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The 1641 Rebellion: A triple tiered Conspiracy?

category national | history and heritage | opinion/analysis author Monday September 03, 2007 10:11author by Brian Report this post to the editors

This is a theory which attempts to shed light on the obscure origins of the Irish Rebellion of 1641.

To commemorate the Flight of the Earls I thought maybe indymedia readers might like this bit of history and speculation from 17th century Ireland. This is one theory anyway about the murky beginnings of the famous 1641 rebellion. I think that there are three stages in our understanding of this history, with some truth resting in each scenario:
1) The normal account of the time and since, which was that the Irish rebels were acting on their own iniative seeking to rid the wrongs of the Ulster Plantation.
2) That the King and the Royalist side of the upcoming English Civil War were somehow involved in the rebellion, which is now what a lot of Irish historians think.
3) I would contend that in fact the Parliamentarian side, and their national and international allies, were secretly involved in provoking and spreading this revolt.
Maybe it was like a triple tiered conspiracy with the second ring manipulating in a way the first, and the third manipulating both! I number each scenario below and have also added a few bits about the way the Irish people had great difficulty in setting the historical record straight. Anyway pull up a chair and see what you think...

1. On the evening of the 22nd Oct 1641 some of the dispossessed Irish of Ulster, lead by Phelim O'Neill, rose up in rebellion against the government. This fatal step changed the whole political complexion of Ireland for centuries to come. In a few years time virtually all the Irish Catholic owned land in Ireland was taken from them as pay back for their supposed terrible deeds during this allegedly bloody rebellion. Of course it has been presented as a genuine uprising in the face of serious grievances. And genuine grievances they certainly had, as even Dr George Leyburn notes, a friend of the Queen's who actually had a different view on the origin of the rebellion:
"And all this, as things were disposed, was no hard matter to compass: For the Irish had not enjoyed such a pleasant bondage under the English, but that they had contracted ill-will enough against their masters, besides which, other things contributed."(1)

Particularly the British government had again betrayed the Irish by delaying implementing the 'Graces', religious toleration for the Catholic religion and other concessions, that the Irish had been promised long since. They had also confiscated Irish lands in Ulster, and given them to Scottish immigrants, and were proposing to do the same for Connaught. So yes a large part of truth I think is contained in the well known story of that rebellion, a simple enough tale of Irish people fighting back against their oppressors.

But inho this is by no means the whole story. The mysterious origins of this rebellion have been debated and argued about for centuries, starting with Sir John Temple's 1646 account of the 'conspirators':
"This, as all such works of this nature, had its foundations laid in the dark, and sealed-up, no doubt, with many execrable oaths, the great engines of these times, bind-up the consciences, as well as the tongues, of men from discovery. Besides, they knew well enough, that the plot (being most abominable in itself, and to be carried-on with such detestable cruelty, ) would, even if it should take effect and be fully executed, (though success commonly gives to all other treasons applause and highest commendation,) undoubtedly render the first authors, as well as the bloody actors of it, most odious and execrable to all posterity. Therefore it is not much to be wondered-at, that the first beginnings (which were so mysterious and obscurely laid,) should remain as yet concealed with so great obstinacy." (2)

2. In think that there is in fact wheels within wheels in the above quote. Temple is lingering on this subject of mysterious conspirators as part of the usual sly Parliamentarian tactic of hinting that the King himself was involved in the revolt. This was part of a pattern where they managed to slander the King, and particularly the Catholic Queen, with having some underhand role in this 'massacre' - as the Parliamentarians always described it - of the Irish Protestants.(3) Hence the King was supposedly the kind of person who couldn't protect English or Scottish Protestants, and their liberties, and so was unfit to be their King. It is usually felt that this sort of line, spread by a huge media pamphleting campaign, finally destroyed the position of the King, leading to the beginning of the English Civil War.

Most of the time historians have seen the vested interests the Puritans had in spreading this propaganda, and tended to discount any truth in these rumours. But in fact from the beginning it has been remarkable how much evidence there is that the King did secretly support the rebellion, although this didn't stop centuries of historians dismissing it as just another 'conspiracy theory'. Particularly when the Irish rebels came forward with a Commission from the King authorising the rebellion, and sealed with the great seal of Scotland, it rapidly became known as the 'forged commission' as part of this dismissive attitude some historians took to these murky allegations. Also when the Marquis of Antrim's statement of 1650 came to light, which details how Antrim was asked by the King to raise a rebellion in cooperation with others like Ormonde, this again was dismissed as a convenient lie at the time when Antrim wanted to endear himself to Cromwell. They took this view even though it can be combined with numerous other accounts of the King's involvement.(4)

This historiographical viewpoint has survived until an article by Jane Ohlmeyer was published in 1992. (5) She wrote a biography of Antrim and came to the conclusion that he was telling the truth in 1650. This has now lead Irish historians to look again at these conspiracies, like Tadhg ó hAnnracháin in his book on Rinuccini:
"[the 1641 plotting] in which members of the Old English community also participated and which may have enjoyed at least a tacit element of approval from the embattled monarch himself."(6)

The logic of this view basically is that the King was getting desperate in 1641 as his power was being slowly undermined by Parliament. (Including his power over Ireland because it was now ruled by two Lord Justices who were close to the Parliamentarians.) So if he could just get the Irish nobility, who were always very Royalist, to take back the country in his name, from these Parliamentarian figures, then he could have at least one place that he could rely on. This included getting control of the Irish army which had been raised by Strafford and was one of the only important standing armies now existing that the King could possibly rely on. That the King was really only manipulating the Irish Catholics you can see in this quote from the aforementioned account by Dr Leyburn:
"That, how the King's affections to Catholics stood, they did not know, but this was manifest, that if he could have compounded with his Parliament, he would have sacrificed them all."(p.23)

This viewpoint is then if you like a second stage in unravelling these conspiracies. Clearly the plain headline news accounts of the rebellion are now known to be false, there was some underhand plotting involved by the bigshots in the UK, not just in Ireland. Somehow at least the royalist side was mixed up in all this.

3. But that I think is just stage two in this process, the real truth is even more conspiratorial in my opinion. Possibly the real key to understanding these events is to view the international context and on that score I will begin by quoting Dr John Nalson, a contemporary English historian and MP. Here he is writing about the way that the Parliament blamed the King, while he instead opts for another 'great person':
"There were indeed some great persons I doubt not who gave the rebels all the countenance, encouragement and assistance they could possibly; but I am for setting the saddle upon the right horse. Cardinal Richelieu, I make no doubt, who was in his time the great incendiary of Europe, and who had a great share in the management of the Scottish rebellion, as before hath been observed, had also, a very great influence both upon the rebellion in Ireland, and that which followed it in England [i.e. the revolt of Parliament against the King], as in due time I shall endeavour to make it appear. ..[then presents a letter that Mr James Wishert communicated to Mr Pym showing Richelieu's support for the rebellion, which Pym showed no interest in exposing..]...there may be dangerous confederacies even between pretenders to reformation [meaning the Parliamentarians and the Scots], and the greatest papists though for different ends, the reformers to secure themselves from justice by embroiling the nation, and the popish ministers of foreign nations, to keep us busy at home, that so we might not be at leisure to keep the balance even [the Balance of Power in Europe], as the Kings of England have ever had the honour to do; but that our hands being behind us by domestic divisions." (7)

To explain this it is necessary to sketch the international situation I think. The rebellion actually occurs right in the middle of the 30 years war in Europe. This war in essence was between the Catholic powers of the Empire (mostly Germany) and Spain (which controlled Belgium and a large overseas empire) against the northern european Protestant powers in northern Germany, Holland, Denmark and Sweden. Cardinal Richelieu's France was the exception in that it fought on the Protestant side, ostensibly because it wanted to prevent being encircled by this German Empire-Spanish alliance. Of course this was an enormous conflict with all these countries fighting themselves to a standstill at this point. Men, military supplies and food were all in short supply as this all consuming war took its toll everywhere.

In a way then the position of the UK and Ireland is one of a kind of suspicious, to the combatants, neutrality. Both sides were constantly wondering what were the Stuarts going to do, will they intervene and if so on which side? I guess the atmosphere would be analogous to the USSR and the USA going to war in the 60s say and China remaining neutral. After the combatants have used up most of their supplies they would both be vulnerable to the power of China. You can imagine that if this ever happened that Beijing would be crawling with intelligence agents from both sides hoping to influence the government.

Such was the kind of atmosphere that existed then with respect to Charles I and the combatants in Europe. An added complication to this was the potential role of the UK navy. You see, as pointed out, Belgium was Spanish territory and was wedged between the allies France and Holland. As you can appreciate a lot of the battles in the Low Countries depended therefore on the capacity of the Spanish to communicate by sea to Belgium, and indeed on the ability of the French to link by sea to the Dutch. Any half glance at a map will instantly tell you that Britain's navy could quickly jeopardise either of these two groups from communicating with their allies through the English Channel, hence again the importance the combatants placed on the attitude of the British government.

