Background to Empire
In 1529 the English Crown broke with Rome which made it possible for the rise of
The English Crown effectively began a war with their own people in what was a coup d'etat led by a minority mostly based in and around London
newly ennobled and had the monastic lands redistributed.
confiscated the land, buildings and wealth of the monasteries
the monasteries were the social welfare system
The Pilgrimage of Grace
Early in September, Cromwell also completed a new set of viceregential injunctions declaring open war on "pilgrimages, feigned relics, or images, or any such superstitions", and commanding that "one book of the whole Bible of the largest volume in English" be set up in every church. Moreover, following the "voluntary" surrender of the remaining smaller monasteries during the previous year, the larger monasteries were now also "invited" to surrender throughout 1538, a process legitimized in the 1539 session of Parliament and completed in the following year.
by the emergence of a "privy council", a body of nobles and office-holders which had first come together to suppress the Pilgrimage of Grace. A directorate outside the law created to suppress rebellion within England was to become
The Revolt of Silken Thomas The Earl of Kildare
In June 1534 Thomas heard rumours that his father had been executed in the Tower of London and that the English government intended the same fate for himself and his uncles.
The Rising of the North and the Desmond rebellions
In 1569 rebellions broke out smultaneously in England and Ireland
Fort Protector The Birthplace of Empire
Once the Crown had put down its own rebels it now had a new frontier with the native Irish
The English crowns first overseas colonies were created in the 1540's in Ireland
The plantations ironically were begun under the Catholic queen Mary beginning with the seizure of Laois and Offaly
to conquer the centre and isolate the clans in the Wicklow mountains
was with the building of a new type of structure, the fort
The 20 years war England and Spain lasted from 1585 to 1604
the opening shots of the war
Cadiz Raid 1587 by Sir Francis Drake in which he claimed he "singed the King of Spains beard" in typical Elizabethan fashion.
The Spanish Armada 1588
the Armada of 1588 which resulted in the opposite of what is usually believed having little effect on the Spanish
the Spanish retained dominance in the Atlantic until the mid 17th century
Ireland was caught up in a much wider European war for control of the sea routes to the Americas
it is from this event that the Irish date the beginning of the war with England.
Boetius McClancy had been advised by William Fitzwilliam, the Lord Deputy that "… we authorise you to make inquiry by all good means, both by oath and otherwise, to take all the hulls of ships, stores, treasures, etc. into your hands and to apprehend and execute all Spaniards found there of what quality so ever. Torture may be used in prosecuting this inquiry".
In September two large galleons, the San Marcos and the San Esteban, were wrecked on the Clare coast. Some 60 Spanish crew managed to struggle ashore but were promptly rounded up and imprisoned in Clancy's castle. They were subsequently tortured and hung on a nearby hill now known as Cnoc na Crocaire, or Hangman's Hill and the bodies buried in a mass grave nearby.
While the Armada had failed in its primary mission, it was to have a fateful effect on Ireland. the ships that went down or ran for shelter along the Irish coast brought with them
many guns in the form of military grade calivers and muskets, powder, armour and above all, gold which allowed the purchase of supplies and armaments.
the naval forces carried
men who were professional soldiers of wide experience some of whom stayed on to train O' Neills army
One such example is the story of the Spanish nobleman Fransisco De Cuellar sip wrecked on the Sligo coast he left an account of his experience in a letter home upon
tiny confrontation that is worth mentioning
Most of the ships lost in Philip II's expedition of 1588 had been armed merchantmen, while the core of the armada — the galleons of the Spanish navy's Atlantic fleet — survived their voyage home and docked in Spain's Atlantic ports for a refit, where they lay for months, vulnerable to attack.
these ships became the target of an attempted English counter strike in 1589.
The English Armada 1589
Drake and Norris
expedition to the Spanish coast became a farcical episode however the strategic reasoning behind it was sound.
The expedition was floated as a joint stock company, with capital of about £80,000 — one quarter to come from the Queen, and one eighth from the Dutch, the balance to be made up by various noblemen, merchants and guilds.
Also sailing with them — against the Queen's express orders — was the Earl of Essex.
Humidity and dampness had a detrimental effect on the composite bow’s performance, a significant problem in war at sea, though one which does not seem to have been insurmountable or even particularly serious under ordinary circumstances perhaps explaining the Irish preference for other forms of missile weapon in one of the most humid and damp climates in Europe.
The Fifteen Years War
Ireland was full of places where "a well placed musket will stagger a pretty army"
" this dangerous war"
We must not forget the army consisted of many Irish troops serving for pay, both native and old English
the earl of thomond, burkes of connaught, tibbot ne long
the towns did not rise, they were to pay dearly for their loyalty in the years to come
the total force by 1601 was 16,000 foot and 2,000 horse , an enormous army for the time and place
one third of the troops at Kinsale were Irish, but were treated as unreliable by the English.
O’Neill smashed a professional English force under the general, Sir Henry Bagenal, at Yellow Ford.
but Ireland had no navy in the modern sense and so could be cut off from trade and vital supplies (the right to build ocean going vessels was one of O' Neills demands in 15 )
The Battle of Kinsale
The modern colonial history of Ireland began with the loss of the battle of Kinsale in 1601
landing of the Spanish on the
The Spanish forces at Kinsale numbered more than 4,000, some sources say 3,000, but they have been confused by despatches written by the English to prevent a mass switch of allegiance by the Irish
Had the Spanish but realised, the English forces were no larger than the Spanish at their first arrival outside Kinsale, and were in a far worse condition understrength and wanting in all supplies, with scarcely a days worth of powder.
the English desperately requested supplies as they had no equipment even to entrench themselves
daily expecting the arrival of the army of O'Neill
Jacta Alea est
The die is cast as Caesar said
The Nine Years’ War had devastating effects for both sides. Much of Ireland—the northern counties in particular— suffered desolation and a humanitarian catastrophe
As in the 30 Years’ War in Europe, battles and skirmishes were waged in farmlands and churches, forts and markets alike.
