While Irish historical writing has long been in thrall to the perceived sectarian character of the legal system, this collection is the first to concentrate attention on the actual relationship that existed between the Irish population and the state under which they lived from the War of the Two Kings (1689-1691) to the Great Famine (1845-1849). Particular attention is paid to an understanding of the legal character of the state and the reach of the rule of law, with contributors addressing such themes as: how law was made and put into effect; how ordinary people experienced the law and social regulations; how Catholics related to the legal institutions of the Protestant confessional state; and how popular notions of legitimacy were developed. These themes contribute to a wider understanding of the nature of the state in the long eighteenth century and will therefore help to situate the study of Irish society into the mainstream of English and European social history.
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