Early Modern History

The defeat of the Desmond rebellion in the early 1580s marked the end of the medieval era in the county which the last hurrah of its involvement in the 9 Years’ War failed to reverse here as elsewhere in the county. The resultant Munster Plantation replaced many of the existing landholders, a process continued and intensified by the wars and further land confiscations of the seventeenth century. Apart from the various branches of the Desmonds, other Anglo-Norman families like the Lacys and Brownes were dispossessed along with Irish families such as the McInerneys, O’Gormans and O’Gradys to be replaced by new landowners such as the Courtneys, Trenchards, Bourchiers and Southwells. This change of landlords had less impact than is often supposed on ordinary tenant farmers and especially on the landless labourers who continued to work the land for little reward as they had always done. The progressive impact of this process on farming output and productivity and the development of new towns, markets and trade is another often-ignored aspect of the period.

The initial reaction to the religious changes of Henry VIII was one of general acceptance as shown by the taking of the oath of supremacy recognising the king as head of the church by the mayor and corporation of the city in 1538 and more significantly also by the Bishop, John Quin. He had been a Dominican friar and his apparent long-term relationship with the mother of his four children may have to be a factor in his decision. However in 1551 he resigned rather than accept the new Lutheran ideas of Edward VI. His successor, William Casey was dismissed by the Catholic Queen Mary but restored by Elizabeth I to promote her Anglican compromise religious settlement. By now both the Anglo-Normans and Native Irish had firmly rejected religious change and insisted on remaining loyal to the papacy though the former tried to reconcile this with obedience to the monarch in secular matters, an approach which was ultimately to prove impossible and they joined with the Irish in rebellion in 1642.

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