious communities after leaving their homes. A number of other distinctive traditions and practices existed or are taken to have existed in Britain or Ireland, but are not known to have been in use across the entire region.
Different writers and commenters have identified different traditions as representative of so-called Celtic Christianity. Its spirituality was heavily influenced by the Desert Fathers. According to Richard Woods, the familial, democratic, and decentralized aspects of Egyptian Christianity were better suited to structures and values of Celtic culture than was a legalistic diocesan form. Some more austere ascetics became hermits living in remote locations in what came to be called the "green martyrdom".
The claim is made that the true Ecclesiastical power in the Celtic world lay in the hands of abbots of monasteries , rather than the Bishop of Diocesess. Following the growth of the monastic movement in the 6th century, Abbots controlled not only individual monasteries, but also expansive estates and the secular communities that tended them.
They are generally described as having fair or red hair, and blue eyes. But the same description has been attributed to the peoples of Scythia. The Romans modified this to the Celtae and the Galli. But although there were to be found throughout Europe and as far as the Black Sea, the Celts as a people do not seem to have existed. They were instead a great number of tribes who appeared to have acted, for the most part, independently of one another.
There was no Celtic Emperor, nor common leader. They had no central administration, no form of government outside of what was determined individually by the tribes. They had no unified army which could be called upon in times of war against a common foe.
Perhaps because the European Celts, such as they were, had no common foe. The problem of identifying who, in fact were "Celtic" and who were not and the extent of Celtic culture might be solved if we were more knowledgeable as to which of the tribes identified by the Greeks and the Romans were indigenous and which were not. This is particularly true in the Iberian Peninsula. Speaking of the Keltoi of Iberia, Herodotus identified them in a region close to the Algarve in southern Portugal, yet Aristotle claims they were above Iberia in a very cold region.
Although the northwest is colder than Portugal, even during the winter, it could hardly be described as very cold - very wet, maybe. The interior of Castilla, however, can be downright chilly in the winter. It would appear that there is little agreement.