Protestantism's failure in Ireland

gerhard dengler

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Paul Blanshard, 1953, The Irish and Catholic Power An American Interpretation
"By 1600 the Jesuits had already won the battle for the Irish soul, partly because of what Edmund Spenser called "the zeal of Popish priests..............."

Given that the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) was only founded in 1540 in Spain, Blanshard's assertion is dubious at best.
 


Cruimh

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"By 1600 the Jesuits had already won the battle for the Irish soul, partly because of what Edmund Spenser called "the zeal of Popish priests..............."

Given that the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) was only founded in 1540 in Spain, Blanshard's assertion is dubious at best.
60 years into the Counter-reformation.

A long time - Look at the changes in Ireland from 1953 ......
 

gerhard dengler

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60 years into the Counter-reformation.

A long time - Look at the changes in Ireland from 1953 ......
60 years isn't a long time.
It wasn't until 1565 for example that the Order of the Society of Jesus opened their first school in Ireland.

I think the American author overplays the influence of the Order of the Society of Jesus in terms of Ireland with regard to the Counter Reformation here.
 

Cruimh

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60 years isn't a long time.
Crazy.

But that aside :

Founded in 1534, the Society of Jesus or the Jesuits, formed the backbone of the Catholic or Counter Reformation. The Jesuits combined the ideas of traditional monastic discipline with a dedication to teaching and preaching. Why they did this is pretty clear -- they wanted to win back converts. As a brotherhood or society, the Jesuits sought to bypass local corruption and appealed to the papacy to leading international movement -- they would not attach themselves to local bishops or local authorities. The purpose of this international movement was to revive a Catholic or universal Christianity.As theologians, the Jesuits highlighted one central flaw in Protestant theology, that of predestination. Predestination offered hopes of salvation for the literate and prosperous. It also, however, included the possibility of doom, despair and the abyss for other individuals. In response, the Jesuits offered hope -- and that hope to the form of religious revival based on ceremony, tradition in the power of the priest to offer forgiveness. In essence, the Jesuits made Christianity more emotional. Keep in mind, that one of the reasons why the Reformation indeed took place was because the people wanted a more emotional and direct spiritual life. The Jesuits urged princes to strengthen the Church in their territories. They even developed the theology that permitted "small sins" in the service of a just cause. In other words, a small sin was okay if and only if it led to some greater good.
Lecture 5: The Catholic Reformation

1540 was when the Society was given Papal approval and backing.
 

McTell

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No
Isn't it all a bit like saying that an african tribe switched from witchdoctor A to witchdoctor B, but another tribe stayed with witchdoctor A because he frightened them more convincingly about the punishments after death?

You can surround it with the music of Tomas de Victoria, lovely cathedrals, and all the trimmings, but that's what it boils down to.
 

gerhard dengler

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Crazy.

1540 was when the Society was given Papal approval and backing.
60 years isn't a long time.
Whether you choose to accept this or not is immaterial at this point.

Under Roman Catholicism, a religious order cannot be formed unless it receives the approval of the Pope.
So until 1540, the Order of the Society of Jesus could not commence proselytizing internationally.

The American author you cite ("By 1600 the Jesuits had already won the battle for the Irish soul, partly because of what Edmund Spenser called "the zeal of Popish priests...............") overplays the influence of the Order of the Society of Jesus in terms of Ireland with regard to the Counter Reformation here.
 

McTell

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If you were an Irish peasant in the 1560s, somehow literate and interested in finding out about the reformation, your landlord and the local priest would stop you on day 1.

Plus the reformers in Dublin didn't speak Irish so they had no way of telling you how wonderful it was. Plus the reformers' stories changed and changed again, so you could never keep up.

There was nothing in it for you to reform, you would still have to pay tithes to someone, and so you had plenty of good financial reasons to stay put.

We don't read of the fili writing poems about the pros and cons of predestination, and there was no debate because debate could result in doubt and questions.