My contention then, alongwith Dr Nalson's, is that at some early point in this saga, say 1636, Cardinal Richelieu took the view that if you are not with me you are against me. According to Francoise de Motteville, a friend of the Queen's at court, Richelieu "thought it absolutely necessary for the weal of France that that prince [Charles] should have trouble in his country."(8) From that time on then he was constantly looking at ways to destabilise Charles I and his kingdoms.(9) I think too that he was allied to the Dutch in this destabilisation.(10) The reason is that at this time Charles had set upon creating an enormous navy, one that would dwarf any other navy in northern Europe. This was bound to have troubled the Dutch who had such a large overseas empire at this time. Hence I think it is reasonable to guess that they might have been cheering on the Parliamentarians when they were agitating against the King, especially when they objected to the ship tax which was to pay for this navy.

My guess therefore is that rather than focusing on all the constitutional and religious aspects of Charles' woes, the chances are that it was these international intrigues which really lay behind his difficulties. So in short I would propose that there was throughout this time (1636-42) an alliance between Richelieu in France (an experienced plotter, the brains of the affair), the Dutch (crucial for transport for the allies across these islands, and possibly for money), the Parliamentarians in London and the Covenanting Scots in Edinburgh, and this alliance's goals were simply to destroy the stability of Charles and his throne. It's not difficult to see the stages through which this plot progressed. It starts with Richelieu funding Leslie, the Scottish general, c.1636, leading to Charles running out of funds trying to put down the Scottish revolt, and then having to recall Parliament to raise money, leading to the sorry state he was in in 1641.

Which brings us back to the atmosphere that existed before the Irish rebellion. During those months relations between Charles and the Parliament had deteriorated to the point where both sides probably felt that a Civil War was inevitable. As that spectre rose on the horizon the obvious question Charles had to ask was where was he going to get an army to fight for him? He spent a lot of time trying to persuade the Scots, who controlled a large army, to support him, he was involved in numerous intrigues and episodes involving the London militia, the royal strongholds of the Tower of London, and the arsenal at Hull, but was thwarted everytime. His only hope now lay in Ireland. After all Ireland was Catholic, which meant that it was unlikely to support the extreme Protestant stand taken by the Puritans and the Scots. It also had this large standing army raised by Strafford and armed with a large stand of military supplies stored in Dublin Castle.

This though was also obvious to our plotters, the French - Dutch - Scots - and Puritans, who were all this time one step ahead of the King. Consequently their gaze must have fallen on Ireland as well, time to set off another of these revolts, to throw things into confusion before the King can secure that army and supplies? (There was quite a diplomatic dogfight going on with respect to that army, and the question of whether it might go abroad, alas too tedious to go into.) Bear in mind those Lord Justices, and the minority Protestant immigrant community, were the only blocks standing in the way of the King here. The Irish Parliament, and probably the army itself, was overwhelmingly Royalist.

As part then of this ongoing pattern of destabilising Charles I think these groups plotted to tear off this other chunk of his dominions, to follow on from their successful efforts in Scotland and indeed in London itself. There are also more specific reasons why each group might have wanted this revolt:
French - All throughout this long summer there were ongoing plans afoot to send this Irish army to fight with Spain on the continent. (The Spanish were going to pay Charles handsomely for the privilege.) Then when the rebellion broke out it caught fire among the men of this army and those plans came to nought, which was obviously in the interests of France. Also Richelieu was careful to assist the Irish soldiers in the service of Spain to come to Ireland to join the rebellion. By those simple means he rid himself of some of the best soldiers in his opponents army. This was especially true of Owen Roe O'Neill, a general who even at that time had a high military reputation which ended up even higher after his exploits in Ireland.
Scots - The Covenanting Scots were at all times I think nervous about the potential threat from Strafford's army in Ireland. Strafford had anyway raised the army with a view to attacking the Scots, using possibly the short sea journey from Antrim, the soft under belly of the Scots military position. Again the rebellion put paid to any plans like that. Also the Scots had got quite a taste of Irish land already and some of their leaders probably wanted to get more of it using the excuse of confiscations resulting from the new rebellion. (11)
Puritans and the Dutch - My guess is that the Parliamentarians wanted Irish land to fund their side of the upcoming Civil War. Very shortly after the rebellion broke out, too short for it to be a new idea I think, the Parliament mortgaged the lands of the Irish Catholics to London bankers and used the money to fund their war effort. I wonder too if Holland, a natural ally of the Parliamentarians, might have instigated some of these banking arrangements, which seem to fit better with the advanced banking systems used in Amsterdam at that time. The rebellion was the trigger for these banking instruments to kick in, and they no doubt felt that in due course they could always send over a Puritan or Scottish army and destroy the Irish rebels without too much difficulty, and then reclaim their land, which is what eventually happened.(12)

Hence in 1641 as Charles in still wondering where he is going to get his army these conspirators are already way ahead of him in conspiring to destabilise Ireland, to deny him that army and for these other reasons. Richelieu then is busy working with the O'Neills, and others in France, trying to persuade them to rebel; the Parliamentarians are wining and dining the Irish MP's who had come over to London to give evidence against Strafford; and the Scots are writing letters across into Ulster to the Irish nobility promising all kinds of aid if they would rebel, all beavering away trying to 'invite and instigate' the Irish rebellion, as one contemporary Irish historian said of the Parliamentarians.(13)

But they have a problem, we may surmise, this is proving something of a hard sell. Richelieu is too far away to be persuaded of his overwhelming power, after all the Irish had been waiting decades for the mythical help from the Catholic powers of europe, and it was usually a good bet that it wouldn't arrive! The problem with the Covenanting Scots and the Puritans was that they were clearly anti-Catholic, which naturally complicated an alliance with the Catholic Irish. Also the Scots immigrants had taken a lot of Irish land in Ulster, and both they and the new English settlers were swamping the natives a little bit, leading to some tensions no doubt. Here is one contemporary Irish poet complaining of their lot:
"Where have the Gaels gone? What is the fate of the mirthful throngs? I catch no glimpse of them within sight of the green land of Gaoidheal.....We have in their stead an arrogant impure crowd, of foreigner's blood, of the race of Monadh - there are Saxons there, and Scotch." (14) This again didn't augur too well for the popularity of the Scots, and the immigrant English, at this time in Ireland.

They needed something else to really get this going and my guess is that the King provided it. The fact is that one of the most startling aspects of this period is the degree to which these enemies of the King were able to manipulate him to do their bidding for them. It seems many of the King's closest advisers were secretly working for his enemies, and were using their position to bend the King's will their direction - I would guess people like the Earl of Holland, the big Scottish figures and maybe even Ormonde. This is graphically illustrated by the King's signature on the death warrant on the Earl of Strafford, the King's closest ally and friend.

It must have been obvious to the conspirators that if they could somehow get the King's consent for such a rebellion then the Irish, almost entirely Royalist, would agree to it. It isn't difficult to imagine how they could have done this. Advisers, ostensibly looking after the King's interests, could talk about how easy it would be for a few key nobility to just organise a bit of a coup and get those arms in Dublin Castle and, they would claim, the King's position would be transformed for the better. In fact it might have been the case that they could combine this talk with vague plans to seize arms from the arsenals in Edinburgh and London simultaneously, so in one fell swoop hoping to turn the tables on the Parliamentarians. The Scots might particularly have been working on the King that way during his sojourn in Scotland that autumn. Maybe then this works, he agrees to send Antrim on that mission and in Scotland they land his signature on the famous commission. I appreciate that this account of the King's role is pure speculation but it seems to fit nicely with the available evidence, which does show, in my opinion that the above conspirators were the real plotters of the rebellion (15), but also shows this royal involvement.

With his fingerprints on the Irish rebellion they now had ensnared the King, who must have now found that he made a terrible mistake. These plotters let loose the dogs of the media, hyping up the rebellion and even darkly hinting that the King and Queen were 'soft' on the rebels. The conspirators who were actually responsible for the plot were the exact same people who flooded the media with gory details about it, accusing someone else of it.

Now the King is stuck. Although not of course involved in any massacre, which never actually took place I don't think, he nonetheless did have some connection to the 'plot', and so was vulnerable to being blackmailed about it by the Parliamentarians. The more hype circulated about the rebellion the more a bead of sweat must have been visible on the brow of the King! The aforementioned Dr Leyburn, who among other things was sent on a special mission to Ireland in 1647 to try and stop Dublin being handed over to the Parliament, is hinting here I think that the King was blackmailed this way, and ended up doing whatever the Parliament asked him to in do with respect to Ireland:
"[The Puritans trying to stop the King from getting help from Ireland] had no so good way [to do this than] to affright the king from making use of that assistance, as by all means they could possible, to thrust the Irish into rebellion, and then to accuse the King, the Queen being a Catholic, as the author of it; from whence divers things would follow.
......Secondly, the King having this principle infused into him, that nothing was so necessary to his safety, as the clearing himself and the Queen from that Imputation, would be so far from seeking assistance that way, as he should not dare to refuse join with them [the Parliamentarians], in such Acts of Parliament as they should propose to him, for the better perfecting those designs; provided the pretence were the repressing or punishing of that rebellion, by which it would come to pass that they would levy what forces, or raised what monies they pleased, which afterwards they might convert to what uses they thought fit."(16)

So as the months go by you have a King actually paralysed in his Irish policy by this fear of being found out. This I think explains the anomaly of why he stuck with Ormonde, and his other Irish officials, long after it became obvious that they were secretly working for the Parliamentarians.(17) Ormonde himself no doubt had proof of the King's involvement in the rebellion, seeing as he himself was in the thick of it as shown by Antrim's account and other sources.(18) So all the King could do was somehow work around Ormonde, by giving Commissions to people like Antrim and Glamorgan making them de facto Lord Deputies while never actually firing Ormonde as the official Lord Deputy, because he was afraid of this potential blackmail. If true it was a crazy situation of course and I think goes a long way to explain his own downfall - which could have been prevented if he could have properly mobilised a united Catholic royalist Ireland - and the ruin of the first independent Irish parliament.

