Outline of a Report on the Irish Question to the Communist Educational Association of German Workers in London

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Author(s) Karl Marx
Written 16 December 1867

Source: Marx and Engels on Ireland, Progress Publishers, Moscow 1971, pp. 126-139.
First published: in Marx and Engels, Collected Works, second Russian ed., Vol. 16, Moscow, 1960;
Printed according to the manuscript in German and English part of the manuscript translated from the German.

Note :

This outline is a draft conspectus for a report on the Irish question Marx was to make at the meeting of the German Workers’ Educational Association in London on December 16, 1867. “Yesterday I read in our German Workers’ Association (but three other German workers’ associations were represented there, about 100 people in all) a one-and-a-half hour long report on Ireland,” Marx wrote in this connection to Engels on December 17, 1867. Some members of the General Council of the International also attended the meeting. Eccarius, a Council member, who attached great importance to this report, which explained the attitude of the General Council towards the Irish national liberation movement, took notes in order to prepare them for publication (see pp. 140-42 [reference to “Record of a Speech ..."]). A copy of these notes was sent to Johann Philipp Becker, the editor of Vorbote, a monthly magazine in Geneva, which was the mouthpiece of the German sections of the International Working Men’s Association in Switzerland; but it was not published. The London German Workers’ Educational Association was founded in February 1840 by German revolutionary emigrants. After the founding of the Communist League-the first international communist organisation of the working class-the leading role in the Association was assumed by the local sections of the League. Marx and Engels took an active part in the Association s activities (except when sectarian elements temporarily gained the upper hand). At the end of the fifties, Friedrich Lessner, a pupil and comrade-in-arms of Marx and Engels, became one of the leaders of the Association. The Association, which was linked with English workers’ organisations, participated in the inauguration of the International Working Men’s Association in 1864 and began to act as its German section in London. The Association continued to exist up to 1918.

I[edit source]

What is distinctive of Fenianism? Actually, it originates from the Irish Americans. They are the initiators, and leaders. But in Ireland the movement took root (and is still really rooted) only in the mass of the people, the lower orders. That is what characterises it. In all earlier Irish movements the people followed the aristocracy or middle-class men, and always the Catholic churchmen. The Anglo-Irish chiefs and the priests during the rising against Cromwell; even James II, King of England, in the war against William III; the Protestant Republicans of Ulster (Wolfe Tone, Lord Fitzgerald) [1] in the 1798 revolution and, finally, in this century the bourgeois O'Connell supported by the Catholic clergy, which also played a leading role in all earlier movements excepting 1798. The Catholic clergy decreed a ban on Fenianism, which it did not lift until it realised that its attitude would deprive it of all influence on the Irish masses.

II[edit source]

Here is what baffles the English: they find the present regime mild compared with England’s former oppression of Ireland. So why this most determined and irreconcilable form of opposition now? What I want to show-and what even those Englishmen who side with the Irish, who concede them the right to secession, do not see-is that the regime since 1846, though less barbarian in form, is in effect destructive, leaving no alternative but Ireland’s voluntary emancipation by England or life-and-death struggle.

III[edit source]

Concerning past history the facts are available in any history book. Hence, I shall give only a few, firstly, to clarify the difference between the present and past and, secondly, to bring out a few points about the character of those who are now called the Irish people.

a) The English in Ireland Before the Protestant Reformation[edit source]

1172. Henry II conquered less than 1/3 of Ireland. It was a nominal conquest. A gift from Pope Adrian IV, the Englishman. Some 400 years later another Pope (in Elizabethan times, 1576), Gregory XIII, took back the present from the English (Elizabeth). [2] The “English Pale.” [3] Capital: Dublin. Mixing of English common colonists with Irish, and of Anglo-Norman nobles with Irish chiefs. Otherwise, the war of conquest was conducted (originally) as against Red Indians. No English reinforcements sent to Ireland until 1565 (Elizabeth).

b) Protestant Epoch. Elizabeth. James I. Charles I. Cromwell. Colonisation Plan (16th and 17th Centuries)[edit source]

Elizabeth. The plan was to exterminate the Irish at least up to the river Shannon, to take their land and settle English colonists in their place, etc. In battles against Elizabeth the still Catholic Anglo-Irish fought the English alongside natives. The avowed plan of the English:

Clearing the island of the natives, and stocking it with loyal Englishmen. They succeeded only to plant a landowning aristocracy. English Protestant “adventurers” (merchants, usurers), who obtained from the English crown the confiscated lands, and “gentlemen undertakers” who were to plant the ceded estates with native English families.

