380 Irish Revolt

In an atmosphere of panic caused by news of a massive Irish uprising, the struggle for reform met it’s greatest challenge in the attempt to pass the Grand Remonstrance.

Download Podcast - 380 Irish Revolt (Right Click and select Save Link As)

(The image shows 3 MPs who argued against the remonstrance – Edward Hyde, Edward Dering and John Colpepper)


Phelim O’Neill was one of the winners from the English colonial state in Ireland. He came from impeccable native Irish family roots in Ulster, a descendant of the rebellious Earl of Tyrone, Hugh O’Neill – although Phelim’s branch of the family had abandoned Tyrone in an attempt to hold on to their lands. As the inheritor of extensive estates at a very young age, Phelim was a royal ward throughout his young years, and every effort was made to bring him to the Protestant faith. He did become a rather reluctant protestant; but in 1628 the partial concessions made under part of the Graces allowed him to take an oath of loyalty to Charles and yet return to the religion of his ancestors – which he duly did.

Still, he was from the start in full communion with the kingdom of England, on his way to becoming anglicized at least to some degree; he attended Lincoln’s Inn for his education, for example. When back in Ireland, he married well, and took part in all aspects of the colonial administration – he was a JP, he sat in the Irish Parliament; yet he remained linked to the leading Gaelic families, such as Randal McDonnell, the Earl of Antrim. He held estates of a stonking 4,500 acres, many of them acquired through the plantation policies with English settlers, so he should not have been short of a bob or two. In a sense, he was very much typical of the objective of English policy in Ireland – to make Ireland English.

Another important thing to know about Phelim was that he had a good time, according to his station; he would not be the first young nobleman to live beyond his means, in a way one contemporary described

‘as free and generous as could be desired’

Almost certainly freer and more generous that he should have been in fact; As a result he was indeed very short of bobs; in fact by 1640, he had debts of £12,000. So he felt pretty exposed and nervous. But then – he was considered to be the senior of his clan, and clan leaders could hardly be seen to be counting the pennies, could they now?

Into this world came Thomas Wentworth as Lord Lieutenant of Ireland as we have heard, and started throwing his weight around; landowners like Phelim O’Neill were seriously worried about the continuing failure of the Crown to confirm title to their lands, and Strafford’s threat of tyranny and the cynical use of their fears to coerce them infuriated them. If they lost any more of their lands the gig would certainly be up with that debt. Phelim O’Neill was not untypical, though the concerns of Irish gentry and nobility varied according to circumstance; a nobleman called Rory O’More, for example, was burning with indignity at the loss some of his ancestral lands in County Laix through the plantations policies. Conor Macguire, the Baron of Enniskillen in Ulster was up to his eyes in debt too; but his main concern was for the survival of Catholicism in the face of a Protestant parliament in London and Dublin.

Meanwhile, the 1641 Irish parliament tried to get the Graces fully confirmed; and under pressure in London, Charles began to feel that having friends in Ireland would be no bad thing; so he ordered the Lord Chief Justices in Ireland to prepare the paperwork. Now the administration in Dublin was dominated by Protestants – many of them New English. And they were not keen on the Graces, not keen at all, no more than was the HoL back in England. They couldn’t refuse to do the king’s bidding – but feet were dragged, eyes were rolled, petty objections were raised in the spirit of bureaucratic passive resistance, and progress was slow. Phelim O’Neill, Conor Maguire and Rory More were getting impatient. They were being ignored, they had lost status and power in the country in which they were lords. They should really do something about this. They contacted a relation, Owen Roe O’Neill. They began to do that thing people do when official channels seemed to offer nothing but despair. They began to conspire. Plot. And even to scheme.





As the situation unfolded in England, the conspirators increasingly saw a king being forced into obedience by parliament. This was a bad thing as far as they were concerned. Parliament was increasingly dominated by puritans, similar to the New English in the Dublin government, and no good could come to Catholic Ireland from a Puritan parliament in England. There were rumours abroad that a massive programme was to be unleashed to eradicate the Catholic faith from Ireland,  and could be that Jesuits encouraged the rumours to encourage disturbances. For the Old English and Gaelic Irish, odd as it might seem, the king was their only hope. There was a surprisingly strong allegiance to the monarchy as a concept; and they valued their direct access to his ear which was their right as lords. Their other big concern was their title to land, threatened by Strafford and the refusal of the parliament to confirm the final Graces.

