The `traiterous' and `unfitting' words in Ireland's 1641 depositions: the legal, social, violent, and emotional implications of language
Citation:Hoffman, Grace, The `traiterous' and `unfitting' words in Ireland's 1641 depositions: the legal, social, violent, and emotional implications of language, Trinity College Dublin.School of Histories & Humanities, 2021
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This doctoral thesis examines the words and speeches recorded in the 1641 depositions. The 1641 depositions documented words of treason but also words of insult or name-calling, which this thesis will focus on primarily. This topic has never been studied comprehensively in seventeenth-century Ireland, and the silence on words is surprising. Early modern societies frequently punished spoken and written words deemed offensive, dishonouring, and violent, and Irish sources are also filled with words, speeches, and insult. At first, the analysis of insults may appear insignificant or secondary; however, they are key to understanding the complete experience of atrocities in the 1641 rebellion. They open many new questions and inform many areas of seventeenth-century Ireland that need deeper consideration. This thesis explores how words impacted law, society, power, reputation, gender, emotion, and even animal-human relationships. A serious legal concern for language existed in the 1641 depositions and in Ireland s broader seventeenth century. Language was investigated and punished, and this created an environment, in which individuals across society could use their words to exert or claim power. The speaker s words could accuse the other of treason, but also target another s reputation. Both men and women faced insults in these accounts, however, Irish rebels often used different, gendered terms to label their victims. The 1641 depositions also recorded verbal abuse alongside harrowing accounts of physical violence, and these words were a part of deponents violent experiences in the 1641 rebellion. In fact, words themselves were a particular form of violence. Furthermore, the presence and use of insults opens new questions about the role of emotion in the 1641 rebellion, which is often overlooked in historical analysis. The specific meaning of each term was important as well, and this thesis analyses this throughout each chapter. One insult English dog clearly informed many areas including violence, emotion, the accuracy of the 1641 depositions, and the importance and impact of the animal-human relationship. This thesis makes an original contribution to knowledge as this is the first in-depth study of words and speeches in the 1641 depositions. Each of the chapters touches upon topics that have been largely untouched in the 1641 depositions, but also more broadly in the seventeenth century. It reveals unexplored forms of violence, deeper understandings of social relationships and power dynamics, emotions, and the importance of animal studies in the 1641 depositions. While this thesis is firmly rooted in history, it draws upon the methods and insights of other disciplines including philosophy, anthropology, sociology, and literature to answer the new questions this study of words brought to light.
Author: Hoffman, Grace
Publisher:Trinity College Dublin. School of Histories & Humanities. Discipline of History
Type of material:Thesis
Availability:Full text available