Mountjoy burned crops in the countryside and destroyed much of Ireland’s agricultural and economic base to subdue native opposition;
the result was a wholly manmade famine. Cannibalism was reported and the ditches of towns were filled with dead bodies, their mouths stained green from eating nettles. Corpses littered the roads, particularly in those tuaths that had been "wasted" ie were destroyed by the English army.
stabbing the horses with needles in order to eat them
The number is unknown, but perhaps 1/3 of the population lost their lives, and the combined physical and psychological ruin would etch itself on the collective soul of the country for hundreds of years, commencing the tragic history that would continue even into the 21st century.
the famine was ended by O' Neills submission, which allowed the people to move to districts with food and abroad as refugees
widespread use of torture and summary execution of soldiers
Effects on Ireland
this war, and the bitterness that ensued put paid to any hope of a compromise solution to Irelands divided people
O'Neills decision was fateful and committed the country to its future path
the abandonment of aims to win purely militarily were replaced with a scorched earth policy
to be fortified the ports
to control the men, threaten the women and children for example
garrisons to be placed throughout the country, so that if any landing of a foriegn force be effecte, the Irish would fear to leave to join a field army as their families would be prey to the garrisons
destruction of the law, society, churches, schools,
Effects on England
the war had a different but equally profound effect on England
the shock of almost being defeated by people they regarded as little more than savages, the danger of a Spanish Ireland would effectively pen England
the devastating casualty list not only of ordinary soldiers, but an astonishing amount of senior officers and commanders as this was a guerrilla war and commanders were vulnerable to ambush and as likely to be killed as ordinary soldiers.
"more fights in less time than any army hereto" in 1600
Disease such as typhus and malaria
The fervent and utopian project of the plantations prior to the war were swept away during it, leaving a bitter taste
and destroyed settlements produced thousands of refugees, including the poet Edmund Spenser who arrived back in England penniless
his poems were highly influential in forming policy
they had been brought to their knees
affected the subsequent attitudes of the English State in Ireland, with the dropping of all attempts at and the adoption of a policy of garrisoning the country
Shakespeare was a playwright playing to the war ravaged people of England
the weakening of the Crown through the draining of resources and the strengthening of Parliament
"And now because We know your affection is so well mixed with understanding of the state We stand in, both here and there, as you can well consider of what importance it is to Us to ease our Kingdom of those great or rather infinite charges, which we have thus long sustained, which stil continuing in that height, would take away the true feeling of our Victories, We have thought good to deliver you our pleasure in that behalfe; for it were almost as good for us to lacke a great parte of their reduction, as to be driven to that charge in keeping them, which Our Crowne of England cannot endure, without the extreme diminution of the greatness and felicity thereof, and alienation of Our peoples minds from Us, considering that for these only rebellions in Ireland, We have bin forced to part with many of Our ancient posessions, which are part of Our flowers of Our Crowne, and to draw from Our subjects ( a thing contrary to Our nature) those great paiments" etc" Elizabeth I
delayed the English settlement in America
coluored every facet of the settlement of America
with the concept of the frontier that had begun in Ireland affected the subsequent treatment of the native Americans who were compared to the Irish almost immediately
"whereby the limits of Our Pale may be enlarged" Elizabeth I- Mountjoy
dense settlements of houses and corne spoiled in Ulster in 1602 scarcely believed how many in small space
1607—the same year as the Jamestown Settlement in North America
is recalled as the year when self rule was lost to the English.
Creation of the British army the first redcoats were seen in Ireland (including some in O;Neills pay)
learning the logistics of supply in a country without towns "for no war requires as much supplies as this" Moryson naval supply
After the War
to draw them all to live upon the inland country and to plant the English upon the havens, Sea Coasts and Rivers
that maxime that all Kingdomes must be prserved by the same means by which they were won ie by the sword"
now their privelidges restored the English Irish threatened to rebel over religion
priestd swarming among themm and most bloody in handling the sword
meere Irish strong only in Connacht
in all places the churl was grown rich and the gentlemen and swordsmen needy
With respect to its colonies, British mercantilism meant that the government and the merchants became partners with the goal of increasing political power and private wealth, to the exclusion of other empires. The government protected its merchants--and kept others out--by trade barriers, regulations, and subsidies to domestic industries in order to maximize exports from and minimize imports to the realm.
The goal of mercantilism was to run trade surpluses, so that gold and silver would pour into London. The government took its share through duties and taxes, with the remainder going to merchants in Britain.
The government spent much of its revenue on a superb Royal Navy, which not only protected the British colonies but threatened the colonies of the other empires, and sometimes seized them. Thus the British Navy captured New Amsterdam (New York) in 1664. The colonies were captive markets for British industry, and the goal was to enrich the mother country
The nation aggressively sought colonies and once under British control, regulations were imposed that allowed the colony to only produce raw materials and to only trade with Britain.
the massacre at Smerwick in 1580
for excellent articles on this period see,
“The Defeat of the English Armada and the 16th-Century Spanish Naval Resurgence,” by Wes Ulm, Harvard University personal website, URL: http://www.people.fas.harvard.edu/~ulm/history/sp_armada.htm, © 2004.
Wes’s Spanish Armada Page: History, Highlights, Myths, and Muddles
Francisco De Cuellars account of his adventure in Ireland is available for download on this website here