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War, politics and religion, 1641–50
Editor: Patrick Little

This volume presents cutting-edge research on one of the most controversial periods in Irish history. The essays re-examine key aspects of the decade, including the problem of allegiance and loyalty and the role of central institutions, notably the Irish Parliament and the Church of Ireland. It also provides new perspectives on the nature of alternatives sources of authority, such as the Confederation of Kilkenny, the Roman Catholic Church and the English Parliament. The focus on government is balanced by important new research on popular politics and on regional history, with essays highlighting the reaction to rebellion and warfare in Munster, Connacht and Ulster. The volume also sheds light on the careers of important individuals, including the marquess of Ormond, the earl of Clanricarde, Sir John Clotworthy, Lord Montgomery of the Ards and Oliver Cromwell. The essays are complemented by an introduction which emphasises the general crisis of authority that prevented attempts at reaching a peace deal and brought Ireland into a new war of religion by the end of the decade, with Oliver Cromwell emerging as the brutal victor.

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The confederate wars revisited

This chapter introduces the volume, outlining the historical debate on the wars of the 1640s, explaining why there has been less interest in it recently, as historians have focused on the outbreak of the rebellion and the Cromwellian invasion instead. It also introduces each chapter with a brief summary, and points out the new themes that emerge across the volume, including the importance of the regions to understanding the war. One of these themes, the crisis in authority – which affected not only the royalist government and institutions but also the Catholic Confederate alternatives – is explored in more detail, and proposed as an important new way to understand this difficult period.

in Ireland in crisis
The marquess of Ormond, Archbishop Ussher and the appointment of Irish bishops, 1643–47

This chapter looks at the marquess of Ormond’s involvement with Archbishop Ussher and the running of the Church of Ireland, specifically the appointment of bishops. It shows not only the determination of Ormond to keep the church hierarchy filled with suitably able men – which was especially important during the negotiations with the confederates, in which the future of church property was paramount – but also his sympathies with Calvinist divines such as Dr Henry Jones of Clogher, who could provide robust opposition to the covenanters as well as the Catholics. The chapter thus provides yet another layer to the complicated negotiations conducted by Ormond in the mid-1640s, reinforcing the impression that the lord lieutenant was a politician of considerable ingenuity.

in Ireland in crisis