Pangaea the Dalhousie Undergraduate History Journal Editor

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The Dalhousie Undergraduate History Journal


Anne E. Cummings

Associate Editor:

Heather Parker

Editorial Board:

Ally Basen

B. Gayle Cormier

Deanna Foster

Elizabeth Maynes

Andrew Patrick Murray

Ari S. Najarian

Noah B. Shack

Stéphanie Simard

Matthew Sugrue

Faculty Advisors:

Christopher M. Bell

Cynthia J. Neville

Special Thanks to:

Tina Jones

Mary Wyman

Dalhousie History Department

Dalhousie Undergraduate History Society

Dalhousie Computer Science Society

The Dalhousie Undergraduate History Journal

2005 - 2006

H. J. Parker is a fourth-year Honours History and Classics student. Her paper “Divorce in the Medieval Celtic Realms” was originally submitted for Cynthia Neville’s 2005 seminar on Crime and Society in Post-Conquest England.

Rachael A. Griffin is in the fourth year of a History and Political Science Honours degree. She wrote “The English in Ireland: English Law in Ireland from 1297-1366” for Cynthia Neville’s 2005 seminar on Crime and Society in Post-Conquest England.

Ari Najarian is a fourth-year student in History and Anthropology. He composed “The Millet System and Ottoman Decline” for Colin Mitchell’s 2005 Sultans and Shahs.

Christa Hunfeld is a third-year student in History. Her paper “Pitchforks and Paternalism: Women and the English Reformation” was written for Krista Kesselring’s 2005 Tudor and Stuart England.

Elizabeth Maynes is in the fourth year of a History Honours degree. Liz completed her Bachelors of Science at Acadia University in 1998. She wrote “Guilty until Proven Innocent: Mothers and the Law in Early Modern England” for a Directed Readings course with Krista Kesselring.

Anne E. Cummings is a fourth-year Honours student in History and Spanish. She originally submitted “Catholic Relief and the Anti-Papist Tradition” for Krista Kesselring’s 2005 Topics in the Social and Cultural History of England, c. 1500-1850: Madness and Marginality.
Katherine Archibald is a fourth-year History and Contemporary Studies Honours student. She wrote “Insurgence in ‘Traitordom’: Andrew Johnson, East Tennessee, and Appalachian Unionism” for John O’Brien’s 2005 American Civil War and Reconstruction.

B. Gayle Cormier is a fourth-year History Honours student. She wrote “Setting the Record Straight: Churchill, Appeasement, and the Italo-Abbysinian Crisis” for Christopher Bell’s 2005 class, Winston Churchill.
David J. R. Kehoe is a fourth-year History student. His paper “Churchill and the Spanish Civil War” was written for Christopher Bell’s 2005 class, Winston Churchill.

Elyse Cragg is a fourth-year History student. She composed “Everyday Germans and the Holocaust: What They Knew and Why They Stayed Silent” for John Bingham’s 2005 class Nazism and German Society.

Noah B. Shack is a fourth-year History and Political Science student. He wrote “Brinksmanship and Backfire: Nasser and the Six-Day War” for Paul Sedra’s 2005 class History of Modern Egypt.

David Stanley is a third year student in the second year of a degree in History and Environmental Science. He wrote “A Siren Song: Canada's National Policy Scuttles the Maritimes' Merchant Marine” for Timothy Lewis’s 2005 class Transition and Decline in Rural Canada
Peter McGuire is a third year history student. He submitted “Tormenting the Bear: The Russian Defeat in Chechnya, 1994-1996” for Christopher Bell’s 2005 class War and Society Since 1945.


The Dalhousie Undergraduate History Journal


The English in Ireland:
English Law in Ireland 1297-1366 8

The Millet System and Ottoman Decline 41

A Siren Song:
Canada’s National Policy Scuttles
the Maritimes’ Merchant Marine 57

Setting the Record Straight: Churchill,

Appeasement and the Italo-Abbysinian Crisis 90

Brinksmanship and Backfire:

Nasser and the Six-Day War 113

Tormenting the Bear:

The Russian Defeat in Chechnya, 1194-1996 133

The English in Ireland:
English Law in Ireland 1297-1366

Rachael Griffin
When in 1365, King Edward III spoke of Ireland as being “sunk in the greatest wretchedness through the poverty and feebleness of its people”,0 he was unwittingly summing up the two-century history of England’s experience in Ireland. From the reign of Edward II, English institutions and the jurisdiction of the common law began to retreat from the further reaches of Ireland back into the Pale.0 This paper examines the extent to which English laws penetrated Ireland, and where they did not, why. In an attempt to synthesis some of the reasons that contributed to the drastic reduction of English power in Ireland between 1297 and 1366, six main topic areas are explored here. These are the patterns of the Norman conquest of Ireland and their effect on the future of English rule, the organisation of the English colonial government in Dublin, the system of Anglo-Irish lordship and its importance in understanding the application of law, the status of the native Irish under English law, and, briefly, the Bruce invasion of 1315.
It is advantageous to begin with Edward I, because his reign marked the height of English power in Ireland both territorially and administratively.0 Edward I’s talent as an administrator and monarch strengthened the English position in Ireland. In his administrative machinery “[t]he English exchequer audited accounts from outposts at Caernarfon and Berwick as well as Dublin”.0 This allowed central control and the capacity to oversee the everyday accounts from areas under his command. In addition, the English parliament had supreme jurisdiction over that of Dublin. Thus, Westminster normally heard the petitions of Irish subjects.0 Edward I emphasized the importance of London’s supremacy in decision-making over that of Dublin. Edward’s success as a head of state can be attributed to “the growth of the administrative and fiscal capacity of the state”, which allowed the English monarch to “pursue large military aims in a sustained way—which further stimulated the development of government”.0 This increased level of English administrative overview and fiscal power gave Edward a much firmer grip over the lordship than any of his predecessors had or his descendants ever would. It also, however, ensured that he and his descendants would be occupied with more ambitious endeavours overseas and away from Ireland. In addition to a relatively firm grasp over Irish institutional life, Edward also enjoyed the most extensive lordship over Ireland of any monarch to date. Due to the fractioning of inheritances by co-heiresses and the holding of liberties in wardship by the king, “[t]he area of direct royal government had thus been greatly increased during Edward’s reign: by its end only Wexford and Kilkenny remained as liberties in Leinster, and only half of Meath”.0 Since the lords of liberties were allowed significant control over their affairs, short of sovereignty, the limiting of liberties meant a greater area directly under the king’s control.
In order to appreciate why the English common law never achieved universal jurisdiction in Ireland it is important to comprehend the conditions under which the English conquered the island. When the English arrived in 1169, they did not conquer the entire realm. Under the terms of the 1175 Treaty of Windsor, the English won control only over “Leinster and Meath, with the whole coastline from Dublin to Dungarvan.”0 The rest of the country was to remain under the jurisdiction of the Irish high king Rory O’Connor, who entered into a feudal relationship with Henry II.0 Implicit in this agreement was that there would exist a dual system of law. In the area controlled by the Normans, it was intended that English common law would have supreme jurisdiction. In those areas newly under Norman control, there was little change to the “political boundaries” already in existence. 0 The newcomers simply superimposed on the Irish the Anglo-Norman system of law. Excluded from the common law, the Irish were left to their traditional and customary forms of law. As R.R. Davies points out, this laxity in allowing the Irish to retain their laws reinforced “a sense of unity. . . [and] also served as one of the crucial bulwarks of [Irish] national identity.”0 When the Normans conquered England, their invasion “had been both rapid and complete.”0 Through “the merging of the two peoples [Anglo-Saxon and Norman] in a relatively short time”, the Normans had sufficiently intertwined the two populations under the same law.0 In Ireland, this had not occurred. There remained two distinct cultural and ethnic groups whose people followed different laws in different areas of the lordship. The English conquest of Ireland was less a conquest than a semi-successful occupation. Most notably, the kings of England did not refer to themselves as kings of Ireland but lords of Ireland.0
The historian Robin Frame puts it succinctly when he states that

