Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The Pale or the English Pale comprised a region in a radius of 20 miles around Dublin which the English in Ireland gradually fortified against incursion from Gaelic Ireland. From the thirteenth century onwards the Anglo-Norman invasion in the rest of Ireland at first faltered then waned, allowing Gaelic Ireland to become resurgent.
In the 15th century the Pale became the only real piece of Ireland under the control of the English King's Dublin government and a tenuous foothold for the English on the island of Ireland.
The Pale boundary essentially consisted of a fortified ditch and rampart (the word "pale" has etymological links with palisade) built around parts of the medieval counties of Louth, Meath, Dublin and Kildare, actually leaving half of Meath and Kildare on the other side. In 1366, in order for the English Crown to assert its authority over the settlers, a parliament was assembled in Kilkenny and the Statute of Kilkenny was established. The statute decreed that inter-marriage between English settlers and Irish natives was forbidden. It also forbade the settlers using the Irish language and adopting Irish modes of dress or other customs. It is from reference to the practices of the Irish outside of the Pale that the English phrase "beyond the pale" originates.
Within the confines of the Pale the leading gentry and merchants lived lives not too different from that of their counterparts in England, except that they lived under the constant fear of attack from the Gaelic Irish.
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