|08-28-2019, 12:56 PM||#21 (permalink)|
Join Date: Oct 2016
Location: Milky Way Galaxy
my names on there in the northern part of the country, which isnt even Ireland...
Last edited by Mindfulness; 11-10-2019 at 08:47 AM.
|11-04-2019, 02:25 PM||#24 (permalink)|
Born to be mild
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: Back in the zone!
Chapter VI: The Book of Invasions, Part Four: Terra Incognita, Treachery and The Fall of Ireland
Papal Enemy Number One: Henry VIII and the English Reformation
Having, as I mentioned earlier, only won our independence in 1923, the history and destiny of Ireland has been throughout our long history controlled by outside forces, most notably of course by England, who held sway over us for over eight hundred years. It’s therefore necessary, I feel, to look at the major figures who orchestrated the invasion, occupation and governance of Ireland, and as the timeline progresses this is what I will be doing.
Many kings and queens of England of course had a hand in the subjugation of Ireland, and we’ve already heard about Henry VII and the Normans, but to my mind there’s one figure who typifies the antagonism that would come to define the relationship between Irish and English, which would lead to a schism in Irish belief, and to the very sectarianism that plagues our island even today.
When the Celts were under the sway of the Druids, they worshipped gods, but more importantly goddesses; Ireland, though controlled by a patriarchy, was a matriarchal theocracy, or something. Goddesses were big in Ireland, is what I mean, and through the intercession of the Druids laid down the laws by which the Celts lived. When the druids, along with their deities, were driven out of Ireland, the Irish looked to a new mother figure: the Catholic Church. She protected and nurtured them all through the Dark Ages, even into Tudor times, and when one king took on the Pope, it spelled trouble for Ireland, and began a hated and enmity that has existed to this day.
Henry VIII (1491-1547)
Even those of you with zero interest in history know Henry VIII, if only from the famous portrait that shows him as a fat, lame corpulent man scowling out of the picture. Of course, he wasn’t always like this - witness his many marriages, few if any ones of convenience - but this is the popular image we have left of him, just as Shakespeare was also obviously young and handsome at one point, but we now picture him as a balding, oldish man in a high Elizabethan ruff. If we know Henry for anything though, it’s likely one of two things (or both): firstly, for having six wives, two of whom were beheaded at his command, and secondly for his spat with the Pope and the formation of the Church of England. None of this would of course endear him to the fiercely Catholic Irish, and his actions during his reign would not help that cause. For those who may have the sketchiest knowledge of one of the most famous and written about English kings, here’s a very quick potted history.
Only one of four to survive from the six children born to his father, Henry VII, Henry was already appointed Lord Lieutenant of Ireland at the tender age of three. What this actually meant was that his father, Henry VII, retained control over Ireland and no other noble could request or even demand the position. Nevertheless, though it may have been nothing more than a nominal or symbolic position, the fact remains that from his infancy right through to his death, King Henry VIII’s fate would be inextricably and irrevocably linked with that of Ireland. The youngest of the surviving royal children, he was never expected to ascend to the throne, this honour to befall his elder brother Arthur. However Arthur did not reach his sixteenth birthday, dying before he could claim his heritage, and as the two other children were girls, it was Henry who became heir to the throne of England.
Catherine of Aragon
When his father died in 1507 Henry realised his destiny, taking the wife, well, widow, of his late brother Arthur, Catherine, youngest child of the rulers of two powerful Spanish kingdoms, King Ferdinand II of Aragon and Queen Isabella I of Castile, but when she failed to provide him a son (all of her children, boys and girls, being stillborn, and the last one to survive being a girl) he decided to look further afield. Having had an affair with Catherine’s lady-in-waiting, Mary Boleyn, he then took a fancy to her sister. But Anne was not content to be a mere king’s mistress, and demanded marriage. This meant that Henry’s marriage to Catherine had to be annulled, and the only one who could do that was the Pope. There was, however, a problem.
Catherine was aunt to one of the most powerful Spanish rulers, the Holy Roman Emperor himself, Charles V, and Pope Clement VII, reluctant to get on his bad side by sanctioning what would be seen as the public dishonour of Catherine, demurred. Annoyed at this seeming refusal (which it pretty much was) to grant him the freedom to marry again, Henry decided to dissolve the power of the Catholic Church in England, setting himself up as supreme head of the Church, and thereby making an enemy of the Pope. This is curious in a historical context, as the previous Pope, Leo X, had conferred upon Henry the title of “Defender of the Faith” for his defence of papal authority! I guess sentiments like that are fine as long as they fit in with your own requirements.
Henry married Anne Boleyn in 1533 (though technically she had been unofficial queen since 1531, Catherine having been banished from the royal apartments, stripped of her title and no longer recognised as the king’s consort) and she gave him one child. It was a girl, which was surely disappointing to Henry at the time, though she would grow up to become one of the greatest rulers England had ever seen. Elizabeth was born on September 7 1533, a mere three months after Anne had been officially crowned as Queen Consort. For his temerity in going against Rome and setting up the Church of England, Pope Clement excommunicated Henry. This meant he was forbidden to attend mass, have his sins forgiven and his soul was damned to Hell for eternity. Henry wasn’t worried.
He was worried, however, about the line of royal succession. If there was one duty a king took as seriously as protecting his realm it was securing an heir to continue his dynasty. Not for another six years would a woman sit on the English throne, the only one to ever do so up to that point, other than Matilda, whose monarchy is hotly disputed even now, the line of succession always falling to the male heir. If a king were to die without a son therefore, there would be no legitimate king, and infighting would result as those next in line to the throne would all vie for the position. This could lead to civil or even outright war, as in the War of the Roses, as already related, although the king in that case did have an heir, but he was allegedly murdered.
So producing a successor to his reign was of paramount importance to Henry, and while this was the task of the queen, if successive wives failed him then it would be hard to continue pointing the finger at the woman, and suspicion might fall upon the king himself. Apart from the ignominy of being talked of as impotent, the strategic and historical imperatives were clear here: die without an heir and risk plunging England into bloody conflict, in the process leaving her at the mercy of her enemies, who would surely capitalise on her weakness.
Henry’s desire to ditch Catherine and take up with Anne however was not purely motivated by regnal duty; he was also a randy old sod, and as king he could have as many mistresses as he liked, but any progeny from such unions would be illegitimate, and therefore ineligible for the throne. To produce a proper, legitimate heir who would be supported by all and whom the law would recognise, Henry had to have a son by his queen.