an intensely regional island, with a marked absence of conventional government institutions, was penetrated piecemeal by individual adventurers held on a fairly loose royal rein.0

The Irish had no central government, but instead divisive tribal groups, feuding chiefs and numerous sub-kings with rival claims to the Irish throne.0 The Treaty of Windsor cannot be seen as embodying the submission of the Irish, since Rory O’Connor did not speak for all Ireland. When the king’s men entered Ireland, they had these problems standing in their way. These ‘individual adventurers’ were given the vast tracts of land which they had overpowered to protect for England. The irregular conquest prevented large numbers of English immigrants from populating the new colony because it was not yet stable. The lack of “substantial immigration and a sustained royal presence” made conditions impossible for total governmental control of Ireland by the English.0 The result of this fitful domination by the English was not a consolidated lordship but “a patchwork or lordships”, each of which was “a small, vulnerable society”.0 Over this highly superficial veneer of control, the English government superimposed its administrative structure. Under the circumstances, the English government “applied [its resources] to purposes that were premature”.0 In essence, the English imposed their common law while simultaneously attempting to gain control of the parts of Ireland not under their influence. At no time during their lordship was there ever universal English control of Ireland upon which to base a strong and consolidated system of English law and government.
The system of government in Ireland was essentially a copy of its progenitor in England. The institutions that served England well were transported ready-made to Ireland. As Richardson has noted:
the Irish chancery, exchequer, justiciar’s bench, common bench and eyres of the king’s justices were, as near as circumstances would permit, replicas of English institutions: the council and the parliament followed as closely as possible on the English model. Shires and franchises or palatinates completed the mechanism of government.0

The system was to remain independent of the English system, hence why it had a chancery to issue writs, a common bench to hear pleas, and an exchequer to deal with finances. 0 The justiciar was the head of the government and functioned as the king’s “alter ego”.0 This certainly did not relieve the Irish administration from English overview. The Irish courts and parliament had to enforce both English and Irish statutes.0 The Irish parliament began to meet regularly in the time of Edward I; however, it was only entitled to create statutes regarding problems specific to the lordship, never to supersede those of the king’s council and parliament. 0 Frame states that the

Legislation made in Ireland between 1297 and 1366, and the records of the Dublin government . . . depict a country where war and peace were the concern of a single royal administration which set out to organize and, when necessary, mobilize the king’s subjects.0
The statute of the 1297 Irish parliament is a good example of this.0 It did not attempt to legislate on points of technical procedure, but endeavoured “to establish peace more firmly” in Ireland.0 The statute lamented the absence of lords from their lands, whether absentee or residing in more stable areas of Ireland because “their lands in the marches being left waste and uncultivated and without guard”.0 The result of such negligence was that “Irish felons . . . pass[ed] freely through to perpetrate robberies, homicides and other mischiefs up on the English”.0 In addition to this, the English king’s bench exercised the same privilege over the justiciar’s court, thus providing the lordship with “supervision over the law administered in Ireland”.0 Like the English king’s bench, the justiciar’s court “exercised a jurisdiction in review over both courts of record and courts not of record”.0 In order to avoid confusion regarding jurisdiction, the crown eventually decreed that writs should be purchased in the country in which they were to be pleaded.0

Like England, the portions of Ireland under direct control by the king were shired. The numbers of shires changed frequently, depending on problems with inheritance, the death of magnates, the expansion or retreat of English power and changing authority within crosslands. At the beginning of the period under investigation there were nine shires in Ireland.0 Jocelyn Otway-Ruthven, in her intensive study of Anglo-Irish shire government in the thirteenth century, states that the Anglo-Irish sheriff was modeled exactly upon those of England. Thus, he was responsible for the collection of amercements imposed by the royal courts, fines for having the king’s grace, fees for chancery writs, the arrears of former sheriff’s accounts, and all other items which made up the ordinary revenue of the crown, as well as the scutages of the lesser tenants in chief ‘when royal service ran’, and sometimes a local subsidy.0

Indeed, the sheriff was responsible for collecting most of the revenue of the royal administration. Otway-Ruthven suggests that this was the reason why “the oath which [the sheriff] took on appointment was largely concerned with their accountability at the exchequer”.0 Irish fiscal resources were taken directly by the king for use in wars in Scotland, France and the continent.0 It is estimated that during the period between 1203 and 1307, ₤90,000 was used by England in such pursuits.0 Given that the average income for the colony during Edward I’s reign was ₤6,300, much of the Irish revenue went straight to England.0 Absentee magnates also had a habit of taking the funds from their Irish estates to England, “leaving nothing here to protect their tenements of their tenants thereof”.0 Without money, the lordship was even less able to defend the vast tracts of land under tenuous control. The large sums of money leaving Ireland throughout the period of the lordship was a strong contributing factor in the degeneration of English control. Throughout the early fourteenth century, Irish revenue decreased due to internal unrest.0 By the time of the meeting of the 1431 Irish Parliament, officials were “seeking taxes in parliament for the defence of Ireland itself.”0

