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|History of Ireland|
Ireland during the period 1536–1691 saw the first full conquest of the island by England and its colonization with Protestant settlers from Great Britain. This established two central themes in future Irish history: subordination of the country to London-based governments and sectarian animosity between Catholics and Protestants. The period saw Irish society transform from a locally driven, intertribal, clan-based Gaelic structure to a centralised, monarchical, state-governed society, similar to those found elsewhere in Europe. The period is bounded by the dates 1536, when King Henry VIII deposed the FitzGerald dynasty as Lords Deputies of Ireland (the new Kingdom of Ireland was declared by Henry VIII in 1541), and 1691, when the Irish Catholic Jacobites surrendered at Limerick, thus confirming British Protestant dominance in Ireland. This is sometimes called the early modern period.
The English Reformation, by which Henry VIII broke with Papal authority in 1536, was to change Ireland totally. While Henry VIII broke English Catholicism from Rome, his son Edward VI of England moved further, breaking with Papal doctrine completely. While the English, the Welsh and, later, the Scots accepted Protestantism, the Irish remained Catholic. Queen Mary I then reverted the state to Catholicism in 1553–58, and Queen Elizabeth I broke again with Rome after 1570. These confusing changes determined their relationship with the British state for the next four hundred years, as the Reformation coincided with a determined effort on behalf of the English state to re-conquer and colonise Ireland thereafter. The religious schism meant that the native Irish and the (Roman Catholic) Old English were to be excluded from power in the new settlement unless they converted to Protestantism.
There is some debate about why Henry VIII of England resolved to re-conquer Ireland completely. However the most immediate reason was that the Fitzgerald dynasty of Kildare, who had become the effective rulers of Ireland in the 15th century, had become very unreliable allies of the Tudor monarchs. Most seriously, they had invited Burgundian troops into Dublin to crown the Yorkist pretender, Lambert Simnel as King of England in 1487. In 1535, Silken Thomas Fitzgerald went into open rebellion against the crown. Henry VIII put down this rebellion and then set about to pacify Ireland and bring it all under English government control, perhaps to prevent it from becoming a base for foreign invasions of England (a concern that was to be sustained for another 400 or more years).
Ireland was changed from a lordship to a full Kingdom under Henry VIII. From the period of the original lordship in the 12th century onwards, Ireland had retained its own bicameral Parliament of Ireland, consisting of a House of Commons and a House of Lords. It was restricted for most of its existence in terms both of membership – Gaelic Irishmen were barred from membership – and of powers, notably by Poynings' Law of 1494, which required the approval of the English Privy Council before any draft bills might be introduced to the Parliament. After 1541, Henry VIII admitted native Irish lords into both houses and recognised their land titles, in return for their submission to him as King of Ireland. However, the real power in Ireland throughout this period lay not with the Parliament, but with the Lord Deputy of Ireland, who was nominated by the King of England to govern Ireland. The Parliament met only when called by the Lord Deputy, when he wanted to pass new laws or raise new taxes. The Lord Deputy's permanent advisors were the Irish Privy Council.
With the institutions of government in place, the next step was to extend the control of the English Kingdom of Ireland over all of its claimed territory. Henry VIII's officials were tasked with extending the rule of this new Kingdom throughout Ireland by the policy of "surrender and regrant". They either negotiated or fought with the autonomous Irish Kings and lords. This took nearly a century to achieve, and the re-conquest was accompanied by a great deal of bloodshed, as it led to the assimilation – sometimes abolition – of lordships that had been independent for several hundred years.
