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Old 01-17-2021, 07:11 PM   #51 (permalink)
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Old 03-12-2021, 07:43 PM   #52 (permalink)
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Old 05-25-2021, 10:28 AM   #53 (permalink)
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Chapter IX: Under the English Heel, Part III:
Settling Old Scores - Catholics, Celts and the Crown



This Land is (no longer) your land: the Continuing Disenfranchisement of Ireland’s Catholics

Timeline: 1701-1741

Orwell once wrote, if you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on an upturned face forever, and in some ways this must have been how it felt to be Irish - or at least, native and Catholic Irish - for centuries. The over-arching title of this section has been “Under the English Heel”, and indeed that’s how it was. Apart from sporadic risings, rebellions and joining occasional forces with England’s enemies in the hope of kicking His or Her Majesty’s troops and settlers off our island, we remained under English, later British control, rule and law until well into the twentieth century, and like most occupiers, the English were not soft and pleasant masters. Burning enmity between the two schisms of the Christian Church - for which we cannot only blame Luther, as all his accusations were mostly based on truth, but a succession of power-hungry popes too, and a Vatican that seemed more interested in shoring up its power and filling up its coffers than tending to the needs of its flock - meant that whoever was in power would ensure to put down and repress the other, and for hundreds of years, even under the odd Catholic monarch, or at least those nominally tolerant of Catholicism, we Irish were seen as lower life forms, heretics and peasants, an underclass to be kept down almost in the same way a failed painter from Vienna would one day see the Jews.

Not that I’m attempting to equate Irish occupation with the Holocaust, of course. Many, many Irish may have died in the various uprisings, wars, and under the oppressive regimes that characterised successive occupants of the English throne, but at least there was no mass genocide practiced on the Irish people. Well, unless you count the famines, which we will come to in due course. The point though I’m trying to make here is that for the Irish, life under an English king or queen was never going to be easy, never going to be profitable and never going to be tolerant, which is why full independence was the only way Erin’s sons would ever get out from under the boot of the British. It would, however, take another two hundred years before this would finally be accomplished, and we could, in theory - in the South at least - wave a not-so-fond farewell to the agents of the Crown.

But at the beginning of the eighteenth century, as noted in the closing lines of the previous chapter, we were still well and truly all but slaves. The Plantation of Ulster had ensured that power lay in the hands of Protestants, and with the Flight of the Wild Geese in 1691, nobody was left to fight for the Catholic cause, nobody would raise the flag for Ireland, except vaguely in exile, most of which attempts would come to nothing.

The Art of (Reneging on) the Deal

Nobody, least of all myself, would venture to suggest that all Irish - or even any Irish - were fine, upstanding citizens, to whom the mere suggestion of breaking their word was anathema. Nobody is a paragon. Everyone lies, everyone cheats, everyone breaks promises. This is doubly applicable to politics, and not unknown to kings either. However the duplicity of the English Crown after the Battle of Limerick was, to put it mildly, appalling. Having promised, in the Treaty of Limerick, certain concessions to the Irish Catholics, the Protestant-controlled Parliament threw almost all of these undertakings out, and set about making Irish Catholics the worst treated creatures in their native country, hoping, in the end, to destroy and eliminate once and for all the religion they saw as heretical, and opposed to the Crown.

With the ordination of bishops prohibited, no new priests could be installed to replace those killed or who had fled during the pogroms following the burst of anti-Catholic sentiment resulting from the Great Fire in 1666. No new clergy were allowed enter the country from abroad, and as Catholics were banned from attending school, either in Ireland or abroad, the future looked bleak for Irish Catholicism. More stringent and harsher Penal Laws passed in England led to the eventual direct rule from Westminster of Ireland, meaning the King and his Parliament could, if they wished and if it was expedient or profited them, overrule any laws passed by its counterpart in Ireland.

