The introductory chapter provides an overview of critical scholarship on early modern Ireland. The discussion in the prologue outlines some of the limitations of studying representations of Ireland in sixteenth-century narratives, focusing largely on the types of problems that the English government faced in developing reform policies in colonial Ireland. In doing so, I also stress that the types of dissent among the monarch, his/her advisors in both secular and ecclesiastical communities, and the chief governors vary widely throughout the period. Disagreements regarding the implementation and enforcement of royal authority often implicated private agendas; those with vested interest in Ireland did not necessarily see eye to eye with official policy. Private feuds and patronage also figure in some cases. Alliances forged in court and privileged access to the monarch defined the limits of authority in dealing with the “Irish problem.” The complex networks of patronage – on both sides of the Irish Sea – that emerged amidst the political exigencies in Ireland were constantly being negotiated, and as such, ideas of authority and autonomy over the governance of Ireland were sometimes fiercely contested. Overall, the opening chapter proposes the need to examine the significance of dissent in the conquest of Ireland and the ways in which they influenced reform policies and ideologies.