Divided loyalties, rebellion and war in 16/17th Century Ireland is the subject of a fascinating new book by Liverpool Hope University lecturer Dr Ruth Canning.
The book, which is Dr Canning’s first, is set to be published in March and focuses on the descendants of Ireland's Anglo-Norman conquerors, the Old English, who upheld the authority of the English crown in Ireland for four centuries.
Irish-born and predominantly Catholic, the 16th century saw them fall from places of trust and authority in the Irish administration in favour of English Protestant newcomers.
The subsequent political alienation and growing religious tensions strained crown-community relations, and caused many Old Englishmen to reconsider their future in Ireland.
The Nine Years' War presented them with an ideal opportunity to reassess their relationship with the crown when the Irish Confederates, led by Hugh O'Neill, Earl of Tyrone, sought their support.
The book explores the role of the Old English during that war which raged from 1594 to 1603.
It examines how they responded to the political, social, religious, and military pressures, and assesses how the war shaped their sense of identity.
The book demonstrates that despite the anxieties of English officials, the Old English remained loyal. More than that, they played a key role in defeating the Irish Confederacy through military and financial support.
It argues that their sense of tradition and duty to uphold English rule in Ireland was central to their identity and that appeals to embrace a new Irish Catholic identity, in partnership with the Gaelic Irish, was doomed to failure.
You can find more information about the book, called ‘The Old English in Early Modern Ireland - The Palesmen and the Nine Years’ War, here.