Tudor nobility

Published in Early Modern History (1500–1700), Issue 2(March/April 2012), Letters, Volume 20

Sir,—May I congratulate Gerald Power for his absorbing article ‘Hidden in plain sight: the nobility of Tudor Ireland’ (HI 20.1, Jan./Feb. 2012). It is a shame that historians have tended to study the Irish aristocracy from either a narrow genealogical perspective—tracing bloodlines and who inherited what and when—or as participants, viewed en masse from afar, in the broad sweep of Irish history, usually with the result that families are crudely corralled into simplistic political and ethnic categories. Closer study, applying a more social historical or biographical approach, of individual Irish noble families reveals a far more complex, engaging and human picture, frequently challenging traditional perceptions of Ireland’s past. But such work has so far been rare. Thus countless families who were once feared and formidable in their own districts are now almost entirely forgotten. For this reason I look forward to reading Power’s new book on the nobility of the Pale, and hope it will encourage others to explore Ireland’s many ancient, but often fallen, dynasties.—Yours etc.,FERGUS CANNANSurrey

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