Brest is a city in the Finistère département in Brittany. Located in a sheltered bay not far from the western tip of the peninsula, the western extremity of metropolitan France, Brest is an important harbour and the second French military port after Toulon; the city is located on the western edge of continental Europe. With 142,722 inhabitants in a 2007 census, Brest is at the centre of Western Brittany's largest metropolitan area, ranking third behind only Nantes and Rennes in the whole of historic Brittany, the 19th most populous city in France. Although Brest is by far the largest city in Finistère, the préfecture of the department is the much smaller Quimper. During the Middle Ages, the history of Brest was the history of its castle. Richelieu made it a military harbour. Brest grew around its arsenal until the second part of the 20th century. Damaged by the Allies' bombing raids during World War II, the city centre was rebuilt after the war. At the end of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st century, the deindustrialization of the city was followed by the development of the service sector.
Nowadays, Brest is an important university town with 23,000 students. Besides a multidisciplinary university, the University of Western Brittany and its surrounding area possess several prestigious French elite schools such as École Navale, Télécom Bretagne and the Superior National School of Advanced Techniques of Brittany. Brest is an important research centre focused on the sea, with among others the largest Ifremer centre, le Cedre and the French Polar Institute. Brest's history has always been linked to the sea: the Académie de Marine was founded in 1752 in this city; the aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle was built there. Every four years, Brest hosts the international festival of the sea and sailors: it is a meeting of old riggings from around the world; the name of the town is first recorded as Bresta. In 1342, John IV, Duke of Brittany, surrendered Brest to the English, in whose possession it was to remain until 1397; the importance of Brest in medieval times was great enough to give rise to the saying, "He is not the Duke of Brittany, not the Lord of Brest."
With the marriage of Francis I of France to Claude, the daughter of Anne of Brittany, the definitive overlordship of Brest – together with the rest of the duchy – passed to the French crown. The advantages of Brest's situation as a seaport town were first recognized by Cardinal Richelieu, who in 1631 constructed a harbour with wooden wharves; this soon became a base for the French Navy. Jean-Baptiste Colbert, finance minister under Louis XIV, rebuilt the wharves in masonry and otherwise improved the harbour. Fortifications by Vauban followed in 1680–1688; these fortifications, with them the naval importance of the town, were to continue to develop throughout the 18th century. In 1694, an English squadron under Lord Berkeley was soundly defeated in its attack on Brest. In 1917, during the First World War, Brest was used as the disembarking port for many of the troops coming from the United States. Thousands of such men came through the port on their way to the front lines; the United States Navy established a naval air station on 13 February 1918 to operate seaplanes.
The base closed shortly after the Armistice of 11 November 1918. In the Second World War, the Germans maintained a large U-boat submarine base at Brest. Despite being within range of RAF bombers, it was a base for some of the German surface fleet, giving repair facilities and direct access to the Atlantic Ocean. For much of 1941, Scharnhorst and Prinz Eugen were under repair in the dockyards; the repair yard facilities for both submarines and surface vessels were staffed by both German and French workers, with the latter forming the major part of the workforce. In 1944, after the Allied invasion of Normandy, the city was totally destroyed during the Battle for Brest, with only a tiny number of buildings left standing. After the war, the West German government paid several billion Deutschmarks in reparations to the homeless and destitute civilians of Brest in compensation for the destruction of their city. Large parts of today's rebuilt city consist of utilitarian concrete buildings; the French naval base now houses the Brest Naval Training Centre.
