Cromwell: An Honourable Enemy


A history of Cromwell's invasion of Ireland.

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A history of Cromwell's invasion of Ireland.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780863223907
  • Publisher: Brandon Books
  • Publication date: 9/12/2008
  • Pages: 316
  • Product dimensions: 5.30 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 1.00 (d)

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  • Posted February 23, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Thought-provoking interpretation of Cromwell's Irish campaign

    Historian Tom Reilly was born in Drogheda, the site of one of Cromwell's most notorious alleged massacres. In this remarkably independent-minded book, he studies Cromwell's Ireland campaign of 1649-50. He finds that, contrary to myth, Cromwell did not indiscriminately massacre ordinary unarmed Irish people.

    Before he started the campaign, Cromwell issued a proclamation, "I do hereby warn . all Officers, Soldiers and others under my command not to do any wrong or violence towards Country People or persons whatsoever, unless they be actually in arms or office with the enemy . as they shall answer to the contrary at their utmost perils." This was no empty threat: before even reaching Drogheda, Cromwell ordered two of his soldiers to be hanged for stealing hens.

    His forces killed the military defenders of Drogheda and Wexford, not the townspeople, acting according to standard 17th-century military norms. Yet Jesuit Father Denis Murphy wrote, more than 200 years later, "to none was mercy shown; not to the women nor to the aged, nor to the young." He gave vivid descriptions of the killings of priests, but none of any killing of women or children. In fact, there are no eye-witness accounts of indiscriminate slaughter, or of the death of even one unarmed defender or of one woman or child.

    Yet a leading historian, Professor Roy Foster, the Carroll Professor of Irish History at Oxford University, wrongly claims that the massacre of Drogheda's townspeople was 'one of the few massacres in Irish history fully attested to on both sides'.

    After the Restoration, Cromwell was the main target of political and religious attack. The Royalists attacked him on everything, especially the Irish campaign. Irish nationalists, Catholic publicists and infantile leftists assisted with fabrications and propaganda. The Irish bishops lied that Cromwell's religious policies could not be 'effected without the massacring or banishment of the Catholic inhabitants', so the propagandists had to allege the massacres.

    History is not a matter of opinion, or of repeating allegations without investigation. We are obliged to use evidence, primary sources, and eye-witness accounts, and we are duty-bound to stick to the verified facts, at whatever cost to our previous judgements.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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