I appreciate that much of that account involves speculation but I respectfully submit that it is at least one way of connecting the dots across the known facts, and maybe better than the current received wisdom which accepts the King's involvement but which doesn't seem to answer all the questions raised by the surviving evidence. I think then that this was the real beginning of the Confederate wars in Ireland, secret conspiracies between Irish leaders and their supposed enemies, and this continued on giving the whole period the complexion of one long convoluted 'conspiracy' against the ordinary catholic Irish. You can read a blow by blow account of this, where nearly every episode is in fact a secret conspiracy rather than a genuine battle, in a contemporary account called the Aphorismical Discovery written at that time. This book was written, I am certain, by a Dominican priest, and famous Gaelic poet, called Fr Patrick Hackett O.P.(19) It recounts the real goings on of those days, and the real role of the great Irish leader, and supposed royalist, the Marquis of Clanrickard. Here he is trying to destroy his own army in Mayo in 1651:

"We left Clanricarde's army in the County of Mayo in Connaught, leading a miserable life, starving, though the county plentiful enough, and full of creaghts [small farmers], but durst not touch one cow without orders; no way was given to act any service on the enemy, going at random in loose companies in sight and upon advantage. When it pleased the Deputy-General [meaning the Lord Deputy Clanricarde] (moved thereunto by the continual suit and earnest supplication of the distressed commanders) to grant his orders, in the behalf of the starving army's relief, to get some beefs from the said creaghts, to this effect issued his orders in the morning, picked out the matter of a 100 or sometimes 200 for the execution thereof; but commanding their stay in camp till about evening, commanding his dispatches in the interim unto the foresaid creaght[s] (whereunto the said party was to march), straightly charging and requiring them to stand in arms for proper defence, and rescue their cattle from such a party, notwithstanding his own orders to the contrary. [Meaning that he warned the creaghts to disregard any orders that the oncoming soldiers might show to them.] Whereupon inviting their neighbouring creaghts, intimating the Lord Deputy's intentions, who flocking together in great multitudes, point blank ready against the said party [the soldiers], who arriving to the place appointed without breath or courage (as coming 7 or 8 miles, for a long time before without meat, drink or rest), intending to put their said commands in due execution, which the creaght people observing, having more recent orders than the soldiers, did gather together in battle array (never regarding their orders, or that they were their confederates, or that they were in extreme necessity of relief, or that they were either Catholics or natives fighting, or at least exposing their proper lives in their behalf), ran with such furious and merciless behaviour on, putting them out of countenance by the over swaying number and better appointment of that multitude, killing, maiming, disarming, and stripping the poor innocent soldiers, such of them as could save themselves by the benefit of a good pair of heels, running with the best speed possible to the camp, as well to inform what happened unto the party, as also in hope to be a guide with a stronger party to the same place, to force satisfaction, and relieve the said party's misery, which notified in high measure of grievance unto Clanricarde, would neither by himself repair the losses of both men and arms so miscarried, nor give to the respective officers and commanders interested to force satisfaction. This trick did the peer-deputy use several times, in so much that one moiety of the Leinster forces (in the behalf of whose destruction this plot was hatched) did not appear, as killed, stoned to death, or fled away from their colours, as not able to subsist under that merciless commander, and such as were extant, and did patiently bear all these miseries, were not useful as weak, naked and disarmed." (20)

It would be nice to be able to document in detail who in Ireland was most involved in these conspiracies but obviously that would be a huge undertaking. Suffice to say that in the above Aphorismical book, and in numerous other accounts like Commentarius Rinuccinianus, you can see clearly that the Earl of Ormonde and the above described Earl of Clanricarde were certainly heavily involved in these intrigues. Another, and possibly most interesting group, are the Jones family. These are the three sons of the Protestant Bishop of Killaloe: Dr Henry, Dean of Kilmore then Bishop of Clogher then of Meath (proffered to these sees on Ormonde's recommendation); Michael, the main Parliamentarian figure in Dublin throughout this time; and Theophilius who succeeded Henry as scoutmaster general after the restoration.(21) Henry is I think the most important, and the most involved in these intrigues and intelligence work in general. He was I think a classic example of the kind of 'intriguers' or intelligence agents that were floating around at this time.

It is a fascinating fact too that it was this intelligence agent who was most responsible for setting the predominant historiographical tone for the period - which basically amounted to blaming the Irish for the rebellion and supposed massacres. He was the "the master craftsman of the depositions", and it was his 'Remonstrance' book - which Temple just copied - which laid the foundations for the future historical inaccuracies.(22) He was even involved in the late 1680s with supplying information - probably fictitious - for Dr Borlase's history. (23)

Its no wonder then that such a false view of 1641 has been put abroad. Of course this false view relates mainly to these accusations that the Irish in Ulster in 1641 had massacred the recent Protestant immigrants who had come into Ulster since the Plantation of 1609. Speaking for myself I simply don't think that this is at all true. I think the government forces at the time, under people like Coote, were twice as bloodthirsty as any of the Irish. Even the famous Edmund Burke concluded that it was nothing more than "a pretended massacre". Burke had looked through the Depositions himself and discussed the subject with the historian Leland who agreed with him about this "but, when he began to write his history, he only thought of himself and the bookseller." (24)

Hence we see the same pattern of manipulated history while on the other side of the fence the Irish had great difficulties putting forward their version of what happened. For example the above account of Clanricarde in Mayo survived only in one manuscript which was not published until the late 19th century, long after the enemies of the Irish had set the historical tone for that period. And this is no accident, the true history had a way of getting censored as this account by Fr Robert O'Connell O.F.M. (Cap.) of the troubles the writer had in getting his work published shows:
"Hereafter on account of the Munstermen of the Irish Dominicans having been driven off from the former College of Louvain by the Provincial father, Fr Patrick O'Kearney, a man famous for his learning and virtue, and Fr Patrick Hackett, who adhered with great eagerness to the Nuncio and his supporters in Ireland....in this year [1652] writing in English to Fr Richard O'Farrell, the Irish Capuchin, from Louvain to the City [Rome]:
"I am compiling (he says) a tract of that damnedable defection of the anti Catholic faction from our confederation...[says that some of his 'friends' conspired to get his superiors to rule against his writing this work]...I compiled all the nefarious acts of the Parliamentarians, the edicts, declarations, proclamations and letters of the Council, and of the other prefects of the faction, as it is utterly forgotten...."
The above I translated from the autograph which was written on the 29th of November 1652. But actually afterwards, after he had been dislodged from the Louvain convent of the Dominicans as I said, and after he had died a few years later in Louvain, the book (as the prefect [Dominican] Fr Patrick O'Kearney related to me), by now finished, he deposited the custody of it into the house of a certain friend, Irish by nationality, where, I fear, it might have perished by the tricks of the Ormondists and heretics, to the most grave prejudice of the Catholic cause."(25)

We are lucky to even have that reference, it is from the Commentarius Rinuccinianus which was not published until the 20th century. (Btw the manuscript it was based on was copied just before it was destroyed in an Allied bombing raid on Milan in WWII.) Even then this huge (five large volumes) and important account remains available only in the original Latin. Again the fact that this was not published at the time is no accident either as you can see in this letter from a spy of Ormonde's writing to him from Florence in 1667 referring to this work:
"Here is at Florence an Irish Capuchin friar, a learned man formerly preacher at Sedan in France, called Fr Robert Farald [actually O'Connell, his former colleague was called O'Farrell], who to gratify the Gentleman Usher to the great Duchess; Cavagliere Rinuccini; whose brother was the Pope's nuncio in Ireland, hath finished a book begun by Fr Richard Farald, called the diary of the Nuncio in Ireland and intended for the press: but I fearing that partly to flatter the Nuncio's brother, he might report more magnificently of the Nuncio's proceedings than the truth would bear; and that partly out of zeal he might give too particular accounts, of the Actions, Endeavours, and Correspondences of the Nuncio and recall to mind what was much better lay in oblivion: And partly fearing that he might have wrote in Prejudice ['to our'?, word missing] Majesty of ever glorious memory, or the King my Gracious Sovereign and [word missing] or your Grace so great a Minister; I went to the friar and told him those annals relating to business of state so long and so bloodily d['one'?] he ought not to publish them without leave from his Majesty: or at least of his Privy Council. I asked him to see the book but he told me that [?without] license of his Superior he could not show it me. But he told me that Diary contained besides all the actions of the Nuncio, all the originals of Concernment written to, or from the Nuncio. I could heartily wish that [?'I was'] able to put papers of so high a nature into the Possession of your Grace. However I shall hinder the Printing in this state, and I hope po[?pressurise?] him to suppress them totally."(26)

