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6 The Spanish Court, Ecclesiastical Patronage, and the Irish College of Santiago de Compostela (1611–17)

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Chapter Summary

The Spanish court played a decisive and defining role in the economic survival of the Irish colleges in Spain during the second decade of the seventeenth century. Access to patronage at court via either the pro-Lerma or anti-Lerma factions determined the outcome of the inter-Irish struggles to control the Irish colleges in Spain. This became most apparent in the controversies surrounding the takeover by the Irish Jesuits of the Irish college of Santiago de Compostela in 1613. The Old English Jesuits, profiting from the identification of the Gaelic Irish with the Morisco population, who were expelled from Spain (1609–14), tied their destiny to that of the Duke of Lerma in order to gain control of the Irish college system. Their success was however short lived as the fall of the Duke and the end of the Spanish Match effectively ended any substantive influence that they had attained. The end result was nefarious for the construction of Irish exile identity as it drove a wedge between the Old English Jesuits and their supporters on the one hand, and the Gaelic Irish and Hiberno-English on the other. This deep division was moreover reflected in the works of Philip O’Sullivan Beare.



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