RICH, Barnabe

Captain Barnabe Rich was a notable personality of his day, famous for his military service and his literary successes. Rich described himself as a gentleman, though he had no university education. During the course of his fifty-five-year military career, Rich fought in France, the Low Countries, and Ireland. Rich began writing prose and poems in the early 1570s. He took careful notes of military maneuvers and described the trials and tribulations of fighting men. The first of his two best-sellers was titled Riche His Farewell to Militarie Pro­fession (1581); his second was The Honestie of This Age (1614). Both texts enjoyed numerous reprintings in the author's lifetime. While Rich was in Ire­land, he authored a pamphlet exposing the negligence of the Irish clergy. This work, published in 1589, caused a scandal, and Rich suffered from numerous attacks for his critique.
Ireland was also the site of the most devastating episode of Rich's military career. In 1585 his company was executed in a bloody massacre. His service was rewarded with a small pension from Elizabeth I* in 1587. In the same year, Rich married Kathryn Easten. He later sought preferment in London. In 1595 he was assigned the task of training new recruits and later was involved in intelligence work. While Elizabeth I praised Rich and provided some compen­sation, it was James I's* court that recognized Rich with ample reward for his military service, bestowing a gift of one hundred pounds in 1616. Rich died shortly thereafter, in 1617. He had no fewer than twenty-six publications to his name.
Rich had a reputation as a fine military strategist, satirist of the Irish, and celebrated figure of his day. His patrons included Elizabeth I, James I, and Lord Mayor Thomas Middleton.* He was friendly with the writers Thomas North, Thomas Lodge,* and George Gascoigne.* The popularity of Rich's tales is best evidenced by those who read and referenced his work; it is believed that William Shakespeare* borrowed from one of Rich's plots, as did John Webster,* Thomas Heywood,* and Thomas Dekker.*
T. M. Cranfill and D. H. Bruce, Barnaby Rich, 1953.
Michele Osherow

Renaissance and Reformation 1500-1620: A Biographical Dictionary. . 2001.

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