There were key differences in the nature of offices held in the Irish administration from that of their English counterparts. Ireland was not a consolidated lordship. It was a fragmented system of marches and lordships in which conflict was endemic. As a result, most government offices had an unavoidable military component. Robin Frame estimates that by the first quarter of the fourteenth century, “the king’s justiciar spent from one to six month’s a year at the head of an army”.0 As the king’s representative, it was dependent on the justiciar to declare the king’s war against his enemies. Frame states that the medieval Irish keepers of the peace were much like their English predecessors had been in the previous century.0 As a result of the constant border warfare in every shire,

[i]nstead of becoming judicial officers, with the incidental duty of overseeing the archaic local peace-keeping machinery, [medieval Irish keepers of the peace] remained active military commanders and developed judicial duties as only a subsidiary part of their function.0
During this century, the Irish administration delegated special powers of truce-making and local parleys to the keepers of the peace.0 In areas where the Dublin government exercised marginal control, the keepers of the peace had the local knowledge and connections to orchestrate and enforce parleys and truces. Some lords were also granted this power. However, there were strict controls put on this privilege since certain lords had used powers of truce to entice Irish chiefs to aid them in vendettas against their rivals.0 The medieval Irish keeper of the peace, for example,
[a]ssessed to arms, arrayed and mustered the shire levies; they acted as their captains in march warfare; and they possessed powers of truce-making and negotiating with English and Irish rebels and enemies.0
They were also empowered to fine and imprison members of the community who shirked their obligation to protect their lands and shires from enemies.0

Although there was an organised, though perhaps not highly effective, government structure in Dublin, Ireland was not a primary concern for the English crown. It has been described as coming in “a bad fourth to the English monarchy’s domestic entanglements and its commitments in France and Scotland”.0 No English king set foot in Ireland between 1210 and 1394.0 It would be catastrophic to underestimate the significance of this fact in the context of medieval England:

Royal absenteeism faced the resident lords with practical, and even psychological, problems; for medieval political societies depended for their cohesion on contact between the ruler and his greater subjects. The supreme lord of Ireland did not come among the Anglo-Irish lords; he did not assume command in Irish wars; there was no court in Ireland where magnates could receive public favour and confirmation of their self-esteem.0
This point is crucial to understanding the political and legal landscape of the lordship. Unlike Scotland and Wales, which were connected to England by land, Ireland was psychologically and physically distant from the minds and bodies of English monarchs for almost two centuries. Under these circumstances begins the investigation of the role of Anglo-Irish lords in the lordship of Ireland. These individuals were, in essence, entrusted with running the country from day to day and its protection from internal enemies. Through their experiences in the fragmented and violence-ridden lordship of Ireland, we can discern the true relationship of the English common law to the Irish.
During the latter half of the thirteenth century, the king appointed eight justiciars to Ireland in twice as many years. The result of these short-lived appointees was an increased opportunity “for the great Norman-Irish lords to establish a predominant position in the running of the colony”.0 G.J. Hand reinforces this argument by pointing out that the extent of “feudal honours and liberties” in Ireland was much greater than it had ever been in England.0 Since “lords might exercise supremacy over areas as large as a shire, or larger” in Ireland, they naturally had the power to control those in their power. This included tenants, the Irish under their protection, and all those who appeared in their courts.0 The lords of liberties enjoyed such power on a wide scale. Given the distance of several of the Anglo-Irish liberties from both England and Dublin, Otway-Ruthven is not far from the truth when she states that when charters of liberties were granted to Anglo-Irish lords, the holders enjoyed “almost royal rights, with complete control of all administration and all jurisdiction, to the exclusion of royal officials”.0 The greater liberties, notably Ulster, had “their own chanceries, exchequers and courts of law”.0 Wary of the dangers of allowing his great lords too much freedom the king retained certain powers. For example, if the lord or his chief lieutenant, the seneschal of the liberty, were negligent in executing royal writs their actions could be reviewed by the Dublin sheriff and their prerogatives might be taken away at any time by the king.0 Statutes, when addressed to Ireland, mention both sheriffs and the seneschals of liberties, whom it entrusts with the enforcement of the statutes.0 In order better to organize the system of lordship, the sheriff of Dublin’s jurisdiction was restricted in 1297 with the hope of increasing control while more sheriffs are applied to crosslands.0 It was decreed that “there be a sheriff in Ulster, as well of the Crosses of Ulster, as to carry out executions in the liberty of Ulster, when default is found in the seneschal of the aforesaid liberty”.0 The seneschal had to take an oath to the king in addition to his lord,0 and the lord was the king’s servant entrusted with the maintenance and protection of the liberty he had been granted.

With the king’s attention perennially focused on domestic issues, Scotland or the continent, Irish magnates were expected to maintain control of the marches and borderlands at their own expense. Law required that absent landholders must allow enough revenue to remain on their lands for their protection.0 In addition, any armies raised by a lord, with “license for this from the Chief Justiciar, or a special mandate” must be able to support such an “expedition” at their own expense.0 This last clause can be seen in two ways. First, that the king was not willing to fund such endeavours unless his position was seriously threatened. Second, armies without sufficient resources would pillage and cause unrest in the surrounding areas; this statute sought to prevent this unfortunate but frequent side effect of march warfare. This remained an unresolved issue, and was addressed in a 1357 English statute:

The Marches of the said Land [Ireland] situated near the Enemy, have been laid waste by Hostile Invasions, the Marchers being slain and plundered, and their Dwellings horribly burnt, and others compelled to desert their proper Homes.0

