Why this book?
I’ve always been interested in developments in Irish history during the under-studied seventeenth century. This was the period when many of the political, social, and economic foundations of modern Ireland emerged. The century began during the major upheaval of the Nine Years’ War and witnessed two more major conflicts—the 1641 Rebellion (which lasted until 1653) and the Williamite War of the 1690s. However, Gillespie’s book is unusual in that it focuses on the various efforts made to reach accommodations between natives and settlers, Catholics and Protestants, the Gaelic Irish, the Old English, and the New English, during the decades between these conflicts. All in all, a fascinating read which shows that things might have evolved differently had these efforts succeeded.
Why should I read it?
What is this book about?
Well-established ideas of monarchy, social hierarchy and honour were under pressure in a fast-changing world. Political, religious, social and economic circumstances were all in flux. The common ambition of every faction was the creation of a usable focus of governance. Thus plantations, the constitutional experiments of Wentworth in the 1630s, the Confederation of the 1640s, the republican 1650s and the royalist reaction of the latter part of the century can be seen not simply as episodes in colonial domination but as part of an on-going attempt to find a modus vivendi within Ireland, often compromised by external influences.