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Trinity College Dublin

Irish and Scottish Military Migration to Spain
Directors: Professor Ciaran Brady e-mail
                  Dr Declan Downey
                  Dr Oscar Morales e-mail

1. On the Spanish project
The database project for ‘The Irish military presence in the Spanish Armies, 1580-1818' is a research resource carried on by The Centre for Irish-Scottish Studies (Trinity College Dublin) under the supervision of Dr. Ciaran Brady (Trinity College Dublin), Dr. Declan Downey (University College Dublin) and Dr. David Dickson ( The Centre for Irish-Scottish Studies ). Along with these three established Irish experts, the Project also relies on Dr. Enrique García Hernán's assistance (CSIC-Madrid).

Our first aim is cataloguing the Irish presence in the different territories belonging to the Spanish Monarchy. This research involves the creation of an Access database grounded directly on original documents proceeding from different European archives, especially from Spain, Italy and Belgium. As a result, we hope to offer a basic ‘tool' to each researcher interested in the Irish emigration to the Continent before 19 th C. We have particularly focused on the Irish bound for the Spanish Flanders, the Iberian Peninsula and the Italian territories under Spanish rule. It includes also the Spanish territories in America and the Philipines, as the first naturalizations allowed the Irish in the Spanish colonies since the beginning of 17 th C.; ever since 18 th C. the Irish regiments ( Irlanda , Hibernia and Ultonia ) also served in the above-mentioned territories.

After placing at everybody's disposal these data, through Internet and/or through the software chosen by The Centre for Irish-Scottish Studies , the Project will go on with critical and statistical analysis: articles, presentations, conferences. This Project is parallel to the one currently carried on by Colm Ó Conaill about ‘The Irish Regiments in France, 1716-1791' (also in The Centre for Irish-Scottish Studies ) and to the SSNE Database (Scotland, Scandinavia & Northern Europe, 1580-1707) . Similar European projects are already on the web .

Like in the French case, our project will not merely analyse the Irish military presence in the Spanish Monarchy's territories, but it wants to offer a more complete, complex and varied description of the Irish exile. That is why we reckoned necessary to enrich the information adding two more tables dealing with other features of the case. Tables nº 2 and nº 4 collect the available data about the wide topic of the Irish emigration, made up of a great number of monks, friars and students from the Irish colleges, women and tradesmen in the different ports of the Peninsula, or simply those who lost their names and were labelled by the Spanish authorities as ‘poor', ‘orphan', ‘tramp' or ‘idle'. Besides, until the 18 th C. the frontier between civilian and military was not entirely clear. As regards the Habsburg period (tables 1 and 2) a lot of entretenidos and entretenidas (an entretenimiento was a monthly salary in exchange for some services) were given a salary by the Council of War, depending of the militar resources of a particular kingdom or region and appointed themselves to a militar post. Therefore, it is no wonder that they appear in table 1 (‘Irish military presence in the Spanish monarchy, 1580-1700'), although these individuals, like women, would never directly serve in the Army.

Nevertheless, regarding the French project, some differences do exist. The first one lies in the chronology: while the French project focuses in the 18 th C. (1716-1791), we cannot limit the Spanish project merely to the Bourbons' period. The Irish emigration during the 17 th C. reached remarkable levels, especially after Kinsale (1602) and after the arrival of Cromwell in Ireland (1653). Since the beginning of 17 th C. the Irish could rely on a specific military unit established within the Army of Flanders, the Irish ‘tercio'. This unit anticipated the creation of the Irish Brigade or Brigada Irlandesa in Spain, set up at the beginning of the 18 th C. and made up of the regiments Irlanda , Hibernia and Ultonia , on the active list until 1818.

The second difference compared to the French project lies in the database fields themselves. It is impossible to use the same fields as the information supplied by the Spanish and the French authorities was essentially different. Thus, while as regards the French project the place of origin is most almost always mentioned precisely, the Spanish authorities were satisfied with the adjective irlandés (‘Irishman') or de nación irlandés (‘of Irish nation'). It is only in the data supplied by the 18 th C. regiments (in the Spanish documents much more homogeneous than the data of the 17 th C.) where the place of origin appears, but not in every case and most of the time written incorrectly. In the same way, the French fields dealing with the physical features of the person (height, hair, eyes, physical marks: smallpox, gaunt, lean, pale...) are all fields not present in the Spanish database. On the contrary, a field absent in the French database, that of ‘Social origin, title' , which deals with the class, social condition of the individual, is extremely important for the Spanish, as for both the 17 th C. and the 18 th C. Aristocracy held almost all the posts as officers in the army, identifying themselves with the traditional military class, the natural protectors of the Kingdom; and nobility was the only way to form future Irish officers (and their descendants) in the Spanish Armies.

