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How Was Ireland Modernised In The Period 1534 1750

2206 words - 9 pages

To undertake a full thematic investigation of this period would be very much beyond the scope of this paper. Thus, the essay will embark on a high level chronological interpretation of some of the defining events and protagonists, which influenced the early modernization of Ireland during the period 1534-1750. The main focus of the paper will concentrating on the impact and supervision of the Tudor dynasty. Firstly, the essay will endeavour to gain an understanding as to what contemporary historians accept as being the concept of modernization during this time period. The paper will then continue by examine the incumbent societal and political structure of Ireland prior to the Tudor conquests. This will have the impact of highlight the modernising effects produced by the subsequent attempts by the Tudors to consolidate and centralise power in the hands of the State. Once more, due to the vast nature of the time period, not every modernizing effect can be examined. Therefore, the paper will concentrate on the modernization of the political landscape, land ownership and the impact this had on the geographic construct of the island.
Most contemporary historians define the European early modern period from around the beginning of the sixteenth century, up until the commencements of the French Revolution of 1789. The ambiguity inherent in this apparent catch-all period is problematic, and invokes much debate and disagreement among historians. For the purpose of expediency, this paper will have its modernizing genesis in the thoughts of Mitchell Greenberg writing in the Journal for Early Modern Cultural Studies. Greenberg states there was a common modernizing compulsion right across Europe during this time period ‘…marked by both a generalized European fear that chaos was about to descend upon the world and a desire for some force, some leader who would be able to waylay that chaos, establish order and put things that seem askew, aright’. This perceived ‘general crisis of European civilization’, by the European royalty, resulted in a variety of responses from the power elite right across Europe. The royal houses of France, the Holy Roman Empire, Spain and England, to name but a few; frantically and systematically engaged in the consolidation of their political, social, religious and economic power. Further fuelled by the wave of religious reformation sweeping the known world. This process was enacted through a procedure of subjugation, alongside the modern idea of centralizing political authority in the hands of the State.
The political and social power structure in Ireland at the beginning of the sixteenth century was utterly fragmented. For the most part, power was vested in the hands of semi-autonomous local Magnates of Anglo-Norman descendants, Gaelic Lords of native Irish lineage and a myriad of hybridization between the two. This disquieting structure in Ireland, set against the backdrop of the perceived European crisis of civility and...

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