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Irishmen, aristocrats, and other white barbarians.

Et virum bonum quom laudabant, ita laudabant, bonum agricolam bonumque colonum.

- Cato, De agri cultura

In 1578 Hubert Languet wrote to his young protegee Philip Sidney concerning the latter's plan to assist the Low Countries in their fight against Spain. Surprisingly, the old republican Calvinist monarchomach vetoed the idea, bluntly informing the impulsive teenager that "you and your fellows, I mean men of noble birth, consider that nothing brings you more honour than wholesale slaughter', and you are generally guilty of the greatest injustice."(1) This hostile assessment of the aristocratic warrior ethos - what Languet derides as "mere love of fame and honour and . . . displaying your courage" - bears witness to a major ideological upheaval of the early modern period: the attack on the aristocratic politics of violence and, to quote another Elizabethan, "glory got by courage of manhood."(2) We tend to forget that the primary objects of social discipline, regimentation, and repression in the sixteenth century were not women; nor were they Jews, Moors, or Anabaptists. Rather, the civilizing process under the Tudors attempted to control white upperclass men - precisely because white upperclass men had what those others did not: namely, guns, swords, retainers, horses, and a habit of using them when aggrieved.(3)

The most trenchant Tudor/Stuart critiques of aristocratic warrior society, however, do not discuss England but two other islands: Utopia and Ireland. Thomas More's low opinion of the armigerous nobility being well-known, I want to consider the socio-political ramifications of the two most important Irish tracts: Spenser's A View of the Present State of Ireland (1596) and Sir John Davies's A Discovery of the True Causes Why Ireland Was Never Entirely Subdued (1612).

Recent criticism of Tudor/Stuart Irish discourses (most of which deals with Spenser's View) has focused on their alleged imperialist, racist, and genocidal implications; in consequence, this criticism has generally dismissed their organizing polarity - civility versus barbarism - as an emotive equivalent to the trite and pernicious binarism of "Us" versus "Demonic Other."(4) Since Spenser and Davies propose the eradication of native Irish culture, modern scholarship has an understandable desire to question the legitimacy of their arguments; yet such dismissive moves foreclose the possibility of understanding the rather precise and complex historical paradigm implicit in their contrast between barbarous Irishmen and English civility.

Spenser and Davies, like numerous early modern Englishmen, consistently describe the Irish as barbarians. This label, however, does not conflate the Irish with New World or other non-white peoples but designates them as northern Europeans,(5) which is why Spenser draws extensive parallels between Irish culture and the customs of the Scythians, Gauls, Germans, and Britons.(6) While Davies does not share Spenser's passion for ethnography, his obiter dicta comparisons between the Irish and the ancient "Gauls, Germans . . . [and] the British in the time of Agricola" indicate that his Irish barbarians likewise trace their ancestry to the ancient peoples of northern Europe.(7)

The discursive genealogy of these ethnographic parallels is important. The barbarians to whom Spenser and Davies compare the Irish are not the ad hoc constructs of a burgeoning imperialist discourse. They make their first English appearance in Elizabethan avant-garde historiography, where they are identified with the native peoples of England. Prior to the 1580s, Tudor histories do not include England's barbarian origins, preferring the more respectable national pedigree provided by Brutus's Trojan band and the offspring of Old Testament patriarchs. As late as Holinshed's 1577 Chronicles, the earliest inhabitants of England (and Ireland) could be imagined as the highly civilized grandchildren of Noah, whose northward migrations had been recorded (and invented) by Giovanni Nanni, or the pseudo-Berosus; following Nanni, the Chronicles relate how one grandson, Bartolenus, settled Ireland, while another, the pious and learned Samothes, headed for England, where he built numerous towns and cities, leaving his great-grandson Druiyus to establish a college of Druid sages, who subsequently taught the Greek alphabet to the Athenians.(8)

But with the publication of Camden's Britannia in 1586, a radically different model of English prehistory replaces these legitimating myths. In Camden, no kulturhelden roam the British isles during the years following the Deluge. Instead of the Chronicles' devolutionary scheme, which portrays early British history as the gradual decline of an advanced civilization, Britannia's opening chapters narrate British origins as the slow and bloody civilizing process that followed Roman colonization, which "chased away all savage barbarisme from the Britans minds . . . and reduced the naturall inhabitants of the Iland unto the society of civil life" (although at the cost of their native culture and liberty).(9) For Camden, the early inhabitants of Britain - like all northern Europeans - were "uncivill," "rude," "most warlike, and exceedingly given to slaughter." The English and lowland Scots attained civility, Camden adds, because, unlike the Irish, they became subject to the "Roman yoke" - which leads Camden to the interesting generalization that "wheresoever the Romans were victours, they brought them whom they conquered, to civility: neither verily in any place else throughout Europe was there any civility, learning, and elegance, but where they ruled."(10)

In Camden's account of English origins, as in the Irish tracts, northern barbarians belong to a narrative model that configures history as the gradual acquisition of civility - a civility, moreover, apparently dependent upon the forcible imposition of a more advanced culture. The paradigm of English cultural evolution from barbarism to involuntary civilization by means of imperial conquest supplies the blueprint for Spenser's and Davies's proposals for introducing civility to Ireland.

"Civility," of course, can have more than one meaning; its specific import in the Tudor/Stuart Irish tracts will occupy the second half of this essay. However, their schemes for civilizing Ireland cannot be understood without first grasping the nature of the barbarism these proposed reforms were designed to supplant. I want to begin by briefly sketching the racial/ethnic component in pre-modern discussions of barbarism (which, although not central to the Irish tracts themselves, bears significantly on current debates concerning the racist underpinnings of English colonialism), before taking up the more important question of how "barbarism" functions as a term of cultural analysis.

The conceptualization of barbarism employed in the Irish tracts (as well as in Camden's Britannia) is not a product of the Renaissance imagination but derives, like so much else, from classical antiquity - or more specifically, from classical representations of northern barbarians. The Greeks and Romans, who were, of course, southern Europeans, defined their culturo-geographic position as lying between the great despotic civilizations of Asia and Africa and the primitive tribes to the north.(11) This self-definition, in turn, underlies ethnographic speculation from the fourth century B.C. through the seventeenth, a tradition conveniently summarized in Bodin's massively influential Methodus:(12)

The ancients report . . . almost unanimously that the men living to the north are larger and stronger in body; to the south, on the other hand, they are weaker, yet they exceed the others in ability. . . . [They] have opposite traits. So if the southerner is black, the northerner must be white. . . . It is plain, therefore, that the southerners excel in intellect, the Scythians in body. . . . [Africans] have more than enough wisdom, but not enough strength. . . . In general, it has been so arranged by nature that Scythians, who have less reason, but more strength, should place the height of all virtues in military glory.(13)

Bodin's Scythians, whom Spenser consistently equates with the Irish, are not, as some recent critics have maintained, an Asiatic people;(14) according to Bodin, the "Scythian face [has] an obvious characteristic whereby it differs from the others - to wit, the bluish color of the eyes."(15) The Scythians are caucasian barbarians: a cruel and violent people, almost exclusively preoccupied with war, who happen to be, as their racial characteristics indicate, the founding stock for most of northern Europe.

Bodin's description of Scythian mores - like virtually all Renaissance ethnographic speculation - depends heavily on the three surviving classical works dealing with the early peoples of northern Europe: Caesar's Gallic Wars and Tacitus's Agricola and Germania. For our purposes, these are crucial texts, directly or indirectly shaping Spenser's and Davies's representation of Irish cultural practices.(16) In particular, the classical construct of barbarism passes, almost unchanged, into the Tudor/Stuart tracts. To grasp the fairly precise and substantive import of their ascription of barbarism to the Irish, it will prove useful to sketch the Roman model, which they presuppose.

