Talk:Cromwellian conquest of Ireland

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Debate over Cromwell's actions[edit]

I have given the material on this its own section and added some more information. I have also moved info on the Sack of Wexford to its own article. My concern is that the narrative structure of this article was in danger of getting lost in controversey over some details, or alternatively, that the article would get too large.

Editors should be aware that Tom Reilly's provocative thesis that no civilians died in the sacking of Drogheda and Wexford is not generally accepted by historians. This does not mean that it should be discounted, but this artilce should not only express his view. Reilly has done some very detailed research on these two actions but his undertanding of the civil war period as whole - at least expressed in the opening chapter of Cromwell - an honourable enemy - is rather weak.

Jdorney 13:34, 31 March 2006 (UTC)


OK - no civilians is implausible - but does Reilly say that? He argues that it cannot be shown that unarmed civilians died - which is different. it cannot be shown that Cromwell intended or ordered the deaths of civilians, indeed the evidence points to the contrary. Reilly appears to be the only historian who has actually dug deep into the evidence, and discounted a lot of it.

It isn't correct to imply here that civilians were massacred on Cromwell's orders.

"When Cromwell’s men took the town by storm, the majority of the garrison and some priests and civilians were massacred on Cromwell’s orders"

The edits were on the specifics of the 2 events so I don't see that Reilly's supposed weaknesses as general historian of the period, or his writing style come to that, are relevant.


"At best, Cromwell and his officers were guilty of indiscipline in failing to stop the sacking of the town. At worst, it has been suggested that Cromwell turned a blind eye to the massacre because he did not want to let the garrison of Wexford be evacuated to fight him again, but the army was out of his control when they broke into the town."

If, as Reilly, has it Cromwell was in his tent when the army, unexpectedly, broke into Wexford it is hard to see how he can be guilty of "indiscipline", in some ways you could argue that the rank and file and junior officers showed commendable intiative and that was one of the things that made them so effective in the first place. - as you say the army was out of control. As with Wellington's army at Badajoz there was no stopping them, that is a fact of war. Cromwell wanting the garrison massacred and not evacuated is pure speculation - there is no evidence at all that he would not have stuck to the terms of the surrender that he was negociating with Sinnott


PS I think the way you have handled my edits is fair overall - thanks. I would though put in a plea to have this extract from Cromwell's order in Dublin to be re-inserted, because it is clearly material

"I do hereby warn....all Officers, Soldiers and others under my command not to do any wrong or violence toward Country People or any perons whatsover, unless they be actually in arms or office with the they shall answer to the contrary at their utmost peril".

English Achilles 16:47, 31 March 2006 (UTC)

The above quotation is still there, it has just been moved to the "Historical Debate" section. Fair play to you for contributing, please continue to do so.

What Cromwell ordered at Drogheda was the masacre of the garrison and the Catholic priests. According to militaery custom at the time, this was a bit extreme, but not exceptional. It is true that he did not order the killing of civilians there, but as you say, it is just not plausible that none were killed in th sack. Doubtless many civilians were also killed at Badajoz in 1812, which was supposed to be a friendly city.

Re Wexford, the speculation is not mine, but James Scott Wheeler in his "Cromwell in Ireland". Wheeler suggests that Cromwell strung out the negotiations and tacitly approved of the assault on the town. Arguing that Cromwell is not responsible evades the issue a bit because as commander he had the responsability to control his troops. Sacking a town which was trying to surrender was a gross breach of military conventions, even in the 17th century. This shows grave indiscipline on the part of the New Model Army and its officers. Initiative as well perhaps, but certainly indiscipline. Wheeler (an American army officer if that makes a difference) argues that this was bad for the Army's own morale and efficiency.

To Cromwell's credit, he did fully respect surrender terms at Kilkenny and Clonmel, where his troops hd taken heavy casualties. However, this reflects as much on these town's ability to defend themselves as it does on Cromwell's generosity -i.e he would have faced heavy casualties in storming them.

