The Irish in the Spanish Armies in the Seventeenth Century

The Irish in the Spanish Armies in the Seventeenth Century

Eduardo de Mesa


Boydell Press



Provides a wealth of detail on how "the wild geese" - the Irish who refused to submit to the English - played a significant role in the armies of Spain.
It is well-known that many Irishmen who refused to submit to the English in the reigns of Elizabeth and the early Stuart kings, including the famous earls of Tyrone and Tyrconnell, went to fight for the king of Spain, but what they did when they joined the Spanish armies is much less well-known. This book provides a wealth of detail on the activities of the Irish in the Spanish armies in the late sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. It outlines who the Irish soldiers were, how they were recruited and the terms under which they served. It discusses their military roles both in the wars in Flanders between the Spanish and their former Dutch subjects, and, later, in the Hispanic peninsula, showing how the Irish were often employed as elite troops who made significant contributions to major military actions, such as the siege of Breda in 1624. It examines military tactics, explores the politics of the Spanish armies, showing how the Irish fitted in, and discusses how, when the rebellion of 1641 broke out in Ireland, many Irish soldiers returned to Ireland to resume the fight against the English.

Eduardo de Mesa completed his doctorate at University College Dublin. He is the author of La pacificación de Flandes. Spínola y las campañas de Frisia (1604-1609) (2009), and Discurso Militar del Marqués de Aytona (2008), co-author of La Monarquía de Felipe III (2008), and author of numerous articles, chapters in edited collections, and encyclopedia entries.


November 2014
10 black and white, 3 line illustrations
260 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
Irish Historical Monographs
ISBN: 9781843839514
Format: Hardback
Library eBook
Boydell Press
BISAC HIS010020, HIS018000, HIS027130
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Table of Contents

Origins, composition and strength
Recruiting and levies for the Irish Tercios in Flanders
Irishmen in the War of Flanders, 1621-44
An urgent need of soldiers for Spain
The war experience of Tyrone's Tercio, 1638-42
The long journey of Tyrconnell's Tercio, 1639-44
The Irish in the war against Portugal, 1641-44


One marvels at how much the author accomplishes in 216 pages of text. To craft a monograph that is genuinely multifaceted in its scholarly contributions is quite a feat. We can anticipate with assurance that further deeply researched cross-cultural studies will be proffered by Eduardo de Mesa. DE RE MILITARI

A work of scrupulous scholarship, impressively rich in archival detail: a study apt to qualify got the ascription 'definitive'. THE IRISH SWORD

Of exceptional value to the study of the Irish in Europe. IRISH LIVES REMEMBERED

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