like the English, the Jews, and others are a diasporic people.
Their identity consists and exists very largely within their
wider international influence and presence. Obviously this has
been,in modern times, within the far-flung English-speaking
neo-colonial world, particularly North America. But in the early
modern era the Irish diaspora was European. The Irish have distinguished
themselves, inter alia, as priests, scholars, and warriors.
Ecclesiastical, academic, and military professional
groups are, traditionally, truly functional international communities.
It is therefore unsurprising to find the Irish abroad in any
era. In early modern Europe confessional divisions created rival
international worlds which were part of a continent at war.
Hence there were pan-European, as well as British, incentives
for emigration and exile. The established historiography of
the early modern Irish abroad concentrates on clerical and military
life. This collection of essays seeks to explore new frontiers
socio-economic and cultural in early modern Irish international
history. The approach is interdisciplinary and the contributors
come from a range of Irish, American, and continental
European academic backgrounds. The general standard is high,
and the book coheres in a way conference-germinated volumes
do not always achieve. It succeeds in suggesting new approaches
to the Irish in Europe, and in making a case for a biographical
project as a vehicle through which to exploit them.
history is a challenging, although potentially rewarding, approach
to the past. It involves parallel and intersecting stories and
requires respect for their complexity and
many variables. The Irish experience in Europe, as an exercise
in international history, needs sophistication, flexibility,
openness, careful targeting, and teamwork. True transnational
history is probably beyond the individual scholar and is predicated
pooling of resources and expertise. The contributors to this
book would seem to appreciate these needs. They have in part
a negative spur: to escape the intellectual prism of nineteenth
century nationalism and its teleological superimposition upon
pre-nationalistic world. In particular, an "obsession with
England" (p. 18) can obstruct understanding of Irish history
in its own terms. A renewed attempt to transcend Anglo-driven
Irish history is also appropriate when some English historians
are locating early
modern English history within its wider international context.
The theme of the Irish in Europe is a useful dimension for Anglo-European
historians to recognize, since early modern Ireland was a living
British link to an alternative and Catholic Europe.
the twelve essays (one introductory and eleven topical) provide
a balanced and integrated treatment. Their chronological sweep
is logical, encompassing the era from the Reformation to the
French Revolution. Their geographical emphasis is on the Irish
within the great Catholic societies of Spain and France. They
generally afford a breadth of thematic treatment, ranging over
ecclesiastical and academic, intellectual and literary, commercial
and economic, royal and patronal, and (to a limited extent)
political, naval-maritime, and military history. Intellectual
and literary history, comparative literature, and socio-economic
analysis are the dominant conceptual approaches. Traditional
politics and operational military history barely have walk-on
roles. There is a handsome level of documentation from archival,
printed, and secondary sources. The overriding theme is religion.
Early modern Irish society was a casualty of a religiously divided
Europe, and its exiled sons and daughters lived out their Roman
Catholic identity in its various refractions. Religious life
and doctrine, being forms of ideas, were essentially immune
to political quarantine and together were one of the dominant
internationalizing forces of the age.
chapter by Thomas O'Connor sets the historiographical and thematic
scene. There is a valuable discussion of the nature and development
of historical writing on
the Irish abroad and its links to foreign historiography. O'Connor
states the need to balance the modern (i.e., post-1800) history
of Irish emigration with the early modern, and to go beyond
the customary clerical and military themes. He argues that there
dual triggers to early modern Irish emigration: religious confessionalism
and (British) state building. He sketches the multifactorial
nature of changing migration patterns.
deal with the Irish in Spain. Ciaran O'Scea explores the devotional
world of the Irish in seventeenth-century Galicia, where Spanish
notarial records suggest racial and gender differences. Patricia
O'Connell writes of the Irish college network in Iberia,
seeing it _inter alia_ as a cultural branch of Spanish foreign
policy. She elucidates a theme which could serve as a motto
for much of the book: the Irish experience of exile was partly
the development of an alternative national vision independent
of the forces for Anglicization at home.
deal with the Irish in France. Eamon O Ciosain discusses seventeenth
century Irish migration to France, providing a corrective to
the view that the major exodus occurred at the beginning of
the Williamite wars. The estimation that in mid-century there
were approximately 40,000 Irish people in France suggests the
importance of diasporic history. Mary Ann Lyons investigates
the Irish community in St. Malo up to 1710. The critical factor
was the prominence of St. Malo as a port, political and religious
migration following commercial links. David Bracken writes of
the Irish Jacobites in France from 1691 to 1720. He illuminates
the social depth of the exile experience in discussing the destitution
which followed French military force reductions after 1697.