So here’s the plan that then emerged. On the one hand their saviour was the king – he needed to be protected and his hand strengthened against the protestants that controlled both English and Irish parliaments and governments. On the other hand the king hadn’t exactly been covering himself in glory for the Irish either. How to square the circle? Here’s how they planned to do it. We take control of the government in Ireland – seize Dublin castle, and as many strongpoints in the homeland of Ulster in particular. Don’t touch the Scots in the plantations, because we only need one enemy at a time let’s take on the English only. Then we can both destroy the power of English Protestants in Ireland; and force the King to confirm those blessed Graces we’ve been arguing about for decades, including confirming the title to our lands, restoring our status and rightful role in government, and promising us the right to practice our religion in peace.

As they honed and buffed the plan, events had helped; Strafford’s Irish army was supposed to have been disbanded in May, so there were fewer government soldiers about. Good news.

Though in fact while we are on that, the king had been conspiring with the Earl of Antrim behind the English parliament’s back to keep some contingents on. For what purpose was not clear, but of course the English parliament suspected it was a tool of tyranny, but we’ll come back to that.

Either way though there were lots of disbanded soldiery wandering about, heightening the sense of instability, and weakening forces of state oppression. And the idea that the king might be retaining a secret Irish army to be used to reduce his English parliament to obedience rather, encouraged Phelim O’Neill & Company to believe their revolution might not be unwelcome by the king. Plus there was a general disorganisation of the government at the time – Strafford had been replaced by the Earl of Leicester as Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, he’d not been allowed to come over, so two rather ineffectual Lords Justice were in so called control. So – the time was ripe. Things were cookin. All in? Aye. Aye, and Aye. The scene was set, the musket primed – the conspirators would gather tenants and patriots armed as well as they could, rise on October 23rd to seize key strongpoints and arsenals in Ulster, use surprise to take Dublin castle, paralyze government and negotiate with King and English parliament from a position of strength. Their concerns would be met, and everyone would live happily ever after in peace, love and harmony.

Now, it’s October 22, 1641. The story is that the rising was planned for the following day; plans were being made on Wine Tavern Street in Dublin. At 9 pm that night the Lords Justice were raised from their evening slipper-fest by a desperate man called Owen O’Connelly. Owen was that special breed of conspirator – a conspirator with second thoughts. Breathlessly he spilled the beans to the bosses.

The Irish had prepared men in all parts of the kingdom to Destroy all the English inhabitants there

The following day Phelim O’Neill raised the revolt in Ulster and seized two forts, and within two days were in control of much of central Ulster; the first part of the plan was a stunning success. But crucially the second part had failed; the Lords Justice had listened to O’Connelly, found and arrested Maquire that night, the castle had been sealed up. Failing to take Dublin castle was a fata; blow to the original intentions of the rebels. However overwhelmed the government was – and there would be a good deal of whelming going on – the Government in Ireland was still in existence and the chance for a bloodless coup had gone. Though maybe what would unfold over the next few months would probably anyway have been unstoppable.

Phelim O’Neill issued a proclamation saying that no harm was intended to anyone, the rebellion was

‘only for the defence and libertie of ourselves and the Irish Natives of this Kingdom

He then issued an announcement that he held the King’s Commission for the actions the rebels had taken,

To arrest and seize the goods, estates and persons of all the English protestants

This was a forgery. But it convinced at least some to join the rebels; and more crucially, some in England would also believe that the King was indeed involved, on the timeless there’s no smoke without fire principle; and in the stream of the ‘there’s a papist plot going on’ panics, Henrietta Maria’s name duly appeared. Next Phelim appealed to all Catholics, whether Old English or Gaelic, to come together for the security of their faith, to put old differences aside.

It was working. The rebellion began to spread. Rory O’More turned out to be probably the best politician among the rebels, and his exchange with the Old English of the Pale is very interesting – these people had been natural allies of the king til now, it was critical to win them over. It helped all the noble rebel leaders incidentally that they were well connected by marriage with both native irish and Old English families – it gave them a degree of trust, shared interest, and a key to open the door to dialogue with the powerful. At an exchange at Julianstown just south of Drogheda where the rebels defeated a government force and killed 500 of them. Afterwards members of the Old English from the pale met O’More at Knockcrofty. O’More skilfully built the message of shared interested; that

‘you are marked forth for destruction as well as we’.