A wartime German navy memorandum suggested that the town should serve as a German enclave after the war. In 1972, the French Navy opened its nuclear weapon-submarine base at Île Longue in the Rade de Brest; this continues to be an important base for the French nuclear-armed ballistic missile submarines. The meaning of the coat of arms of Brest is half France, half Brittany; these arms were used for the first time in a register of deliberations of the city council dated the 15 July 1683. Brest is best known for the military arsenal and the rue de Siam; the castle and the Tanguy tower are the oldest monuments of Brest
Chief of the Air Staff (United Kingdom)
The Chief of the Air Staff is the professional head of the Royal Air Force and a member of both the Chiefs of Staff Committee and the Air Force Board. The post was created in 1918 with Major General Sir Hugh Trenchard as the first incumbent; the current and 29th Chief of the Air Staff is Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Hillier, who succeeded Sir Andrew Pulford in July 2016. The post of Chief of the Air Staff was established in January 1918, just prior to the official formation of the Royal Air Force, its first occupant was Major General Sir Hugh Trenchard. Following Trenchard's resignation in March 1918 after disagreements with the first air minister, Lord Rothermere, his rival Major General Sir Frederick Sykes was appointed. For political reasons Trenchard's resignation did not take effect until late April in order that he would be CAS when the RAF was formed. With Winston Churchill's post-war appointment as Secretary of State for War and Air, Sykes was moved sideways to head up the nascent Civil Aviation ministry and Trenchard returned as CAS.
In the early 1920s, Trenchard had to fight to keep the RAF from being divided and absorbed back into the Royal Navy and the British Army. After Lord Trenchard retired in 1930 there were still suggestions that the RAF should be broken up, but Trenchard's foundations proved solid. By the time the Second World War broke out in 1939, the occupant of the post, Air Chief Marshal Sir Cyril Newall, had a service, undergoing the most rapid of expansions during the British rearmament programs of the late 1930s. Newall gave way in 1940 to Air Chief Marshal Sir Charles Portal, who led the service for the rest of the war. Portal was a tireless defender of the RAF and capable in administration and strategy. Postwar the RAF was reoriented to perform the dual roles of defending the shrinking British Empire and fighting against the Soviet Union in a Warsaw Pact verses NATO war over Germany and the United Kingdom; the Chiefs of the Air Staff of the day had to fight a constant battle to keep the British aircraft industry alive.
In the end only minimal success was achieved, with only a rump aviation industrial base left by the 1970s. The first eight Chiefs of the Air Staff were commissioned in the British Army, with four coming from the infantry, two from the artillery and one each from the cavalry and the engineers. Of these both Lord Trenchard and Sir John Salmond each held the post over two separate periods. By the early mid-1950s sufficient time had elapsed for officers commissioned in the British air services of the First World War to have risen through the ranks to RAF's senior post. In 1956 Sir Dermot Boyle became the first CAS to have been commissioned in the RAF; the following list gives details of the chiefs of the air staff from 1918 to the present: ^ The ranks and titles shown are the highest that the officer in question attained during his tour as Chief of the Air Staff. However, in the case where the officer was promoted on the day before he was posted or retired the lower rank is shown. Air Marshal Mike Wigston will be promoted air chief marshal and succeed Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Hillier as Chief of the Air Staff in 2019.
Chief of the Defence Staff First Sea Lord / Chief of the Naval Staff Chief of the General Staff Chief of Air Force Chief of the Air Staff CAS Air Power Workshop
Marshal of the Royal Air Force
Marshal of the Royal Air Force is the highest rank in the British Royal Air Force. In peacetime it was granted to RAF officers in the appointment of Chief of the Defence Staff, to retired Chiefs of the Air Staff, who were promoted to it on their last day of service. While surviving marshals of the RAF retain the rank for life, the highest rank to which officers on active service are promoted is now air chief marshal. Although general promotions to Marshal of the Royal Air Force have been discontinued since the British defence cuts of the 1990s, further promotions to the rank may still be made in wartime, for members of the Royal Family and certain senior RAF air officers in peacetime at the discretion of the monarch. In 2012, Prince of Wales was promoted to the rank while in 2014 Lord Stirrup, who had served as Chief of the Air Staff and Chief of the Defence Staff for over seven years, was promoted. Marshal of the Royal Air Force is a five-star rank and unlike the air marshal ranks, can properly be considered a marshal rank.