James I. Ulster. (Jacobite plantation, 1609-12.) British undertakers, “to stock the confiscated, stolen lands with Irish.” Not until 1613 are Irish considered English subjects; previously they were looked upon as “outlaws” and “enemies.” The Irish Parliament [4] governed only the Pale. Persecution of Catholics.

Elizabeth settled Munster, James I Ulster, but Leinster and Connaught have not yet been purged. Charles I tried to purge Connaught.

Cromwell. First national revolt of Ireland, its 2nd Complete Conquest. Partial Re-cal onisation. (1641-60.)

Irish Revolution of 1641. August 1649 Cromwell landing Dublin. (Followed by Ireton, Lambert, Fleetwood, Henry Cromwell.)

In 1652 the 2nd Complete Conquest of Ireland completed. Division of spoils: the Government itself, the “adventurers” who had lent £360,000 for the 11 years of war, the officers and soldiers, by the Acts of the English Parliament, 12 August, 1652, and 26 September, l653. [5] Smite the Amalekites of the Irish Nation hip and thigh, and replant the re-devastated land with new colonies of brand-new Puritan English.-Bloodshed, devastation, depopulation of entire counties, removal of their inhabitants to other regions, sale of many Irish into slavery in the West Indies.

By engaging in the conquest of Ireland, Cromwell threw the English Republic out the window.

Thence the Irish mistrust of the English people’s party.

c) Restoration of the Stuarts. William III. Second Irish Revolt, and the Capitulation on Terms [6][edit source]


The British were then more numerous in Ireland than at any other time. Never higher than 3/11, never lower than 2/11 of the Irish population.

1684. Charles II begins to favour the Catholic interest of Ireland, and to enlist a Catholic army.

1685. James 11 gives full rein to the Catholics of Ireland. Catholic army increased and favoured. The Catholics soon began to declare that the Acts of Settlement must be repealed and the proprietors of 1641 re-established. James calls some Irish regiments to England.

1689. William III in England. 12 March, 1689: James landed at Kinsale at the head of Irish soldiers. Limerick capitulates to William III, 1691. Shameful violation of the treaty, already under William III, still more under Anne.

d) Ireland Defrauded and Humbled to the Dust. 1692-July 4, 1776[edit source]

a) All notions of “planting” the country with English and Scotch yeomen or tenant farmers were discarded. Settling German and French Protestants attempted. French Protestants in the towns (woollen manufacturers) flee the English protectionist and mercantile system.

1698. The Anglo-Irish Parliament (like obedient colonists) passed, on the command of the mother country, a prohibitory tax on Irish woollen goods export to foreign countries.

1698. In the same year, the English Parliament laid a heavy tax on the import of the home manufactures in England and Wales, and absolutely prohibited their export to other countries. She struck down the manufactures of Ireland, depopulated her cities and threw the people back upon the land.

The Williamite (imported lords) absentees. [8] Cry against absentee landlords since 1692.

Similar legislation of England against Irish Cattle.

1698: Molyneux pamphlet for the independence of the Irish Parliament (i.e., the English Colony in Ireland) against the English. [9] Thus began the struggle of the English Colony in Ireland and the English Nation. Simultaneously, struggle between the Anglo-Irish Colony and the Irish Nation. William III resisted the shameful attempts of the English and Anglo-Irish Parliaments to violate the treaties of Limerick and Galway.

b) Queen Anne. (1701-13; George until 1776.)

Penal Code [10] built up by the Anglo-Irish Parliament with assent of the English Parliament. Most infamous means to make Protestant Proselytes amongst the Irish Catholics by regulations of “Property.” A code for the transfer of “Property” from Catholics to Protestants, or to make “An glicanism” a proprietary title. (Education. Personal disabilities.) (No Catholic able to be a private soldier.) To teach the Catholic religion was a transportable felony, to convert a Protestant to Catholicism an act of treason. To be a Catholic Archbishop-banishment, if returning from banishment-act of high treason; hanged, disembowelled alive, and afterwards quartered.