The re-conquest was completed during the reigns of Elizabeth I and James I, after several bloody conflicts. The Desmond Rebellions (1569–1573 and 1579–1583) took place in the southern province of Munster, when the Fitzgerald Earl of Desmond dynasty resisted the imposition of an English governor into the province. The second of these rebellions was put down by means of a forced famine, which may have killed up to a third of Munster's population. The most serious threat to English rule in Ireland came during the Nine Years War 1594–1603, when Hugh O'Neill and Hugh O'Donnell the most powerful chieftains in the northern province of Ulster rebelled against English government. This war developed into a nationwide revolt where O'Neill and O'Donnell successfully obtained military aid from Spain, which was then in conflict with England during the Anglo-Spanish War. A Spanish expeditionary force was defeated by English forces at the Battle of Kinsale in 1601. O'Neill and his allies eventually surrendered to the new Stuart King, James I, in 1603. After this point, the English authorities in Dublin established real control over Ireland for the first time, bringing a centralised form of justice to the entire island, and successfully disarmed the various lordships, both Irish and Old English. O'Neill, O'Donnell and their allies subsequently fled Ireland for good in the Flight of the Earls in 1607. This removed the last major obstacle to English government in Ireland.
The English had little success in converting either the native elite or the Irish people to the Protestant religion. It is an enduring question, why the Protestant reformation failed to take hold among the Irish (among many) lies in the fact that brutal methods were used by crown authority to pacify the country and exploit its resources, which heightened resentment of English rule. An additional reason was a determined proselytising campaign carried out in Ireland by counter-reformation Catholic clergy, many of whom had been educated in seminaries on the continent. Irish Colleges had been established in many countries in Catholic Europe for the training of Irish Catholic priests and the education of the Irish Catholic gentry. Finally, the printing press, which had played a major role in disseminating Protestant ideas in Europe, came to Ireland very late.
From the mid-16th and into the early 17th century, crown governments carried out a policy of colonisation known as Plantations. Scottish and English Protestants were sent as colonists to the provinces of Munster, Ulster and the counties of Laois and Offaly (see also Plantations of Ireland ). The largest of these projects, the Plantation of Ulster, had settled up to 80,000 English and Scots in the north of Ireland by 1641. The so-called Ulster Scots were predominantly Presbyterian, which distinguished them from the Anglican English colonists.
These settlers, who had a British and Protestant identity, would form the ruling class of future British administrations in Ireland. A series of Penal Laws discriminated against all Christian faiths other than the established (Anglican) Church of Ireland. The principal victims of these laws were Roman Catholics and also, from the late 17th century on, adherents of Presbyterianism. From 1607, Catholics were barred from public office and from serving in the army. In 1615, the constituencies of the Irish Parliament were altered so that Protestants might form the majority of 108–102 in any given vote in the Irish House of Commons. The Catholic majority in the Irish House of Lords persisted until the Patriot Parliament of 1689, with the exception of the Commonwealth period (1650–60).
In the early years of the 17th century, it looked possible for a time that, because of immigration of English and Scottish settlers, Ireland could be peacefully integrated into British society. However, this was prevented by the continued discrimination by the English authorities against Irish Catholics on religious grounds.
The pre-Elizabethan Irish population is usually divided into the "Old (or Gaelic) Irish", and the Old English, or descendants of medieval Hiberno-Norman settlers. These groups were historically antagonistic, with English settled areas such as the Pale around Dublin, south Wexford, and other walled towns being fortified against the rural Gaelic clans. However, by the 17th century, the cultural divide between these groups, especially at elite social levels, was declining. For example, most Old English lords not only spoke the Gaelic language, but extensively patronised Irish poetry and music. Intermarriage was also common. Moreover, in the wake of the Elizabethan conquest, the native population became defined by their shared religion, Roman Catholicism, in distinction to the new Protestant British settlers and the officially Protestant British government of Ireland. During the decades in between the end of the Elizabethan wars of conquest in 1603 and the outbreak of rebellion in 1641, Irish Catholics felt themselves to be increasingly threatened by and discriminated against by the English government of Ireland.
