“Our Chief of Men”

There are many people who divide opinion in Northern Ireland. Amongst those who divide it most and sometimes not in the usual way is the one of whom the above comment was made by John Milton. The man in question is of course Oliver Cromwell. Billy Leonard of Sinn Fein and Samuel Cole of the DUP have been debating his historical legacy. (I would recommend Antiona Fraser’s biography to the interested).

Here in Northern Ireland, Cromwell is seen as the man who ordered the massacre of Drogheda and went through Ireland “like lightening”, I will not attempt an explanation of the differing theories, I have little doubt many here would have much to say on the subject.

Of course Cromwell is also interesting as a republican and regicide, defeater of the Scots and Presbyterians and other things not normally popular with unionists, though he was also a fundamentalist puritan Christian. I have a certain sympathy with there being “None King save Christ alone” but will otherwise keep my own counsel on my views of the man.

  • Garibaldy

    I found it quite funny to see someone loyal to the crown praising Cromwell while someone who wants to have a republic condemning him. NI – where the normal rules of politics are turned upside down. Even more ironic, when we are stuck in C17th mindsets.

  • Dewi

    Turgon – you just want to provoke. But Funny thanks

  • Danny O’Connor

    I have to agree,he could be a modern day phenomena,a republican who hated taigs,and the royal family at the same time,If he were alive today which political party would he join?TUV ,DUP or Sinn Fein.

  • Harry Flashman

    *If he were alive today which political party would he join?*

    Hizbollah.

  • Rory

    “I…will… keep my own counsel on my views of the man.

    Not like you to be so reticent, Turgon, surely your opinion of the Great Protector cannot be such as would embarass you before your constituency.

    There is not really a great contradiction in someone today who is protestant and loyal to the crown also seeing Cromwell as a hero. The loyalty to the crown after all merely represents loyalty to the Union and Cromwell did preserve that union, while stamping the ascendancy of protestantism firmly upon it.

    While the Restoration and in particular the accession of the bloody awful James II did not threaten the Union it did threaten the Protestant Ascendancy and it became attractive for protestants loyal to the Union to support the Dutch invasion when the English bourgeoisie consolidated their revolution by sub-contracting the job of monarch on their own terms to a tender from a cheaper foreign brand with much reduced conditions of employment. The terms were so favourable for the grip they gave the bourgeoisie on the state that they named it the Glorious Revolution.

  • FraserValley

    In the days when I was an Ulster/Scots
    Presbyterian, before I became an enlightened heathen, I always wondered why the OO was so fond of having him on their banners. Did he not wage war against the Covenanters and sell their remnants into slavery.

  • Danny O’Connor

    Rory
    check your dates,there was no official union in cromwell’s time.
    Cromwell was a butcher,in todays terms he was worse than the shankill butchers,the shankill bombers,and every other atrocity rolled into one.All in the name of republican protestantism.If we are to judge people on their deeds,Cromwell was a murdering bast**d.Any man who can uphold Cromwell and at the same time condemn the murder of innocent people in this country is a hypocrite.

  • USA

    From what little I know of Cromwell he appears to be nothing more than a genocidal murderer.
    Political ambition and religious fanaticism, dangerous then and dangerious now.

  • TAFKABO

    Amazing man, one of the greatest ever Britons. As a Unionst who’d like to see a UK republic, I definately count him as one of my heroes.
    Tyically we get the MOPE brigade, still hurting over centuries old grievances.

  • feckit

    “In the days when I was an Ulster/Scots
    Presbyterian, before I became an enlightened heathen, I always wondered why the OO was so fond of having him on their banners. Did he not wage war against the Covenanters and sell their remnants into slavery.”

    He isn’t on many orange banners.

  • McGrath

    Cromwell was simply a superior military commander. He consolidated his supremacy by stamping out all possible opposition, his tactics were gruesome, but effective.

    If his political will had endured, Northern Ireland would not be an issue, he would have had brought about the first effective republic in Western Europe, long before 1690.

    He was an opportunist, he sensed a chance to seize power under a faltering monarchy.

    Dictator, and old world Nazi? He was the first of his kind.

  • Harry Flashman

    As a matter of interest weren’t the victims at Drogheda mainly pro-Royalist, English aristocrats?

  • NoSurpise

    He kills thousands of Irish people and unionists think he’s great. No surprise, next story.

  • Brian Boru

    I would have thought most Unionists liked Cromwell since most of their ancestors came over after 1641, in large part at Cromwell’s instigation?

  • Rory

    Now, now we mustn’t all get het up condemning poor Cromwell just because he had a few warts on his face this is not Big Brother after all but an attempt to place a man in historical context and evaluate today’s conflicting imagery of him.

    All political and military leaders of his time were as Danny O’Connor so charmingly puts it “murdering bast**d[s]” but surely the salient point about Cromwell was that he abolished the monarchy and introduced parliamentary democracy and extended the franchise. There were some difficulties along the way to achieving this but surely we must give him full marks for a good beginning.

  • kensei

    I have a sneaking admiration for some of the things Cromwell did. He created an Army led by people of merit rather than birthright and was spectacularly successful as a result.

    But “daddy of democracy”? He had the chance to extend full political liberty to all men as demanded by the Levellers and by the end of his life had assumed a position that was essentially a monarch by another name. One directly follows from the other.

    “Hero of Liberty”? Somewhat difficult to argue given his Irish campaigns too.

  • darth rumsfeld

    it’s interesting to see how quickly the anti-Cromwell brigade resorts to MOPEry because they haven’t bothered to actually read the history anfd find out facts

    Example- (why is it not surprising that it is posted from USA)

    “From what little I know of Cromwell he appears to be nothing more than a genocidal murderer”.

    Which means you probably know as much of hsitory as Colleen McLaughlin knows of nuclear physics. Specifically you don’t understand the terms “genocidal” or “murderer”. Plus you don’t understand the history of the United Kingdom.

    As a Presbyterian, I am able to luxuriate in the fact that we are usually right about politics and always right about religion. Unfortunately, in the reigns of Charles I and II,we did get it wrong, trusting that they would uphold Presbyterian principles despite all the evidence to the contrary. It was of course James II who waged war against the Covenanters BTW, though his brother ignored the Covenant which he swore to uphold, and his father tried to make us..(ugh) episcopalian

    Cromwell was a much more enlightened leader than those he replaced. He is rightly regarded as a hero by such Unionist groupies as..er.. Tony Benn and Michael Foot. The Cromwell Association has an excellent website, and I recommend USA and others spend some time on studying it. He features on a few banners- we reckon about 3- because he is believed to have revenged the massacres of 1641-thoough even this is debatable, since Drogheda was a conflict with Royalists, mostly English

  • 6countyprod

    What about a little context concerning Cromwell’s interest in Ireland?

    The prelude, of course, to Cromwell’s arrival was the 1641 slaughter of thousands of Protestants by Irish Catholics.

    Cromwells’ revenge was the unintended consequence of the Irish babarity against the settlers.

    No excuse for either, but there you have it.

  • Dec

    He is rightly regarded as a hero by such Unionist groupies as..er.. Tony Benn and Michael Foot.

