is no doubt a truism; but in the case of Irish history this necessity is so fundamental and pervasive that it must have discouraged many historians from attempting anything in the nature of a general or comprehensive survey. All those concerned with, or interested in, Irish historiography must be grateful that Miss Otway-Ruthven has not been deterred by this practically insuperable difficulty. Miss Hughes's admirably clear and concise introduction at once confronts us with the dichotomy of Irish history in the middle ages, for it is the curtain-raiser to a play that was never put on. In thirty-three pages, she guides us skilfully over the main features of Gaelic Ireland, which on the eve of the coming of the Anglo-Normans was perhaps already throwing off the rather mild infection of Scandinavian influences and customs which it had undergone from the ninth to the eleventh centuries. Scarcely anything of what Miss Hughes tells us about Irish society, law, religion and art comes through into Miss Otway-Ruthven's pages: a little here and there between the lines, but almost nothing in the lines themselves. The abrupt discontinuity strikes the reader very forcibly, and must make him consider what it was that made the Irish experience so different from the experience not only of other Celtic-speaking regions of medieval Europe but also of other countries overrun by the Normans. The whole British Isles, in one degree or another, were affected by the Norman explosion, but the actual Norman impact, and still more its consequences, differed widely in the various component countries and regions. England, of course, was the most thoroughly conquered, and that by the official Norman state, as it were, and not by a few free-lances. But the England which the Normans conquered was by far the most cohesive and highly organized of the countries north of the Channel, and the result was that, despite a close linking to the French-speaking regions of the continent and a very thorough 'Norman' penetration of the society and language of England, the amalgam which resulted was not only recognizably 'English' but also remarkably homogenous. In Scotland the situation was a good deal more subtle; although Norman influence was considerable, it was the result of penetration rather than conquest. No organic links were forged with other countries, and the small but sturdy medieval Scottish state, though it owed much to the Norman gift of practical common sense, remained insular, vernacular, and in many respects surprisingly Celtic and 'Old English'. The course of events in Ireland seems to compare much more closely with that in Wales: with this one, but all-important, difference, namely, that Wales knew an Edwardian conquest and a Tudor annexation, both effective. Otherwise, in both countries we see, an area laid open to overwhelming Anglo-Norman penetration, an area of partial assimilation and an area where native political power based on ancient language and tradition remained strongly entrenched. Yet, despite the arresting similarities between Wales and Ireland from the twelfth to the fourteenth century, one is left with a final impression of deep contrast.