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Old February 28th, 2014, 05:58 PM   #1
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Lord Castlereagh


Hi,

I'm a new member to this site. I stumbled across it while searching google when reading about The Duke of Wellington. (Yes, Daniel O' Connell was indeed the man who uttered the phrase forever identified with Wellington).

Reading the thread on the Napoleonic war hero got me thinking of another fascinating Irishman who is considered by many to be British.

As an Irishman myself- i'm not a Nationalist or Unionist in any way shape or form- I think him a very important Irish historical personage. He was
not a nefarious Cromwellian figure. I find it strange that in pre-Third level Irish education he is never so much as mentioned in the History books.

Afterall, he marched a militia to meet Tone and the French at Bantry Bay. He was Chief Secretary during the 1798 Rebellion and one of the main architects of the Act of Union. Not to mention one of the prime movers in its passage through the Irish Parliament second time round. His use of patronage and bribery to ensure the safe passage of the Act of Union Bill was not embedded in shackling Ireland to Britain and then spurning her rights as an integral part of Great Britain. His modus operandi was a policy of incremental Catholic Emancipation.

It's strange- but not atypical of Irish Green v Red history teaching- that such a man as this- a paragon of statesmanship (who was perfectly adroit at political tight rope walking)- should not feature prominently in Irish and European History! This was a man who knew Wellington, Grattan, Parnell’s grandfather, Pitt, Fox, , Wilberforce, The Prince Regent… He was even a step grandson of Lord Camden! Not to mention a fellow negotiator with some of the most powerful Rulers and politicians in Europe, like Alexander I and Matternich


He never shied away from his Irish Identity. On the contrary, he loved his country and came back to visit his father and estate as often as he could. Albeit, he was anxious to get involved in English Politics and built up a network of contacts through Lord Camden while employed in the Irish Government; but this was because Westminster offered him the chance to display his prodigious political skills. Granted, he was bereft of possibly the greatest Parliamentary skill- oratory; but what he lacked in oratorical prowess, he made up with a sangfroid approach to “getting things done.”

For a man who probably did most to defeat Napoleonic France, a man who was a veritable Svengali at the Concert of Vienna, to be castigated and vilified by the Irish and Shelley and Byron I think a little harsh. He was after all human. Not to mention being perpetually at the very eye of the Maelstrom that was Westminster politics in the 1810s.

He was to the Concert of Vienna what Disraeli was to the Congress of Berlin in 1878 and what Llyod George was to the Paris Peace Conference in 1919. He recognised that punishing France severely following Napoleon’s defeat was not the way forward to ensure European equilibrium. A policy the Welsh Wizard failed to enact. (Although he did try to restrain Clémenceau from crippling Germany irreparably). He also managed to bridle Alexander’s rapacious expansionist plans to infiltrate Poland and make it a de facto puppet state.


Just wondering what people's view on this man are.
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Old February 28th, 2014, 06:17 PM   #2
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Welcome to historum in memoria. Yes Castlereagh, a very interesting individual who obviously carried a lot of weight in his time. As a fellow Irishman I am also interested in aspects of our history that have been conveniently forgotten about. I knew about his influence and the major part he played in the congress of Vienna but I need to look into him a little more. Another part of Irish history which has not been sufficiently written about was Ireland's involvement in the Crimean war. I've read that up to 33% of the British army and navy was Irish which is significant. The first V.C which was given was awarded to an Irishman. Interesting stuff. My point is I agree with you that our history while we were in the union needs to looked at more. Thank you for your post. Could you recommend any good book on Castlereagh?
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Old February 28th, 2014, 06:43 PM   #3
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Hi Eamonn10.

Yes, I remember reading that the first VC was awarded to an Irishman. In Irish schools, the focus of Ireland's involvement in any British related conflict is WWI because so many Irishmen died in the conflict. If John MacBride hadn't been executed following the 1916 Rising for his "traitorous" part in the Boer War, an Irish History student would be hard pressed to name any man that fought in that war!!

Read John Bew's biography on Castlereagh. Castlereagh: From Enlightenment to Tyranny. Great read.
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Old March 22nd, 2014, 01:53 PM   #4

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Originally Posted by in memoria View Post
Hi Eamonn10.

Yes, I remember reading that the first VC was awarded to an Irishman. In Irish schools, the focus of Ireland's involvement in any British related conflict is WWI because so many Irishmen died in the conflict. If John MacBride hadn't been executed following the 1916 Rising for his "traitorous" part in the Boer War, an Irish History student would be hard pressed to name any man that fought in that war!!

Read John Bew's biography on Castlereagh. Castlereagh: From Enlightenment to Tyranny. Great read.
Welcome to the board. You'll find the debate between the various Irish posters vigorous and entertaining.

MacBride was a traitor, he killed his fellow countrymen on behalf of a foreign power on not one but 2 occasions. It's a demonstration of how liberal Britain was that he was allowed to return home without being prosecuted. He was executed for his part in the bruta mass murder of 400 people and betraying the Allies to Germany.
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Old March 27th, 2014, 03:02 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by SirOrmondeWinter View Post
Welcome to the board. You'll find the debate between the various Irish posters vigorous and entertaining.

MacBride was a traitor, he killed his fellow countrymen on behalf of a foreign power on not one but 2 occasions. It's a demonstration of how liberal Britain was that he was allowed to return home without being prosecuted. He was executed for his part in the bruta mass murder of 400 people and betraying the Allies to Germany.

Sorry, you completely missed my point!

Read my post again. In Irish schools we are very rarely told about the Irish men that fought in British wars down the centuries unless it was against Britain herself! Hence the reason I brought up MacBride!!
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