    He is regarded as a tyrant by that renowned Irish Republican Winston Churchill:

    “upon all of these [Anglo-Irish relations] Cromwell’s record was a lasting bane. By an uncompleted process of terror, by an iniquitous land settlement, by the virtual proscription of the Catholic religion, by the bloody deeds already described, he cut new gulfs between the nations and the creeds. ‘Hell or Connaught’ were the terms he thrust upon the native inhabitants, and they for their part, across three hundred years, have used as their keenest expression of hatred ‘The Curse of Cromwell on you.’ … Upon all of us there still lies ‘the curse of Cromwell.'”

  • noel adams

    So what has the debate to do with Policy and Resources nothing chair should have called next business and got on to the subject of use to folk.

  • Turgon

    Dec,
    Churchill also twice, as First Lord of the Admirality, firstly with the Iron Duke class and then with the Queen Elizabeth class battleships, tried to have one named after Cromwell. On both occassions the then king (George V) objected.

    Like the man and his legacy, people’s views of Cromwell are not always black and white.

  • Gréagóir O’ Frainclín

    “the righteous judgement of God on these barbarous wretches, who have imbued their hands with so much innocent blood”

    …..an eye for an eye!

    Jesus is always very disappointed with unforgiving bible boys!

  • Garibaldy

    As much of the hatred was of royalists, which is what the Irish Catholics were, as of Catholicism. And Harry is right to say that most of those killed at Drogheda were of the Old English variety, and heavily involved in royalist politics. Quite a lot of the land taken was theirs too. And someone said most protestants were descended from Cromwellian settlers. I don’t think that’s right. Many of those who got land sold it, and there were insufficient numbers of protestant tentants for the land. I think the heaviest protestant immigration was during the 1690s due to disastrous conditions in Scotland.

  • Gréagóir O’ Frainclín

    Gas too that Cromwell’s funeral was like that of a king, robes and splendour, bar the crown!
    However in 1661, he was given a posthumous execution by roylaists for his act of regicide. His abused body was hanged in chains, eventually thrown into a lime pit and his severed head was displayed on a pole outside Westminster Abbey until 1685.

    Jesus is always very disappointed with unforgiving bible boys!

  • Three quick points:

    1. Is it too much to ask that others take the hint that Turgon gave, and read Antonia Fraser on Cromwell? That way we might be able to have argumentum ad rem rather than rehashing acquired prejudices. There are two main tracts: her chapter 13, entitled Ireland: effusion of blood and that section of chapter 18, Briars and thorns which deals with the Cromwellian settlement. Both are, to my mind, extremely fair and balanced.

    2. “lightening”?

    3. The sad truth is that Cromwell at Drogheda behaved according to the laws of war, which applied as late as the Napoleonic era. Nice, for once, to be with Darth Rumsfeld, though I’ll make sure that is not a habit.

    4. And Turgon might reflect that perhaps Churchill (or A.V. Alexander) had his wicked way with the Admiralty. HMS Cromwell (R35) was built at Greenock in 1943-6, commissioned on 16 Sept 1946 (too late to participate in the second unpleasantness), and then sold to Norway with three other “C”-class destroyers, where she served as HNoMS Bergen.

  • Garibaldy

    Malcolm,

    Fraser is an unreliable source judging by some of her other work, so I’ll stick to other historians.

  • Dec

    Like the man and his legacy, people’s views of Cromwell are not always black and white.

    Turgon

    From what I know of Cromwell (not much, admittedly), purely black (Tyrant) and white (Saviour) views of the man are well off the mark. He has both his defenders and detractors in unexpected quarters.

  • Garibaldy @ 11:13 AM:

    Fraser on Cromwell is over 30 years old.

    When that book came out, it was largely praised (by Michael Foot, AL Rowse and others). It represented a break with the legacy of previous histories. It is an immensely detailed text, strong on information, light on commentary, starting and ending with Cromwell the person, rather than as a touchstone for whatever prejudices we impose on him.

    The essential issue in decoding all accounts of Cromwell is to separate the man from our ideology. For two centuries Clarendon established the critical dichotomy: Cromwell had either to be the iconoclastic destroyer of church and state or the restorer of order, temporising excess. That survives down to John Buchan’s treatment in 1934, seeing Cromwell as:

    … a devotee of law, he was forced to be often lawless; a civilian to the core, he had to maintain himself by the sword; with a passion to construct, his task was chiefly to destroy; the most scrupulous of men, he had to ride roughshod over his own scruples and those of others; the tenderest, he had continually to harden his heart; the most English of our greater figures, he spent his life in opposition to the majority of Englishmen; a realist, he was condemned to build that which could not last.

    There are later biographies and studies (the most recent, that I recall, is that by JC Davis, building on Morrill. I doubt that Davis would appeal greatly here: one critic described the book’s:

    nuanced approach [to an] endearing individual whose commitment to civil and religious liberty, coupled with his desire for political consensus, makes him less a mystery and hero than a principled, albeit pragmatic, statesman.

    Our problem, specific to Ireland and Scotland (perhaps that should be, “specific to Drogheda, Wexford and Berwick”), is how fairly to treat Cromwell’s personal faith (adherence to a vengeful and chastising God) and his attempts to mitigate the ruthless anti-Catholicism of the times. After all, what happened in Drogheda was small beer to the horrors of the Continental wars of religion.

    However, I should be grateful for advice, from Garibaldy or others, on further reading.

  • Harry Flashman

    [b]Garibaldy[/b]

    *Fraser is an unreliable source judging by some of her other work, so I’ll stick to other historians.*

    My old history professor at Trinity College, Dublin gently chided me when I produced my first essay full of trite generalisations and all the moral fulminations that only an eighteen year old former Catholic grammar school boy from Derry could come up with.

    “Try to avoid the Antonia Fraser school of historiography my dear fellow”, I think he may also have included Winston Churchill in that category. As I had up until that point never read either of them the advice meant little to me.

    Having read both authors’ works since I see what he was getting at but I have to admit that as I get older and I now read history solely for pleasure I do have a sneaking, if somewhat guilty, fondness for the two of them.

    [b]darth[/b]

    *As a Presbyterian, I am able to luxuriate in the fact that we are usually right about politics and always right about religion.*

    One of my other teachers at TCD, Bill Vaughan, would have been in complete agreement with you, you’d have both got on very well indeed.

  • Garibaldy

    Malcolm,

    If you’re reading Morril and co already, I don’t think you need advice from me. If Fraser’s Cromwell book is light on commentary, then it is different from some of her other stuff, which can be misleading if not manipulative. Which I take it was Harry’s professor’s point. On Ireland, I think Toby Barnard’s Cromwellian Ireland is essential to get a feel for what his supporters were trying to achieve there (and to avoid an over-emphasis on the man himself), although Míchéal Ó Siochriú’s work is essential for getting a feel for the other side.

  • Gréagóir O’ Frainclín

    “As an Presbyterian, I am able to luxuriate in the fact that we are usually right about politics and always right about religion.”

    Cocky fantacist!

    “As an athiest, I am able to luxuriate in the fact that we are usually right about politics and always right about religion.”

    Cocky realist!

  • joeCanuck

    I have read Fraser’s book, twice, (I still have my copy) and I enjoyed it immensely.
    I great admire Cromwell for what Rory pointed out:

    he abolished the monarchy and introduced parliamentary democracy and extended the franchise.