Experiment to coerce the mass of the Irish nation into the Anglican religion. Catholics deprived of vote for members of Parliament. [11]

This Penal Code intensified the hold of the Catholic Priesthood upon the Irish people.

The poor people fell into habits of indolence.

During the palmy days of Protestant ascendancy and Catholic degradation, the Protestants did not encroach upon the Catholics in numbers.

e) 1776-1801. Time of Transition[edit source]

a) Before dealing with this transition period, what was the result of English terrorism?

English incomers absorbed into the Irish people and Catholicised.

The towns founded by the English Irish.

No English colony (except Ulster Scotch) but English landowners.

The North American Revolution forms the first turning-point in Irish history.

b) 1777 the British army surrendered at Saratoga Springs to the American “rebels.” British cabinet forced to make concessions to the Nationalist (English) party in Ireland.

1778. Roman Catholic Relief Bill (passed by the Anglo-Irish Parliament). (Catholics were still excluded from acquiring by purchase, or as tenants, any freeholds [12] interest.)

1779. Free Trade with Great Britain. Almost all restraints put upon Irish industry swept away.

1782. The Penal Code still further released. The Roman Catholics allowed to acquire freehold property for life, or in fee simple, and-to open schools.

1783. Equal rights of the Anglo-Irish Parliament.

Winter 1792-93. After the French Government had annexed Belgium and England resolved upon French war, another portion of the Penal Code was released. Irish could become Colonels in Army, elective franchise for Irish Parliament, etc.

Rebellion of 1798. Belfast Republicans (Wolfe Tone, Lord Fitzgerald). Irish peasants not ripe.

Anglo-Irish House of Commons voted for the Act of Union passed in 1800. By the Legislature and Customs Union of Britain and Ireland closed the struggle between the Anglo-Irish and the English. The colony itself protested against the illegal Act of Union.

1801-1846[edit source]

a) 1801-1831. At this time (after the end of the war [13]) a movement for emancipation of Catholics under way among Irish and English (1829).

From 1783 legislative independence of Ireland, shortly after which duties were imposed on various articles of foreign manufacture, avowedly with the intention of enabling some of her people to employ some of their surplus labour, etc.

The natural consequence was that Irish manufactures gradually disappeared as the Act of Union came into effect.

Master woollen manufacturers 1800 91 1840 12
Hands employed 1800 4,918 1840 602
Master woolcombers 1800 30 1834 5
Hands employed 1800 230 1834 66
Carpet manufacturers 1800 13 1841 1
Hands employed 1800 720 1841 0
Silk-loom weavers at work 1800 2,500 1840 250
Blanket manufacturers 1800 56 1822 42
Hands employed 1800 3,000 1822 925
Calico-looms at work 1799 2,500 1841 226
Handlooms at work 1800 1,000 1841 0
Braid weavers 1800 1,000 1834 40
Worsted weavers 1800 2,000 1834 90
Hosiers 1800 300 1834 28
Woolcombers 1800 700 1834 110
Cottonweavers 1800 2,000 1834 220

etc. The linen industry (Ulster) did not compensate for this.

“The cotton manufacture of Dublin, which employed 14,000 operatives, has been destroyed; the 3,400 silk looms have been destroyed; the serge manufacture, which employed 1,491 operatives, has been destroyed; the flannel manufacture of Rathdrum, the blanket manufacture of Kilkenny, the camlet trade of Bandon, the worsted manufactures of Waterford, the ratteen and frieze manufactures of Carrick-on-Suir have been destroyed. One business alone survives! ... That fortunate business-which the Union Act has not struck down-that favoured, and privileged, and patronised business is the Irish coffin-maker’s.” (Speech of T.F. Meagher, 1847.)

Every time Ireland was about to develop industrially, she was crushed and reconverted into a purely agricultural land.

After the latest General Census of 1861:

Agricultural Population of Ireland (including all cottiers [14] and farm labourers with their families) . . . . 4,286,019
In the 798 towns (of which many were in fact small market towns) . . . . 1,512,948

Therefore (1861) approximately 4/5 purely agricultural, and actually perhaps 6/7 if market towns are also counted.

Ireland is therefore purely agricultural: “Land is life” (Justice Blackburne). Land became the great object of pursuit. The people had now before them the choice between the occupation of land, at any rent, or starvation. System of rack-renting.

