Tudor representations of Sylvan Ireland and constructions of barbarity and civility
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This thesis challenges the traditional perspectives of Ireland’s woodland history in the Tudor century where Ireland is lauded as an exceptionally primitive island with a mysterious population of sylvan peoples who lived in woods and bogs. The Tudor documentary record, coupled with the Gaelic record of woodland management in Brehon law and Bardic poetry, demonstrates that Ireland was not dissimilar to England in its management of woodlands or the centrality of hunting to its elite courtly culture. On a thematic basis, the four chapters dispel the romanticism, assumptions and exceptionalization of Ireland’s woodland history, which emanates from literal interpretation of the Tudor documentary record. Through examining hitherto unexplored Irish and English source material in parallel, this thesis presents a new perspective to Ireland’s Tudor history and a re-evaluation of the value of woods to pre-industrial societies.