But that didn’t mean it had to be this queen.
When Anne failed to satisfy his need for an heir, Henry had - perhaps trumped-up - charges of infidelity and adultery levelled against her, branding her a traitor and allowing him to have her executed. He then moved on to Jane Seymour, whom he had been seeing more of (sorry) even as Anne Boleyn awaited her trial and execution. Jane finally gave him the heir he had craved, and which England needed, and Prince Edward was born on October 12 1537. However Henry’s joy was cut short as his wife and queen of only a year died twelve days later of complications from the birth. It could be said that though she was the wife who lasted the shortest time, she was also the most loyal, giving him his heir and also her life, though the latter hardly willingly.
Anne of Cleeves
For the first time since ascending the throne of England, Henry needed but did not necessarily desire a new wife, which is to say he was in mourning for Jane, not bored of or frustrated with her, but as king he knew he had to have a queen, and this time one was chosen for him - well, let’s say suggested to him: I doubt anyone ever told King Henry VIII what to do. But on the advice of Thomas Cromwell, he married Anne of Cleeves, who then became his fourth wife. But already Henry’s eye was wandering, and this time it fixed on a seventeen-year-old niece of the Duke of Norfolk, Catherine Howard, much to Cromwell’s annoyance, as her father was a political opponent of his. He was right to be worried, as on the very day of the king’s fifth marriage he was accused of treason and executed. No doubt the good Duke had a hand in that.
Catherine would not survive him long though. Embroiled in adulterous affairs, she was caught out and though Henry initially refused to believe his new wife had been unfaithful to him, he was forced to accept the evidence, especially when it came from her own mouth, and Catherine Howard became the second of Henry’s so-far five wives to literally lose her head over the king. His final marriage would see him attracted to yet another Catherine, this time Catherine Parr, who had already had three husbands before Henry. She helped him reconcile with his daughters Mary and Elizabeth, resulting in an Act of Parliament that allowed both the girls to join the royal line of succession, paving the way for England’s first two queens.
So that’s Henry VIII and his famous six wives, but why did the Irish hate him so? Well, clearly when you defied the authority of the Pope you were going to make no friends in a country that, while ruled by English nobles (Normans) was still staunchly and defiantly Catholic, and who after all wants to swear fealty to a heretic? But it wasn’t just that. Henry had demanded loyalty to the Crown from Ireland, and this put the Irish nobles in a very tough and unenviable position. Fiercely loyal to the Pope, they did not want to be seen to be going against the wishes of the Holy Father, but Rome was a long way away, much more distant than England, and when Henry declared that all of Ireland must follow “the English way”, including worship, he found stiff opposition from the Irish against his plans.
Here I want to pause for a moment, and explain in basic terms how the massive split occurred in the Catholic Church, how that affected Europe, Rome and later England, and by extension Ireland, and how it continues to do so even today, dividing our island along geographical as well as religious lines of orthodoxy, giving rise to conflict, hatred, prejudice and our own horrible version of holy war.
The Rise of Protestantism: Martin Luther goes head-to-head with the Pope
There can be no argument that in the time before, and even during the Renaissance, the Catholic Church was not only a major world power, almost the major world power, a huge player in politics, maker and breaker of kings, and the agency that called for retribution against the heathen with the Crusades, but one of the most corrupt organisations in the world. Successive popes set themselves up as kings, emperors or warlords (or all three), keeping standing armies and enriching their own coffers, more concerned with material wealth than spiritual salvation, while their priests and bishops preached exactly the opposite message to the faithful from the pulpits every Sunday.
A young German monk named Martin Luther had been watching all this misuse of power for some time, but the final straw for him came in 1516, when the Pope at the time, Leo X, sent an envoy to Germany to sell indulgences in order to finance the rebuilding of the church of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. Indulgences were, essentially, get-out-of-jail-free cards for Christians, though scrub out the word free. For a payment, large or small depending on the sin to be expunged, penitents could purchase a letter signed by Leo which would then allow a soul held in Purgatory (transient state between Heaven and Hell) to be released into Heaven. Basically you were paying for the soul of your mother, father, child, wife, whoever, who had died, to be sprung from Limbo.
The phrase “As soon as the coin in the coffer rings,The soul from Purgatory springs” so enraged Luther that he wrote to the Pope, decrying the practice of indulgences, and asking, quite reasonably really, why a man so incredibly wealthy as Leo X, reckoned at the time to be one of the richest men in the world, if not the richest, had to rely on the contributions of the poor to rebuild a church when he had the money to do so out of his own pocket? Instead of answering this accusation, the Pope decided to brand Luther a heretic and excommunicated him, in the same way as he would deal with England’s upstart king a decade later.
But Luther would not be so easily silenced. He saw the rot in the Catholic Church, most especially at its venerated head, and the disrespect that the man supposedly chosen by God as His agent on Earth paid to the office, and he and his followers broke with Rome, splintering into their own religion, which though still Christian would be rabidly opposed to Catholicism. It was, of course, called Protestantism. As already noted, the later heretic King Henry VIII initially defended the Pope against this blasphemer, only to find himself, perhaps not allied with Luther’s ideals so much as using them for his own expediency, but certainly on the same side as the German reformer.
This of course put the king of England on a collision course, theologically and ideologically with the Irish, but it wasn’t just esoteric concerns that upset them. Having broken with Rome, Henry now felt entitled to break up the monasteries, which were of course run by Catholic monks and abbots, and seize their assets for the Crown. This became known as “the dissolution of the monasteries”, and this was bad enough, but, perhaps unsurprisingly, he then ordered the same fate for the monasteries in Ireland. These had existed, more or less unbothered by the Crown, for centuries, and had survived invasions both Viking and Norman. The dissolution of the monasteries was a direct and very public middle finger from England to Rome, and shocked and angered the Irish, who still considered themselves mostly the Pope’s subjects. Although the dissolution of the monasteries represented a seismic shift in English royal policies, Henry’s action was neither unprecedented nor unique throughout Europe.