Incidentally, as you can read in the earlier account of Hackett's troubles in the Dominican order, one of the major problems these historians had was trouble that was stirred up against them within the church. This again was no accident if this letter by the Irish Lord Deputy in 1673 is anything to go by:
"I believe it to be one of the most important things I could do both for his Majesty's service and for the security of his Protestant subjects here, either to keep those men [Catholic clergy] divided, or, if they were united, to break them [up] again. I made some of their friars, who always have their little wrangles with the secular clergy, to get up faction against their bishops." (27)

This is an important point because pretty much all the great Irish historians of this time, and I would say most other times, were Catholic clergy. One exception to this was Nicholas Plunkett of Dunsoghly who wrote an account of the later 17th century period which you can read at http://www.ucc.ie:8080/cocoon/celt/E703001-001. Its called "A light to the Blind" written in his old age after he had lost his son in the Williamite Wars. His experience of Irish politics makes his account also teem with 'conspiracies' rather than the plain history that people are used to. His instincts, and knowledge of events at the time, haven't being followed up much by later historians I don't think. Here is his thoughts on the Battle of the Boyne:
"There are instances enough of this [deliberate treachery] in history, both old and modern. If the present war of Ireland can show any, I leave it to the judgement of the reader; yet in the interim I am informed (as I touched before) that the lord Coningsby, treasurer of Ireland for the prince of Orange, giving up his accounts at London, in the year 1692, from the summer of 1690, wherein the battle at the Boyne happened, he brought a bill of many a thousand pound laid out in Ireland on secret services performed there for facilitating the conquest of that kingdom by several persons named that were on the king's side [meaning James II's]...." (p.85)

Its no wonder then that some people don't think that 'conspiracies' happen, they often do not have access to real history, and especially Irish history, which I think shows that 'conspiracies' are the stuff of politics any day ever !


Antrim - Randal MacDonnell, Earl of (later Marquis). He had extensive estates in Antrim and Scotland so was the natural person to transport an Irish army to Britain to help Charles, and plans of that nature were in the works for a long time both before and after 1641. Eventually he managed to get some troops across in late 1643-44, and these helped Montrose a lot in his Royalist uprising in Scotland.

Carte - Thomas, he was the English Jacobite author of a very important and hugely researched 18th century biography of Ormonde. He had access to so many sources in writing this work that Carte's book is often looked upon as a primary, rather than a secondary, source of information on the period.

Charles - Charles Stuart, officially "Charles, by the Grace of God, King of England [and his son was Prince of Wales], Scotland, France [a bit hopeful that!] and Ireland" at this time. He eventually fought a Civil War against the Parliamentarians, but lost, losing his head in the process!

Clanricarde - Ulick Burke, Earl of (later Marquis). He was the Catholic head of the Burke family of Galway, a grandson of Sir Francis Walsingham, Queen Elizabeth's famous spy chief, and half brother of the Earl of Essex an important Parliamentarian general. He succeeded Ormonde as Lord Deputy, technically Lord Lieutenant, but in the opinion of the Aphorismical Discovery kept up Ormonde's duplicitous practices of destroying the Irish, and royalist, cause.

Covenanting Scots - The Scots had revolted from Charles seeking greater toleration for the Presbyterian religion, and had organised a Covenant pledging themselves to these aims. Hence during these years Scotland was pretty much an independent country, and mostly allied to the Parliamentarians.

The Depositions - A large collection of contemporary statements collected by the government shortly after the revolt broke out and purportedly proving the existence of a widespread massacre. Their true veracity has been hotly debated ever since, with Gilbert for example saying that they were taken under threat of torture or imprisonment. They are now housed in TCD.

Glamorgan - Edward Somerset, Earl of, sent by the King in 1645 to patch up his differences with the Irish parliament and then gather an Irish army together to help him in England. He was quite successful in this until Ormonde threw him in jail accusing him of being a fraud and then the King disowned him.

Ormonde - James Butler, Earl of (later Marquis, then Duke). He was the Protestant head of the Butler family of Kilkenny who started off as commander of the cavalry in Strafford's Irish army, then its leader, then a long time Lord Deputy of Ireland. As such he was supposed to be representing the King's interests in Ireland but many Irish commentators pointed to episodes like his surrender of Dublin to Parliamentarian forces as proof of his underhand cooperation with the King's enemies.

Owen Roe O'Neill - A nephew of the Great O'Neill he fought at Kinsale and was exiled during the Flight of the Earls only to come back decades later after the rebellion had broken out. He had previously distinguished himself fighting in Belgium for the Spanish against the French. His brilliant conduct of the siege of Arras, for example, was observed by Richelieu in person. During these wars he is often considered the greatest military commander and created a formidable Ulster Catholic army which went on to defeat the Scots at Benburb, despite the huge supply problems that he faced.

Parliamentarians - This was a group in England who pressed the King seeking the abolition of the Anglican episcopacy, and other Protestant religious aims, the scrapping of the hated ship tax, and hoping to compel Charles to summon, and answer to, regular Parliaments. By 1641 they had compelled Charles to answer to most of their demands and dominated the machinery of government. Many of these figures like Pym, and sometimes even Cromwell, are considered in English historiography to be heroes in the ongoing struggle for a democratic constitution in Westminister, but Irish historians have never been that fond of them, especially in the case of the latter! During the Civil War this group split up into an Independent group, lead by Cromwell, and a Presbyterian group, but they were united during the period of the Irish rebellion. They are sometimes described as Puritans, or Roundheads.

Irish Rebels of 1641 - There were quite a few figures in the know like Phelim O'Neill, Rory O'More, Lord Maguire, and some Irish Colonel's then serving on the continent like Richard Plunkett (28), but I thought I would mention particularly some of the more 'conspiratorial' :-) type figures involved in the Plot:
Philip MacHugh O'Reilly, before and after the Irish wars he was an officer in the Spanish army, who's mother was a close relative of Argyle's (29) and who might have been one of those Irish MP's who formed links to the English Parliamentarians, which possibly he kept up. He is the unpopular Colonel mentioned in O'Donovan's letters for Cavan (p.56), and the Aphorismical Discovery (p.697-703) notes his expeditious exit from the second battle of Finea in early 1651. Could he be the Colonel Reilly, an Irish rebel, in receipt of moneys from England in 1646? (30);
Fr.Iver (or Heber) McMahon, Catholic Bishop of Clogher, who was accused by Clarendon of being all along a Government spy (31). Fr.John Lynch in his writings hints that he believes this, (32) and I notice he was Ormonde's choice as leader of the Ulster army at the famous meeting at Belturbet (33);
Daniel O'Neill, Owen Roe's nephew, who was possibly in the know although jailed that summer, and who Commentarius Rinuccinianus accuses of being behind a plot to kill his uncle (34);
and Rev Patrick Crelly - or Creely - the Cistercian abbot of Newry who seems to have been involved in the early stages of the rebellion in Ireland.(35) He was later a leading agent for Cromwell's spymaster Thomas Scot:
"One of his best agents appears to be an Irish abbot called Father Creely. Creely also went under the name of Captain Holland. He was located in the Queen Mother's court in Paris but also worked in Flanders and had men in Vienna, as well as some intelligence interests in the Vatican amongst the cardinals."(36) He was earlier an agent of Rinuccini's, then married, became a Protestant, and died in 1652. Fr Anthony Geoghegan had recommended him to become Bishop of Meath in a letter he sent to Propaganda dated 4th of Feb.1652. (37)

Richelieu - The Cardinal who was effectively the Prime Minister of France throughout this period. He was succeeded in this job by his friend Cardinal Mazarin. Widely considered to be very unscrupulous and vindicative - as you can see even in fiction in the 'Three Musketeers' - in his foreign policy he always favoured the Protestant position, and was followed in that by Mazarin. This begs the question, for me anyway, as to whether or not a little corruption in these matters was evident in the Vatican at this time. I'm definitely not accusing the Pope, or any of the Irish clergy, but the very fact that these two unscrupulous gents got those red hats, despite their constant support for the Protestant side in the 30 Years War, would surely make one a little suspicious of some of these Vatican officials. Say the Berberini's for example, who were close to the French. This raises an issue about Rinuccini, who lingered a long time talking to Mazarin before he came across to Ireland, and who seems to have been somewhat pro-French.(38) Could he have been acting deliberately when he caused so much chaos at the Confederation of Kilkenny, so banjaxing the Irish cause in the interests of Cromwell, Mazarin's ally ?

Rinuccini - Rev Giovanni Battista, a Florentine Archbishop who came to Ireland as Papal Nuncio to the Confederation of Kilkenny. Second only to Ormonde in his marvellous capacity to divide and confuse the Irish Catholics. Later a former ally of his in Ireland, Fr Richard O'Farrell, and another Capuchin, Fr. Robert O'Connell, wrote a huge account of his time in Ireland called Commentarius Rinuccinianus.