  • dodrade

    As a unionist I have never understood the misplaced admiration of some for a republican who committed regicide, established a military dictatorship and who banned christmas!

    Similarly, I struggle to comprehend unionists supporting Israel against Palestinian “terrorism” when the Irgun and Lehi were committing similar acts against British forces 60 years ago.

    The glorification and pride in the Ulster Scots role in the American revolution (another batch of republicans and traitors to the crown) by Billy Kennedy and others also seems rather contradictory from a Unionist perspective, though I’ve always assumed that was an attempt to woo current American political and popular opinion into being more sympathetic to the unionist position.

  • Muad’Dib

    One commentator one claimed that the OO didn’t put Cromwell much on their banners. In Ballynafeigh District there is a lodge called “Cromwell’s Ironsides” with the slogan “Trust in god but keep your powder dry” and I’ve seen Cromwell on more than one banner in Belfast parades. Very interesting role model.

  • darth rumsfeld

    …anyhow Churchill isn’t really the thinking Unionist’s posterboy, given his track record in 1912, and attempt to flog us off to Senor De Valera for the Treaty Ports in WW2. Just as cynical as his ould man when it came to Ulster, I’m sad to say.

    Malcolm- I always remember that Enoch and Wedgie were united on the important things (-Europe, parliamentary sovereignty), tho’ they disagreed on the comparatively mundane. Their mutual admiration was founded on respect for intellect, and you are certainly one of the more thinking posters on slugger. OK, I’m fishing for compliments now :0)

  • Gréagóir O’ Frainclín

    Perhaps the monarch is merely a fickle figurehead to some Unionists!

    Perhaps some Unionists espouse the actions of Cromwell merely coz of his anti-Irish/papist stance!

    Perhaps some Unionists are merely opportunists, ie..run with the hare, hunt with hound!

    Perhaps Unionists are merely a treacherous bunch to the themselves and all?

  • darth rumsfeld

    I’ve no doubt some Unionists do admire Cromwell because he put it up to “themmuns”, but they would be wrong, just as they would be wrong to assume William had any deep feeling for them when he landed in 1690.

    Equally, the monarchy – though instinctively revered by Unionists- has often been anti-Protestant (using the term to include non-conformists), and even the ultra-loyal Orange institution’s allegiance is conditional on the House of Windsor being Protestant. Will that change if the Act of Accession changes, I wonder? But the contractual nature of loyalty, or more accurately covenantal, is actually a fundamental cronerstone of our democracy, and has been successfully exported to the USA and beyond.

    To dismiss conditional loyalty as opportunistic is actually to require fanatical devotion to the monarchy that would have pleased Charles I, but would have been anachronistic even in the 1650s. Even the Presbyterians of that time made sure Charles II swore to uphold the covenant, but they were sadly deceived, as some Scottish commonsense would surely have predicted.

  • Harry Flashman

    *..anyhow Churchill isn’t really the thinking Unionist’s posterboy, given his track record in 1912, and attempt to flog us off to Senor De Valera for the Treaty Ports in WW2. Just as cynical as his ould man when it came to Ulster, I’m sad to say.*

    I was going to respond to that by pointing out his generous tribute that he paid to Northern Ireland in his VE Day speech (I seemed to recall something about a “loyal sentinel” or some such) but in checking it, it appears he was more interested in giving Dev a dig rather than saluting the North which merely gets a passing mention for its “loyalty and friendship” which whilst not exactly faint praise is hardly a ringing salute.

    Is it also apocryphal that after Dunkirk Churchill said that the only armed and trained force in the entire United Kingdom was the Ulster Special Constabulary? I imagine it was as there was a division of Canadian troops already on the south coast of England.

    As Malcolm mentioned in another thread Churchill is the usual source of choice for vague quotations.

  • darth rumsfeld

    Dunno Harry, but I still maintain that Churchill was always lucky,a showpony with superb pr skills, while history has always been down on the real hero of the pre-war era, Neville Chamberlain, who played for the vital time needed to rectify the errors of the real appeaser Baldwin.

    The Chamberlains – especially Joe- were the greatest poitical dynasty since the Pitts, yet because Nev had a bad press officer they get written off

  • Gréagóir O’ Frainclín @ 02:32 PM:

    …Unionists espouse the actions of Cromwell merely coz of his anti-Irish/papist stance! …

    One of the “known unknowns” about Cromwell is his personal religion. He certainly rejected Anglicanism and Presbyterianism; and retained a belief in a personal covenant with his God. Beyond that, we have to infer.

    Then there is the assumption that Gréagóir makes that Cromwell had a consistent anti-Catholic mentality. Again, not proven.

    I am refreshing my recollection from page 488 of my paperback of (yep!) Antonia Fraser:

    In fact Cromwell’s attitude to English Catholicism after he became Protector — in striking contrast to his behaviour towards the Irish variety — is the most forcible illustration of the way his mind was turning more and more away from doctrinal implications and towards such practical subjects as law and order.

    Fraser then supports that with several examples over following pages, including an attempt to seek a rapprochement with the Vatican.

    The bottom line, surely, is to regard Cromwell as a pragmatist.

    Off topic, on the subject of Churchill, I half-remember a story of Nye Bevan encountering a tearful and inebriated Churchill in Beaverbrook’s house, at the high-point of the abdication crisis. The exchange went something like:

    “To think the time would come that a Churchill would desert his King!”

    “Don’t worry, Winston, it’s only the second time in history!”

    [John Churchill, later Duke of Marlborough, suppressed the 1685 Monmouth rebellion. Three years later he was leading the Williamites in the Kinsale and Bandon campaign.]

    Has anyone a source for that anecdote?

  • Harry Flashman

    Old Neville has got a bad press because he seemed so out of place in his time, with his starched collar and strained vocabulary but I’m not entirely convinced he couldn’t have done a wee bit better in his dealings with Herr Hitler, notwithstanding Stanley’s abysmal record.

    (I remember strolling around a graveyard in Edgbaston a long time ago and seeing Chamberlain’s family plot, I seem to recall that two sons died in the Second World War, one may have even fallen in the Battle of Britain, maybe I’ve got that wrong, do you know any more seeing as your a fan?)

    Of course the villain of the piece who is always omitted when discussion of the 1930’s “guilty men” comes up is the dreadful record of the British Left who were after all the most committed disarmers and who, when Molotov and Ribbentrop signed their dirty deal, were most vociferous in their condemnation of the imperialist war against Germany and who led strikes in essential munitions plants even as the Heinkels were unloading overhead.

    But that’s another day’s argument I suppose.

  • Harry Flashman

    Malc,

    Given that Churchill did not desert his king but was in fact an ardent supporter of Edward VII and opponent of the abdication, and also that he had just finished a magisterial biography of his ancestor Marlborough a mere three years earlier which fully covered his switch of monarchs and further that it would have been highly unlikely that Nye Bevan would have been socialising with Churchill at Beaverbrook’s gaff in 1936 I think we can safely say that story is a myth.

  • No surprise of course that Freddie and Rose West lived in 25 Cromwell Street. Carrying on where Old Noll left off.

  • Harry Flashman @ 04:09 PM:

    1. Wrong Edward: I assume that was a typo.

    2. Read Churchill’s speech in the Commons, 10 December 1936. He subsequently wrote in some anger to Edward: these letters (according to the Sunday Telegraph of 21 October 2001) remain classified as “top secret” until at least 2011.

