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The irish mercenary tradition in the 1600s

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Chapter Summary

This chapter explains the background to, and nature of, the mercenary tradition. The first instance of Irish troops in the French service during the seventeenth century is encountered in 1614, where some 200 of them formed a regiment in the private army of Concini, Cardinal Richelieu?s predecessor as prime minister. One of the primary attractions for Irishmen in entering the service of the Holy Roman Empire in this period was the Catholicism of the ruling dynasty and the fact that the Habsburgs were at that time fighting for their political survival against predominantly Protestant foes during the Thirty Years War. The recruitment of Irish mercenaries into the Swedish service in the early 1600s was directly linked to the English government?s desire to ensure the security of the Plantation of Ulster, by removing those ?idle swordsmen? who were veterans of the Nine Years War.

Keywords: France; Irish mercenary; Poland; Spain; Sweden

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