Irish Rebellion 1579-1583 also referred to as the Desmond Rebellion

A.) Prehistory

Queen Elizabeth I. had ascended to the throne in 1558, terminated the re-Catholization policy of her half-sister Mary I., and entered upon a cautious religious policy which restored the protestant Anglican church as the state church of England. While she tried to implement a moderate policy, Counterreformation agitation, the activity of English Catholic exiles as well as dissatisfied resp.ambitious Irishmen stirred up trouble.

B.) The Rebellion

On July 17th 1579 Nicholas Sanders, an exile Catholic priest, and James FitzMaurice, landed in Ireland with a Spanish-Italian force, dispatched by King Philip II. of Spain, to stir up an Irish Catholic rebellion. Another 2000 Italian mercenaries hired to strengthen the Irish rebellion, under the command of Sir Thomas Stucley, were, while their dhip docked in Lisbon, redirected to fight for the King of Portugal in his Moroccan campaign.
Charged with halting and encircling the invaders, Gerald Earl of Desmond and his brothers joined them in November 1579. In Munster, the rebellion spread. In August 1580 the Desmond army was defeated by the McCarthy's of Muskerry, the Spanish-Italian force was crushed by an English force commanded by Lord Grey; Sanders died the following year. The rebels retreated into forest and mountain hideouts; the rebellion ended when the Earl of Desmond was killed in November 1583.

C.) The Legacy

The estates of the Earl of Desmond were confiscated.

Article Nicholas Sanders, from EB 1911; from BBKL, in German
Carrigadrohid and its Vicinity, by John T. Collins
Article Thomas Stucley, from EB 1911
James Fitzmaurice, from Princess Grace Irish Library
West Cork and the Elizabethan Wars, 1565-1603
DOCUMENTS Desmond's Rebellion, from PRO pathways

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted on February 20th 2004, last revised on November 17th 2004

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