Above all else, the Roman historians emphasize the pervasive violence of northern European society. The Germans "spend all their lives in hunting and warlike pursuits."(17) They have "no taste for peace" but consider "war and plunder [raptus]" the only honorable pursuits, leaving "the care of house, home, and fields . . . to the women, old men, and weaklings of the family," for "a German is not so easily prevailed upon to plough the land and wait patiently for harvest as to challenge a foe and earn wounds for his reward. He thinks it tame and spiritless to accumulate slowly by the sweat of his brow what can be got quickly by the loss of a little blood."(18) Hence they "are not agriculturalist . . . [but] live principally on milk, cheese, and meat"; they "do not plant orchards, fence off meadows, or irrigate gardens," nor do they own private property, lest their men "get accustomed to living in one place, lose their warlike enthusiasm, and take up agriculture."(19) For the same reasons, the Germans "never live in cities and will not even have their houses adjoin one another."(20)

The various tribes have no central government but are ruled by their individual chieftains, who fight unceasingly among themselves, each chief "attended by a large train of picked young warriors," whose numbers constitute "the only criterion of position and power that they recognize" - a status system entailing constant hostilities, given that, Tacitus notes, "a large body of retainers cannot be kept together except by means of violence and war."(21) Since strength determines status, these warrior societies are ruthlessly aristocratic; in Gaul only the Druids and warriors "are of any account or consideration. The common people are treated almost as slaves. . . . Most of them, crushed by debt or heavy taxation or the oppression of more powerful persons, bind themselves to serve men of rank [nobiles], who exercise over them all the rights that masters have over slaves."(22)

In Caesar, and even more sharply in Tacitus, this grim picture of barbarian life is complicated by a grimmer realization that the barbarian alone remains free; as Tacitus remarks of the Gauls, "a life of ease has made them unwarlike: their valour perished with their freedom."(23) The consequence of beating one's sword into a plowshare is slavery, not only because an indolent people is easily conquered but because civilized persons prefer comfortable subjection to the harsh freedom of the forests and bogs. Thus Tacitus describes how Agricola domesticated the Britons, encouraging them to build fine homes and educating their young nobles in the liberal arts:

The result was that instead of loathing the Latin language they became eager to speak it effectively. In the same way, our national dress came into favour and the toga was everywhere to be seen. And so the population was gradually led into the demoralizing temptations of arcades, baths, and sumptuous banquets. The unsuspecting Britons spoke of such novelties as "civilization" [humanitas], when in fact they were only a feature of their enslavement [servitus].(24)

If one cannot do without the benefits of civilization, one cannot do without the government that provides them. Nor are luxuries the sole, or even principal, instruments of subjection; the exhausting labor of farming on which civil society rests is itself a form of bondage. The Germania ends with an account of the Fenni, a people "astonishingly savage and disgustingly poor," who survive on "wild herbs, dress in skins, and sleep on the ground." Yet, Tacitus remarks, "they count their lot happier than that of others who groan over field labour, sweat over house-building, or hazard their own and other men's fortunes in the hope of profit and the fear of loss [spe metuque]. Unafraid of anything that man or god can do to them, they have reached a state that few human beings can attain."(25) Free from hope and fear, the bestial Fermi attain Stoic ataraxia, while civilized men sweat and groan under their burdens.

While Spenser and Davies largely suppress these reflexive ironies unsettling the Roman critique of barbarism (a matter to which we shall return), in virtually every other respect they depict (no pun intended) the Irish as atavists of the northern European barbarians found in Caesar and Tacitus. That is, whatever Irish society was really like during the late Renaissance (a topic that falls outside the scope of this essay), it interested these English writers insofar as it seemed to have retained practices common to the ancient barbarian tribes of northern Europe.

Like the ancients, Tudor/Stuart Irish tracts equate barbarism with a grazing economy predicated on endemic tribal violence. So Spenser observes that the Irish disdain farming, preferring a semi-nomadic "Scythian" pastoralism and hence "also greatlie geven to warr"; in general, Ireland is "a nacion ever acquainted with warrs though but amongst them selues," infested with armed bands that "oppresse all men, they spoyle aswell the subiecte as the Enemye, theye steale, they are Crewell and bloodye, full of revenge, and delight in deadlie execution."(26) Fynes Moryson, secretary to the Lord Deputy of Ireland Charles Mountjoy from 1600 to 1606, similarly notes that it "may well be said of the Irish which Caesar in his Commentaries writes of the old Germans; like beasts they doe all things by force and Armes."(27) Although Spenser, Davies, and Moryson recognize that these hostilities are sometimes directed against English colonial encroachments, they view political resistance as only one aspect of the incessant and pervasive violence of Ireland's barbarian society. Thus according to Davies, "As for oppression, extortion, and other trespasses, the weaker had never any remedy against the stronger: whereby it came to pass that no man could enjoy his life, his wife, his lands or goods in safety if a mightier man than himself had an appetite to take the same from him."(28)

Irish society, Davies implies, is a warrior aristocracy, like that of the ancient northern European tribes. The tracts thus point out that the Hibernian nobility - both indigenous and Anglo-Irish - retain companies of fighting men loyal only to themselves, whereby they "exercise plain tyranny over the common people," using "husbandmen . . . as slaues."(29) These lords wield a nearly absolute power over their inferiors, compelling their sizeable body of dependents "to followe them into any action whatsoever."(30)

The same aristocratic ethos has major socio-economic implications, especially since (in Spenser's words) "all the Irishe almost, boste them selues to bee gentlemen . . . for yf he can deryve him self from the heade of a septe [clan], as most of them can . . . then he holdeth him self a gentleman." But, anyone who considers himself a gentleman, Spenser continues, "scorneth eftsoones to worke or vse any handy labor, which he sayth is the lyfe of a peazante or Churle, but thensforth eyther becometh a horseboy or a stocage to some kearne, envring him self to his weapon, and to his gentlemanly trade of stealinge."(31) Davies and Moryson similarly remark upon the Irish identification of status with the sword, the former commenting that this "scorn to descend to husbandry or merchandise" lies behind a good deal of the poverty and violence of Irish society, since "these poor gentlemen . . . rather chose to live at home by theft, extortion, and coshering" than engage in farming or any other peaceful and productive vocation.(32) As a result, none of the Irish "build any stone or brick house for his private habitation . . . . Neither did any of them in all this time plant any gardens or orchards, enclose or improve their land, live together in settled villages or towns, nor made any provision for posterity," most of the native population instead leading a semi-nomadic existence, their time divided between herding cattle and fighting.(33)

As previously noted, these tracts explicitly regard the Irish as belated exemplars of the heroic culture of the Celtic/Germanic peoples who, according to Spenser, "spread them selues into all countries in Christendome, of all which there is none but hath some mixture and sprincklinge, yf not through peopling of them."(34) Ireland, that is, provides a synecdochical glimpse into the cultural origins shared by all northern European nations, including, of course, England.(35) Hence Spenser's account of Irish racial origins simply transposes Tacitus's remarks on the native population of Britain.(36)

That Spenser and Davies stress the parallels between the Irish and the ancient peoples of northern Europe is unsurprising, since such a comparison is implicit in their representation of Ireland as a barbaric society. They also, however, regularly associate Irish customs and practices with those of medieval England. A Discovery thus begins by posing the question as to why "the manners of the mere Irish are so little altered since the days of King Henry II."(37) The tracts, in fact, draw parallels indifferently from the first, eighth, twelfth, and fifteenth centuries, a move which quite explicitly conflates medieval culture with barbarism. Spenser, for instance, derives current Irish fashions from fourteenth-century English military garb (citing Chaucer for corroboration). In another passage he observes that, like Ireland, Saxon England "was greatlie infected with robbers and owtlawes which lurked in woodes and fast places"; even in the twelfth century, the period of the first English conquest of Ireland, English society remained "verie rude and barborous."(38) Similarly, both Spenser and Moryson parallel Irish outlawry to Robin Hood, the latter comparing the armed retainers maintained by the Irish chieftans with the turbulent "idle seruingmen" who filled the "great houses" of the English feudal nobility.(39) Barbarian Ireland, that is, does not only resemble ancient Britain; it resembles England at least up to the Tudor period, it being, Spenser tellingly admits, "but even the other daye, since England grewe Civill."(40)

