No Other Law

"We have declared for an Irish Republic.
We will live by no other law."

General Liam Lynch,
Irish Republican Army.


In 1155, Nicholas Breakspear, the only Englishman ever to have served as Pope, issued the papal bull Laudabiliter granting the Lordship of Ireland to Henry II Plantagenet, King of England. The bull would form the basis for all English claims to sovereignty in Ireland until the Protestant Reformation.

ADRIAN, bishop, servant of the servants of God, to his most dearly beloved son in Christ, the illustrious king of the English, greeting and apostolical blessing.

Laudably and profitably doth your Majesty consider how you may best extend the glory of your name on earth and lay up for yourself an eternal reward in heaven, when, as becomes a Catholic prince, you labour to extend the borders of the Church, to teach the truths of the Christian faith to a rude and unlettered people, and to root out the weeds of vice from the field of the Lord; and to accomplish your design more effectually you crave the advice and assistance of the Apostolic See, and in so doing we are persuaded that the higher are your aims, and the more discreet your proceedings, the greater, under God, will be your success; because, whatever has its origin in ardent faith and in love of religion, always has a prosperous end and issue. Certainly it is beyond a doubt, as your Highness acknowledgeth, that Ireland and all the other islands, on which the Gospel of Christ hath dawned and which have received the knowledge of the Christian faith, belong of right to St Peter and the holy Roman Church. Wherefore we are the more desirous to sow in them the acceptable seed of God's word, because we know that it will be strictly required of us hereafter. You have signified to us, our well-beloved son in Christ, that you propose to enter the island of Ireland in order to subdue the people and make them obedient to laws, and to root out from among them the weeds of sin; and that you are willing to yield and pay yearly from every house the pension of one penny to St Peter, and to keep and preserve the rights of the churches in that land whole and inviolate.

We, therefore, regarding your pious and laudable design with due favour, and graciously assenting to your petition, do hereby declare our will and pleasure, that, for the purpose of enlarging the borders of the Church, setting bounds to the progress of wickedness, reforming evil manners, planting virtue, and increasing the Christian religion, you do enter and take possession of that island, and execute therein whatsoever shall be for God's honour and the welfare of the same.

And, further, we do also strictly charge and require that the people of that land shall accept you with all honour, and dutifully obey you, as their liege lord, saving only the rights of the churches, which we will have inviolably preserved; and reserving to St Peter and the holy Roman Church the yearly pension of one penny from each house. If, therefore, you bring your purpose to good effect, let it be your study to improve the habits of that people, and take such orders by yourself, or by others whom you shall think fitting, for their lives, manners and conversation, that the Church there may be adorned by them, the Christian faith be planted and increased, and all that concerns the honour of God and the salvation of souls be ordered by you in like manner; so that you may receive at God's hands the blessed reward of everlasting life, and may obtain on earth a glorious name in ages to come.

The text of Laudabiliter is disputed. No original copy survives and the text above comes from the Expugnatio Hibernica of Giraldus Cambrensis, an unreliable Norman propagandist. The existence of a papal grant was not disputed in the medieval period however, and the English monarchy held or attempted to hold Ireland as a papal fief until Henry VIII declared himself "King of Ireland" in 1542 following his break with Rome.