Documentary about the Plantation of Ulster. Neil Martin traces the 1641 Irish rebellion. A Scottish army arrives to protect the plantation lands.
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Some of the records indicate that, at first,
it was the English settlers who got the initial brunt of the massacre.
But then, that spread, as inevitably it would.
The figures today seem to indicate seem to indicate something like 4,000 deaths by massacre
and maybe double that, another 8,000 dying of exposure,
for many people were simply turned into a harsh winter.
Myself, my husband and our ten children
at the beginning of the rebellion,
were all stripped stark naked after being robbed of all our means.
In that posture, we were turned away into the frost and snow
amongst about nine score more of men, women and children.
In that posture, we escaped to Dublin.
My husband took up arms against the Irish rebels.
He got a bruise amongst them at the battle of Clontarf near Dublin.
He languished for five or six days and he died of that bruise.
Leaving me and my ten children, five of whom were infants,
the sole mourners of his death.
And all without means of subsistence.
This was perfectly normal in the way things were reported all over Europe.
Atrocities in wars, each side tries to demonise the other
to store up the motivation for revenge.
Clearly, thousands of people lost their lives
and we cannot minimise that.
I know the locality that I grew up in,
the Roman Catholics in Island Magee were butchered man, woman and child.
Some forced off the Gobbins cliffs into the sea to their death.
So there were reprisals and the one thing we can say about Irish history
is that no-one has clean hands. There's blood everywhere.
The arrival of the Scottish army in 1642 is crucial
to the emergence of Presbyterianism in Ireland.
It provides the framework
within which a Presbyterian system takes off.
The garrison at Carrickfergus with the four resident regiments
each had a kirk session, each had a chaplain. And so five ministers
and some of the elders from the army met,
either in the castle or St Nicholas Church, we don't know where,
and formed the first presbytery and that is the official birth
of Presbyterianism in Ireland as a denomination.
From the start, they are keen to incorporate communities within Ulster
and so, within a matter of a very few years,
the presbytery system in Ulster has moved well beyond the army.
Essentially, it was an alliance or an agreement
between Scottish Presbyterians and English Parliamentarians.
A common cause against Charles I and the royalists.
The Presbyterians in Scotland saw making covenant as a way
of bringing a Presbyterian millennium to bear in Britain and Ireland,
bringing about a state that had a Presbyterian church.
The draft that was sent to England was changed. It included Ireland at the last minute.
Because of the haste of the times, there was not a proper procedure of proof reading and checking,
so it's signed in some haste, but the general truth, I would say,
is that the English were more interested in military co-operation
and the Scottish side were more interested in the religious aspects of that covenant.
What is done in Ulster is an attempt to get bodies of troops
and, to some extent, local communities as well to join in
the Solemn League and Covenant.
There's some debate over why they might want to do that.
Some historians incline to the view that, by signing up for the Solemn League and Covenant,
they're showing their credentials and that they will then get supported
in their war against Catholic Ireland.
We put O'Neill and his troops under heavy fire, but they held their line.
Then the advance started.
O'Neill's men overran our gun positions
and his horsemen broke into our ranks.
The Scottish horse was routed.
And then the confusion started.
Most of our infantry was cut to pieces.
Over 3,000 of our men lay dead on the field of battle at Benburb.
What started as a goodly retreat became a massacre
as the Scottish cavalry tangled with the foot soldiers in the darkness.
We abandoned six cannons, almost all our muskets and our provisions.
This was a gift from heaven for the Irish.
The Stuart kings did have problems trying to sign up to the Covenant.
They liked the fact that the Church of England was Erastian.
In other words, the head of the church is the monarch.
Whereas in Presbyterianism,
that royal supremacy was going to be reduced.
So there's an important element in the Stuart rejection of the Covenant
because it doesn't recognise the king as being head of the church.
Ultimately, the covenanting leadership
decides to hand over Charles I
to the jurisdiction of the English parliament.
Quite simply, because Charles I would not take the Covenants.
He would not take the National Covenant of 1638,
he would not take the Solemn League Covenant of 1643
and, eventually, the Covenanters said, "Well, to hell with you."
And they handed him over to the jurisdiction of the English Parliament in 1646.
Scottish settlers in the north of Ireland were opposed to the execution of Charles I
largely because Charles was the King of Scotland.
When Charles I was executed in Whitehall,
he was executed as King of England.
And he was described as a man of blood. No foreigner whatsoever...
would tell the English what to do.
So this was an English political act
by a minority of the English political nation.
We don't care what the Scots say. We don't care what the Swedes say.
We don't care what the Dutch say.
He's English, this is England, this is English soil, he's going down.
Like most of Charles I's subjects,
the Presbyterians in Ulster are scandalised by his execution.
They may have resisted his policies, but it was never part of the goal
to remove him from power, let alone have him put to death.
And so they're in a quandary.
They neither want to align themselves
with the more thorough going royalists in Ireland, both Catholic and Protestant,
but nor are they willing to align themselves with the new English republic.
What the Scottish parliament does, in February 1649,
is issue a proclamation
that states the Prince of Wales is proclaimed as being King of Great Britain, France and Ireland.
At that point, Scotland's radical regime
and Cromwell are on a collision course.
But more interestingly, this regime in Edinburgh informed,
or publicly stated, to Charles II,
you will only become King of Great Britain, France and Ireland
if you meet the following conditions.
Those conditions were really for him
to be a covenanted king of three covenanted kingdoms.
Your Majesty, we have here in front of us...
The Covenanters had more troops,
they were in a better position.
Cromwell was on the point of withdrawing.
They charged down the hill and were routed.
So, for some Covenanters, this was a sign of God's wrath.
So Scotland had to become more pure and more godly to please God.
This was a godly war.
Likewise for Cromwell, this proved that God was an Englishman.
That God was on his side.
Though Cromwell's conquest of Ireland is ethnic
and has a racial dimension to it, that's not the case in Scotland.
He regarded the Scots as a godly people,
a godly Protestant people who had gone astray.
The right Protestant way was his way.
Advance George Monck and Monck St George shall be
England's restorer to its liberty,
Scotland's protector, Ireland's president,
reducing all to a free parliament,
and if thou dost intend the other thing,
go on, and all shall cry God save ye king.
Neil Martin traces the 1641 Irish rebellion. A Scottish army arrives to protect the plantation lands and, just as importantly, offers a firm foundation for a new Presbyterian church in Ireland. This is a new beginning for the lowland Scottish settlers in Ulster.