Talk:Irish Confederate Wars

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Cromwell's role in the Confederate Wars[edit]

There's been the usual debate on wikipedia on what Oliver Cromwell did and didn't do in Ireland. Some people have taken the traditional Irish view that he was an utter monster, while others have gone too far in the other direction, saying that he "allegedly" committed massacres. Here's the facts:

There's no allegedly about it. Cromwell DID order the massacre of the defenders of Drogheda. He admitted as much himself. The debate is only over whether he also massacred the town's civilian population and whether what he did was unusually brutal by the standards of the day. On the first point, Cromwell did order the killing of "any that were in arms in the town" and of Catholic priests. There is also no doubt that some townspeople were killed in the sack. However, Cromwell was adamant that he did not ORDER the killing of civilians. On the second point, all sides in contemporary warfare did not give quarter to garrisons that had been taken by storm, so, if not exusable by modern standards, Cromwell's actions were not unusual at the time. At Wexford, there is uncertainty about whether Cromwell is responsible for the massacre, but there's no doubt whatsoever that one took place. Parliamentarian troops broke into the town while it was trying to surrender, butchering the garrison, killing the townspeople and burning the town. While this was not on Cromwell's orders, as commanding officer he bears responsibility for the actions of the men under his command.

But these are only the high profile cases and the ones that relate to Cromwell himself. The policy of Cromwell's officers in Ireland was less high profile, but more responable than the man himself for the massive death toll of the war in Ireland. The English Parliament passed an "ordinance of no quarter" against any Irish troops taken prisoner 1642. Henry Ireton initiated the policy of devastating the countryside and attacking civilians who were helping the Irish guerrillas or "tories". Destroying food stuffs created a man made famine in Ireland from 1650. This was continued by people by Charles Coote and John Hewson. So, although Cromwell should not be demonised, there IS some validity in the traditional Irish view of the Cromwellian conquest as genocide. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Jdorney (talkcontribs)

At Fethard and Clonmel, the towns' inahbitants came to agreements with Cromwell and none of them was harmed. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs)

Applying the word 'British' in an early seventeenth century context is anachronistic. In terms of a single, political entity, Britain did not exist until the Act of Union.

The Rebellion - 1641-42[edit]

I have come to this section (Irish_Confederate_Wars#The_Rebellion_-_1641-42) via list of massacres. The source for the massacre in Kilwarlin woods in the list of massacres was given as the Ulster Journal of Archaeology (volume 8, 1860) By Ulster Archaeological Society Page 79.

On page 79 they are quoting a source (Proceeding of the English and Scottish forces in Northern Ireland, A. D. 1642: Chapter 2. The manner or their march towards the Nury, with the taking a Fort neere [sic] Kilwarlin Woods.) that took part on the Protestant side stating it was a skirmish and that about 80 enemy were killed or taken prisoner. Now there probably are other sources that state it was a massacre but I think they should be cited.

Googling for "Ordinance of No Quarter" returns two sources

  • Pádraig Lenihan, "Confederate Catholics at War, 1641-49" Page 211
  • Thomas Bartlett, Keith Jeffery. "A Military History of Ireland" page 305

Lenihan makes a mistake calling the English Parliament British (Scotland and England were separate at the time) but Lenihan also makes it clear that this Ordinance only applied to Irishmen in England not in Irishmen in Ireland (note that the Irish did not have to be papist, Irish Royalist protestants who fought in Englandwould probably have fallen foul of this as well).

Bartlett and Jeffery make much the same point that it was a Parliamentary response to Charles I receiving forces from Ireland to fight his war in England. 10,00 troops from the Kilkenny Confederacy to England (and a further 2,000 to Scotland to aid Montrose). So to place the "Ordinance of no quarter to the Irish". So as the sentence containing the Ordinance was very misleading, I have removed it. --PBS (talk) 21:00, 1 February 2008 (UTC)

Fair enough, my mistake re the ordinance of no quarter. However you're mistaken re the Confederates sending troops to England. They talked and talked about it but never actually did it. The expedition to aid Montrose was their only intervention in 'Britain' (you know what I mean) in the civil wars. Jdorney (talk) 17:47, 3 February 2008 (UTC)

Some Irishmen were in England -- I don't know how many but Thomas Bartlett, Keith Jeffery state 10,000 in the reference given above. --PBS (talk) 15:11, 4 February 2008 (UTC)