The lord of the land was thus enabled to dictate his own terms, and therefore it has been that we have heard of the payment of £5, 6, 8, and even as much as £10 per acre. Enormous rents, low wages, farms of an enormous extent, let by rapacious and indolent proprietors to monopolising land jobbers, to be relet by intermediate oppressors, for five times their value, among the wretched starvers on potatoes and water.”

State of popular starvation.

Corn Laws in England create a monopoly to a certain extent for the export of Irish corn to England. The average export of grain in the first 3 years following the passage of the Act of Union about 300,000 qrs,

1820 over 1 million qrs,

1834 yearly average of 21/2 million qrs.

Amount to pay rent to absentees, and interest to mortgagees (1834), over 30 million dollars (or 7 million pounds sterling). Middlemen accumulated fortunes that they would not invest in the improvement of land, and could not, under the system which prostrated manufactures, invest in machinery, etc. All their accumulations were sent therefore to England for investment. An official document published by the British Government shows that the transfers of British securities from England to Ireland, i.e., the investment of Irish capital in England, in the 13 years following the adoption of free trade in 1821, amounted to as many millions of pounds sterling, and thus was Ireland forced to contribute cheap labour and cheap capital to building up “the great works of Britain.”

Many pigs and export of same.

1831-1841. Accretion of Ireland’s population from 7,767,401 to 8,175,238

In 10 years . . . . 407,837
In the same period there emigrated

(somewhat more than 40,000 per year)

. . . . 450,878
The total being . . . . 858,710

O'Connell. Repeal Movement. Lichfield-House Contract with Whigs. [15] Partial famines. Insurrection Acts, Arms Acts, Coercion Acts.

IV The Period of the last 20 years (from 1846). Clearing of the Estate of Ireland[edit source]

Earlier, repeated cases of partial famine. Now famine was general.

This new period was ushered in by the potato blight (1846-47), starvation and the consequent exodus.

Over one million die, partly from hunger, partly from diseases, etc. (caused by hunger). In nine years, 1847-55, 1,656,044 left the country.

The revolution of the old agricultural system was but a natural result of the barren fields. People fled. (Families clubbed together to send away the youngest and most enterprising.) Hence, of course, the pooling of small leaseholds and substitution of pasturage for crop farming.

However, soon circumstances arose whereby this became a conscious and deliberate system.

Firstly, the chief factor: Repeal of the Corn Laws was one of the direct consequences of the Irish disaster. As a result, Irish corn lost its monopoly on the English market in the ordinary years. Corn prices dropped. Rents could no longer be paid. In the meantime, the price of meat, wool and other animal products increased steadily in the preceding 20 years. Tremendous growth of the wool industry in England. Pig-raising was partly connected with the old system. Now, chiefly sheep and horned cattle. Deprived of the English market now, as by the Act of Union of her own.

Contributing circumstances that made this systematic:

Secondly: Reorganisation of agriculture in England. Caricature of same in Ireland.

Thirdly: The despairing flight of starving Irish to England filled basements, hovels, workhouses in Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham, Glasgow with men, women, children in a state almost of starvation.

Act of Parliament passed (1847-48) that Irish landlords had to support their own paupers. (The English Pauper Law is extended to Ireland.) Hence, the Irish (especially English) landlords, mostly deep in debt, try to get rid of the people and clear their estates.

Fourthly: Encumbered Estates Act (1853?).

The landlord was ruined, for he could collect no rents, and he was at the same time liable for the payment of enormous taxes for the maintenance of his poor neighbours. His land was encumbered with mortgages and settlements, created when food was high, and he could pay no interest; and now a law was passed, by aid of which property could be summarily disposed of at a public sale, and the proceeds distributed among those who had legal claims upon it.”

Absentee Proprietors. (English capitalists, insurance societies, etc., thereby multiplied, equally former middlemen, etc., who wanted to run their farms on modern economic lines.)

Eviction of farmers partly by friendly agreement terminating tenure. But much more eviction en masse (forcibly by crowbar brigades, beginning with the destruction of roofs), forcible ejection. (Also used as political retribution.) This has continued since 1847 to this day. (Abercorn, Viceroy of Ireland.) African razzias (razzias of the little African kings). (People driven from the land. The starving population of the towns largely increased.)

