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The interface between the Gaelic clan system of Co. Clare and the emerging centralising English nation-state in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth century

Patrick Nugent


At the beginning of the sixteenth century a clan-based system still informed Co. Clare society. Such a societal system had an inherent flexibility that allowed it to adapt to changing internal and external circumstances. This ability appeared to work in its favour in the context of its engagement with the feudal world. However, the collapse of feudalism and the emergence of a market-based economy seriously undermined this system. There was a distinct geography to this collapse, which can be interpreted using Dodgshon's hypothesis on the tensions between fundamental differences within a society towards the maintenance or abandonment of a particular ideology and its impact on societal change and the consequent emergence of zones of inertia and unused freedoms. A detailed analysis of the inquisitions post mortem 1577-1637 reveals the varied responses of the different clans to these changing socio-economic and political circumstances providing a suitable opportunity to broaden our understanding of the dynamics of societal change during this key period.

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Copyright © Geographical Society of Ireland | Home | Contact us | ISSN: 0075-0778 (Print), 1939-4055 (Online) | Last Update: November 10, 2021