Spenser and Davies underscore this point by insisting upon the similarities between Irish tribal society and Anglo-Irish feudalism. The "wild Irish" and the Anglo-irish are both northern barbarians. Thus the Anglo-Irish families, like the septs, engage in unending "private warrs one against another."(41) Their soldiers use "all kynde of outragious disorder and villanye, both towardes thee poore men that victell and lodge them, and also to all the rest of the countrie about them, whom they abuse spoyle and afflicte, by all the meanes they can invent," while the Anglo-Irish nobleman, "loving the Irish tyranny . . . better than a just and lawful seigniory," makes "his will and comaundment a lawe vnto his owne vassall," whom he treats as "a very slave and villein."(42) Spenser thus concludes that "the chefest abuses which are now in that realme [Ireland], are growne from the Englishe, and the Englishe . . . are now much more lawlesse and lycencious, then the verie wilde Irishe."(43)

But the barbarous practices of the Anglo-Irish - endless petty warfare, resistance to central authority, bands of armed retainers, strong kinship loyalties, lawlessness, and predatory violence - also characterize the English aristocracy, the Tudor noblemen who, according to Languet, "consider that nothing brings you more honor than wholesale slaughter."(44) In his De republica Anglorum, Sir Thomas Smith thus observes that Henrician England was "not easie to be governed by Lawe and politike order, men of power beginning many fraies, and the stronger by factions and parties offering too much injurie to the weaker"; especially in the northern counties, "the noble men and gentlemen . . . made almost as it were an ordinarie warre among themselves, and made their force their Law, banding themselves with their tenaunts and servaunts to doe or revenge injurie one against another as they listed."(45) Laurence Humphrey's Of Nobilytie (1563) succinctly (and unsympathetically) summarizes the preferred lifestyle of this class: "hawkynge, huntynge, pastimes, mightye power, vayne vauntes, traynes of horse, and servauntes, ryot, myschyfes, bravery, roysteringe porte, or greate lyne."(46) If the Tudor state gradually brought its restive nobility to heel during the late sixteenth century, the aristocratic culture of violence that "flourished from the days of Beowulf to those of Sir Philip Sydney" had not yet lost its hold on men's imagination when Essex and his followers rode into London in 1601. Elizabethan magnates still maintained considerable retinues of armed and liveried servants and, when requisite, mobilized their tenants to prosecute private quarrels. Lawrence Stone thus recounts how in the 1570s, Lord Chandos, in a most Irish-like manner, mobilized "armed retainers with guns at the ready" to intimidate Crown officials, "protected servants of his who robbed men on the highway," rigged juries, and blackmailed the local peasantry.(47) As these accounts suggest, the Hibernian chieftain and the English nobility stand together in the ranks of the barbarian, just as the Irish rebel, praised by native bards because "his musicke was not the harpe nor layes of loue, but the cryes of people, and Clashinge of armor," bears an unmistakable resemblance to Hotspur, the quintessential English warrior aristocrat.(48) The Irish tracts, in other words, do not just concern Ireland but implicitly offer a drastic critique of the whole aristocratic culture of honor. If their common project is to speed Ireland through the civilizing process by radically curtailing the power and independence of both the native and colonial ruling classes, that project has political and ideological ramifications closer to home.(49)

This sense of Ireland as, in Bacon's words, "another Britain" underlies the principal difference - although perhaps more a difference of tone than substance - between A View and A Discovery: Spenser's text has a harshness, even ruthlessness, absent from Davies's.(50) In part this divergence reflects the success of Mountjoy's Irish campaign, which stamped out the dangerous clan revolts of the 1590s. But the differences between the two tracts also follow from their contrasting interpretations of English history. Both view England's colonization of Ireland as analogous to William I's conquest of England. But Spenser argues that William, having utterly subjugated the Saxons, imposed his own Norman law upon the defeated nation, "the Common lawe beinge that which William of Normandie brought in . . . and layde vpon the necke of England." Davies, conversely, maintains that William governed both native Saxons and Norman colonists by "the ancient common law of England long before the Conquest" and therefore "obtained a peaceable possession of the kingdom within few years."(51) For Spenser, that is, civilizing the barbarian requires the forcible imposition of an alien order; for Davies, who strongly condemns the refusal of the Anglo-Irish to grant common law privileges to the "mere Irish," the same project is reconfigured as extending the benefits of common law to the lower orders rather than forcing it down the Irish's throats.

Apart from this, however, Spenser's and Davies's proposals for civilizing Ireland are by and large identical. In particular, they both employ what does not seem anachronistic to term a "materialist" interpretation of culture as the offspring of political economy. Spenser argues repeatedly that one cannot civilize a country by punishing barbarians for acts of barbarism; rather, to attain (or impose) civility requires a prior sweeping redistribution of power and property.(52) The specific redistributions advocated in these Irish tracts have usually been dismissed out of hand as imperialist malice toward native culture, but it is possible to view them both as transposed reflections on English history - as, that is, commentaries on the economic, legal, and political developments that resulted in England's newly acquired civility - and as outlining a general theory of the socio-economic processes underlying the transition from aristocratic to civil society.

The most basic redistribution concerns property. In the Irish system, land belonged to the sept rather than to individuals, and hence was not heritable; moreover peasant tenures were generally very short - a couple of years or so - at which point the lord of the manor could either alter or terminate the lease.(53) In place of these customs, Spenser and Davies uniformly advocate the introduction of private property, patrilineal inheritance, and heritable freehold tenures.(54) The works specify two principal reasons for these changes. First, the changes would sharply curtail the military power of the nobility (both Irish and Anglo-Irish), since if the country people had a right to their land they no longer risked eviction for refusing to follow their lord "into what action soever he will enter."(55) Private property in the Irish tracts is thus not viewed as a means to secure individual rights from the encroachments of the state - its function in the English constitutional struggles leading up to the Civil War - but as a way to protect both common people and commonwealth from the depredations and extortions of the nobility. The Irish ruling classes do not observe "Meum and tuum," a Captain Nicholas Dawtrey wrote to the Queen in 1594, because "they will have all that their sword can command and depart [i.e., part] with nothing that the same sword can keep."(56) In contrast, Spenser maintains, the English aristocracy no longer presents a serious threat to the commonwealth, since "the Noble men how ever they should happen to be evill disposed haue noe commaund at all over the Commonaltye, though dwellinge vnder them, because euerie man standeth vpon him self."(57)

Revamping traditional patterns of land ownership would also spark a georgic revolution; that is, it would shift the basis of the Irish economy from grazing to agriculture, thus creating a substantial body of prosperous yeoman farmers, each of whom would "bee drawen to build him self, some handsome habytacion . . . to dytch and inclose his ground, to manure and husband yt as good Farmers vse. . . . And to all these other comodyties he shall in shorte tyme fynde a greater added that is his owne wealth and riches, encreased, and wounderfullie enlarged."(58) The Irish tracts presuppose a direct relation between cultivating crops and people;(59) so Davies claims that if the Irish, having been "transplanted from the woods and mountains," were given arable land, "(like wild fruit trees) they might grow the milder, and bear the better and sweeter fruit."(60) Whereas semi-nomadic grazers have little real property and therefore little investment in peace, agriculture breeds civility since farmers, in contrast, are understandably reluctant to see the fruits of their bone-wearying toil destroyed overnight by marauding soldiers. Because the Irish peasant, Spenser remarks, "hath noe such estate in any his holdinge, noe such buildinge vpon anye farme, noe such costes ymployed in fencinge and husbandringe the same" there is nothing to "withhold him from anye such wilfull course as his Lordes cause and his owne lewde disposition may carrie him vnto"; conversely, "husbandrye beinge the Nurse of thrifte and the daughter of Industrie . . . is most enemye to wart."(61) If the peace and prosperity achieved by this georgic revolution serve the interests of the English crown by making Ireland considerably easier to rule, they also comprise a distinctively English cultural ideal, one dating back to the mid-fifteenth century, which identifies national well-being with a free and affluent yeomanry.