As the rise of Protestantism and Anglicanism, both versions of Lutheran teachings, gripped Germany and expanded outside its borders to places such as Switzerland, Holland, Scotland and even fiercely Catholic France, the idea of monasteries was slowly being eroded. Monasteries were quintessentially a Catholic, or as some preferred to call them, papist idea, and those who no longer wanted anything to do with Rome wanted all trace of their power removed from their countries. In that context, then, it’s not at all to be wondered at that Henry wished to reinforce his own power as the new Supreme Head of the Church of England, and remove the agents of the Pope. Of course, the fact that these monasteries stood on choice land and contained valuable artifacts that could be sold, or melted down, and used to fill the king’s coffers, didn’t hurt either.
However in Ireland things were different, and Henry had a much harder time putting his plan into operation. For one thing, having been for a very long time the centre of Catholicism, even when the Roman Empire held sway over the Eternal City, Ireland had a lot more monasteries, convents and friaries than England did. About twice as many, in fact. Henry’s authority in Ireland was quite nominal; though he was officially declared King of Ireland, in reality his power only extended to the area around the Pale (as discussed in a previous entry) and so in order to work his will he had to make deals with local Irish lords. This meant that the land, and the wealth of the monasteries mostly went to these compliant lords as compensation, so the Crown saw little return for its efforts. In fact, up to the time of the accession of Elizabeth, Henry’s daughter, half of the monasteries in Ireland had not been dissolved.
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|11-04-2019, 02:39 PM||#25 (permalink)|
Born to be mild
Join Date: Oct 2008
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The Revolt of Silken Thomas and the Fall of the House of Kildare
Realising that the most powerful family in Ireland at that time were the Fitzgeralds, the Earls of Kildare, Henry summoned Gearoid Og (son of already mentioned Gearoid Mor, the de facto High King Henry VII had grudgingly installed) to London and imprisoned him in the Tower. However the Englishman sent to Ireland to replace him found it an impossible task, and Gearoid Og returned home in triumph, but was summoned back to London in 1534, and this time died there. Before he left for England though, wary of the king and remembering his previous treatment, Gearoid Og left his son Thomas, Lord Offaly, in charge, warning him to ignore any summons to England and to be on his guard against the Irish Council, whom Gearoid did not trust. Thomas, Lord Offaly, is known to history as Silken Thomas.
Mindful of his father’s cautions, Silken Thomas - so called due to the finery he was purported to wear - rode to Dublin and crashed a meeting of the Irish Council, slamming down the ceremonial sword of office that marked him as vice deputy in front of the lord chancellor, and declaring his opposition to the Crown. He then massed his troops, demanding all Englishmen be expelled from Ireland and calling for allegiance to the Pope, in the process hoping for aid from Rome and from Spain, but none arrived. Once again, however, it was not the English who defeated an Irish revolt but in-fighting and score-settling among the Irish themselves. Jealous of the power of the Kildares, the Butlers saw a chance to break that dynasty and fought against Silken Thomas’s army, defeating him and sending him to England, where he was executed in 1537.
Enraged at the revolt, and sensing also a chance to break the power of the Kildares forever, with Gearoid Og and his son both dead, Henry sent a sizeable army - somewhere in the region of around two thousand men - to lay siege to the stronghold of the Kildares, Maynooth Castle, his army bringing with them artillery, the first time this had been used in Ireland. The outcome was a foregone conclusion, and the defeat of the most powerful family in Ireland was quickly accomplished. Worried that their tacit support for the rebellion might anger the king, the Irish lords moved quickly to confirm Henry as Head of the Church of Ireland.
The Kingdom of Ireland
Having no choice but to send settlers to colonise Ireland and thus regain control of the lawless land, Henry used a practice called “surrender and regrant”. What this meant was that the Irish lords would surrender their lands to the Crown, who would grant them back to them, under multiple conditions. First, and most importantly, they must swear fealty to Henry and renounce the authority of the Pope. Second, they must take English peerage titles and abandon their traditional Irish titles. They had to attend parliament, speak English and undertake English customs, live by English laws and encourage the spread of the same throughout their holdings.
In return they would be granted a royal charter to confirm their ownership of the lands, and the protection of the Crown. In 1541 Ireland was declared a kingdom, no longer just a lordship as it had been, and all its inhabitants considered subject to the English Crown. In some ways though it would be separate, with its own House of Lords and House of Commons, and its own courts. The Church of Ireland was established as the state church under Henry, and the dissolution of the monasteries was passed by a compliant Irish parliament. Nevertheless, for all their subservience, the Irish people never acceded to Protestantism and the Reformation in Ireland was pretty much a failure.
Three’s Not Company: Political Factions in Ireland
Around this time then you had three separate social and ethnic groups in Ireland, who are designated as a) the Old English, who were descendants of the original Norman settlers, b) the Old Irish, no explanation needed there and c) the New English, the settlers who arrived during Henry’s reign. Of these three groups, only the last took to the Reformation, being not only staunch Protestants but also Puritans, the toughest, most uncompromising and most hardline opponents of Catholicism (it was of course these who would later sail away from persecution in the seventeenth century to find a new life in a new world, as they departed aboard the Mayflower, bound for America, where they would become the Founding Fathers of that embryonic nation). Both the Old English and Irish clung to their old religion, devoted to the Pope, the former the richest of the three groups while also possessing the most land.
Hatred would of course erupt between the New English and their other counterparts, both English and Irish, but in 1542 the Counter-Reformation was underway and Jesuit and Franciscan monks arrived in Ireland to minister to the population, bolster the observance of the Catholic faith, and ensure forever the defeat of the Reformation in Ireland, a momentous event that left our tiny island unique in being ruled by a Protestant monarch but practicing our own religion.
The death of King Henry VIII would allow his son, Edward, to succeed him as Edward VI, but this was at age nine, and so for his six-year reign power would be in the hands of his regents the Dukes of Somerset and Northumberland. A sickly lad, he would die in 1553. England would thereafter experience fifty years of female monarchy, as the first woman to officially sit on the English throne would avenge her father’s persecution of Catholics by reversing the trend, while her sister, succeeding her, would become one of the most famous rulers in English history, and practice a more lenient attitude towards the worship of her subjects. Both would, however, impact negatively upon the history of Ireland, which would stubbornly refuse to bend the knee to the English Crown, and would pay a heavy price for her disobedience and rebellion.
