Aspects of Irish Aristocratic Life

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For almost 800 years, from their arrival with the first wave of Anglo-Normans in 1169, the FitzGeralds - Earls of Kildare and, from 1766, Dukes of Leinster - were the pre-eminent noble family living in Ireland, dominating the social, political, economic and cultural landscapes. This collection of essays, by established and emerging scholars, draws together some of the most recent and specialised research on the family, providing original perspectives on various aspects of their aristocratic history. Individual contributions inform on how the family first settled in Kildare and rose to ascendancy and how they maintained political status through court connections in England and beyond. Thematically, the essays cover such topics as the architecture and material culture of the Big House, the creation of the great eighteenth-century aristocratic demesne and landscape at Carton, the final break-up of the family's estates and its subsequent economic decline in the twentieth century.They examine the contributions made by individual members of the family to the social and cultural spheres in Ireland and further afield; their interest in local as well as international concerns; their enthusiasm for the arts, music and dancing; the relationship between employers and servants, dukes and the Catholic Church, younger sons and radicalism, the latter exemplified in the life of one of the more famous members of the family, Lord Edward FitzGerald, a leader of the Society of United Irishmen and the 1798 Rebellion.