Spenser and Davies do not, therefore, propose turning Ireland into an agrarian backwater along the lines of Roman Sicily - a colonial breadbasket, as it were, supplying the tables of its English conquerors.(62) Rather, in addition to crops, the tracts advocate planting Ireland with grammar-schools and with market-towns whose industrious citizens would themselves become successful merchants, artisans, and professionals - thus creating an unequivocally bourgeois social order, designed to replace the "aristocratic nucleus of Irish society" with its "large households of men who disdained any occupation except fighting and so conduced to idleness."(63) These tracts show a typically early modern enthusiasm for education, industry, and laboring in one's vocation. Their work ethic, however, seems untouched by Protestantism; creating handsome and wealthy cities becomes its own justification.(64) Nor does the social regimentation and discipline entailed by this work ethic aim at stamping out folk festivities and other manifestations of the popular carnivalesque spirit; the Irish tracts do not attack the Hibernian equivalents of Maypoles and Church ales. On the contrary, they favor industry, both georgic and civic, as a way of eliminating the pinching lenten poverty afflicting the Irish commons, enabling the kingdom, Davies writes, to "merit the name of a 'commonwealth,' which at this time may properly be termed a 'common-misery.'"(65) The goal, if not quite a perpetual carnival, has a distinctly festive aspect: in the new Irish towns, the citizens will "liue plentifully vnder good gouernment, and . . . growe rich by trades and traffique . . . and happy in all aboundance," having exchanged "sorrow, famine, howling, and cursing . . . [for] ioy, iolitie, plentie."(66) The civilizing process envisaged by the Irish tracts differs from the parallel accounts, at once more cynical and more nostalgic, given by Weber, Bakhtin, and Foucault.

The final infrastructural reformation proposed by Spenser and Davies would impose English law throughout Ireland, a move intended to weaken the control that feudal and tribal lords had traditionally exercised over the administration of justice in their territories. This scheme would abolish the native Irish brehon judges, who were thought to be pawns of their clan chiefs, as well as drastically limit the judicial powers enjoyed by the Anglo-Irish nobility - this latter result to be achieved by dividing Ireland into shires, each (as in England) responsible for the local enforcement of the common law and under its protection.(67) Davies argues that if after the initial conquest of Ireland, English monarchs had "divided their several countries into counties; made sheriffs, coroners, and wardens-of-the-peace therein; sent justices itinerants half-yearly into every part of the kingdom," and so forth; "assuredly, the Irish countries had long since been reformed and reduced to peace, plenty, and civility, which are the effects of laws and good government: they had built houses, planted orchards and gardens, erected townships, and made provision for their posterities."(68)

To make the king's writ run in Ireland serves the same ends as the other proposed reforms: transferring power to the crown and commons (whose interests are presumed to coincide) at the expense of the nobility, so that peaceful subjects might work and prosper in safety, protected by royal justice from aristocratic exploitation.(69) Richard Beacon thus recommends sending royal commissioners to Ireland, who "as iudges shall restraine and suppresse the ambition of the nobles, and shall carefully defende the people from oppressors. . . . [Since] it is saide that a Monarchie governed popularlie is then secure and voide of perill: for in the multitude or people consisteth the strength and force of every kingdome."(70) The Anglo-Irish nobility had long refused to impose English law on the Irish because, Davies bitterly remarks, they feared that if the Irish became "free subjects," the crown would "ennoble some of them, and enfranchise all and make them amenable to the law, which would have abridged and cut off a great part of that greatness which they had promised unto themselves."(71) Instead, the Anglo-Irish classified the natives as unfree aliens, "so far out of the protection of the law as it was often adjudged no felony to kill a mere Irishman in the time of peace." Moreover, the Anglo-Irish prohibition against intermarriage with the native population makes it evident "that such as had the government of Ireland under the Crown of England did intend to make a perpetual separation and enmity between the English and the Irish, pretending, no doubt, that the English should in the end root out the Irish."(72) When in the early seventeenth century, English justices of assize began going on circuit through the Irish countryside, the common people first learned, Davies reports, "that they were free subjects to the kings of England, and not slaves and vassals to their pretended lords," with Moryson adding that "the inferiour Gentlemen and all the Common people, gladly imbraced this liberty from the yoke of the great lords."(73)

Precisely because the law "doth reduce all the people . . . to the condition of subjects," the warrior nobility "doe speciallye rage at . . . the lawes them selues . . . as most repugnante to theire libertie and naturall fredome,"(74) the characteristic mark of hard-core aristocrats - whether Brutus's sons, Germanic chieftains, or the Earls of Tyrone and Essex - being a deep-seated hostility to any authority viewed as liable to restrict their personal autonomy. Against this notion of freedom as the liberty of the strong man to do as he pleases, the Irish tracts claim that juridical subjection creates liberty, since a free person differs from a serf or slave in that the former is governed, not by the arbitrary will of a master, but by law.(75) This claim, it should be noted, does not imply absolutist or imperialist propensities; rather, from antiquity through the Renaissance, constitutional theorists, whether royalist or republican - Aristotle, Polybius, Aquinas, Hooker, Buchanan, Languet - see the rule of law as the key feature distinguishing legitimate government from despotism because law protects the weak from what one Elizabethan denominated "Irish rule": namely "a government as the mightiest do what they list against the inferiors."(76)

The principle socio-economic measures Spenser and Davies recommend - including private property, patrilineal inheritance, converting land from pasture to tillage, urbanization, and imposition of English law - along with a host of minor proposals (relating to such matters as beards and cloaks) are intended to discourage the violence endemic to an aristocratic warrior society, which is what the tracts mean by barbarism. The texts, one should note, betray little animus against what we now refer to as "native culture" (i.e., basket weaving, traditional dances, etc.), unless barbaric in this delimited sense.(77) Civility, conversely, has a great deal less to do with cultural aesthetics (refined table manners, cleanliness, politesse) than with social justice. The tracts thus presuppose the position familiar from Cicero's De officiis that civil society exists to protect the weak from the strong - a function which they, like Cicero, associate with kingship and law.(78) In this sense Beacon, in a rather stunning fusion of the Aeneid and the Magnificat, contrasts the rapacious Irish nobility to the Roman colonial governors, who labored "nothing more then to humble and deiect the mightie & to protect and defend the feeble & weake, and deliver the people from oppressions."(79) As long as one recognizes the classical and Christian origins of this concern for the well-being of the common people, one can, I think, appropriately term the Irish tracts' outlook "bourgeois."

The civilizing process outlined in these Irish tracts constitutes the transformation of a warrior aristocracy, whether tribal or feudal, into a bourgeois commonwealth where thriving market-towns scatter themselves across a landscape of orchards, fields, and gardens surrounding handsome stone farmhouses. If Spenser and Davies paint civility as a georgic idyll where outlaws-turned-farmers find "swetenes and happye Contentment" behind the plow, they make no attempt to disguise the profit-motives driving this new society.(80) Spenser thus advocates sprinkling the countryside with towns to which farmers can "bringe the fruite of theire trades, aswell to make mony of them as to supplye theire needfull vses, and the Countrimen will also bee the more industryous in tillage . . . knowinge they shall haue readye saile for them at those townes."(81) Significantly, both Spenser and Moryson propose that Irish society be refashioned according to the model of the Low Countries - the late Renaissance epitome of civic independence and bourgeois prosperity; Moryson in fact recommends importing Flemings into Ireland as a pattern for the natives of "a Free people . . . vsed to liue of themselues . . . [and] not vsed to the absolute Commandes of lordes after the seruile manner of Ireland."(82)

This commitment to bourgeois existence as a cultural ideal separates the Irish tracts from the classical discourses of the northern barbarian. The moral ambiguities of civilization haunt antiquity. If barbarian society rests on rapine and warfare, civility sinks under its own weight into soft, effeminizing decadence, enervating the free warrior with the comforts of baths, bread, and circuses as well as shackling him to anxious drudgery of the plow.(83) Thus Sallust's Catiline opens with the assertion that human intelligence and virtus attain their full realization only in warfare, whereas peace rots the fiber of heroic manhood(84) - the same dark irony that unsettles the Tacitean narratives of Rome's barbarian conquests.

