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Concepts of Irish - Essay Example

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It has been argued that 'race' as a mechanism of social stratification and as a form of human identity is a recent concept in human history. Prior to the seventeenth century, historical records indicate little evidence of the idea and ideologies associated with race…
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Concepts of Irish
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Download file to see previous pages It cannot be denied that the Vikings invasions throughout Western Europe played a role in the shaping of society, both politically and socially in the ninth and tenth centuries. In his book, Kings and Vikings, Sawyer notes that although the Vikings were disruptive and destructive when raiding, they made a positive contribution to society as conquerors and colonists.(Sawyer, 1994).This is a revised view of Vikings, where previously they were thought to be plundering and murderous villains and is more accurate if we are to take the evidence of the social development due to the Vikings into account.
Ireland was affected strongly by the impact of the Vikings. Before the invasions of the Norse, the Irish were a race of cattle farmers, living mainly inland and there was little commerce or trade within Ireland or between Ireland and the rest of Europe. After the Norse had settled the Irish concentrated on the coastal areas and a rich system of trade developed. This shows that the Vikings had a significant impact on the culture and society of the Irish, without which they would not have developed so quickly.
It is the attitudes of these Normans towards the Irish that is particularly interesting, however. Gerald of Wales describes the Irish people as uniformly barbaric, with only a talent for music to recommend them.
Gerald of Wales was born in about 1147 at Mamobier Castle, Pembrokeshire. His father was a Norman knight, and his mother a Welsh princess. After his studies he became a teacher in Paris. Later he was appointed Court Chaplain to King Henry II.
In 1185 Henry ordered Gerald to accompany Prince John to Ireland. He wrote about these experiences in his books, The Topography of Ireland and The Conquest of Ireland. Gerald was particularly interested in the military tactics used by both sides. Although Gerald was critical of the Irish his book shows concern for the way they were treated by John's army.
In The Topography of Ireland, Gerald of Wales writes in great length of the beauty of the land, all the while keeping it in perspective to Britain, which the author obviously feels is superior in many ways to Ireland. After the beautiful description of the land and its resources, however, Gerald speaks about the rudimentary cultures of the people. "This people are not tenderly nursed from their birth, as others are; for besides the rude fare they receive from their parents, which is only just sufficient for their sustenance, as to the rest, almost all is left to nature. They are not placed in cradles, or swathed, nor are their tender limbs either fomented by constant bathings, or adjusted with art. For the midwives make no use of warm water, nor raise their noses, nor depress the face, nor stretch the legs, but nature alone, with very slight aids from art, disposes and adjusts the limbs to which she has given birth, just as she pleasesBut although they are richly endowed with the gifts of nature, their want of civilization, shown both in their dress and their mental culture, makes them a barbarous people. For they wear but little woollen, and nearly all they use is black, that being the color of the sheep in this country. Their clothes are also made after a barbarous fashion, " (Cambrensis, 2000). It is apparent that Gerald of Wales did not have high respect for much of Irish culture.
In Contrast, Bede the Venerable seemed ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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