Meanwhile, the conquered island became the breadbasket of England, or perhaps it might be more accurate to say it became its supply depot, as the land was stripped of its lush forests to supply His Majesty’s Navy with timber, its food produce - pork, butter, cheese, beef etc - going to feed the sailors and also supply the rest of England as well as its colonies in the West Indies, all of which would inevitably lead to the first, but sadly not the last, Great Famine in Ireland. There would be, of course, little to no sympathy across the water for the starving millions in Ireland, as the Catholics were universally despised and reviled by the English, and no help would ever be forthcoming from those who had much (mostly due to the hard and badly-paid work of the poor Irish Catholics) for those who had little, or indeed nothing. To some degree, whether it’s true or not, you would have to wonder how many tears might have been shed had the entire Catholic population of Ireland starved to death? Not many, I would venture to suggest.

Of course, had the grinding, stamping boot been on the other foot, there’s no doubt that the result would have been the same. If somehow the positions had been reversed and it had been England suffering from starvation and want, I somehow doubt that my ancestors would have been piling food into boats to send to them. No, more as a matter of circumstance than anything else, these two factions hated and loathed each other, and the one would have been happy to have seen the other disappear from the face of the earth, enemies to the end of time it would appear. Talk about Arabs and Israelis! They ain’t got nothing on the hatred between the Irish and the English.

Some Catholic landowners did convert to Protestantism, if only to avoid losing their lands, but would always been looked on (and down) as mere “converts” and sneered at by the Ascendancy, who would never consider them part of its august assembly. Most though clung to their religion and thereby lost their lands, their rights to own property, their and their children’s right to an education, and the right to worship, though how strongly reprisals against masses and so forth were prosecuted I don’t know. In Cromwell’s time, yes; after him, not so sure they wanted to waste the energy, and anyway, they had a ready-made slave labour class here, so why try to change it?
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Old 05-25-2021, 10:36 AM   #54 (permalink)
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Intermission: Catholic England? The Trouser Serpent Enters Eden

Here I’d like to diverge slightly away from the timeline, and look back to see how things could have been different, for Ireland and for England. What I’ll propose here will of course be simplistic and I’m sure there are plenty of valid reasons for the hatreds between our two countries, but it can’t be denied that the biggest bone of contention - even when England left a remnant of its eight-hundred-year occupation behind it to stagger through almost into the twenty-first century - between us has been religion.

So, the question becomes: what if England had remained Catholic?

It’s not as crazy a question, I think, as it seems. England had been, after all, staunchly Catholic for thousands of years, if only because up to then there was only Catholicism in Christianity. It was the early fifteenth century that saw the rise of Martin Luther and what would become known as Protestantism, which slowly spread across Europe, but England resisted it, even to the point of its then king, Henry VIII, writing in vigorous defence of Catholicism and denouncing Luther, earning him the title Fidei Defensor, or Defender of the Faith, bestowed upon him by a grateful Pope Leo X. Remember, at this point England was a world power, and the pope would have been concerned had its king turned against him. Of course, later that’s exactly what he did (though not specifically against the Pope himself, but against his allies) but that’s history and here we’re considering an alternate timeline.

Henry’s problem with Catholicism - or more properly, the Pope - was that the Bishop of Rome refused to annul or make invalid his marriage to Catherine of Aragon in order to allow him marry Anne Boleyn. There were of course many reasons for this, not least among them being that Catherine was the aunt of Charles V of Spain, the Holy Roman Emperor and an important ally of the then pope, Clement VII, the sanctity of marriage (the moreso between a king and his wife) within the Catholic Church, and the possibility of disinheriting and effectively bastardising Catherine’s daughter Mary, who would be next in line to the throne.

So Henry decided, after trying to cajole, force or trick the pope into annulling the marriage, he didn’t need him. He would do it himself, and so, like a child annoyed at the rules of the game and making his own game, taking his ball and going home, Henry VIII of England set himself up as head of his own religion, his own breakaway faction from the Church, following (mostly, or as far as it benefited him to do so) the precepts of the fledgling Protestant movement being taught and disseminated by Martin Luther, thereby creating the Church of England and making England a Protestant country.

But consider: what if the pope had allowed the annulment? Yes, the historical ramifications would have been huge - Queen Mary, known to history as “Bloody Mary” for her persecution of Protestants when she came to power - would never have ruled, and her sister, Elizabeth, would have ascended the throne unopposed, rather than, as she was, seen throughout her reign by Catholics - the pope especially - as a bastard and a Protestant usurper. Plots to dethrone or assassinate her would not have been hatched, and in all likelihood, England might have been stronger against its enemies, being a cohesive, truly united kingdom.