    3. Since, in the later 1930s, Churchill and Bevan (and Michael Foot, who was the “Cato” of Guilty Men) were employed by Beaverbrook, they undoubtedly socialised.

    4. As for your reference to the “Guilty Men”, I am at a total loss. After Attlee replaced the pacifist George Lansbury in 1935, the Labour Party moved to a policy of rearmament. The crucial moment had been Ernie Bevin’s speech at the 1935 Conference:

    This Conference ought to be influenced neither by sentiment nor personal attachment, We ought not to be put in the position of watching Lansbury cart his conscience round from conference to conference asking to be told what to do with it.”

    Even before that, when Samuel Hoare negotiated the 1935 naval treaty with the Nazis, he had the support of only the High Tory Morning Post and the Daily Worker.

    No, Harry: I urge you to be more specific with your use of the term “Left” here.

  • Harry Flashman

    *I urge you to be more specific with your use of the term “Left” here.*

    The same Left who had infested Oxbridge and who shamefully stated that under no circumstances would they fight for King and Country (“no circumstances” not “except if we’re fighting the Nazis”) and who supported the Nazi/Soviet invasion of Poland and who dismissed the war as an “imperialist” war until Stalin got suckered and then demanded a “second front” as if the Brits weren’t already fighting on half a dozen fronts against the Fascists. And who after the war to were to unashamedly align themselves with Stalin and to actively collude with him in undermining British state security through their spy networks.

    That’s the Left to which I refer.

    With regard to the Labour Party well the best that can be said is that they were no better or worse than the Tories when it came to the appeasement of the Nazis, a policy which of course was hugely popular with the electorate.

    As for the Edward VIII (typo admitted) story I take aboard your points but it remains as yet tantalisingly unproven.

  • TAFKABO

    As a unionist I have never understood the misplaced admiration of some for a republican who committed regicide, established a military dictatorship and who banned christmas!

    I’m also a Unionist, and a republican.
    Why is it assumed one must be a theist and a loyalist to be a Unionist?

  • Oilifear

    We have seen the many ties which at one time or another have joined the inhabitants of the Western islands, and even in Ireland itself offered a tolerable way of life to Protestants and Catholics alike. Upon all of these Cromwell’s record was a lasting bane. By an uncompleted process of terror, by an iniquitous land settlement, by the virtual proscription of the Catholic religion, by the bloody deeds already described, he cut new gulfs between the nations and the creeds. “Hell or Connaught” were the terms he thrust upon the native inhabitants, and they for their part, across three hundred years, have used as their keenest expression of hatred “The Curse or Cromwell on you.” The consequences of Cromwell’s rule in Ireland have distressed and at times distracted English politics down even to the present day. To heal them baffled the skill and loyalties of successive generations. They became for a time a potent obstacle to the harmony of the English-speaking people through-out the world. Upon all of us there still lies “the curse of Cromwell.”

    Winston S. Churchill, ‘A History of the English Speaking Peoples’

  • Charles in Texas

    Oilifear, Churchill’s paragraph above the one you quoted is also instructive.

    “Cromwell in Ireland, disposing of overwhelming strength and using it with merciless wickedness, debased the standards of human conduct and sensibly darkened the journey of mankind. Cromwell’s Irish massacres find numberless compeers in the history of all countries during and since the Stone Age. It is therfore necessary to strip men capable of such deeds of all title to honour…”

  • Harry Flashman @ 05:06 PM:

    More heat than light, I fear.

    The Oxford Union “King and Country” debate happened just ten days after Hitler’s first (coalition) Government took office. Just 428 votes were cast: hardly indicative of the generality of “Oxbridge” opinion. In other words, about ten times as many young British Leftists chose later to fight Fascism in Spain (the “Major Attlee Battalion”, no less) as voted for that motion. And many fewer than volunteered for service at the sharp end of the wartime RAF.

    Why, in your book, is Guy Burgess more representative of Trinity College, Cambridge, than (say) John Cornford (died in Spain, 1936) or Jack Colville (Churchill’s principal private secretary — and speech-writer)?

    Who else do you impugn? The Cambridge spy ring? All five of them? The half-dozen of the Auden-Spender “Movement” clique? (In which case, I trust you honourably exculpate MacNeice, at least.) Now, where’s your evidence that their views were generally shared by that generation?

    Even at the fringe, what about all the decent Marxist-Leninists who broke with the King Street line over the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact? Do you give them credit?

    Quite frankly, I doubt this has to do with the price of fish, or with Oliver Cromwell (of Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge).

  • dodrade

    “I’m also a Unionist, and a republican.
    Why is it assumed one must be a theist and a loyalist to be a Unionist?”

    I certainly don’t believe you need to believe in God to be a Unionist, but the (constitutional) monarchy is the single most defining institution of the British State. It’s called the United KINGDOM after all.

    Whilst the monarchy may not have an active political role, I believe it is the greatest force underpinning the union. If a hypothetical British republic were established I do not believe the union would last another two years afterwards.

    No offence but I truly believe to call yourself a republican unionist is an oxymoron.

    I do however believe there are many ulster nationalists masquerading as “unionists” whose ultimate loyalty, like the White Rhodesians (the UDI was signed God save the Queen, they declared a republic six years later), is to themselves. They are the sort who praise Cromwell, while professing to be her majesty’s faithful subjects.

  • Garibaldy

    And MP for Oxford I think too Malcolm.

  • Turgon

    Garibaldy,
    If you mean Cromwell, no he was MP for Huntingdon outside Cambridge. The same seat as John Major incidentally.

  • Garibaldy

    Cheers Turgon. MP for Cambridge too I think from the Cromwell Association website. I got him mixed up with one of his supporters.

  • Greenflag

    Winston Churchill got it right re ‘the curse of Cromwell on you’

    There is a town on the east coast of Ireland where Cromwell had to rest his horses . One of the prominent families in the town (Catholic) offered to feed and stall Cromwell’s horse /horses for the night . That family to this day is ‘disparaged’ and they forever apparently earned the epithet of ‘that shower -shure they fed Cromwell’s horse’

    Cromwell is a significant figure in the history of these islands . We in Ireland have reason to be particularly jaundiced against the man’s ‘innovations’ but so too have others . The English were apparently only too delighted to dig up his corpse -try it for regicide – hang it and then use the decapitated head as a football ?

    So much respect for the one of the ‘founders’ of modern British democracy .

  • Turgon @ 06:59 PM:

    The DNB on-line magazine does an amusing Six degrees of Francis Bacon. This month Francis Showering to Kathleen Raine.

    The Huntingdon seat, connecting Cromwell and Major, is about as bizarre as any of the links made there.

    Another MP for Huntingdon, by the way, was Charles Boyle, Earl of Orrery (who had also been MP for Charleville in the Irish Parliament, and for whom those models of the solar system — and now the outdoor exhibit at Armagh Observatory — were named).