And added

‘We are of the same religion and the same nation; our interest and our sufferings are the same; the bonds of friendship and alliance are mutual between us

The meeting persuaded many of the Irish Palesmen to make common cause.

But not only did the rebellion spread. The revolution was also spinning out of the control of its original leaders. It was becoming a monster. Ordinary Irish seized this opportunity, especially in Ulster, to put right the wrongs of the past. It was a period of economic hard times anyway in Ireland, and the legacy of the humiliations and seizures of the plantations added a massive dose of petrol to the flames, and turned the revolt into something quite different. Ulster was quickly burning, and for those first few crucial months were out of control as the Irish sought vengeance, and the Scottish settlers were as fully caught up almost immediately.

There were without doubt widespread killings and atrocities. All of Phelim O’Neill’s English plantation settlers, for example, would die, despite his attempt to protect them. Famously, about 100 settlers were forced onto the bridge at Portadown; the bridge had been cut in the middle so that all the people, men and women, fell into the river and were drowned – being clubbed to death if they managed to make the shore. In County Mayo, somewhere between 30 and 65 English refugees who had surrendered to their Irish captors and were being escorted to a fort, were murdered instead. In all about 4,000 settlers were probably killed – estimates have been a moving feast for many years; many more would have died from cold and hunger, forced from their homes and livelihoods, maybe 12,000 but the real number is even harder to know. People were tortured to reveal the location of their valuables for example, so the grief inflicted as ever was greater than the bare numbers reveal. The numbers killed may equate to about 10% of all settlers, but maybe as many as 20% in Ulster specifically.

And things were then made worse by the reaction of the settlers; many Catholics died as well in reprisals. The numbers of Protestant dead tends to come from later petitions and depositions to regain land; there were of course none of those for Catholics so the numbers are unknowable. At the battle of Lisnagarvey the settlers gained the upper hand and took vicious advantage in revenge.  The English authorities were equally ruthless; Charles Coote is reputed to have hanged Catholics without recourse to any kind of legal process; William St Leger is reputed to have done the same in Munster, although his involvement’s disputed I understand; however, killings certainly took place there, and as an example of how violence begats violence, Catholics duly took revenge on the relatively small number of English settlers actually in Munster. What’s clear is that level heads were as hard to find as hen’s teeth. There’s a lot of tit for tat; for example a group of Protestants surrendered to a rebel force; they were promised quarter, but duly slaughtered anyway. A few months later Lord Barrymore took revenge by slaughtering 150 men women and children at Ballmacpatrick.

It’s all very hideous and I think that’s enough detail. There are a couple of things. Firstly, how to characterise the Irish uprising? Was it a Nationalist uprising against foreign rule? A reaction to the plantation policy? An ethnic conflict, fuelled by hatred of the English , or a religious revolt? The answer seems to be – all of the above. To which we should add that the trigger was the concern of the nobility to restore their lost status – the original intention was not of revolution, but a protest by the noble classes to make the existing system work better for the Gaelic and Old English nobility.

It’s worth re-emphasising that ethnicity or racism plays a strong part, because from the start the English had view taken a racist view of the Gaelic Irish. Ralph Verney in the English parliament  for example wrote in a letter that it was

Utterly impossible to infuse any humanity into those pagan Irish

It’s important to emphasise this, not only because it makes it unsurprising that there was a specific strand in the rebellion that sought out the English; but because this was part of a long tradition from the English, to misunderstand, and denigrate Irish culture as incomprehensible and therefore barbarous.

The other big point to make is that the fury of the initial months of the rebellion are important, but its reporting and the fears among the English and Scots it sparked are almost more so. New of the rebellion fell on the Scots and English like a bolt from the clear blue skies; no hint had communicated itself, although the signs were there; as early as February, the Spanish seem to have had their fingers on the pulse, reporting to Henry Vane

At this instant among the Irish friars, there is nothing as much spoken of as of a rebellion in Ireland[1]

The surprise accentuated the shock, but immediately keyed itself in to the worst fears of both Lowland Scots and English; their view of the Irish as an incomprehensible people in a violent society, and the fear of a universal papist plot that would exterminate the protestant religion and drown England and Scotland in blood.



