Battlefield Britain: The Complete Series (2004) BBC

Episode 6: A Clash Of Kings: The Battle Of The Boyne

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Episode 6: A Clash Of Kings: The Battle Of The Boyne

The story of the Battle of the Boyne in 1690 - the effects of which are still having consequences in everyday life in Ireland today.





The Battle of the Boyne between King William III and his father-in-law, King James II, was fought on 1 July 1690 (11 July according to our modern calendar).



Both kings commanded their armies in person. William had 36,000 men and James had 25,000 - the largest number of troops ever deployed on an Irish battlefield. English, Scottish, Irish, Dutch, Danish and Huguenots (French Protestants) made up William's army (Williamites) while James's men (Jacobites) were mainly Irish Catholics, reinforced by 6,500 French troops sent by King Louis XIV. At stake were the British throne, French dominance in Europe and religious power in Ireland.



William's camp was on the north side of the river. James's was on the south side with the two armies facing each other. William's battle plan was to trap the Jacobite army in a pincer movement. He sent 10,000 men towards Slane which drew the bulk of the Jacobites upstream in response. With 1,300 Jacobites posted in Drogheda, only 6,000 were left at Oldbridge to confront 26,000 Williamites. All the fighting took place on the south side of the river as the vastly outnumbered Jacobite forces defended their position against the advancing Williamites. William himself crossed at Drybridge with 3,500 mounted troops.



The pincer movement failed. King James's army retreated across the river Nanny at Duleek and regrouped west of the Shannon to carry on the war.



Approximately 1,500 soldiers were killed at the Boyne.



Source: http://www.battleoftheboyne.ie/





The Battle of the Boyne



No year in Irish history is better known than 1690. No Irish battle is more famous than William III's victory over James II at the River Boyne, a few miles west of Drogheda. James, a Roman Catholic, had lost the throne of England in the bloodless "Glorious Revolution" of 1688. William was Prince of Orange, a Dutch-speaking Protestant married to James's daughter Mary, and became king at the request of parliament. James sought refuge with his old ally, Louis XIV of France, who saw an opportunity to strike at William through Ireland. He provided French officers and arms for James, who landed at Kinsale in March 1689. The lord deputy, the Earl of Tyrconnell, King William IIIwas a Catholic loyal to James, and his Irish army controlled most of the island. James quickly summoned a parliament, largely Catholic, which proceeded to repeal the legislation under which Protestant settlers had acquired land.



During the rule of Tyrconnell, the first Catholic viceroy since the Reformation, Protestants had seen their influence eroded in the army, in the courts and in civil government. Only in Ulster did they offer effective resistance. In September 1688, while James was still king, apprentice boys in Londonderry closed the city's gates to deny admission to a Catholic regiment under Lord Antrim. In April 1689, the city refused to surrender to James's army, and survived the hardships of a three-month siege before relief came by sea. The Protestants of Enniskillen defended their walled city with equal vigour, and won a number of victories over Catholic troops. Eventually, James withdrew from the northern province.



William could not ignore the threat from Ireland. In August 1689 Marshal Schomberg landed at Bangor with 20,000 troops and, with Ulster secure, pushed south as far as Dundalk. James's army blocked further progress towards Dublin, but there was no battle and the two armies withdrew to winter quarters. In March 1690 the Jacobite army was strengthened by 7,000 French regulars, but Louis demanded over 5,000 Irish troops in return. The Williamites were reinforced by Danish mercenaries and by English and Dutch regiments. When William himself landed at Carrickfergus on 14 June, he was able to muster an army of 36,000 men. He began the march towards Dublin. There was some resistance near Newry, but the Jacobites soon withdrew to the south bank of the River Boyne.



The battle was fought on 1 July 1690 at a fordable river bend four miles west of Drogheda. The main body of Williamite infantry was concentrated on fording the river at the village of Oldbridge, which was approached by a deep and sheltenng glen. First, however, a detachment of cavalry and infantry made a flanking attack upstream, which forced OrangemenJames to divert troops to prevent his retreat being cut off. William's army was stronger by at least 10,000 men, but after these troops were drawn off he had three-to-one superiority in the main arena. By mid-afternoon the Jacobite army was in retreat, outpaced by James himself, who rode to Dublin to warn the city of William's approach. He was in France before the month was out. On 6 July William entered Dublin, where he gave thanks for victory in Christ Church Cathedral.



The Battle of the Boyne is recalled each July in the celebrations of the Orange Order, not on the first day but on "the Twelfth", for eleven days were lost with the change from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar in 1752. It was not the end of the Williamite campaign, and the King had returned to England before the Dutch general Ginkel's victory at Aughrim and the formal Irish surrender after the siege of Limerick in 1691. The Treaty of Limerick was not ungenerous to the defeated Catholics, but they were soon to suffer from penal laws designed to reinforce Protestant ascendancy throughout Irish life.



From A Little History of Ireland by Martin Wallace with illustrations by Ian McCullough. Click here for more information on the book.

 

Documentary Description


For pictures and other resources: http://www.cosmolearning.com/topics/united-kingdom/



Battlefield Britain is a 2004 BBC television documentary series about famous battles in the history of Great Britain. From Boudicca's destructive rebellion against the Romans to the incredible feats of The Few who saw off the Luftwaffe, these battles all had wide-reaching consequences and implications for the future of the British isles.



The series is presented by father and son team Peter and Dan Snow with Peter explaining the battleplans of the generals while Dan explores the sites to give the perspective of the common soldier, sailors and airmen.



The episodes also featured "interviews" with soldiers from both sides, re-enactments of the battles and computer generated scenes with bird eye views and blocks to show troop movement.



Production



Dan Snow has stated that he had never intended to work with his father. This however had changed when someone at the BBC saw a video-diary about the 2000 Oxford and Cambridge boat race that Dan had recorded. Peter Snow was then telephoned and asked if he wanted to do a history series with his son. Peter originally rejected the proposal claiming that it was a ridiculous idea. Dan was able to talk him round and a pilot was filmed. Dan has stated that he didnâ

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