Institutional Scholarship

Reading Peasant Voices through Environmental Violence: The 1641 Irish Rebellion

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dc.contributor.advisor Smith, Paul J., 1947-
dc.contributor.advisor Krippner, James
dc.contributor.author Brower, Jack
dc.date.accessioned 2019-08-08T15:48:55Z
dc.date.available 2019-08-08T15:48:55Z
dc.date.issued 2019
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/10066/21591
dc.description.abstract After British forces defeated the Irish in the Nine Years War (1594-1603), Gaelic Earls fled the country and left large tracts of land in their wake. Shortly thereafter King James I reorganized the island’s natural landscape by redistributing Irish owned land to Protestant settlers as part of an endeavor known as the plantation scheme. The English introduced settlements geared towards the production of livestock on cleared pastures and the construction of traditional English farms complete with fences and tilled land. These British settlements markedly differed from the Irish agricultural system of transhumance or booleying, a husbandry technique where peasants would move with cattle between lowlands and highlands according to the season. Land use tensions sparked conflicts between Gaelic natives and recently settled Protestants, leading to the 1641 Irish rebellion. Protestant clergymen recorded over 8,000 witness testimonies detailing crimes committed by Irish rebels against British and Scottish settlers in the 1641 Depositions legal project. Despite the biased nature of this archive, one can read the actions of Irish peasants to understand their grievances with British colonialism. This thesis applies the lens of “environmental violence” – assaults against livestock and the use of the natural landscape as a weapon – to highlight instances where rebels stole and killed cattle, drowned and mutilated colonists, and stripped settlers of their English clothing. Without livestock or the layer of protection that identified them as English and thereby, civilized, colonists could no longer oppress the Irish with the tools parliament gave them. Many historians have used the 1641 Depositions to study the Irish rebellion. None, however, analyzed the archive through the vantage point of environmental violence or focused on the role livestock played in facilitating British colonialism to study peasant reactions to the restructuring of Ireland’s natural landscape. While gruesome and at times difficult to work through, popular violence gives one the ability to study the poor – a demographic often absent from the historical record in the early modern period. By reading against the grain to illuminate the voices of this socioeconomic class, this thesis paints a picture of what seventeenth-century British colonialism looked like at the ground level.
dc.description.sponsorship Haverford College. Department of History
dc.language.iso eng
dc.rights.uri http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/
dc.subject.lcsh Ireland -- History -- Rebellion of 1641
dc.subject.lcsh Peasant uprisings -- Ireland -- History -- 17th century
dc.subject.lcsh Ireland -- Rural conditions
dc.title Reading Peasant Voices through Environmental Violence: The 1641 Irish Rebellion
dc.type Thesis
dc.rights.access Tri-College users only


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