In the Irish tracts, such ambiguities are muted, almost inaudible.(85) The works evince less skepticism about the effects of the civilizing process because their view of both its scope and its nature differs from that found in Roman treatments. In particular, the Irish tracts take both the sufferings and well-being of the common people seriously. By shifting the classical focus on what civility means for the free and noble barbarian warrior to its implications for the peasantry, the Irish tracts eliminate the moral ambiguities characteristic of the Roman narratives; for this population, ruthlessly exploited by both tribal and feudal aristocracies, civility promises to bestow rather than destroy liberty.(86) From the perspective of the churl, civilization is not a matter of exchanging heroic self-sufficiency for servile constraint, but passing from feudal bondage to the status of a "free subject" with full legal rights and protection.(87)

Moreover, "civility" has a different meaning in these Irish tracts than it does for Roman authors, connoting not soft luxury but hard work. The threat of decadence does not hang over their peaceful and prosperous Ireland of the imagination, probably because early modern England had no experience of full-blown, Roman-style imperialism, where the wealth of three continents enriched and corrupted a single city. Spenser and Davies simply do not envisage a prosperity that is not the fruit of productive labor - which is to say that, unlike the ancients, they equate the civilizing process with the rise of the bourgeoisie.

If the Irish tracts are bourgeois documents, their vision of future harmony and reconciliation has utopian overtones.(88) Like the explicitly utopian projects of the English Renaissance, the Irish tracts imagine a society where the heroic code of the armigerous aristocracy has been supplanted by an alternative ideal of manhood - one we perhaps no longer find particularly compelling because it has to a great extent carried the day. Renaissance utopias, however, lovingly envision ideal societies where farmers, scholars, merchants, civil servants, humanists, and professionals have usurped the status fields previously held by warlords. In More and Spenser, this anti-aristocratic bias informs their deeply controversial suggestions concerning the conduct of war: More recommends treachery, spying, and bribery; Spenser notoriously advocates chasing cows until they can no longer produce milk, thus forcing the outlaw bands holed up in the woods, who depend on dairy products to survive, to either starve or submit. Spenser does not, despite recent claims to the contrary, advocate genocide; however, like More, he does favor dirty fighting, partly because he finds it efficient, but also because it demystifies war - it being hard to construe harassing cattle as a glorious test of masculinity.(89)

Yet the Irish tracts are not, in any precise or narrow sense, utopian. Rather, their vision of peace and georgic prosperity goes back to the classical era, where it constitutes one side of the ancient contrast between two basic civilizational types: the warrior aristocracy and the peaceable kingdom.(90) This contrast, to take just one example, structures Plutarch's paired lives of the Spartan Lycurgus and the Roman Numa Pompilius, the latter of which, significantly, narrates the same model of the civilizing process that structures the Irish tracts. According to Plutarch, the early Romans were a savage and violent people. Faced with the task of ruling these "daring and warlike spirits," Numa thus embarked upon a series of reforms designed "above all things . . . to lead them to good order and quiet." Therefore, Plutarch reports, he organized the state on "democratic" (that is, non-aristocratic) lines, with "goldsmiths and flute-players and shoemakers constituting his promiscuous, many-colored commonality"; divided the population into trade guilds designed to override tribal and ethnic allegiances; and, by "turning people to husbandry," instilled in them "a relish for peace." The reforms bore the desired fruit: the "love of virtue and justice" and a "general longing for the sweets of peace and order, and for life employed in the quiet tillage of the soil, bringing up of children, and worships [sic] of the gods."(91)

The Irish tracts have an obvious debt to this georgic and gemeinschaftlich version of the pax Romana, which, as Plutarch makes quite clear, represents the antithesis of Sparta's aristocratic warrior society.(92) But similar values also inform numerous Tudor/Stuart texts, not to mention much humanist social thought in general. It seems, however, surprisingly difficult to locate such texts on a political spectrum - perhaps because, as historians of the period have suggested, before the 1620s political factions represented dynastic rather than ideological commitments.(93) Hence, while the Irish tracts would seem to have a bourgeois resonance (if the bourgeoisie may be allowed resonance), analogous sympathies find expression in court circles. Thus Bacon's Advice to Sir George Villiers, Afterwards Duke of Buckingham expatiates on the importance of orchards, gardens (especially "if planted with artichokes"), "planting of hop-yards, sowing of woad and rape seed," "draining of drowned lands," "planting of hemp and flax," "trade of merchandise," and "above all . . . husbandry, and the improving of lands for tillage."(94) Georgic ideals even infiltrate royal masques; Jonson's paean to "trades and tillage, vnder lawes and peace" in Prince Henry's Barriers thus invokes the cultural values informing the Irish tracts as an alternative (or at least alloy) to the renascent militarism characterizing the princely circle.(95)

Spenser's and Davies's schemes for civilizing Ireland would also seem to mirror the georgic revolution gradually transforming the English warrior aristocracy into a rural gentry. Indeed, the wide-ranging agricultural reforms they propose for Ireland are precisely those which the English landowning classes in the half-century before Spenser's View had introduced on their own estates: planting orchards, enclosing fields, draining marshes, bringing untilled wastes under cultivation, and growing cash crops for a national market.(96) But if this slow metamorphosis of the feudal nobility into gentlemen farmers stands behind Spenser's and Davies's almost reflex associations of civility and agriculture, their works likewise share the less gentrified social vision of the vernacular husbandry manuals and chronicle histories, which depict the freedom of small farmers to improve their social status by improving their land as the basis of national moral and economic well-being.(97) Thus William Harrison's Description of Britaine, which prefaces Holinshed's Chronicles, applauds the new prosperity of the English yeoman, whose hard labor has reaped "faire garnish of pewter on his cupbord, with so much more in od vessell going about the house, three or foure featherbeds, so manie couerlids and carpets of tapistrie, a siluer salt, a bowie for wine (if not an whole neast) and a dozzen of spoones to furnish vp the sute" - a precarious cultural triumph, since, Harrison continues, "men of great port and countenance [that is, aristocrats] are so farre from suffering their farmers to haue anie gaine at all, that they themselues . . . [endeavor to] bring all the wealth of the countrie into their owne hands."(98)

Harrison's loving itemization of the hard-earned commodities stocking the homes of English yeomen hearkens back to Fortescue's identification of "Englishness" with a free and flourishing commons (as opposed to the ragged and half-starved French peasantry) - a strikingly demotic version of the good society, probably indebted to the Aristotelian thesis that "the best political community is formed by citizens of the middle class [to meson]."(99) Unlike his French counterpart, "every inhabitant" of Fortescue's England

uses at his own pleasure the fruits which his land yields . . . hindered by the injuries and rapine of none . . . . [They] are clothed with good woolens throughout their garments; they have abundant bedding . . . and are rich in all agricultural goods and agricultural equipment, and in all that is requisite for a quiet and happy life . . . . They are not brought to trial except before the ordinary judges, where they are treated justly according to the law of the land.(100)

By the seventeenth century, such tributes to England's prosperous yeomanry had become a patriotic topos, echoed by Bacon, Fuller, and Spenser's Irish friend and neighbor Sir Walter Ralegh.(101)

Harrison was, however, a Protestant minister as well as a patriotic Englishman. Although the georgic values of The Description of Britaine - like those of subsequent descriptions of Ireland - are predominantly classical and secular, they incorporate elements of medieval Christian ethics; if Plutarch stands behind Harrison's social vision, so does Piers Plowman. Much the same can be said regarding Spenser's compassion for the miseries of "the poore distressed people of the Irish," for the "poore men . . . whom [the English soldiers] abuse oppresse spoyle and afflicte," and "the poore tenantes & frehoulders" whom the English lords "pole and vtterlie vndowe."(102) Countless medieval and sixteenth-century sermons employ the identical phraseology and sentiments; they have, to the best of my knowledge, no classical equivalents.(103)