So news of the level of killing was massively exaggerated; outside observers elsewhere in the Catholic world did the same thing, and actually went even further, it wasn’t just an English thing; the Lisbon gazette used the exaggerated even the figures of the English press, because ‘it made the success even more glorious to Catholic eyes’; a later Portuguese writer would compare the expulsion of the English from Ireland to the Spanish expulsion of the Muslim moriscoes; their point was to lament that many Morisoces had survived the expulsion, and it concluded with the bloodthirsty reflection that

It would be a mistake to expel the heretics from Ireland alive.

So, as colonists fled Ireland and began to stream through the ports of Chester into England, the reporting grew more and more wild. 100,000 had been killed; no, 200,000 had been butchered; no, 250,000 men women and babies had been tortured, maimed and killed. Everything the English feared seemed to be confirmed. The plot was for the Irish, in the words of one Thomas Smith

To cut the throats of all protestants in Ireland

Simmond D’ewes wrote that

Many English and Protestants had been slain by the rebels in Ireland with so much cruelty as was ever heard of amongst Christians

The press had a field day. There’s a strongly sensationalist streak in pamphlet writing that would make the Daily Mail blush; pamphlets on last speeches made on the gallows, tales about the doings of robbers and vagabonds were essential reading – maybe people snuck them into church to get through the sermons, who knows, like tucking a Mills & Boon inside your Book of Common Prayer. So the Irish rebellion was your perfect pamphlet fodder. There are very famous woodcuts by Wenclas Hollar with hideous pictures of babies on the end of pitchforks. As a quick couple of samples; in one, the Irish in Armagh were

Putting men to the sword, deflowering women…and thrusting their spears through their little infants before their eyes

In another, John Spalding of Aberdeen wrote in his diary that the Irish used

Fire, sword and all manner of cruelty against man, wife and bairns of English, Scottish and Irish Covenanters in their kingdom without compassion or pity

He then adds that they had a whip round, and his parish, though poor by his reckoning, raised £4 for the Ulster settlers, a tidy sum.



The rhetoric was often crazily extreme, and for a lot of it simply impossible to substantiate – some of it was demonstrably made up; and to give parliament their due, where invention was clear, they tried to throw water on the fire; so two enterprising Cambridge university undergrads saw their chance to earn a few quid on the side to fund their extra curricular studies. They were discovered  and arrested making up pamphlets they sold to publishers with titles like ‘Bloody News from Ireland’. The 17th century version of a pot boiler.

People lapped it up and people believed it, fed by their fears – and the very real presence of those who had indeed been violently uprooted who brought real and exaggerated stories back to their parishes and families in England and Scotland. I did see a slightly irritating series about art of the British isles with an artist lamenting that Wenclas Hollar should purposefully whip of hatred. Well, Hollar was guilty of not going over the Ireland to check his facts; but it’s almost certain, that he, like the vast majority of English and Scots, simply believed what they were being told.

Enough; you get the idea. There is a violent revolution in Ireland, which gets out of control. The violence causes absolute panic in Britain, which raised the heat of all aspects of debate, and would remain a constant factor in decision making.




So we left the English Parliament on 1st November, when the 17 Councillors had brought the first report of the rebellion to the horrified MPs. You might remember, hopefully you’ll remember, that the band saw of the reform had met in the Lords not pliant wood, but hard, uncooperative metal. The attempt to remove Bishops from the Lords had fallen at their hands, the crucial proposal to give parliament a right of veto over the king’s ministers had also been blocked by the lords. There was division between the houses to the path of reform – it was crisis time.

The news from Ireland may have helped bring people back together in a shared commitment – there’s nothing like a mutual threat to bring people together. Within two days, by 3rd November 1641, a committee of both houses had agreed that an army should be raised of 6,000 foot and 2,000 horse. This was naughty of parliament. Raising armies was not parliament’s job, that was the role of the commander in chief – repeat after me, parliament is a legislative and tax approving institution which may provide advice. And that’s it, that’s your chips. Raising armies is nowhere in the job description. Except, parliament decided to do it anyway. So there.  But that was an easy bit. Because that left a huge question hanging above the houses, the mountains and the steel grey glowering skies in words of burning flame.

