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The root of the "troubles" goes back as far as the 12th century when England began its conquest of Ireland. There were strong cultural differences between the English, whose cultural was a fusion of indigenous Anglo-Saxon and Norman (post-Norman conquest) and the Celtic-speaking Irish. When England, in the 16th century, converted to Protestantism, Ireland remained Roman Catholic. Large grants of land were given to English aristocrats to estates in Ireland; these aristocrats became the "Protestant Ascendancy". They were members of the Church of England. Many Scots, members of the Church of Scotland, settled in Northern Ireland (Ulster) and formed the core of a commercial elite. Roman Catholicism was officially proscribed in Ireland and the rights of Roman Catholics limited, resulting in widespread poverty and famine (exacerbated by the potato blight). The late 19th and 20th century was marked by a struggle by the Irish for freedom from England; the south part of Ireland became a country but the north still remains under British rule, and the struggles there between Protestant and Catholic continue.
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