Yet despite their venerable discursive pedigree, both classical and Christian, the values epitomized in Jonson's tribute to "trades and tillage, vnder lawes and peace" do not constitute the period's dominant understanding of masculine and national worth. Rather, this georgic vision ranges itself against a still-powerful attraction, even among scholarly humanists, to heroic barbarism. In Remains Concerning Britain, William Camden thus lauds the ancient Britons' "manlike courage and warlike prowesse," by which they "most couragiously defended their libertie" against Roman imperialist aggression and "with like honour of fortitude . . . repelled the yoake both of the English and Norman slaverie," similarly extolling medieval England's "militarie glorie" for having "terrified the whole world with their Armes." Camden, however, also celebrates English learning, piety, and virtue; his English merit special praise because, having acquired "civilitie" from their Roman masters, they nevertheless retained the manly virtues of the barbarian.(104)

In general, the white barbarian seems to have kept his ideological potency through at least the first half of the seventeenth century. Camden's cultural ideal, which, like all early modern cultural ideals, is also an ideal of manhood, seems fairly typical of mainstream English humanists from Ascham to Milton, who sought to fashion the warrior aristocracy into gentlemanly scholar-soldiers, not farmers or merchants.(105) If English courtesy manuals, unlike their Italian equivalents, omit military prowess from their "complete ideal of the gentleman,"(106) the old aristocratic code still retained considerable lustre in circles suspicious of the crown's attempt to domesticate upper-class dissidents to "the inglorious arts of peace."

The Irish tracts embody an alternative, although equally traditional, system of value. They retain historical significance, at least in part, precisely because they call our attention to early modern ideals of social order and of Englishness that often escape notice because they are foreign to the courtly genres dominating the literary canon. Yet if the tracts embrace widely shared values, the method they employ to analyze their cultural moment seems virtually unprecedented. As the confrontation between Sparta and Athens gave rise to ancient political theory, so the early modern transition from aristocratic to civil society seems to have catalyzed a new mode of cultural interpretation. In particular, the Irish tracts develop a critique, which, although obviously about Ireland, reflects and addresses early modern English grappling with the interlocked triad of class, economics, and aggression.

The reforms Spenser and Davies propose for Ireland correspond to and comment on the English social revolution, whose occurrence James Harrington is usually thought to have discovered in 1656, and which has attained recent prominence thanks to Lawrence Stone's The Crisis of the Aristocracy. Both Harrington and Stone thus report that between 1580 and 1620 the English nobility ceded much of their power - and their property - to the Crown and commons, forsook their ancient habits of violence, and submitted their traditional liberties to the rule of locally administered royal law.(107) As Ralegh observed in the early years of the seventeenth century, "The Justices of Peace in England have opposed the injustices of war in England; the King's writ runs over all; and the Great Seal of England with that of the next constables will serve the turn to affront the greatest lords."(108) This pacification of the English aristocracy was not achieved solely by royal fiat but, Stone notes, involved "a social transformation of extreme complexity," affecting the ownership, use, and transfer of land; the administration of justice; and the customary networks of dependence, allegiance, and patronage.(109) The singular value of Spenser's and Davies's essays lies in the fact that, three-quarters of a century before Harrington, they take cognizance of these structural aspects of the civilizing process.

The Irish tracts thus adumbrate a model of early modern history that foregrounds the material determinations of culture: the role of private property, class structure, modes of production and exchange, patronage relations, inheritance law, and coercive mechanisms in fostering the distinctly non-capitalistic sorts of long-range investment (in stone houses, in orchards, in handicrafts, in education) that distinguish civil society from barbarism.(110) This sort of socio-economic explanation, it should be noted, is not typical of early modern political theory, which attends primarily to ideological - that is, constitutional and religious - issues. The Irish tracts have therefore, now and for us, particular importance because they provide a rare contemporary analysis of the infrastructural bases of the civilizing process - one not filtered through categories specific to nineteenth-century industrial capitalism, by which time robber barons no longer wore swords.


1 Quoted in Kelso, 47.

2 Gerard Legh, The Accedens of Armory (London, 1562); quoted in James, 1978, 4.

3 Sir Thomas Smith thus remarked that riots "are not commonlie done by meane men, but such as be of power and force" (126).

4 Davies, 53; Neill, 5, 10; Brady, 1986, 18, 41. Only Herbert's Croftus mentions genocide as a possible "solution" to the Irish problem (87).

5 It seems probable that Englishmen called Amerindians "barbarians" because they resembled the Irish, rather than the reverse (but cf. Brady, 1989, 35; Ferguson, 79). Hobbes illustrates the state of nature with reference to both "the experience of savage nations that live at this day" and "the histories of our ancestors the old inhabitants of Germany" (4:75).

6 Spenser, 1934, 49-81; cf. Moryson, 193; Buchanan, 35-38.

7 Davies, 74, 111, 141.

8 According to Holinshed's Chronicles, other pre-Roman settlers in Ireland and England included giants and some Greek colonists from Spain (1:6-9, 33-34, 428-30; 6:73-76). On the English adventures of Noah's grandchildren in early modern historiography, see Kendrick, 72-76; Nanni, 54-92.

9 Camden, 1610, 1.63, 115 (although the book is bound as a single volume, the chapters on England are paginated separately from the subsequent sections on Ireland; I have accordingly prefixed the page numbers with either a "1" or "2"). Spenser, of course, could not have seen the English translation of 1610, but these passages also occur in the 1594 Latin edition, 43, 59.

10 Camden, 1610, 1.4, 15, 29-30; 2.66 (the first and last of these citations are not in the 1594 edition; for the others, see Camden, 1594, 13, 30-31). Sir Thomas Smith expressed similar views in 1571 (Quinn, 1945, 546). In light of Camden's observations, Jones's and Stallybrass's shock at Spenser's admission that civility might "not emerge through cultural evolution but through military conquest" (160) seems excessive. During the Interregnum, Camden's view would be taken up by classical republicans like James Harrington, who defended English imperial aspirations by noting "that if we have given over running up and down naked and with dappled hides, learned to write and read, for all these we are beholding to the Romans" (quoted in Worden, 197).

11 The locus classicus for this configuration appears in Aristotle's Politics, which notes: "Those who live in a cold climate and in Europe are full of spirit, but wanting in intelligence and skill; and therefore they retain comparative freedom, but have no political organization, and are incapable of ruling over others. Whereas the natives of Asia are intelligent and inventive, but they are wanting in spirit, and therefore they are always in a state of subjection and slavery" (7.7.1327b22-30; cf. Problems 14.8, 15-16).

12 Hodgen comments that Bodin "not only was known to all serious English students of history and geography but was admired, quoted, and imitated" (283).

13 Bodin, 86, 98, 115, 124. Harrison rehearses the same paradigm: "the people inhabiting in the north parts are white of colour, blockish, vnciuill, fierce and warlike . . . whereas the contrarie pole giueth contrarie gifts, blacknesse, wisdome, ciuilitie, weaknesse, and cowardise" (1:193); see also Camden, 1610, 2.66; Botero, 1-19; Le Roy, 1598, 360 (which also cites parallel passages from Plato, Hippocrates, Galen, Varro, and Ptolomy). Le Roy's Of the Variety of Things offers an interesting alternative configuration, which conflates "black" and "white" peoples: "The Ethiopians being neere vnto the Sun which burneth them with his beames, are blacke . . . On the contrary they which inhabite the colde ycie countries, haue their skinne white and soft . . . both the one and the other being naturally cruell by reason of their cessive [sic] cold and heat . . . . For the extreme Northern or Southern people are not ciuil by nature, nor gouerned by discipline, nor conioyned in habitations, neither do they sowe nor plant, helpe themselues little or nothing with manuary trades" (1594, 10, 13). Modern scholarship rarely mentions this ethnographic model, but see Fink, 67-80;, Hodgen, 290.

