Ireland and the Jacobite cause, 1685-1766: a fatal attachment

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Four Courts Press, 2002 - History - 468 pages
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This book offers the first analytic study of Irish Jacobitism in English, spanning the period between the succession of James II (1685) and the death of his son 'James III', 'the Old Pretender', in 1766. Two crucial features are the analysis of Irish Jacobite poetry in its wider 'British' and European contexts and the inclusion of the Irish diaspora as a pivotal part of the Irish political 'nation'. Both Jacobites and anti-Jacobites were obsessed with the vicissitudes of eighteenth-century European politics, and the fluctuating fortunes of the Stuarts in international diplomacy. European high politics and recruitment for the Irish Brigades in France and Spain provide the dominant themes in the poems, letters, pamphlets and memoirs of Irish writers, at home and abroad.

A close study of early-eighteenth century Irish politics questions both the 'shipwreck' of the Irish Catholic polity and the unassailed march of the Protestant 'nation'. Irish Protestant unease during successive Jacobite invasion scares and the imposition and maintenance of the penal laws shows that they did not underestimate the potential of the Irish Jacobite challenge. The period between the outbreak of the War of the Austrian Succession (1739-49) and the end of the Seven Years' War (1763) witnessed a reinvigoration of Irish Jacoitism which permeated all levels of Irish society, at home and abroad. However, Britain's triumph in 1763 laid the basis for a new geopolitics, which hastened the demise of Jacobitism as a potent force in European high politics. It also permitted the emergence of a segment of Irish Catholic opinion willing to make a strategic accommodation with the House of Hanover. The period between 1760 andthe 1790s witnessed a renewed battle for the hearts and minds of Irish Catholics between die-hard Jacobites and Hanoverian integrationists. This Jacobite twilight also witnessed the evolution from Jacobite to Jacobin politics. Jacobitism, by preventing the emergence of a fully-fledged Hanoverian royalism within the broader Catholic community was crucial to the ease with which democratic republicanism penetrated Irish society in the 1790s.

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