Nicholas (nwhyte) wrote,
Nicholas
nwhyte

Martial Power and Elizabethan Political Culture, by Rory Rapple

An excellent monograph looking at Elizabethan era soldiers fighting English wars, mainly but not only in Ireland. Rapple makes a lot of good points about the way in which the soldiers regarded themselves as something of a caste apart in Elizabethan society, which struck me as in some ways like the military sub-culture of the contemporary USA which we currently read about. His account made a lot more sense of the shifting and uncertain loyalties of the captains - I was previously rather boggled by, for instance, the career of Thomas Stukley, or the precise mechanisms of funding the administration in Dublin and the maintenance of the Elizabethan standing army in Ireland, but I learned a lot from this.

Buried in the middle of the book, Rapple also has a sombre warning to all of us to try not to project our modern sensibilities onto how the widespread violence of the era was experienced and perceived by those on the sharp end of it - not so much because those were different times, but because "each individual's sufferings are, by definition, personal, non-transferable, and, consequently, not open to comparison with any accuracy, although such comparison often has stirring rhetorical effect" - a call to try and refrain from false empathy and engage with humility and compassion, which is sensible in many contexts, and not just for historians of Elizabethan violence.
Tags: bookblog 2015, tudor history, tudor ireland, world: ireland
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