    The first Earl (Charles Boyle’s grandfather) was a remarkable example of the “Vicar of Bray” syndrome. He started as a Royalist, and was personally persuaded by Cromwell to take a command in Ireland. He fought several significant actions, at Macroom, Kilkenny and in the Siege of Limerick. He inveigled the Royalist garrison of Cork to defect to the Parliamentarians. He served as MP for Cork and then for Edinburgh in Cromwell’s Parliaments. He favoured Cromwell taking the Crown, and tried to broker a marriage of Frances Cromwell to Charles Stuart. After the collapse of Tumbledown Dick, he promptly changed sides again, secured Ireland for the Restoration, and was on hand to welcome General Monk to Cork. His reward was the earldom of Orrery. Now, that’s a true Corkman.

    Small world (and, in the case of an orrery, ditto solar system).

    I have to admit, now that the main passion has gone from this thread, that my take on Cromwell is not helped by recently discovering that in 1648 Parliament fined one of my direct ancestors, John Pigott of Abington Pigotts, Cambridgeshire, the tidy sum of £540 for “delinquency”, because he left his Habitation, and resided in the Enemies Quarters (i.e. he had been a Royalist).

  • Turgon

    Malcolm,

    I am genuinely in awe of you and your knowledge, wit and ability to write. I know you went to a proper university and unlike me did a proper degree (sincerely meant I assure you) but you are quite the most brilliant mind on slugger and your web site merely allows you to demonstrate that brilliance to an even greater degree.

    Although we may rarely agree politically I am genuinely one of your fans. If older middle age and retirement were to make me as educated as you, I would be truly delighted. I fear natural talent is, however, against me. Still I hope you are long preserved to make your contibutions.

    Your are sir a true gentleman and scholar.

  • NP

    Any one who bans Xmas can’t be all bad.

  • Turgon @ 08:44 PM:

    If only you knew what class my alter ego’s degree really was …

    To return to the main point, though: Cromwell should be regarded as important to the growth of Dublin as the metropolis. By making it the centre of military operations, and Ireton’s base, he guaranteed that the city was focal to the country (remembering that in the 1640s Dublin probably had a population of barely 9,000 — so Cromwell’s arrival may well have doubled that number overnight).

    Ireton, let us also recall, left a small but significant mark on the city. Behind Dublin Castle is Ship Street, well away from the Quays and any shipping; and still the main entrance for vehicles (the gate was built in 1807 after Emmet’s Rising). The bilingual street sign, with Sraid na Caoire, implies that “Ship” is a misconstruction on “Sheep”. Alas, both are wrong. Until Ireton insisted on the change, it was “Shit Street” (presumably a testimony to the passing sheep). That gem of knowledge is in memory of and © “Punk” Goulden, who failed to teach me Irish, but educated me in far more, at the High School, then in Harcourt Street.

    Another contribution of Cromwell to the Dublin economy is that Pádraig Mac Artán came to Dublin, apparently dispossessed from County Down by the Cromwellians. According to the story David Sharrock wrote for the Times last December, Pádraig Mac Artán became Patrick from Gion Ais, near Ballynahinch. And so the Guinness name was created.

    The Dublin branch of the Darley family (who made the crucial mistake, unlike their Derbyshire cousins, of being Prods for James II) had a legend. They originally owned a house at Belfield, so it’s now under the UCD campus. The story went that, in the mid-1750s, they rented outbuildings to the original Arthur Guinness, but evicted him for making too many smells. Hence the move to the St James’s Brewery, the rise to riches of the Guinnesses, and the genteel decline of the Darleys.

  • Dewi

    Malcolm – I add to Turgon’s praise – always good value – I’ll always remember you receiving food aid from Ethiopia after that childhood flood.

  • Harry Flashman

    *about ten times as many young British Leftists chose later to fight Fascism in Spain (the “Major Attlee Battalion”, no less) as voted for that motion. And many fewer than volunteered for service at the sharp end of the wartime RAF.*

    Oh I see, many more British Leftists were prepared to go overseas and fight for a foreign government than were later prepared to fight for their own nation when it stood alone against Joe Stalin’s allies.

    Remind me what did Orwell say about British Leftists’ preference for being caught stealing from the poor box and patriotism?

    But I fear you are right, we digress from the main theme.

  • darth rumsfeld

    “That family to this day is ‘disparaged’ and they forever apparently earned the epithet of ‘that shower -shure they fed Cromwell’s horse’”

    Wow. That’s some MOPE story. Respect where due.
    I dunno, but I don’t think there’s too many Prods going around saying- “See that Martin O’Neill, he’s a relation of the fella that killed some of our ancestors at the battle of the Yellow Ford”. It’s called -having a sense of perspective- apparently.

    “The English were apparently only too delighted to dig up his corpse -try it for regicide – hang it and then use the decapitated head as a football ?”

    Well in the same way that the English were only too delighted to cut off the King’s head. (And the head wasn’t used as a football BTW- its whereabouts was known until before the last war). The elite decreed and the rest did what they were told. There’s no evidence that the desecration of remains was in response to public clamour, though I quite accept that the people wanted the monarchy back after the death of Cromwell. Significantly though they did not the monarchy of Charles I, and when James II tried to revive it, he was slung out on his ear

  • Reader

    Dodrade: No offence but I truly believe to call yourself a republican unionist is an oxymoron.
    Here, unionism is about identity (as is nationalism). The current state of the constitution is a different matter. For instance – do you accept that Tony Benn can be a republican, without wanting to change his citizenship? Then so can we.
    I’m not TAFKABO, and not a republican, but I *can* see the key point in the definition of unionist.

  • Woodkerne

    Does anyone know where I could find information on the Cromwellian suppression of the Scots Covenanter armies in Ulster (1649-1650)? On the interweb if possible because I don’t have the luxury of time to check out the Linen Hall library etc. Any help appreciated…

  • FraserValley

    An account of the Battle of Dunbar can be found here:

    http://www.british-civil-wars.co.uk/biog/oliver-cromwell.htm

  • Oilifear

    “That’s some MOPE story.”

    Between 1651 and 1661 the population of Ireland decreased by a number estimated to be between 1 in 3 and 7 in 10. Which ever you choose, or whether to decide to appeal to middle ground, it was a phenomenal number and unparalleled elsewhere on these islands and few places throughout the world.

    Few of that number died in battle or cowering in Drogheda or Wexford. The vast number died through hunger and disease – and be they Catholic, Protestant or Dissenter, they died in equal measure.

    A number between 850,000 and 1.5 million. We are the ancestors of those that survived, and while I have reservations about he veracity of Greenflag’s story, it demonstrates the lasting folk memory that those awful times etched on the people of this island.

    No MOPEry involved. What would be more surprising would be to bury it down and pretend that it happened to somebody else.

  • darth rumsfeld

    hmmm
    just a few observations oily

    firstly, I suspect we aren’t actually the ancestors of anyone from the 17th century, though we may well be their descendants- unless we’re Huguenots

    secondly the mere width of the estimates (note definition of word) suggests that.. well, noone actually knows how many died

    thirdly, it is quite correct to say that death and suffering were inflicted on all sides, though usually losers come off better than winners. That’s why they lost.

    fourthly, I’ll guarantee that Cromwell wasn’t personally responsible for the vast majority of the deaths- read the very fair account of cromwell in ireland on the Cromwell association’s website to see his role in context. I don’t think he introduced hunger or disease.

