This article addresses the role of Protestant military humanism in early Stuart Ireland. It argues that many of those involved in the conquest and colonization of Ireland derived a shared sense of purpose and mission from their strong commitment to the Protestant religion, and a belief that martial virtue was essential both for the preservation and well-being of the commonwealth. In his study of Elizabethan military men, their political thinking, and values, Rory Rapple has downplayed the significance of religious factors prior to the outbreak of the Nine Years’ War (1594–1603), and instead emphasized the shared experience of royal neglect.1 The argument here, however, considers a later phase in the plantation of Ireland, arguing that the combination of Protestant zeal and military humanist values represented by figures such as Geoffrey Gates (fl. 1566–80) and Barnabe Rich (1541–1617) played a vital role in the Jacobean plantation of Ulster. Although James VI of Scotland accessed to the crowns of England and Ireland in 1603 styling himself as a great peacemaker to his new subjects, military humanist values nevertheless continued to flourish in the Ulster plantation which envisioned a network of autarkic, highly militarized Protestant civic communities capable of defending themselves from the dual threats of domestic rebellion and foreign invasion.2
The argument challenges that of Nicholas Canny who has emphasized the paradigmatic role of A view of the present state of Ireland (MS c. 1596), usually attributed to the Munster planter and poet Edmund Spenser (c. 1552–99), in the formation of a distinctive Anglo-Irish identity during the course of the seventeenth century. According to this interpretation, the View’s emphasis on the innate barbarity of the native Irish, and the concomitant degeneracy of the Anglo-Norman, or ‘Old English’, gave ‘New’ English colonists a sense of unity, purpose, and shared identity that sustained them throughout the travails and conflicts of the seventeenth century.3 This article instead considers plantation as a manifold and multi-faceted process, reflecting a plurality of formative experiences on the part of those involved. Some like Spenser and Fynes Moryson (1565/6–1630) grounded their understanding of Irish affairs in strong presumptions of ethnological difference, while others like Sir John Davies (1569–1626) and Sir Richard Bolton (c. 1570–1648) adopted juridical frameworks in their analyses of the Irish commonwealth.4 My contention is that the values of Protestant military humanism also played an important role in driving the plantation process both as an ideological rationale, and on the ground. This mindset viewed plantation as a civic-religious enterprise, deriving not necessarily from any strong sense of ethnological difference, but from a discernible set of military humanist values combined with a deep commitment to the Protestant faith.
The article consists of two sections. The first considers the values of Protestant military humanism in late Tudor and early Stuart England and Ireland paying particular attention to the writings of Gates and Rich, arguably the best exemplars of Protestant military humanism in the period. Having extensive military service, first on the continent and then in Ireland, Rich both clearly articulated the values of military humanism, and questioned the centrality of ethnological considerations. He instead decried the corrupting influence of the Roman Catholic religion on both the native Irish and the old English populations, and emphasized the true reformed religion as the primary agent of cultural change. The second section considers the role of Sir Thomas Phillips of Limavady (c. 1560–1636) in the plantation of Derry during the second and third decades of the seventeenth century. Phillips like Gates and Rich was an excellent exemplar of Protestant military humanism: his early life was one formed in military conflict on the continent, fighting, in the words of David Trim, ‘Jacob's Wars’ in the service of Henry IV of France.5 He came to Ireland relatively late in life at the height of the Nine Years’ War, his identity as a professional military man in the service of the Protestant cause already well formed. His criticisms of the City of London and its agents during the 1620s demonstrated his vision of a highly militarized frontier society of British colonists, able to sustain themselves through trade and commerce, and capable of forming a citizen-soldier militia to defend the fledgling colony from the dual threats of domestic rebellion and potential foreign invasion. This conception of a highly militarized Protestant civic community, however, proved not only at odds with the commercial priorities of the Londoners, but also their own civic values which envisioned towns as fostering civility, and the very process of urbanization itself as an important agent of cultural change.6 Phillips's prolonged conflict with the City of London exposed a fundamental disjuncture of values between his Protestant military humanism, and the City's own understanding of its civilizing mission in Ireland. This conflict disclosed less a clash between aristocratic and civic values, than a conflict between two competing hierarchies of civic values.
