Ireland became a battleground almost by accident - having left England, James II had de facto handed William the crown on a silver plate. His only hope of restoration was linked to a return to his realm. And only one part was considered secure and sympathetic enough - Catholic Ireland, effectively ruled by the Jacobite Tyrconnel.
Tyrconnel was determined to hold on to power in Ireland and played a diplomatic cat-and-mouse-game involving William, James and Louis XIV of France.
With French blessings and military support James II landed at Kinsale on March 12th, 1689, bent on re-conquering Ireland, than Scotland, then England. Several Jacobite successes followed and the Siege of Derry began on April 16th, the Williamites were seemingly losing on a big scale. And James even managed to establish his own parliament in Dublin.
But the military campaign of the Duke of Schomberg, at that time a Brandenburg general "on loan" to William, almost reversed the situation. And on June 14th, 1690, William III entered Ireland at the head of 15,000 troops (mostly Dutch and Danish) - using the port of Carrickfergus and heading south for Dublin via Newry and Drogheda.
James II decided to thwart this plan by defending Dublin on the banks of the River Boyne. Occupying Drogheda and the Oldbridge Estate to the west looked like a good idea at the time.
1688 - The Glorious Revolution
To explain the Battle of the Boyne one has to start at the root cause of it. King James II of England, a Stuart, aroused the suspicions of the Westminster parliament by his reactionary politics and his definite leanings towards the Catholic church. Succeeding his brother Charles II as king, James was already 51 years old and not expected to last. Or build a dynasty - he was childless. And next in line for the throne was Mary, Charles' niece, married to William - an obscure European nobleman currently Stadtholder of the (staunchly Protestant) Netherlands.
While his religious beliefs might have been tolerable for a while, James' claim to being the absolute ruler got the Houses of Parliament's collective feathers immediately into a ruffle. Less than 40 years ago a king's head was chopped off for similar aspirations. Four months after James II accession the first rebellion under the Duke of Monmouth (his nephew, albeit illegitimate) failed. The "Bloody Assizes" followed, ringing home the reality of absolute kingship.
The final straw arrived on June 10th, 1688, in the form of the Prince of Wales - as if by magic James had suddenly succeeded in creating a male heir! Catholic succession was ensured.
1688-1691 The Williamite War in Ireland
The' Williamite War' in Ireland—also called the 'Jacobite War' in Ireland was a conflict between Catholic King James II and Protestant King William of Orange over who would be King of England, Scotland and Ireland. The cause of the war was the deposition of James II as King of the Three Kingdoms by William (who was married to James' daughter Mary II) in 1688.
James was supported by the mostly Catholic "Jacobites" in Ireland and hoped to use the country as a base to regain his Three Kingdoms. He was given military support by France to this end. For this reason, the War became part of a wider European conflict known as the Nine Years War. Some Protestants of the established Church in Ireland also fought on the side of King James.
James was opposed in Ireland by the mostly Protestant "Williamites", who were concentrated in the north of the country. William landed a multi-national force in Ireland, composed of English, Scottish, Dutch, Danish and other troops, to put down Jacobite resistance. James left Ireland after a reverse at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690 and the Irish Jacobites were finally defeated after the Battle of Aughrim in 1691. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Aughrim
William defeated Jacobitism in Ireland and subsequent Jacobite Risings were confined to Scotland and England. However, the War was to have a lasting effect on Ireland, confirming British and Protestant rule over the country for over a century. The iconic Williamite victories of the Siege of Derry and the Battle of the Boyne are still celebrated by the Unionist community in Northern Ireland today.
1690 - The Battle of the Boyne
On July 1st, 1690, two armies consisting of Danish, French, Dutch, Huguenot, German, English and even Irish troops met on the banks of the River Boyne near Drogheda. Both were led by men insisting that they alone were the rightful King of England. The main force of both armies never took part in the fighting. The Battle of the Boyne was not decisive in any way. It wasn't even about Ireland - yet it became one of the most iconic events in Irish history.