This was a testament to the lack of success of previous attempts by government to entreat lords to protect and occupy their lands in the march. Ten years later, an act regarding absentees repeated the same complaint that Irish felons and other enemies of the king were continually allowed to commit felonies and robberies in these unmonitored lands.0 The statues clearly stated that the only way to prevent these grievous occurrences was

by the coming and continuous residence of the earls, nobles and others of his realm of England who have inheritance in the said land of Ireland in their own persons, or by their strong men sufficient and well equipped for war upon their lordships.0
Much of the solidity of the land of Ireland depended on magnates and lords of liberties being able to “devise means of controlling lesser lords and Irish chiefs”.0 Thus, Anglo-Irish lords were involved on many levels with the Irish. Any Irishman accused of a crime was tried in his lord’s court.0 As Richardson notes, the crown’s legal power over and Irishman was inferior to that of the local magnate who could enact laws against him.0 If, however, the Irishman in question escaped from custody or sought safety elsewhere, the crown retained jurisdiction because the lord had failed in his duty.0 In addition, only the shire court, that is the royal courts, have the power to outlaw felons.0 The lands of Irish chiefs often “lay outside the administrative framework of shires”.0 However, in many instances, “Irish rulers . . . were . . . involved in some sort of feudal relationship either directly to the crown or to the lord of the liberty within whose area their territories lay”.0 In this way, under specified terms, usually involving feudal dues of armed service, Irish chiefs and Anglo-Irish lords coexisted with mutual reassurance of support and protection.

As discussed above, numerous concerted attempts by the law were unsuccessful in creating a firm grasp of the common law in the marches. Law existed in these areas, but not the common law, at least not in a recognisable way. In Marcher areas there existed the lex marchie, which W.R. Jones describes as

[a] vaguely defined body of Irish and feudal law and legal procedure, with its greater tolerance of private distraint, its involvement of kindreds in peace-keeping, and its preference for the commutation of murder and mayhem [which] represented an attempt to provide minimal justice to a people divided by language, law, and race.0
In lands on the border of the Pale, and in the marches, compromise between English law and the Irish law was necessary. The Anglo-Irish recognized that they had to be politic by creating a hybrid system in order to both retain their control and come to agreements with the Irish, with whom they shared the land. Frame uses the example of Ulster to show that many Irish chiefs were in “formalized subjection” to the powerful de Burgh earls, and held “their land of them in return for providing specified numbers of troops”.0 In a remote liberty such as Ulster, it was expedient for the de Burghs to promote good relations with their Irish neighbours while also ensuring that they had adequate vassals to offer protection and to meet the quota they owed to their king.
That status of the native Irish during this period is clear- they were not admitted to the common law. The letter written to Pope John XXII by the Irish princes, specifically Donald O’Neill, in 1317 gives a fairly comprehensive list of grievances regarding Irish status under the civil and criminal laws of England. Among the main problems were the inability of Irishmen to initiate legal proceedings, their incapability to hold or inherit land, the absence of severe punishment for the killing of an Irishmen, that Irishwomen were denied a dower if married to an Englishman, and that Irishmen were excluded from certain religious orders.0 Only if he had purchased a letter of denization might an Irishman be heard by the royal courts, acquire land, and bequeath that land to descendants and enter cathedrals or collegiate churches.0 A 1321 royal charter which admitted the Irish to English law for five years is good evidence for what rights were denied native Irish under the common law. They were to be admitted to English law in “life and limb”, meaning that they would be subject to the harsher penalties of English law.0 It stated that
all the Irish previously admitted to English law and those who hereafter shall happen to be admitted thereto, do henceforth use the same law concerning life and limb, and by these presents we command that the Irish so admitted and to be admitted to the said law, as well within liberties as without, be treated according to the custom of the English, always saving in all things the right of us and of other lords, in the goods and chattels of the ‘nativi’ who are commonly called in those regions ‘betaghes,’ who may happen to be admitted to the said law, and of their issue, as regards the possession of those goods an chattels.0
What this passage shows, first, is that the English government realized that it was cutting itself off from the revenue it would be afforded by extending the common law to all Irish. The focus on the punishments of life and limb belied the opportunity to obtain the chattels of a convicted Irish felon. This was especially important given that, since the Bruce invasion from 1315-1318, “great ruin had fallen upon the colony.”0 Secondly, it shows the difference between the two classes of Irish: the free and the unfree, or betagh class. The Irish betagh was at roughly the same legal status as the English villein.0 Hand suggests that the status of the betagh was greatly unchanged by the Norman invasion, but that Irishmen who had once been free under native Irish law were the ones most disadvantaged.0 They were reduced, essentially, to the status of betaghs.0 The betagh continued to be “bound to the land”.0 Hand illustrates this with an interesting example from 1309. Two men, and Irishman and an Englishman who was married to the Irishman’s sister, argued over twenty-seven acres of land. The Dublin exchequer ruled that the Irishman was in the right because he was “verus betagius and bound to the soil”.0

Until 1329, only the king could grant charters of English law to an Irishman.0 Very early in the history of the lordship, lords of liberties had obtained this prerogative, but it was retracted by the crown soon after.0 However, lords did have the right to grant English law to any of his Irishman “as regards himself, so that he would be unable to plead the exception [of Irishry] against the man thus freed”.0 Under civil law, “the property of an Irishman, who has not been admitted to English law, is deemed to belong to his lord”.0 Grievances of Irishmen were to be held in their lord’s court, because “the common law took no cognizance of lands held in velleinage or equivalent terms”.0 H.G. Richardson is quick to point out, though, that this does not mean that an Irishman’s lord cannot initiate a suit on his behalf,0 since an attack on a tenant could be seen as an attack on his lord. Otway-Ruthven has found evidence of an “Irishman joined with his lord as a plaintiff”.0 In other cases, if the Irishman could “show that the rights of the crown [were] involved he [might] sue himself as attorney for the king, even against his own lord.”0 It is such instances that lead her to conclude that “the Irishman not admitted to English law was neither rightless nor deprived of legal protection: there were avenues available to them to receive justice from the common law”.0

Now that the resources of government, the power of Anglo-Irish lords, and the status of the native Irish have been examined, the strong influence of Irish laws and customs on the functioning of the common law should be investigated. There were many areas where traditional Irish laws and customs penetrated the English lordship, much to the chagrin and displeasure of the crown. The Irish statute of 1297 admonished the English of Ireland for their tendency to dress, ride or wear their hair in the Irish fashion.0 The Statues of Kilkenny, 1366, again reprimanded the English for “forsaking the English language, fashion, mode of riding, laws, and usages, live and govern themselves according to the manners, fashion and language of the Irish enemies”.0 Compounding this disgrace, the English in Ireland polluted their race by persisting to marry and have children with the Irish.0 The crown saw this as the degeneracy of the English living in Ireland. Such practices fuelled quarrels between the English born in Ireland and the English born in England. The Statues of Kilkenny restated a constant theme in crown orders: “that no difference of allegiance henceforth be made between the English born in Ireland and the English born in England . . . but that all shall be called by one name”.0 A statute of 1357 reiterated this by stating that it was treasonous to say otherwise; what bound Englishmen is not soil but that they “use[d] the same Laws Rights and Customs.”0 The common law bound together a people, not a nationality.

