Kingdom and colony: the dual contexts of the Irish lord deputyship in the sixteenth-century

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Though untrue, it was regarded as highly plausible that Sir John Perrot, Elizabeth’s former lord deputy of Ireland, could have uttered that Elizabeth ‘shall not curb me, she shall not rule me now’. Such an accusation arose at Perrot’s trial for treason in 1592 on trumped up charges, after his time as lord deputy; and such an accusation reflects the volatile and contentious nature of the claims to authority lord deputies in Ireland would make by the end of the sixteenth-century. Such volatility arose from the fact that the office of the lord deputyship, as with the constitutional status of Ireland, sat within a series of overlapping contexts. The debate over whether Ireland was indeed England’s first colony, or a kingdom, tends to lend itself to a sharp division in how the deputyship and crown government in Ireland has been understood. Ireland was an arena in which the English first sought to impose their legal and landholding structures on an indigenous population, where they appropriated land and established colonies. But Ireland was also governed in line with English provincial society, where the different inhabitants of the island were drawn into the norms and conventions of English lordly and gentry government. Here the lord deputyship is best understood as sitting within both of these contexts; and it is the ambiguity this created around the lord deputy’s role and how that role was understood contemporaneously which explains how the institution of the lord deputyship shaped Irish political culture.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationLes alter ego des souverains. Vice-rois et lieutenants généraux en Europe et dans les Amériques (xive-xviie siècle)
EditorsPhilippe Chareyre, Álvaro Adot Lerga, Dénes Harai
Place of PublicationPau
Publisher Presses de l’Université de Pau et des Pays de l’Adour
Number of pages39
Publication statusPublished - 31 Oct 2020

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