Bloody Mary - Mary I (1553-1558)
Anxious that his Catholic sister Mary should not ascend the throne and undo all the reforms he and their father had instigated, Edward named Lady Jane Grey in his will, a cousin once removed, but she lasted a mere nine days after the young king’s death, when she too was put to death and Mary was crowned Queen of England and Ireland. How the Irish must have celebrated, overjoyed that a Catholic now sat on the English throne! Sadly for us, it made no difference. Mary was as unfeeling towards the “troublesome Irish” as had been her predecessors, and she went ahead with the plantation of the counties of Offaly and Laois, closest to the areas outside the Pale, determined to Anglicise Ireland once and for all.
Mary attained her dark sobriquet, however, not due to her persecution of the Irish but of her own countrymen, the Protestants of England. Once the ruling class and favoured state religion for over forty years, these were now urged to recant their beliefs or be burned at the stake for heresy, a threat she put into horrible practice. Although Mary was married to the Spanish King Philip II, he was not proclaimed as King of England, merely jure uxoris, a kind of “queen’s consort” title for a male, sort of like I assume, had America a female president, her husband would be, what, First Gentleman? Also something similar, maybe, to the position Prince Albert occupied when married to Queen Victoria later. Anyway, Philip was never King of England, merely the husband of the Queen. The close involvement, however, of the Spanish king allowed Mary to repair the relationship with Rome which had fractured under her father’s reign, and England came once again under the jurisdiction of the Pope. Tellingly though, the monasteries seized by Henry VIII were not returned to the Church.
Mary was a cruel woman. Even after he recanted his faith, having watched his brother bishops being burned alive, Archbishop Thomas Cranmer was forced to go to the stake too. The burnings of what would later become Protestant martyrs were highly unpopular, even among the Spanish, but Mary persisted with the persecution and burning of Protestants until her death in 1558.
Elizabeth I (1533-1603)
Surely one of the most famous and celebrated of England’s monarchs, and the second woman (discounting Matilda in the far past and Lady Jane Grey’s nine-day reign) to occupy the English throne, Elizabeth banished forever the idea of pure male succession in England. From her reign on (well, from Mary’s, but that was so relatively short and fraught with anger and fear that it didn’t do much to sweeten the people’s attitude towards a Queen) both men and women could be expected to rule if their claim was legitimate. Speaking of which, Elizabeth, as the daughter of Anne Boleyn, whose marriage to Henry had been annulled by the Pope, was seen as illegitimate, and proclaimed as such by Pope Pius V. More, he pronounced her a heretic, and called for all Catholics to rise up against her and overthrow her, calling her “the pretended Queen of England and the servant of crime”. He also warned that any Catholics who obeyed her or swore allegiance to her risked excommunication, absolving them from their loyalty to her and encouraging them to support her rival, Mary Queen of Scots.
In the event, the attempts by Mary’s Scottish and French supporters to dethrone or indeed assassinate Elizabeth all failed, and Mary was executed, leaving Elizabeth as the unchallenged Queen of England, and the Pope as a lasting enemy as she confirmed Protestantism as the state religion. Unlike her sister and predecessor, however, Elizabeth did not force her subjects to conform to her own religion, and allowed them to worship as they saw fit, once they swore loyalty to the Crown.
Which is, of course, where Ireland once again comes in.
Although Elizabeth took a much less hardline approach to religion than had Mary or Edward, or her father before them, she had no patience with those who tried to convert Protestants to the Catholic faith in order to draw them away from their allegiance to her, fulfilling Pius’s edict, and the missionaries that arrived in England to do just that were hunted, persecuted and executed. This naturally did not go down well in Ireland, and though Elizabeth herself, who disparagingly referred to Ireland as “that barbarous and rude country”, declared no harm would come to the Irish, she turned a blind eye (or gave tacit, plausible deniability-like approval) to the efforts of her commanders there to put down the many rebellions that sprung up against her rule, and indeed, between rival Irish families, as it had ever done.
Blood Ties, Bloodshed and Blood Oaths: Rivalries in Ireland
Two of the then most powerful Houses in Ireland were the Ormonds and the Desmonds in the south. After a failed rebellion by the Desmond Fitzgeralds in 1573, their leader, James Fitzmaurice, sailed to Europe in search of Catholic support to overthrow the heathen English. This gave the new pope, Gregory XIII, the chance to sow mischief for the heretic queen, and he promised 1000 men, at the head of whom James Fitzmaurice landed near Dingle in Kerry, bearing papal letters that exhorted the Irish and the Irish lords to defy the queen and rise up against her in the name of Rome and the Catholic faith.
Unfortunately, the pope’s men were easily outnumbered by the English forces, and they were trapped and massacred. A terrible revenge ensued, as Elizabeth’s commanders carried out a scorched-earth policy, reducing the south to a smoking wasteland as famine walked the land, all cattle and livestock having been slaughtered by the English in addition to the wholesale murder of the populace. This defeat and the ravaging of their earldom put paid to the Fitzgeralds of Munster, and like their cousins the Earls of Kildare under Henry VIII, their power was forever broken. Their lands were confiscated by the Crown and given to English settlers, as the policy of plantation took hold, something that would continue to be the English answer to subduing Ireland over the next few centuries.
Across the border though, things were very different. For anyone who may know something of Irish history and/or geography, it should be pointed out that at this time all of Ireland was one: the division we have today which created Northern Ireland and the Republic was a long way away, and the entire island of Ireland was one country, under Irish control. Ulster, the northern province, had resisted the English more fiercely than its southern cousins, and Elizabeth found it hard to break them, as almost all of Ulster was still Irish. In addition, there were no maps the English could follow that showed them what lay beyond what we now know of here as the border: none had been made, and none were encouraged obviously. Ulster was, to the English, terra incognita, as unknown and wildly terrifying as Darkest Africa - and probably as dangerous.
The ruling family in Ulster was the O’Neills, and The O’Neill was Shane, who brooked no opposition to his rule, striking from his stronghold of Tyrone and demanding fealty from every other lord. English expeditions who ventured into Ulster typically became lost, then ambushed, and were never heard from again. In an effort to come to a compromise with Shane, the queen invited him to London, where he was made a Captain of Tyrone, but on his return, as he attacked other lordships, he was defeated by an alliance of his enemies and killed. However, his successor would go on to be one of the most famous and dangerous men in Irish history.