I don't have that book to hand, though I have read it, but I think that if you read carefully you'll find that the 'Irish' troops in England were actually returned Royalists who had been sent to Ireland in 1641-42. The Parliament made great play out of this in its propaganda, but as far as I'm aware, there were actually very few Irish soldiers and cetainly no Confederate regiments serving in the English Civil War. After the battle of Marston Moor or Naesby (I forget which), some Parliamentarians massacred some people whom they belived to be Irish Catholics but who were in fact Welsh. The Confederates tortuosly negoitated with Ormonde over the terms under which they would send troops to England, but by the time they finally agreed to do so, in 1646, it was too late. The Supreme Council of the Confederacy got ousted by its General Assembly over this very point. Jdorney (talk) 15:38, 4 February 2008 (UTC)

Here is the link to page 305 It says:

There were obvious difficulties about the employment of Irish Catholic soldiers on mainland Britain; 10,000 troops sent by the Kilkenny Confederacy to reinforce the royalists in England and Wales in 1643-4 excited intense antagonism, while undoubtedly contributing in a major way to the prolongation of Charles I's resistance to 1646.43

Don't think it could be much clearer!--PBS (talk) 16:42, 4 February 2008 (UTC)

I know we're not supposed to question printed sources on wp but I'm completely certain that that is a mistake. I'll have a look at O Siochru and Lenihan for some references. Jdorney (talk) 21:51, 4 February 2008 (UTC)

It would not surprise me that it was not correct, as there are few reported massacres of Catholic Irish soldiers in England and if there had been 10,000 running around one would have expected some serious fighting, and apart from a few hundred massacred after one of the sieges (where the English garrison were allowed to leave with military honours) -- can't remember which one -- I can not recall reading about any other incidents. --PBS (talk) 22:02, 4 February 2008 (UTC)

One war or three?[edit]

Should the conflict in Ireland between 1641-1653 be considered one war or three?. Many of the articles seem to point in the direction of the former but I would suggest they should be divided into three groups 1:1641-42 the Irish rebellion; 2: 1642-1648 the Confederate wars & 3: 1649-53 the Cromwellian Conquest. Inchiquin (talk) 05:45, 1 March 2008 (UTC)


the section on Cromwellian invasion, is much more POV when describing tactics than when similiar tactics were described in previous sections. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:03, 14 January 2009 (UTC)

Wikipedia:WikiProject Wars of the Three Kingdoms and the Interregnum[edit]

I am setting up a new Military history task force at Wikipedia:WikiProject Wars of the Three Kingdoms and the Interregnum all welcome to join. -- PBS (talk) 10:16, 21 March 2010 (UTC)

Technically not as sold as a slaves but as indentured labourers[edit]

This article says slave, but those deported were deported as indentured labour not as slaves (from an UNESCO source):

African slaves were present from the earliest days, but it is probable that the first plantation were worked with mainly European convict and indentured rather than African slave labour. The English Civil War and the Cromwellian defeat of Scots and Irish ensured a steady supply of prisoners in the early 1650s,...

— Galenson (1997)
  • Higman, B. W. (1997). Knight, Franklin W. (ed.). General History of the Caribbean: The slave societies of the Caribbean. 3 (illustrated ed.). UNESCO. pp. &source=bl&ots=F1u7OqkQkS&sig=vWJuLr-uyxz-_r6Sb-AWhYIbN7Q&hl=en&ei=IaebTsmPN-2ciAe7xOjMBA&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CBoQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=indentured%20rather%20than%20African%20slave%20labour.%20The%20English%20Civil%20War%20and%20the%20Cromwellian%20defeat%20of%20Scots%20and%20Irish%20ensured%20a%20steady%20supply%20of%20prisoners%20in%20the%20early%201650s%2C&f=true 107, 108. ISBN 9780333656051.

The confusion in the sources probably comes about because the type of servitude technically described as "indentured labour" is loosely described as slavery in some sources. Probably because "slavery" is more punchy than "indentured labour" (rather like "crimes against humanity" begin described as "genocide" when technically they do not fit the legal definition of genocide). Here is a 1913 source citing earlier sources but drawing the distinction.

As regards Ireland, the selling of prisoners into slavery was not restricted to the case of the survivors of Drogheda (Carlyle's Cromwell, as cited, ii, 53; ed. Lomas, i, 469). It is proved that Cromwell's agents captured not only youths, but girls, for export to the West Indies (Prendergast, The Cromwellian Settlement, 2nd ed. p. 89); and that the slavery there was of the cruellest sort (Cunningham, Growth of English Industry and Commerce, ii, 109), though it has to be kept in view that it was not perpetual; the victim being strictly an "indentured labourer," only for a certain number of years at the mercy of his owner (Gardiner, Commonwealth and Protectorate, small ed. iii, i, 309-10, note ; iv, 111-13). Of course the limitation of the term made the servitude all the more severe (Lomas's note cited) ...

