"The Sword and the Law": Elizabethan soldiers’ perception and practice of the laws of armed conflict, 1569-1587

Smith, Justin Samuel Ewald (2017) "The Sword and the Law": Elizabethan soldiers’ perception and practice of the laws of armed conflict, 1569-1587. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Printed Thesis Information: https://eleanor.lib.gla.ac.uk/record=b3296003


This thesis argues that contemporary views of the laws of arms among soldiers, and of the laws of war by legal theorists, influenced particular military campaigns and individual actions in a variety of armed conflicts. Elizabeth I’s officer corps were careful to act in wars so that their actions would be seen as honourable by outside observers in the belief that such actions would add to their personal glory. Their individual and corporate perception of the laws of war directly affected military practices. However, the Elizabethan military establishment was engaged in conflicts that did not conform to contemporary views of just war. Catholic popes funded military expeditions against England and its dominion of Ireland, where the leaders were granted commissions to wage holy war not just war. The suppression of armed rebellions in Ireland employed numerous soldiers, and much of the machinery of state was supported by the English military. Holy war and counterinsurgency operations had no parallels in just war theory.
The laws of war provided an important new context for re-evaluating military practices. Although legal discourse was predominantly ordered towards fighting regular wars, with careful reading of contemporary sources, there are important indicators that illuminate contemporary justifications for some of the more brutal military actions associated with the English military establishment, particularly in Ireland.
By re-examining the discourse on the laws of war, the thesis finds that soldiers took seriously the customs of war and through them, it reassesses the motivations and mentalities of commissioned officers. This discourse was then used as a basis by which the conduct of soldiers can be understood and contextualised within English political and ethical structures.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Elizabeth I, Laws of War, Laws of Armed Conflict, Rebellion, Eighty Years War, Elizabethan Conquest of Ireland, Protestant warfare, Catholic warfare, English, England, Ireland, Netherlands, Low Countries, Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, military history, Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex, Alberico Gentili, Matthew Sutcliffe, William Cecil, Lord Burghley, Fitzmaurice Rebellion, Desmond Rebellion, sixteenth-century warfare, 16th century warfare,
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
K Law > K Law (General)
U Military Science > U Military Science (General)
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts & Humanities
Supervisor's Name: Strickland, Professor Matthew and Pollard, Professor Tony
Date of Award: 2017
Depositing User: Justin S.E. Smith
Unique ID: glathesis:2017-8552
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 24 Jan 2018 15:20
Last Modified: 06 Feb 2018 10:33
URI: https://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/8552

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