Early Irish kingship and succession
Early medieval Ireland was politically fragmented, with a multitude of lordships and kingships ruled by dynasties of which many were genealogically inter-related. This book begins by discussing the political power of the Irish lords and kings over their subjects, their roles as mediators between natural and divine forces and their position as rulers over their subjects. It then moves on to a detailed analysis of the rule of succession in early Ireland. A lord or king had to be qualified for his office, and for this many considerations were taken into account, such as his pedigree, the status of his mother, his behaviour and his physical appearance. The meaning of the titles rigdamna and the office of tanaise rig are also examined.
The Irish custom of succession forms the background to the tendency of close and distant relatives to compete for power and of the ruling dynasties to expand and fragment. It also explains why it was so difficult for one dynasty to become permanently paramount in Ireland. The book concludes with a discussion of the nature of the kingship of Tara.
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