Strafford - Thomas Wentworth, Earl of. Long time, and ruthless enough, Lord Deputy of Ireland before these events. He was a loyal adherent of Charles but was attainted by the English Parliament, sentenced to death, and executed on the 12th May 1641.

1. George Leyburn "The Memoirs of George Leyburn..."(Edinburgh,Clarendon Historical Society,1886) p.13.

2. Sir John Temple "The Irish Rebellion of 1641"(London, 1812) p.63 first published in London 1646.

3. For an example of the Parliamentarians accusing the King of involvement in the rebellion see "A Declaration of the Commons Assembled.....concerning the rise and progress of the Grand Rebellion in Ireland.."(London, 1643).

4. See particularily Antrim's deposition available at G. Hill "An Historical Account of the MacDonnells of Antrim" (Belfast, 1873) p.448-451. Antrim says he was asked by the King in 1641 to help organise a kind of rebellion, in cooperation with the Earl of Ormonde, to seize Dublin Castle etc - basically to mobilise Strafford's army in defence of the king.

One 75 year old correspondent of Dr Borlase's had no doubt but that the Commission was genuine and that Antrim "had done nothing but what he had orders and letters for" from the King. (Letter from Louis du Moulins to Dr Borlase (the historian and son of the former Lord Justice) 2 Sept 1679 Pearse St Gilbert Ms 190 p.126 copy of Sloane Ms 1008.)

After Antrim was acquitted of involvement in the rebellion, at his trial after the Restoration, one of the judges at his trial published a pamphlet reprinting King Charles II 's letter of July 1663 which accepts that Antrim was all along acting under his father's instructions (Henry Bennett "Murder Will Out" (London, 1689)). Antrim's instructions and letters are also discussed at length in Miciah Tougood "An essay on Charles I" (London, 1748) c.p.41, where it is felt that letters in Antrim's custody proved the Queen's planning of the rebellion and the King's consent to it.

There are of course numerous references to the King's support for the rebellion in the Depositions and other sources e.g. in this deposition of Arthur Culme the owner and governor of Clogh-Oughter castle Co.Cavan:
"..was surprised by the sheriff who had knocked on his door, the sheriff [Myles the Slasher O'Reilly] (or his party) saying "they had a commission from his Majesty to disarm all the British", being by the deponent demanded the reason for it, they said the intention of his Majesty was by their means to bring into subjection the puritan faction of the Parliament of England, and that they would right the Queen's Majesty for aspersions laid on the royal [person] - too bold for them to speak or without modesty to be related." (Tomas Fitzpatrick "The King's Commission" U.J.A. Ser 2 Vol.XV Feb-May 1909 p.8.)

5. Ohlmeyer's defence of that version of events is in History Journal 35, 4 (1992) p.905-919.

6. Tadhg ó hAnnracháin "Catholic Reformation in Ireland: The Mission of Rinuccini; 1645-1649" (Oxford, 2002) p.8.

7. John Nalson "An Impartial Collection of the Great Affairs of State" (London, 1683) Vol II p.897.

8. Quoted at http://www.uni-mannheim.de/mateo/camenaref/cmh/cmh410.html .

9. A description of Richelieu's support for the Scots is given by Carte, quoting from sources like some French letters in 'Ambassades de M. d'Estrades' published in Amsterdam in 1718. He also points out that Neil O'Neill came over to Ireland in early summer 1641 with assurances of help for a rebellion from Richelieu. Carte also sees this overall link between Pym-the Scots-and Richelieu. At one point Carte relates that Pym deliberately refused to heed information that he had that Richelieu was plotting rebellion in Ireland "which shows it to be a tender point, and that the faction had measures to keep with that Cardinal." Carte says of Richelieu:
"who after enslaving his own country, made it his business to foment disturbances in all parts of Europe, who had contributed so much to the late rebellion in Scotland, and had too much influence upon that, which broke out soon in England."
Carte heads one of his paragraph's on the Scots rebellion: "Fomented by Cardinal Richelieu." He says that Richelieu began to work against Charles after the latter had opposed his taking Dunkirk in November 1637. Says that Richelieu sent M. de Bellevre to stir up trouble in London around that time (for which he draws on Rushworth Vol II p.8). He also talks about correspondence between Richelieu and Alexander Leslie at that time. Leslie wanted 50,000 crowns to start a rebellion in Scotland and Richelieu replies giving him 100,000 ! Carte also says that the Scottish Covenant itself was largely drawn up by Richelieu in France. (Thomas Carte "Life of Ormonde"(Oxford, 1851) Vol I p.175-181 Vol II p.320, 369 and 18th cent edition book II p.183 and p.88-89.)

Some notes on this by a German historian:
"It cannot be doubted that alliances between the Scots and Cardinal Richelieu had already been formed [by 1639]; they were carried on through his almoner Charles.......Belliévre considered that the old alliance between France and Scotland ought to be renewed, and the King of England hindered from ever embarking on hostilities against France without the fear arising in his mind that he would have the Scots against him."
Referring again to Richelieu's agent Bellievre: "For not only the Scots, but all those who even in England were in opposition to the court attached themselves to him."
Henry Rich, Earl of Holland..."had ever remained thoroughly French. Above all he had held fast to Richelieu....and the closest ally of the Scots." Later he notes that "while the [French] ambassador was inciting the Scots against him [Charles] , in order to keep him occupied within his own dominions and prevent him from opposing the undertakings of the French against Spain." (Leopald von Ranke "A History of England principally in the 17th century" (Oxford, 1875) Vol II p.156, 180; p.479, Incidentally he questions the authenticity of some of the Richelieu letters in the d'Estrades book mentioned above (p.456) but I don't think his arguments in that respect are particularly plausible.)

The Richelieu connection to the Irish Rebellion:
"In the mean time there landed one Neale O'Neale, sent by the Earl of Tyrone out of Spain, to speak with the gentry of his name and kindred, to let them know that he treated with Cardinal Richelieu for obtaining succour to come for Ireland, and that he prevailed with the Cardinal, so that to have arms, ammunition and money from him on demand to come for Ireland.....[in reference to the same Colonel:] that the said Colonel was really with himself assured of the Cardinal's aid." (Examination of Conor Lord Maguire 21 March 1641/2 published in J. T. Gilbert "Contemporary History of Affairs in Ireland, 1641-1652" Vol I p.503 and 511, also on p506-507 there are further references to the Richelieu connection.)

"..that the intended rebellion was made known unto the Cardinal Richelieu in France long before it was known in Ireland, and that the rebels did expect arms and ammunition everyday out of France when the wind should serve." (Examination of Colonel John Read taken on the rack Dublin 22 March 1641/2 published in John T. Gilbert "History of the Irish Confederation and War in Ireland" (Dublin, 1882-91) Vol I p.299.)

The Papal representative Rossetti, writing back to Berberini in Rome after interviewing Richelieu on 26 January 1642, says that Richelieu was supportive of the rebellion. But by the 15 February following he says that the rebels can expect no more material help from France. This is as one would expect of course from Richelieu, he wanted to start the rebellion but he actually wanted the Parliamentarians and the Scots to defeat the Irish so he closed the door behind them after the Irish had gone from the Continent to join the rebellion. In this well known correspondence Berberini stated that he had heard from the Papal Nuncio in Paris that France was friendly to the Parliamentarians and so he reckoned there would be no assistance from there for the Irish (from early 1642 on.) (Catalogue of Irish material in the Berberini library in the Vatican. Archivium Hibernicum Vol.XVIII (1955) p.132. This correspondence is described in detail in Gordon Albion "Charles I and the Court of Rome" (London, 1935) p.376. Incidentally the Queen asked the Vatican for money to bribe the Parliamentarians like Pym (ibid p.363 ).)

The DNB under Thomas Preston also mentions Richelieu's support for the Irish rebellion.

The French ambassador had tipped off the five MPs that Charles wanted to arrest in the House of Commons, described by Belloc thus:
"As for the French ambassador's action it was but a part of all French policy had been doing since the beginning of the troubles, since Richelieu had secretly sent money to help the covenanting rebellion in Scotland." (Hilaire Belloc "Charles I" (London, 1933) p.253-256.)

William Colville (brother of the Baron of 'Cleische') was one of the go betweens twixt Richelieu and the 'mécontents' of Great Britain, in 1639-early 1640. One of the letters from the Scots seeking help from Richelieu was signed by Leslie, Mar, Loudoun, Forester, Rothes, Montrose and Montgomery. (M Avenel edit. "Letters, Instructions, Diplomatics and Papers of State of Cardinal de Richelieu." (Paris, 1867) VI 1638-1642 p.688 -689.)