Who would command this army?

Hands up who would like that to be the figure who had commanded the army since the ancestor of the royal house, Cerdic, landed with his 3 ships of warriors on the shores of Hampshire? Namely – the monarch. The king, Charles Stuart, first king of that name. Hands up anyone who thought it would be a good idea to put a scythe composed of 8,000 trained soldiers into the hands of the man who only a few months ago had been supporting an army plot to seize control off the Tower and put an end to parliamentary independence? There were few hands indeed for this idea. For the time being, Cromwell proposed to parliament that the Earl of Essex be appointed as commander of the army until the King returned from Scotland; it’s another significant move of the Commons towards exercising executive power, but they rationalised it by saying it was only temporary; So Cromwell’s resolution resolved nothing very much.

But once more the Lords refused to play – they would not approve the promotion of Essex to commander of the Militia. That was the role of the king – the Royal party in the Lords was still growing stronger.

So, despite constant interruptions of news into parliament of further horrors from Ireland, it was now the Remonstrance on which the progress of reform depended. Pym had two objectives with the Remonstrance; it was to re-create the unity of parliament that had been lost; and it would relaunch the demands to reform the church and affirm the right of the Commons to approve the king’s ministers.






The Remonstrance must succeed, or the king and Edward Nicholas would have succeeded in building a royal party strong enough to defeat the Reformers in the Commons. With that, not only would the cause of reform have reached its end, but the Junto would be vulnerable to revenge and destruction at the king’s hand. So here’s the thing; the document Pym masterminded wasn’t just a normal proposal or petition from parliament to king; not simply an appeal to the monarch to redress his subjects grievances; this was an appeal to the people. He fully intended the remonstrance to be published to the public in a way that had never been done before; it smacked of the kind of populism parliament had always kept away from – it was the king’s right to order proclamations to be printed and published, not parliament.

The Remonstrance was therefore a whopping document, 204 clauses; so comprehensive was it, that the Victorians would label it the Grand Remonstrance. It had three parts; firstly a long, long list of grievances, things the king had done wrong all the way back to 1627. Wait, did I say things the king had done wrong? Sorry, sorry, wash my mouth out with soap and water – I meant of course the King’s evil councillors had done wrong. Course I did. It was a fiction that was wearing dangerously thin now. Secondly there was a rabble rousing account of what great strides parliament had made since 1640 – champions of the people in their hour of need. And thirdly  it laid out a series of demands, or loyal requests should I say, for what the king must do next/should do next pretty please.

Pym knew getting the remonstrance approved would be a fight, contested tooth and nail by the growing king’s party in commons and Lords; Nicholas had done his job well for the king to build a party; Scotland may be lost for the moment, in England the battle was nowhere near over. So Pym planned his day well. What day should the debate happen?…well – the 5th of November of course! The day when parliament had been saved back in 1605, the biggest day of the year for the secular celebrations. William Strode had already passed a proposal that the day be started in the Temple church near Lincoln’s Inn, with a sermon, and so there they assembled crammed into the church.

He had an ulterior motive. Because You won’t be surprised to learn that the sermon was a fiery political denunciation of tyranny, taking the harsh biblical king Rehoboam as its subject. Duly dressed and marinaded, the MPs were next greeted with a series of depositions laid before them, exposing the details and villains of the failed royal action against Argyll and Hamilton in Scotland – just in case you’d forgotten who we were dealing with here – an aide memoire to the king’s untrustworthiness.

All good prep maybe. But the Remonstrance hit troubled waters almost immediately. Over the next three weeks, concession after concession was given up to moderate MPs to keep the Remonstrance on the path. Clauses about papist errors in the BCP were removed, demand after demand for church reform were removed or watered down, until all was left was a pious request for a grand synod of the reformed church – Scottish, English, Dutch – to consider reform of the church. For the moment religious change must be sacrificed, else the Remonstrance would founder on the rock of the moderate’s loyalty to the church of England. But the political and constitutional reforms survived and remained; the demand that only ministers be appointed that could command the confidence of parliament, and that Bishops be removed from the house of Lords. The tone was riddled with professions of loyalty – but make no mistakes these were demands, this was the people ordering the king around. They expected a yes.