    Fifthly, and frankly it is MOPEry to “remember” the events of these times in this way. If Prods banged on about the role someone’s great granda times ten played in the massacres of 1641 they’d be rightly called a loony. Yeah, we have a certain interest in 1688-1690, but I suspect it’s more to do with the summer festivities than the historical events

  • darth rumsfeld

    oops- meant losers come off worse

  • Greenflag

    darthrumsfeld,

    ‘Wow. That’s some MOPE story. Respect where due.

    Of course I neglected to add said disparagement was ‘done’ with tongue in cheek and not a little humour .

    Olibhear,

    ‘ A number between 850,000 and 1.5 million’

    The estimated total to have been killed via wars /famines brought on by wars , etc was approx 683,000 for the period 1550 to 1660 according to samule Samuel Pepys. This number includes the ‘massacre of the settlers’ in 1641 of which it’s estimated ther were some 12,000.

    ‘and be they Catholic, Protestant or Dissenter, they died in equal measure.’

    Not true. Irish Catholics accounted for the vast majority of the dead in the 100 years war or the Second Conquest as it’s sometimes called .

    ‘We are the ancestors of those that survived’

    You sound as if you are writng this from circ the 11th century . Perhaps descendants is what you had in mind :)?

  • Greenflag

    darthrumsfeld,

    ‘Wow. That’s some MOPE story. Respect where due.

    Of course I neglected to add said disparagement was ‘done’ with tongue in cheek and not a little humour .

    Olibhear,

    ‘ A number between 850,000 and 1.5 million’

    The estimated total to have been killed via wars /famines brought on by wars , etc was approx 683,000 for the period 1550 to 1660 according to Samuel Pepys . This number includes the ‘massacre of the settlers’ in 1641 of which it’s estimated ther were some 12,000.

    ‘and be they Catholic, Protestant or Dissenter, they died in equal measure.’

    Not true. Irish Catholics accounted for the vast majority of the dead in the 100 years war or the Second Conquest as it’s sometimes called .

    ‘We are the ancestors of those that survived’

    You sound as if you are writng this from circ the 11th century . Perhaps descendants is what you had in mind :)?

  • Garibaldy

    Darth,

    A fair few nutters till do go on about 1641.

  • PaddyReilly

    I found it quite funny to see someone loyal to the crown praising Cromwell while someone who wants to have a republic condemning him.

    The former are indeed absurd, but the latter are absolved from this charge, because Cromwell was no Republican. A Regicide yes, but he was unable to establish a Republic because he knew very well that there was no possible electorate he could devise that would not restore the monarchy. He therefore continued to rule as a military dictator. England was never a Republic: during the interregnum the government was known as the junta (actually they spelt it junto).

    He does have an important connection to Unionist ideology though: it has been claimed that Unionism is democratic, but there is an important distinction: under democracy, the people elect the government, whereas in (post 1921) Unionism, the government elect the people first. Cromwell’s search for an ideal, reliable Protestant electorate prefigures this ideology.

  • Greenflag

    malcom redfellow,

    ‘ His reward was the earldom of Orrery. Now, that’s a true Corkman.’

    Sounds just like the type that would live in your ear and charge you rent as well . True Corkman ? sounds like it 🙂

    Ireton, let us also recall, left a small but significant mark on the city.

    And also some ‘descendants’ in Co Wexford . A local mechanic with said name repaired my car following a minor ‘skirmish’ on the N11 . When I mentioned to him that one of his ancestors might have been Cromwell’s famed general his reply was he did’nt know and cared less but he knew that Cromwell was a ‘bollix ‘ of the first order .

    He did a great job anyway and I motored back to Dublin with ease.

  • Greenflag

    paddy reilly ,

    ‘under democracy, the people elect the government, whereas in (post 1921) Unionism, the government elect the people first’

    Ouch so true it hurts to laugh:)

    Robert Mugabe is now introducing a variant on this theme of electing the people first . His new ‘deviation’ is to beat the people who voted the wrong way with 4 inch planks. Another ‘incentive’ being used is to make sure no ‘food aid’ is delivered to those constituencies which had the temerity to vote against ZANU .

    To be fair to the UUP they never had to worry about counting the vote until the DUP came along to confuse the issue.

  • Hold the front page, Oilifear @ 06:13 PM! Can you source those estimates of attrition, please? And can you check that they refer to the 1650s, rather than the previous decade?

    You see, I suspect those figures (including attributions to Sam Pepys, who was well after the event, in London, and therefore soooo reliable) derive from Sir William Petty. That’s the only creditable authority who, for the moment, comes to mind. On a quick flick here (and I’m having to use James Lydon), Petty reckoned that the wars in Ireland reduced the population from a bit fewer than 1.5M to 850,000 by 1652. Most of the missing were, of course, Catholic.

    Now comes the odd wee problem. As I recall, Petty surveyed just 22 counties. There is no reason to credit his guesstimate of a previous population of 1.4 to 1.5M. Nor, therefore, that going on two-thirds of a million had gone walkabout, “to Hell or (unsurveyed) Connaught”. As my earlier post suggested, at least one family from Down made it as far as Dublin.

    What we do know is that the Cromwellian sieges/massacres could have accounted for about 20,000. Another 40,000 took their services to Spain (since they were military, they may well have had families and “camp followers” not included in those musters). A further 10 or 20,000 went the same way as the prisoners taken at Berwick: into servitude in the Sugar Islands.

    Not pretty. Not nice. Good propaganda; and therefore poor history.

    I’m trying to stick to the verifiable facts. Everything else is induction or speculation or interpreting partial reporters.

    Unless, of course, you know more, and can inform us better?

  • Garibaldy

    Paddy,

    The regime was known as the Commonwealth surely?

    Of course there was at this time no inherent link between republicanism and democracy. Far from it when you look at the republics in Italy and Switzerland.

  • Greenflag

    malcolm redfellow ,

    ‘Another contribution of Cromwell to the Dublin economy is that Pádraig Mac Artán came to Dublin, apparently dispossessed from County Down by the Cromwellians.’

    ‘Thank Cromwell for Guinness’

    Not a marketing slogan that I’d use 🙂

    On the subject of Dublin Street names there’s an excellent book published by Gill & McMillan written by Paul Clerkin . The author concurs with the accuracy of the ‘sheep’ street origin but also notes that it was also once known as Polemill Street after the pool and monastery founded there in the 6 th century. It eventually became a street of tenements and by the 1980’s hd become derelict, abandoned and vandalised. In fact ‘shit ‘ street. The Office of Public Works has now renovated the buildings creating a streetscape inside the castle compound and restoring the facades. They now face across a paved open area to the new Chester Beatty Library of Oriental Art .

    On the Cromwell theme there is a ‘Roundhead Row’ which was named as such by Dublin Corporation in 1876. There may have been not a little humour involved in this name change . The street name it replaced was to say the least somewhat uninviting .

    ‘Cut-throat Lane’

    There is also the nearby (to Roundhead Row) the aptly named ‘Cromwell’s Quarters’ also renamed in 1876 from the previous again somewhat uninviting ‘Murdering Lane’. When Cromwell stopped over in Dublin in 1649 he lodged at the corner of Werburgh St and Castle St . It’s likely that the street was simply renamed along with Roundhead Row as part of a ‘themed’ naming pattern .

    Perhaps in view of the increasing number of violent crimes in and around Dublin the ancient medieval names might be restored to their former presumed descriptive accuracy :)?

