Publication Date



Ireland, Tudors, Catholicism


Ireland in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries was subject to major invasion and settlement. Tudor foreign policy towards Ireland attempted to introduce an English model of government and, during the reign of Elizabeth I, attempts were made to introduce the Protestant religion. During the sixteenth century both England and Ireland were the regular focus of European Catholic plots. This led the Tudor monarchs to invade Ireland with a double agenda: to prevent European invasion, and to subdue a country over which it had always been difficult to exercise any influence. Henry VIII invaded Scotland and France in the 1540s, and the failure of these interventions precipitated Scottish and French intervention in Ireland. The English monarchy and Scottish officials then began to enter Ireland and impose colonial government and settlement. Officials operated increasingly aggressive policies with English and Scottish Presbyterian officials moving into positions of judicial and local power. These officials were quick to cite Irish women as well as men as rebellious and influential in opposing English rule. Irish Women were involved in wide- spread activities relating to rebellion, including diplomacy, spying, and raising troops and munitions against the English and, therefore, became a focus of criticism, blame, and expulsion from Ireland at a point in time when land was increasingly given over to English and Scottish settlers. Although the Irish successfully rejected a state-imposed religion during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries this did not prevent the wholesale expulsion of chieftains and their families after the involvement in open rebellion against the settlers. After the final defeat and surrender at the battle of Kinsale and the proclamation of James I as king in Dublin in 1603 the downfall of the Irish nobility was clear. The long-term link with Spain offered a safe haven for many, in particular those committed to rebellion against the English.