— Robertson (1913)
  • Robertson, John Mackinnon (1913). The evolution of states: an introduction to English politics. G. P. Putnam's sons. p. 148.

As this more modern source makes clear "indentured labour" was not a walk in the park:

They [indentured workers] were treated in every way like slaves and could, for instance, be bought and sold among different planters. Unused to the climate, they were less robust than blacks (three of them were considered worth one African) and were often treated worse. The owner, after all, had his slaves for life, but he had only a few years in which to get as much work as possible out of a European labourer. If the indentured workers were not criminals, they were often prisoners of war, and for a century and a half the islands were to receive a continuous supply of men who had supported doomed enterprises.

— Metzgen&Graham (2007)
  • Metzgen, Humphrey; Graham, John (2007). Caribbean wars untold: a salute to the British West Indies (illustrated ed.). University of West Indies Press. pp. 24, 25. ISBN 9766402035.

-- PBS (talk) 05:29, 17 October 2011 (UTC)

Indentured servants are people who willingly agree to a contract, not people who are forced into one. They were slaves, and if it happened to anybody other than the Irish there is no way they would be labeled anything other than slaves 24rhhtr7 (talk) 01:42, 27 May 2015 (UTC)

Other than the Scots to whom it happened at the same time, for example? Pinkbeast (talk) 14:39, 28 May 2015 (UTC)
See also: Liam Hogan (14 January 2015). "The Myth of "Irish Slaves" in the Colonies". Retrieved May 2015. Check date values in: |accessdate= (help) (summary of the article)
-- PBS (talk) 18:30, 28 May 2015 (UTC)
Sorry but I don't consider clearly biased "articles" to be legitimate sources. It's really shameful the way people try to take that away from not just the Irish but all who were FORCED into labor and even rounded up off the streets. And then the ancestors of these people, as Jim Goad correctly stated, are blamed and lumped in with the landed gentry who not only enslaved and discriminated against Africans but fellow Europeans as well. It's no coincidence that those who run things like "human rights" organizations happen to be countries whose disgraceful past is often covered up or excused away. Wikipedia is chock full of pro-Empire POV the past few years.24rhhtr7 (talk) 07:54, 23 June 2015 (UTC)

We had the "Christian Brothers" selling boys as indentured labour into the 1950s, [ (article here), so why is it happening in the 1650s such a big deal? (talk) 11:50, 25 April 2017 (UTC)

This whole thread is basically WP:NOTAFORUM FOARP (talk) 09:04, 24 October 2018 (UTC)

List of battles[edit]

This following unreliable source contains a list of battle which may be a useful starting point for an expansion to this article

-- PBS (talk) 14:18, 6 April 2015 (UTC)


The article continually uses the word "Protestant" to refer to any non-Catholic Christians. The Scottish Presbyterians were Protestant. The English settlers, however, were probably Anglican, weren't they? The Anglican split from the Roman Catholic Church was a purely administrative / political move, not a theological one. They weren't part of the Reformation, didn't "protest", didn't follow Reformation theology, and aren't Protestant any more than the Eastern Orthodox are. It would be better to use the word Anglican to refer to Anglicans, regardless of the common Irish usage of the word "Protestant". Philgoetz (talk) 23:17, 29 January 2018 (UTC)

In both Ireland and England at the time, they were always referred to as 'Protestants'. It would be unhistorical to impose another terminology.Jdorney (talk) 16:11, 31 January 2018 (UTC)
I was incorrect anyway, as it turns out Elizabeth I introduced Reformation theology to the Anglican church. But it would still be a helpful distinction to use the word Anglican when speaking of Anglicans. Knowing whether the people involved were Anglicans or Presbyterians is sometimes important. Philgoetz (talk) 15:55, 2 February 2018 (UTC)
That is true to a degree, but the term Anglican was not used in the seventeenth century, as far as I'm aware. Also, members of the Church of England (and Ireland) who were Anglicans in our terminology, did recognise Presbyterians, members of the Church of Scotland, as fellow 'Protestants' and vice versa, despite some theological and political differences between them. Jdorney (talk) 01:18, 3 February 2018 (UTC)
Yes, in the context of the Confederate Wars it rarely mattered whether Presbyterians or Anglicans were being discussed. Both considered themselves, and the other, as "protestants". FOARP (talk) 13:10, 18 October 2018 (UTC)