The idea of Protestant military humanism derived from two principal strands. The first involved the reception of republican ideas in England during the later Renaissance, a subject that has been thoroughly explored in the work of Markku Peltonen.7 This reception, however, was not a generalized phenomenon, but a rather haphazard process, and the appropriation of republican thought in the English-speaking world prior to the military and political conflagrations of the mid-seventeenth century was both piecemeal and limited.8 Nevertheless, while a fully fledged, distinctively English, republican consciousness may have only ultimately developed from the experience of republican government and its failure in the mid-seventeenth century, it is still possible to identify fragmentary elements of civic humanist, and even republican consciousness, in pre-Civil War political discourse, operating within the context of what J. G. A. Pocock has termed ‘territorial and jurisdictional monarchy’.9 The military humanism of the late Elizabethan and early Stuart period constituted one of these diverse elements of civic humanist consciousness, frequently melding with more traditional chivalric values with which it bore a strong affinity.10 Drawing on classical republican and occasionally even Machiavellian ideas, military humanism emphasized the need for martial prowess both in a people and their prince, as necessary for the preservation of the commonwealth against the threat of foreign domination. These ideas found practical expression in the growth of civic militarism in Western Europe's civic corporations during the early modern period, a development heavily influenced by the revival of classical learning, and the historical examples of ancient Greece, Rome, and Israel.11
Perhaps the most famous statement of military humanist values of the early Stuart period appeared in Sir Francis Bacon's essay ‘Of the true greatnesse of kingdomes and estates’. Bacon asserted in clearly Machiavellian terms ‘That the Principal Point of Greatnessee in any State, is to haue a Race of Military Men’, and that the true ‘Sinewes of Warre’ lay not in monetary wealth, but in ‘good and Valiant Soldiers’.12 Without a citizenry armed and well studied in the arts of war, no state, kingdom, or commonwealth could hope to achieve true greatness, and remain free of foreign conquest. This idea was hardly new and sat quite comfortably with prevailing monarchical forms of governance. For example, in the dedicatory of his 1560 translation of Machiavelli's Arte of warre, Peter Whitehorne (fl. 1549–63) stated that
it is to bee thought (that for the defence, maintenaunce, and aduauncemente of a Kyngdome, or Common weale, or for the good an due obseruacion of peace and the administraciō of Justice in the same) no one thing to be more profitable, necessarie, or more honourable, then the knowledge of seruice in warre, and dedes of armes; bicause considerying the ambicion of the worlde, it is impossible for any realme or dominion, long to continue free in quietnesse and savegarde, where the defence of the sweard is not alwaies in a readiness.13
A free people for Machiavelli were an armed people after the fashion of the Spartans and Romans in ancient times and the Swiss in his own day.14 In classical republicanism, the provision for self-government at home was the primary bulwark against the emergence of a home-grown tyrant, ruling according to his own will and pleasure, and reducing the citizenry to a condition of slavery.15 The military humanism of the later Elizabethan and early Stuart era, however, was very concerned with another recurring preoccupation in classical republican thought: the avoidance of foreign domination, particularly that of the Spanish variety. The key to this, whether in a monarchical or self-governing commonwealth, was the provision of a strong citizen militia.16 While embodying republican and even Machiavellian influences, the values of military humanism still rested comfortably with the institution of hereditary monarchy, so much so that Whitehorne saw no apparent contradiction in dedicating his translation of the Florentine republican's treatise to his queen.
This brings us to the second strand of our argument – the increasingly Protestant character of late Elizabethan and early Stuart military humanism. This current of thought derived in part from the emergence of what Jason C. White has characterized as ‘militant pan-Protestantism’, a more militant, transnational brand of reformed religion that emerged in the later sixteenth century as the military challenge of the Counter-Reformation gathered strength.17 With the excommunication of Elizabeth (1570), the growth of Jesuit and seminary priest activity in England during the 1570s and 1580s, the looming threat of Spanish invasion from the Low Countries, and the outbreak of rebellion in Ireland in 1594, there was a discernible hardening of Protestant sentiment within the English polity. These developments led to calls for a more aggressively militant Protestant foreign policy during the 1580s and 1590s as the country found itself increasingly embroiled in conflict with Spain. During the 1590s, Robert Devereaux, 2nd earl of Essex, emerged as the champion of an aggressive Protestant military humanist agenda, advocating direct military action against Spain itself, while his arch-rival on the privy council, Robert Cecil, counselled a more limited course of military action.18
The ‘classical republican’ character of military humanism was, therefore, somewhat problematic. While certainly incorporating republican elements, it was not necessarily anti-monarchical, democratic, or populist, and could easily stand alongside ideas that were opposed to the growth of local and regional autonomy and, in some cases even incipiently absolutist.19 Divisions within English humanism were also often very significant. For example, the sort of Erasmian humanism that Rapple has seen as becoming increasingly prevalent at court during the later reign of Elizabeth emphasized the arts of peace over those of war, and stood opposed to the kind of martial commonwealth that Machiavelli had idealized.20 These ideas became arguably even more deeply entrenched after 1603 with the accession of ‘Rex Pacificus’, only giving way to a more militant foreign policy with mounting pressure for English involvement in the Thirty Years’ War after 1618.21 Furthermore, in the Irish context, quasi-absolutist ideas emphasizing the need for a strong, central governing authority often sat comfortably with a quasi-republican emphasis on the need for an active, Protestant citizen-militia to defend the commonwealth. For these military humanists, freedom was often less closely tied to the provision for local and regional self-government than to the liberty of all freeborn English – including the English living in Ireland – to worship after the fashion of the true reformed religion, and the necessity of martial prowess for the defence of that essential freedom.