In the arena of criminal law, Richardson shows that “the influence of Irish law” was directly related to the ability of both Englishmen and Irishmen to escape hanging for felony in favour of ransom or a fine.0 Frame shows that lords exploited
Irish customs of prise and billeting . . . in order to support their armed bands . . . [a]nd march customs, since they had been developed in part at least in the context of dealing with the Irish, had their Gaelic features, especially perhaps in their emphasis on pledges.0
This certainly seems in step with the discussion earlier about the need of lords to balance the populations of Irish and Irish clans on their land with the demands of an English monarchy and system of law. G. Mac Niocaill summarises it well when he describes it as “recognition of the limits of control of the common law in Ireland”.0 Hybrid systems of law and compromise were extremely important in maintaining order. Caution was necessary, though, because in no way did the English feel that Irish laws were superior to their own. Indeed, “respect for the laws and customs of the. . . Irish . . . could be accompanied by a mean-minded exclusiveness and a tendency to regard the tolerated different as culturally and ethnically inferior”.0

In some cases, an “Irish thief, though if convicted in the justiciar’s court he will usually be hanged like an Englishman, is often allowed to pay a fine and go free by private lords, and this eventually extends to Englishmen as well”.0 This was a gross violation of the jurisdiction of the common law. The Statutes of Kilkenny direct: “no English be governed in the settlement of their disputes by March of Brehon law, which by right ought not to be called law but bad custom; but that they be governed by the common law of the land as the lieges of our lord the King”.0 However, Mac Niocaill finds examples of lords of both races using whichever law they thought would give them the outcome they desired.0

In a harsh climate of endemic conflict, it is easy to see how statutes such as that of Kilkenny were weak in the face of “the joint interests of a population prone to larceny and homicide and of their lords who expected to profit by it”.0 By hanging felons, especially in areas from where the common law had since retreated, they would be killing “the goose laying the golden eggs”.0 To a lordship that protected its land out of its own minimal revenue, such an opportunity must have seemed a godsend. Lastly, Otway-Ruthven shows that the English system of frankpledge was not imported to Ireland. Instead, she states that the Anglo-Irish administration “relied on . . . the responsibility of the kin, and of the lord” to ensure that offenders appeared in court.0 This was yet another concession to the wide influence of Irish in the name of maintaining order.
Lastly, this paper will look briefly at the Bruce invasion, and its implications for English power in Ireland. When Edward Bruce landed in Ulster in 1315, the state of the lordship of Ireland offered him many advantages. The descendants of several traditional Irish dynasties supported any effort to oust the English.0 Donald O’Neill, who claimed the right to the Irish throne, on behalf of the whole Irish people condemned the “sharp-toothed and viperous calumny of the English”, whose “arrogance and excessive lust to lord it over us” had resulted in the complete subjugation of his people.0 O’Neill and his followers welcomed Bruce, with whom they cited common ancestry.0 This shared sense of origin, coupled with their resentment of the English, show clearly that the Irish kings intended to use Bruce to “more speedily and fitly” throw off the yolk of English rule. 0 Otway-Ruthven comments that the “general malaise” felt by most living in Ireland caused “an alarming number of the Anglo-Irish in Ulster and elsewhere . . . to show themselves ready to support Bruce”.0 By no means had all of the Irish in Ulster supported this move on the part of Bruce. Many tried to defend their lands, but were defeated.0

Bruce also benefited from the fact that Edward II’s wars with him had become increasingly taxing on the Irish Exchequer. One year before Bruce’s invasion, the king “ordered the handing over [of] . . . all the cash then in the Irish exchequer”, thus leaving the “Irish administration . . . financially crippled before Bruce’s invasion began”.0 The resources of the Dublin government were painfully inadequate for the task of waging war.

It was perhaps the advent of famine that saved the struggling lordship. James Lyndon asserts that the Scottish “invasion coincided with the worst famine to hit Ireland in the middle ages”.0 By the time Scottish reinforcements could be mobilised, Edward II had brought a strong force to stop the Scottish who had gotten dangerously close to toppling his lordship.0 Robert Bruce returned to Scotland, and his brother was killed five months later, ending the Scottish invasion.0 Many historians recognise this crucial period in Ireland’s history as the point of no return for English control over Ireland. James Lyndon argues that the “breakdown in law and order was worse than ever before and many parts of the island never recovered”.0 Otway-Ruthven suggests that England’s embarrassment over the Bruces in Ireland “weakened the English interest” in maintaining a strong presence;0 “[i]n all the outlying districts a retreat [was] evident”.0 Clearly, the Bruce invasion was a problem that the Irish administration was ill equipped to deal with. Its aftermath can be seen as a realisation by the English that their interests in Ireland were much more troublesome than they had bargained for.

In a colony organised for war,0 Ireland was ill prepared for the challenges it faced. The failure of England fully to conquer all areas of Ireland should not be underestimated as a significant contributing factor to the decline of English lordship during the fourteenth century. Although a ready-made and successful system of government was applied to the lordship, in neglecting to amalgamate the English and Irish populations, the monarchy ensured that the common law would never have universal jurisdiction. The absence of the king ensured that Anglo-Irish lords would have much more significant responsibility in the application of laws. The results were systems of hybrid English-Irish law which were abused by all who lived in Ireland. The opportunities afforded by the abuses of a dual system of law prevented the common law from becoming the sole system in Ireland. Prejudices against the Irish as a race combined with a lack of significant interest in fully conquering Ireland guaranteed that the Irish would always have reason to support insurgency. The statutes that have been examined in this paper are testimony to the neglect of Ireland by lords and the monarchy alike. The failure to observe a universal system of law resulted in frequent commands by the king to observe English law and protect his lands. These requests were only marginally obeyed and ensured that Edward I would be the only king in the middle ages to enjoy relatively extensive territorial and judicial control over the colony.

