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View series: Europe and nations, 1815-1914

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The Irish Question

This map is part of a series of 24 animated maps showing the history of Europe and nations, 1815-1914.

The Irish Question dates back to England’s conquest of the island at the end of the 12th century. Over time, the conflict has assumed a religious dimension - Ireland remaining very much catholic, while faced with a protestant England - and an economic dimension, with the dispossession of the Irish of their lands, to the profit of powerful Anglo-Saxon landowners.

In mid-century, a terrible famine wipes out nearly 20% of the population, creates an exodus of more than a million and a half people, and fans the flames of hatred against the British.

Faced with the activism of Irish national movements, London is obliged to make concessions.

From 1870, a series of agrarian laws assures the gradual transfer of a large part of the lands to Irish farmers. On the political plane, at the initiative of the liberal party, the project for an autonomy statute is considered many times by the British Parliament, always raising violent opposition on the part of the Irish Protestants, who constitute the majority in Ulster.

An autonomy statute is finally adopted in 1914, but its implementation is suspended as a consequence of the outbreak of World War I.