Research Stream


Dianne Hall (2015)
Victoria University


Emotions, Children and War in Early Modern Ireland

This project examines how the experiences of children in the wars of early modern Ireland were described in order to understand the importance of how emotive narratives of childhood, innocence and family were expressed during these troubled times.


In this project Dianne Hall uses the rich witness statements of survivors and perpetrators of the war known as the 1641 Rebellion in Ireland to analyse how witnesses described children – both as victims and as perpetrators of acts of violence. The seventeenth-century wars in Ireland were brutal and, at their height in the 1640s, seemingly all-encompassing. Men, women and children were caught up in sieges, massacres, expulsions and battles. As well as the battles with weapons, there were also intense disputes using words, as emotions such as anger, guilt, pity and fear swirled through eye-witness reports and rumour alike. The witness statements highlight the emotional and gendered context surrounded violence during civil wars, where neighbours often knew the identities of killers and victims alike, and so shaped their statements about innocence and guilt through emotive lenses. These statements and others like them also contain information about how the witnesses viewed the children who were victims and also those who were seen to inflict violence on others. Sources for the history of children are uncommon in early modern Europe. By analysing the emotions embedded in descriptions of children’s experiences during these wars we can better understand both the histories of children and of civilians in war.


‘Emotions, Children and War in Early Modern Ireland’, paper presented at Australian and New Zealand Medieval and Early Modern Studies conference, Brisbane, July 2015.

‘The Bloody Bridge and the River Boyne: Sites of Memory and Emotion in Northern Ireland, 17th Century to Today’. Presentation at Secondary School Teachers History Workshop Emotional Landscapes: English and Irish battlefield memorials 1641-c1900. Seminar run by ARC Centre for the History of the Emotions, The University of Queensland, 2013.

Partnership with Prof. Elizabeth Malcolm, The University of Melbourne on ARC funded ‘Gender and Violence in Ireland’ project.


Image citation: Wenceslaus Hollar – Supposed Irish Atrocities During the Rebellion of 1641. ‘Companyes of the Rebells meeting with the English flyinge for their lives falling downe before them cryinge for mercy thrust theire into their childrens bellyes & threw them into the water. X’ Wikimedia Commons.