Nicholas and Charles were of course in correspondence about progress of the Remonstrance in debate. As Charles set off from Scotland he ordered Nicholas that

My servants were by all meanes possible to see that this Remonstrance may be stopped



And at the final debate in the Commons on 22nd November they were ready. The debate started around noon. Speaker after speaker came and went; and as the record shows, if the number of speakers defined yea or nay – it would have been nay, the remonstrance would have fail.

Edward Hyde, John Culpepper, Edward Dering all spoke powerfully against the Remonstrance. What was it for, what was the need? So many of the objections and grievances listed had been met, agreed by negotiation with the king in good faith. It was time to draw a line, get back to the business of peace. Time passed, the candles were lit as evening drew in and debate raged. Why was this remonstrance to be produced by the Commons only, why bypass the Lords? But most of all – the speakers detested the populism of the Remonstrance. There’s a quote by John Culpepper which rather delightfully encapsulates your traditional view of the role of parliament and the attitude towards the involvement of the people before these cursed Reformers started, outrageously, to suggest that the people should have a view on how they were managed

This is a Remonstrance to the people. Remonstrances ought to be to the king for redress; this may exasperate. This is unseasonable…this way increases the divisions of the kingdom. We are not sent here to please the people.

Hhmm. Also, note not just the bit about not being here to please the people, but the worry that this may exasperate, exasperate the king. Well, the Reformers might have cried that hello, that ship has sailed some time ago did you not see it heading out to sea, merrily did it drop, Below the kirk, below the hill, Below the lighthouse top? Look where that kind of deference got us in the 1620s – precisely nowhere. As John Pym put it, the time had come

To speak plain English lest posterity say that England was lost and no man durst speak truth

Edward Dering maybe expressed best the astonishment from the moderates and royalists of how far things had come, this new world they all seemed to be moving towards, unless they out a stop to it now

I did not dream we would remonstrate downwards, tell stories to the people, and talk of the king as of a third person.

Finally around  2 in the morning, in the smallest of hours, the debate was drawing to a close; after 14 hours of continuous debate some had left the house in exhaustion, tempers of those that remained were short. It was time to vote. Those for the remonstrance were ordered to leave St Stephen’s Chapel to gather in St Stephen’s Court; by tradition those voting for change left the Chapel, while those for the status quo stayed in their seats. The Tellers did their work, and everyone re-assembled to take their seats in the dark candle light, while the Tellers came to bar. Whatever the result was, everyone could see it was close. The first Teller announced his results – 148 of the MPs had rejected the Grand Remonstrance. The teller from outside in the court announced his result – 159. The Grand Remonstrance had been passed. By just 11 votes.




Tempers were running high, and the business was not yet done. Up stood John Hampden and proposed that the house immediately organise printing of the Remonstrance. This was unheard of – only the king and his government could order such a thing. Tempers Frayed when the vote was taken; the result came in 124 to 101, approving publication, and pandemonium erupted, furious members demanded their objections be noted by name in the official record, the noise was intense, and swords were drawn. Only agreement to adjourn til the next day prevented violence on the floor of the house. The Junto had won – but it was a pyrrhic victory, the unity of the house lay in ruins, key proposals like command of the militia remained blocked by the Lords; Nicholas and the king may have failed to stop the Remonstrance; but their party had well and truly declared itself, and that it could be pushed no further.

There’s a codicil to the passing of the Grand Remonstrance, one of the Tales of the English Civil Wars that are a requirement of any history of the period – if it doesn’t have this vignette, it doesn’t qualify, PhD, Professorship or whatever – fail.  So, as the members were wearily shuffling out of the house, stifling yawns no doubt, Lucius Carey, Viscount Falkland was waiting, anxious for news, to find out if his Master’s interests had been saved. He saw the member for Cambridge and asked him

Whether there had been a debate?

