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Dr Mark Williams 

Research Projects

The King’s Irishmen - Presently in preparation for publication with Boydell & Brewer Press, this monograph will be a novel analysis of the exiled royalist community during the 1650s. With particular focus on the Irish element, this research has allowed  me to interrogate the ways in which issues of mobility, disillusionment, dishonour, and cultural encounters impacted upon notions of identity and belonging more generally in the early-modern world. This research also charts the creation and employment of confessional connections with European courts through common Catholic networks, managing the image of Charles II’s court among these Continental communities, engaging in the production of pro-‘Anglican’ propaganda and shaping destructive post-Civil War acts of remembrance among the exiles.  By reconstructing the mental worlds of these Irish royalists with sensitivity to the impact of exile and dislocation within foreign political cultures, the study demands a more nuanced and complex understanding of the formation of early-modern mentalities which accounts for such formative influences as memory, geography, confession, and social influence across transnational dimensions.

Knowledge and the Fabrication of French Culture in the Three Kingdoms, 1650-1720 - My current project builds my interests in transnational history and the articulation of cultural identities in order to challenge current conceptions of the relationship between Britain, Ireland, and France in the early modern period. This will be accomplished by shifting attention away from political and confessional polemics and towards underexplored points of cultural interaction and exchange. I will be approaching the formation of British and Irish attitudes towards French culture from 1650-1720 through a study of the media through which knowledge was acquired and disseminated as carefully-fashioned and mediated representations. This will be accomplished through three mutually-informative case studies: understandings of the Gallican/Jansenist controversies within the French Catholic church; the role of improving societies such as the Royal Society and the Dublin Philosophical Society; and the role of material and mercantile cultures in articulating and complicating identities through developing cultures of luxury and print. Key individuals of interest in these exchanges include Robert Boyle, John Evelyn, Peter Walsh (OFM), Hugh Serenus Cressy (OFM), Theophilus Gale, Sir Richard Bellings, Henry Oldenburg, Narcissus Marsh, and others. Methodologically, this work will engage extensively not only with media theory, ideas of authority/expertise, and the transmission of representations, but also the role of urban space in conveying cultural ideas and issues of cultural geography. 
When compared collectively, this research will illustrate the ambiguity and contingency of attitudes towards French culture while underscoring the centrality of European influences to identity-formation and the emergence of multiple ‘cosmopolitanisms’ in the Three Kingdoms.