The Millet System and Ottoman Decline

Ari S. Najarian
In 1453, Mehmed II conquered Constantinople and placed the Greek patriarch Gennadius at the head of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate. In doing so, he invested Gennadius with both religious and civil authority over all Orthodox believers in the Ottoman Empire, including Serbs, Bulgars, Wallachians, and Moldavians.0 Shortly afterward, in 1461 he instituted Yovakim, the Armenian primate of Bursa, at the head of the Armenian Patriarchate, which similarly governed over the non-Chalcedonian, non-Orthodox and Monophysite Christian communities of the empire. These two administrative structures, along with a parallel Jewish system, constituted the bulk of what is now termed the Ottoman millet system, whereby semi-autonomous communities were defined along religious lines. Mehmed’s motivation appeared to be the quick integration of these communities into an emerging, distinctly Islamic state structure. The degree to which these communities were defined at the outset is unclear, however the fact remains that the administrative decision to divide the subjects of the empire in this manner was ostensibly sound and positive. The following argument proposes otherwise: that the implementation of an institutionalised millet system in the Ottoman Empire contributed significantly to its gradual weakening and decline. Essentially, one can trace the growth of an independent, nationalist sentiment within these and other millets, due to their accidental ethnic uniformity and internal autonomy.

The argument will proceed by establishing the historical background necessary for further analysis, including the conceptual caveats and qualifications made by other historians on this topic. The millet system of the Ottoman Empire itself will be explored vis-à-vis Christian and Jewish communities, as well as the inner workings of these communities themselves. By such examination I hope to demonstrate that the particular kind of autonomy held by these millets is responsible for their ultimate departure from the interests of the state. I will then link this process to international developments in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and demonstrate how the millet system fits into the widely held narrative of Ottoman decline. By way of conclusion, I will attempt to generalize the principles observed herein with regard to other Islamic empires with similar administrative structures.

The concept of a millet predates the Ottoman Empire by centuries. Earlier Islamic empires employed similar systems to help govern their non-Muslim subjects, and the term millet appears in the Quran as a pre-Islamic religious community.0 The similar way in which caliphs, sultans and shahs have treated their non-Muslim subjects throughout history can be explained by two important concepts: the dhimmi and the general Islamic attitude toward statecraft. The dhimmi in Islam are those people who practice monotheistic, scripture-based religions, for instance Christians and Jews. These groups were considered ‘protected peoples’ and, once conquered, paid a special tax to retain their right to practice their religions. The Islamic attitude towards dhimmis was influenced by the Quran, effectively guaranteeing these groups special treatment under Muslim rulers. This foundational principle, combined with the perceived role of the state under Islam, helped explain the similarities between administrative state structures in the historical Muslim world.

The notion of a ‘cycle of equity’ has been used by contemporary scholars and historical chroniclers quite astutely to describe the philosophic foundation for political organization in the Middle East.0 Though first promulgated in sixth-century Persia, this ideal appeared in the fifteenth century Ottoman Empire as such: the state is predicated upon the military, the military needs wealth, wealth is obtained from the subjects, subjects need social stability and justice, and the state safeguards social order and justice.0 Under this construction, state intervention into the affairs of the subjects occurs mainly through heavy taxation and protection of private property. This attitude was unmistakably reinforced in the administrative discourse: the two main classes as defined by Ottomans themselves were the askeri and reaya, or literally, the ‘military-governors’ and the ‘flocks’.0 The subjects of the empire were a matter of state interest only inasmuch as they produced wealth for the state. As a consequence, administrative groupings were made primarily to expedite the tax process. For example, the sancak system in the provinces approached taxation as a reward for military service.0 As a tiered system, officials at one level were only accountable to those directly above them: sancakbeys to beylerbeys, sipahis to sancakbeys and so on, resulting in more or less internally-autonomous units.

The direct urban equivalent to this rural administrative system was the millet. One of the primary responsibilities of the milletbashi (leader of the community), was to direct the flow of taxes into the government structure. Due to the comparable tiered structure, the internal affairs of each millet were left entirely in the hands of the milletbashi, and of no concern to the state; this included judicial, civil and economic affairs, with the exception of taxing. In this way, the notion of a millet fit nicely into the political organization of the state to reflect both its foundational principles (treatment of dhimmis) and administrative philosophy (general disinterest toward subjects outside taxation).

These observations provide a possible response to Benjamin Braude’s pressing argument that the absence of the term ‘millet’ in Ottoman administrative discourse in the 15th and 16th centuries suggests that such a unit did not exist per se until much later in Ottoman history.0 There is indeed little evidence to suggest that millets, by any name, existed widely in their modern sense during the fifteenth century0. However, due to the limited accountability of administrative units in the empire, the internal structure of the religious communities would be of no interest or import to Ottoman administrators, thus explaining their absence from sources at that particular level of government. It is just as likely that these early structures were loose associations headed by a single official invested with authority. These ostensibly undefined but internally structured communities will be referred to as millets throughout the argument.

Before addressing the internal processes of these millets, one more conceptual tool merits consideration. While the argument addresses the transitional period from medieval to modern, the prominence of the capital relation should be underscored: from the end of the 16th century a gradual transition is evident from a feudal-based economy to one with slight modern inclinations, where the deregulated urban market begins to show its true potential with increased international trade.0 The prominence of capital makes it particularly important to recognize the relationship between the state and its economic institutions. Under ideal circumstances, state structures are a function of socio-economic institutions, and thus reflect their characteristics in any given setting; when the institutions change, the structures must ultimately adapt themselves or the resulting inefficiency will breed social unrest.0

If we accept this premise, the decline of the Ottoman state can be interpreted as the process whereby existing economic institutions ‘outgrew’ their complementary state structures. The remainder of the argument will demonstrate this process by highlighting the economic agency of the millet communities, and tracing the effects of their autonomy on both themselves and their relationship with the Ottoman state. Particular reference will be made to the deviating interests of millets as manifested in budding nationalism movements.

