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From Patriots to UnionistsDublin Civic Politics and Irish Protestant Patriotism, 1660-1840$
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Jacqueline Hill

Print publication date: 1997

Print ISBN-13: 9780198206354

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198206354.001.0001

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‘Protestant Ascendancy’, Challenge and Definition, 1791–1793

‘Protestant Ascendancy’, Challenge and Definition, 1791–1793

(p.212) 8 ‘Protestant Ascendancy’, Challenge and Definition, 1791–1793
From Patriots to Unionists

Jacqueline Hill

Oxford University Press

The excitement generated by the French revolution sparked off a wide-ranging debate about all aspects of the ancien régime: the institutions of hereditary monarchy and aristocracy; religious establishments; corporate and prescriptive rights. Champions of ‘the rights of man’ had only limited success in winning over members of the privileged orders in Britain and Ireland to their views, but they did force their opponents to formulate defences for the existing system. It has already been noted that ‘the growth of toleration’ can be a misleading way to describe the effects on Protestants in Britain and Ireland of the Enlightenment. What had begun to change in the British ruling elite was the perception of Catholics as a serious danger to church and state. This chapter examines the controversies surrounding Protestant confessionalism, Protestant ascendancy, and Patriot politics. The impact of the fragmentation of the Patriots in Dublin on the corporation, the guilds, Dublin Volunteers, and political societies such as the Aldermen of Skinner's Alley is also discussed.

Keywords:   Ireland, Dublin, ancien régime, Protestants, Catholics, Protestant ascendancy, Patriots, guilds, politics, confessionalism

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