Monday, September 05, 2011

Louth. Drogheda. Irish Slavery. Malcolm the Irish Thrall, St. Patrick, The Caribbean

 Irish History -- Slaves
The Battle of Drogheda, County Louth
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Irish slaves: 
In the Caribbean, in Iceland - Malcolm the Irish Thrall, 
St. Patrick
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Early named slaves from Ireland include Patrick - as in Saint Patrick.  Irish raiders are credited with snatching him from Wales, the College of Theodosius, Llantwit Major, in the territory of Cernyw,  see http://www.historyfiles.co.uk/KingListsBritain/GaelsHighKings.htm

And meet Malcolm - as in  Malcolm the Thrall, the Irish slave in pre-Christian Iceland's Burnt Njall Saga.  See
http://www.northvegr.org/sagas%20annd%20epics/icelandic%20family%20sagas/njals%20saga/018.html

Enslavement has long been a respected and usual way of asserting supremacy, in a way that helped make ends meet, and disiposed of otherwise rebellious defeated opponents.
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Slavery in old Great Britain and Europe, Rome, Vikings. Slavers.  Read the stories, many online, and read the letters, the primary documents as available.  Find Irish slaves in the Caribbean.

A.  Irish Slaves in the Caribbean.  Is Forced Indenture the same?  Were there both?  Could all the "indentured" work their way to freedom?
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Slavery 1600's to Date, Western Culture - Ireland in particular. Irish Slaves in the Caribbean
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1.  The Battle of Drogheda, near Dublin.  Siege of Drogheda.  Where did it lead? Cromwell's order.
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The year is 1648-9.  There had been years of fighting, Irish "Parliamentarians" against the Royalists, and now, Cromwell.  Resistance to the English was fierce, resulting in Irish massacres of soldiers, clergy; and the resulting response worse.  See  http://www.british-civil-wars.co.uk/military/ireland-1649-drogheda.htm English response:  enslave.  Between 1648 and 1655, some 12,000 political prisoners from Ireland (the Irish were ultimately brutally suppressed at the Battle of  Drogheda in 1648-9) were forced into "indenture" in Barbados, for example. Forced indentures:  what were the terms, when was the release, if ever? See Irish slavery at  http://www.raceandhistory.com/cgi-bin/forum/webbbs_config.pl/noframes/read/1638
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The traditional stories of Scots slaves in the Caribbean is familiar.  Less familiar to non-Irish (but a favored topic for many Irish, see http://www.trisranch.com/id82.html) is Irish slavery.  It is also documented, is slavery - including the involuntary indenture - of the Irish. There were extensive abductions - forced transit to the Caribbean.
Irish came to Jamaica one way or another, some voluntary, in the 1600's, see Jamaica Gleaner, at http://jamaica-gleaner.com/pages/history/story0058.htm.  Each century seemed to bring more impetus to subjugate the Irish, the initial time period being the 1100's;  and from that original Anglo-Norman invasion, to its repercussions: brutal perpetuation of English control of Ireland.

2.  Why the vehemence, the absolute refusal of the Irish to accept subjucation in their land, fight so strongly against overwhelming odds, as at Drogheda with Cromwell.
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Most accounts of the Irish subjugation should go back farther then they do:  What if the Pope recognized he had no jurisdiction over Ireland. What if Henry II had not bought off Pope Adrian in order to get the  Laudabiliter -  he needed written permission to invade, under the pretext of doing it for the church and spread its influence as the sole spokes-institution for Christianity?  When Ireland was already Christian - since the earliest Centuries; and the original Anglo-Norman invasion stemmed from affairs of the heart.  The pope was never told? Who told what? Documents trustworthy? Pretext?  See the papal bull in its entirety at http://avalon.law.yale.edu/medieval/bullad.asp
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Back to Drogheda and its roots: 

Follow the historic roots of a global human issue: unjust assertion of power.  Has the Irish sense of injustice and anger at their overlords, got a stronger, real historic root, more than most.  Where profit-making religion itself is the pretext for injustice, is anger the greater.  Should the Irish ask for reparations from the Vatican? Idea, idea.  The ancient Milesians first laid claim to Ireland, see the Bard Amergin at http://www.amergin.net/songofamergin.html.  And, in time, the Normans and Catholic Gregorian reformers.
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"For, although authors generally write that the Emperor Constantine, after his baptism, bestowed the islands of western Europe on Pope Sylvester, that did not give the Pope possession of Ireland, since no emperor that was ever in Rome, nor Constantine, had possession of Ireland. How, then, could there be any force in the right which the emperor might give to the Pope, to what was neither in his own possession nor in that of any emperor that succeeded him since?"
Fair use,  http://www.exclassics.com/ceitinn/for56.htm

Devorgilla. The role of the lady in the invasion of Ireland by the Normans.

