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The Elizabethan Soldier in Ireland

Cyrill Falls describes how a succession of rebellions challenged a sodden but sturdy English soldiery in late 16th century Ireland.

The wars in Ireland in the reign of Queen Elizabeth mean nothing to the average intelligent reader of history, and little enough even to most historians, because neither fully understand their background. They realize, it may be, that these wars were brought about to some extent by national sentiment and to a greater extent by religious sentiment; they may also see that the struggle was a phase of the English war with Spain.

Behind all this lie two factors not so well understood. First, there is the inevitable effort of the Renaissance states to absorb the surviving Celtic communities, as France did in Brittany, England in Wales and Cornwall, Scotland in some degree in her own Highlands. Secondly, there is the nature of the Irish people and countryside in those days and the peculiar problems which they presented to an English Government in Ireland and to English troops responsible for maintaining it and for suppressing revolt against it. In my recent book, Elizabeth’s Irish Wars, I did little more than mention the first of these factors, because I lacked room in which to do so, but to the best of my ability I made clear the second.

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