This article appeared on the The Irish Times website, 6 December 2017.
Ireland’s first revolution was part of a long religious war. By 1649, the island had been in turmoil for eight years, since unrest in Ulster had spiralled into a national conflict involving five independent armies, from three nations, in a bewildering succession of alliances. Devastation, disease and death were widespread. But Cromwell’s invasion, in August 1649, brought these conflicts to a halt. In nine months, he achieved, for the first time in hundreds of years of English intervention, the entire subjugation of Ireland. His goal was a massive extension of English power and Protestant religion.
Cromwell’s military administrators pursued the pacification of Ireland with ruthless efficiency. Before their departure from England, his soldiers had been encouraged by the preaching of a young puritan to avenge the “blood of almost-expiring Ireland” – to avenge the deaths of Ulster Protestants that had occurred during the rising of 1641 … Read more here.