For much of this period, the island was divided into numerous clan territories and kingdoms (known as túatha). These túatha often competed for control of resources and thus they continually grew and shrank (in both size and number). In addition to kingdoms or túatha, Gaelic Ireland was also divided into five prime overkingdoms (Old Irish cóiceda, Modern Irish cúige). These were Ulaid (in the north), Connacht (in the west), Laighin (in the southeast), Mumhan (in the south) and Mide (in the centre).
After the Norman invasion, much of the island came under the control of the Lordship of Ireland, although some parts remained under the control of Gaelic dynasties. After 1350, Norman control began to weaken, and a "Gaelic resurgence" took place which resulted in the direct influence of the Parliament of Ireland shrinking to an area known as The Pale by 1500. In 1541 the Kingdom of Ireland was established by Henry VIII and the Tudor conquest of Ireland commenced. The repudiation of the terms of the Treaty of Mellifont by the Crown resulted in the Flight of the Earls, which marked the end of the Gaelic order.