But I don't understand the downright cruelty of some of my villains. The tithemonger, for example, who flew into a rage and beat up John Clibborn's son Joshua, nearly killing him. In the story recorded in the Book of Sufferings, written by the pacifist Irish Quakers in the 17th century, the man's rage seems to come out of nowhere. For me, as a writer, he needs backstory.
I wondered if it was in retaliation for some similar act the English had done. The English army certainly abused the Irish inhabitants, and people still remembered high Irish fatalities in the Cromwellian invasion and war of 1641. I found these balanced summaries about those conflicts, but nothing about mass stripping.
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About 1690, Rapparees or bandits stole leather goods and stripped William Edmundson's "ancient" wife naked. She caught a fatal case of pneumonia on the long walk home.
Ironically, the only example I've found of the English army stripping any Irish involved Edmundson himself (a Quaker minister) trying to stop the practice. Earlier in the conflict, he saved two Irish men from hanging and fussed at the English soldiers for stripping them. He forced the soldiers who had taken their clothes to return them, saying "Besides it might be a precedent to the Irish to strip the English." (WE's journal)
The conflicts in Ireland go way back, each side retaliating for something the other side did like an Appalachian family feud. But does anybody know of earlier precedents for taking the population's clothes?
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