Napoleon Series Archive 2015

The Art of Humbling Tyrants

The Art of Humbling Tyrants: Irish Revolutionary Internationalism during the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Era, 1789-1815
Nicholas Andrew Stark

Ireland was England’s first subject, its breeding ground for colonization and imperialism
that would span the world over. Ireland underwent eight hundred years of more of various forms
of encroachment by the British, yet the period surrounding the French Revolution and Napoléon
would offer the greatest opening for Ireland to reclaim its independence. Irish revolutionaries,
none more so than the United Irishmen, sought to internationalize their struggle, turning
especially to the new French Republic and subsequently to Napoléon Bonaparte’s Empire for
assistance. The Irish revolutionaries defy state repression, arrange for an abortive French
invasion in 1796, organize a national uprising and second French invasion in 1798, undergo the
creation of the United Kingdom, and become part of Napoléon’s army before being ultimately
stamped out by the British authorities. In the process of following the development and
ultimately the defeat of the United Irishmen, there is much to observe about the Irish
revolutionary praxis that can shed insight into the broader field of international revolutionary and
anti-imperial struggles in the modern world. In addition, the struggle of the United Irishmen
provides a first-rate glimpse into the inner-workings of British empire and imperialism,
especially as it intersects with concepts of French empire.