This synthesis of Protestantism and military humanist values was well established prior to the Ulster plantation, as exemplified by the barrister and sometime-soldier Gates in his treatise The defence of militarie profession (1579). Gates saw martial prowess as essential for both the preservation and wellbeing of the commonwealth and the advancement of the true reformed religion. According to Gates, ‘Euery state…that wanteth the garde and assistance of martial prowesse lieth open to be ruinated by euery spoiler that will inuade it’, and that ‘no state, kingdome, Empire, or common wealth, can stand in any assured safetie, either inward or outward but by the benefite of militarie profession, the friend and nurse of Lawes, of Religion, and of ciuell concord’.22 Like Machiavelli, Gates asserted that civil peace and good laws sprang from good arms, arguing that,
as it is proued by experience in all ages, iustice and ciuil pollicie is not surely seated without the ayde & attendance of Martial Garde: so is it to be sene, that where military prowesse hath in any part of the worlde moste preuailed, there hath orderly most flourished, Justice, Nobleness, Science and all manner of vertuous and commendable occupations both of body & minde.23
Gates praised the reformed cities of Geneva and Strasbourg for having 5,000 and 8,000 citizens respectively, ‘redye to Armes at a cal’, arguing that the city of London should emulate those well-known bastions of the Protestant faith in the preparation and training of their own civic militias.24 Making frequent analogies between the English as God's chosen people and the ancient Israelites, he closed his Defence with an exhortation to his fellow countrymen to ‘be wise therefore, and acquainte your selues with armes, both corporal and spiritual, that you may at al times and in all causes be compleat Israelites ready for the field’.25 Gates's calls appear to have been at least partially heeded as London's trained bands had reached 6,000 by the time of the Armada crisis in 1588, although it remains somewhat debatable how well these troops would have withstood the onslaught of the duke of Parma's seasoned veterans had they successfully landed.26
The combination of military humanist ideals and Protestant zeal found fuller practical embodiment in the growth of civic militarism in England during the early Stuart period. This became manifest in the revival of London's existing military guild, the Society of the Artillery Garden, first chartered in 1537 and re-chartered in 1612, and in the establishment of similar military guilds in eleven provincial centres during the 1610s and 1620s.27 Usually headed by a professional military man with significant continental or Irish experience, these were voluntary associations that in London and other civic corporations served the important purpose of training officers for civic militias and trained bands. These men would in turn be capable of training common soldiers in military drill, and the use of the latest modern weaponry, pike and musket, according to the current continental (i.e. Dutch) practice. While conditions in the provincial centres may have varied, in London at least, membership was associated with enhanced social prestige, and no expense was spared in the furnishing and equipping of the City's trained bands with the latest weaponry.28 These efforts paid practical dividends during the Civil War when the London-trained bands proved very serviceable as infantry, at least in set-piece engagements such as Newbury (1643) where they distinguished themselves on the field of battle.29 These developments were, of course, not an exclusively English trend, but paralleled developments on the continent, particularly in Germany and the Netherlands where civic militarism was most famously memorialized in Rembrandt's painting The nightwatch (c. 1640–2).30 The practical realization of the military humanist ideal of an urban, civic-military organization as articulated in the writings of Gates, and manifested in the civic militarism of the urban military guilds, did not, however (as we shall see), necessarily extend to the City of London's plantation lands in Ulster.
Protestant military humanist ideals did, nevertheless, find their way across the Irish Sea, where the writings of Rich offered a remarkably similar synthesis of military humanism and Protestantism to that articulated in Gates's Defence. During his lengthy military and literary career, Rich served not only on the continent during the opening stages of France's Wars of Religion but also under both Essex and his father in Ireland from 1573 onwards.31 For Rich, military service was not only a civic, but also a religious duty before God. In his Allarme to England foreshewwing what perilles are procured where the people liue without regarde for martiall lawe (1578), he stated that the soldierly profession was the most honourable because
For what profession may be more honorable, then where a man shall be so solemnely sworne as it were to martyrdom for the maintenance of religion: and with the like vowe to professe to defende the lawes and liberties of his countrie with the price of his bloud and the hazard of his life.32
A good soldier acted not only for the preservation of the commonwealth against the threat of foreign domination, but for the defence of the true reformed religion. Freedom for Rich, however, was less the right to be self-governing than the freedom to worship after the fashion of the Protestant religion, and in political terms this meant freedom from Catholic, and more specifically Spanish, domination. A soldier's death in the defence of the faith was not merely an act of patriotism, but the sacrifice of a Christian martyr.
A strong ethnological emphasis on the inherent barbarity of the native Irish such as that expressed in the View did not always play a significant role in Rich's writings, but the corrupting influence of the Roman Catholic church did. Although he did criticize the Irish and their customs as barbarous, Rich conceded in his A new description of Ireland (1610) that the Irish were a well-formed race, ‘behoulding to Nature, that have framed them comly personages, of good proportion, very well limbed’.33 Their rudeness, incivility, and tendency to rebel Rich attributed not to their innately barbarous natures but ‘to their education that are trained vp in Treason, in Rebellion, in Theft, in Robery, in Superstition, in Idolatry, and nuzeled in their Cradles in the very Puddle of Popery’.34 The Irish rebelled because of their Catholicism, having been schooled in ‘the poison of the Pope's doctrine that enciteth to seditons, to Rebellions, and that setteth subiects against their Princes’.35 Rich was particularly critical of Robert Bellarmine SJ (1542–1621) whose writings were ‘stuffed with no other Doctrine, but that Popes may degrad Emperors, kings, Princes and potentates, may abrogate their Lawes, may dispense with their subiects for their allegiance that they make take Armes against their Soueraignes, [and] that they may rebell’.36 Their continued adherence to the Catholic religion constituted the major obstacle in bringing the Irish to a state of civility, because they ‘were so generally bewitched with Popery, that they will neither draw example nor precept from the English’.37 Only with the reformation of the Irish polity into a Protestant commonwealth after the pattern of England could the Irish be expected to desist from their rebellious ways.