Most of the Irish upper classes, however, were not ideologically opposed to the sovereignty of the King of England over Ireland, but wanted to be full subjects of the triple Stuart monarchy and maintain their pre-eminent position in Irish society. This was prevented by their religious dissidence and the threat posed to them by the extension of the Plantations. The Protestant settler-dominated Government of Ireland tried to confiscate more land from the native landowners by questioning their medieval land titles and as punishment for non-attendance at Protestant services. In response, Irish Catholics appealed directly to the King, first to James I and then Charles I, for full rights as subjects and toleration of their religion: a programme known as The Graces. On several occasions, the Monarchs appeared to have reached an agreement with them, granting their demands in return for raising taxes. However, Irish Catholics were disappointed when, on paying the increased levies, the King postponed the implementation of their demands. What was more, by the late 1630s, Thomas Wentworth, Charles's representative in Ireland, was proposing further widespread confiscations of native land to break the power of the Irish Catholic upper classes. It is likely that this would eventually have provoked armed resistance from Irish Catholics at some point, but the actual rebellion was sparked by a political crisis in Scotland and England that led to civil war in the three Kingdoms.
The fifty years from 1641 to 1691 saw two catastrophic periods of civil war in Ireland 1641–53 and 1689–91, which killed hundreds of thousands of people and left others in permanent exile. The wars, which pitted Irish Catholics against British forces and Protestant settlers, ended in the almost complete dispossession of the Catholic landed elite.
In the mid-17th century, Ireland was convulsed by eleven years of warfare, beginning with the Rebellion of 1641, when Irish Catholics, threatened by expanding power of the anti-Catholic English Parliament and Scottish Covenanters at the expense of the King, rebelled against English and Protestant domination. The Rising, launched in Ulster by Féilim Ó Néill, provoked an outbreak of anarchic violence around the country, after which it was joined by most Irish Catholic lords and their followers. In some respects, the rebellion was the end product of the long term alienation of Irish Catholics with English policies in Ireland. However, it was sparked off by the fear of impending civil war in the British Isles as a whole.
The rebellion was marked by a number of massacres of Protestant settlers, particularly in Ulster, an event which scarred communal relations in Ireland for centuries afterwards.
As a result of the outbreak of the English Civil War in 1642, no English troops were available to put down the uprising and the rebels were left in control of most of Ireland. The Catholic majority briefly ruled the country as Confederate Ireland (1642–1649) during the subsequent Wars of the Three Kingdoms in Britain and Ireland. The Confederate regime allied themselves with Charles I and the English Royalists, though they did not sign a formal treaty with them until 1649. Had the Royalists won the English Civil War, the result could have been an autonomous Catholic ruled Ireland. However, the Royalists were defeated by the Parliamentarians, Charles I was executed and Oliver Cromwell re-conquered Ireland in 1649–1653 on behalf of the English Commonwealth. The Cromwellian conquest of Ireland was marked by atrocities, such as the massacre of the Royalist garrison at the Siege of Drogheda in 1649. Another policy implemented by the Cromwellian regime was the deportation of prisoners of war to the West Indies. Even worse was a scorched earth policy carried out by Parliamentarian commanders to subdue Irish guerrilla fighters, which caused famine throughout the country.
As punishment for the rebellion of 1641, almost all lands owned by Irish Catholics were confiscated and given to British settlers. The remaining Catholic landowners were transplanted to Connacht. See also Act of Settlement 1652 . In addition, Catholics were barred from the Irish Parliament altogether, forbidden to live in towns and from marrying Protestants (although not all of these laws were strictly enforced). It has been calculated that up to a third of Ireland's population (4-600,000 people) died in these wars, either in fighting, or in the accompanying famine and plague. The Cromwellian conquest therefore left bitter memories - to say the least - in Irish popular culture.
An uneasy peace returned with the Restoration of the monarchy in England and Charles II made some efforts to conciliate Irish Catholics with compensation and land grants. (See also Act of Settlement 1662). Most Catholics, however were disappointed that the Cromwellian land confiscations were, on the whole, allowed to stand. Protestants, on the other hand, felt that Irish Catholics had been treated far too leniently by Charles, and deserved to be punished for their massacres of Protestant civilians in 1641. In 1678, there was another brief burst of anti-Catholic repression during the Popish Plot, when it was rumoured that Irish Catholics were planning another rebellion with French help. Two Catholic Bishops, Peter Talbot and Oliver Plunkett were arrested. Talbot died in prison and Plunkett was hanged, drawn and quartered.