In Wales and Scotland the official reformed religions never succeeded either.
 

Cruimh

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60 years isn't a long time.
Whether you choose to accept this or not is immaterial at this point.

Under Roman Catholicism, a religious order cannot be formed unless it receives the approval of the Pope.
So until 1540, the Order of the Society of Jesus could not commence proselytizing internationally.

The American author you cite ("By 1600 the Jesuits had already won the battle for the Irish soul, partly because of what Edmund Spenser called "the zeal of Popish priests...............") overplays the influence of the Order of the Society of Jesus in terms of Ireland with regard to the Counter Reformation here.
As the Jesuits WERE the main driving force one cannot separate the Jesuits from the counter reformation.

And sixty years IS a long time - after all it was in the 1950s that the Irish Attorney General proclaimed :

Parliament cannot surely be asked to introduce legislation contrary to the teaching of that great Church.
And in a debate on Corporal punishment the Minister for Education Jack Lynch bolstered his argument by citing Catholic teaching and Pope Pius XII’s Encyclical on ‘The Christian Education of Youth’.

Massive changes over the past 60 years Gerhard.
 

Drogheda445

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The reason Ireland never became a predominantly Protestant country is probably down to a number of factors:

- As Ireland was never a single unitary state it had no central power that could enforce a new religion. Unlike England and Scotland (who themselves retained substantial Catholic populations), hundreds of kingdoms and sub kingdoms existed, and any conversion was going to be small scale. England, for example, could only truly enforce Anglicanism on the Pale.
- There was no native Protestant movement, which has always been the greatest reason for the conversion of nations to Protestantism in Europe. Very rarely do you see a successful conversion through imposition from outside. In Scotland for example, although it took longer than England to convert, it was successful through the efforts of John Knox, rather than an English imposition of the faith. Ireland never had such a native movement.
- The Anglican priests that did arrive in Ireland were often not Gaelic speakers and the Irish were mostly monoglots at that stage.

There are probably other reasons but by the start of the 17th century English attempts to convert the majority of the native Irish ended. After that, plantation and settlement were the means by which Protestantism entered Ireland, and this itself was limited.

In response to another question, I think Ireland might have inevitably seen less violence and obviously less sectarianism if it had become Protestant. It would also probably be more open to new ideas and, like Scotland, could part of a larger European Enlightenment and become more prosperous in the process. However Ireland would probably still remain within the UK as the suppression of Catholicism in later years generated many of the grievances which led to the War of Independence. Although as a non-religious person I don't think it would have changed Ireland dramatically as a conversion to another religion entirely.
 

Riadach

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As the Jesuits WERE the main driving force one cannot separate the Jesuits from the counter reformation.

And sixty years IS a long time - after all it was in the 1950s that the Irish Attorney General proclaimed :



And in a debate on Corporal punishment the Minister for Education Jack Lynch bolstered his argument by citing Catholic teaching and Pope Pius XII’s Encyclical on ‘The Christian Education of Youth’.

Massive changes over the past 60 years Gerhard.
I suppose they had some influence on the nine years war, After all, here are Aodh Ó Néill's war aims:

That the catholic, apostolic, and Roman religion be openly preached and taught throughout all Ireland, as well in cities as borough towns, by bishops, seminary priests, Jesuits, and all other religious men.

That the Church of Ireland be wholly governed by the pope.

That all cathedrals and parish churches, abbeys, and all other religious houses, with all tithes and church lands, now in the hands of the English, be presently restored to the catholic churchmen.

That all Irish priests and religious men, now prisoners in England or Ireland, be presently set at liberty, with all temporal Irishmen, that are troubled for their conscience, and to go where they will, without further trouble.

That all Irish priests and religious men may freely pass and repass, by sea and land, to and from foreign countries.

That no Englishman may be a churchman in Ireland.

That there be erected an university upon the crown rents of Ireland, wherein all sciences shall be taught according to the manner of the catholic Roman church.