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|11-04-2019, 02:42 PM||#26 (permalink)|
Born to be mild
Join Date: Oct 2008
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Hugh O’Neill and the Nine Years War: Ulster Stands Alone
Banished at an early age from Ulster by Shane O’Neill, who feared his claim to the lordship of Tyrone, Hugh was brought up at the English Court, and was in fact made Earl of Tyrone in absentia. Though he had lived his adolescence in England, Hugh hated the English and their occupation of his native land, and planned a rebellion, which would in fact turn into a war. He waited his chance, and when Shane O’Neill was killed and then succeeded by Turlough Luimneach, he became The O’Neill on Turlough’s death in 1595.
When the lord of Fermanagh, Hugh Maguire, fought back against English incursions into his land, he was aided by Red Hugh O’Donnell (no, I don’t know why so many people were called Hugh in Ulster: must have been a Nordy thing, as we say here in the south) and eventually he would form an alliance with O’Neill as they took on the English together. As The O’Neill, and also Earl of Tyrone, Hugh had the clout to enlist Scottish warriors, Irish mercenaries and even Spanish aid from Philip II. However he did not at first show his hand so early, siding with the Englishman chosen to impose the authority of the Crown on Ulster, Sir Henry Bagenal. There was bad blood between the two men, as Hugh had abducted Sir Henry’s sister and married her without his consent. She had later died, some say as a result of a broken heart over the infidelities of Hugh, who seems to have become bored and uninterested in her once he had accomplished his adventure. In time, these two men would face off against each other, but for now they were allies, if uneasy ones.
The execution of The MacMahon in Monaghan, along with the seizing of other counties by the English invasion force pushed more and more Irish chieftains into opposition against Bagenal, and Hugh O’Neill, realising that Queen Elizabeth had no intention of granting him any royal commission that would give him power in Ulster - he had hoped or expected to be named Lord President - switched sides, deciding that his loyalty to his homeland was stronger than his ambition, at least as far as English rule went. Besieging the English castle at Monaghan, O’Neill engaged his erstwhile ally as Bagenal marched to its defence. The two-day Battle of Clontibret was the first major defeat for England in the Nine Years War, and demonstrated that Hugh O’Neill was a capable commander, a charismatic leader and a focal point for Irish resistance, and an enemy to be respected and feared.
Only a few hundred are known to have perished in the Battle of Clontibret, but the next time Bagenal and O’Neill clashed it would be much different, and only one would survive to tell the tale. A mere three years later O’Neill had again besieged an English fort, this time Lord Deputy Thomas Burgh’s one on the River Blackwater, and Bagenal, after some argument with the authorities at Dublin Castle, marched to relieve it. O’Neill gathered his forces, pulling in reinforcements from Red Hugh O’Donnell, whom he had previously been hunting with Bagenal. The English learned too late there was a very good reason why they hadn’t ventured too far into Ulster: the territory. It was hilly, rocky, mucky and provided little cover. The Ulstermen knew it intimately, the English were completely out of their depth. Cue ambush after ambush, and a major victory scored for the Irish in the Battle of Yellow Ford, wherein Sir Henry was killed by the man who had originally come back to Ulster as his ally.
Significantly, and as was to prove the case for centuries to come, the southern Irish did not support O’Neill, though he requested their help to push the Protestants out of Ireland. Their shared religious belief was not enough to overcome their aversion to the “wild Irish” and they still considered themselves at heart English, and loyal to the Crown. However, the aid of the Spanish raised the stakes for Elizabeth, who could not afford to allow Philip to gain a foothold in Ireland, a staging post from which he could launch an invasion of England, and so the repression of the Irish rebellion in Ulster - now a war really, hence the name - was stepped up and more commanders sent in to pacify, and destroy the resistance.
Not by any means for the first, nor the last time, did old enmities, bribes and pure enlightened self-interest among the Irish families lead to their defeat. After the Earl of Sussex had returned in disgrace to London, having failed to achieve his and Elizabeth’s objective even with 17,000 men, command of the English forces was given to Lord Mountjoy, who proved a more savage prosecutor of the war against the Irish, making great gains in Leinster and Ulster. He bought off though one of the major Irish chieftains, Finghin MacCarthy, who promised to remain neutral and therefore did not respond to Hugh O’Neill’s demand for reinforcements for James Fitzmaurice Fitzgerald of Munster, leaving the earl on his own to face Mountjoy, and soon to be defeated. MacCarthy got his though, as the treacherous English repaid his collaboration by arresting him along with Fitzgerald and putting both to death, thereby effectively ending resistance in the south.
In Ulster, now standing alone, Mountjoy continued to advance, his army now all but unstoppable, driving O’Neill and his forces back. But Hugh was waiting for his allies from Spain to arrive, which they did in 1601. Like the original Spanish armada though, this fleet of ships fell foul of the temperamental English weather and was scattered, a third of the six thousand troops having to return to Spain. The remaining 4000 landed at Kinsale and dug in to await the arrival of O’Neill, and the final battle.
The Battle of Kinsale (1600)
Hearing of the landing of the Spanish, Mountjoy rode to besiege them, and O’Neill, reluctant to venture into enemy territory in the south, delayed his march from his stronghold as autumn turned to a particularly bad winter. Finally realising that if he let the now surrounded Spanish force be defeated, further aid from Spain would dry up, O’Neill marched to face the English and help his allies, who were at this point in a bad way, most of their arms and ammunition having been taken back to home port on the ships that had had to turn back during the storms.
But in the freezing and wet winter weather, as Christmas Eve 1600 approached, and the forces of O’Neill and O’Donnell arrived at Kinsale, it was obvious things were not going to go their way. Far from home, on unfamiliar territory and without the cover of their beloved bogs and forests of Ulster, the Irishmen were easy prey for the English cavalry and artillery, and they and the Spanish were routed in the final pitched battle between Irish and English for another several hundred years. The Spanish, surrendering while unaware that reinforcements from their king were already on the high seas, were allowed return home with honour. The fleet due to join them, on hearing of the defeat at Kinsale, also turned and headed home. Spain would no longer involve herself in Irish military affairs.
The Flight of the Earls and the End of Free Ireland
Broken, beaten and in disarray, the two main leaders of the rebellion fled, O’Donnell to Spain where he died a few months later, O’Neill back to Ulster where he fought on in what was becoming a hopeless war, and in which he admitted defeat in 1603, signing the Treaty of Mellifont in which he swore fealty to the Crown. English anger at the lenient terms allowed him and the other rebel lords forced him and Red Hugh O’Donnell’s father, Rory, The MacHugh of Fermanagh and other Irish lords to take a ship out of Ireland for Spain, in the hope of raising an army to retake their homeland. This became known in Irish history as “The Flight of the Earls.”