Many Irishmen resorted to violent crime including piracy. Priscilla
O'Connor studies the role of the Irish clergy in early eighteenth
century Paris. In administering the affairs of Jacobites in
Ireland and France the clergy played a role in maintaining kinship
networks. Edward Corp tests the claim of the
Irish at the Jacobite court in France to have been poorly treated,
concluding that their grievances were mostly unfounded. Liam
Swords writes of the Irish in Paris at the end of the ancien
regime, showing how the coming of revolution meant both loss
and gain for
the exiles: some suffered execution or massacre; others prospered
in the Napoleonic armies. The regime of the Committee of Public
Safety saw the Irish (ironically in retrospect) as enemies of
trace cultural themes. Tadhg O Dushlaine discusses the influence
of Sir Thomas More on Irish literature in the form of Seathrun
Ceitinn, suggesting the need for a European context in studying
seventeenth-century Irish literature. Clare Carroll relates
concepts of custom and law in Suarez to the views of some Irish
intellectuals. Irish writers rationalized war against the Anglo-Irish
regime, asserting cultural as well as political and
property rights. There is an interesting comparison with Las
Casas's defense of native Indian rights. Liam Chambers examines
Irish Catholic thought in ancien regime France, suggesting the
flourishing nature of Irish intellectual life in exile. Irish
scholars modernized the Irish Catholic church and presented
an Irish cultural identity to Europe.
the admirable desire to explore new approaches, there is a missing
chapter in this book. Irish soldiers and sailors abroad warrant
an essay beyond their fragmentary appearances in other chapters.
As an intrinsic, even critical dimension of the Irish exile
experience, they can potentially be treated contextually in
the spirit of the "new military history": as socio-political
subjects in themselves and as human beings caiught up in the
drama of war. Maps are also a missing element in a book dealing
with international affairs and movements. Maps would greatly
facilitate discussion of religious confessionalism, political
conflict, commercial linkages, and geographical factors. Finally,
there is an
area of potential discussion which is a partial opportunity
missed, and which might be addressed in the future. O'Connor
calls for comparative study of different phases of Irish migration
(p. 26), but there is here no sign of the interesting possible
between different peoples' overseas experiences. English, Scottish,
Dutch, French, and Spanish migrants, exiles, and travellers
are immediately obvious possible comparisons with the Irish.
Even tentative and speculative initiatives along these lines
Irish experience into sharper relief.
succeeds in its own terms as a learned sketch map and an academic
agenda. Such exercises in transnational history are not tangential
but essential, for the migration of people and ideas marked
the countries of their origin and destination as well as the
individuals involved. The history of exile is richly human,
touching on faith, love and war, the making and breaking of
personal bonds, the testing of loyalties, the intertwining of
cultures, and the gaining and losing of livelihoods and fortunes.
As this book
occasionally suggests, there is much such history to be written,
alongside and as part of social and intellectual analysis.
for H-Albion by John
Reeve , School of History, University
of New South Wales, Australian Defence Force Academy.
for example the synthetic essays by J.J. Silke, "The Irish
Abroad 1534-1691," in _A New History of Ireland_, 3, _Early
Modern Ireland 1534-1691_, ed. T.W. Moody, F.X. Martin, and
F.J. Byrne(Oxford, 1976); and H. Murtagh, "Irish Soldiers
Abroad, 1600-1800," in _A Military History of Ireland_,
ed. T. Bartlett and K. Jeffery (Cambridge, 1996).
in particular J. Scott, _England's Troubles: Seventeenth-Century
English Political Instability in European
Context_ (Cambridge, 2000); the essays by S. Adams, "England
and the World Under the Tudors, 1485-1603" and J. Reeve,
"Britain and the World Under the Stuarts, 1603-1689,"
in J.S. Morrill, ed., _The Oxford Illustrated History of Tudor
and Stuart Britain_ (Oxford, 1996); and J. Reeve, "Britain
or Europe? The Context of Early Modern English History: Political
and Cultural, Economic and Social, Naval and Military,"
in G. Burgess, ed., _The New British History: Founding a Modern
State 1603-1715_ (London, 1999).