10. Of course it was well known that Richelieu was allied to the Dutch at this point - and by the Dutch incidentally I am referring to the big merchants in Amsterdam who ran the Republic, rather than necessarily the House of Orange. The Dutch were also natural allies of the Parliamentarians and the Covenanting Scots, for religious reasons and as an example of a country that gained its independence from an overmighty Catholic ruler.(The Parliamentarians and the Scots tended to look upon Charles as a kind of half Catholic, not the full Protestant shilling!) Therefore it is probably unnecessary to show the links between the Dutch and these groups but here are two bits and pieces in any case:

Referring to the Parliamentarians the Papal representative, Charles Francis Invernizio, says this in a report to the Pope on events in Ireland, dated 1645:
"Just as the Hollanders, with whom if they did not strike secretly a treaty up to this point certainly they cherish the greatest friendship,.."
("quemadmodum Hollandi, cum quibus si foedus secreto non percusserunt, adhuc certe summam alunt amicitiam," Vatican Library: Barberini Lat. 2242 published in Archivium Hibernicum Vol VI 1917 p.125.)

"Most of these Grandee's [the big Parliamentarian figures] are reported to have for their retreat houses in the Low Countries, richly furnished with sequestered plate, linen, and stuff and great store of money in bank for their shelter, against such storms as their rapine, tyranny, and ignorance may happily raise here amongst us." (Clement Walker "The History of Independency" (London, 1649) 2nd pt.p.11.)

11. For a description of these Scots- Irish issues see David Stevenson "Scottish Covenanters and Irish Confederates" (Belfast, 1981) passim.

12. One correspondent outlines in this letter how the House of Commons decided on a monday, after hearing the news of the rebellion the previous day, to raise 50,000 pounds for the Irish war, while assuring the City that "they shall have an act for the repaying of it plus interest." (Letter of 6th November 1641 J.Dillingham to Lord Montagu HMC Montagu (1900) p.134-5.)

The main work on this question is by JR MacCormack who outlines that as early as November the 3rd deals were being struck involving "a judicious blend of London money and Scottish troops." Yet it wasn't until December that the Lord Justices are writing back to London talking about the possible defection to the rebels of the Pale gentry, the only people who had sufficient lands to justify these kind of loans - the Ulster rebels of course had almost no lands, they had already being confiscated under the Ulster plantation of 1609. So I am just adding to that by pointing out that on that tight timescale it must have been the case that those parties were planning this all along, before the rebellion broke out, which I think MacCormack himself hints at below (the 'brows' thing is from Clarendon):
"In the House of Commons, on November 1, the radicals, aware that Ireland formed a common focus of interest for the Scots, the London merchants and many of their supporters in the house, received the news of the rising with 'smooth brows'."
The article also describes how this money was actually used to fund a huge chunk of the Parliamentarian - and Scottish - war effort, not particularly in subjugating Ireland. (JR MacCormack, "The Irish Adventurers and the English civil war," Irish Historical Studies, X (1956), p.21, 24.)

This is an account of the land sale by a Papal representative in 1645, showing I think that it was planned before it could possibly have been justified:
"Before this time a proclamation was published in London by the Parliamentarians, by which the goods of all the Irish Catholics are confiscated and bid for during a public auction, and [so that] the buyers, from wickedness, might not fail to profit from [this] stolen and illegal allotment, when gold might not be at hand, a certain imaginary distribution of land, and a sale, has been made.....By which reckoning, and tyrannical invention indeed, a great body of money, arms and soldiers having been collected are sent into Ireland against the Confederate Catholics."
("Sub idem tempus Londini a Parlamentariis promulgatum fuit edictam, quo omnium Hybernorum Catholicorum bona fisco sunt addicta et licitantibus sub hasta venundata, et ne sceleri materies furtivae et illicitae designationi emptores deessent, cum non suppeteret argentum, imaginaria quaedam divisio terrarum, ac venditio facta est....Qua quidem ratione et tyrannico invento magna vis pecuniarum armorum, et militum collecta et in Hyberniam contra confoederatos catholicos missa est." by Charles Francis Invernizio reporting to the Pope Vatican Library: Barberini Lat. 2242 published in Archivium Hibernicum Vol VI 1917 p.102.)

13. Richard O'Ferrall OFM (Cap.) see the article at http://www.indymedia.ie/article/79358, written by the current writer, Appendix D footnote 81. That both the Scots and the Parliamentarians must have been encouraging the Irish rebels at this time we can see from this account in Carte about the first explanation that the Irish rebels gave as regards their allies:
"Thus they [the Irish rebels] gave out that one while, the Scotch were joined with them in covenant, not to leave a drop of English blood in England, as they (the Irish) would not in Ireland; and that they had a writing to that effect signed with the hands of the prime nobility of Scotland, and particularly depended on the Marquis of Argyle's assistance. Another while they maintained, that they had authority from the parliament of England for what they did, and should be supported by that body in the insurrection, which they had made against the crown and dignity of the King. But as these allegations were not so well adapted to gain the Roman Catholic nobility and gentry of English race in Ireland, who hated the Scots and dreaded the violence of the English parliament, they soon found it more for their purpose to pretend, that they were authorised by the King, and that Sir Phelim O'Neill had a commission from him to take up arms." (Thomas Carte "Life of Ormonde" (Oxford, 1851) Vol I p.360.)

14. "Cáit ar ghabhadar Gaoidhil?
créad díol na ndrong bhforbhfaoilidh?
ní fhoghbhuim a n-amhorc sin
a radharc ghormfhuinn Gaoidhil.

Ní fhaicim an ndroing ndearcghlais
um dhromchluibh dhionn n-oireachtais,
a ccongháir ní claisdear leam
ag taisdeal orláir Éireann.
Atá againn 'na n-ionadh
dírim uaibhreach eisiodhan
d'fhuil Ghall, do ghasraidh Mhonaidh,
Saxoin ann is Albonaigh
Ní fhaic aoinneach d'fhuil Ghaoidhil
ní ar bioth lé mbí forbhfaoilidh,
ní chluin guth as láinbhinn leis -
uch! a n-áirmhim dá n-aitheis.
Díbirt Ghaoidheal ghuirt Bhanbha,
gé atá a chlú ar chath n-allmhardha,
fearg Dé ré ccách dá ccolgadh
is é is fháth dá n-ionnarbadh.
Díoghaltas Dé as adhbhar ann -
fir Albon, ógbhaidh Lunnand
do anadar 'na n-áit sin -
cáit ar ghabhadar Gaoidhil?

Where have the Gaels gone? What is the fate of the mirthful throngs? I catch no glimpse of them within sight of the green land of Gaoidheal.

I do not see the dark-eyed throng around the heights of fortified assembly places; their tumult is not audible to me as I traverse Ireland's plains.
We have in their stead an arrogant impure crowd, of foreigner's blood, of the race of Monadh - there are Saxons there, and Scotch.
No-one of the blood of Gaoidheal sees anything at which to rejoice; he hears no voice he considers full-sweet - och the extent of their humiliation I (have to) relate.
The expulsion of the Gaels of the field of Banbha, although its vaunt is claimed for a foreign battalion, it is the wrath of God scourging them before all - that is the (real) cause of their expulsion.
The vengeance of God is the reason for it. The men of Scotland, the youths of London have settled in their place. Where have the Gaels gone?" (William Gillies "A Poem on the Downfall of the Gaoidhil" in Éigse Vol XIII pt III summer 1970 p.203.)

15. The references that link Richelieu, closely allied to the Dutch of course, to the Irish rebellion are listed in footnote 9 above. That just leaves the Scots and the Parliamentarians, taking first the Scots:
The opinion of Dr John Nalson, the contemporary historian and English MP:
"And the Confession of the Lord Maguire, which the reader shall presently see, does not obscurely hint, that the Earl of Argyle the head of the Covenanting Rebellious Scotch Presbyterians, was under-hand working the Irish into some conspiracy against the King, probably that his hands being full, they might procure better terms for themselves and divert the storm of the English arms, which then were impending upon them." (John Nalson "An Impartial Collection of the Great Affairs of State" (London, 1683) Vol II p.552-3)

Carte mentions "a Treaty formerly on foot between Tyrone and the Earl of Argyle, for an alliance and mutual assistance, and from some expressions of the latter, intimating that he had it in his power to set all Ireland in a flame." This Earl of Tyrone, who lived on the continent and was the recognised leader of the O'Neills (and succeeded in that by Owen Roe of course), died not long before the rebellion. Carte is saying that Argyle boasted of his ability to raise havoc in Ireland. (Thomas Carte "Life of Ormonde"(Oxford, 1851) Vol I p.175-181, Vol II p.329.)

Leslie in 1638 - the C in C of the Scottish army of course - is reported to have threatened that if the King attacked Scotland he would "find enough to do in both Kingdoms, especially in Ireland, o'er long."(David Stevenson "Scottish Covenanters and Irish Confederates" (Belfast, 1981) p.26.)

In the famous King's Commission it was stated that the Irish are to seize all castles "except the places, persons, and estates of our loyal and loving subjects the Scots."(Edward Bowles "The Mysterie of Iniquity" (London, 1643) p.36.)

George Ffercher of Toneheighe, parson of Cleenish Co Fermanagh, saw the King's Commission and the letter from the prime nobility of Scotland and something from the hand of the Earl of Argyle to that effect (Thomas Fitzpatrick "The King's Commission" U.J.A.ser 2Vol XIII Aug-Nov 1907p.136). This is mentioned as well by Henry Jones in "A Remonstrance" (London, 1642) p.38 where he says "This Scots-Irish Covenant some in the hand of the Earl of Argyle seen by George Fercher of Tonchey Co.Fermanagh clerk.")

