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To keep the Irish subservient and powerless the English enacted a series of brutal penal laws, which succeeded so well that eighteenth century Catholic Ireland was economically and socially wasted.
In 1800, two years after the defeat of the rebellion of Protestant and Catholic United Irishmen led by Wolfe Tone, the Act of Union was passed, combining Great Britain and Ireland into one United Kingdom.
Consequently, Henry VIII and his successors endeavored to force the Irish to submit through military incursions and by "planting" large areas of Ireland with settlers loyal to England.
The Free State was composed of 26 of Ireland's 32 counties; the other six remained part of Britain.
The English were generally too occupied with the Hundred Years War (1337-1453) and with the War of the Roses (1455-1485) to deal adequately with the Irish, however.