Blown off-course on their way to Spain, the earls landed instead in France, from whence they made their way to Rome, but though they were welcomed no monarch was willing to lend them military support, either in fear of the might of the victorious English army, or out of political necessity, unwilling to make an enemy of a country with whom they were not currently at war. Add in the fact, not inconsiderable, that after nine years of conflict the greatest chieftain in Ireland had been roundly defeated by the English, and a new offensive under his leadership seemed doomed to fail. Who, after all, backs the losing horse again?
So none of the earls ever saw Ireland again, living and dying in self-imposed exile, while the country they left behind, leaderless now, fell to the merciless English sword. Ulster was planted, settlers from Scotland and England, all Protestant of course, encouraged to move onto the land and build upon it, the native Irish reduced to little more than slaves. Thus did Ulster become almost an outpost of England, which it still is today, but more on that later.
Elizabeth did not live to see the eventual defeat of Ireland, dying in March of 1603, only six days before O’Neill’s surrender, and succeeded by her cousin Mary’s son, James VI of Scotland, who then became James I of England. It was however through her efforts that Ireland was subdued, even if James reaped the rewards of such a successful campaign.
Ireland’s last gasps of resistance died in the Battle of Breifne, where Brian Og O’Rourke was defeated by his half-brother Tadhg, aided by Henry Folliot and Rory O’Donnell (who would later flee Ireland with O’Neill and MacHugh and the other earls), bringing at last all of Ireland under undisputed and unchallenged English rule.
To paraphrase H.G. Wells: Ireland belonged to the English.
Trollheart: Signature-free since April 2018
|11-05-2019, 09:51 AM||#27 (permalink)|
midnite roles around
Join Date: Sep 2015
Location: Raleigh, NC
YW Fam: All MB Music Projects Under One Roof
Emo/Pop Punk Journal
|11-18-2020, 07:54 PM||#29 (permalink)|
Born to be mild
Join Date: Oct 2008
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(Other than at football, rugby, cricket, healthcare, decent wages, and of course being invaded. We're fucking champions at being invaded!)
Chapter VII: Under the English Heel, Part I: New Kingdoms for Old
Timeline: 1603 - 1658
On the death of Elizabeth in 1603 the son of her cousin, Mary Queen of Scots, James, who had reigned as King James VI in Scotland, became James I of England, uniting all three realms - England, Scotland and Ireland - under one monarch, and thus becoming James I, King of England and Ireland. Although as a Protestant he was initially tolerant towards Catholics, even Irish Catholics, the Gunpowder Plot of Guy Fawkes, Robert Catesby and other rebellious English Catholics hardened his attitude towards those not of his faith (and therefore seen as disloyal) and in accordance with this new policy he accelerated the policy of plantation of Ireland begun by his predecessor.
The idea of plantation was basically not only just colonisation but also control. Grants were given to families - always noble ones of course, and loyal ones too - mostly in Scotland and England, who would settle the land in Ireland and swear allegiance to the king. They were abjured to speak only English, follow the Protestant faith and assist in breaking the control of Irish lords over the country. With the Flight of the Earls in 1607 there was little left to stand against English rule of the country, and the most fiercely Irish and resistant of the provinces was singled out for special attention, plantation that would forever change the northern half of Ireland, and lead to the state of affairs we have today.
The Plantation of Ulster
Spearheaded by the Lord Deputy of Ireland, Sir Arthur Chichester, the Plantation of Ulster involved confiscation of their traditional and ancestral lands from Irish chieftains, these including the strongholds of the exiled earls of Ulster, the Irish reduced to little more than serfs on land which had once been theirs. Six counties were to be planted in all - Cavan, Fermanagh, Derry (renamed to Londonderry), Donegal, Tyrone and Armagh. In time these would become the “six counties” of Northern Ireland and be under British control and rule, while the other twenty-six counties south of the border would become the Free State and later the Republic of Ireland, as is the situation today.
The new landowners were forbidden to rent land to Irish tenants or employ Irish workers, and had to ensure their new settlements were protected against Irish rebellion. They were also banned from selling land to Irish people. Unsurprisingly, all the lands previously owned by the powerful Catholic Church was granted to the Protestant Church of Ireland, in the hope that the population could be converted and the power of the Church of Ireland stretch across Ireland. In general this did not happen, due mostly to the language barrier. Protestant English and Scottish clerics spoke only English, while the population of Ulster were all native Irish speakers. The plantation itself also suffered from many setbacks, some of these being due to the English casting their net too wide.
Around this time the first permanent English colony had been established in America, the plantation town of Jamestown in Virginia, and many of the guilds and firms who had intended to support and finance the Ulster Plantation by investing capital and infrastructure in Ireland decided instead to sink their money into opportunities in the New World. Many of the settlers, too, originally keen to colonise Ulster, changed their minds and headed over the Atlantic. As surely must have been expected by James and his ministers, the plantation of Ulster did nothing to quell anti-English sentiment among the native Irish; in fact, it fuelled and fanned the flames, and led, inevitably - though not in his reign - to rebellion. Again.
Don’t Lose Your Head, Your Majesty: Charles, Cromwell and the Irish Confederate Wars
Distraught and angry at their fall, Catholic lords petitioned the new king, Charles I, for the restoration of their lands and right to worship, in what were known as The Graces. Put off by Charles, the lords then attempted a coup by taking Dublin Castle, the seat of English rule in Ireland, but failed. They worried that an invasion of Ireland was coming, as Scottish and English Parliamentarians, impatient with the weakness of the king, drew England closer to civil war and into what would become known as The War of the Three Kingdoms. No, it’s not the latest volume in A Song of Ice and Fire: this one was real, and involved, well, three kingdoms: England, Scotland and Ireland. Ireland’s contribution to it would be known as the Eleven Years’ War.
Bad harvests, poor weather and spiralling interest rates all helped to create a crucible in which dispossessed Irish nobles and even peasants heated the steel of rebellion, and given that it had been so heavily planted, and had been the most aggressive opponent of English rule, it’s no surprise that the leaders of the rebellion came from Ulster. Hugh (yeah, another one!) Og MacMahon and Conor Maguire planned to take Dublin Castle, while confederates Pheilim O’Neill and Rory O’Moore were charged with taking Derry and northern towns in Ulster. As usual though, it was a traitor who sold them out, and MacMahon and Maguire were arrested.