Henry II,  those centuries ago, perhaps never mentioned the background of his decision to seek permission to invade Ireland:  that the Irish Dermot, to whose aid Henry's man Strongbow ultimately came, with army; had had an affair with Devorgilla, a rival's wife, and that was why he ultimately lost his lands, see http://www.irelandseye.com/aarticles/history/events/dates/norman.shtm; http://www.ireland-information.com/articles/dermotmacmurrough-strongbow.htm
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Thou hast signified to us, indeed, most beloved son in Christ, that thou dost desire to enter into the island of Ireland, in order to subject the people to the laws and to extirpate the vices that have there taken root, and that thou art willing to pay an annual pension to St. Peter of one penny from every house, and to preserve the rights of the churches in that land inviolate and entire.
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We, therefore, seconding with the favour it deserves thy pious and laudable desire, and granting a benignant assent to thy petition, are well pleased that, for the enlargement of the bounds of the church. for the restraint of vice, for the correction of morals and the introduction of virtues, for the advancement of the Christian religion, thou shouldst enter that island, and carry out there the things that look to the honour of God and to its own salvation.
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"And may the people of that land receive thee with honour, and venerate thee as their master; provided always that the rights of the churches remain inviolate and entire, and saving to St. Peter and the holy Roman Church the annual pension of one penny from each house.
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"If, therefore, thou dost see fit to complete what thou hast conceived in thy mind, strive to imbue that people with good morals, and bring it to pass, as well through thyself as through those whom thou dost know from their faith, doctrine, and course of life to be fit for such a work, that the church may there be adorned, the Christian religion planted and made to grow, and the things which pertain to the honour of God and to salvation be so ordered that thou may'st merit to obtain an abundant and lasting reward from God, and on earth a name glorious throughout the ages. "
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Christianize this "island of Saints" that was already Christian, after Patrick and other early Christian monks' works? It was already Christian, see http://www.exclassics.com/ceitinn/for57.htm.  Just not "Roman" branch.
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3.  What was Irish enslavement like.
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Those who served their indenture then could establish themselves as planters and settlers; with the last shipment of Irish in the 1800's, some 30-80,000 were estimated to have arrived: many in their best clothes, and bringing their habits with them., see the Jamaica Gleaner site.  There were also Irish slave owners.

But what was white slavery compared to black?  Force may be a matter of semantics; and reflect an ethnic prejudice.  We speak of involuntary indentured servitude for whites, but slavery for blacks?  Is that so? See http://www.raceandhistory.com/cgi-bin/forum/webbbs_config.pl/noframes/read/1638

4.  How was it accomplished.
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Oliver Cromwell, see  http://www.british-civil-wars.co.uk/biog/oliver-cromwell.htm, was Lord Protector of England in 1655 - Article "Green Genes" clipped back in 2000 from a magazine that foolishly does not identify itself on the pages other than JULY/AUGUST 2000 and pages 54-58 (author Mic Moroney - check that - we saved that does not give its title.
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While we find the source, we are interested that it states that Cromwell demanded this:
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"a recruite of a thousande men, and a supply of younge Irish girls" and others with  no "settled course of industry" 
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to populate the new colonies. Then, two weeks later, he asked his son, then Henry who was Major-General of British forces in Ireland, for 2000 more "young boys and girls" to take the place of 'maroons and negresses' on the slave plantations. Henry, says the article (we are still looking for the original letter) wrote back as to
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"the younge women, although we must use force in takinge them up, yet it beinge so much for their own goode .. you may have such number as you shall thinke fitt..."
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I do not see that letter or a response reference at http://www.olivercromwell.org/Letters_and_speeches/letters/Letter_index.htm
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This objective, however,  is supported by a fair use quote from A Concise History of Barbados, by John R. Moore, at  http://jonpat.tripod.com/history.html
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"Barbados had become a destination for military prisoners and Irish natives in the early years of the colony's growth. Oliver Cromwell "barbadosed" any Irish who refused to clear their land, while allowing other Irish to be kidnapped from the streets of Ireland and shipped to Barbados as slaves. Many West Country men were also exiled or "barbadosed" by Judge Jeffreys and were also sold as slaves or indentured servants to British planters, where they lived in slave conditions with no control over the number of years they had to serve.
 
"The number of "barbadosed" Irish is not exact but estimates vary from as low as 12,000 to as high as 60,000. Persecuted Catholics from Ireland also worked the plantations."
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Find a bibliography of Irish topics in Latin America at http://www.irlandeses.org/bibliocarib.htm. For surnames, see (Jamaica) http://www.thewildgeese.com/pages/jamone.html
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B. St. Patrick - Slave
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Invaders for thousands of years have plucked off slaves from Ireland - Rome included. The Irish and the Norse have a long history in this regard. Norse slaves were booty from raids beginning about the 8th-9th Centuries or so, but also included as a category those debtors who were working off debts, bondsmen, see  http://www.hurstwic.org/history/articles/society/text/social_classes.htm/.
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Saint Patrick himself, born in Britain and Christian, was enslaved at age 16 and sent to Ireland.  See http://www.nytimes.com/1993/03/15/opinion/st-patrick-was-a-slave.html.  He escaped, went to Europe and ultimately back to his family in Britain (via a pirate ship seven years after?) see http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2009/03/090316-st-patricks-day-facts.html/ Slavery - a fact of life for millennia.
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Read the National Geographic article to find how little we know of Patrick, and if he did much of anything at all, and consider the cultural needs of people to embellish, to personify, and the stories grew. Another topic.
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C.   Malcolm, the Irish Thrall. Iceland.  Slavery in the 900-1100's or so.  Icelandic Sagas. 
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1.  The Icelandic Sagas. 