Nicholas Willoughby, from Cavan town, describes what he heard from Donnough McGuire:
"Expressing that the Scots were and had been always their friends, and that they had a Covenant to show whereby might appear the fair correspondence between them and the Scots in Scotland, which Covenant imparted that the Irish should never take part with the English against the Scots. And that the Scots should never take part with the English against the Irish, and that it was so Covenanted between many of the Lords of Scotland and many of the Lords and chief gentry of Ireland, and that Hugh McMaughon had the Covenant to show (which they would not show us.." (Thomas Fitzpatrick U.J.A. Ser. 2 Vol. VIII Oct 1902 p.170.)

Some more gossip from the Depositions:
Thomas Grant of Cavan saw the Covenant between the Irish and the Scots, and when he asked John Reilly why they did not meddle with the Scots: "he said the Scots did join with them." (Henry Jones "A Remonstrance" (London, 1642) p.35, 37.)

Richard Bellings says that the conspirators in Ulster thought the Scots would join with them. (John Thomas Gilbert "History of the Irish Confederation and the war in Ireland" (Dublin, 1882-91) Vol V p.23.)

And the evidence linking the Parliamentarians to the Irish rebellion:
For some contemporary accounts of their involvement in the Irish rebellion see http://www.indymedia.ie/article/79358 Appendix D towards the end (especially footnote 85). Here are a few more such references and some interesting opinions of later historians. (When you read references below to the Lord Justices, note that most people accept that they were always acting at the behest of the Parliamentarians in London .e.g. the great historian Charles O'Conor noted simply that "The Lords Justices leagued secretly with the Puritans in Westminister" (Charles O'Conor of Belnagare writing in the preface to Dr Curry "Historical Memoirs of the Irish Rebellion in the year 1641" (Dublin, 1770) p.xvi.)):

"..two Lords Justices, named Sir John Borlase and Sir William Parsons. These were both ardent Puritans and partizans of Parliament. They were anxious to see the fall of the English monarch, for they were his bitterest enemies, and they thought that he would be embarrassed, in his fight with the Parliament in England, by a revolution in Ireland. And so the very men who were the guardians of the state lent themselves to promote the rebellion by every means in their power." (Thomas N. Burke O.P."Ireland's Vindication" (London, 1873) p.199)

When the Irish Parliament proposed to raise an army to put down the rebellion:
"This way of proceeding did not square with the Lords Justices designs, who were often heard to say, that the more there were in rebellion, the more land should be forfeited to them; and therefore, in the very height of the business they resolved upon a Prorogation;" (Dr Curry "A brief account from the most authentic protestant writers.."(Dublin, 1752) p.141 quoting Castlehaven's memoirs p.34.)
Castlehaven also said, referring as well to the effect of the severity of the parliamentarians dealings with the Irish, that:
"..the Scotch, and their wicked brethren in the Parliament of England, [were] the main occasion of that horrid insurrection."(James Touchet Castlehaven "The Earl of Castlehaven's Review" (London, 1684) p.20.)

Hugh Reilly, writing in 1693, says that when Charles I was "wheedled into such prodigious concessions" to the Presbyterian party, "then the fanatics of Ireland who all the while kept a strict correspondence with those of England" concluded that this was a good time for a rebellion. (Hugh Reilly "Ireland's Case Briefly Stated" (first published 1695 this edition London, 1768) p.20.)

"Let him [an impartial person] bear in mind, that forged plots, supported by perjury and occasionally by the stupid and clumsy contrivance of letter-dropping, had been one of the steady and uniform machines in the government of Ireland, from the invasion to that period; and had produced the forfeiture of millions of acres....Clarendon, Carte, Warner, Leland and Gordon all agree that the grand object of the Lords Justices was, in the beginning, to extend the flames of civil war...for the purposes of producing extensive confiscations......[quoting Gordon Vol I p.403] "to involve as many as possible in the guilt of rebellion was part of the plan of the Lord Justices, whose great object was an extensive forfeiture of lands."....[referring to these land confiscations which, quoting Warner p.199] "unlocks the whole secret of their iniquitous practises...and for all their backwardness in putting an end to the rebellion." (M. Carey "Vindiciae Hibernicae or Ireland Vindicated" (Philadelphia, 1819) p.344, 348, 349.)

"In fact the whole of the plan [the 1641 conspiracy] was made known to the Lords Justices from a very early period....But Parsons looked forward to a rebellion as his harvest. He had already gained a large fortune by trading in confiscations; and he trusted that a new insurrection would place at his disposal more estates than even Strafford had ventured to contemplate. In fact as Sir William Petty judiciously observes, there was now a great game to be played for the estates of the Irish proprietors." (W. C. Taylor "History of the Civil Wars" (Edinburgh, 1831) Vol. I p.262.)

"The only object of the Lord Justices was to multiply forfeitures by adding to the number of compulsory rebels.....The inventors of that lie were themselves the rebels, and the insurrection which did really take place was a rising for the King against the English and Irish Regicides." (Notes by Gavan Duffy on the 1641 Rebellion NLI MS 4198A p.45, quoting a review of Rinucinni's Memoirs in Foreign Quarterly Review Oct 1844 and then a newspaper article which refers to that review.)

16. http://www.indymedia.ie/article/79358 Appendix D footnote 85. Another similar account can be seen in the memoirs of Nicholas Plunkett of Dunsoghly (he is described at that same website) who also states that the Parliamentarians were behind the rebellion, which they promoted to sate their:
"insatiable appetite of [for] wealth and arbitrary government thereby to compass and expedite the King's ruin, and asperse him too with this which was their own guilt, so as I defy history to match the Rebellion of those three nations from 1637 to 1660, and indeed the actions of those the Presbyterians and Rinuccians are so palpably known to be guilty of the whole deplorable mischief, as no insinuation of lies to veil over or varnish their execrable crimes is able to conceal the same from any judicious person but an ignoramus jury."(NLI Ms 346 p.844)

17. You can read this view of Ormonde in the Aphorismical Discovery and countless other accounts written from an Irish perspective. Even Old English figures like Dr Nicholas French, the Bishop of Ferns, have no good things to say about Ormonde in their later writings.

18. See http://www.indymedia.ie/article/79358 Appendix D footnote 83.

19. You can see he is the author of the Aphorismical Discovery when you consider these reasons:
a) Hackett was a poet in Latin and Irish (i), and was, according to Commentarius Rinuccinianus, "an author elegantly skilled in Irish, English, Latin and (I believe) other languages.." (ii). Gilbert meanwhile refers to the anonymous author of the Aph. Disc.:
"The whole supplies evidence of the author's familiarity with Latin, Spanish, Italian, French, and Gaelic."(iii) Yet notice how he, slightly unusually, writes in English when writing to O'Farrell in 1652, which may then show that English was the language that he preferred to use at that time - same as our author of course. (Btw the poetry that you see throughout the work, mostly in English but one in Latin, must have written by him.)

(b) The anonymous author and Hackett are fond of the word 'faction', used in the Irish introduction to some of his poems (iv), and in the English letter that he sent to Fr O'Farrell quoted in the text. (The full title of the book is the "Aphorismical Discovery of Treasonable Faction', and throughout the work the author called the Ormondists the 'faction'.

(c) Most people always knew of course that this anonymous author was probably an Irish cleric in one of the Regular orders but you can also see a particular bias in favour of the Dominicans e.g. the description of Owen Roe O'Neill dying in a Dominican habit, a mention of a miraculous intervention by St Dominic, and the long account of troubles in the Dominican convent in Cashel - where Hackett was based for a time.

(d) In the letter accompanying the work the anonymous author draws attention to the fact that he is of both Norman and Gaelic ancestry, and Hackett's father was Norman and his mother Gaelic Irish.(v)

(e) The first initial of the signature of the letter accompanying the book seems to be a signature device combining P and H.(vi)

(f) Obviously then, as you can read in the Commentarius quote in the main text, Hackett wrote a book exactly at the right time for this work and coming from the exact same political perspective. Gilbert reckons that the anonymous author wrote the Aph. Disc. between 1652 and 1660 which matches this timeframe exactly.

Footnotes to the above
i. For an example of Latin in his poetry see Éigse Vol XII pt IV 1968 p.295.
ii. "Author Ibernicam, Anglicam, Latinam, et (credo) alias linguas eleganter callebat..." (Fr.Richard O'Farrell and Fr.Robert O'Connell "Commentarius Rinuccinianus" (Dublin, Irish Manuscripts Commission, 1932-49) Vol.V p.75.)
iii. John T Gilbert " A contemporary History of Affairs In Ireland" (Dublin, 1880) Vol I p.ix.
iv. Mháire Ní Cheallacháin "Filíocht Phadraigín Haicéad" (Dublin, 1962) p.38.
v. See Irish Genealogist Vol V No.2 Nov 1975 p.264 and A. Valkenburg "Pádraigín Haicéad as Caiseal Mumhan" Feasta 36 (1983) 15-19.
vi. John T Gilbert "A contemporary History of Affairs In Ireland" (Dublin, 1880) Vol I p.9.