Apart from the Scots, of course. Damn Scots! They ruined Scotland!

Meanwhile, Ireland might not have been such a prize, or, if it was, might have acceded more readily to a king who followed the same religion as them. Much of the opposition to England’s invasion and occupation and rule of Ireland was that it was performed under the banner of Protestantism, the Anglican Protestantism taught by and compulsorily required by the Church of England. Irish Catholics feared the erosion, even destruction of their faith, and so fought with everything they had against this foreign oppressor. But had Henry got what he wanted from the pope, it’s highly unlikely England would have changed religions. Up until the time of the “king’s great matter” as they referred to his pending demand for divorce or annulment of his marriage to Catherine, Protestants and Lutherans in England were seen as heretics, and imprisoned, tortured and burned with the full approval and knowledge of the king. It was only when Henry began to see - or be shown, by men like Thomas Cromwell and Thomas Cranmer, who had much to gain by swaying His Majesty’s allegiances their way - that allowing, even embracing and finally insisting on Luther’s new anti-Rome religion could help him to get what he needed that he broke with Rome.

Though there were plenty of Protestants in England at the time, and many at Henry’s court, before the “great matter” (or before the king met Anne Boleyn) none of them would have admitted it, for to be branded a follower of Luther was to repudiate the Catholic Church, seen at the time as the only Church, and Luther’s ideas as heretical and nothing more than the ramblings of a sect or cult leader, and that was punishable by death, usually very painful death. Henry’s about-turn in accepting Protestantism was motivated purely by his own lust and his desire to get his own way, and set in motion by the refusal of the pope to grant this.

So had Henry either been able to keep it in his pants, or convince the pope that kicking Catherine to the kerb was the best policy, England might now still be a Catholic country, and everything from the Famine to the Rising and right up to the Troubles need never have happened.

The first and only time I have heard of in history where a man set up an entire religion and his people were later persecuted, imprisoned, burned and hanged because the king wanted to get his end away. Well, technically he could do that anyway, but since Durex would not be invented for about another four hundred years, he wanted to make sure any sprogs his new bit of totty dropped were legitimate heirs, especially if he hit the jackpot and got a son.
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Old 05-25-2021, 01:39 PM   #55 (permalink)
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Fragmentation of Faith: Schisms within the Schism

However, he did and so we end up with the situation we now have, which makes it necessary, even important that we look into the basics of Luther’s rebellion against Rome, which we have already detailed, but more importantly, how the divisions and cracks appeared in the alternative to Catholicism, and how, obviously, they affected Ireland.

See, this is what I find so stupid about religion. Invent a new one and you can be guaranteed that of those who join up, some at least will have an issue with something within your religion. It might be a minor sticking point, or it might be a fundamental basic tenet, but nobody is going to agree with everything your religion stands for. And as invariably happens in such cases, the chances are they’ll start their own version, probably taking what they like from yours and leaving behind the things they don’t agree with.

Thus it was with Protestantism, originally called Lutheranism. It quickly split into… right. Hmmm.

It is indeed like a minefield out there. Ask about the divisions in Protestantism and you can get everything from Baptists and Quakers to Wesleyans and Methodists. But a lot of them are American-based, and as we’re only concerned here with Ireland and England - and to some lesser extent, Scotland, I’m going to try to concentrate on the branches that refer to or impact on them.

Lutheranism, is of course the granddaddy of them all, named for the man who started it, Martin Luther. Now the word Protestant of course refers to someone who protests against something, in this case the Church of Rome and the Pope, so I think it’s possible (though I’m open to being corrected) that you can equate the two. When Henry VIII decided to embrace Protestantism (Lutheran teachings) for his own political and personal benefits, and made himself head of the Church of England, the state religion was Anglican Protestantism (I assume that refers to its being English). From what I read - and my recent watching of the series The Tudors, which of course may be rife with historical inaccuracies but I think gets the religion part right - Anglicanism was basically a sort of “poor man’s Catholicism”, retaining many of the trappings, including mass, hymns, statues and recognition of the sacraments, while flatly and outright denying any authority from Rome over its church (the whole point, after all, of setting the damn thing up in the first place).


