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1 September 2014
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Wars and Conflict - The Plantation of Ulster

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1641 rebellion
- Professor Nicholas Canny

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In as far as those who precipitated events in 1641 (Phelim OíNeill and his associates) ultimately I suppose you could say that they were themselves beneficiaries or descendants of those who had benefited from the Plantation, by becoming Catholic proprietors or native proprietors within the scheme. That doesnít mean that they were happy with the scheme and there is significant evidence of discontent among those Catholics who had become proprietors, and who had become part of the political nation (if you want to use that term) within the politics of Ulster in the preceding 30 years period of time.

But when they engaged in their insurrection on 22nd October 1641, unquestionably they werenít intending on the destruction of the entire Plantation that had been brought into place. We donít know precisely what they intended: they presumably intended to seize the positions of strength, the military fortification of the province; having done that to, from this position of strength, to engage in some negotiation with the Crown with a view to bettering their condition in some way. But they, I think it is correct to say, that they werenít intent on destroying the Plantation.

But on the 23rd and the 24th and the 25th of October 1641, the popular attacks which are relatively spontaneous, are clEarly focused upon the tenants who had moved in and become beneficiaries of the Plantation; and that these actions, as well as the words which are articulated in justifying those actions - targeted attacks upon those who had moved in and benefited from the Plantation - these indicate that there was a popular sentiment of dispossession which was articulated in action as well as in words when the opportunity provided itself, when the political order was challenged by the actions which Phelim OíNeill and his associates engaged upon.

And it is important, I think, to recognise that the leaders of 1641, as much as the Crown Authorities, were probably as much taken by surprise by this popular outburst: that in that sense, there was a distance developing between Catholic proprietors and their subordinates which they didnít have a full understanding of.
 

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