O’Neill and O’Moore did better though, taking several forts in the north and calling on all of Ireland to join them, most of which did, provoking a disproportionate response from the English, who sent troops in to massacre the populations of Wicklow and Cork, though the rebellion had been planned as, and mostly succeeded as, bloodless. In Ulster, rebels rose with a vengeance and descended on the hated settlers, vowing “We rise for our religion. They hang our priests in England!” The intended bloodless coup/rebellion quickly spun out of control, with more and more people now killed rather than just being beaten up and robbed, and horrible massacres in Ulster, including at Portadown, Armagh and in Kilmore, where not even children escaped being burned alive by the Irish. As ever, there were atrocities on both sides, as settlers fought back and often took the initiative, taking the fight to the Irish, and it’s hard to say who was the more savage or inhuman.
The Enemy of My Enemy: Charles I (1600-1649)
After five hundred years of resentment against the English invader and later occupier, and standing against a total of twenty-one monarchs of England, why did the Old English - and the Irish lords themselves - decide to ally themselves to the Protestant king of England in 1642? To answer that question, we need to look a little into the way Charles I governed, married and indeed how he was perceived by his people, especially parliament.
Second son of James I, Charles succeeded to the throne on the death of his father in 1625, the previous claimant, his elder brother Henry Frederick having died thirteen years previously at the ripe old age of eighteen. Wishing to emulate the absolute monarchs of Spain and France, Charles demanded the divine right of kings be conferred upon him. In essence, this was an ancient belief that the power of a monarch was given to him directly by God, and so as a result he was subject to no authority on Earth. In effect, he could do what he liked, pass what laws he wanted, raise or lower taxes, wage war, all without needing the consent of parliament. But England had been a constitutional monarchy since 1217, when Magna Carta delineated and imposed restrictions on monarchs, and parliament, unsurprisingly, was reluctant to lose the power it held: the king or queen basically had to request funds for wars from parliament, and if they disagreed, no dice. In this way, King Henry V was prevented/counselled to avoid war with France in 1414, before finally being fronted the funds to pursue his claim to the French throne.
Charles had also alienated many in court and almost all of parliament by marrying a French princess, a Catholic, and by watering down (perhaps at the insistence/request of his wife, perhaps not) the stringent rules governing Protestant worship in England and Scotland. He angered the Scots by trying to impose his own diluted Anglican religion upon the fiercely Presbyterian northerners, and drew the ire of Oliver Cromwell, then a mere Member of Parliament but vehemently and zealously opposed to the king’s rule and religion, and who would later command the armies who would oppose and eventually defeat him in the English Civil War.
Because the parliament, and Cromwell in particular, a rising figure therein, were so hardline Protestant - he was a Puritan and so were many of them, regarding all Catholics as heretics - the Old English and the Irish feared what might happen - what surely would happen - should the parliamentarians, or roundheads, be victorious in the Civil War. They therefore allied themselves to Charles and his Cavaliers, the Old English deciding that siding with other Catholics, or at least non-Puritans, even if they were their old adversaries the Irish, was the best and safest policy. Of course, this meant they had technically chosen the wrong side, but the chances are that no matter who won the English Civil War, it would not have ended well for Ireland.
The outbreak of the English Civil War in October 1642 provided the embattled Irish some breathing space as troops were recalled to England to fight for Charles against Parliament and the forces of Oliver Cromwell. They set up the Irish Confederacy, with its headquarters in Kilkenny, and with little opposition now, they retook and ruled most of Ireland, though they spent three years in pointless negotiations with the English, leading up to the arrival of a victorious Cromwell in 1649. The new Lord Protector, having presided over the defeat and execution of the king himself, and the abolition of the monarchy and establishment of the English republic, was in no mood to play games.
Trollheart: Signature-free since April 2018
|11-18-2020, 08:04 PM||#30 (permalink)|
Born to be mild
Join Date: Oct 2008
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The Devil is an Englishman: Cromwell in Ireland
Not only a Protestant but a Puritan, the worst kind for Catholics, Oliver Cromwell took effective reign over England December 16 1653, declaring himself not king but Lord Protector, and the realm now a republic, the Commonwealth of England, Scotland and Ireland. Concerned over the possibility of a Catholic uprising in Ireland, led by the defeated Royalists who had allied with the Irish there, and also as part of a commitment already made during the Irish Rebellion of 1641, Cromwell took a large army across the Irish Sea to subdue Ireland once and for all.
It’s good to note (sarcasm detector overloading!) that good old financial imperatives also played a part in the invasion and subsequent conquest of Ireland. Over ten million pounds had been borrowed by Parliament to put down the Irish Rebellion, and that money was to be repaid by the granting of land seized from Irish lords. Rumblings of discontent in the army since the end of the Civil War didn’t help, so soldiers needed something else to apply their attention to. Last and possibly most unfortunate for the Irish was the fact that Cromwell, a rabid Puritan, considered all Catholics to be heretics, making the invasion of Ireland a personal and religious crusade for him and his followers.
There would be no mercy, and even today, while Cromwell is feted in England (despite being the only man in history responsible for the execution of a sitting English king) he is a figure of hatred in Ireland, remembered for his brutality, his intransigence and his contempt for the Irish people.
England’s Shame: the Massacres at Drogheda and Wexford
After the Battle of Rathmines was quickly and decisively lost by the Irish, the port of Dublin was open to Cromwell’s invasion force, and he duly landed on August 15 1649 and proceeded to Drogheda, another coastal town and an important port for resupplying his troops. Having ordered the garrison there to surrender, and been rebuffed, Cromwell laid siege to the town. Note: in a weird aside I’ve just discovered that one of the commanders of the defenders of Drogheda was called Colonel Wall, while a corresponding commander in the New Model Army was called Colonel Castle! Castle, Wall, and they were besieging a walled fort? How weird is that? But back to the slaughter.