Fairly good insight into the economic agency of the millets can be obtained by examining the Ottoman state revenue system. There existed two state treasuries, the iç hazine and hazine-i enderun, both financed almost completely by taxes, both traditional (shariah-related) and civil (örfi).0 As state expenses grew due to expansion and catastrophic events such as wars, the original ‘emergency’ örfi taxes grew in number and were institutionalised. Here a curious feature of the Ottoman Empire becomes evident: the state (the askeri) had almost no control whatsoever over affairs in major areas of the economy, and in fact largely did not own capital.0 For the sake of convenience, consider the basic urban/rural divide of industries: in the countryside, although peasants produced on state-owned lands, the taxes levied on them—whether cash or crop—cannot be considered capital. These resources were permanently taken out of the production process and did not contribute to the reproduction of labour; this left the peasants actually in charge of their means of production, albeit only in an unrealized sense. Now, it is difficult to say with any certainty which religious community of reayas dominated agriculture: the provinces of the Ottoman Empire were so expansive that the composition of the countryside varied considerably. The Caucasus remained distinctly Christian, central Anatolia had concentrations of Armenians, Kurds, some Turks and Circassians, and the eastern Balkans to a great extent retained their ethnic composition before conquest. No askeris cultivated land.

As for the cities and towns, where trade and secondary industries dominated, circumstance and tradition both led to the rise of a petty-bourgeois merchant class, composed of craft guilds (esnafs), bankers, money lenders and traders who operated more or less independently of the state. In the case of the secondary industries, guild members owned their means of production and were allowed to accrue some capital after taxation. As for the bankers and sarrafs (moneylenders), again from the non-askeri classes, they dealt entirely with capital: their funds were used whenever tax-farms were auctioned, merchants needed loans for their businesses, or when foreign currency needed to be exchanged.0 It should also be noted that from the mid-17th century, when large-scale international trade became common, esnafs were almost always comprised of individuals from either the same ethnicity or at least the same religious community.0 Furthermore, sarrafs were generally non-Muslims (Islamic law forbade the taking of interest on loans). Finally, Muslims had a relatively insignificant presence in international trade: European nations almost without exception preferred trading with the minority Christian and Jewish communities, making them indispensable intermediaries.0

In both rural and urban settings, we find that the reayas and minority bourgeois classes controlled the vast majority of the means of production and that these social groups were overwhelmingly non-Turkish and ethnically diverse throughout the empire. Recall that by the initial hypothesis, if a change in the nature of the capital relation is not accompanied by a commensurate change in the political structures predicated thereupon, social discord may be a significant consequence. Developments in late Ottoman history serve to illustrate this point.

The effects of according such economic agency to communities of religious minorities took on two different forms, one in the rural areas and another in the urban centres. In both cases, one of the primary causes was the transformation of Europe into a modern mercantilist force.0 The changing nature of Europe’s economy created a huge demand for raw materials as industrialization fostered the growth of secondary industries. International trade networks began to bring raw materials into Europe from both the Americas and the Middle East. In the case of the latter, these were in increasingly short supply. The consequences were that much of what was produced in the rural areas of the Ottoman Empire was no longer distributed all over the state, but rather exported directly to Europe in exchange for badly needed funds, and those who were involved in the export process were uniformly Greeks, Armenians, Jews and other urban minorities. As the empire was drained of important primary resources, conditions in the rural parts of the empire worsened at the expense of the urban areas. Peasants from these areas attempted to migrate to the cities to improve their lot, but the Ottoman government retaliated by forcing them back onto their land.0

Rather than ameliorate the condition of peasants, the state coerced them to keep producing in progressively vulnerable conditions. As the traditional system of prosperity failed, former Janissaries, mercenaries, militias, and even timar-holders exploited the ‘flocks’ they were supposed to protect.0 This was in turn caused by the transformation—at the beginning of the seventeenth century—of the timar system into lucrative tax farms that attracted both sedentarised military officials and other askeris. The conditions in the provinces became so unbearable in the late sixteenth century that revolts became endemic, not only among Sufi tekkes and army deserters but also peasants themselves.0

The experience in the cities was much more positive. Europe’s mercantilist transformation increased not only the nature but also the volume of trade with the Ottoman Empire. While Europeans dealt exclusively with the religious minorities, the position of these dhimmis rose proportionately. However, not all minority groups benefited from this transformation; the esnafs faced direct competition from Europe, where new manufacturing processes made it possible to undersell indigenous craftspeople. With the penetration of European trade, the balance of power between the esnafs and the sarrafs shifted towards the latter, who merely had to change the type of capital they directed. In fact, the latter group grew to have so much influence in the empire that a new class of wealthy dhimmis called amiras emerged at the end of the seventeenth century, who occupied a privileged status in their respective millets.0

Having established the gradual transformation of the nature of the Ottoman economy, the argument will now turn to examine the dynamic between this new capital relation and the state structure. Non-Muslim peasants largely expressed their defiance of the state by attempting to abandon their farms and flee to the cities. As conditions in the provinces worsened, the immediate Ottoman response, rather than instituting structural reform, was to force these peasants back to their points of origin. The Ottomans used military force to maintain the agricultural and political institutions as they were, rather than reconfiguring them to accommodate the urgent need for raw materials within and without the empire.

Further evidence for this claim is the fact that silver coins were in incredibly short supply all over the Ottoman countryside, especially in the late sixteenth century when the empire first became heavily monetized.0 The need for liquidity became a pressing issue due to increased urban international trade, and more silver akçe was produced for circulation in the cities. However, cash increasingly became the standard idiom of commercial discourse and the empire expected all affairs to be handled with it, including and especially provincial taxation, its key source of revenue. The monetization of Ottoman society was caused largely by outside forces; the dearth of silver in the provinces illustrates the extent to which the state was unwilling to adapt itself to this development at all beyond the immediate urban necessities. To avoid painting a completely bleak picture of the Ottoman state, it is worth mentioning that various reform efforts were made throughout the seventeenth century, in response mainly to external crises and internal decay.0 However, as Stanford Shaw notes, these reforms only “temporarily saved the empire by forcing it back into the patterns of the past”, acting against the effects of decline but never its cause.0

When examining the urban capital relation as an historical phenomenon, a significant trend should be kept in mind: Turkish contributions to the internal economy significantly outweighed involvement in international European trade. From the outset, Turks were disinterested in international trade. This reinforced the defined spheres of activity for the non-Muslim minorities. Robert Mantran suggests that Turks may have viewed Europeans as inferiors who benefited from Ottoman trade out of the magnanimity of the sultan.0 This may explain the very real dearth of Turkish trade with European merchants. What is striking is the continued lack of Ottoman involvement in international trade after its volume increased; Greeks, Armenians and Jews continued to dominate in this sphere.

