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Women, Writing, and Language in Early Modern Ireland$
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Marie-Louise Coolahan

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780199567652

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199567652.001.0001

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(p.102) 3 Petition‐letters
Women, Writing, and Language in Early Modern Ireland

Marie‐Louise Coolahan (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter explores the state petition‐letter, a genre that demanded a subtle command of rhetorical conventions and strategies, and often collaboration with scribes and translators. At the centre of discussion are two correspondents of Queen Elizabeth: Eleanor, countess of Desmond, and Gráinne Ní Mháille, the infamous pirate and chieftain. The petitionary strategies of both women are analysed, with particular attention paid to their exploitation of gendered roles. Both, it is argued, juggled discourses of obedience, service, and justice to defend themselves against accusations of rebellion. The chapter then examines a body of petitionary writing composed by Irish catholic refugees in Spain. Petitioning the king for pensions on the basis of military and financial service to the Counter Reformation catholic cause, these women embraced tropes of weakness and vulnerability as persuasive tools.

Keywords:   petitions, rhetoric, translation, countess of Desmond, Grace O'Malley, Spanish pensions

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