Drogheda was taken in a matter of hours, (on September 11: go figure, huh?) and though prisoners were promised they would be spared if they surrendered, Cromwell, probably with the atrocities (as he would have seen it) of the murdered settlers who perished at Irish hands in the 1641 Rebellion in mind, gave no quarter and ordered his men to kill everyone. Churches were looted and burned, houses ransacked, rapine and murder both condoned and approved. Sir Arthur Aston, in command of the garrison and a staunch Roman Catholic, was reportedly bludgeoned to death with his own wooden leg. Soldiers who took refuge in a church were burned to death, some of them killed as they rushed from the flames, while another two hundred or so who had retreated into two towers were killed or shipped as slaves to the West Indies. The heads of sixteen officers were cut off and placed on spikes along the road to Dublin, and any clergy within the town were clubbed to death by the English soldiers.
It’s not known, but surely is likely, that many civlilans as well as defenders of the town were killed. Though no accounts verify this, if you put yourself in the boots of an English soldier who has just won a hard-fought victory and been told to “give no quarter” to the defenders, and given that these were men whose blood was up and who, also, believed all Catholics to be heretics, then it doesn’t appear to me that they were going to make too many distinctions between armed men and defenceless ones, or indeed women, or possibly even children. Certainly, taking Cromwell’s anger at the casualties he suffered taking the town, his hated of Ireland and Catholics, his fury that these upstart “barbarous wretches” should have supported the now-dead king, and remembering the massacres of 1641, I doubt there can be much reason to suppose he was able to, or wanted to, separate the two.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, and without any real evidence to back such figures up, Irish Catholic sources claimed, over a hundred years later, that four thousand civilians had been executed by Cromwell’s troops and called it “unparalleled savagery and treachery beyond any slaughterhouse”. Regardless, what happened at Drogheda was certainly close to a war crime, and is remembered here in Ireland as such, one of the many reasons that the name of Oliver Cromwell is spat on and reviled even today. It had the desired effect at the time, though, of demoralising and terrifying the Irish, who fled or surrendered without any resistance at both Trim and Dundalk. But Cromwell was not finished yet.
On October 2 he arrived at the fortified town of Wexford, and began to lay siege to it. Most of the defenders, having heard of the atrocities practiced in Drogheda, wanted to surrender, but the garrison commander, Colonel David Sinnot, also Governor of the town, played for time, stringing out the negotiations as he demanded such concessions as freedom of worship, amnesty for the town’s defenders and protection for the fleet of privateers who were anchored there.
In Cromwell’s defence, what happened next does not seem to be attributable to him. While still negotiating the town’s surrender he witnessed his troops storm the walls, when Captain Stafford, in charge of the defence of Wexford Castle, surrendered the fort and all hell broke loose. As the English swarmed over the walls, the defenders panicked and ran. Pursued by the victorious New Model Army, they were slaughtered indiscriminately, despite a surviving letter from Cromwell to Sinnot which promised safe passage for his people. Sinnot himself was captured and hanged. Once again, civilians were murdered along with soldiers, and clergy were specifically targeted. The port was burned, making the harbour unusable, causing problems for the English. However, while we can’t blame Cromwell for this particular massacre, let it also be noted that afterwards he took no action against his commanders for acting (apparently) without or against his orders, and even justified the killing by once again invoking the memory of 1641 when he said “They were made with their blood to answer for the cruelties they had exercised upon diverse poor Protestants”.
Cromwell’s next target was the nearby town of Waterford. Oddly enough, given that Protestants had been forcibly expelled from here, and that the Catholic synod of Bishops which threatened excommunication to any Catholic who supported the Irish Confederacy was based here, no massacre occurred. The town was besieged, but it took two attempts over a period of almost a year, combined with the effects of hunger and a rampant plague thought to be a resurgence of the Black Death to accomplish the defeat of the town. Its commander, soldiers and civilians were all allowed to leave without any harm coming to them, and perhaps this might have been Cromwell deciding enough blood had been shed, and that his continued rampage through town after Irish town might, rather than instil fear and surrender in the Irish, raise hackles and give cause for more strenuous resistance.
He went on to take the former Irish Confederate capital of Kilkenny, as well as Clonmel. Both towns held out but eventually surrendered, and again were treated honourably. A mutiny in Cork by their former allies ended resistance in Munster, and with the death of Owen Rua O’Neill Ulster quickly fell too, leaving only the west coast of Ireland holding out. Both the cities of Limerick and Galway proved hard, even impossible to take, but hunger and disease accomplished what force or arms could not, and the cities both fell in 1651. Cromwell had left Ireland the year before to fight the third English Civil War, secure in the knowledge that he had achieved what nobody before him had, and subdued Ireland entirely, from north to south and east to west, to the English, well, not Crown, not now, but to English rule.
Life under Cromwell
Back home and in his role as Lord Protector of England, Scotland and Ireland, Cromwell was not slow to punish his defeated enemy. He passed the Act of Settlement in 1652, which prohibited Catholics from being members of the Irish parliament. Anyone who had taken part in the 1641 Rebellion was executed, and Catholics were banned from living in towns. Priests and clergy were hunted throughout the country, executed when captured. Land was confiscated from all Catholic landowners and given to the creditors who had financed Cromwell’s campaign. Many of the former owners of these lands were forcibly removed to less arable lands in Connaught and Clare, those that remained were to serve their English masters. A combination of famine, the Black Death and a scorched-earth policy by English commanders had reduced Ireland to almost a wasteland, where scratching a miserable living was about all any Irish person could expect, and many of the soldiers left to fight in France and Spain.
What Cromwell did accomplish through his policies was the near-eradication of the Catholic Church in Ireland (though it would of course return, far stronger and unable to be again toppled after his death) and the elimination of the Catholic landowner class. Over time, history would come to refer to the new landowning Protestant class in Ireland as the Protestant Ascendancy, though their holdings would eventually shrink, to be confined to Ulster and what is today known as Northern Ireland. He more or less successfully abolished the popular use of the Irish language, ensuring only English was spoken, as it is today in all but the most remote and rural parts of Ireland. Ulster, which had resisted the influence of towns and villages brought to Ireland by the Normans, became urbanised, as did the rest of Ireland, and her resources - mostly wood from the many forests and peat from the even more numerous bogs - were plundered, changing the entire landscape of the island.
Cromwell died in 1658, a mere six years left to him to enjoy his success in taming Ireland. He was succeeded as Lord Protector by his son Richard, but his tenure did not last and it wasn’t long after that before the exiled son of the king, Charles II, was invited back to England to take his rightful place on the throne, and the monarchy was restored.
But if the Irish thought their troubles were over with Cromwell’s death, well, perhaps they had consumed one Guinness too many...
Trollheart: Signature-free since April 2018