Re Reilly, he is certainly not the only author to examine Drogheda and Wexford in detail - a list of others includes James Scott Wheeler, Ian Gentles, Antonia Fraser, Padraig Lenihan and there are more. By Reilly's own admission the garrison of Milmount fort inDrogheda surrendered on terms and were then killed - another gross violation of contemporary custom (there were no "laws" of war at the time) which were essentially that if a belligerent surrendered and this was accepted by another belligerent he who surrendered was entitled to protection. In siege warfare, if a fortified place fell to an assault, all bets were off, so to speak. If on the other hand, it was assaulted but not taken, it was in a position to negotiate good terms, e.g. Siege of Clonmel

Reilly has a view of Cromwell as democratic revolutionary and the royalists as reactionary bigots, which is fine, but is not accepted by almost any modern historians. This colours his perception of the war in Ireland, an essentially ethno-religious conflict where democratic ideology has little relevance. Where his apparent lack of understanding of the wars in general comes into it is his lack of understanding of the context in which the campaign of 1649-53 occurred.

Jdorney 16:57, 31 March 2006 (UTC)

I agree, Reilley is ONE author who is constantly cited as a defense of Oliver Cromwell. Having that absurdly large amount of opinion from Reilley in this post is like having Abraham Lincoln's page be filled with Di Lorenzo. Put more authors and historical light other than Reilley's opinion in here.
Furthermore, I find it amazing that Cromwell gets a pass on this article whereas the massacres of 1681 are called as such, massacres. Despite the fact that they were grossly over exaggerated. It's essentially saying catholic = bad, protestant = good. A gigantic bias if I've ever seen one.—Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs) 6:44, 2 July 2006
Look, if you have further information, or sources, then contribute them to he article. The work of several historians has been included in this article and the facts have been represented in the mot comprehensive way possible in the space provided. For more on the Drogheda and Wexford massacres go to the articles that deal specifically with them. Jdorney 08:45, 2 July 2006 (UTC)
Reilley's opinion on Cromwell is exclusively presented in his defense. This is one author who taints the entire perception of Cromwell. I bring up Thomas Di Lorenzo and Abraham Lincoln as an example, again. Cromwell is simply given a free pass in this article and there is ONE author doing to the passing whereas many others disagree.—Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs) 10:13, 27 January 2007

That's not true. Firstly, the facts have been presented as best they can be assembled here. That's all we can do. Secondly, a lot of historians argue that Cromwells sacking of Wexford and Drogheda, while horrifying in their own right, were not unusual actions by the standards of the day. Reilly takes it a step further in that he argues that they were not considered atrocities at the time and that no civilians were killed. This is not widely accepted by other historians. Jdorney 10:21, 27 January 2007 (UTC)


Is there a reason why one of the external links, Article Cromwellian conquest of Ireland from Military History magazine, is linking to the url that is? I cant see any reference to the Cromwellian conquest on this external url.

GD.—Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs) 22:47, 16 December 2006


Added that Cromwellians were Puritans, which worsened the anti-Catholic element of the war. 12:23, 31 July 2007 (UTC)

Recent changes[edit]

I removed the paragraph about the confederates being responsible for the cromwellian episode by failing to resist him. While this may be true, it doesn't really have any bearing on the debate over the actual conduct of the campaign.

I'm also not happy with the tone that has been inserted into the debate section. In reality, the majority of modern historians of the period see Cromwell's actions at Drogheda and Wexford as being horrific but not that unusual by the standards of the day. Reilly is unusual in that he claims that Cromwell never harmed any civilians at all in Ireland and that this was entirely a royalist inspired fiction. It is this claim that most other historians do not accept.

Re the references claiming the campaign was a genocide; first of all I feel they are highly cumbersome and make editing this section very difficult. In addition, many of them are asides from authors writing about other topics. Tim Pat Coogan, for example, has no specialist knowledge of the area and his comment seems to be an off-the-cuff remark. A few of the others are similiar and some of them contain basic and glaring errors of fact, for example, stating that, Cromwell's campaign was a respsone to an Irish rebellion of 1649 and that all the Irish had to live west of the Shannon. Both of these assertions are plain wrong. At most they show that Cromwell's campaign has lodged in the popular memory as a genocide. They don't tell us anything abotu the conduct of hte campaign itself.