However, within a generation of the Restoration, Ireland was at war again. In the reign of the Catholic King James II of England, Irish Catholics briefly looked like recovering their pre-eminent position in Irish society. James repealed much of the anti-Catholic legislation, allowed Catholics into the Irish Parliament and the Army and appointed a Catholic, Richard Talbot, 1st Earl of Tyrconnell, as Lord Deputy of Ireland. Protestants in Ireland could do little about this turn of events.
However, with the Glorious Revolution of 1688, James II was deposed by the English Parliament and replaced by William of Orange, with the help of a Dutch invasion force. Irish Catholics backed James to try to reverse the Penal Laws and land confiscations, whereas Irish and British Protestants supported William to preserve their dominance in the country. Richard Talbot, the Lord Deputy, raised a Jacobite army from among Irish Catholics and seized all the strong points around the country, with the exception of Derry, which was besieged by his men. James, backed by the French King Louis XIV, arrived in Ireland in 1689 with French troops. The Siege of Derry was broken when General Percy Kirke arrived with a relief force.
The same year Marshal Schomberg landed with a major Williamite expedition and captured Carrickfergus. He then advanced south to Dundalk where the two armies took part in a long stand-off before retreating into winter quarters. The following year William III landed at Carrickfergus with a multi-national force of reinforcements, including British, Dutch and Danish troops. The two Kings fought for the English, Scottish and Irish thrones in the Williamite War, most famously at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690, where James's forces were defeated. Although not militarily decisive, this battle is remembered as a great Williamite victory because James fled Ireland for France after the battle, effectively conceding defeat to William. Jacobite resistance in Ireland continued for another year however, winning a success at the Siege of Limerick, but was finally ended after the Battle of Aughrim in July 1691, when their main army was destroyed. They surrendered at Limerick shortly afterwards. The Jacobite army left the country under the terms of the Treaty of Limerick, negotiated by Patrick Sarsfield, to enter French service. The war, while not as destructive as that of the 1640s and 1650s, was nevertheless a shattering defeat for the old Irish Catholic landed classes, who never recovered their former position in Irish society. The Protestant victory in the war is still celebrated today by the Orange Order and by many people in Ulster and across the world.
Penal Laws (which had been allowed to lapse somewhat after the English Restoration) were re-applied with great harshness after this war, as the Protestant elite wanted to ensure that the Irish Catholic landed classes would not be in a position to repeat their rebellions of the 17th century. In fact, many new Penal Laws were introduced, which put restrictions on Catholics inheriting property. As a result of these laws, Catholic landownership fell from around 14% in 1691 to around 5% in the course of the next century.
In addition, as of 1704, Presbyterians were also barred from holding public office, bearing arms and entering certain professions. This was in part due to the distrust the mostly English Anglican establishment had for the mostly Scottish Presbyterian community, which by now had become a majority in Ulster. By the end of the 17th century, Ireland's population was about 25% Protestant (including all denominations) of whom Anglicans (about 13%) formed the ruling Protestant Ascendancy. For the 18th century see Ireland 1691-1801.
Ulster is one of the four traditional Irish provinces, situated in the north of Ireland. It is made up of nine counties: six of these constitute Northern Ireland ; the remaining three are in the Republic of Ireland.
The Battle of the Boyne was a battle in 1690 between the forces of the deposed King James II of England and Ireland, VII of Scotland and those of King William III who, with his wife Queen Mary II, had acceded to the Crowns of England and Scotland in 1689. The battle took place across the River Boyne close to the town of Drogheda in the Kingdom of Ireland, modern-day Republic of Ireland, and resulted in a victory for William. This turned the tide in James's failed attempt to regain the British crown and ultimately aided in ensuring the continued Protestant ascendancy in Ireland.
