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‘Reform’ treatises and political discourse
Author: David Heffernan

During the sixteenth-century officials and interested parties in Ireland composed hundreds of papers on crown policy in the country and sent them to the metropolitan government in England. The information contained in these ‘reform’ treatises substantially shaped how senior ministers in England viewed an Ireland which very few of them had visited personally. Moreover these documents informed much of these ministers’ outlooks on the Irish of Ireland and the allegedly backward political and social system operating there. Perhaps most importantly, these treatises argued for the adoption of specific policies to confront various problems perceived in Ireland. Some of these in arguing for ‘reform’ through an aggressive programme of regional conquest and colonization were highly coercive, while others in proposing that ‘reform’ could be achieved through educational and social reform or the expansion of the court system had a more sanguine view of Ireland. Whatever the approach, a great many of these were in due course implemented in Ireland. In time the decision to implement these same policies played a major role in shaping the history of early modern Ireland and indeed the wider British state. As such these treatises are central to how the Tudors governed Ireland. This book offers the first extended treatment of the approximately six-hundred extant ‘reform’ treatises. In doing so it examines not just the content of this large body of papers, but how officials and other parties on the periphery of the Irish government debated policy in sixteenth-century Ireland and what impact their writings had.

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Contexts and reactions

The 1641 rebellion is one of the seminal events in early modern Irish and British history. The 1641 'massacres', like the battles at the Boyne (1690) and Somme (1916), played a key role in creating and sustaining a collective Protestant/ British identity in Ulster, in much the same way that the subsequent Cromwellian conquest in the 1650s helped forge a new Irish Catholic national identity. This book illustrates the role that cartography and geography can play in understanding and contextualising the 1641 rising/rebellion. During the Irish wars of the 1590s, printed news on the continent about developments in Ireland emanated from the Roman press of Bernandino Beccari. Barcelona publications indicate a strong interest in Irish events at a time ironically when Irish regiments in the service of Spain were heavily involved in the attempted suppression of their revolt. The book also answers few questions with reference to the survivors of the sacks of the Dutch Revolt. The history of sectarian conflict in the French wars of religion has focused more on the targets of violence, animate and inanimate, than on its vocal manifestations. The Irish exiles in the Spanish Monarchy were extremely active in the years prior to 1641. Connecting the Hispanic dimension of events in 1641 and the birth of an Irish 'Black Legend' comparable to the classical 'Spanish Black Legend' required the reflection on the meaning of violence.

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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.

The evolution of colonial institution

Traditional histories of parliament, whether Irish or otherwise, have generally treated them as political events. This book considers the seventeenth-century Irish Parliament as an ongoing element within the state. It considers the role of parliament within the context of an overall state apparatus of governance and charts its development over time. While parliament developed in conjunction with the Irish state, local politicians, and local institutions, it was also a colonial institution, taking direction from Westminster on how to operate. Whether by design or by chance, it resembles the Westminster model of parliamentary procedure, but it also had specifically Irish traits in how it dispatched its business. This book describes a developing institution chiefly through the work that it undertook. Most will be well aware of parliament’s work on legislation and the creation of law and also representation of communities and locations, but it spent large amounts of time hearing petitions and undertaking judicial work. It undertook these ever-increasing responsibilities with a growing group of parliamentary officers, who had a wide variety of powers and responsibilities. Naturally this led to a sophisticated set of procedures and privileges in undertaking this work in order to increase its efficiency and productivity. This book discusses topics and describes processes that are still very much a cornerstone for today’s parliamentary democracy in Ireland and will resonate in Irish institutional culture and elsewhere in the common law world.

Money, power and the Adventurers for Irish land during the British Civil Wars
Author: David Brown

This book is about the transformation of England’s trade and government finances in the mid-seventeenth century, a revolution that destroyed Ireland. During the English Civil War a small group of merchants quickly achieved an iron grip over England’s trade, dictated key policies for Ireland and the colonies, and financed parliament’s war against Charles I. These merchants were the Adventurers for Irish land, who, in 1642, raised £250,000 to send a conquering army to Ireland but sent it instead to fight for parliament in England. The Adventurers elected a committee to represent their interests that met in secret at Grocers’ Hall in London, 1642–60. During that time, while amassing enormous wealth and power, the Adventurers laid the foundations for England’s empire and modern fiscal state. Although they supported Cromwell’s military campaigns, the leading Adventurers rejected his Protectorate in a dispute over their Irish land entitlements and eventually helped to restore the monarchy. Charles II rewarded the Adventurers with one million confiscated Irish acres, despite their role in deposing his father. This book explains this great paradox in Irish history for the first time and examines the background and relentless rise of the Adventurers, the remarkable scope of their trading empires and their profound political influence. It is the first book to recognise the centrality of Ireland to the Wars of the Three Kingdoms.