Prehistoric Ireland spans a period from the first known settlement around 8000 BCE until the emergence of "protohistoric" Gaelic Ireland at the time of Christianization in the 5th century. Christianity subsumed or replaced the earlier polytheism and other forms of Celtic Christianity by the end of the 7th century.
The Norman invasion of the late 12th century marked the beginning of more than 700 years of direct English rule and, later, British involvement in Ireland. In 1177 Prince John Lackland was made Lord of Ireland by his father Henry II of England at the Council of Oxford. The Crown did not attempt to assert full control of the island until the rebellion of the Earl of Kildare threatened English hegemony. Henry VIII proclaimed himself King of Ireland and also tried to introduce the English Reformation, which failed in Ireland. Attempts to either conquer or assimilate the Irish lordships into the Kingdom of Ireland provided the initial impetus for a series of Irish military campaigns between 1534 and 1603. This period was marked by a Crown policy of plantation, involving the arrival of thousands of English and Scottish Protestant settlers, and the consequent displacement of the pre-plantation Catholic landholders. As the military and political defeat of Gaelic Ireland became more pronounced in the early seventeenth century, sectarian conflict became a recurrent theme in Irish history.
The 1614 overthrow of the Catholic majority in the Irish Parliament was realised principally through the creation of numerous new boroughs which were dominated by the new settlers. By the end of the seventeenth century, recusants (as adherents to the older religion were now termed), representing some 85% of Ireland's population, were then banned from the Irish Parliament. Protestant domination of Ireland was confirmed after two periods of war between Catholics and Protestants in 1641-52 and 1689-91. Political power thereafter rested entirely in the hands of a Protestant Ascendancy minority, while Catholics and members of dissenting Protestant denominations suffered severe political and economic privations under the Penal Laws. The Irish Parliament was abolished from 1 January 1801 in the wake of the republican United Irishmen Rebellion and Ireland became an integral part of a new United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland under the provisions of the Acts of Union 1800. Although promised a repeal of the Test Act, Catholics were not granted full rights until Catholic Emancipation was attained throughout the new UK in 1829. This was followed by the first Reform Act 1832, a principal condition of which was the removal of the poorer British and Irish freeholders from the franchise.
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