MRAF has a NATO ranking code of OF-10, equivalent to an admiral of the fleet in the Royal Navy or a field marshal in the British Army. The rank was instituted in 1919 and the first officer to be promoted to MRAF was Sir Hugh Trenchard in 1927. Since that time, including Trenchard, there have been 27 men. Of those, 22 have been professional RAF officers and five have been senior members of the British Royal Family. King George V did not formally hold the rank of marshal of the RAF. In this capacity from time to time he wore RAF uniform with the rank insignia of a marshal of the RAF, he first publicly wore such uniform in the year before his death. Excluding monarchs and other members of the Royal Family, the only two RAF officers to have held the rank without serving as Chief of the Air Staff were Lord Douglas of Kirtleside and Sir Arthur Harris. Both held high command during the Second World War. Harris was Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief Bomber Command and Douglas was Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief Fighter Command, Middle East Command and Coastal Command.
Prior to the creation of the RAF's officer rank titles in 1919, it was proposed that by analogy with field marshal, the highest rank title should be air marshal. It was decided to use the rank of air marshal as an equivalent rank to lieutenant general and "marshal of the air" was put forward as the highest RAF rank; this new rank title was opposed by the Chief of the Imperial General Staff, Sir Henry Wilson, who considered that the title was "ridiculous". However, the Chief of the Air Staff, Sir Hugh Trenchard was unmoved and the title was adopted. Though never held by a Royal Air Force officer, the rank title of marshal of the air lasted until April 1925, when it was changed to marshal of the Royal Air Force. Questioned in the House of Commons, Secretary of State for Air Sir Samuel Hoare stated that the reason for the change in title was that marshal of the air was "somewhat indefinite in character" and the new title was deemed more appropriate, it has been reported that King George V was not happy with the title of marshal of the air, feeling it might imply attributes which should properly be reserved for God.
The rank insignia consists of four narrow light blue bands above a light blue band on a broad black band. This insignia is derived from the sleeve lace of an admiral of the fleet and is worn on both the lower sleeves of the tunic or on the shoulders of the flying suit or the service working dress uniform. Marshals of the Royal Air Force wear shoulder boards with their service dress at ceremonial events; these shoulder boards show the air officer's eagle surrounded by a wreath, two crossed marshal's batons and, since the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, the St Edward's Crown representing royal authority. Prior to 1953, the Tudor Crown was used; the command flag of a marshal of the Royal Air Force has a broad red horizontal band in the centre with a thinner red band on each side of it. The vehicle star plate for a marshal of the Royal Air Force depicts five white stars on an air force blue background; the rank insignia and flag exists in some other air forces for equivalent ranks. The rank title differs often being a variation on marshal of the air force with the name of the relevant air force in place of the words'Royal Air Force'.
A notable example of this practice is the rank of marshal of the Royal Australian Air Force. Unlike other MRAFs who only relinquished their appointments, Sir Peter Harding resigned from the RAF in 1994, his name is no longer to be found in the Air Force List. Comparative military ranks General of the air force List of Royal Air Force air chief marshals Marshal of the air force RAF officer ranks Media related to Marshals of the Royal Air Force at Wikimedia Commons
Royal Victorian Order
The Royal Victorian Order is a dynastic order of knighthood established in 1896 by Queen Victoria. It recognises distinguished personal service to the monarch of the Commonwealth realms, members of the monarch's family, or to any viceroy or senior representative of the monarch; the present monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, is the sovereign of the order, the order's motto is Victoria, its official day is 20 June. The order's chapel is the Savoy Chapel in London. There is no limit on the number of individuals honoured at any grade, admission remains at the sole discretion of the monarch, with each of the order's five grades and one medal with three levels representing different levels of service. While all those honoured may use the prescribed styles of the order—the top two grades grant titles of knighthood, all grades accord distinct post-nominal letters—the Royal Victorian Order's precedence amongst other honours differs from realm to realm and admission to some grades may be barred to citizens of those realms by government policy.
Prior to the close of the 19th century, most general honours within the British Empire were bestowed by the sovereign on the advice of her British ministers, who sometimes forwarded advice from ministers of the Crown in the Dominions and colonies. Queen Victoria thus established on 21 April 1896 the Royal Victorian Order as a junior and personal order of knighthood that allowed her to bestow directly to an empire-wide community honours for personal services; the organisation was founded a year preceding Victoria's Diamond Jubilee, so as to give the Queen time to complete a list of first inductees. The order's official day was made 20 June of each year, marking the anniversary of Queen Victoria's accession to the throne. In 1902, King Edward VII created the Royal Victorian Chain "as a personal decoration for royal personages and a few eminent British subjects" and it was the highest class of the Royal Victorian Order, it is today distinct from the order, though it is issued by the chancery of the Royal Victorian Order.
