The period 1500 to 1610 witnessed a fundamental transformation in the nature of Franco-Irish relations. In 1500 contact was exclusively based on trade and small-scale migration. However, from the early 1520s to the early 1580s, the dynamics of 'normal' relations were significantly altered as unprecedented political contacts between Ireland and France were cultivated. These ties were abandoned when, after decades of unsuccessful approaches to the French crown for military and financial support for their opposition to the Tudor regime in Ireland, Irish dissidents redirected their pleas to the court of Philip II of Spain.
Trade and migration, which had continued at a modest level throughout the sixteenth century, re-emerged in the early 1600s as the most important and enduring channels of contact between the France and Ireland, though the scale of both had increased dramatically since the early sixteenth century. In particular, the unprecedented influx of several thousand Irish migrants into France in the later stages and in the aftermath of the Nine Years' War in Ireland (1594-1603) represented a watershed in Franco-Irish relations in the early modern period.
By 1610 Ireland and Irish people were known to a significantly larger section of French society than had been the case a hundred years before. The intensification of this contact notwithstanding, the intricacies of Irish domestic political, religious and ideological conflicts continued to elude the vast majority of educated Frenchmen, including those at the highest rank in government and diplomatic circles. In their minds, Ireland remained an exotic country. They viewed the Irish in the streets of their cities and towns as offensive, slothful, dirty, prolific and uncouth, just as they were depicted in the French scholarly tracts read by the French elite. This study explores the various dimensions to this important chapter in the evolution of Franco-Irish relations in the early modern period.
MARY ANN LYONS is Professor of History at Maynooth University, Republic of Ireland.
Mary Ann Lyons is Professor of History at Maynooth University, Republic of Ireland.
Introduction 'Vain imagination': the French dimension to Geraldine intrigue, 1523-1539 Gerald Fitzgerald's sojourn in France, 1540 Irish dimensions to the Anglo-French war, 1543-1546 The French diplomatic mission to Ulster and its aftermath, 1548-1551 French conspiracy at rival courts and Shane O'Neill's triangular intrigue, 1553-1567 French reaction to Catholic Counter-Reformation campaigns in Ireland, 1570-1584 France and the fall-out from the Nine Years' War in Ireland, 1603-1610 Conclusion