The colonial world of Richard Boyle, first earl of Cork
David Edwards & Colin Rynne, editors
Richard Boyle, first earl of Cork (1566–1643), ranks among the most famous and infamous figures in the history of early modern Ireland and the wider English Atlantic world. The archetypal crooked land-grabber who made his initial fortune defrauding the crown of hidden revenues; the grasping colonial adventurer who became the biggest landowner in the Munster Plantation and the richest subject of the crown throughout the Three Kingdoms; the vindictive leader of the powerful Protestant interest that seized control of the Irish government and persecuted native Catholics – these are just three elements of the reputation that attaches to him in histories of the period.
This book re-examines his place in early seventeenth-century English colonialism, and reassesses his reputation, presenting an interdisciplinary interrogation of his life and activities by a panel of prominent and upcoming historians and archaeologists. Boyle emerges as a markedly more flexible figure than once was thought. The book pays close attention to his estates and clientele – a long-neglected area – to reveal new evidence of connections with Gaelic Ireland, Virginia and the New World, and the methods deployed to manage large-scale industrial operations in southern Ireland, as well as identifying the military personnel he recruited to defend it all. It offers a new view of what colonialism was like in the early seventeenth century, and of how it was practised.
David Edwards is Senior Lecturer, Department of History, University College Cork. Colin Rynne is Senior Lecturer, Department of Archaeology, University College Cork.