The Kingdom of Ireland was a client state of England and then of Great Britain that existed from 1542 until 1800. It was ruled by the monarchs of England and then of Great Britain in personal union with their other realms. The kingdom was administered from Dublin Castle nominally by the King or Queen, who appointed a viceroy to rule in their stead. It had its own legislature, peerage, legal system, and state church.
"The Boyne Water" is an Ulster Protestant folksong by an anonymous lyricist. The lyrics of the song commemorate King William III of Orange's victory over James II at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690, part of the Williamite War in Ireland. The song's tune is noted for being played by Ulster loyalist marching bands.
The Ulster Scots, also called Ulster Scots people or,, Scotch-Irish (Scotch-Airisch) are an ethnic group in Ireland, found mostly in the province of Ulster and to a lesser extent in the rest of Ireland. Their ancestors were mostly Protestant Presbyterian Lowland Scottish migrants, the largest numbers coming from Galloway, Lanarkshire, Renfrewshire, Ayrshire and the Scottish Borders including nearby parts of Northern England, with others coming from further north in the Scottish Lowlands and, to a much lesser extent, from the Highlands.
The Irish Confederate Wars, also called the Eleven Years' War, took place in Ireland between 1641 and 1653. It was the Irish theatre of the Wars of the Three Kingdoms – a series of civil wars in the kingdoms of Ireland, England and Scotland. The war in Ireland began with a rebellion in 1641 by Irish Catholics, who tried to seize control of the English administration in Ireland to force concessions for Catholics. This developed into an ethnic conflict between Gaelic Irish and old English Catholics on one side, and English and Scottish Protestant colonists on the other. Catholic leaders formed the Irish Catholic Confederation in 1642, which controlled most of Ireland and was loosely aligned with the Royalists. The Confederates and Royalists fought against the English Parliamentarians and Scottish Covenanters. In 1649, a Parliamentarian army led by Oliver Cromwell invaded Ireland and by 1653 had conquered the island.
The Plantation of Ulster was the organised colonisation (plantation) of Ulster – a province of Ireland – by people from Great Britain during the reign of King James VI & I. Most of the colonists came from Scotland, the majority having a different culture to the natives. Small private plantations by wealthy landowners began in 1606, while the official plantation began in 1609. Most of the land colonised was forfeited from the native Gaelic chiefs, several of whom had fled Ireland for mainland Europe in 1607 following the Nine Years' War against English rule. The official plantation comprised an estimated half a million acres (2,000 km²) of arable land in counties Armagh, Cavan, Fermanagh, Tyrone, Tyrconnell and Derry/Londonderry. Land in counties Antrim, Down and Monaghan was privately colonised with the king's support.
Sir Felim Rua O'Neill of Ceann Ard (Kinard), also called Phelim Roe O'Neill or Féilim Rua Ó Néill (Irish), was an Irish nobleman who led the Irish Rebellion of 1641 in Ulster, which began on 22 October 1641. He was a member of the Irish Catholic Confederation during the Wars of the Three Kingdoms, where he fought under his kinsman and second cousin, Eoghan Ruadh Ó Néill. In 1653 Phelim O’Neill had sought refuge from the British on an old crannog in the nearby Roughan Lough while staying at Roughan Castle but was captured after his hiding place was betrayed.
The Williamite War in Ireland (1688–1691), was a conflict between Jacobite supporters of King James II and Williamite supporters of Prince William of Orange. It is also called the Jacobite War in Ireland or the Williamite–Jacobite War in Ireland.
The Irish Rebellion of 1641 began as an attempted coup d'état by Irish Catholic gentry, who tried to seize control of the English administration in Ireland to force concessions for Catholics. The coup failed and the rebellion developed into an ethnic conflict between Irish Catholics on one side, and English and Scottish Protestants on the other. The rebellion followed the Plantation of Ulster by Protestant settlers from Britain. It began a conflict known as the Irish Confederate Wars, which was part of the Wars of the Three Kingdoms.