This stress on the culturally transformative powers of the Protestant religion rested on a much softer set of ethnological assumptions than those found in the View, and was much closer to more broadly inclusive Roman ethnological models than to stricter, more exclusionary Greek conceptions of racial difference.38 According to the View, the tendency of the Irish to rebel lay in their deeply ingrained barbarity, and it was in their very nature to be fractious. The simple introduction of English laws and customs – the traditional mid-Tudor reform programme – was wholly inadequate to bring about their reformation. The only way to ‘civilize’ the Irish was by means of an ambitious programme of military-judicial violence including the widespread use of martial law including summary executions.39 Violence itself was the agent of cultural change, at once destroying the existing ‘Anglo-Norman civilization’ and at the same time reconstituting it in a renewed, regenerate form, purged of all ‘Scythian’ barbarity.40 Others, however, clearly disagreed, not only before but also after the View’s initial composition (c. 1596). For Davies, writing over a decade later, the common law itself was the primary agent of cultural change that would bring the Irish to a civil state.41 In his A discovery of the true causes why Ireland was never entirely subdued [and] brought under obedience of the crown of England until the beginning of his majesty's happy reign (1612), Davies referred to the Roman practice, noting that the Romans in making ‘a perfect and absolute conquest refused not to communicate their laws to the rude and barbarous people whom they had conquered; neither did they put them out of their protection once they had submitted themselves’.42 Similarly, the introduction of the English common law to the whole of Ireland would affect a similar, civilizing cultural transformation: ‘For heretofore, the neglect of the law made the [old] English degenerate and become Irish; and now…the execution of the law doth make the Irish grow civil and become English.’43 Protestant military humanism offered yet another distinctive position, under which neither the common law nor harsh military violence on their own were sufficient for reform. On this view, only the introduction of the true reformed religion to the inhabitants of Ireland would purge the Irish commonwealth of the Catholic religion, both ending the continuing cycle of rebellions, and effecting the kind of cultural transformation required to bring Ireland and the Irish to a state of civility.44
The figure of Sir Thomas Phillips demonstrated how these values worked on the ground, and how they both shaped and failed to shape the course of plantation. Phillips's criticisms of the City of London's plantation in Derry during the 1620s embodied a Protestant military humanism emphasizing the need for the creation of a solid base of Godly, Protestant householders for the success and prosperity of the new colony.45 Phillips sought the creation of an autarkic, Protestant civic community in Derry with a strong foundation of householders who would form a citizen militia capable of defending the new colony from the dual threats of foreign conquest and domestic rebellion. In assessing the state of the city's plantation, he sharply criticized the city for seeking short-term profit ahead of long-term security and the good of the commonwealth: (1) the Londoners had failed to plant a sufficient number of Protestant families for a strong and loyal militia; (2) had not constructed the necessary fortifications and infrastructure for the colony's defence; (3) had failed to remove the native Irish from plantation lands; (4) and had neglected to make adequate provision for the worship of the true reformed religion. The City had instead economically exploited both the land and the native Irish to their abject pauperization, fostering circumstances ripe for future rebellion. The shortcomings of the city's plantation represented for Phillips not merely a commercial failure but a civic and religious one.
Phillips's pedigree represented the practical embodiment of Protestant military humanism. His formative experiences were not those of local government or office-holding, but of foreign adventure and religious warfare; his life was a product of conflict. Born in London around 1560, the son of William Phillips, one of the queen's customers of the wool, he turned to the military profession as a young man around 1578–9. He eventually found his way into the service of Henry of Navarre during the French Wars of Religion, serving (by his own recollection) as a captain under the command of the Marshal d'Aumont.46 He was not a ‘scholar’ after the fashion of a Gabriel Harvey or an Edmund Spenser, and there is no known record of him attending one of the universities.47 Nevertheless, given the wealth and status of his family it is reasonable to presume that he received a decent grammar school education or its equivalent. It is unlikely that he ever read Machiavelli, but if he did it was probably Whitehorne's Arte of warre; given his religious convictions and worldview, it is more likely that he read Rich or Gates early in life. He landed at Cork in November 1598, part of a larger influx of English troops in the wake of Hugh O'Neil, earl of Tyrone's crushing defeat of the English at the Battle of the Yellow Ford on 14 August.48 By this time, Phillips already possessed, in the words of Terry Clavin, ‘a formidable military reputation’, having spent twenty years on the continent, learning both French and Spanish, and travelling as far as Italy and North Africa.49 He served first in Munster, and briefly in the Midlands before being sent to Carrickfergus in County Antrim around July 1601; he subsequently distinguished himself by capturing the important fort at Toome on the Bann.50 A client of Robert Cecil, later earl of Salisbury, for whom he acted as ‘a kind of confidential agent’, he quickly came to the attention of Sir Arthur Chichester who assiduously promoted his career in Ireland.51 Chichester would remain a significant patron in the post-war period, with Phillips acting as something of surrogate in the lord deputy's running feud with Sir Randal MacDonnell (later 1st earl of Antrim), and even naming a son, Chichester, for him.52 Although there is no apparent evidence that he ever served with or under Essex, Phillips certainly fit the mould of the veteran officer with significant continental experience that Essex favoured for service in Ireland during the military build-up of the mid-1590s.53 As Trim has established, these men were not only concerned with the acquisition of honour and glory on the battlefield, but also held a powerful sense of vocation that it was their duty to defend and advance the true reformed religion in the face of its Catholic opponents, both at home and abroad.54
