Oliver Cromwell

This picture is from: A Perfect Table of One Hundred Forty and Five Victories obtained by the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland published in 1650 in honour of his victories and success in Ireland. Oliver Cromwell only spent 9 months in Ireland, but his intervention would prove to be decisive if controversial. He felt obliged to bring his New Model Army to Ireland in 1649 after the Royalists in Ireland began negotiating with King Charles to raise a force to rescue him. The trial of Charles had brought many Irish Confederates together with Royalists in Ireland to combine to form a dangerous alliance of convenience. Cromwell was already en route to Ireland when Parliamentarian forces sallied out of Dublin and inflicted a grievious defeat on Ormonde's Confederate and Royalist forces. This meant that Cromwell could land with relative ease into Dublin. His first target was to retake the nearby port of Drogheda. Cromwell has subsequently come in for severe criticism from Irish and Royalist commentators. It is clear that his forces inflicted significant casualties on the defenders of the town. However, by the conventions of the day, Cromwell had given notice to the defenders to surrender. Their refusal meant that no quarter had to be given to troops once the Parliamentarian forces had breached the defences. Some 2,000 soldiers were killed and what was also meant to be a powerful message to other Confederate/Royalist towns considering resisting Cromwell's New Model Army. The message certainly did percolate into the defenders at his next target Dundalk. Not only did they surrender when Oliver Cromwell offered them terms, but went into headlong flight ignoring Ormonde's orders to destroy the town first. Confederate and Royalist forces had not yet encountered such a professional and well led army as Cromwell's and resistance quickly crumbled. Besides, with the execution of King Charles, it was clear that any further resistance was politically pointless and therefore futile. Cromwell had effectively removed the Royalist threat from Ireland but in so doing had also reasserted English Parliamentary control over the island also.

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by Stephen Luscombe