The participation of the Anglo-Norman nobility from the coastal
Pale in the Wars of the Roses greatly impaired English strength
in Ireland. When Henry VII became king of England, he left Gerald
Fitzgerald, 8th Earl of Kildare, as viceroy of Ireland, although
Kildare belonged to the Yorkist party.
The assistance rendered by Kildare to the Yorkist pretenders Lambert
Simnel and Perkin Warbeck, however, finally compelled the king to
replace him in 1494 with the English soldier and diplomat Sir Edward
Poynings. Poynings represented the purely English interest, as distinct
from the Anglo-Norman interest, which up to that time had prevailed
in Ireland. He at once summoned the Parliament of Drogheda, which
enacted legislation providing for the defence of the Pale and the
reduction of the power of the Anglo-Irish lords.
The nobility was forbidden to oppress the inferior baronage, to
make exaction upon the tenantry, or to assemble their armed retainers;
and the Statutes of Kilkenny, which compelled the English and Irish
to live apart and prohibited Irish law and customs in the Pale,
were confirmed. All state offices, including the judgeships, were
filled by the English king instead of by the viceroys, and the entire
body of English law was declared to hold for the Pale.
Most important of all was the so-called Poynings Law, which made
the Irish Parliament dependent on the English king by providing
that all proposed legislation should first be announced to the king
and meet with his approval, after which he would issue the licence
to hold Parliament.
In 1494 Henry VII eventually re-established Kildare, the most powerful
of the Irish nobles, as viceroy, and under Kildare's rule the Pale
grew and prospered. After Kildare's death in 1513, the power of
the Geraldine family steadily declined, as his successor, his son
Gerald Fitzgerald (known as Garret Óg), spent much of his time under
careful scrutiny at the court of Henry VIII.
Rumours of the earl's death in 1534 precipitated a revolt by his
son Thomas Fitzgerald, known as Silken Thomas. The rebellion was
soon quashed and Thomas's execution in 1537 marked the end of the