The Marriage of Aoife and Strongbow

  August 29, 2013 at 6:00 am by

August 29th marks a long forgotten royal anniversary and possibly the blog’s first entry on an Irish Royal.

The Princess in question was Aoife (Eva) MacMurrough {Aoife of Leinster}, daughter of Dermot MacMurrough, King of Leinster, and Queen Mór O’Toole. Aoife was born around 1145, her father had been the King of Leinster since the death of his older brother in 1126. Leinster was one of the largest of the various Irish Kingdoms. Dermot however had made many enemies and his abduction of the beautiful Queen Derbforgaill, wife of the King of Bréifne, would cause him to lose his kingdom.

In 1166, Leinster was invaded by the High King Of Ireland and his Bréifne allies, Dermot was deposed and fled to Wales. He later travelled to the court of King Henry II, where he sought Norman military support to help he regain his Kingdom. Though Henry II could not offer any support, he had no objection to any Norman Lord aiding the deposed King.

On his return to Wales, Dermot met with Richard de Clare, 2nd Earl of Pembroke who is better known as ‘Strongbow’. Dermot offered the Earl the hand of his daughter, Princess Aoife, in marriage if Strongbow and his Norman Barons would invade Leinster and restore Dermot as King. In 1169, Strongbow and his Norman army landed and Leinster was conquered with both Dublin and Waterford in Dermot’s hand.

The King then named his daughter Aoife as heir and on August 29th, she was married to Strongbow at Christ Church Cathedral in Waterford. Aoife and Strongbow had one son and two daughters, and Aoife herself is the ancestress to many Kings and Queens of England.

The marriage of Aoife and Strongbow heralded the begining of the end for Gaelic Ireland and the dawn of the Norman conquest of Ireland. Her father died despised and loathed in May 1171, but his son Donal was proclaimed King of Leinster, rather than Aoife. This was disputed by Strongbow and his Norman supporters who regrded him as the legitimate successor as the husband of Aoife.

However Strongbow died April 1176 and was buried at Christchurch Cathedral in Dublin. His wife was last mentioned in 1188 and is believed to have died in Wales and was buried at Tintern Abbey. Her daughter Isabel de Clare lived until 1220 and had married William Marshal, Earl of Pembroke and Lord Marshall of England.

By the time of her death, the Norman Invasion and conquest of Ireland was well under way.

Filed under Historical Royals
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