John Calvin, father of Calvinism

In Scotland you had Presbyterianism, from presbyter, or elder, which was and is the state church of the country. I’m unsure about the differences between it and Anglicanism, so I’m just going to drop this direct quote from Wiki in here, which may or may not clarify it. Presbyterian theology typically emphasizes the sovereignty of God, the authority of the Scriptures, and the necessity of grace through faith in Christ. Right. All nice and clear then. What about other offshoots from, as it were, the main tree? Well there’s also Calvinism, named for John Calvin, who started the whole thing off north of the border. Calvinism appears to be… the wellspring of Presbyterianism. D’oh! Now I’m totally confused.

Let’s see if we can sort this out. Basically Anglican Protestants - the Church of England - had (and presumably still have) fundamental differences of belief with the Church of Scotland, the Presbyterian Protestants, founded and based on Calvinism. Maybe it would be easier - if entirely simplistic, but I’m drownin’ here - to say that English Protestants (Anglicans) didn’t like and certainly did not concur with the beliefs of Scottish Protestants (Presbyterians). To return to our dilemma in Ulster then, the Scottish settlers there, all or mostly Presbyterians, would have been shunned and ridiculed by the ruling English Anglicans, and while not censured as harshly as the Catholics, would still have had their share of oppression from the English.

Something that does seem to have been a major sticking point between the two - Anglican Protestantism and Presbyterian Protestantism (try saying that after six pints!) - is fealty to the King of England. As Henry had established himself as the head of the Church of England, he demanded all "proper" Protestants recognise that. Scotland did not do this, of course, being a separate kingdom, and probably also disputing that any mortal could speak for God, be he King or Pope. I'm not entirely sure what or who Presbyterians saw as the supreme head of their church, but I think it may have been nobody less than God.

This refusal to accept Henry led to Calvinists, Presbyterians and others being labelled "dissenters", for obvious reasons, and while they weren't as persecuted or hated as Catholics, they were no friend to the Anglican Church, and no friend to Henry. So far as I know, even Lutherans - the original Protestants - were not welcome in England, and may even have been burned even after the establishment of the Church of England. With Henry VIII, as with English kings down through history, it was his way or no way.

Okay, well that as I say is putting it in puppets and diagrams style, simplifying it to the nth degree, and probably also wildly inaccurate, but it does at least explain why this happened.

Ulster Says No: Presbyterianism in the North

One fact was not in dispute, and that was that Presbyterians were descended mostly from Scottish settlers who came to Ulster, and to be honest, if there’s one thing an Englishman hates almost as much as an Irishman or a Frenchman it’s a Scot. So the descendants of Scots in Ulster were also hit by the draconian Penal Laws passed in the early seventeenth century. Not as hard as the Catholics, mind - they could sit in Parliament but could not hold office - but they too were banned from occupations such as the legal profession, the judiciary and the army, and while Ulster, once the holdout kingdom, would remain more or less fiercely loyal to the Crown following the Plantation, its inhabitants were nevertheless looked upon by the ruling Ascendancy as inferior.

Catholic as Charged: The Penal Laws (1607-1678/93 (technically 1829)

Penal of course means of the penis… no really, it refers to punishment and that is exactly what the Penal Laws passed over (some might say, and with good cause, pissed over) Ireland during the eighteenth century were supposed to be. They specifically set out to disenfranchise, punish and impoverish, both financially and intellectually as well as spiritually and morally, the hated Catholics of Ireland who had so long resisted English rule, and who were seen by the Crown as heretics and heathens. More to the point though, they were couched in such a way as to afford the best deals possible for the Protestant Ascendancy, the settlers from England and Scotland who had come over at the invitation of the English government to take lands from Irish chieftains and lords and colonise the country.

