"'Trust, Desert, Power and skill to serve': The Old English and Military Identities in Late Elizabethan Ireland", in Early Modern Military Identities, 1560-1639

Canning, Ruth A. (2019) "'Trust, Desert, Power and skill to serve': The Old English and Military Identities in Late Elizabethan Ireland", in Early Modern Military Identities, 1560-1639. In: Early Modern Military Identities, 1560-1639: Reality and Representation. Boydell & Brewer.

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Since the twelfth-century introduction of English rule in Ireland, the Pale and the scattered quasi-independent English lordships had represented beacons of “Englishness” in an uncivil Irish wilderness. Without these precious footholds, and especially that of the Pale, English rule in Ireland could not survive. Yet, it was not England which provided the military might for protecting these enclaves; this heavy responsibility had been the hereditary obligation of the Old English descendants of Ireland’s original Anglo-Norman conquerors. Charged with maintaining the administrative, judicial, and martial legitimacy of English overlordship, this community had always led a highly militarised existence. Major and minor wars erupted every year, internecine strife was routine, and at all times the Pale borders were threatened by marauding Gaelic Irish neighbours. The martial defence of all things English was therefore central to the Old English community’s sense of identity and they took great pride in having “spent their bloode and lost their lives ... resisting the Rebells and enemyes” of the English crown. Nevertheless, by the later part of the sixteenth century, administrators from England had become deeply sceptical about Old English allegiances, largely on account of their Irish birth and continuing attachment to the Catholic faith. Determined to prove otherwise, the Old English believed their continuing support of the crown’s military enterprise would be a measurable expression of their unfaltering dedication to crown interests. Taking a prosopographical approach to Old Englishmen’s petitions and treatises, this chapter will explore how members of this minority community drew on military traditions and personal service as the chief means of articulating political allegiances, grievances, and their rights as crown subjects. It will address the increasing displacement of Old Englishmen from the crown’s military ranks alongside their pleas to be recognised as “the old experienced learned with bloody hands”. It will also highlight their unique status as “Englishmen” living on a distant Tudor frontier and how this constant state of military preparedness shaped individual and collective mentalities. By doing so, this chapter will explore how an emerging Old English identity was defined by its military traditions and its martial men.

Item Type: Book Section
Faculty / Department: Faculty of Arts & Humanities > History and Politics
Depositing User: Ruth Canning
Date Deposited: 04 Mar 2020 08:57
Last Modified: 04 Mar 2020 08:57
URI: https://hira.hope.ac.uk/id/eprint/3032

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