Early Modern Ireland

Early Modern Ireland

Ireland during the period 1536–1691 saw the first full conquest of the island by England and its colonization with Protestant settlers from Britain. This established two central themes in future Irish history - subordination of the country to London based governments and sectarian animosity between Catholics and Protestants. This period also saw the transformation of Irish society from a stateless, clan based Gaelic structure to a state governed society, more like those found elsewhere in Europe. The period is bounded by the dates 1536, when Henry VIII of England deposed the Fitzgerald dynasty as Lords Deputies of Ireland (the new Kingdom of Ireland was declared by Henry VIII in 1541) and 1691, when the Irish Catholic Jacobites surrendered at Limerick, thus confirming British Protestant dominance in Ireland. This is sometimes called the early modern period.

The English Reformation, by which Henry VIII broke with Papal authority in 1536, was to change Ireland totally. While Henry VIII broke English Catholicism from Rome, his son Edward VI of England moved further, breaking with Papal doctrine completely. While the English, the Welsh and, later, the Scots accepted Protestantism, the Irish remained Catholic. Queen Mary then reverted the state to Catholicism in 1553-58, and Elizabeth broke again with Rome after 1570. These confusing changes determined their relationship with the British state for the next four hundred years, as the Reformation coincided with a determined effort on behalf of the English state to re-conquer and colonise Ireland thereafter. The religious schism meant that the native Irish and the (Roman Catholic) Old English were to be excluded from power in the new settlement unless they converted to Protestantism.

Read more about Early Modern Ireland:  Re-conquest and Rebellion (1536–1607), Colonization and The Religious Question, A New Order? (1607–1641), Civil Wars, Land Confiscations and Penal Laws (1641–1691)

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