14 Camden, however, argues that the Saxons were originally an Asiatic tribe (1610, 1.129).

15 Bodin, 91; Le Roy notes that in northern regions "men are there of white colour . . . wee doe generally call them Scythians" (1598, 360; cf. Le Roy, 1594, 13). Harrison equates "Scithian" with Anglo-Saxon (1.24; cf. Kendrick, 103). Camden makes several stabs at identifying the Scythians, noting in one place that "Scandia [was] called in times past Scythia, (as all the Northerne tract beside)" (1610, 1.115), elsewhere remarking that "Netherlanders, expresse by this one word, Scutten, both the Scythians and Scots" (1610, 1.120), although "in times past, as Strabo writeth, al people Westward were termed Celto-Scythae" (1610, 2.66). Classical texts usually place the Scythians in the vicinity of the Black Sea (see Pomponius Mela, 36-39).

16 Spenser's knowledge of the Agricola and Germania seems to derive from the (often lengthy) passages quoted by Buchanan, Camden, and Holinshed. On the classical (and early modern) sources for Spenser's ethnography, see Spenser, 1932-57, 1:308-40. Jones and Stallybrass make the rather curious argument that Spenser deliberately ignores Hippocrates's references to Scythian "effeminacy" (161-63); since, however, they provide no evidence that Spenser had ever read Hippocrates, little can be inferred from his silence on this matter.

17 Caesar, 35.

18 Tacitus, Germania 14-15.

19 Caesar, 36; Tacitus, Germania 26. See also Ong, 564.

20 Tacitus, Germania 16.

21 Caesar 33, 36; Tacitus, Germania 7, 13-14; Agricola 12.

22 Caesar, 31.

23 Tacitus, Agricola 11.

24 Ibid., 21.

25 Tacitus, Germania 46.

26 Spenser, 1934, 7, 64, 93, 203-04; cf. Stanyhurst, 68-69.

27 Moryson, 193. Portions of Moryson's Itinerary were published in 1617, but the chapters on Irish politics and customs, probably written between 1617 and 1620, remained in manuscript until 1903. Moryson's observations frequently overlap those of Spenser and Davies, but he lays far greater stress on the dangers resulting from both Irish Catholicism and English political corruption.

28 Davies, 163.

29 Ibid., 219; Moryson, 234; see also Moryson, 197; Beacon, 83; Quinn, 1966, 35-36.

30 Spenser, 1934, 189; cf. Spenser, 1934, 32; Moryson, 482.

31 Spenser, 1934, 187.

32 Davies, 165-6; cf. Spenser, 1934, 35; Moryson, 196, 200, 234, 483. I hesitate to discount this as Protestant propaganda since Roman Catholics made similar observations; for example, a sixteenth-century Jesuit missionary reported that the Irish "account it no shame or infamy to commit robberies, which they practice everywhere with exceeding cruelty . . . neither are they persuaded that either violence or rapine or manslaughter displeaseth God" (quoted in Quinn, 1966, 46-47).

33 Davies, 165.

34 Spenser, 57.

35 In ancient texts, England occupies a similar position vis-a-vis Greco-Roman civilization; so, according to Diodorus Siculus, "the Britans live after the maner of the old world" (quoted in Camden, 1610, 1.29).

36 Spenser, 1934, 60; Tacitus, Agricola 11; cf. Davies, 111; Buchanan, 28, 38-39, 60; Camden, 1610, 1.15.

37 Davies, 69.

38 Spenser, 1934, 87, 91, 185.

39 Spenser, 1934, 186-87; Moryson, 194, 200. Camden makes the same comparison to support his argument that the ancient Britons were Gauls: "The Gauls, as Caesar recordeth, according as every one excelled others in noble birth and wealthy estate, so kept they about them a greater traine of servants and dependants, whom they called Ambacti: which was the onely grace, countenance, and port they carried. Neither know our British Noblemen or gentry of Wales at this day, any other shew of reputation: From whom, as it is thought, the English haue learned to lead after them so great a retinue of followers and seruing men: in which thing they haue not long since outgone all other in Europe" (1610, 1.16); see also Harrison, 1:276.

40 Spenser, 1934, 87. See also Jones and Stallybrass, 160; Piggott, 59; Browne, 1:491.

41 Spenser, 1934, 83; cf. Davies, 151.

42 Spenser, 1934, 18, 104, 191-92; Davies, 150, 155, 169; Moryson, 194, 207, 227; Ong, 569.

43 Spenser, 1934, 82; Davies in fact argues that the Anglo-Irish settlers "uncivilized" the Irish by expropriating the open flatlands, thus driving the natives into the fens and woods (136, 160). Stanyhurst vehemently denies such accusations, claiming that the new English administrators and government officials slanderously blame the Anglo-Irish nobility for problems stemming from their own venality and incompetence (6:5, 46-52, 67); Stanyhurst, it should be noted, was himself Anglo-Irish.

44 On the lawlessness and tribalism of the English nobility, see James, 1978, 1-42; Stone, 1979, 202,228-31.

45 Smith, 126-27. According to Wood, the text was probably written in the 1560s and revised in 1576, although not published until 1583 (193).

46 Quoted in James, 1974, 192.

47 Stone, 1967, 10241; James, 1986, 429-34.

48 Spenser, 1934, 97. Thus Spenser's claim that the heads of noble Irish families managed to incite hostilities without endangering their own heads by tacitly encouraging their sons' rebellion (187-88) parallels James's account of the tactics employed by English aristocratic dissidents (1978, 17).

49 On the importance of weakening the Irish and Anglo-Irish warlords, see Spenser, 1934, 72, 161,189; Davies, 157-58; Moryson, 227; Beacon, 75-86.

50 Bacon, 1826, 3:319.

51 Spenser, 1934, 6; Davies, 142.

52 Spenser, 1934, 33,105, 185; Davies, 163; Brady, 1986, 30-32. Brady notes that many of these reforms had been proposed in earlier Tudor discussions of Ireland (1989, 30).

53 In contrast, the available evidence suggests that during the Tudor/Stuart period English peasant holdings developed "away from tenures at will in favor of longer-term leaseholds for years or lives" (Thirsk, 1967, 684).

54 Spenser, 1934, 106-07, 160; Davies, 136, 164-65, 218-21; also Moryson, 198, 227.

55 Spenser, 1934, 106; cf. Moryson, 198.

56 Quinn, 1966, 37.

57 Spenser, 1934, 190. Similarly, Spenser argues that the Irish should be forced to abandon their tribal appellations (O'Brian, MacCarthy, and the like) and instead take agnatic surnames derived from an individual's "trade or facultie or . . . some qualltie [sic] of his bodye or mynde, or of the place where he dwelte," in order to instill a sense of personal identity independent of clan affiliation (200-01).

58 Spenser, 1934, 107; cf. Davies, 164-65,221.

59 This relation holds outside Ireland as well; Harrison thus notes that English, Welsh, and Scottish farmland has "euen now in these our daies growne to be much more fruitfull, than it hath beene in times past. The cause is for that our countriemen are growne to be more painefull, skilfull, and carefull through recompense of gaine . . . . [Previously] verie little other food and liuelihood was wont to be looked for (beside flesh) more than the soile of it selfe, and the cow gaue; the people in the meane time liuing idelie, dissolutelie, and by picking and stealing one from another. All which vices are now (for the most part) relinquished, so that each nation manureth hit owne with triple commoditie, to that it was before time" (1.184).

60 Davies, 222. Davies consistently uses agricultural tropes (for example, 58, 70, 144, 222). Another set of metaphors, found mainly in Spenser, compares civilizing the Irish to breaking in a colt (1934, 6, 9). Although Brady, 1986, 39 objects to what he considers the dehumanizing - and hence racist - implications of this comparison, both classical and early modern republican theorists regularly make the same equine analogy (Languet, 145-46; Watson, 274-80). Similarly, Sir Thomas Smith describes Henrician legislation as an attempt "to bridle such stoute noble men" - the noblemen in question being, of course, English (127).

