From the late eleventh century onwards—in other words from the period of 'the awakening of Europe' and 'the making of the Middle Ages'—Ireland and Wales may appropriately be regarded as two of the western frontier zones of medieval Europe. They stood at one of the peripheries of the area of feudal imperialism associated with Norman conquest and colonization and indeed seemed to slow down and even to frustrate its apparently remorseless advance. They were also frontierlands in cultural terms, where a new, confident, aggressive, north-western European, Latin- and French-dominated aristocratic and ecclesiastical culture came into contact, and often confrontation, with native cultures profoundly different from it in their economic configuration, political assumptions, ecclesiastical norms, social customs, and literary and artistic traditions. 1