After 1931, when the Statute of Westminster came into being and the Dominions of the British Empire became independent states, equal in status to Britain, the Royal Victorian Order remained an honour open to all the King's realms. The order was open to foreigners from its inception, the Prefect of Alpes-Maritimes and the Mayor of Nice being the first to receive the honour in 1896; the reigning monarch is at the apex of the Royal Victorian Order as its Sovereign, followed by the Grand Master. Queen Elizabeth II appointed her daughter, Princess Royal, to the position in 2007. Below the Grand Master are five officials of the organisation: the Chancellor, held by the Lord Chamberlain. Thereafter follow those honoured with different grades of the order, divided into five levels: the highest two conferring accolades of knighthood and all having post-nominal letters and, the holders of the Royal Victorian Medal in either gold, silver or bronze. Foreigners may be admitted as honorary members, there are no limits to the number of any grade, promotion is possible.
The styles of knighthood are not used by princes, princesses, or peers in the uppermost ranks of the society, save for when their names are written in their fullest forms for the most official occasions. Retiring Deans of the Royal Peculiars of St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle and Westminster Abbey are customarily inducted as Knights Commander. Prior to 1984, the grades of Lieutenant and Member were classified as Members and Members but both with the post-nominals MVO. On 31 December of that year, Queen Elizabeth II declared that those in the grade of Member would henceforth be Lieutenants with the post-nominals LVO; the current officers of the Royal Victorian Order are as follows: Sovereign: Queen Elizabeth II, since 1952 Grand Master: Anne, Princess Royal, since 2007 Chancellor: William Peel, 3rd Earl Peel, as Lord Chamberlain, since 2006 Secretary: Sir Alan Reid, as Keeper of the Privy Purse, since 2002 Registrar: Lieutenant Colonel Michael Vernon, as Secretary of the Central Chancery of the Orders of Knighthood Chaplain: Peter Galloway, as Chaplain of the Queen's Chapel of the Savoy, since 2008 Upon admission into the Royal Victorian Order, members are given various insignia of the organisation, each grade being represented by different emblems and robes.
Common for all members is the badge, a Maltese cross with a central medallion depicting on a red background the Royal Cypher of Queen Victoria surrounded by a blue ring bearing the motto of the order—VICTORIA—and surmounted by a Tudor crown. However, there are variations on the badge for each grade of the order: Knights and Dames Grand Cross wear the badge on a sash passing from the right shoulder to the left hip.
Royal Air Force
The Royal Air Force is the United Kingdom's aerial warfare force. Formed towards the end of the First World War on 1 April 1918, it is the oldest independent air force in the world. Following victory over the Central Powers in 1918 the RAF emerged as, at the time, the largest air force in the world. Since its formation, the RAF has taken a significant role in British military history. In particular, it played a large part in the Second World War where it fought its most famous campaign, the Battle of Britain; the RAF's mission is to support the objectives of the British Ministry of Defence, which are to "provide the capabilities needed to ensure the security and defence of the United Kingdom and overseas territories, including against terrorism. The RAF describes its mission statement as "... an agile and capable Air Force that, person for person, is second to none, that makes a decisive air power contribution in support of the UK Defence Mission". The mission statement is supported by the RAF's definition of air power.
Air power is defined as "the ability to project power from the air and space to influence the behaviour of people or the course of events". Today the Royal Air Force maintains an operational fleet of various types of aircraft, described by the RAF as being "leading-edge" in terms of technology; this consists of fixed-wing aircraft, including: fighter and strike aircraft, airborne early warning and control aircraft, ISTAR and SIGINT aircraft, aerial refueling aircraft and strategic and tactical transport aircraft. The majority of the RAF's rotary-wing aircraft form part of the tri-service Joint Helicopter Command in support of ground forces. Most of the RAF's aircraft and personnel are based in the UK, with many others serving on operations or at long-established overseas bases. Although the RAF is the principal British air power arm, the Royal Navy's Fleet Air Arm and the British Army's Army Air Corps deliver air power, integrated into the maritime and land environments. While the British were not the first to make use of heavier-than-air military aircraft, the RAF is the world's oldest independent air force: that is, the first air force to become independent of army or navy control.