Although initially reluctant to damage their support base among English Catholics, particularly the old English landowners, the ascension to the throne of the fiercely Protestant James I and final victory over the Irish in the Nine Years War in 1603, and the events such as the Gunpowder Plot two years later, coupled with the Flight of the Earls in 1607 provided impetus for harsher treatment of Catholics, and Irish in general, and the first of the Penal Laws was passed in 1607, banning Catholics from holding public office or joining the army. Much worse was of course to come, and some of the laws have been discussed in the previous chapter, but other, tougher ones had yet to be passed.

After ruling that Catholics could not educate themselves or their children (or send the latter abroad to be educated), priests and bishops to be exiled and land confiscated from Irish Catholics in favour of Protestant settlers, the Popery Act of 1703 sought to change how Catholics could inherit land on the death of their father. Unlike English (Protestant) law, this Act ruled that the land must be divided up amongst all the sons of the late landowner. However, if the eldest son was to convert to the “true religion” he could then inherit the land for himself. Daughters, of course, had no rights either way, so if a man died with only female offspring, well, I don’t know what happened in those cases.

The Popery Act also forbade Catholics to hold public office, as mentioned above, and anyone holding public or military office other than Catholics had to swear an oath of denying transubstantiation, which as already mentioned is the process by which, according to Catholic belief, the wine and the host are changed into the literal body and blood of Our Lord at the mass. No Catholic was likely to deny the most sacred tenet of his religion, which effectively excluded him then from public office. Under the Popery Act, Catholic landholding, already at a minimal level of 25%, shrunk by a further 20% over the next seventy-five years.

This Act also attacked Presbyterians and other “nonconformist” Protestants, who were similarly commanded to make the declaration and, if they could not, had to step down from the post they held. This resulted in the resignation of hundreds of Presbyterians and Calvinists from their positions, thus leaving the jobs for loyal Anglicans to fill.

Note: this should not be confused with an earlier, identically-named Act passed in 1698 (that one by the English Parliament, the above by the Irish) in which a bounty was placed on the head of all priests in England, people encouraged to spy on and betray, hunt and turn in any priest seen or suspected of “popish behaviour”, such as saying mass (or trying to), offering the sacrament or praying publicly, contrary to English law. Similar to the later Act passed in Ireland, Catholics were prohibited from being educated and owning land or holding public office.

Further note: Neither of the above should be confused with the Papist Act, passed in 1778, which we will come to in due course, and which was in fact a relaxing and relenting of the harsh and draconian laws levied on Catholics, seen as one of the first of what were known as Roman Catholic Relief Laws. Ironically, perhaps, this single Act would lead to unrest and riot in England, as the Catholics were seen to be getting treated with too much lenience. Oh, you English, you!


The other big one was the Disenfranchisement Act, passed in 1728, which did exactly what it said on the tin, disenfranchised Catholics by making it illegal for them to vote. In a chilling foreshadowing perhaps of the Third Reich two hundred years later, an Act was also passed forbidding the intermarriage of Catholics and Protestants, while Presbyterian marriages were not recognised by the state. Some of the laws were all but inhuman, such as the one which forbade Catholic families adopting orphans (I’m not sure if that only applied to Catholic orphans, though I would doubt it, because why would the English care?) and a particularly cruel one ruling that, should priests or other illegal persons be discovered in a village or town, and not reported by the inhabitants of that town, the reward given for capturing the fugitive would be levied on the people there. It sounds a little confusing, doesn’t it, so here’s the transcript from the Big W.

Any and all rewards not paid by the crown for alerting authorities of offences to be levied upon the Catholic populace within parish and county.
Teaching even in private homes of Catholics was also forbidden, leading to the famous idea of the “hedge school”, where usually priests and nuns would undertake to attempt to educate children out in the fields, perhaps as a way to defeat the spirit of the law by sticking to the letter of the law.


As for the king’s subjects, they had better not even think of converting (can’t imagine why any would of course) as there were very stiff penalties for such, including losing the king’s protection - essentially I guess leaving you in a “Purge”-like situation where anyone could do anything to you and the king’s law would not punish them, forfeiture of all lands and inheritance and imprisonment for a period of time to be decided by the king.