Like many veteran servitors, Phillips was amply rewarded for his service in the Nine Years’ War. He acquired a lease of Portrush in July 1605, and was granted the town of Coleraine, and six adjoining townlands the following September. In February 1606, he acquired another lease of the fort at Toome along with thirty adjoining acres; he was subsequently knighted in 1608. Finding himself in hostile territory, surrounded by enemies, and his own resources increasingly strained, Phillips was initially very supportive of the City's involvement in the plantation, and Clavin has suggested that he may have even been the ‘main mover’ behind the crown's decision to involve the City in 1609.55 The Londoners brought a vastness of financial resources to the plantation, allowing for a more ambitious and expansive programme of construction and settlement than Phillips could ever manage on his own. The initial twenty-seven articles of plantation agreed upon between the City's representative and the privy council on 28 January 1609 outlined an ambitious programme of construction and military fortification.56 Under articles 2 and 4, the city would build 200 houses at Derry leaving room for an additional 300, and another 100 at Coleraine leaving room for an additional 200; the City would also construct adequate fortifications and infrastructure for both towns, including a bridge over the Bann at Coleraine, and provide for a Garrison at the strategic fort at Culmore.57 This new construction was especially necessary for Derry which had been levelled during Sir Cahir O'Doherty's failed rebellion in April 1608.58 Another notable concession included article 7, under which ‘the woods and grounds and the soil of Gllanconkyne and Kelletra’ between County Coleraine and Ballinderry were granted to the City in perpetuity with the proviso that the woods ‘be converted to the furtherance of the Plantation and all necessary uses in Ireland and not to be made merchandize’.59 Under article 14, the City also received a concession in perpetuity on the lucrative salmon and eel fishing of the Bann with Phillips surrendering his interest in the fishery in exchange for a pension of £162 from the crown in June 1611.60 More significantly, in April 1610, he surrendered the town of Coleraine to the City in exchange for 3,000 acres at Limavady and an additional 500 at Toome.61
The next quarter century saw an increasingly bitter conflict develop between the veteran servitor, the City, and its long-serving agent in Derry, Tristram Beresford, for whom Phillips developed a deep personal antipathy.62 Phillips's quarrel with the City developed rapidly. In 1611, there was a heated dispute between Phillips and the City's agents over the latter's use of the woods to manufacture pipe staves, a lucrative, albeit very destructive manner of merchandizing the woods entrusted to them.63 This was also directly contrary to the articles of plantation agreed upon between the City and the crown which stipulated that timber from plantation lands be utilized for the construction of the plantation and not otherwise merchandized.64 In 1612, Phillips and the Assize justices quarrelled with the City over their relocation of the Session House and Gaol from Limavady, where the Assizes had customarily been held, to Derry with the City claiming the right to elect justices of the peace.65 The death of Salisbury, Phillips's long-time patron on the privy council that same year, not only critically weakened Phillips's influence in London, but also further emboldened the City's agents in asserting their control over the plantation. By mid-1612, Phillips's break with the City was complete, and he was now attempting to convince the government that it had been a mistake to involve the rapacious Londoners and their agents in the first place.66 The early 1620s found Phillips actively working against the City and its agent Beresford with the aim of ending their continued involvement in the plantation. He secured his appointment to two Royal Commissions, the first in 1622 that surveyed all of the Ulster plantation, and a second in 1627 specifically on the City's plantation in Derry with himself as sole commissioner.67 Repeatedly appealing to the privy council, he was able to procure the sequestration of the City's estates from September 1625 to July 1627, and again from May 1628 finally achieving a complete victory over the City with the Star Chamber decision of 28 February 1635.68 The City, undoubtedly the victim of a cash-hungry Caroline regime, suffered the loss of their Irish estates, and was fined the exorbitant sum of £70,000, an amount which was later mitigated to £12,000.69 The victory was, however, a hollow one for Phillips who died heavily in debt and exhausted the following August in Hammersmith west of London.70
Phillips's criticisms of the City's plantation revealed in his observations and petitions to the privy council demonstrated how the values of Protestant military humanism operated on the ground. His complaints against the Londoners fell roughly under four categories, all of which were closely interconnected. The first and most tangible was their failure to construct an adequate number of houses at Derry and Coleraine, and to develop fully the military infrastructure of the plantation. Adjunct to this grievance was the City's failure to plant a sufficient number of ‘British’ settlers in order to make up a loyal, Protestant citizen militia. The third shortcoming of the plantation was that the Londoners had failed to remove from their estates all native Irish who had not conformed to the Protestant religion, and taken the Oath of Supremacy in keeping with the general conditions of plantation of 1610.71 The fourth and most damning for Phillips was the City's failure to make sufficient provision for the worship of the reformed religion. This shortcoming was not merely the failure to build and ‘beautify’ a new church at Derry, but was closely linked to the City's failure to remove the native Irish. Phillips charged that the City's agent Beresford, and those of the twelve Great Livery Companies, had allowed the native Irish to remain as tenants at grossly inflated rents, and tolerated the continued practice of the Roman Catholic religion on their estates. These failings amounted to a betrayal of the ‘pious’ purpose with which King James I had first undertaken the plantation of Ulster, putting short-term profit ahead of the peace and safety of the commonwealth.
