Dermot MacMurrough, King of Leinster, who had been exiled by Rory O’Connor, the High King of Ireland, originally invited the Normans to Ireland. Despite O’Connor’s grand title, Ireland was by then divided between warring fiefdoms, and ripe for conquest when MacMurrough returned (1167) with Norman support under Richard Strongbow, Earl of Pembroke. King Henry II followed in person in 1171, proclaiming Waterford and Dublin Royal Cities, and his son John, Lord of Ireland. By the Treaty of Windsor (1175), Henry purported to confine Norman territories to Leinster and the Royal Cities, leaving MacMurrough as king of the rest of the island. In practice, freebooting Norman nobles steadily conquered, then colonized, most of Ireland; the last effective High King, Brian O’Neill of Ulster was vanquished at Down (1260). An Irish Parliament was established (1297), then Norman power declined, hastened by Scottish invasion, rebellions, and the Black Death.
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