Some of the other sources are better, for example describing the Cromwellian settlement as, 'close to ethnic cleansing' and appear to be supported by more facts. This I could accept.

Jdorney 15:41, 3 August 2007 (UTC)

This deserves a NPOV marker. "One historian" really means "One historian In the Republic of Ireland not one historian in the World. Likewise "most historians" really means "most Irish historians". There are no citations at all now for this "genocide" business. Paul S (talk) 16:17, 17 September 2008 (UTC)

The Rump[edit]

Since the conquest is generally called (including history texts) the Cromwellian conquest of Ireland, and not "The Rump's Conquest of Ireland", doing a search and replace on Cromwell and replacing it with "the Rump" is hardly reasonable. It would also make WP the only place (at least that I know of) to present it in that way. The role of the parliament should be expanded upon, no argument there, but this wasn't the way to do it. Hughsheehy 13:36, 5 September 2007 (UTC)

Well, it wasn't a search and replace so much as looking for instances where it was reasonable to replace Cromwell with the Rump given the context. I know it's known as the Cromwellian conquest, and given the wide usage the name of the article should probably stay, but the article should try to distinguish between things done by Cromwell specifically and things done by other commanders, or by the English regime in generally (remembering that he wasn't protector until December 1653). I certainyl didn't remove and replace all references by any means. Here's my rationale for each substitution (I suppose I should have put this here proactively, apologies for that).

  • Introduction - change 1. Here I think it's fair to make clear it was an English conquest by the Rump which had 3 different commanders, and that it was not just Cromwell's conquest. It was an invasion by the English government and the Rump at this point was the executive who ordered it.
  • Introduction - change 2. The second sentence in the intro I changed was that mentioning Cromwell's forces - I changed this to the Rump's force. Perhaps you have a point on this one - they're Cromwell's forces in the sense that he was commander-in-chief of the New Model overall (although not commander in Ireland past June 1650), but equally it's not unreasonable to describe them as the Rump's forces. In changing it I was trying to bring out the sense that it wasn't just Cromwell leading the forces throughout the campaign.
  • Introduction - change 3. The third sentence I changed was that saying "he passed a very harsh series of penal laws against Roman Catholics and confiscated almost all of their land". Cromwell didn't pass the Act of Settlement. The Rump did.
  • Fall of Galway. I changed it from "Cromwellian conquest" to "the Rump's conquest". Again this was to underline that it was a wider Parliamentarian conquest. But I can see how the original mirrored the article's title.
  • Section on the Cromwellian settlement. Original text was "Cromwell imposed an extremely harsh settlement on the Irish Catholic population". Again in the context of the 1652 Act this is inaccurate phraseology. I can see though that once you're into late 1653 onwards, as Protector Cromwell held ultimate responsibility for actions taken from that point - although there would need to be some discussion of Fleetwood and Henry Cromwell's roles as Lords Deputy.

I won't revert at this point because it's probably better for us to discuss and hopefully reach an agreement. Any thoughts? You're right though that the role of the Rump more generally - and correction of the tendency sometimes to assume anything in high politics done in England between 1649-53 was done by Cromwell - would be helpful, and I can have a go at doing this for the article if that would be useful. Thanks, Greycap 14:05, 5 September 2007 (UTC)

Clearly the Cromwellian Conquest of Ireland title is just propaganda to mislead people. This article suggests the Parliamentarian army arrived with Cromwell and then he stayed for several years, in reality he was just one of a long line of Parliamentary commander and was only in Ireland for months. Also he didn't assume political power in England until the war was long over and so how he is associated with political acts of the Rump is nonsense. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 11:17, 12 September 2013 (UTC)