“The tenantry are turned out of the cottages by scores at a time.... Land agents direct the operation. The work is done by a large force of police and soldiery. Under the protection of the latter, the ‘crowbar brigade’ advances to the devoted township, takes possession of the houses. ... The sun that rose on a village sets on a desert.” (Galway Paper, 1852.) (Abercorn.[16])

Let us now see how this system affected the land in Ireland, where conditions are quite different from those in England.

Decrease of Cultivated Land. 1861-66
Decrease in cereal crops Decrease in green crops
1861-65 428,041 acres 107,984 acres
1866 42,876 20,077
Total decrease 470,917 128,061
Decrease of Yield per Statute Acre of Every Crop[edit source]

1847-1865 per cent: the exact decrease: oats 16.3, flax 47.9, turnips 36.1, potatoes 50. Some years would show a greater decrease, but on the whole it has been gradual since 1847.

Estimated Average Produce per Statute acre
Wheatcwts Potatoestons Flaxstones(14 lbs.)
1851 12.5 5.1 38.6
1866 11.3 2.9 24.9

Though Ireland exported considerable quantities of wheat in the past, it is now said to be good only for cultivating oats (the yield of which per acre also continuously decreases).

In fact: 1866 Ireland shipped out only 13,250 qrs of wheat against 48,589 qrs shipped in (that is, almost fourfold). Meanwhile, it shipped out approximately one million qrs of oats (for £1,201,737).

Since the exodus, the land has been underfed and overworked, partly from the injudicious consolidation of farms, and partly because, under the corn-acre system, [17] the farmer in a great measure trusted to his labourers to manure the land for him. Rents and profits (where the farmer is no peasant farmer) may increase, although the produce of the soil decreases. The total produce may diminish, and still greater part of it be converted into surplus produce, falling to the landlord and (great) farmer. And the price of the surplus produce has risen.

Hence, sterilisation (gradual) of the land, as in Sicily by the ancient Romans (ditto in Egypt).

We shall speak of the livestock, but first about the population.

Decrease of the Population[edit source]

1801: 5,319,867; 1841: 8,222,664; 1851: 6,515,794; 1861: 5,764,543. If the trend continues, there will be 5,300,000 in 1871, that is, less than in 1801. I shall now show, however, that the population will be lower still in 1871, even though the emigration rate remains constant.

Emigration[edit source]

Emigration accounts naturally for part of the decrease. In 1845-66 there emigrated 1,990,244, or approximately 2,000,000 Irish. (Unheard of.) (About 2/5 of the total emigration from the United Kingdom in 1845-66, which was 4,657,588.) In 1831-41 emigration approximately equalled half the accretion of population during the decade, and after 1847 it was considerably higher than the accretion.

However, emigration alone does not account for the decrease of the population since 1847.

Decrease of the Natural Annual Accretion of the Population[edit source]

The accretion (annual) in 1831-41 was 1.1 per cent, or about per cent a year. If the population had increased in the same proportion in 1841-51, it would have been 9,074,514 in 1851. In fact, however, it was only 6,515,794. Consequently, the deficit was 2,558,720. Out of this figure, emigration accounted for 1,274,213. That leaves 1,284,507 unaccounted for. Over a million, but not the whole deficit of 1,284,507, died in the famine. Hence, evidently, natural population growth decreased in 1841-51.

This is borne out by the decade of 1851-61. No famine. The population decreased from 6,515,794 to 5,764,543. Absolute decrease: 751,251. Yet emigration in this period claimed over 1,210,000. Hence, there was an accretion of nearly 460,000 during the ten years. Because 751,251 + 460,000 = the number of emigrants = 1,211,251. Emigration claimed almost triple the accretion. The rate of accretion was 0.7 per cent per year, hence considerably lower than the 1.1 per cent of 1831-41.

The explanation is very simple. The increase of a population by births must principally depend on the proportion which those between 20 and 35 bear to the rest of the community. Now the proportion of persons between the ages of 20 and 35 in the population of the United Kingdom is about 1:3.98 or 25.06 per cent, while their proportion in the emigration even of the present day is about 1:1.89 or 52.76 per cent. And probably still greater in Ireland.