You can surely see the metaphor here of someone (English Crown and Parliament) using a long stick to push and hit the Irish Catholics, shoving them further and further back across an imaginary line marked “extinction”. The problem with that is the very stick you’re beating and pushing your opponent with can become your own undoing, when they grab it and hit you with it. After eight centuries of this treatment, while the Penal Laws would not prove the final straw that broke His Majesty’s back, he would find that stick turned on him, though it would be another two hundred years before he would have to take his lumps.

Outlaws, Robbers and Politicians: The Rise of the Tories

Anyone who hates the Conservatives will be grinning when I tell you that the word does indeed come from the old Irish for robber or outlaw, the word, tóraí, coming from the slightly shorter word tóir, meaning “pursuit”, as outlaws and robbers were chased or pursued men. Having its origins in the English Civil War, the Tory Party supported the then king Charles I, and opposed the attempts by Parliament to reduce him to a figurehead without any real power. Their efforts were thwarted however by the coup by Oliver Cromwell and the New Model Army, and they had to wait for the Restoration of 1660 when Charles II returned from exile in triumph to re-establish the monarchy. Ranged against them were the Whigs, Protestant agitators (many of whom had been part of Cromwell’s army) who began to accuse the king of endeavouring to undo the work of Henry VIII and return England to the Catholic faith. In this they were helped by the fact that the king’s brother, James Duke of York (who would succeed to the throne as James II on the death of his brother in 1685, though only for three years before being deposed and replaced by the Protestant William of Orange) was a Catholic.

Unable to politically attack the king directly, as to do so was an act of treason, The Whigs tried to implicate the top Tory, Count Redmond O’Hanlon in a supposed plot with the Earl of Ormonde, James FitzThomas Butler, Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, to murder famous liar and forger Titus Oates (remember him?) but to no avail. Used as a derogatory term from 1681, the opponents to the Whigs were called Tories, and a leading nonconformist minister called Oliver Heywood likened the two factions to the old Roundheads (supporters of Cromwell and Parliament) and Cavaliers (those who took the side of the king) prevalent leading up to and during the English Civil War. It should not however be misconstrued that the Tories were any friend to the Catholics, as they supported the Church of England and approved of and advocated the continued suppression of both Catholics and nonconformist Protestants. Well, of course they did.
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Old 05-25-2021, 02:18 PM   #56 (permalink)
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Yo Trollheart you numbnuts! Isn’t this supposed to be the story of Ireland? What’s with all the English history dude?

I hear ya. I do. But here’s the thing. Whether we like it or not (and we don’t, as a rule) the history of our country is inextricably tied up with that of England, Britain, or the United Kingdom - whatever you decide to call it. After all, were it not for the English, we would most likely have been left in peace to carry on with our lives. We’re not - never have been, never will be - a conquering race; we barely have an army, and what there is of it is usually on loan to the United Nations on peacekeeping duty in some godawful place, so we don’t exactly sit around maps of Europe, or anywhere else, greedily licking our lips and trying to figure out how we can get control of their resources, economy, politics or all three.

But first the Romans, then the Vikings, and finally the English pushed us to take up arms, so because the English have had such a huge impact on how our country developed (after all, we’re probably one of the only nations who doesn’t use their own national language) I feel it’s important that we keep abreast of the developments across the pond in parallel with Irish history. So who was on the throne at any given time, what their religious proclivities were (almost all of them were and continue to be Protestant Anglicans, but some were more tolerant towards Catholicism than others) and how they viewed Ireland is something we need to deal with. Some of the time, events not actually taking place in Ireland had a huge impact on our history, such as, as already related, the Great Fire of London, which pushed anti-Catholic sentiment to even higher levels, and the French Revolution of 1789.

So from time to time I will seem to veer off into something that could be mistaken for the History of England. It’s not. It’s just that our history did not take place in a vacuum, and events around the world, from Rome to, obviously, London, had a profound effect on our development as a nation. So bear with me as we say hi to the newest arse on the English throne, though after five years of her reign that behind would be sitting on the throne of the newly-designated Great Britain.