Confederate Ireland or the Union of the Irish was the period of Irish self-government between 1642 and 1649, during the Eleven Years' War. During this time, two-thirds of Ireland was governed by the Irish Catholic Confederation, also known as the Confederation of Kilkenny because it was based in Kilkenny. It was formed by Irish Catholic nobles, clergy and military leaders after the Irish Rebellion of 1641. The Confederation had what were effectively a parliament, an executive, and a military. It pledged allegiance to Charles I.
The Cromwellian conquest of Ireland or Cromwellian war in Ireland (1649–53) refers to the conquest of Ireland by the forces of the English Parliament, led by Oliver Cromwell, during the Wars of the Three Kingdoms. Cromwell invaded Ireland with his New Model Army on behalf of England's Rump Parliament in August 1649.
The Act of Settlement 1662 was passed by the Irish Parliament in Dublin. It was a partial reversal of the Cromwellian Act for the Settlement of Ireland 1652, which punished Irish Catholics and Royalists for fighting against the English Parliament in the Wars of the Three Kingdoms by the wholesale confiscation of their lands and property. The Act describes itself An act for the better execution of His Majesty's gracious declaration for the Settlement of his Kingdom of Ireland, and the satisfaction of the several interests of adventurers, soldiers, and other his subjects there.
The Act for the Settlement of Ireland imposed penalties including death and land confiscation against participants and bystanders of the Irish Rebellion of 1641 and subsequent unrest.
Plantations in 16th- and 17th-century Ireland involved the confiscation of land by the English crown and the colonisation of this land with settlers from the island of Great Britain. There had already been smaller-scale immigration to Ireland as far back as the 12th century, which had resulted in a distinct ethnicity in Ireland known as the Old English, or Hiberno-Normans. Unofficial plantations carried out privately by landlords also took place, such as those in County Antrim and County Down.
The history of Ireland from 1691–1800 was marked by the dominance of the Protestant Ascendancy. These were Anglo-Irish families of the Anglican Church of Ireland, whose English ancestors had settled Ireland in the wake of its conquest by England and colonisation in the Plantations of Ireland, and had taken control most of the land. Many were absentee landlords based in England, but others lived full-time in Ireland and increasingly identified as Irish.. During this time, Ireland was nominally an autonomous Kingdom with its own Parliament; in actuality it was a client state controlled by the King of Great Britain and supervised by his cabinet in London. The great majority of its population, Roman Catholics, were excluded from power and land ownership under the penal laws. The second-largest group, the Presbyterians in Ulster, owned land and businesses but could not vote and had no political power. The period begins with the defeat of the Catholic Jacobites in the Williamite War in Ireland in 1691 and ends with the Acts of Union 1800, which formally annexed Ireland in a United Kingdom from 1 January 1801 and dissolved the Irish Parliament.
A Williamite is a follower of King William III of England who deposed King James II and VII in the Glorious Revolution. William, the Stadtholder of the Dutch Republic, replaced James with the support of English Whigs.
The Patriot Parliament is the name given to the Irish Parliament called by James II during the 1689 to 1691 war in Ireland. The first since 1666, it held only one session, from 7 May 1689 to 20 July 1689.
The formation of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland has involved personal and political union across Great Britain and the wider British Isles. The United Kingdom is the most recent of a number of sovereign states that have been established in Great Britain at different periods in history, in different combinations and under a variety of polities. Norman Davies has counted sixteen different states over the past 2,000 years.
The Reformation in Ireland was a movement for the reform of religious life and institutions that was introduced into Ireland by the English administration at the behest of King Henry VIII of England. His desire for an annulment of his marriage was known as the King's Great Matter. Ultimately Pope Clement VII refused the petition; consequently, in order to give legal effect to his wishes, it became necessary for the King to assert his lordship over the Catholic Church in his realm. In passing the Acts of Supremacy in 1534, the English Parliament confirmed the King's supremacy over the Church in the Kingdom of England. This challenge to Papal supremacy resulted in a breach with the Catholic Church. By 1541, the Irish Parliament had agreed to the change in status of the country from that of a Lordship to that of Kingdom of Ireland.