The 1622 Commission's survey of Derry and Donegal, undertaken jointly by the barrister Richard Hadsor (c. 1570–1635) and Phillips, emphasized the City's failure to construct an adequate built environment at Derry and Coleraine.72 Articles 2 and 4 of the City's original agreement had called for the construction of 200 houses at Derry leaving room for an additional 300, and 100 houses at Coleraine, leaving room for an additional 200.73 The city by its reckoning had exceeded these conditions constructing 219 houses ‘of lime and stone, slated’ at Derry and another 125 houses at Coleraine. However, the commissioners questioned the adequacy of these houses, noting that the houses had only ‘one dormer, consisting of one small lower room and an upper room for a house, whereas one familly doth now hold 6, some 4, some 3 and most 2 of these dormers for one dwelling house, there being many of those houses or 2 dormers but one door and a pair of stairs and one chimney there’.74 By the commissioners’ reckoning, this made for only 102 houses at Derry.75 Similarly, at Coleraine, the commissioners reckoned that only 70 houses had been constructed at the city's charge, only 18 of those in stone ‘and the rest of cagework’ (i.e. timber).76 While the city had constructed a new wall at Derry, the commissioners were deeply critical of the state of fortifications at Coleraine, including the condition of the gates, ‘disgraceful unto the town’, and the poorly fortified waterfront along the Bann laying ‘dangerously open up on the said river’.77 In addition, the City had failed to construct and maintain a bridge at Coleraine, ‘[t]he want of which doth much impoverish the town, and is a great hindrance of those parts that lie beyond the water’.78
Writing later, around 1624–5, Phillips gave further reasons for his assessment of the houses at Derry and Coleraine, noting that
it is apparent by the last survey returned that their petty houses are not sufficient for a family that hath Trade, to manage his affaires in; And lately in 1622 upon a gen[er]all muster made by the Comos [i.e. commissioners] there were in the whole cittie, of Maisters and servants but 110 men, when as such place hath need of noe lesse then 1500 men fitting to beare Armes to guard it.79
Although Coleraine did somewhat better with 100 men, this was equally inadequate particularly given the poor state of the fortifications surrounding the town.80 Where Gates had lauded the Protestant cities of Geneva and Strasbourg for the organization of their citizen militias, Protestant Derry had less than a tenth of the able-bodied fighting men required to defend it in event of attack. The ideal for Phillips, in keeping with the values of Protestant military humanism, was to create an adequate number of Godly urban householders in order to constitute a strong citizen militia. His ideal was clearly in keeping with the revival of civic militarism currently taking place in London and other English provincial centres, but the City had failed to meet the basic requirements for creating a viable number of urban households needed to supply the manpower for such a militia. For this to occur, the householders needed adequate space to conduct trade after the manner of a London artisan, with space for family and servants aloft, and for artifice and trade below. Phillips's negative assessment of the City's houses turned on rudimentary principles of household, and political economy.
The 1622 Commission was also critical of the City's failure to create an adequate number of freeholders to supply local office-holding and make up a jury pool. The commissioners recommended that an additional 40 freeholders be created at Derry of 40 acres apiece and an additional 20 at Coleraine of 100 acres apiece out of 4,000 acres originally granted to the corporation of London-Derry.81 Phillips's own observations and the preponderance of the 1622 commissioners’ comments on the City's plantation, however, were primarily concerned with the issue of military preparedness. Where Sir John Davies, writing in the initial stages of the plantation, had emphasized the equitable redistribution of lands and the creation of a strong base of freeholders who could make up a sufficient pool of jurymen and local office-holders, Phillips's assessment of the City's efforts reflected instead a constant concern with the military affairs.82 The commissioners’ certificate from 1622 reported the number of English or ‘British’ on each portion of the plantation, the state of their armament, the condition of local fortifications, and the number of natives remaining on each proportion. This last number was almost always unacceptably high with the native Irish often ‘living dispersedly and not in town reeds’.83 For example, on the Fishmonger's Company's proportion at the manor of Wallworth which adjoined Phillips's own estates at Limavady, the commissioners reported only 23 ‘British men present’ who were ‘meanly armed’, while the number of natives present was put at 243.84 Other London Companies like the Clothworkers did somewhat better, with 86 ‘British men present’ on their proportion, 75 of whom were armed, and only 51 natives.85 Some of the London companies did better and some worse, with each particular situation depending heavily on the energy, competence, and priorities of each London company's agent in managing their proportion.