In this way, each table in the Spanish database produces its own fields (see ACCESS DATABASE SET-UP), divided into two wide parts:
• Chronological division: The chronological division I propose (1580-1818) turns out to be an aproximation: from the decade of 1580 I came across of a regular number of Irish soldiers and aventureros sin sueldo (literally ‘adventurers without regular militar pay') that served on the Spanish Naval fleet. Until 1818 Irish Regiments oficially served to the Spanish Army. Both the Habsburg and the Bourbon periods offer different and precise features. Tables 1 and 2 correspond to the period 1580-1700 and tables 3 and 4 to the period 1700-1818.
• Thematic division: Tables 1 and 3 about the military presence and tables 2 and 4 about the “civilian” presence, including the presence of Irish “civilian” communities in the territories under Spanish rule.


2. Objectives of The Project
The present database is conceived as a means of helping the researcher, who will have the possibility of locating a name and, if a deeper analysis is required, it will also be possible to consult directly the document of interest in the archive. So, efforts have been made to transcribe with care the source of the document in the field ORIGINAL DOCUMENT : that is, archive, section, subdivision (if necessary), legajo (‘file') or book, folio, place of origin of document, date. The statistical analysis of the achieved results will allow us to confirm or confute some hypotheses about the Irish emigration to Continental Europe prior to the post-great famine migration, a topic much better studied.

• Individual identification and military career : as long as historical sources allow us, we should individuate each soldier and then follow his professional path. Thus, we should be able to focus on the relationship between the military class, the other authorities and the receiving society, on the one hand; on the other, the relationships with other Irish communities in exile and the colleges.

• Quantitative esteem of the Irish in the European armies between 1580 and 1818 : In Flanders the Irish tercio fluctuated continuously according to the need of the conflict: however, it consists of around a thousand men. Generally speaking, soldiers were accompanied by closer members of their natural families, –wives and sons-. Nevertheless, some other relatives –‘vassals' from the social family-, moved to Flanders searching for protection. Gráinne Henry, in the best work up to now on the Irish community in those territories, estimated a migration of around 10.000 Irishmen between 1586 and 1622 and the service of 6.300 soldiers in the Army of Flanders during the same period . In the Peninsula, during the first years of 16 th C. only Galicia supported nearly a thousand enrolled Irish. Only by using avanced quantitative methods we could be able of estimating an approximate figure which should be verified with the existing inhabitants in Ireland itself, in order to achieve the real dimensions of the problem.

• Verify if some Irish surnames join the same captain-company (17 th C.), the same regiment (for the 18 th C.) or if they spread evenly in the troop .

• Check the areas of Ireland (by surnames) which were most affected by emigration and during which period .

• Link the possible causes and effects among the driving elements of this stream of migration (political, economic, religious, cultural elements) and the arrival in the territories of the Spanish Monarchy.

3. The Irish Soldier in Continental Armies: Characteristics
During the Middle Ages different European areas, densely populated and/or economically backward, stood out as areas traditionally providing for soldiers for growing armies: this was the case of the Swiss confederation or of the Italian Mezzogiorno . In the British Isles, the two areas that traditionally supplied soldiers to the Continent were the Scottish Highlands and Ireland.

In the Irish case, the ‘military factor' was always an important element of its social psychology . The Irish who from the end of the 16 th C. arrived to the Continent, did it from a very conflictive society, whose last and extreme consequence was the ‘Nine Years war' (1594-1603). The advantages of serving abroad were considerables. In a military group some special relationships of mutually binding and solidarity –difficult to find in everyday life-, were often established. As regards and the setting up of Irish military units abroad, these relationships continued to be particularly important. Moreover, in this specific case we should also bear in mind the possibility of keeping themselves on shape, trained, armed and ready to face any kind of circumstance, including returning to Ireland. This was a good psychological method of self-defence of the exiled group.

Irish soldiers' reputation was excellent in Europe. From the beginning of 16 th C. Spain and France began to contend for Irish services and even the Republic of Venice stressed their qualities. A rough land mirrored a tough people . When in 1598 Diego Brochero de Anaya wrote the Spanish King about the lack of sailors in the Armada, he did not hesitate and mentioned as a remedy

that every year Your Highness should order to recruit in Ireland some Irish soldiers, who are people tough and strong, and nor the cold weather or bad food could kill them easily as they would with the Spanish, as in their island, which is much colder than this one, they are almost naked, they sleep on the floor and eat oats bread, meat and water, without drinking any wine.

This esteem towards them made it easy for the Irish to mingle in vanguards with the Spanish, who were considered as the most exclusive troops of the multinational Army of the Austrian Habsburgs . Nevertheless, the cosideration of the Irish was not always that positive. Spanish military cousellors sent to Ireland during 16 th C. warned about the Irish lackness of training as regards military techniques. The defeat of Kinsale (1602) ended up confirming Spanish establishment disapproval of the guerilla warfare used by the Irish gaelic lords. However, Irish integration in the Army of Flanders showed that, when trained, they could turn in excellent soldiers.

Contact: CISS Last updated: Feb 13 2008.