Following publication of the "Smuts report" prepared by Jan Smuts the RAF was founded on 1 April 1918, with headquarters located in the former Hotel Cecil, during the First World War, by the amalgamation of the Royal Flying Corps and the Royal Naval Air Service. At that time it was the largest air force in the world. After the war, the service was drastically cut and its inter-war years were quiet, with the RAF taking responsibility for the control of Iraq and executing a number of minor actions in other parts of the British Empire; the RAF's naval aviation branch, the Fleet Air Arm, was founded in 1924 but handed over to Admiralty control on 24 May 1939. The RAF developed the doctrine of strategic bombing which led to the construction of long-range bombers and became its main bombing strategy in the Second World War; the RAF underwent rapid expansion prior to and during the Second World War. Under the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan of December 1939, the air forces of British Commonwealth countries trained and formed "Article XV squadrons" for service with RAF formations.
Many individual personnel from these countries, exiles from occupied Europe served with RAF squadrons. By the end of the war the Royal Canadian Air Force had contributed more than 30 squadrons to serve in RAF formations approximately a quarter of Bomber Command's personnel were Canadian. Additionally, the Royal Australian Air Force represented around nine percent of all RAF personnel who served in the European and Mediterranean theatres. In the Battle of Britain in 1940, the RAF defended the skies over Britain against the numerically superior German Luftwaffe. In what is the most prolonged and complicated air campaign in history, the Battle of Britain contributed to the delay and subsequent indefinite postponement of Hitler's plans for an invasion of the United Kingdom. In the House of Commons on 20 August, prompted by the ongoing efforts of the RAF, Prime Minister Winston Churchill eloquently made a speech to the nation, where he said "Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few".
The largest RAF effort during the war was the strategic bombing campaign against Germany by Bomber Command. While RAF bombing of Germany began immediately upon the outbreak of war, under the leadership of Air Chief Marshal Harris, these attacks became devastating from 1942 onward as new technology and greater numbers of superior aircraft became available; the RAF adopted night-time area bombing on German cities such as Hamburg and Dresden, developed precision bombing techniques for specific operations, such as the "Dambusters" raid by No. 617 Squadron, or the Amiens prison raid known as Operation Jericho. Following victory in the Second World War, the RAF underwent significant re-organisation, as technological advances in air warfare saw the arrival of jet fighters and bombers. During the early stages of the Cold War, one of the first major operations undertaken by the Royal Air Force was in 1948 and the Berlin Airlift, codenamed Operation Plainfire. Between 26 June and the lifting of the Russian blockade of the city on 2 May, the RAF provided 17% of the total supplies delivered du
RAF Fighter Command
RAF Fighter Command was one of the commands of the Royal Air Force. It was formed in 1936 to allow more specialised control of fighter aircraft, it served throughout the Second World War. It earned great fame during the Battle of Britain in 1940, when the Few held off the Luftwaffe attack on Britain; the Command continued until 17 November 1943, when it was disbanded and the RAF fighter force was split into two categories. The defensive force became Air Defence of Great Britain and the offensive force became the RAF Second Tactical Air Force. Air Defence of Great Britain was renamed back to Fighter Command in October 1944 and continued to provide defensive patrols around Great Britain, it was disbanded for the second time in 1968. On 20 May 1926, Fighter Command's precursor organisation was established as a group within Inland Area. On 1 June 1926, Fighting Area was transferred to the Air Defence of Great Britain. Fighting Area was raised to Command status in 1932 and renamed Fighter Command on 1 May 1936.
