The Union of Britain and Ireland 1800-1801

Ref: C2345509

The Act of Union passed in January 1801 was intended to solve "the Irish question" once and for all but failed, largely because of a failure to keep promises of Catholic emancipation. This course will look at some of the significant events in Ireland from Tudor times, when Protestantism became accepted by the majority in England but not by the majority of Irish people, who remained firmly Catholic despite persecution. We'll examine the creation of the Society of United Irishmen in the 18th century and how this organisation aimed to make Ireland an independent republic for people of both Protestant and Catholic faiths, but how the Society's alliance with France influenced the British government to introduce the Act of Union. We'll also see how Catholic emancipation, promised as part of the Act, was delayed by powerful Protestants with the support of King George III, and how this delay had important consequences for the future, some of which are still being felt today.

Course aim

To examine the reasons why the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland came into being on 1 January 1801, supported by many Catholics in Ireland who believed that they would be granted emancipation but who soon found their hopes dashed.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • This course is for beginners

By the end of the course I should be able to:

  • Outline what the Society of United Irishmen hoped to achieve by the rebellion of 1798.
  • Explain why the Parliament of Ireland had failed to represent Catholics.
  • Give some reasons why the British government believed the Act of Union was necessary.
  • Discuss Daniel O'Connell's role in the achievement of Catholic emancipation in 1829.
  • Suggest why the delay in Catholic emancipation had long-term consequences.

How will I be taught?

What kind of feedback can I expect?

What else do I need to know?

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

What can I do next?

View full course information sheet

The Union of Britain and Ireland 1800-1801


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