Propaganda? Even the Commonwealth went away over 350 years ago. I doubt they do much propaganda.
As I understand the discussion above, the title is as it is because that is how history texts refer to the campaign. I imagine they refer to it that way because, well, let us imagine the great big bar across the middle of your diagram labelled "conquest of Ireland actually accomplished", and notice how it coincides with Cromwell's presence in the country. Pinkbeast (talk) 11:26, 12 September 2013 (UTC)


Not all ethnic cleansing is genocide see Bosnian Genocide#European Court of Human Rights. Some ethnic clearing may be accompanied by genocide, but a claim by an historian that Cromwell initiated ethnic cleansing can not be taken that that historian is stating that what happened was in Ireland genocide. Further papers published on this issue before the International Court Justice ruling in the Bosnian Genocide Case can not carry as much weight as those published since February 2007 because the legal definition of Genocide has been clarified by that case. -- Philip Baird Shearer (talk) 13:48, 22 September 2008 (UTC)

Are you kidding? Out of a population of 1.5 million Irish in the 1650's, Cromwells forces killed 500,000 Irish people and then sold another 300,000 into slavery in the Caribbean and the American South. Thats a reduction of the population of Ireland by more than 50% in about a decade. If thats not genocide then the word has no meaning.
So many British today still want to adore Cromwell and some will even create the most twisted arguments to minimize his monstrous destruction of the Irish people. (talk) 19:05, 27 May 2012 (UTC)

Ok this part:

'Even if the Confederates had not allied themselves with the Royalists, it is likely that the English Parliament would have eventually tried to reconquer Ireland. They had sent Parliamentary forces to Ireland throughout the Wars of the Three Kingdoms (most of them under Michael Jones in 1647). They viewed Ireland as part of the territory governed by right by the Kingdom of England and only temporarily out of its control since the Irish Rebellion of 1641.'

Throws the above sentence on its head. This statement tries to imply that Cromwell had a vendetta against the Irish. If the Confederats had NOT allied with CHarles II them it is LIKELY none of 'this' would have occurred'.

The sad fact is it took Viking (Norman and Viking), Welsh (Tudor) and Engliah/Scottish actions against Ireland to create the conecpt of Ireland as a Unified whole. This standing, a nation born of conflict will never be satisfied. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:38, 29 May 2013 (UTC)

private and public tories[edit]

Talk:Rapparee#private and public tories --PBS (talk) 09:38, 19 December 2008 (UTC)

War crimes[edit]

I have removed:

"These policies in Ireland have led some historians to consider that Cromwell was guilty of war crimes during his Irish campaign."

The source "War Crimes" is not a reliable one and what are the war crimes that were committed? --PBS (talk) 07:42, 30 March 2009 (UTC)

  • I have reinstated my edit which was removed by the above user. The article should have a section dealing with the subject of "War Crimes", and with detailed references too. PurpleA (talk) 20:00, 30 March 2009 (UTC)

Do you have an expert's opinion that a war crime was committed and if so what was the war crime (Nullum crimen, nulla poena sine praevia lege poenali)? --PBS (talk) 20:13, 30 March 2009 (UTC)

The restraint in England against killing prisoners was not a legal one, it was based on expediency and mutual restraint for fear of reprisals by the other side (see Declaration of Lex Talionis), and to help put this in context see Ordinance of no quarter to the Irish.

There is an article in the Irish Independent "Massacres at Drogheda and Wexford were 'war crimes" that states that Dr. Micheal O Siochru, author of God's Executioner a new study of Cromwell's military campaign in Ireland has made this claim. But I would suggest that you have a look at the book, because even in the news paper article they are making two contentious conclusions, the killings of civilians was a crime when a garrison had not surrendered a fortification, and that the concept of command responsibility for war crimes existed in the C17th. So if you want to but you must include in the text the attribution of the expert like Dr. Micheal O Siochru who is making the allegation. --PBS (talk) 20:35, 30 March 2009 (UTC)

