It’s that time once again! As we talked a bit about in the last post, there will be three playable factions in Empire and Resistance: The Old English, The Gaelic Irish, and The New English/Plantationers.
Today, we’ll give a bit of background on the New English or the Plantantioners. I’m probably one of the only scholars to call them that – but that’s what they were. They were the new kids on the block (hence the New English), but they were also part of waves of plantations. When I say plantation, I don’t mean like antebellum-American-south-full-of-slaves plantations. I mean it in a very early modern interpretation in which people were “planted” in a new place. The locations of these plantings then, would be plantations. I’ll use Plantationers and New English interchangeably.
Unlike the Old English, the Plantantioners hadn’t been around for centuries in Ireland. They’d only really been there since the Elizabethan age, or roughly the 1580s on. There had been some other plantations earlier, but they were smaller and less successful (from the English perspective). In terms of the game, we’ll concentrate on the Munster and Ulster plantations, as well as the proposed Connacht plantation (as discussed in Thomas Wentworth’s biography).
The New English were, generally as a rule, Protestant. They were from England, Wales, or Scotland. That’s another reason why I tend to use Plantationer – they’re not all from England. Yes, they are from dominions under the rule of the English crown, but they were not necessarily English.
The Elizabethan Munster Plantation started in the mid-1580s. The Queen seized lands as punishment for the Desmond Rebellion, and sent English Undertakers (as they ‘undertook’ the duty of confiscating land and resettling it with proper English settlers) to take care of the dirty work. All in all, about 500,000 acres of land were forcibly resettled. This lasted until the Nine Years War, when the resettled families from England fled the fighting to go back to England or to more strongly fortified towns.
King James was not to be outdone by his predecessor – so he began a plantation in Ulster in 1606. Jimmy saw himself as a peacemaker (one of the reasons why he married his daughter to a Protestant ruler and attempted to marry either of his sons to a Catholic princess), so when the opportunity came to try and make Ireland ‘civilized’ he took right to it. He learned from Elizabeth and decided to send not just English, but also Scottish people to Ireland to resettle. This time, it ended a bit better for the English, and the plantation of Ulster could have been almost 100,000 people.
Next time, I’ll dig a bit deeper into what sorts of background the New English have, and what it would be good to keep in mind if you decided to play in that faction!