61 Spenser, 1934, 106, 202; see Davies, 167-68; Moryson, 201.

62 While they hope that Ireland would eventually become a profitable source of royal income, yet since English profits depended on Irish prosperity, this need not be understood as a zero-sum game (Spenser, 1934, 216). Herbert's Croftus, however, does explicitly propose turning Ireland into the Tudor equivalent of Roman Sicily - although it elsewhere envisions the Irish and English as "citizens of one happy and flourishing state" (27, 37-39).

63 Quinn, 1966, 39; cf. Davies, 217, 221, 223; Spenser, 1934, 202-05, 213; Moryson, 201.

64 I can find no evidence to support Canny's claim that Spenser desires above all "the transformation of Ireland into a truly Protestant society. . . . The fulfilment of this ambition in the actual case of Ireland . . . would have necessitated the destruction of property, society and persons . . . [but] Spenser's religious fervour was so intense . . . that he suffered no qualms of conscience" (1989, 12). Unlike Herbert and Moryson, neither Spenser, Davies, nor Beacon emphasize religions reform; Spenser, in fact, explicitly downplays the issue (1934, 111).

65 Davies, 10 (from a report to Cecil dated I December 1603).

66 Moryson, 250, 253; Beacon, Epistle Dedicatory; cf. Spenser, 1934, 107, 213; Davies, 137; Beacon, 79.

67 Spenser, 1934, 8, 14, 185, 198-200; Davies, 163,214-16.

68 Davies, 137-38,143; Spenser, 1934, 200. Spenser similarly recommends that Ireland should import the system of shires, hundreds, wapentakes, and tithes that King Alfred had imposed to maintain peace and justice in Saxon England (185-86).

69 Spenser, 1934, 47, 161, 200; Davies, 137, 143, 163, 169; Moryson, 250-51, 484.

70 Beacon, 80-81.

71 Davies, 150; cf. Spenser, 1934, 18.

72 Davies, 126, 133.

73 Davies, 215; Moryson, 228. Jones and Stallybrass's assertion that Spenser had no interest in "a gradual assimilation of the Irish to English customs and manners," but instead viewed "conquest, through military repression, starvation, dispossession and plantation . . . [as] the desired goal" (158) is seriously misleading; Irish tracts explicitly propose giving the native Irish rights to the land and protection under English laws. Thus Spenser argues that "since Ireland is full of her owne nation, that maye not bee rooted out and somewhat stored with englishe already and more to be I thincke yt best by an vnion of manners and conformitie of myndes, to bringe them to bee one people" (1934, 197); Davies likewise expresses his hope "that the next generation [of the Irish] will in tongue and heart, and every way else, become English, so as there will be no difference or distinction but the Irish Sea betwixt us" (217). Several of the other Irish tracts, however, argue against any commingling between the native Irish and the English colonists (Herbert, 45, 83; Moryson, 212, 249; Beacon, 107-11).

74 Davies, 71, 130, 133; Spenser, 1934, 17, 65; cf. Moryson, 200, 235, 482.

75 Davies, 71-2, 214-16; Spenser, 1934, 159; Moryson, 228.

76 This definition comes from a 1573 report by Edward Tremayne, clerk of the Irish Privy Council (quoted in Quinn, 1966, 35); cf. Beacon, 78.

77 Davies in fact praises Irish learning, poetry, and music (165). Stanyhurst's account of Irish customs suggests why the English found them appalling: "in some corner of the land," he notes, "they vsed a damnable superstition, leauing the right armes of their infants vnchristened (as they term it) to the intent it might glue a more vngratious and deadlie blow. Others write that gentlemens children were baptised in milke, and the infants of poore folke in water" (6:69). Only Herbert seems hostile to native Irish customs tout court (81).

78 "Mihi quidera . . . iustitiae fruendae causa videntur olim bene morati reges constituti. Nam cure premeretur inops multitudo ab iis, qui maiores opes habebant, ad unum aliquem confugiebant virtute praestantem. . . . Eademque constituendarum legurn fuit causa, quae regum" (De officiis 2.12.41).

79 Beacon, 81.

80 Spenser, 1934, 202.

81 Ibid., 213. Cf. Harrison, 1:184-87.

82 Spenser, 1934, 216; Moryson, 250-51.

83 Vergil, Georgics 1.145-46.

84 Sallust, Catiline 2.1-9.

85 Such ambiguities surface once in Spenser (1934, 90) and once in Davies (141), a quotation from the Agricola.

86 Davies, 130, 150; Moryson, 198, 234, 253, 482. Sidney similarly sides with the Irish populace against their Anglo-Irish masters, bitterly noting that "privileged persons be all the fiche men of the pale, the burdne only lyinge uppon the poore, who may grone, for theyr cry can not be hearde. And Lorde to see how shamefully they will speake for their contrey, that be in deede the Tirannious oppressours of their contrey" (46).

87 Beacon's Solon, which draws on Machiavelli's Discourses rather than the northern barbarian materials, makes an analogous comparison between the Irish nobility and the Roman patricians, whose oppression of the plebs "provoked the people to demaunde Tribunes, which as arbitrators of the insolencie of the nobility, might give them iust defence from their oppression" (76-77).

88 Norbrook, 6.

89 Beacon, who (like Spenser) insists on the need for "a severe Magistrate" and "sharpe remedies," consistently associates such harsh measures with Brutus's condemnation of his own sons for treason against the fledgling Roman republic (2, 7, 59); in Solon, as in Machiavelli's Discourses, strict enforcement of law is a distinctive feature of republican rule.

90 Spenser, 1934, 16 makes a similar contrast between Lycurgus and Solon.

91 Plutarch, 1:142-44, 159, 163,171.

92 See, for example, Plutarch, 1:171. Yet, somewhat confusingly, in Spenser (as in Beacon) the critique of aristocratic violence also betrays the influence of Machiavelli's Discourses, which, despite their celebration of ancient military virtu, are unequivocally hostile towards "gentlemen" - those "who live idly upon the proceeds of their extensive possessions, without devoting themselves to agriculture or any other useful pursuit to gain a living." The armigerous nobility in particular "are pernicious to any country . . . [and] everywhere enemies of all civil government." A country infested with such men, Machiavelli continues, can only achieve "any kind of order" by setting up a strong monarchy to control the aristocracy "with a royal hand, and with full and absolute powers." Thus the French have survived as a nation only because of their "determined constancy in repressing the ambition of the nobles" (254-55,402). If, like Machiavelli, Spenser condones drastic measures to suppress internal enemies, like Machiavelli he also generally identifies these enemies with the first, not third, estate, pointing out that "all the rebellyons . . . in Ireland, are not begunn by the Common people but by the Lordes and Captaines" (189-90).

93 James, 1974, 26-27.

94 Bacon, 1826, 3:451-52, 457.

95 Jonson, 7:329.

96 Thirsk, 1992, 15-34; Thirsk, 1967, 2, 31, 161-63.

97 McRae, 50-51.

98 Harrison, 1:318; cf. 1:184-87.

99 Fortescue, 1885, 115, 139; Aristotle, Politics 1295b35. The Greek obviously does not mention "class," but neither a literal translation - "the middles" - nor the sixteenth-century equivalent - "the middling sort" - seemed acceptable modern English.

100 Fortescue, 1942, 88-89.

101 Ralegh, 8:163; Fuller, 37-39; Bacon, 1888, 71-72.

102 Spenser, 1934, 18, 104-05, 192.

103 See White; Wood, 37.

104 Camden, 1984, 14-18.

105 The former is, of course, the professed goal of The Faerie Queene. Only the unfinished final book of Spenser's epic romance seems remotely related to A View. Book VII has no crusading knights but instead on an Irish hill top unfurls the ancient pageant of the seasons, in which the annual cycle of georgic labors becomes, quite movingly, the privileged symbol of human participation in cosmic order.

106 Kelso, 48.

107 Harrington, 196-99, 606-10; Stone, 1979, 7, 15, 201, 208, 250, 256.

108 Ralegh, 8:183.

109 Stone, 1979, 201.

110 See Wright on the fundamentally non-capitalist nature of the early modern economy.


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