Physical Deterioration of the Population[edit source]

In 1806, with a total population of 5,574,107, there was an excess of males over females by 50,469, whilst in 1867, with a total population of 5,557,196, there is an excess of the females over males. At the same time not only a relative, but an absolute increase in the number of deaf-mutes, blind, insane, idiotic, and decrepit inhabitants. Contrasting 1851 with 1861, whilst the population had decreased enormously, the number of deaf-mutes had increased by 473, on their former total of 5,180; the lame and decrepit by 225, on their former total of 4,375; the blind by 1,092, on their former total of 5,767; the lunatic and idiotic, by the immense number of 4,118, on their former total of 9,980; mounting up, in 1861, notwithstanding the decrease in the population, to 14,098.

Wages[edit source]

Wages have not risen more than 20 per cent since the potato famine. The price of potatoes has risen nearly 200 per cent, and 100 per cent on an average of essential food products.

Professor Cliffe Leslie, in the Economist of February 9,1867, says:

“After a loss of two-fifths of the population in 21 years, throughout most of the island the rate of wages is now only ls. a day; a shilling does not go farther than 6d. did 21 years ago. Owing to this rise in the ordinary food the labourer is worse off than he was ten years ago.”

Partial famines especially in Munster and Connaught.

Bankruptcy of shopkeepers is permanent. Market towns, etc., fall to ruin.

The Results of This Process[edit source]

In 1855-66, 1,032,694 Irishmen replaced by 996,877 head of livestock (cattle, sheep and pigs). That, in fact, was the accretion of livestock during that period, with the decrease of horses (20,656) compensated by eight sheep (to one horse), which are therefore subtracted from the accretion.

Consolidation of Farms[edit source]

From 1851 to 1861 the total decrease of farms was 120,000. (Though the number of 15-30 acre farms and farms of 30 acres and over increased.) Thus, the decrease affected particularly farms of one to under 15 acres.

In 1861 about 3/5 of the area (Ireland’s total area: 20,319,924 acres) or 12,000,000 acres was held by 569,844 tenants who worked plots of one up to less than 100 acres, and about 2/5 (8 million acres) by tenants with over 100 and 500 acres and over (31,927 tenants).

The process of consolidation in full gear. Ulster. (Cultivation of flax; Scottish Protestant tenants.)

The Times, etc., officially congratulates Abercorn as Viceroy on this system. He, too, is one of these devastators. Lord Dufferin: over-population, etc.[18]

In sum, it is a question of life and death.

Meagher, Hennessy,[19] Irishman. [20]

Committedfor trial Convicted
1852 17,678 10,454
1866 4,326 2,418

V United States and Fenianism[edit source]

  1. A reference to the three biggest national liberation uprisings in Ireland.

    The 1641-52 uprising was provoked by the colonialist policy which the English absolute monarchy pursued in Ireland, and which was continued during the English bourgeois revolution by the English bourgeoisie and the “new” nobility. The majority of the insurgents were Irish peasants led by the expropriated clan chiefs and the Catholic clergy. The Anglo-Irish nobility, descendants of the first English conquerors who had become related to the Irish clan elite and adopted many Irish customs and habits, also participated in the uprising. In October 1642, the insurgents formed the Irish Confederation in Kilkenny. A struggle went on within it between the indigenous Irish, who stood for Ireland’s independence and action both against the Long Parliament and the English Royalists, and the Anglo-Irish aristocrats, who endeavoured to come to terms with Charles I on the condition that they would be allowed to keep their estates and receive a guarantee of freedom of worship for Catholics. The latter gained the upper hand and a treaty was signed with a representative of Charles I. After the rout of the Royalists in England, Oliver Cromwell, the Lord Protector of the new bourgeois republic, organised an expedition to Ireland on the pretext of suppressing a Royalist revolt there but in fact with the aim of reducing her to colonial submission and plundering the land. He hoped that by confiscating Irish lands he would solve the problem of paying the creditors of the republic, the officers and men in the army. In 1649-52, the Irish uprising was brutally suppressed; the garrisons and population of entire towns were destroyed, I the Irish were sold en masse into slavery in the West Indies, and Irish lands were confiscated and handed over to new English landlords. These actions of Cromwell and his successors did much to prepare the ground for the restoration of the monarchy in England in 1660.