That the governor of Ireland be at least an earl, and of the privy council of England, bearing the name of viceroy.

That the lord chancellor, lord treasurer, lord admiral, the council of state, the justices of the laws, queen’s attorney, queen’s serjeant, and all other officers appertaining to the council and law of Ireland, be Irishmen.

That all principal governments of Ireland, as Connaught, Munster, etc., be governed by Irish noblemen.

That the master of ordnance, and half the soldiers with their officers resident in Ireland, be Irishmen.

That no Irishman’s heirs shall lose their lands for the faults of their ancestors.

That no Irishman’s heir under age shall fall in the queen’s or her successors’ hands, as a ward, but that the living be put to the heir’s profit, and the advancement of his younger brethren, and marriages of his sisters, if he have any.

That no children nor any other friends be taken as pledges for the good abearing of their parents, and, if there be any such pledges now in the hands of the English, they must presently be released.

That all statutes made against the preferment of Irishmen as well in their own country as abroad, be presently recalled.

That the queen nor her successors may in no sort press an Irishman to serve them against his will.

That O’Neill, O’Donnell, the Earl of Desmond, with all their partakers may peacable enjoy all lands and privileges that did appertain to their predecessors 200 years past.

That all Irishmen, of what quality they be, may freely travel in foreign countries, for their better experience, without making any of the queen’s officers acquainted withal.

That all Irishmen may freely travel and traffic all merchandises in England as Englishmen, paying the same rights and tributes as the English do.

That all Irishmen may freely traffic with all merchandises, that shall be thought necessary by the council of state of Ireland for the profit of their republic, with foreigners or in foreign countries, and that no Irishman shall be troubled for the passage of priests or other religious men.

That all Irishmen that will may learn, and use all occupations and arts whatsoever.

That all Irishmen may freely build ships of what burden they will, furnishing the same with artillery and all munition at their pleasure.
 

gerhard dengler

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As the Jesuits WERE the main driving force one cannot separate the Jesuits from the counter reformation.
No one suggested otherwise.

The author that you cite to support your worldview overplays the extent of the role played in Ireland in terms of the so called Counter Reformation by the Order of the Society of Jesus.

The Counter Reformation was initiated in territories throughout mainland Europe following Trent in 1543.
Holland, Germany, France, the Low Countries were the main territories in which the Counter Reformation was initiated.
Yes, the Order of the Society of Jesus was to the forefront of that initiative in Europe in those locations.

Given the order's relatively recent establishment (1540), given the size of the Order of the Society of Jesus congregation, and given the fact that the Counter Reformation was played out in mainland Europe, the American author you cite ("By 1600 the Jesuits had already won the battle for the Irish soul, partly because of what Edmund Spenser called "the zeal of Popish priests...............") overplays the influence of the Order of the Society of Jesus in terms of Ireland with regard to the Counter Reformation.

Despite your worldview.
 

Riadach

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In fairness, given Edmund Campion's view of the native Irish, I doubt he was the sort of jesuit that contributed to the strength of Catholicism in Ireland.
 

Cruimh

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The reason Ireland never became a predominantly Protestant country is probably down to a number of factors:

- As Ireland was never a single unitary state it had no central power that could enforce a new religion. Unlike England and Scotland (who themselves retained substantial Catholic populations), hundreds of kingdoms and sub kingdoms existed, and any conversion was going to be small scale. England, for example, could only truly enforce Anglicanism on the Pale.
- There was no native Protestant movement, which has always been the greatest reason for the conversion of nations to Protestantism in Europe. Very rarely do you see a successful conversion through imposition from outside. In Scotland for example, although it took longer than England to convert, it was successful through the efforts of John Knox, rather than an English imposition of the faith. Ireland never had such a native movement.
- The Anglican priests that did arrive in Ireland were often not Gaelic speakers and the Irish were mostly monoglots at that stage.

