Tuesday, July 20, 2010

A Lady of No Reputation Who Was Simply Amazing, Part V

After the bloody 17th century, the antagonism of the Catholic Irish toward English Protestantism was way too deeply imbued to be erased. The Irish social order was collapsed by the English, but there was a new psychology in its place -- far more defensive, far stronger than anything ever confronted by the English. Cromwell, in committing genocide, and the subsequent invasion by the English in the Williamite War, left the Irish culture with a very permanent bad taste in its mouth.

As the 18th century progressed, English overlords, ruling their stolen lands, forced the Irish to grow crops for export only.

At the same time, the price of those crops was driven down slightly by imposing large tariffs on Irish exports to England, while exempting English goods exported to Ireland from tariffs, milking Ireland's economy, but badly injuring Irish welfare in the process.

As this process continued, Irish anger began to build. Extremely cold winters generating a food shortage in 1740 and 1741 was made ten times worse by the English economic policy. 400,000 Irish -- about one-eighth of the population, died.

The oppression of Irish grew so fierce that Protestant Irish and Norman Irish united with some Catholics to form the Society of United Irishmen to pressure the English into permitting Irish self-rule. When it became clear that the English were determined to only exploit the Irish, anger exploded into Wolfe Tone's Irish Rebellion of 1798.

Wolfe Tone induced the French to try to land a very large army in Ireland in 1796, but severe storms made the landing impossible and the soldiers were returned to France. Accompanying acts of sabotage by Irish rebels shocked the English into terrorizing the Irish with mass burnings, torture and murder of both Catholic and Protestant Irish. Comprehending the impact of indiscriminate torture and murder -- a much more united Ireland -- the British military recommended manipulating Irish Protestants with reports that the British government was only suppressing a "popish" conspiracy. The documents verifying this are very clear.

As the British noose tightened, alarmed Ireland exploded.

Armed guerilla units attacked British army units and forts from all sides. England poured thousands of troops into Ireland. By-and-large, the trained British, assisted by native loyalists, carried the day. Catholic and Protestant rebels were relentlessly pursued. There was little taking of prisoners by the British. Captives, healthy and injured, were tortured and murdered. Their families were raped, tortured and murdered.

The rebels struck back with localized terror, but there was no comparison with British terror.

The French landed a small force of 1,000 regulars accompanied by Wolfe Tone. 5,000 rebels joined them. At Castlebar the British retreated in panic, suffering an embarrassing defeat. Ultimately, the British prevailed, capturing the French and rebels. French prisoners were traded for British prisoners. Irish rebels were murdered.

By the end of 1798 the rebellion had lost its steam. The last of the rebels' guerilla groups did not surrender until 1804, however.

Afterwards, the British used the divide-and-conquer method in Ireland, favoring Irish Protestants while terribly oppressing Irish Catholics. Catholicism was essentially outlawed. Agriculture was "reformed," as four-fifths of the Irish Catholics were forced into potato cultivation, recently discovered by British landlords in London's West End as a means of maximizing profits, setting the stage for the greatest catastrophe of all.

Next chapter: Annie's story.

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