    The 1689-91 uprising followed in the wake of the 1688-89 coup d'état in England (known as the Glorious Revolution), involving the overthrow of James II Stuart and the establishment of a bourgeois-aristocratic constitutional monarchy in England under William III of Orange. The Catholic nobility in Ireland, supported by the masses who were dissatisfied with the colonial regime, rose against William. Under the banner of defence of the Stuarts the insurgents fought for the abolition of Ireland’s political and religious inequality and the return of the confiscated estates. James II, who had taken refuge in Ireland and was endeavouring to use the Irish movement to regain the crown, became its official head and recognised the demands of the Irish people. But the differences between the reactionary Jacobites and the Irish patriots weakened the insurgents. Despite their stubborn resistance, they were finally defeated.

    The 1798 uprising was the result of the upsurge of national sentiments in Ireland, caused by the growth of the liberation movement and the impact of the American and French bourgeois revolutions at the end of the 18th century. It was prepared by Irish bourgeois revolutionaries (Theobald Wolfe Tone, Edward Fitzgerald), who in 1791 founded the patriotic society “The United Irishmen” in Belfast (the chief town of the Northern Irish province of Ulster) and proclaimed a fight for an independent Irish republic. On the eve of the uprising, however, most of the society’s leaders were tracked by government spies and arrested. The uprising broke out on May 23 and lasted until June 17, 1798. It flared up in a number of counties in South-East and Northern Ireland and was particularly strong in County Wexford. The majority of the insurgents were peasants and urban poor. In August and September 1798, after the landing of a French force in support of the Irish patriots, the uprising spread to a number of places in Connaught. The English authorities launched savage reprisals against the rebels (almost all the leaders were executed) and passed the Act of Anglo-Irish Union in 1801.
  2. About 1166 Pope Adrian IV issued a bull which conferred on the English King Henry II the title of Supreme Ruler of Ireland in exchange for the promise to subject the Irish Church to Rome. Henry II used this “gift” to launch an aggressive expedition against Ireland in 1171.