Queen Anne (1665 - 1714)

Born, as you can see, one year before the aforementioned Great Fire, Anne was the daughter of James, Duke of York, brother of Charles II, who, as we already discussed, was a secret-though-not-so-secret Catholic, and as he was next in line for the throne, the English nobility feared he would return their country to the worship of Catholicism. Therefore, Charles instructed that his two nieces (the other being Mary, who married William of Orange and reigned jointly with him as Mary II, not to be confused with Bloody Mary) should be raised in the Anglican faith. Not entirely sure what say their father had in this, but it was the king’s will and so it was done. I suppose he couldn’t have really opposed his brother’s wishes, at least not in public, as he was trying to keep his Catholic leanings low-key, and would not want to add any truth to fears that his two daughters might also end up as Catholic monarchs.

At any rate, on the death of Mary William reigned alone after the Glorious Revolution in which his wife’s father was deposed and sent packing, and on his death, Anne succeeded her cousin to the English throne. To allay any fears, Anne had married Prince George of Denmark and Norway, a Lutheran, so there was little chance she was going to have any Catholic sympathies, and nineteen years after her marriage George became the royal consort, given the title Duke of Cumberland, and if anyone feared he might be an ambitious man, endeavour to control England from behind Anne’s throne, this statement he made would have put the issue to rest: God send me, he wrote, a quiet life somewhere, for I shall not be long able to bear this perpetual motion.

It was far from an idyllic marriage though. Blessed(!) with seventeen(!) children, Anne was to see none of them survive, as early in her marriage George caught smallpox (which she had already had, and which had prevented her attending the coronation of her sister) and became very sick, while their two young daughters died of the disease. Another child was stillborn, and this would continue to be the pattern through Anne’s life - children either died at birth, were miscarriages or lived barely long enough to be acknowledged as such. Twelve were stillborn, four died before the age of two years, with the final surviving child, Prince William of Gloucester, a potential heir to the throne, lasting eleven years, but still not old enough to claim his birthright. Historians and medical experts disagree on what he died from, but smallpox is one of the favoured theories, and given that Anne’s children had died of this disease, she had had it herself and so had George, it seems fair to assume that was the cause. In any case, it deprived England of its heir, leaving Anne childless at the age of thirty-five, an age thought beyond childbearing in those days. Indeed, she only lasted another fourteen years on the Earth after William’s passing. Severe gout, which caused her to gain weight and grow “corpulent”, necessitating her having to be carried or wheeled everywhere, coupled no doubt with the terrible stresses of so many pregnancies and losses, told against her and she died in 1714.

She had been, however, a popular monarch, despite being the daughter of the much-hated James, and on her coronation had this to say: "As I know my heart to be entirely English, I can very sincerely assure you there is not anything you can expect or desire from me which I shall not be ready to do for the happiness and prosperity of England.” Already afflicted with the gout which was to so trouble her and possibly shorten her life, she had to be carried to her coronation in a sedan chair. Less than two weeks after her accession to the throne, England became entangled in the War of Spanish Succession, which so far as I can see has no direct bearing on Irish history so will not be covered here. She was a patron of Handel and Newton, and greatly interested in the arts, theatre and music as well as poetry.


See you Jimmy! The Act of Union (1707)

Anne was the first English monarch to preside over four nations, when the Act of Union formally bound England, Ireland, Wales and the recalcitrant Scotland as the Kingdom of Great Britain, later the United Kingdom, giving her the quirk of reigning over England until 1707 and then all of Britain until her death in 1714.

And to understand this, I’m afraid we have to take yet another detour, this time to the north.
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Old 05-25-2021, 02:24 PM   #57 (permalink)
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Love your threads


Bet Ireland really nice.
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Old 05-25-2021, 07:10 PM   #58 (permalink)
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Thanks man. You're one of the few commenters here and to be honest when I post in this journal I think of you.

Ireland can be beautiful, yes, but it has its dark side like any other country. I'm sure it's not the worst place to live, and there is some stunning scenery, especially around Kerry and the River Shannon.
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Old 05-25-2021, 07:18 PM   #59 (permalink)
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*waits for James Connolly*
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Old 05-26-2021, 05:08 AM   #60 (permalink)
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That'll be a while. We've still got the first Rising, the 1798 one to get through yet.
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