The greatest shortcoming of the City's plantation was, however, the failure to remove the native Irish and supplant them with ‘British’ colonists. Even Ian Archer, who has made a concerted effort to see through Phillips's heavily biased invectives against the City, has acknowledged that ‘on the central question of the removal of the natives, the city's record indeed looked poor’.86 Upon finding the natives desiring to stay on the land, the City's agents had allowed them to remain at greatly inflated rents. Previously, the native Irish had paid only 50s per balliboe, but the City had raised rents to £5 8s and 10d, effectively rack-renting them.87 In one of his numerous petitions to the privy council during the mid-1620s, Phillips argued that these inflated rents had greatly impoverished the Irish, fostering circumstances ripe for revolt:
the great rents they made the natives pay, have made them miserable poore, for a man att their first comeing thither that was able to pay rent for a Towne land alone, and had 40 or 50 cowes, he is now fayne to have 7 or 8 to joyne wth him, and not able to pay it so well as he did, and for his 40 or 50 Cowes they are brought to 3 or 4 so as they are in a desperate case and apt to goe into rebellion.88
The Londoners had ‘perverted’ King James's original intention to plant the land with British, and instead fomented future rebellion through their avarice. Phillips complained further that the Londoners were willing to ‘doe any thinge to confirme their profitt though it be never so dangerous to the Commonwealthe’.89
The City in its defence advanced the claim that their contract with the crown had superseded the original general printed articles of plantation published in 1610, freeing them of the general conditions of plantation. In the ‘Answer’ of lord mayor and commonality dated 21 March 1626, the City made the argument that in the original twenty-seven articles of plantation, ‘theare is not any one Article or thinge conteyned in the Articles wherein any mencon is made of plantinge wth Brittish’.90 This somewhat specious claim, first advanced by the City's agent, Beresford, came in response to renewed government calls for the removal of the natives amid rising tensions with Spain late in 1623.91 It would later comprise one of the less plausible elements of the City's defence in the Star Chamber trial of 1631–5, and it was not particularly effective either in avoiding repeated sequestration orders, or in preventing the loss of the City's Irish estates.92 Given that the City's and the London Companies’ agents had generally adhered to the ‘king's booke’ during the first decade of the plantation, and even petitioned the lords of the Irish Council to allow the natives to stay on the land, this was wholly unsurprising.93
For Phillips, the failure to plant an adequate number of ‘British’ families and to remove the native Irish inhabitants had broader ramifications that were not only military, but also religious. It was not simply the City's failure to construct a church and make adequate provision for the ‘true Religion of Christ’, but the continued toleration of Catholicism on City lands that threatened well-being, security, and future success of the plantation.94 In a 1629 petition against the City, Phillips openly questioned both the City's ‘piety’ and their commitment to the advancement of the Protestant religion, accusing them of forgetting ‘to advance the flourishing estate of Christ's true Religion’.95 He directly linked Londoners’ failure to remove the natives to the persistence of the Catholic religion on their Irish estates:
As they had really intended to establish true Religion in those parts they would have begun with God and would have built a Church wherein to serve Him, which they have not yet done; they would also according to their covenants with his late Majestie have put away the superstitious and rebellious natives, the Maintainers and Harbourers of Popish Priests, and would have planted the country with religious British such as would have freed the same from Popish Jurisdiction which is now more frequent in those parts than ever heretofore.96
Phillips's criticisms of the London plantation embodied a basic understanding of political economy in which the future safety and security of the colony depended on planting an adequate number of Protestant householders who would then form a citizen-soldier militia capable of defending the settlement in event of either foreign invasion or domestic rebellion. However, while Davies had omitted ‘to speak of the state ecclesiastical’, Phillips saw the spread of the Protestant religion as essential for the reformation of the Irish. He abhorred the continued practice of the Roman Catholic religion on plantation lands, and saw the pauperization of the natives as fostering circumstances ripe for future rebellion.97 As T. W. Moody noted, he understood his mission in Ireland in providential terms, and himself ‘as an instrument of Providence for the exposure and punishment of a great crime against the state’.98 For Phillips, the willingness of the Londoners to tolerate the continued presence of the native Irish and their idolatrous religion on their estates combined with their failure to plant sufficient numbers of Protestant, ‘British’ settlers represented a civic-religious failure, and a betrayal of James VI and I's ‘pious’ intentions in undertaking the Ulster plantation.
