Dublin was the capital of the English Lordship of Ireland. Largely ignored by England, Dublin, had, by the 14th century, become a beleaguered enclave, huddled behind its Pale defences and forced to pay tribute to the predatory Irish clans. The Irish were meant to be excluded from the city, confined to the exurban Liberties, as the Norse had been exiled north of the river to Oxmantown. However, after the devastations inflicted by Edward the Bruce’s Scots armies (1315–17) and the Black Death (1348–50), such segregation lapsed. Dublin enjoyed a modest prosperity from its Charter as a Royal port: its market hall, the Tholsel, erected Ireland’s first public mechanical clock in the 15th century, but its population never exceeded 20,000. Then the overweening Fitzgeralds, Lords Deputies of Ireland, supported the pretenders Lambert Simnel and Perkin Warbeck against the Tudors. In 1537, Henry VIII decided enough was enough, sent a large army to Dublin, and had ‘Silken Thomas’ Fitzgerald executed.
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