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Truce in Ireland

Updated Sunday 7th January 2001

While Charles enjoyed military success on the mainland, he attempted to secure a truce in Ireland

While these epic struggles took place on the battlefields of England, Charles and Pym were involved in an equally furious battle of diplomacy. The English Civil War was never an entirely English affair - Ireland and Scotland were always involved as lead players and Wales was a major player in the Second Civil War. The problem of the three kingdoms provided an ever changing dynamic.

In Charles's eyes, the Parliamentarians were the greatest threat to his monarchy and the future of the Church of England. Pym and the Roundheads were far more dangerous than the Catholic Confederates who were now rampaging in Ireland. It was absurd that troops, arms and resources were being used up in Ireland when they could be helping his campaign in England. The Irish Catholics might be unruly, but they were not as treacherous as the English Parliamentarians.

In early April, Charles ordered his man in Ireland, the Earl of Ormond, to cut a deal with the Confederates. Reluctantly, Ormond entered negotiations and by summer had reached a settlement with the Confederate leader Owen Roe O'Neill. In return for Charles agreeing to repeal anti-Catholic laws and to grant the Irish greater political independence, the Confederates would not only agree to a ceasefire but also help the Cavaliers with troops and arms. But the most important consequence was to free up Royalist troops in Ireland, they could now return to England and support Charles. By late 1643, some 15,000 troops had flooded back into Chester from Ireland to help the Royalist cause.

By agreeing to negotiate with the Confederates, Charles was seen to have done a deal with the devil. It was a betrayal of the entire English nation. Charles had once more shown he was unfit to be King. He had sold his soul to the popish antichrist, to the very people who had slaughtered innocent Protestants at Portadown in 1641. Charles's willingness to do deals with Irish Catholic forces stiffened the Parliamentarians' resolve to resist and overcome.

 

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