Find an overall database at http://www.sagadb.org.  For the Irish connection, look at one Norse saga in particular from Iceland,  Burnt Njal's Saga, http://www.sagadb.org/brennu-njals_saga.en. These events transpired at a time that precedes the Norman invasion of Ireland or Strongbow. This is the era of the Viking raiding in Ireland, a tale from Iceland.  This is not a story of any raiding, but rather of a community over time in Iceland, occasional trips back to Oslo, but essentially families, fighting, values, persons.
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Malcolm, a slave or thrall from Ireland, features in the ancient Icelandic Saga, Burnt Njal's Saga.
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Read The Burnt Njal Saga of Iceland at  The Icelandic Saga Database, at http://www.sagadb.org/brennu-njals_saga.en/.  Starting at chapter 47, there find Malcolm, a slave or thrall brought from Ireland - remember that the Norse raided and plundered Ireland and other areas for centuries.  Here is Malcolm in the list, his part not huge, but memorable in the tale:
  • Njal was a wise counselor, chief, among other chiefs, legally astute, a pillar who was killed, burned with his family inside their own house, all ruined, by those who had a grudge, insults had accelerated, honor became involved, and revenge, do read it all. 
  • There is another brave but more hotheaded character, Gunnar; 
  • his wife is the conniving Hallgerda; and 
  • Otkell, the rich but greedy man, and 
  • his brother Hallbjorn who owned Malcolm.
  • and Malcolm, the Irish Thrall
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The gist:
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2.  Malcolm the Irish Thrall did not work well for his master, Hallbjorn. Master may not be the quite-right word, because in those days, the slave worked in a relationship with the owner, and there had to be give and take in the household. These were not plantations.
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Malcolm and another member of the community, Hallbjorn's brother Otkell, developed a better relationship than Malcolm had with Hallbjorn.
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So Otkell bought Malcolm from Hallbjorn. Hallbjorn was relieved at that. He scoffed that his brother Otkell was getting no bargain.  And sure enough, once bought by Otkell, Malcolm the Thrall started to slack off again.
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Then it was Otkell who had bought the lemon, who wanted his money's worth.  How better than to pass off Malcolm onto someone else. So Otkell targeted and schnockered another member of the community,  Gunnar, into buying Malcolm.
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3.  Now, Otkell himself was no gem.  His behavior shows that Otkell was greedy and tight-fisted, in a culture that required sharing in bad times, for the community to survive, the me-first mentality of Otkell was not respected.
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Gunnar, on the other hand, had been generous with his stores whenever he had enough for his own household, and some left over to share.  He was well respected.  He shared with others, he could expect others to share with him if he should need.
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So when Gunnar,  in another season ran out of necessities, he came to Otkell.
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Otkell himself had plenty.  He had enough left over from his own stores, after meeting his own needs, and could well have sold some to Gunnar, and times were hard.  Yet he refused to share with Gunnar. A bad play. 
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4.  Enter Njal, the hero of the overall tale.  Njal, community leader by agreement, respected as the good, and the wise, the just.  Njal himself then provided hay and meat to Gunnar, earning Gunnar's loyalty; and firming up the disgrace of Otkell.
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But the story continues with this about Malcolm:
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5.  Plot develops. 
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Enter Gunnar's wife, Hallgerda, the wife of the one that Otkell had turned away.  She is another fierce figure.  She is a saga revenge-seeker.
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Hallgerda maneuvers Malcolm, now part of hers and Gunnar's household, into going back to Otkell's house and stealing food and burning the storehouse, and threatens him with death if he will not obey. Chapter 48.

6. What is a poor slave to do? 
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Malcolm does as he is directed (he is only a thrall) and steals from Otkell, but he is found out.  Here it gets interesting as to consequences.  There is much ado about not punishing Malcolm or Hallgerda, but resolving the matter with monetary awards, negotiated.  And that is done.  No incarceration, no execution.  Just pay, and pay.

7.  The law appears to be a civil one: make the injured party whole again by taking money from the evil-doer, but don't incarcerate or execute. Not clear, but that is how it looks.
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Sagas are a window into cultural practices, beliefs. Note that in Njal's Saga, the justice system of the Norse was not an eye for an eye, but a value compensation placed on goods and lives.There was no moralizing about an injustice - just pay out. Is ours any better where we impose religious right and wrong by divine edict on people?
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This Thrall Malcolm is not the same as the Scots king Malcolm, of the same name, see Chapter 82.


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