Battles & Sieges
- Campaign in Ulster
- Schomberg's campaign
- Battle of the Boyne
- First Siege of Limerick
- Battle of Aughrim
- Siege of Kinsale
- Richard Talbot, 1st Earl of Tyrconnell ( James II)
- General Lauzun ( James II)
- Duke of Schomberg
Schombergs Army consisted of 8 or more regiments of :
- French Huguenots -- the Uga or Ugh
- Swiss Helvetians
- Dutch Netherlands
- Saxons England
The Williamite army
'The Williamite army ' at the Boyne was about 36,000 strong, composed of troops from many countries. Around 20,000 troops had been in Ireland since 1689, commanded by Schomberg. William himself arrived with another 16,000 in June 1690. William's troops were generally far better trained and equipped than James's. The best Williamite infantry were from Denmark and the Netherlands, professional soldiers equipped with the latest flintlock muskets. There was also a large contingent of French Huguenot troops fighting with the Williamites. William did not have a high opinion of his English and Scottish troops, with the exception of the Ulster Protestant irregulars who had held Ulster in the previous year. The English and Scottish troops were felt to be politically unreliable, since James had been their legitimate monarch up to a year before. Moreover, they had only been raised recently and had seen little battle action.
'The Jacobites' were 23,500 strong. James had several regiments of French troops, but most of his manpower was provided by Irish Catholics. The Jacobites' Irish cavalry, who were recruited from among the dispossessed Irish gentry, proved themselves to be high calibre troops during the course of the battle. However, the Irish infantry, predominantly peasants who had been pressed into service, were not trained soldiers. They had been hastily trained, poorly equipped, and only a minority of them had functional muskets. In fact, some of them carried only farm implements such as scythes at the Boyne. On top of that, the Jacobite infantry who actually had firearms were all equipped with the obsolete matchlock musket.
Williamite military personnel of the Williamite War in Ireland
- Godert de Ginkell, 1st Earl of Athlone
- Thomas Beecher
- William Bentinck, 1st Earl of Portland
- Walter Blake
- James Butler, 2nd Duke of Ormonde
- George Cholmondeley, 2nd Earl of Cholmondeley
- John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough
- Thomas Coningsby, 1st Earl Coningsby
- Sir Richard Cox, 1st Baronet
- John Cutts, 1st Baron Cutts
- George Douglas-Hamilton, 1st Earl of Orkney
- Thomas Erle
- Richard Haddock
- Gustavus Hamilton, 1st Viscount Boyne
- James Hamilton, 6th Earl of Abercorn
- Gustav Hamilton
- William Hiseland
- Sir Henry Hobart, 4th Baronet
- Percy Kirke
- John Leake
- Robert Lundy
- Hugh Mackay
- Charles Montagu, 1st Duke of Manchester
- Henri de Massue, Earl of Galway
- Henry de Nassau, Lord Overkirk
- Richard Philipps
- Paul de Rapin
- Wolfgang William Romer
- Carl Rudolf, Duke of Württemberg-Neuenstadt
- Richard Savage, 4th Earl Rivers
- Frederick Schomberg, 1st Duke of Schomberg
- Meinhardt Schomberg, 3rd Duke of Schomberg
- Thomas Steers
- William Steuart
- Henry Sydney, 1st Earl of Romney
- Thomas Tollemache
- Charles Trelawny
- George Walker (soldier)
Treaty of Limerick
The peace Treaty of Limerick signed on 3 October 1691 offered generous terms to Jacobites willing to stay in Ireland and give an oath of loyalty to William III. Peace was concluded on these terms between Sarsfield and Ginkell, giving toleration to Catholicism and full legal rights to Catholics that swore an oath of loyalty to William and Mary.
The Protestant-dominated Irish Parliament refused to ratify the articles of the Treaty in 1697, and from 1695 on, updated the penal laws, which discriminated harshly against Catholics. Catholics saw this as a severe breach of faith. A popular contemporary Irish saying was, cuimhnigí Luimneach agus feall na Sassanaigh ("remember Limerick and Saxon treachery"). The Papacy was an enemy of Louis of France and therefore did not support James in 1691, but the new Pope Pope Innocent XII changed its policy to support for France, and therefore James, from 1693. This factor hardened Protestant attitudes towards Catholics and Jacobitism in Ireland.
Part of the treaty agreed to Sarsfield demand that the Jacobite army could leave Ireland as a body and go to France. Ships were even provided for this purpose.This event was popularly known in Ireland as the"Flight of the Wild Geese". Around 14,000 men with around 10,000 women and children left Ireland with Patrick Sarsfield in 1691. Initially, they formed the army in exile of James II, though operating as part of the French army. After James' death, the remnants of this force merged into the French Irish Brigade, which had been set up in 1689 from 6000 Irish recruits sent by the Irish Jacobites in return for French military aid.