David Finnegan
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Irish political Catholicism from the 1530s to 1660
in Irish Catholic identities
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The reconstruction of the institutions of the Irish polity attendant upon Henry VIII's pursuit of imperium in the 1530s presented his Irish subjects, both old and new, with fundamentally new political realities. The introduction of Reformation via the parliament of 1536-37, and the elevation of the Irish lordship into a kingdom in 1541, began the slow transformation of the island's religio-political landscape. The Catholic clergy played an integral role in shaping Irish responses to the Henrician political and religious reforms, persuading 'Silken' Thomas to proclaim Henry VIII a heretic and to plead for papal and imperial support in opposing him. In Foras, politics and religion were inseparable: royalism and Catholicism were the twin pillars of Seathrun Ceitinn's imagined Irish people. Recognition of demographic realities persuaded Ireland's Catholic leadership that if they remained united it would prove impossible for the state to compel them to embrace the reformed faith.

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