    Copper Alley , Silver Street and Golden Lane

  • earnan

    This is the year 2008 and you still are the Queen’s subjects. When will this archaic monarchy be eliminated, as it should have been centuries ago with a guillotine.

    What does the royal family do, besides travel around on taxpayers dime and represent an empire that enslaved and looted so many different lands to their own ends? It’s pathetic.

  • Oilifear

    darth,

    I cannot tell you how relieving it is that you to made a gaff in the same post that you corrected one of mine. Yes, I did mean descendants, not ancestors, though I doubt we would all be Huguenots if I had meant it the other way around (if any of us at all).

    “… the mere width of the estimates (note definition of word) suggests that.. well, noone actually knows how many died …”

    And that was the essence of much of what I said. Deliberately, I stood back from positively naming a number and explicitly gave that over to others to wrangle over. All that can be said with certainty is that it was a phenomenal number, that the suffering was immense, and that it is therefore unsurprising that those awful days would last in folk memory.

    “I’ll guarantee that Cromwell wasn’t personally responsible for the vast majority of the deaths … I don’t think he introduced hunger or disease.”

    I never said that he was. Indeed, I never mentioned Cromwell’s name one in my post. Though he is the man not remembered from that era. (At risk of treading on Godwin, other leaders of men are remembered for the terrible suffering of their eras, though they likely never did a violent deed in their lives.)

    “… read the very fair account of cromwell in ireland on the Cromwell association’s website to see his role in context.”

    Not the first stop that I would take for a “fair account” of Cromwell. Generally enthusiasts associations are going to judge favorably the subject of their enthusiasm, don’t you think?

    “… frankly it is MOPEry to ‘remember’ the events of these times in this way.”

    In what way? Like I said, I doubt the veracity of Greenflag’s story, but are you really surprised that such suffering would last in folk memory – even throughout the centuries? Should we stop remembering Armistice Day just because it was so long ago? How long until the people of the Indian Ocean should forget the Tsunami? It’s not MOPEry for these things to have a lasting impact. (And I had thought to mention 1641 specifically, it should deservedly be remembered in the same breath – for indeed it is the same breath as Cromwell.)

    “… it is quite correct to say that death and suffering were inflicted on all sides, though usually [winners] come off better than [losers]. That’s why they lost.”

    Then in this case Catholic, Protestant and Dissenting Irishmen and -women lost in equal measure.

    “If Prods banged on about the role someone’s great granda times ten played in the massacres of 1641 they’d be rightly called a loony. ”

    And for that reason I doubt Greenflag’s story. It just doesn’t sound real, does it?

    “Yeah, we have a certain interest in 1688-1690, but I suspect it’s more to do with the summer festivities than the historical events”

    Cool. So if I organize a parade and a pipe band, it’s OK to MOPE? Fleadh Muintire níos Éagóradh ar Fud an Domhain? I likes the sounds of that.

    Malcolm,

    Two gaffs in one post! My error, yes, I did mean the previous decade. The Petty estimation in 1652 is taken as solid, the question then is what was the population in 1641:

    “The most authoritative modern assessment concludes that Ireland’s population rose considerably after 1602 and that, by 1641, it supported 2.1 million people. This estimate is obtained by working backwards from fairly reliable eighteenth-century demographic data, though such a technique faces the formidable problem of estimating from very little evidence the effects on population of the decade of upheaval that followed the outbreak of the rebellion. The duke of Ormond, looking back after the Restoration and using Sir William Petty’s figures, reached the more conservative conclusion of a population of between 1.2 and 2 million.” (M. Perceval-Maxwell, The Outbreak of the Irish Rebellion of 1641, Buffalo, N.Y.: McGill-Queen’s University Press. 1994.)

    This is where I took my statement that between 1 in 3 (0.8/1.2) to 7 in 10 (0.8/2.1). As I wrote, you may choose which ever figure you prefer, or something in between if that takes your fancy. Whatever your favorite number, it is a phenomenal one. (My statement that 850,000 was the lower number was a third gaff – a mixed up with Petty’s 1652 population number.)

    Most of the dead were Catholics – but then most of the population was Catholic. My statement was was that Catholic, Protestant and Dissenter died in equal measure, not number – by which I mean the same proportion death was shared by all.

  • Robin B

    I’d just like to thank the many contributors to this thread who have helped inform and educate me about people, issues and events that my poor ignorant self has only previously had a sketchy understanding of. I’ve followed some of the information links and been elucidated indeed.

    What a pleasure to read, and how pleasantly different to see a history thread which has almost if not entirely avoided all the usual emotional slanging and blaming! And even the limited whataboutery and MOPEry seems to have been mostly tongue-in-cheek.

    Congratulations to those knowledgable and erudite contributors who have shown some of the very best aspects of the internet as a tool for discussion and information. It’s a shame so many threads on more comtemporary topics aren’t so well served.

  • Oilifear @ 12:36 AM:

    Interesting that you call in aid Perceval-Maxwell.

    Jonathan Bardon is quite light on the period from Sir Phelim O’Neill to the Restoration, just half-a-dozen pages in chapter 5.

    I see, though, that he deploys Perceval-Maxwell to give some credence to stories of the 1641 Massacres:

    In the library of Trinity College in Dublin there are over thirty manuscript volumes filled with the sworn statements of survivors of 1641, gathered to justify a massive confiscation of land held by Catholics. Ever since W.H.Lecky debated the issue at length, Irish historians have been reluctant to accept these depositions as having any value. Certainly much of the evidence is fantastic, grossly exaggerated and even salacious, but M. Percival-Maxwell, in a trenchant analysis, shows that some of the statements are supported by other documents.

    James Lydon goes further:

    There is no way of knowing exactly how many Protestants lost their lives during the early days of the rebellion. Research has shown that in county Armagh the number of settlers murdered varied from 17 per cent to 43 per cent from area to area — horrific figures. It may be that as many as 4,000 died at the hands of Catholic fanatics and that twice that number perished through exposure — it was an exceptionally hard winter — and lack of adequate sustenance. Refugees poured into Dublin and Drogheda, from where most of them made their way to England where stories of a massacre of Protestants in Ireland quickly spread. News of the atrocities first reached parliament on 1 November 1641 and no time was lost in spreading the stories, deliberately sensationalized to inflame public opinion against the Irish.

    Of course, in the final analysis, whether the stories of the massacres hold water does not greatly matter. That, as I have tried to suggest previously, is equally true about the extent of the Cromwellian counter-action.

    As Antonia Fraser (remember her?) pertinently comments:

    … in considering the climate of English opinion at this date, which is of extreme importance in the case of Oliver Cromwell who stands permanently arraigned at the bar of humanity for his actions towards the Irish eight years later, the salient point is not whether the massacres took place or not, but whether they were believed to have taken place in England at the time. Here the evidence is unanimous: it was an article of faith among English Protestants that the wicked, inhuman slaughter of innocent women and children, with a strong overtone of a Catholic Holy War, had raged through Ireland.

  • Oilifear

    Malcolm, I feel like you’re arguing with me. How is it interesting that I call Perceval-Maxwell “in aid”? I have from the outset said that Catholic, Protestant and Dissenter died in equal measure and in my last post said that, “I had thought to mention 1641 specifically, it should deservedly be remembered in the same breath – for indeed it is the same breath as Cromwell.”

