Tudor failure in Ireland?
Ireland in the Age of the Tudors. 1447-1603 by Steven Ellis, Longman, 0-58201-901-X
Irish nationalism and Irish alienation from English rule were chiefly a consequence, rather than a cause, of the Tudor conquest.
Ireland in the Age of the Tudors. 1447-1603
explores Ireland as a frontier society divided between the English and Gaelic worlds.
The understanding of both worlds, and their interaction (culminating in the Tudor conquest and the collapse of Gaelic rule) has been transformed over the past thirty years through the detailed research of Irish and Tudor specialists alike; and this wealth of new scholarship is fully synthesised in the text.
However, Steven Ellis - an acknowledged expert on Tudor frontiers and state formation - also looks beyond the local detail of these developments to consider Ireland itself as a problem within the wider Tudor state.
He explores the relationship between the English crown, the English community and its Gaelic neighbours, and the nature of the transition from medieval Ireland's two nations to the centralized Tudor kingdom.
The result is thus not only a survey: it is also a critique of traditional perspectives on the making of modern Ireland.
Ellis argues that English rule in the late medieval lordship was quite successful in the years before 1534, and that its government presented similar (and far from intractable) problems to those of Wales and the English north.
Yet, unlike these other English borderlands, Ireland gradually became entangled in an extraordinary departure from traditional Tudor methods in an ultimately disastrous attempt to extend ‘English civility’ by force.
Thus, he concludes, Irish nationalism and Irish alienation from English rule were chiefly a consequence, rather than a cause, of the Tudor conquest.
Professor Ellis’s conclusion, ‘Tudor Failure’
(pp 352-8), is a scathing indictment of Tudor policy in Ireland.
To see how far Professor Ellis's views have been shared by other historians, please click here.