Cromwell, for tis he, replied, and lent forward to whisper in Falkland’s ear that

If the remonstrance had been rejected he would have sold all he had the next morning and never seen England more; and he knew many men of the same resolution

So there we go – the source of the rumour that Cromwell was planning to emigrate to New England. The story, as so many, is in Hyde’s History of the Rebellion. Given that by the time he wrote it he was Clarendon and had been Charles’s right hand man, Hyde adds

So near was the kingdom to its deliverance

The anecdote is interesting for multiple reasons; that Falkland should feel so comfortable talking to Cromwell, clearly a well recognised figure on many sides of the debate, so much so that Oliver felt perfectly happy to whisper in the peer’s ears, farmer’s wart maybe gently brushing noble cheek as his warm breath disappeared done the pink noble lug. Just a thought. Also, that so soon after the events, the myth of Cromwell had already come to dominate memories of the Civil wars.

Sorry about the wart comment, by the way.

Charles and HM were on their way home from Scotland. It hadn’t turned out there as Charles had hoped, he’d not found himself an ally and it had been a little humiliating, and even embarrassing with the Incident and all, but he felt at least he could put the Scots in the Out tray. He would learn that nobody puts the Scots in the out tray, but for the moment, he might well have been feeling chipper – he could concentrate on the task ahead, and things were looking up. The Grand remonstrance may have passed, but by a whisker, and Charles had a party.

There was a new found confidence; and a new found determination to have as little to do as possible with the Junto; no more Mr Nice Guy. There is a lovely letter which gives an insight into their state of mind. As he retuned to London, any king would absolutely always have been in communication with his Chamberlain, controller of his household to organise their entry, accommodation and so on. But it just so happens that his Chamberlain was the earl of Essex, and Essex was a fully paid up member of said Junto. Charles couldn’t really be arsed to give Essex the time of day, let alone his schedule. So he gave the job to his wife. HM didn’t want to give Essex so much as the rough end of pineapple either, so she wrote to Nicholas instead

The king commanded me to tell this to my lord of Essex. But you may do it, for these Lordships are too great princes now to receive any direction from me

It’s rather delightful isn’t it? Those reformers are too grand in all their arrogance to listen to a mere queen – resentment, anger and a certain level of slightly childish peeve.

And anyway, HM and Charles had something planned. Charles had never been one for the public flesh pressing, never great at that Tudor skill of putting on a show for the people, the common touch; Charles liked the formal, controlled, private  world of the court not the bawdy and, frankly, smelly people. But now he knew regaining the streets of London was critical. For too long,  the reformers had been able to call out the crowd on demand. But now the conservatives had regained control of the Common Council and Office of Mayor, with Richard Gurney in place. If he had the Aldermen in his pocket he could control the Trained bands, keep the crowds away, stifle their support for parliament and use the bands to intimidate the MPs. He also felt that just as his supporters had begun to emerge from under the frost of the Reformers’ dominance in the Commons, so, he suspected, could be the case in London. So he was going to wow the masses of London with the Stuart version of bread and circuses. There was going to be a party.

So; the contest is heating up. The Irish rebellion has raised the stakes for all, and focussed attention more than ever on control of the military, the militia. Despite the passing of the Grand Remonstrance, the momentum of the Junto’s reform programme is faltering, struggling against increasing resistance in Commons and lords. How far can Charles capitalise?

[1] Jackson, C: ‘Devil-land’, p251



2 thoughts on “380 Irish Revolt

  1. David, I am very much enjoying your podcast and snuck in at the beginning of the English Revolution. I have read many books on the era including The Noble Recolt (twice) and The Tyrannicide Brief. I was wondering if you could recommend a good book on the war period. Cultural/religious and military. Originally, I thought Adamson was supposed to have a follow up to the Noble Revolt, but it doesn’t seem to be forthcoming.

    Cheers from the US!


    1. Hi Clint, and I’m very glad you are enjoying the podcast! I loved the detail of the Noble Revolt – it probably led me down a few rabboit holes in the podcast!
      I have a bibliography on the site here: https://thehistoryofengland.co.uk/resource/bibliographies-civil-wars/. I would say my boiblke has been Austion Woolwrych’s book, and for the military side, Nick Lipscombe’s Atlas. Blair Warden is a very good summary none of the detail of Adamsom though. Martuyn Bennett’s English civil wars and others is suppoosed to be very good, but I had to stop my reading somewhere or I’d never do any podcasting!

Leave a Reply