There are probably other reasons but by the start of the 17th century English attempts to convert the majority of the native Irish ended. After that, plantation and settlement were the means by which Protestantism entered Ireland, and this itself was limited.

In response to another question, I think Ireland might have inevitably seen less violence and obviously less sectarianism if it had become Protestant. It would also probably be more open to new ideas and, like Scotland, could part of a larger European Enlightenment and become more prosperous in the process. However Ireland would probably still remain within the UK as the suppression of Catholicism in later years generated many of the grievances which led to the War of Independence. Although as a non-religious person I don't think it would have changed Ireland dramatically as a conversion to another religion entirely.
Couple of interesting articles

Protestants, Planters and Apartheid in Early Modern Ireland, Nicholas Canny, 1986

And

Sword, Word and Strategy in the Reformation in Ireland, Brendan Bradshaw, 1978

Bradshaw's article is excellent.
 

ObsessiveMathsFreak

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I'm tired of these history threads appearing on the front page. I wish the history crowd would just get out of politics.ie and back to the rural pubs where they belong.
 

Campion

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That could be argued for the Gaelic Irish certainly, but not necessarily for the Old English settlers who also remained Catholic but very much loyal to England.
Patrick Corish and Colm Lennon each examined recusancy amongst the Old English in cities like Dublin, Waterford, Wexford, and Kilkenny and determined that these people chose to remain Catholic out of conscience, often to their utter financial ruin. The landed Old English, however, either willingly conformed in order to hold their lands or they casuistically conformed externally while internally/privately they behaved as Catholics, as Conor Cruise O'Brien wrote about the family of Edmund Burke. But there were even exceptions to this-- Edmund Spenser's family, for example, by the late 17th c. had converted to Catholicism.
 

Campion

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In fairness, given Edmund Campion's view of the native Irish, I doubt he was the sort of jesuit that contributed to the strength of Catholicism in Ireland.
Campion was still an Anglican when he was in Ireland and when he wrote his Historie. The Old English Jesuits like Wolfe and White are known more because Jesuits kept detailed records rather than because they had a wide impact. The men who were the most important in the Catholic reformation in Ireland were the Observant Franciscans, particularly among the mere Irish. All of those ruined 16th-17th c. "abbeys" in the Irish countryside were theirs. They first translated continental spiritual works into Irish, and they tended to be drawn not from the Old English but from the Gaelic Irish. They aren't given sufficient credit, however, because there are no archival materials available about their work. Too bad.
 

pragmaticapproach

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The reason Ireland never became a predominantly Protestant country is probably down to a number of factors:

- As Ireland was never a single unitary state it had no central power that could enforce a new religion. Unlike England and Scotland (who themselves retained substantial Catholic populations), hundreds of kingdoms and sub kingdoms existed, and any conversion was going to be small scale. England, for example, could only truly enforce Anglicanism on the Pale.
- There was no native Protestant movement, which has always been the greatest reason for the conversion of nations to Protestantism in Europe. Very rarely do you see a successful conversion through imposition from outside. In Scotland for example, although it took longer than England to convert, it was successful through the efforts of John Knox, rather than an English imposition of the faith. Ireland never had such a native movement.
- The Anglican priests that did arrive in Ireland were often not Gaelic speakers and the Irish were mostly monoglots at that stage.

There are probably other reasons but by the start of the 17th century English attempts to convert the majority of the native Irish ended. After that, plantation and settlement were the means by which Protestantism entered Ireland, and this itself was limited.

In response to another question, I think Ireland might have inevitably seen less violence and obviously less sectarianism if it had become Protestant. It would also probably be more open to new ideas and, like Scotland, could part of a larger European Enlightenment and become more prosperous in the process. However Ireland would probably still remain within the UK as the suppression of Catholicism in later years generated many of the grievances which led to the War of Independence. Although as a non-religious person I don't think it would have changed Ireland dramatically as a conversion to another religion entirely.
Just to correct a small detail, the reformation reached Scotland before England, with the lowlands embracing the reformation early on, while the highlands were a little slower on the uptake, but eventually embraced either calvinism or episcopalianism, with the exception of a few pockets of catholic populated areas.