20. John T Gilbert "A Contemporary History of Affairs In Ireland" (Dublin, 1880) Vol II p.193.

21. Thomas Carte "Life of Ormonde" (Oxford, 1851) Vol II p.350.
Personally I think that Henry Jones' presence in Cavan at the outbreak of the rebellion was the most important factor in rising that county out into revolt. My guess is that he encouraged the O'Reillys, especially the then sheriff of Cavan, to rebel, claiming that it was in the interests of the King. Then he writes an account of his time there putting all the blame on these O'Reillys and conveniently scrubbing out of history his own role there.(i) As I admit, about that episode I am only guessing because Jones' account of that time in Cavan is the only detailed history there is to go on. Then you have his diary as scoutmaster general, which has been preserved for 1649-50 (ii). Scoutmaster General made him a kind of "chief detective officer" (iii), although in practise I think it made him the most important agent provocateur. Incidentally after the Restoration, when he was succeeded by his brother Theophilius in that post (iv), the latter got up to the usual government entrapment tricks in the Captain Blood plots of c.1663 (v)

Some of his services as a government agent include: taking Antrim's statement in 1650 and transmitted it to Cromwell. (vi); "gave timely information" to the government on the first siege of Drogheda (vii); and capturing the Book of Kells and the Book of Durrow and giving them to TCD along with two oak staircases that adorn the Old Library (viii). Some of the more underhand intel tricks he used came to light in the case of Redmond O'Hanlon the famous rapparee. He on the one hand put pressure on Redmond, by not opposing a proclamation going out against him, while simultaneously using many contacts to try to encourage him to take government money to give false evidence against St Oliver Plunkett. Eventually Ormonde, his close ally, just commissioned two people to murder Redmond. (ix)

Again in the following case I think he probably deliberately put pressure, false allegations, on Fr Edmund Murphy in order to then pressurise the desperate Murphy to give evidence against Plunkett. This is Jones' own letter describing Murphy's difficulties:
"Edmund Murphy, a Popish priest, whose place of residence was in the Tory Quarters so as advantage was taken against him by one Baker and Smith living about Dundalk whereby to charge him with corresponding with Tories. His having before charged them in like manner their interests prevailing so as to cast the poor man into prison when he was to have been tried the last Assizes of Dundalk and had undoubtedly perished had he not seasonably escaped and put himself under the protection of Government as a prosecutor against the Popish Primate, Plunkett. That which is herein desired is that his condition be presented to the King for his pardon, in which I am concerned as being to me recommended lately by that honourable lord, and worthy patriot, the Earl of Shaftesbury." (x)

Footnotes to the above
i. Henry Jones "A Relation of the beginnings and proceedings of the rebellion in the County of Cavan.."(London, 1642) reprinted in John T Gilbert "A Contemporary History of Affairs In Ireland" (Dublin, 1880) Vol I p.478-497.
ii. JRSAI (1893) Ser 5 Vol III p.44 and UJA no.3 1907 p.153.
iii. Thomas Fitzpatrick "Sir Phelim's Commission" New Ireland Review (Aug 1904) Vol XXI p.333-48.
iv. John P. Prendergast "The Tory War of Ulster ad 1660-1690" (Dublin, 1868) p.23-24.
v. Thomas Carte "Life of Ormonde" (London, 1735-6) p.266.
vi. John P Prendergast "The Cromwellian Settlement of Ireland" (Dublin, 1875) p.54. Of course it suited his then masters to blame the king at that time. Which does not make the information inaccurate I don't think. It simply means that he is telling a story outlining only one side of the facts, the one that suited his purposes at the time.
vii. Letter of the Lord Justices to the English House of Commons 7 March 1641/2 HMC New Ser Vol II 1903 Ormonde Mss p.92.
viii. IHS March 1958 Vol XI no.41p.5.
ix. John P. Prendergast "The Tory War of Ulster AD 1660-1690" (Dublin, 1868) passim.
x. Dated 1 June 1680 quoted in Rev. William Burke "The Irish Priests in the Penal Times" (Waterford, 1914) p.83.

22. Thomas Fitzpatrick "The Bloody Bridge" (Dublin, 1903) p.233.

23. See Pearse St Gilbert Ms 190 p.126 which is a copy of Sloane Ms 1008.

24. Both quotes from NLI MS 4198A p.47 quoting a letter by Edmund Burke, writing to his son, published in "a late number of the Tablet".

25. "Porro ex Dominicanis Ibernis illo Collegio Lovaniensi a P. Provinciale deturbatis fuere Momonienses, P. Patricius O Kearneus, vir doctrina et virtute clarus, et P. Patricius Hacquettus, qui Nuncio atque ejus fautoribus, quanto studio in Ibernia adhaeserit, ...Hoc autem anno ad P. Richardum O Ferallum, Capucinum Ibernum, Lovanio in Urbem Anglice scribens:
"Compono (inquit) tractatum de illa damnabili anti-Catholicae factionis defectione a nostra confaederatione... .. ...Compilavi omnia nefaria Comitiorum acta, edicta, declarationes, proclamationes, et literas Concilii, aliorumque praefectorum factionis, donec prorsus evanuit..."
Haec ille, quae ex autographo 29 Novembris 1652 Lovanii scripto transtuli. Verum postea dicto Dominicanorum Ibernorum conventu Lovaniensi deturbatus, et post pauculos annos Lovanii mortuus, librum (ut mihi praefatus P. Patricius O Kearnaeus retulit) jam absolutum ita deposuit custodiendum apud quendam amicum, natione Ibernum, ut metuam ne Ormonistarum et haereticorum dolis interciderit in gravissimum causae Catholicae praejudicium." (Fr.Richard O'Farrell and Fr.Robert O'Connell "Commentarius Rinuccinianus" (Dublin, Irish Manuscripts Commission, 1932-49) Vol.V p.75.)

26. John Finch to the Duke of Ormonde written in Florence 2/12 July 1667 Bodleian Library Carte Ms 35 fol 518.

27. Lord Lieutenant Earl of Essex in Dublin Castle writing to Ormonde 17 Nov 1673 quoted in C.W. Russell and J.P. Prendergast "The Carte Manuscripts in the Bodleian Library" (London, 1871) p.126.

28. His grandnephew Nicholas of Dunsoghly describes in NLI MS 346 how he took a lot of persuading before he believed that the King was not involved in the rebellion.

29. John T Gilbert "A Contemporary History of Affairs in Ireland from 1641 - 1652" (Dublin, 1879-8) Vol I p.531.

30. "Calendar of the Committee for Advance of Money - Cases. Domestic Series 1642 - 1656" pt 2 p.684.

31. Edward Earl of Clarendon "The History of the Rebellion and Civil Wars in Ireland" (Dublin, 1719-20) p.133-37.

32. See Studies Vol XL (1951) no.159 p.327.

33. See the account of that meeting in Jane Ohlmeyer "Civil war and restoration in the three Stuart Kingdoms: the career of Randal MacDonnell Marquis of Antrim, 1609-1683" (Dublin, 2001).

34. See Studies Vol XLI (1952) p.91.

35. The before mentioned Nicholas Plunkett in his NLI Ms 346 traces his exploits at that time, which he regards as highly suspicious.

36. Alan Marshall "Intelligence and Espionage in the reign of Charles II 1660-85" (Cambridge, 1994) p.22.

37. John T Gilbert "A Contemporary History of Affairs in Ireland from 1641 - 1652" (Dublin, 1879-8) Vol II p.138-141, p.144 Vol III p.288 and Michael Hynes "The Mission of Rinuccini" (London, 1932) p.302.(Those two references are via notes by Fr John Brady on Meath church history, I hope I have interpreted them correctly.)

38. For example in his letter of 29 June 1645 to the Grand Duke of Tuscany mentioned in Archivium Hibernicum XLVII 1993 p.82.

author by Riverdance - (none)publication date Fri Aug 08, 2008 11:11author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Good essay Brian, it was intensely complex.

I'll add at:
"As you can appreciate a lot of the battles in the Low Countries depended therefore on the capacity of the Spanish to communicate by sea to Belgium, and indeed on the ability of the French to link by sea to the Dutch. Any half glance at a map will instantly tell you that Britain's navy could quickly jeopardise either of these two groups from communicating with their allies through the English Channel, hence again the importance the combatants placed on the attitude of the British government. "

The English were paid from 1630 to "escort" the Spanish money-galleons thru the English channel - the source is in Fernand Braudel on the European economy 1500-1800.

Owen Roe O'Neill etc and his ilk were supported by Spain and the Vatican - naturally as he had served in the Spanish army for years. He was completely in their pocket and supported Rinuccini to the extent of warring on the other Confederates.

For his lack of support for the French in the 1630s, Charles, whose queen was a French princess, was being "punished" by Richelieu.

After 1641 almost the last Act that Charles signed for parliament in mid-1642 was the Adventurers' Act, which was the legal basis for the Cromwellian conquest and all that followed from it.

Your average Creagh farmer (that's most of our ancestors) probably had no idea of all this going on over his head....

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