The King's Irishmen: The Irish in the Exiled Court of Charles II, 1649-1660

The King's Irishmen: The Irish in the Exiled Court of Charles II, 1649-1660

Mark R.F. Williams


Boydell Press



A novel study of the political, religious, and cultural worlds of the principal Irish figures at the exiled court of Charles II
Shortlisted for the Royal Historical Society's Whitfield Prize, 2014

King Charles I's execution in January 1649 marked a moment of deliverance for the victors in the Wars of the Three Kingdoms, but for thousands of Royalists it signaled the onset of more than a decade of penury and disillusionment in exile. Driven by an enduring allegiance to the Stuart dynasty, now personified in the young King Charles II, Royalists took up residence among the courts, armies, and cities of Continental Europe, clinging to hopes of restoration and the solace of their companions as the need to survive threatened to erode the foundations of their beliefs.
The King's Irishmen vividly illustrates the experience of these exiles during the course of the 1650s, revealing complex issues of identity and allegiance often obscured by the shadow of the Civil Wars. Drawing on sources from across Britain, Ireland, and Continental Europe, it looks at key Irish figures and networks in Charles II's court-in-exile in order to examine broader themes of memory, belief, honour, identity, community, dislocation and disillusionment. Each chapter builds upon and challenges recent historical interest in royalism, providing new insights into the ways in which allegiances and identities were re-fashioned and re-evaluated as the exiles moved across Europe in pursuit of aid. The King's Irishmen offers not only a vital reappraisal of the nature of royalism within its Irish and European dimensions but also the nature of 'Irishness' and early modern community at large.

MARK WILLIAMS is Lecturer in Early Modern History at Cardiff University.

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June 2014
352 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
Studies in Early Modern Cultural, Political and Social History
ISBN: 9781843839255
Format: Hardback
Boydell Press
BISAC HIS037040, HIS010020
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Table of Contents

Introduction: The Problem of Irish Royalism
Memory and Merit: The Many Incarnations of Lord Inchiquin
Memory and Catholicism: Lord Taaffe and the Duke of Lorraine Negotiations
The Crisis of the Church: John Bramhall
Duty, Faith and Fraternity: Father Peter Talbot
Duty, Faith and Fraternity: Thomas, Richard and Gilbert Talbot
Honour, Dishonour and Court Culture: Lord Taaffe
Information, Access and Court Culture: Daniel O'Neill
'Patron of Us All': The Marquis of Ormond
Conclusions: Deliverance and Debts: The Legacy of Exile


This is a welcome book on an important topic curiously understudied: the actions and mental worlds of elites from Ireland who went into exile after the wars of the 1640s. RENAISSANCE QUARTERLY

A refreshing, culturally aware review of prominent figures. [A]n engaging study. HISTORY

Always entertaining. ... Mark Williams has rescued the continental endeavours of leading Irish royalists from oblivion. His greatest achievement is that he has sharpened our understanding of British royalist ideology during the revolutionary years. THE IRISH TIMES

[A] elegantly crafted first book. ... Mark Williams has cast light on a neglected aspect of the Civil Wars and his book is a significant contribution to our understanding not just of this important period of our history but also of the 17th century as a whole. LITERARY REVIEW

The author offers compelling evidence of an exiled Irish Royalist community where commitment to the Stuart cause was shaped less by a clearly defined ideology than it was by pragmatic and complex alliances as courtiers battled to adapt and remain relevant in an ever-changing environment. In doing so, Williams has raised more questions that need to be asked of English royalism during this period. AMERICAN HISTORICAL REVIEW

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