In Empire and Resistance: Prelude to the Wars of the Three Kingdoms, there will be three playable factions: The Old English, the Gaelic Irish, and the New English. Over the course of production, I will give a bit of a background profile on each of the factions, starting with the Old English.
Firstly, a brief sentence or two about each, to set the stage for the profile.
For simplicity’s sake, I’ll refer to the native-born Irish families, there before the Norman Conquest, as the Gaelic Irish. There were, of course, other peoples who settled on the Emerald Isle, namely the Norse Vikings in the middle ages. For the most part, the families of the Gaelic Irish had settled on the island for centuries, if not thousands of years.
The New English settled in Ireland in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. They were mostly Protestants from England and Scotland who settled in Plantations, starting in Munster in 1586, then Ulster in 1606. Of course, other English and Scottish settled in Ireland, and not necessarily in a Plantation effort (often living in Dublin or if they were Catholic, settling in Kilkenny).
The Old English were the earliest English transplants in Ireland, stretching back to the Norman Invasion of Ireland in 1169. Many were Cambro-Norman knights of the King of England (Henry II, married to Eleanor of Aquitaine, father to kings Richard the Lionheart and John). Cambro- meaning Welsh- knights had originally settled in Wales after the Norman Conquest of England in 1066. The leader of this Norman incursion was a Cambro-Norman knight by the name of Richard de Clare, better known to history as Strongbow (yes, the guy the cider is named after). After the invasion, Strongbow decided that HE should be king of Leinster, because his wife, Aoife, was the princess of Leinster. Henry II wasn’t too pleased with that, since Strongbow had lands all over the Norman territories, but de Clare gave Henry some of his most valuable and strategic fortresses in an effort to assuage his frustration.
In 1171, Henry II led an Anglo-Norman army to Ireland to quell both the Gaelic Irish’s discontent at being invaded as well as Strongbow’s steadily increasing power. The Normans who had followed Strongbow, as well as Strongbow himself, submitted to Henry as their king. Other Gaelic Irish chieftains and kings also submitted to him, in hopes that he wouldn’t continue conquering their island. That didn’t ultimately end too well, but there was a brief pause in the conquering/fighting back cycle that had begun with Strongbow’s appearance in Ireland. Henry gave his youngest son John the title of Lord of Ireland (since he was Lackland otherwise), and since then the monarchs of England had also been known as the Lords of Ireland (at least until 1542). Normally English monarchs don’t tend to set foot on Irish soil, and so appoint Lord Deputies or Lord Lieutenants in their stead.
The Lord Deputy of Ireland (before Ireland was technically a ‘kingdom’) was typically a nobleman (but not always) and generally from the FitzGerald family (again, not always). If you were to say that more often than any other family, the Lord Deputy was a FitzGerald or related to the FitzGeralds, you’d be right.
The Lord Deputy after Ireland became a ‘kingdom’ was usually someone the monarch of England trusted to keep (from the English perspective) some semblance of peace and order in the land. This passed around from family to family and was more of a mark of trust in the individual, rather than in the alliances of the family.
The predominant families of the Old English were the FitzGeralds and the Butlers. If you were a member of one of these families, you probably were well educated (man or woman), could speak Gaelic Irish as well as English, and were quite wealthy. These families also inter-married with noble families from England frequently, tying the dynastic ambitions of the military leaders of Ireland with the monarchy of England.
If you were Old Irish, you would also be Catholic, which, after 1534, puts you at odds with the English crown (1534 was the year that Henry VIII’s Parliament passed the Act of Supremacy, which named him the head of the Church of England, not the Pope). In 1537, the Irish Parliament passed the Irish Supremacy Act, which did basically the same thing in Ireland that the Supremacy Act did in England. According to Encyclopaedia Britannica, the Act was “superficial.” Most people living in the countryside of Ireland, outside the Pale, wouldn’t have spoken English and so there weren’t many actual changes to the Church liturgy.
As an Old English faction member, you would be keenly aware of when the crown passed hands, as they were your benefactors. From Henry VIII, it went to his son, Edward VI in 1547. Edward died young, and the monarchy passed to his eldest half-sister, Mary in 1553. Mary died at the age of 42 in 1558, and so the throne passed to her younger half-sister, Elizabeth. Elizabeth was queen until her death in 1603, when the Scottish king James VI ascended the throne as James I. It is in his son’s reign where our game takes place. Charles I reigned from 1625-1649.
There were many cultural differences between the Old English and the English, and religion was probably at the top of the list. In the era of our game, the Old English are at odds with the Lord Deputy of Ireland, Thomas Wentworth. He tends to distrust Catholics and wants to take their lands and titles away. Over time, your family has probably “become more Irish than the Irish” and while you may identify as an Englishman, you also are allied with the Gaelic Irish in terms of religion.
Also important to note – and a nobleman/woman your family probably has a seat in the House of Lords. This is important in how the Lord Deputy interacts with you, and how much control you have over your lands. Ireland had its own Parliament after 1297. Originally the nobles who were in the House of Lords were those of lands in the Pale (an area around Dublin which was under tighter English control, and where we get the phrase “beyond the Pale”). Later, the leaders of other counties were included.
There was also a House of Commons in the Irish Parliament. We’ll talk more about that when we profile the New English/Plantationers and the Gaelic Irish.