Restoration to Revolution Plandáil


Restoration to Revolution

Neil Martin discovers what ensured the long-term success of King James I's plantation in Ulster, and how religion was at the heart of the matter.


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It was said of Charles II that he took the Covenants,

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though in his heart he hated them.

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So there's never any question that these were things he believed in.

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They were an expedient, to try and win over support in Scotland.

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Charles doesn't want to be king of Scotland,

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he wants to be king of all his kingdoms.

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But Scotland, he reckons, is the best route to that victory.

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So if the price to be paid in 1651

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is taking the Covenants,

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he's prepared to do it.

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But it's never something he wants to see implemented.

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"The crown being put upon Charles' head, a great shout begun,

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"and he came forth to the throne and there passed more ceremonies,

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"as taking the oath and having things read to him by the bishop.

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"And his lords, who put on their caps

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"as soon as the King put on his crown,

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"and bishops came and kneeled before him."

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For those who're sitting in the Convention in Dublin,

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they're very clear that they want a Protestant establishment.

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A lot of them will be fairly open as to quite exactly what form that will take.

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And once it becomes clear that the mood in London is very much

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towards a restoration of the pre-war system within the church,

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then you see a lot of opinions swinging in that direction.

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With the Restoration of the monarchy

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came the purging of the Church of Ireland, of Presbyterian elements.

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Under John Bramhall, who now became Archbishop of Armagh

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and also under Jeremy Taylor, who's the Bishop of Down,

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around 70 Presbyterian ministers

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were expelled from the Church of Ireland.

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So Presbyterianism becomes an underground or clandestine movement.

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When our grandees gained intelligence of the pulse of the court,

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they began to court the few old bishops that were in Ireland.

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They allowed them considerable salaries

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and began to give them their titles.

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All things then turned

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as the inclination of the King was observed to be.

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The Convention sent commissioners to the King,

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desiring the restoring of former laws and Church government and worship.

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The honest brethren were thus put to great straits what to do,

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having instruction from their brethren

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to offer nothing else but that address.

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And from their friends, on the other hand,

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telling them that it would not be acceptable.

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Neither would the great persons procure them

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access to His Majesty, except that they alter some expressions in it.

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It's very clear by the '50s that those Presbyterian ministers

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who are co-operating closely are in Scottish communities.

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Their goal is never to be

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just a church for the Scottish people in Ireland.

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But largely in the '50s, that's what they've become.

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At the same time, the State becomes suspicious of Scottish people

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and tries to keep Scottish people out of particular towns,

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and keep Presbyterian ministers out of particular towns.

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So it's reinforcing a sense of solidarity among the Scottish communities.

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And it's reinforcing the connection between Presbyterianism

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and Scottishness in Ulster.

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"As long as those ministers are permitted amongst us,

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"there shall be a perpetual seminary of schism and discontent."

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There's an awareness across the 1660s, 1670s, 1680s,

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that you're creating trouble for yourself if you clamp down too hard.

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So there are many years in which you get complaints going

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from people on the ground, saying,

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"Presbyterians are meeting openly. They're building meeting houses.

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"They're operating even at a regional level.

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"Something should be done about this."

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The State's reluctant to do too much,

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because it doesn't want the trouble that might ensue.

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The regium donum came about because a man called Forbes,

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who was the Commander of the Irish Army, a Scotsman,

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who understood the Presbyterian psyche...

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My theory is he saw the lie of the land in Ireland

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and understood the Presbyterians are here to stay,

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the Church of Ireland are here to stay - we need some sort of accommodation.

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If we can tie them into loyalty to the Government,

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and a civil set-up, all to the good.

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And so the first regium donum payment of £600

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is going to pay a quarter of the stipend of Christian ministers.

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The theory behind that system is that if you're paying a quarter

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of their stipend, they're unlikely to preach sedition or rebellion.

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Protestants moved fairly rapidly

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to create their own, unofficial armed associations.

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And this is happening in Ulster

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long before James is being actively opposed as King,

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so these organisations are coming into being

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supposedly still loyal to the King, but for protective purposes.

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And what you begin to see, not on the same scale as 1641,

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but you begin to see some evidence

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of that same incidence of violence on the ground.