On 23 February 1940, No. 60 Group RAF was established within Fighter Command to control the Chain Home radar detection and tracking units. Over the next few years, the Command expanded and replaced its obsolete biplane squadrons — outfitted with Bristol Bulldog, Gloster Gauntlet and Hawker Fury biplane fighters leading up to, through the period of its founding — with two of the most famous aircraft to fly with the RAF, the Hawker Hurricane and the Supermarine Spitfire; the supreme test of Fighter Command came during the summer of 1940 when the German Luftwaffe launched an offensive aimed at attaining air superiority over the Channel and the UK as a prerequisite to the launch of a seaborne invasion force. Fighter Command was divided into a number of Groups, each controlling a different part of the UK. 11 Group took the brunt of the German attack, as it controlled southeast England and London. It was reinforced by 10 Group, which covered southwest England, 12 Group, which covered the Midlands and East Anglia and 13 Group which covered the North of England and Scotland.
In the end, the Germans failed to attain air superiority, although the RAF had been eating into its reserves during the battle, as had the Luftwaffe. As 1941 began, Fighter Command began the onerous task of winning air superiority over North Western France from the Germans. By May 1941, the Squadrons based at all the main fighter airfields were now to operate together as integral Fighter Wings, under the tactical control of the newly created post of wing Leader, invariably an experienced 1940 veteran of wing commander rank. Various types of short-penetration fighter operations were tried out in a bid to draw the Luftwaffe into a war of attrition, keep inordinate numbers of fighters tied down in France after the German attack on the Soviet Union in June 1941. Large numbers of Spitfires were sent out with small groups of medium bombers in vain attempts to lure the German fighters into combat. Results of these operations through 1941 were decidedly mixed, as the short range of the Spitfire precluded an overly aggressive stance, with just two experienced Jagdgeschwader units left in Western Europe targets were few but dangerous.
Most of the factors that had allowed Fighter Command to win the Battle of Britain were now reversed. For example, British pilots who were shot down in 1940 and survived would be patched up and sent back to their units as as possible. In 1941, over France, a shot down pilot would, as as not, end up a prisoner of war; the year saw RAF Fighter Command claim some 711 Luftwaffe fighters shot down for losses of 400 RAF fighters lost. As 1941 ended, the appearance of the new Fw 190, with its obvious technical superiority over the current Spitfire Mark V, would make Fighter Command's job that much harder in 1942. Parallel to the day offensive in 1941 was the ongoing night bomber attacks against the United Kingdom in January to May. By this time, until May 1941, the Luftwaffe effort was aimed against both civilian and industrial targets. Fighter Command's defences, however improved daily during the first six months of 1941; the Bristol Beaufighter became the prime nightfighter, equipped with airborne radar, it proved more effective against the bombers, with the ground-based organisation that proved so efficient in 1940 now guiding the night fighters to their targets.
An increasing number of anti-aircraft guns and searchlights were radar-controlled, improving accuracy. From the start of 1941, the Luftwaffe's losses mounted. With the impending invasion of Russia requiring the movement of air power to the East, the Blitz ended in May 1941 with Fighter Command in complete control of the night sky over the UK; the difficult task of grinding down the Germans continued into 1942 and 1943. Squadrons found themselves on tiring defensive patrols as small formations of Fw 190s started to fly'hit and run' nuisance raids all along the South Coast. Fighter Command deployed their new Hawker Typhoon units at this time; the most notable offensive battle took place over Dieppe, France when an ill-fated commando-style raid was mounted there in August 1942. The Luftwaffe and RAF clashed in the skies over the French city. Although the RAF succeeded in preventing the Luftwaffe from interfering with the shipping, its primary aim, its perceived success was misleading. Despite claims at the time that more German aircraft than British had been shot down postwar analysis showed Allied ai
County Laois is a county in Ireland. It is located in the south of the Midlands Region and is located in the province of Leinster, was known as Queen's County; the modern county takes its name from a medieval kingdom. Laois County Council is the local authority for the county. At the 2016 census, the population of the county was 84,697, an increase of 26% since the 2006 census; the first people in Laois were bands of hunters and gatherers who passed through the county about 8,500 years ago. They hunted in the forests that covered Laois and fished in its rivers, gathering nuts and berries to supplement their diets. Next came Ireland’s first farmers; these people of the Neolithic period planted crops. Their burial mounds remain in Cuffsborough. Starting around 2500 BC, the people of the Bronze Age lived in Laois, they produced weapons and golden objects. Visitors to the county can see a stone circle they left behind at Monamonry, as well as the remains of their hill forts at Clopook and Monelly. Skirk, near Borris-in-Ossory, has a Bronze Age standing ring fort.