The text I wrote leaves the question of War Crimes "open", it refers to what some historians write. There is pleanty of scope for a whole paragraph on the subject, and on what is being written on that subject. PurpleA (talk) 20:56, 30 March 2009 (UTC)
"These policies" needs a source that "these policies" were war crimes, "some historians" are weasel words. It is controversial and needs a reliable source and attribution in the text of the article. At the moment is is not clear which policies are alleged to be war crimes or who is making the allegations. --PBS (talk) 21:08, 30 March 2009 (UTC)
User:Purple Arrow you wrote in the history "I think the slaughter and murder of children was always a crime, by Irish standards anyway,- undo" Do you have a source that confirms that the killing of enemy Catholic women and children was a crime in the opinion of contemporary European Protestants (or that the killing of Protestants by Catholics was a crime in the opinion of most Catholics at that time)? The sentence does not make that accusation, it make the accusation that "These policies in Ireland", and the sentences in the rest of the paragraph does not say that the killing of women and children was policy, further once Cromwell left Ireland, who says what happened was his policy, who claims that the men left in Ireland still reported to him? (They may have done -- I don't know -- but he did not take overall power until 1653). --PBS (talk) 08:14, 31 March 2009 (UTC)
This goes beyond Catholic v Protestant, and those old religious arguments I find quite tiresome. Should it be left to the crime-doer to cast final judgement on his/her own deeds? Does 'opinion' make one right? PurpleA (talk) 14:47, 31 March 2009 (UTC)
It matters about the Protestant Catholic split because in Western Christendom before the reformation the summary killing of priests would have been a crime under all realms, but after the reformation the this was no longer the case. For example from the time of Elizabeth through to the end of the C17th Jesuits were less than welcome in England. Do you have any reliable sources that claim the policies followed by the English forces in Ireland were war crimes? Do you have any sources that claim that Cromwell was responsible for those policies. --PBS (talk) 19:21, 31 March 2009 (UTC)
Without the unprovoked 1641 rebellion there would have been no Cromwellian conquest. Both involved lots of crimes. You can't get all queenie about Cromwell's bad behaviour and forget about, or try to justify, 1641. (talk) 14:47, 21 April 2010 (UTC)
"unprovoked 1641 rebellion" is one point of view, but many would consider the plantations more than enough of a provocation. -- PBS (talk) 23:12, 21 April 2010 (UTC)
The war crimes theme really needs a specialist on the 1600s who is not British nor Irish, to avoid NPOV. And consider this: in 1649 The Cromwellians were rebels if you supported Charles II of England; the Irish were rebels if you supported Cromwell. Killing rebels was not a war crime in those days. (talk) 20:26, 29 May 2011 (UTC)


By all accounts Cromwell also laid siege to Gowran in Kilkenny, although neither this article nor Oliver Cromwell has a mention of it. It makes me wonder how many other places did the psychopathic bastard go to that aren't being mentioned. (talk) 06:21, 2 October 2010 (UTC)

Islandmagee massacre?[edit]

A Google book search of Islandmagee massacre returns lots of sources about whether the massacre happened or did not happen. I suggest rather than the IP address reverting each other that there is a debate here about how to include the debate in a NPOV way. -- PBS (talk) 10:25, 9 August 2011 (UTC)

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

I am changing "slaves" to "indentured labourers" see Talk:Irish Confederate Wars#Technically not as sold as a slaves but as indentured labourers for an explanation and sources.-- PBS (talk) 22:33, 17 October 2011 (UTC)slaveery

This section is also complete nonsense, most indentured Irish "laborers" (slaves) of that time could never get out of the system. Not only that, the practice quickly turned to Irish chatel slavery, which was more profitable. Eventually the Irish were bought and sold like cattle and intentionally "interbred" with African slaves to create "mullato" children. Not that mixed race childbearing is wrong, but the practice of intentionally "breeding" those under your ownership is even more evidence of chatel (total) slavery.

Contrary to the apologists and rationalizers here, Irish slavery was brutal and usually total-- not just some little "indenturement" detour in someones life. (talk) 19:21, 27 May 2012 (UTC)

Sources? Jdorney (talk) 22:25, 27 May 2012 (UTC)