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It's the birth of a son and an heir,

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and a Catholic succession, that sealed James II's fate.

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The Protestant side is looking at Catholicism with suspicion -

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Gunpowder Plot and all of that is now in the psyche.

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To have a Catholic succession, a Catholic monarchy,

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and all the European dimension comes in there,

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with Spain and France and all of that...

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Well, "No, we want our Protestant Reformation values," if you like.

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That was the point of no return, I think.

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"Good my Lord, I have written to let you know that all our Irishmen

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"through Ireland is sworn that on the ninth day of this month,

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"they are to fall on, to kill and murder man, wife and child.

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"And I desire Your Lordship to take care of yourself,

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"for whosoever of them can kill any of you,

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"they are to have a captain's place."

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In the established Church, in the Presbyterians,

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there is still an element of a common Protestantism,

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particularly when it's placed under threat.

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And they do see James as that kind of threat.

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They see James as someone who has departed from the way

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a King should be.

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So, rather than rebelling against a king,

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it's the King who's departed from the way he should have acted,

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to be a proper King.

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COMMANDER GIVES ORDERS TO OPEN FIRE

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It says everything about relations at the time that the one church

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was used for two services.

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And never the twain could meet.

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The Anglicans worshipped in the morning

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and the Presbyterians in the afternoon.

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That speaks volumes about relations even in a time of siege

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when life is on the line, they couldn't work together

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and they couldn't accommodate each other.

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Presbyterians were very proud of the role

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they played in the siege of Derry.

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Contemporary sources tell us

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they made up the majority of those who were within the walls.

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The problem was that a... difference of opinion

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developed amongst Anglicans and Presbyterians

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about who were the true heroes of the Siege of Derry.

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We had George Walker on the one hand

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who went on a propaganda campaign fairly soon after the siege,

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saying he was the guy who saved Derry from the Jacobite forces.

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Presbyterians, particularly John Mackenzie and other people,

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said it was Presbyterians that had saved Derry.

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For them, the hero was Adam Murray rather than George Walker.

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"Your Majesty's most obliged,

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"most faithful, most obedient subject and servant."

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The injustices of the past are burning away

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and they want to impress upon the King their loyalty

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and their force for good, and their numbers in the community.

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They are a key clientele and William responded to that.

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The most significant migration was the 1690s.

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This was the last time in Scottish history

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that people in the Lowlands starved to death.

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People who migrated from Scotland to the north of Ireland

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in the 1690s were actually famine victims.

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And, you know, given the politics of Ireland and the Irish famine,

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there's no supremacy over people

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in the sense that a famine victim is a famine victim.

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So, perhaps as opposed to a migrant from Scotland to Ulster

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being a sturdy, hardy, hard-working Ulster Scot...

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In fact, many of them were people who were in a pretty perilous position.

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Probably the thing that bothers them most

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is that their marriages are not accepted as valid,

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where Catholic marriages are.

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But marriages conducted by a Presbyterian minister are not valid.

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That has all sorts of implications for the legitimacy of children,

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the inheritance of property.

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So it's those kind of practical problems -

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we're not talking large-scale repression

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but things that affect people's everyday life -

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that creates frustration and tension even in the '90s.

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Presbyterians found themselves in the situation in Ireland

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where a confessional state had been set up,

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where your access to political and social power

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was based on the religion you confessed.

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In other words, being a member of the established Church of Ireland.

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And those who weren't members of the established Church of Ireland -

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the Catholic majority

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and the Presbyterian community in the north of Ireland -

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were excluded by penal laws

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from access to full political and social power.

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And the best example of that was the so-called Sacramental Test

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that was tacked on to the 1704 Popery Act.

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Presbyterians took grave offence to this, because they said,

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"Here we are defending the Protestant constitution

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"at the Siege of Derry, and in 1704, we're being treated

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"the exact same as the Catholics we were fighting against."

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So Presbyterians found themselves

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in a second-class if not third-class status by the early 18th century.

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Neil Martin discovers why the final years of the 17th century ensured the long-term success of King James I's plantation in Ulster. At the heart of the matter was religion and the support that Ulster's Scottish Presbyterians gave to Protestant William of Orange.


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