The body of Cashel Man indicates that ritual killing took place around 2000 BC. The next stage is known as the pre-Christian Celtic Iron Age. For the first time, iron appeared in Ireland, showing up in the weapons used by factions who fought bloody battles for control of the land. At Ballydavis, archaeologists have discovered ring barrows; the county name derives from Loígis. In the 11th century, its dynastic rulers adopted the surname Ua/Ó Mórdha, they claimed descent from a member of the Red Branch Knights. By the first century AD, the western third of Laois was part of the Kingdom of Ossory; the eastern part was divided into seven parts, which were ruled by the Seven Septs of Loígis: O’More, O’Lalor, O’Doran, O’Dowling, O’Devoy, O’Kelly and McEvoy. When Ireland was Christianised, holy men and women founded religious communities in Loígis. St. Ciarán of Saighir founded his monastic habitation in the western Slieve Bloom Mountains as the first bishop of Ossory, reputedly before St. Patrick, his mother Liadán had an early convent.
Between 550 and 600, St. Canice founded Aghaboe Abbey and St. Mochua founded a religious community at Timahoe. An early Christian community lived on the Rock of Dunamase; the Synod of Rathbreasail that established the Irish dioceses was held near Mountrath in 1111, moving the Church away from its monastic base. As religious orders with strong ties to Rome replaced older religious communities, the wooden buildings of the early Christian churches in Laois gave way to stone monasteries; the Augustinians and Dominicans established themselves at Aghaboe Abbey, while the Cistercians took over an older religious community at Abbeyleix. The Norman invasion of Ireland in 1169-71 affected Laois as it was a part of the Kingdom of Leinster. In Laois, the fortress on the Rock of Dunamase was part of the dowry of the Irish princess Aoife, given in marriage in 1170 to the Norman warrior Strongbow. Advancing Normans surveyed the county from wooden towers built on top of earthen mounds, known as mottes, they built stone fortresses, such as Lea Castle, just outside Portarlington.
Several of the county’s towns were first established as Norman boroughs, including Castletown and Timahoe. From 1175 until about 1325, Normans controlled the best land in the county, while Gaelic society retreated to the bogs and the Slieve Bloom Mountains; the early 14th century saw a Gaelic revival, as the chieftains of Loígis caused the Normans to withdraw. The Dempseys seized Lea Castle. Examples of tower houses built by the Irish Mac Giolla Phádraig chieftains are found at Ballaghmore and Cullahill Castle, both decorated with Sheela na gigs. In 1548, the English confiscated the lands of the O’Mores, built "Campa," known as the Fort of Leix, today’s Portlaoise, it was shired in 1556 by Queen Mary as Queen's County, covering the countries of Leix, Slewmarge and that part of Glimnaliry on the southwest side of the River Barrow. Laois received its present Irish language name following the Tan War. Laois was sometimes spelt "Leix". Portlaoise is the county town. Loígis was the subject of two Plantations or colonisations by a mix of Scottish and English settlers.
The first occurred in 1556, when Thomas Radclyffe, 3rd Earl of Sussex dispossessed the O'Moore clan and attempted to replace them with Scottish and English settlers. However, this only led to a long drawn-out guerilla war in the county and left a small Scottish and English community clustered around garrisons. There was a more successful plantation in the county in the 17th century, which expanded the existing Scottish and English settlement with more landowners and tenants from both Scotland and England. Neither plantation was successful due to a lack of tenants and because of continuous raids and attacks by the O'Moores. In 1659, a group of Quakers led by William Edmundson, settled in Mountmellick, while a group of Huguenots were given refuge in Portarlington in 1666 after their service to William of Orange in the Williamite War in Ireland. What followed was a period of relative calm. Anglo-Irish landowners enclosed the land and built fine houses, including Durrow Castle, Heywood House and Emo Court.
In 1836, a branch of the Grand Canal stretched to Mountmellick, further stimulating industry in that town. The Great Famine of 1845-49 devastated the county; the county’s workhouses coul