Two instances will illustrate the effects of the new capital relation. In the late-sixteenth century the civil, or emergency, örfi taxes began to increase in number as Suleyman and later Selim II attempted to counter population-related inflation. Peasants, lacking the funds to pay these taxes, turned to sarrafs for loans. Here we see the divergence of the capital-owning class interests from those of the state: the moneylenders fully exploited the peasants’ need for funds and charged exorbitant interest rates to increase their profit.0 If they truly had the interests of the state in mind, these sarrafs would have cared less for their own profit and more about maintaining some economic stability state-wide. The second example has been described briefly above: as the export of raw materials became more lucrative with higher demand, the merchants who handled these transactions had absolutely no qualms about sending much-needed supplies out of the empire while several provinces in Anatolia experienced famines.0 This demonstrates the diverging interests of the state and the proponents of the new economy; the Turks who could have counterbalanced the interests of the dhimmis would have nothing to do with international trade and refused to adapt themselves to the new market. In the 18th and 19th centuries, this would prove to be the main cause for the rise of the amira class and the penetration of dhimmis into the state administration.

Developments in the 16th and 17th centuries transformed the capital relation in the Ottoman Empire, illustrated the effects of this transformation on the economic institutions of the state, and showed that the Ottomans were largely unwilling to adapt their political institutions to complement these changes. This resulted in revolts, famines and increased crime and corruption in the provinces, as well as inflation and monetization in the cities. What remains to be demonstrated is role of the millets in all of this.

Over time, the millets in the Ottoman Empire became ethnically fragmented to a significant degree. From what we can consider three loose groupings in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, at the close of the nineteenth century there were fifteen distinct communities, including Greeks, Wallachians, Serbs and Bulgarians under the Orthodox, three monophysite groups, six affiliated with Catholicism, one Protestant and one Jewish.0 As the empire gained seniority, it required that all its subjects belong to defined communities to facilitate administration. Kemal Karpat has traced the transformation of millets from primarily religious institutions to ethnic communities in Ottoman history, and cites the changes in land tenure, increased responsibility of communal leaders and, of course, the economic agency of these groups as causes.0

As Ottoman reform attempts became progressively liberal and Western-inspired, service to the state became the main determinant of rank in the empire. This led to a large portion of the urban millets in the Near Eastern provinces overshadowing their Muslim counterparts even as they became internally differentiated at the local level0 and, in the eastern Balkans, to pressures from these same local units for upward mobility and political integration.0 When this became impossible within the existing state structure, many distinct Balkan communities, starting with the Serbians and Greeks and spurred on by European ideals,0 revolted and ceded from the Ottoman Empire.0 The convergence of increased local responsibility, ethnic and linguistic similarities and proximity to Europe, as well as the realization of their economic agency yielded this particular course of events in the Balkans, bringing Western pressures ever closer to Istanbul while robbing the Ottomans of vast tracts of taxable land.

While much of this occurred in the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, similar developments are found in Anatolia, the remaining core of the empire, from at least the mid-nineteenth century onwards. In this case, it was Russia and not Europe that threatened the Ottoman Empire. Alienated from and exploited by the state mechanism, the Armenians of the six eastern provinces sought protection from Russia against both the Kurds and hostile local authorities.0 The nationalist attempts were largely unsuccessful; the Ottomans, aware of the threat facing them, quelled any potential resistance at the turn of the century by slaughtering or deporting over 1 million Armenians from these provinces.0 These, combined with the measures taken against Greeks and Armenians over the course of the 19th century effectively removed a substantial class of merchants and administrators from the state. The hope was that the economic and political vacuum would be filled by Turkish askeris and reayas, thereby assuring a certain degree of synchronization between the state’s institutions and those directing the capital flow. This was, of course, after the Tanzimat secularisation, an era of reform that allowed these minorities to rise to unprecedented prominence - to such influential positions that their participation in the government may have ultimately transformed it to reflect the interests of those controlling capital.0 By drastically reducing the number of minorities in the empire, the Ottomans managed to undo much of the progress the economy had seen while consolidating Turkish institutions to govern and direct Turkish capital. This conforms to the pattern we have seen whereby pressing economic changes fail to bring about commensurate changes in the state.

Various historians have different views regarding the start of Ottoman decline; some place it at the end of Suleyman’s reign in the sixteenth century, while others date it much later. European expansion is often cited as a main factor, as is the lack of understanding of economics on the part of the state.0 From the above analysis, I hope to have shown that these and other factors were all incidental in this decline narrative, which in reality was caused by a rigid state structure that was unwilling to adapt to a changing economy. The exploitation and revolts in the countryside are direct results of this, as are the nationalist movements and massacres on the fringes during the late nineteenth century. At the heart of the conflict between the tradespeople and the government was a system that divided the reayas into locally uniform ethno-linguistic and cultural groups while giving them control of state capital. The millet system was a volatile and variable feature of the Ottoman Empire that concentrated the capital relation in the hands of communities whose interests changed with the very relation they directed.

If one were to expand this hypothesis to other historic Islamic empires, the following considerations may prove useful as starting points for analysis: the empires’ attitudes towards their subjects, their philosophy of political organization (the ‘cycle of equity’ above), transformations in their modes of production, the nature of ethnic diversity in the empire and their political adaptability. The history of the Ottoman empire unfolded due to a particular configuration of these variables; it is not unreasonable to suggest that other Islamic imperial histories could be studied and interpreted with these same factors in mind.

A Siren Song:
Canada’s National Policy Scuttles
the Maritimes’ Merchant Marine

David Stanley
In the mid-nineteenth century the Maritimes controlled one of the largest shipping fleets in the world. However, once Nova Scotia and New Brunswick joined the Canadian Confederation they became subject to the policies of the federal government. These soon thereafter promoted land-based and westward-looking industrial development behind a curtain of domestic market protection and at the expense of the hard fought for international sea trade. Within this cloistered environment, Maritime ship owners and other controllers of capital in the region were offered numerous, apparently superior, investment opportunities onshore that the wind was taken from the sails of the sea. Consequently, the new technologies and high returns offered by steam power and metal hulls for ocean-going vessels were all but ignored. In just two decades, the Maritime shipping industry was starved of new capital and, consequently, rapidly liquidated. Yet the land-based industrialization of the region proved to be a short-lived and pyrrhic success. Had the Maritimes remained outside of any trans-continental confederation, it might have developed into be one of the globe’s pre-eminent shipping regions.0

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