The University of Melbourne, Early Modern Circle Public Lecture:
“Gender and Negotiating the Conclusion of Sieges in Early Modern Ireland”, Dr Diane Hall (Victoria University, Melbourne)
Date: 19 June, 2017
Venue: North Theatre, Old Arts, The University of Melbourne
The Early Modern Circle is an informal, interdisciplinary seminar group open to interested students, academics and researchers. Drinks are provided and a gold coin donation helps to make this possible.
This paper will analyse how women and men interacted with the complex and often opaque negotiations surrounding the conclusion of sieges during the period 1640s and 50s in Ireland. The paper will use the documents known as the “1641 Depositions”, the records of the trials of rebels in the High Court in 1652/3, the petitions for compensation as well as contemporary narrative descriptions. Sieges often involved non-combatants and there is a large body of contemporary evidence by and about women in these circumstances. There has been interesting scholarly attention paid to women who led the defence of their homes in the absence of their husbands, such as Lady Elizabeth Dowdall and Lettice Digby, Baroness of Offaly. Less attention has been paid to women who had lesser roles in sieges. These women are however often described as intervening in the decisions to seek quarter and to evacuate castles after defences were beaten, such as Martha Piggott of Dysart castle who described how she begged her husband John to seek quarter as it became clear that the castle was being overrun by Confederate forces. Emotive language used when seeking quarter or ending sieges was inflected by gender as well as class and military position. In the murky legal contexts of the conclusion of sieges, women and men occupied different positions, which could be used rhetorically to justifying actions such as seeking quarter or not fulfilling articles of quarter.
Dr Dianne Hall is Senior Lecturer in History at Victoria University, Melbourne. She has published widely on the histories of violence, gender, religion, race and emotion in medieval and early modern Ireland and the nineteenth century Irish diaspora. She is currently working on a monograph with Prof. Elizabeth Malcolm on gender and violence in Ireland from 1200 to 1900. She has held post doctoral research fellowships in the School of History at University of Melbourne and School of Geography, Queen’s University, Belfast before joining Victoria University.