‘Most barbarously and inhumaine maner butchered’: Masculinity, Trauma, and Memory in Early Modern Ireland’

  • Dianne Hall
Part of the New Directions in Irish and Irish American Literature book series (NDIIAL)


Early modern men and their bodies carried the violence and trauma of war, although usually this bodily pain was not remarked upon. The deaths of soldiers were often enumerated but the manner of their deaths unspecified. The contemporary meanings of these deaths were in the strategic and military strength of armies rather than individual bodies or pain. Away from the battlefield, the meaning and memories of traumatised and damaged male bodies were mediated by contemporary ideas of masculine honour and masculinity. One of the aims of war was to overpower the enemy to gain territory or power, by physically overwhelming armies of men so that they were disabled either through death, wounding or capture. The fact that large numbers of men were needed for this means that inevitably most of these men and their fates are recorded with little attention to specificities. Only deaths or wounding that were out of the ordinary in some way were memorialised—either because these were elite men or because the wounded bodies suffered through unlawful violence, not acts of war.1 The line between the ordinary violence of war and unlawful killing could and did shift and blur over time and place. The spaces between these lines are a useful place to explore how pain and male bodies were conceptualised and memorialised in early modern Ireland.


Male Body Early Modern Period Honour Code Witness Statement Contemporary History 
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Official Publications and Databases Articles, Books, Pamphlets, Television Programmes and Websites

  1. Report of the Manuscripts of the Earl of Egmont (London: HMSO, 1905), I.Google Scholar
  2. Sixth Report of the Royal Commission on Historical Manuscripts (London: H.M.S.O., 1877).Google Scholar
  3. Carey, Vincent P., ‘The End of the Gaelic Political Order: The O’More Lordship of Laois, 1536-1603’, in Laois: History and Society, ed. by Pádraig G. Lane and W. Nolan (Dublin: Geography Publications, 1999).Google Scholar
  4. Carey, Vincent, ‘Icons of Atrocity: John Derricke’s Image of Irelande (1581)’, in World Building and the Early Modern Imagination, ed. by Allison Kavey (New York: Palgrave Macmillan 2010), 233–54.Google Scholar
  5. Clarke, Aidan, ‘The Commission for the Despoiled Subject, 1641-7’, in Reshaping Ireland 1550-1700: Colonization and Its Consequences, ed. by Brian Mac Cuarta (Dublin: Four Courts, 2011), 241–60.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dianne Hall
    • 1
  1. 1.MelbourneAustralia

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