IRISH MILITARY CONDUCT, A GUIDE
Lawes and orders of warre, established for the good conduct of the seruice in Ireland.
London, Christopher Barker (?), 1599 (?).
FIRST EDITION. 4to., pp. 10. (lacking last blank). Roman letter. A large historiated woodcut initial and woodcut headpiece. Recto of A1 and last leaf dusty, the odd marginal spot or mark, minor repair to upper outer corner of first and last leaf. A good copy in modern three-quarter calf over marbled paper boards, spine with gilt title.
Extremely rare and most interesting pamphlet published by Robert Devereux, second Earl of Essex, on the eve of his campaign in Ireland in 1599, the largest expeditionary force ever sent to Ireland with over 16,000 troops. Essex had orders to put an end to the Irish rebellion and departed London to the cheers of crowds. It was expected that the rebellion would be crushed instantly. Essex had declared to the Privy Council that he would confront O’Neill in Ulster. Instead, he led his army into southern Ireland, where he fought a series of inconclusive engagements, wasted his funds, and dispersed his army into garrisons, while the Irish won two important battles in other parts of the country. Rather than face O’Neill in battle, Essex entered a truce that some considered humiliating to the Crown and to the detriment of English authority. The Queen herself told Essex that if she had wished to abandon Ireland, it would scarcely have been necessary to send him there.
The thirty seven orders given in this pamphlet are of great interest for military historians, and are designed specifically for troops in Ireland. Essex prefaces the work with a short introduction, stating ‘And military discipline cannot bee kept where the rules or chiefe partes thereof bee not certainly set downe and generally knowen.’ The first orders include directions requiring troops to attend sermons, morning and evening prayer, to respect the ‘holy and blessed Trinitie.’ Many of the orders have a specific Irish connection and reflect the difficulties facing an invading force that needs both to maintain good relations with and simultaneously to discourage sympathy or collusion with the local population.
“No Souldier of the Armie shall do violence to the person, or steale, or violently take, or wilfully spoyle the goods of any Irish good subject, upon paine of death,” and “No man wether hee be souldier or other, English or Irish, shal have conference or intelligence with any enemy or Rebell, that is in open action against her Maiestie.” Many of the orders are of great social interest and concern such things as drunkenness and adultery; “No man shall ravish or force any woman, upon paine of death. And adulteries or fornications shal be punished by imprisonment,’ or “No Souldier serving on Foote, shall carrie any Boy, nor no Woman shall bee suffered to follow the Armie.”
This work is particularly rare. ESTC lists only one copy held in libraries in the USA, at the Huntington Library and ABPC records no copy at auction.
ESTC S107432. STC 14131. USTC 513940. Not in Cockle.