    In 1576, in connection with the exacerbation of relations between Protestant England and the Catholic, powers, Pope Gregory XIII declared that Queen Elizabeth I had forfeited the right to the Irish crown.
  3. English Pale — the medieval English colony in South-East Ireland founded by the Anglo-Norman barons in the 11 70s. The term came into use in the second half of the 14th century. The boundaries of the English Pale changed during the continual wars of the conquerors against the hitherto unsubdued population. Castles and fortifications were built in the border areas. At the end of the 15th century the Pale included only part of the present counties of Louth, Meath, Dublin and Kildare, but it served as a bridgehead for the complete subjection of Ireland by the English in the 16th century. Dublin was the centre of the Pale and the seat of the English Lord Deputy.
  4. The Anglo-Irish Parliament, convoked at the end of the 13th century, was initially made up of representatives of the big barons and dignitaries of the Church of the English colony in Ireland (the Pale). With the extension of the power of the English crown to the entire island (16th-early 17th centuries) the Parliament became a representative body of the English and Anglo-Irish aristocracy under the English Lord Deputy. The competency of that Parliament was limited; according to the Act passed by Lord Deputy Poynings in 1495, it could be convoked only with the sanction of the Royal Privy Council. Under the impact of the growing national liberation movement, in the 1780s the English Government was compelled to extend the rights of the Irish Parliament. In 1801, however, the Irish Parliament was abolished under the Act of Union.
  5. A reference to the Act of Settlement adopted by the Long Parliament on August 12, 1652, during the English bourgeois revolution, following the suppression of the 1641-52 national liberation uprising in Ireland. The Act legalised the reign of terror and violence established by the English colonialists in Ireland and sanctioned the wholesale plunder of Irish lands in favour of the English bourgeoisie and the “new” bourgeoisified nobility. This Act declared the majority of Ireland’s indigenous population “guilty of revolt.” Even those Irishmen who had not been directly involved in the uprising but had failed to show the proper “loyalty” to the English Crown were considered “guilty.” Those declared “guilty” were classified into categories, depending on the extent of their involvement in the uprising, and subjected to brutal reprisals: execution, deportation, confiscation of property. On September 26, 1653, the Act of Settlement was supplemented by the Act of Satisfaction which prescribed the forcible resettlement of Irish people whose property had been confiscated to the barren province of Connaught and to Clare County and defined the procedure for allotting the confiscated land to the creditors of Parliament, the officers and men of the English army. Both Acts consolidated and extended the economic foundations of English landlordism in Ireland.
  6. A reference to the capitulation at Limerick, an agreement signed in October 1691, between the Irish insurgents and representatives of the English command, and approved by King William III. The surrender terms were honourable: the insurgents were given permission to serve either in foreign armies or in the army of William III; the people were promised an amnesty, the preservation of their property, suffrage and religious freedom. The Limerick terms, however, were soon flagrantly violated by the English authorities.
  7. a. Followed by “(1701) (Anne)” in the manuscript. — Ed.
  8. Absentees — landlords who owned estates in Ireland but lived permanently in England. Their estates were managed by realty agents who robbed the Irish peasants, or were leased to speculator-middlemen, who subleased small plots to the peasants.
  9. A reference to the book: W. Molyneux, The Case of Ireland’s Being Bound by Acts of Parliament in England Stated, Dublin, 1698.
  10. Penal Code or penal laws — a set of laws passed by the English for Ireland at the end of the 17th and in the first half of the 18th centuries on the pretext of struggle against Catholic conspiracies. These laws deprived the indigenous Irish, the majority of whom were Catholics, of all civil and political rights. They limited the right of Catholics to inheritance, to the acquisition and alienation of property, and introduced the practice of confiscating property for petty offences. The Penal Code was used as an instrument for the expropriation of the Irish who still owned land. It established unfavourable lease terms for Catholic peasants, promoting their dependence on the English landlords. The ban on Catholic schools, the stern punishment meted out to Catholic priests; and other measures were intended to stamp out Irish national traditions. The penal laws were abrogated, and then only in part, at the end of the 18th century. Under the influence of the growing national liberation struggle in Ireland.
  11. Catholics were officially deprived of voting rights by the Act on the Regulation of Elections passed in 1727. Irish Catholics had not enjoyed the right to stand for election to Parliament from the end of the 17th century, following the introduction of an oath to be taken by M.P.s involving an abjuration of Catholic dogmas. The latter restriction was only lifted in 1829. Voting rights were restored to the Catholic population somewhat earlier, in 1793, since the English landlords themselves often needed the votes of their Catholic tenants.
  12. Freehold — a category of small landownership which had come down from medieval England. The freeholder paid the lord a comparatively small rent in cash and was allowed to dispose of his land as he saw fit.
  13. The war England waged against Napoleonic France ended in 1815.
  14. Cottiers — a category of the rural population consisting of land-hungry or landless peasants. In Ireland cottiers rented small plots of land and cottages from landlords or real estate agents on extremely onerous terms. Their position resembled that of farm-hands.
  15. In February 1885, Daniel O'Connell, the leader of the Irish bourgeois nationalists, signed an agreement with representatives of the Whigs according to which he was to support them in the House of Commons in return for some concessions; in particular, Irish political leaders were promised posts in the administrative apparatus after the Whigs came to office. For his part, O'Connell undertook to stop the Repeal of the Union campaign. The agreement was negotiated in Lord Lichfield’s London house and became known as the Lichfield-House Contract. It meant that the liberal circles of the Irish bourgeoisie and the medium landowners had reached a compromise with the English politicians and had renounced consistent struggle for Ireland’s independence.
  16. b. See pp. 143-44. — Ed. [This is a reference to the postscript to Marx’s letter to Engels, November 2, 1867]
  17. The corn-acre system — the subletting to the poorest peasants of small plots (of an area of up to half an acre) by middlemen on fettering terms, which was extensively practised in Ireland. The term came into use in the lath century, after the adoption of a law decreeing that corn be sown on these small holdings.
  18. c. See pp. 113-14. — Ed. [This is a reference to the discussion of Irish wages and farm size in Capital, Vol. I]
  19. d. See p. 148. — Ed. [This is a reference to Marx’s letter to Engels, November 30, 1867]
  20. The Irishman — an Irish bourgeois weekly published between 1858 and 1885, first in Belfast, later in Dublin. It supported the national liberation movement and came out in defence of the Fenians. At the same time it was subject to class and national limitations (refusing to publish the documents of the International in support of the Irish revolutionaries).