The Gaelic speaking, highlander Campbells were some of the first, if not the first protestants in britain, since the clan chieftan was a good friend of John Knox, he embraced the reformation in its early days as did the rest of the inhabitants in the territory he controlled.
 
S

Science Ninja

Could it be the failure of the English to successfully co-opt the elites into the project? The Dissolution of the Monasteries gave the English elite a stake in the Reformation.*

*Also I have a question with anyone fimiliar with the period: what was the Irish and Old English relationship with the Church in this period? I could imagine such lords being less welcoming to the Reformation if the Church in their territories was dominated by their relations.
I'm no expert, and this book has its bias, but they all look pretty co-opted to me:

The Story of Ireland, by The Hon. Emily Lawless.

At a great parliament summoned in Dublin in 1540, all the Irish lords of English descent, and a large muster of native chieftains were for the first time in history assembled together under one roof. O'Tooles and O'Byrnes from their wild Wicklow mountains; the McMurroughs from Carlow, the O'Connor, the O'Dunn, the O'Moore; the terrible McGillapatrick from his forests of Upper Ossory--all the great O's and Macs in fact of Ireland were called together to meet the Butlers, the Desmonds, the Barrys, the Fitzmaurices--their hereditary enemies now for four long centuries. One house alone was not represented, and that the greatest of them all. The sun of the Kildares had set for a while, and the only surviving member of it was a boy, hiding in holes and corners, and trusting for the bare life to the fealty of his clansmen.

Nothing that could reconcile the chiefs to the new religious departure was omitted upon this occasion. Their new-found loyalty was to be handsomely rewarded with a share of the Church spoil. Nor did they show the smallest reluctance, it must be said, to meet the king's good dispositions half way. The principal Church lands in Galway were made over to McWilliam, the head of the Burkes; O'Brien received the abbey lands in Thomond; other chiefs received similar benefices according to their degree, while a plentiful shower of less substantial, but still appreciated favours followed. The turbulent McGillapatrick of Ossory was to be converted into the decorous-sounding Lord Upper Ossory. For Con O'Neill as soon as he chose to come in, the Earldom of Tyrone was waiting. McWilliam Burke of Galway was to become Earl of Clanricarde; O'Brien of Clare, Earl of Thomond and Baron of Inchiquin. Parliamentary robes, and golden chains; a house in Dublin for each chief during the sitting of Parliament--these were only a portion of the good things offered by the deputy on the part of his master. Could man or monarch do more? In a general interchange of civilities the "King's Irish enemies" combined with their hereditary foes to proclaim him no longer Lord, but King of Ireland--"Defender of the Faith, and of the Church of England and Ireland on earth the Supreme Head."
 

eoghanacht

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The newly arrived planters didn't speak the same language, dress the same way or have anything else in common with the natives. They were the equivalent of Eastern Europeans arriving in Ireland today. (Youse are all very welcome by the way, this is not an immigrant bashing post).

Why would a Lithuanian see that cleaving to their religion was necessary in order to remain distinct? There were a host of reasons why the natives were distinct. Religion was only one of them.


D

Religion was only one of them, Holy Mother Church was all pervasive in peoples lives, it was more than just a means to separate one from the newly arrived.

I dunno it's a tricky one.
 

eoghanacht

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The 'identifying themselves as separate from the newly arrived planters' thing is the core of why the Reformation failed in Ireland, surely? Protestantism failed because it was the identifying mark of the 'Other' and the Other was insufficiently powerful to impose it at the time when the maximum opportunity existed.

Probably the most logical, the new arrivals didn't think much of the natives and probably thought the Reformation would be wasted on them.

By the time the realised, actual we can't kill all these damn locals the divisons had been set in stone.
 


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