Statute of Kilkenny

language laws in medieval Ireland

The Statute of Kilkenny were a set of laws made by the English in 1367 to try and save the English colony in Ireland. The laws were made by the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, Lionel of Antwerp, 1st Duke of Clarence. They were passed at a meeting of the Irish parliament held at Kilkenny.[1]

The English had difficulty in taking over Ireland. The first English settlers, the Anglo-Irish, began to become Irish in the way they viewed the world. They began to put their own interests ahead of those of the English royalty.[2] The government of Ireland had become weak after the battles with Edward Bruce, and the arrival of the Black Death weakened the country even more. Edward III of England became concerned that the Anglo-Irish were becoming too powerful and threatened his rights and interests in Ireland. He attempted three times to control their increasing independence.

Edward III finally sent his third son, Lionel of Antwerp, to Ireland to try and get back control. He was very concerned that the Anglo-Irish had become more Irish than the Irish themselves.[2] The Statute of Kilkenny were laws designed to bring Ireland back under the control of English born nobles, not English descendants in Ireland. These laws were serious, to break one was seen as treason and could be punished by death. Despite this, after ten years the statutes were dead in the water as a lack of enforcement saw things continue on as they had before.[2]

The laws change

The Statute of Kilkenny had a lot of laws made to separate the English from the Irish.[2] It was against the law for the English in Ireland to:

  • Marry an Irish person
  • Adopt an Irish child
  • Use an Irish name
  • Wear Irish clothes
  • Speak the Irish language
  • Play Irish music
  • Listen to Irish story-tellers
  • Play Irish games
  • Let an Irish person join an English religious house
  • Appoint any Irish clergyman to any church in the English settlement
  • Ride a horse in Irish style, that is, without a saddle.

Because of the weak government, they were not able to make people obey the new laws, and the Anglo-Irish ignored them.[2]

References change

  1. O'Brien, Karen. "A Statute of the Fortieth Year of King Edward III., enacted in a parliament held in Kilkenny, A.D. 1367, before Lionel Duke of Clarence, Lord Lieutenant of Ireland". Retrieved 2009-07-12.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 Joyce, P.W. "The Statute of Kilkenny (1318-1377)". Retrieved 2009-07-12.