The Parliament

The Parliament

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The Parliament was an elected organization set up by the

king to manage the country to save the King the effort.

Although officially ruled by the King, Parliament was

increasing it’s power so rapidly that by the 1600s it could

no longer be relied on to do what the King wanted. King

Charles 1st came into conflict with his Parliament in 1629

when he ordered Parliament to raise taxes and it refused.

His response was to abolish Parliament and he ruled

Parliament on his own for 11 years. However, the people

didn’t support him and he ran short of money so he had to

reinstate Parliament in 1640.

However, conflict broke out again in 1642 when Charles

tried to have 5 members of Parliament arrested who had

been actively disagreeing with his policies. The MPs fled

into the back of the streets of London but when the King

went after them, the citizens expelled him angrily from their

city. This was a direct violation by the people of the

supreme power of the King and marked the beginning of

the English Civil War.

Those English who supported the King (the Cavaliers) had

support in north England and Wales and the

parliamentarians (Roundheads) had support in the rest of

England. Despite the fairly even start, however, the

Cavaliers were fought back and in 1646 the Roundheads

forced the King to surrender. However, at the cease fire

negotiations Charles would not agree to the Roundhead

terms and after a stalemate the war erupted again in 1648.

Once again the Cavaliers were defeated but this time he

Roundheads did not accept a surrender and instead

captured the and executed Charles in 1649. England now

had no King. For the next 11 years was a Republic. It was

ruled from 1633 to 1658 by a general named Oliver

Cromwell, who was a fundamental Protestant but an

extremely cruel man. He was given the title ‘Lord Protector

of the Commonwealth of England’, but he had been active

in Ireland long before he undertook that role.

In 1641, just before the Civil War, the Irish of Ulster had

begun an uprising and attacked the planters who had

settled 30 years before. Between 10,000 and 15,000

Protestant planters were murdered by the Irish at places

such as Portadown. Due to the war, the English did nothing

about this and the death-toll became heavily exaggerated

over time. In 1649, after the Civil War had ended,

Cromwell landed at Dublin with 12,000 men with the

intention of punishing those who had uprisen. He first

attacked Drogheda and captured it, slaughtering over 3000

people. He then marched on Wexford town and massacred

several hundred people there.

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The surrounding towns of

Cork, Bandon, Kinale, and Youghal surrendered.

Cromwell left Ireland in 1650 having dealt a severe blow to

the uprising Irish.

A problem of equal concern to Cromwell, however, was

the fact that most of the soldiers in the Roundhead army still

needed payment for their time in the Civil War, but

Parliament had no money to give to them. So Cromwell

decided to pay them in land. He forcibly moved thousands

of Irish from their homes in Munster and Leinster and

resettled them in countries Clare, Galaway, Mayo and

Rescommon. This was by far the poorest land in the

Ireland and, as well as this, they were not allowed to live

within 3 miles of the coast. This strip, called the ‘Mile

Lane’ was given to Cromwell’s soldiers. In 1652 the newly

cleared land in Munster and Lienster was given to

Protestants in what was called the ‘Cromwellian

Settlement’. There was now no part of Ireland where

Catholics owned more than ½ of the land. The main reason

for this was Cromwell’s belief in fundamental Protestantism

which made him hate Catholics. He claimed to be acting on

God’s behalf and expelled about 1000 Catholic priests

from Ireland.

In 1660, Cromwell died and was buried in state in

Westminster Abbey in London. However, unable to find a

suitable successor as Lord Protector, Parliament reinstated

the monarchy, with reduced powers, with King Charles II.

Although Charles relaxed the anti-Catholic laws that

Cromwell had introduced, he didn’t make any attempts to

reverse the land confiscations in Ireland. He had

Cromwell’s body exhumed, hanged, decapitated and the

body thrown in a latrine [toilet]. His head was put on a post

where it remained until a storm finally dislodged it over 50

years later.

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