The Ulster plantation envisioned an ambitious programme of colonization, involving not simply the settling of the land with English and British immigrants, but the replacement of existing indigenous forms of governance with those of English local government. The shiring of Ulster, the extension of the Assize, and the creation of self-governing corporate towns were all crucial to the process of plantation. The Ulster plantation had initially envisioned the creation of twenty-five such urban communities, although only sixteen came to fruition.99 As Archer has noted, ‘Towns were regarded as essential agents of civility’, and ‘civility was a core element in urban identity’.100 On this view, the very process of urbanization and the accompanying transformation of the built environment were important agents of cultural change, promoting civility and commerce where there had been only barbarism.101 Phil Withington has similarly argued that the most relevant model for plantation derived not from the ethnological perspective of the View, but from the writings of Spenser's early mentor and patron Sir Thomas Smith. Smith, of course, was both heavily involved in the failed plantation effort in the Ards during the early 1570s, and a close student of Irish affairs. On this reading, the Fermanagh planter Thomas Blenerhaset's A direction for the plantation in Vlster (1610) represented an important programmatic text bringing Smith's abortive plantation project of the 1570s forward into the Ulster plantation.102 Blenerhaset argued that walled civic corporations were not only autarkic and self-sustaining, unlike garrisoned forts, but also promoted ‘true religion, and a comfortable society’ over ‘popery’.103
This is where we find an important disjuncture between the City's understanding of its ‘civilizing’ role in Derry and that of Phillips. Prior to settling in Ireland, Phillips's formative experiences from his late teens onwards had not been those of the ‘unacknowledged’ or ‘monarchical’ republic of local office-holders.104 Before his departure for the continent, it is highly unlikely that given his age he had either held local office, or served on any jury. His formative experiences were instead those of foreign travel, camp life, and, above all, military service and conflict. He certainly would have seen and probably admired the capacity of well-organized civic corporations to resist concerted attack during the French Wars of Religion.105 He also clearly idealized the civic militarist ideals embodied in the Society of the Artillery Garden and the other provincial military guilds being established in England during the 1610s and 1620s. In this regard at least, he was hardly an outlier, but highly representative of a broader set of developments in not only English but also European urban civic culture. However, the evidence of his petitions and his conduct towards the City and its agents also argues very strongly that he had little practical understanding of how these urban communities collectively governed themselves. He was undoubtedly frustrated not only with the collaborative and seemingly cumbersome decision-making processes of the City, but also those of London's twelve Great Livery Companies which closely emulated the City's collective mode of governance in their own internal deliberations.106 As evidenced by his surviving petitions, he frequently went over their heads to the privy council and even the king when he deemed it necessary with varying degrees of success.
In the end, Phillips emerged as a character in keeping with William Shakespeare's Gaius Martius in his Tragedy of Coriolanus (c. 1607–8). He was not a man given to the ‘gentle words’ or ‘fair speech’ necessary for successfully negotiating the diverse array of local regimes through which the English actually governed themselves (3.2.60, 97).107 His military humanism was clearly preoccupied with the ‘republican’ emphasis on the need for a strong citizen militia to defend the commonwealth from foreign domination, but it was less concerned with fostering the kind of civil conversation that Withington has identified with the civic life of English corporate towns.108 Rather than a tension between aristocratic and civic values, Phillips's conflict with the City demonstrated instead a rivalry between competing hierarchies of civic values, one forged in exile and conflict, infused with militant Protestantism and civic militarism, and another deriving from the practice of local government within a ‘city commonwealth’. Much to Phillips's frustration, the revival of civic militarism taking place in London and other civic corporations in England during the 1610s and 1620s did not, as he clearly wished, extend to the City's plantation lands in Derry. The reasons for the City's unwillingness to foster a similarly robust civic-military establishment on their plantation lands remain a matter for some speculation, but two immediate possibilities present themselves. One is that the military humanism that Gates, Rich, and Phillips represented was not universally lauded or admired, even during the crisis years of the 1590s. As Rapple has noted, William Cecil, Lord Burghley himself proved something of a sceptic concerning the value of the military profession and its compatibility with Christian living, instead favouring a more Erasmian strand of Renaissance civic thought in which the arts of peace took precedence over those of war.109 A second, more prosaic but perhaps more credible, explanation is simply that in the context of a war-weary Jacobean London, many were undoubtedly less than enthusiastic about the expense incurred in keeping the City's plantation on a constant war footing. As Victor Treadwell has observed, only in light of deteriorating relations with Spain late in 1623 did the privy council begin to examine seriously Phillips's complaints about the poor state of military preparedness on the City's Irish estates.110
Phillips's long-running conflict with the City demonstrates that those who undertook the Ulster plantation frequently held diverging views on the critical question of what constituted the culturally transformative agent capable of bringing the native Irish to a state of civility, and rescuing Ireland's ‘old English’ population from its current degenerate condition. Was it the common law as Davies argued? Was it the bringing of diverse peoples together in towns and cities as suggested in Blenerhaset's writings? Or was it Spenser's extreme programme of military-judicial violence? These divergences were sometimes subtle, reflecting the interconnectedness of these diverse viewpoints, and at other times more pronounced, reflecting the multi-variant character of the plantation process in early modern Ireland. This article has examined one particular facet of this complex process, that of Protestant military humanism, locating it in relation to the other constituent variants in the plantation process. For Protestant military humanists like Rich and Phillips, the transformative agent of change was neither the process of urbanization nor the English law, but the ‘True Religion of Christ’. For these individuals, the Protestant religion was essential to the reformation of the Irish commonwealth, rendering it a peaceful, flourishing, and monarchical realm after the pattern of England. While profitable in the short term, the City's toleration of Roman Catholicism on their proportions was not only impious, but also ensured the continued barbarity and rebelliousness of the natives, greatly endangering the peace and safety of the commonwealth. Protestant military humanism, understood in this context, played a crucial role in the plantation process, offering a potent ideological rationale for colonization, and shaping the course of plantation on the ground.