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Occupying Space in Medieval and Early Modern Britain and Ireland

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Edited By Gregory Hulsman and Caoimhe Whelan

This collection offers a range of interdisciplinary viewpoints on the occupation of space and theories of place in Britain and Ireland throughout the medieval and early modern periods. It considers space in both its physical and abstract sense, exploring literature, history, art, manuscript studies, religion, geography and archaeology. The buildings and ruins still occupying our urban and rural spaces bridge the gap between the medieval and the modern; manuscripts and objects hold keys to unlocking the secrets of the past. Focusing on the varied uses of space enriches our understanding of the material culture of the medieval and early modern period. The essays collected here offer astute observations on this theme and generate new insights into areas such as social interaction, cultural memory, sacred space and ideas of time and community.
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‘Them which possess the places erected by our ancestors’: Sacred Space and Conflict in Ireland (1603–1633) (Stephen Hand)

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← 190 | 191 →STEPHEN HAND

‘Them which possess the places erected by our ancestors’: Sacred Space and Conflict in Ireland (1603–1633)

At the beginning of the seventeenth century, the state of Catholic religious practice in Ireland was far from the ideal diocesan framework outlined at the council of Trent (1545–1563).1 Without a coherent parish structure and deprived of most of their traditional sacred spaces by the English administration, Irish Catholics implemented a largely clandestine episcopate to carry out their religious practices. This often required renting secular properties, using private dwellings or even holding ceremonies in fields, forests or bogs.2 Suppressing their churches and seizing their lands was not only economically beneficial to the state, but also served ← 191 | 192 →to neutralise potential rallying points for Catholic nationalism.3 The subjugation of Irish Catholics in this way was, indeed, viewed as necessary to prevent an escalation of conflict. At various times, however, in the early seventeenth century, conflict did break out.4 This chapter will analyse the reaction of the state to Catholics both using their historic ecclesiastical sites and attempting to recover their lost places of worship. To this end, it will treat of four major flashpoints which occurred during this period. These events are the Recusancy Revolt of 1603, the unofficial Catholic use of a Protestant church at the town of Kilkenny in Westmeath in 1622, the suppression of the Cook Street Friary in Dublin in 1629, and the destruction in 1632 of the pilgrim...

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