Earldom of Desmond
The Kingdom of Desmond was a historic Gaelic kingdom in Ireland.
History of the Kingdom of Desmond
Desmond was located in the province of Munster, encompassing parts of modern-day counties Cork and Kerry in southwestern Ireland. Desmond’s history dates back to ancient Gaelic Ireland, and it was one of the major Irish kingdoms during the Middle Ages. The ruling dynasty of Desmond was the MacCarthy Mór, a prominent Gaelic Irish family.
Desmond maintained a degree of independence and autonomy from the High Kings of Ireland and other external powers. The kingdom’s rulers often asserted their authority and influence over neighboring regions.
During the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, Anglo-Norman invasions and settlements occured in Ireland. While the Anglo-Normans established their control over parts of Ireland, Desmond remained a predominantly Gaelic kingdom. Over time, tensions arose between the Anglo-Norman settlers, who sought to expand their territories, and the Gaelic Irish kingdoms, including Desmond. The conflict between the Anglo-Irish and Gaelic Irish often characterized the political landscape of medieval Ireland.
During the Wars of the Roses in England in the fifteenth century, Desmond became entangled in the political struggles between the Yorkists and Lancastrians. This involvement had an impact on the kingdom’s internal dynamics and relations with the English crown. An English authority in Ireland grew stronger, Desmond faced increasing pressure to conform to English law and customs. Over time, English authority expanded into the region.
In the late sixteenth century, a series of rebellions known as the Desmond Rebellions took place as the MacCarthy Mór dynasty resisted English control. The rebellions were ultimately unsuccessful, and the kingdom of Desmond was gradually dismantled. Following the second Desmond Rebellion (1579-1583), the English crown confiscated large portions of Desmond’s territory and redistributed them to English settlers in a process known as the Munster Plantation. This marked the decline of the Kingdom of Desmond.
Les Merveilles de Rigomer | Jehan, mid to late 13th century