    I counter that it is interesting that you call Antonia Fraser to “your aid”. In the very piece that you cite she points to widely verying estimates of death, just as I did, and arrives at a similar conclusion. What she called “horrific figures”, I called “phenomenal numbers”.

    To return to the original point, is really so surprising that stories like the one Greenflag related would be carried through the folk memory of such an awful time? Is that MOPEry? Or simply the pockmark of horror?

  • Oilifear @ 11:47 AM:

    Gregory: Do you quarrel, sir?
    Abraham: Quarrel, sir? no, sir.
    Sampson: But if you do, sir, I am for you. I serve as good a man as you.
    Abraham: No better?
    Sampson: Well, sir …

    Seriously (and the only way to play those opening 60 lines is for belly-laughs), I had no intention of provoking further dissention. Nor, as one over-ready to resort to quotation for “aid”, did I intend to “cast nasturtiums”.

    My point was that Percival-Maxwell specifically (see intro., page xiii) argues that he is:

    placing more emphasis upon Scotland and England than is usually found among historians of Ireland.

    That is a different interpretation to the one I was fed (so long ago) at school and college. It is valid because, for example, when the Commons session of 1 November 1641 (see my previous post) received the reports from Ulster, Pym used them as further incendiary ammunition for blaming the King. Out of that, of course, (on 22nd November) Parliament manufactured the Great Remonstrance. So, I was acknowledging the Percival-Maxwell approach: that it is difficult to isolate Irish, English and Scottish threads at that juncture (pace the impeachment of Strafford).

    Another area where Percival-Maxwell scores is his critique of how the authorities (foreshadowings of so many other occasions, all the way to 1916?) over-reacted: Coot(e) in Leinster; St Leger in Munster, plus the suppression of the Irish parliament at a moment when it could perhaps have been a safety valve.

    No more, no less.

    For me, there seem to be a couple of weaknesses in how Percival-Maxwell develops his thesis.

    One is he seems to endorse the common assumption that Ireland, pre-1641, was enjoying a pacific and prosperous phase. That is, surely, denied by the way the leaders (Phelim O’Neill, Rory Maguire and Philip O’Reilly — “discontented gentlemen” and Irish MPs all) so quickly lost control of the rebellion. The violent eruption by the peasants and tenants indicates festering grievances.

    The other, well chewed over in the academic reviews, is how Percival-Maxwell considers the Earl of Antrim. Antrim, let us recall, was the key testimony that the King intended Strafford’s Irish forces actually to be deployed against the Scottish Covenanters, rather than dangled as a potential threat (as P-M would have it). That, of course, was another critical issue in inflaming the Parliamentarians.

    Can we agree all that is, at least marginally, “interesting”?

  • darth rumsfeld

    yup oily- hoist with me own petard, and deservedly so

    I accept your nuanced and valid response to the points I made.
    I agree the Association ( declaring my interest as a member thereof) is pro-Cromwell but if I may be forgiven a tedious link, it reports his Irish campaign warts and all.
    I would like to join in the joke about your pipe band and parade, but me cupla focal doesn’t extend to the phrase used- any chance of a translation?
    I still say it’s wrong to MOPE- as I think in fairness do you.

    Malcolm

    Thank you for a very thoughtprovoking post @ 1.10 pm. I hadn’t considered a role for the irish parliament of the type envisaged.

    This was a ferociously complicated time, and ironically I’ve no doubt that if I’d been around then I’d have been in the Scots Covenanting army- probably engagin in hostilities with the parliamentarians, possibly even besieging Londonderry.

  • DavidD

    The estimates of the population of Ireland in 1600 are in the range 1.0 to 1.5 million; in 1700 they are in the range 2.0 to 2.8 millions. Figures for 800000 of ‘unnatural losses’ between these dates are simply incredible. Such depradedations would have represented losses greater than those caused by the Black Death, a demographic catastrophe from which it took most countries in Europe two centuries to recover. Even assuming that the number of Protestants in 1600 was negligible and it was 30% in 1700 this still implies an increase in the Catholic population greater than that in total population achieved either by England or by Scotland. Only in Germany were the losses caused by the religious wars massive enough to cause a serious dent in population growth.

  • DavidD @ 05:25 PM:

    Your points are well-made: we are working with some very dubious “estimates”. Lydon goes for an even lesser figure:

    With a small population, perhaps as low as 750,000 in 1600, and a density of only about 20 per square mile in rural areas, landowners were naturally anxious to encourage settlers …

    Some of those landowners went to remarkable lengths: the Earl of Thomond brought in Dutch settlers, for an example. The immigrants were in a sellers’ market, and saw themselves as free-agents, not constrained by official ideas of planting particular areas.

    What else , then, do we assuredly “know”?

    First that a trans-Atlantic flow of emigrants was already happening, mainly Catholics into indentured service. Others went into mercenary armies in Europe: between 1605 and 1616, Chichester recruited 6,000 men for Sweden. On top of that there was a significant brain-drain into the Catholic universities and seminaries of the Continent. All of that diluted the Catholic population to a greater or lesser extent.

    Second, the Plantation of Ulster was far from a success, mainly because the greed and reach of the undertakers in London far exceeded their grasp. There was not widespread displacement of the previous occupants: many, if not most, remained as tenants (not surprising, with half-a-million acres to exploit). The biggest change, then, was land-tenure, not essential demography — with the exception of importing a new class of land-lords, and the creation of new towns. Dungannon was incorporated in 1612; Coleraine, Londonderry [recte] and Belfast the following year. By 1616 there were 215 stone houses inside the walls of Derry. However, as Lydon (again) tersely remarks:

    In 1639, for example, Enniskillen had only 60 adult males and that was fairly typical. But Virginia in the same year had only 19. It is clear that the optimistic plans for a controlled migration had come unstuck.

    The main influx of Scots, perhaps 100,000, was into Down and Antrim, outside the intended Plantation. That was over-successful. It depopulated parts of the Borders (aided, no doubt, by the union of the Crowns pacifying the Borderland, and ending two centuries of reiving as a way of life). In 1636 a licence scheme for emigration from Scotland was approved (and generally ignored).

    All of that might imply that the population of Ireland, throughout the 17th century, was buoyant. But, as you say, there is no scope for the higher assumptions of attrition in 1641-52.

    The wost solecism, surely, is to distinguish “Protestant” English and “Presbyterian Scots” from “Catholic” Irish. It was far more complex than that. The Plunketts, the Keatings, the Nugents, the Fitzgeralds and the rest of that complicated brood of “Old English”, although sitting in an Irish parliament and seeing themselves a class above the “Irish”, could still be put in their place by an English official referring to them as “Taighs”.

    What the Cromwellian settlement achieved was to hasten the transfer of land-holding from Catholic to Anglican hands. At the outset of the Ulster Plantation, Ireland was “owned” by 2,000 Catholic gentry, many of them “Old English”. In 1641, they still held near on 60%. That was down to 22% in 1660 and to just 14% by 1714 (another shameless steal from Lydon).

    As for all of those land-grants to Cromwellian soldiers (by 1652, Parliament owed £1.5 million for back-pay and associated war-debts), within two generations they had been assimilated, and many of their descendants were Irish-speaking and practising Catholicism. The prohibition on associating with Irish women was clearly ignored as comprehensively as “no-fraternising” was after 1945.