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Waterford In The Confederate Wars - 1. Introduction
Two histories have been written of Waterford, that by Charles Smith, M.D., in 1774, and that by Rev R. H Ryland, in 1824. The manner in which both treat of that most important epoch in our history, "the wars of the Confederation," prove both to be completely unworthy of being considered historians of Waterford. Dr. Smith, in a solitary two pages, speaks of the "Irish rebels plundering and murdering," while, on the contrary, it was the Puritans who rebelled against authority, and finally upset it by murdering the King. Dr. Ryland evades the subject in toto, and in a few lines says, "the causes of this insurrection are unsuitable" to his book, but that Waterford shared in the crimes and miseries of the period, and so he parts with it as he found it.
Parties - There is no doubt that to the ordinary reader the different parties of that period and their factions, or hidden objects, are most confusing. However, attention to a few plain historical items ought to make the reading of a brief sketch of the Wars of the Confederation simple and Interesting. The year 1641 had come, and the Roman Catholics of Ireland passed through a period of degrading despotism unknown in any civilised country. Spoliation of property was one of its mildest forms. The hearing of Mass meant the dagger or the dungeon. Ireland was at this time governed by two men, called lords Justices, who were equipped with plenary powers of persecution. The rule of Warren Hastings in India was not more despotic. The slightest symptom of insubordination to the tyrants, Parsons and Borlase, who ruled from Dublin Castle, meant the thumbscrew or the pitch cap, and so on through every form of foul tyranny which the professors of the Puritan religion could inflict. But the mere Irish were not now alone the subject of this torture. At this period the old Anglo-Norman families who had still professed the Catholic Faith came under the lash, and were compelled to put up with all the penalties and cruelties of the penal laws. Hence the day had arrived when the old Anglo-Norman or English families found it expedient to join hands with the old Irish for the fight in defence of religious freedom, without which they were henceforth slaves, not freemen.
The Assembly - The 24th of October,1642, saw the Confederation of Kilkenny assembled, when 25 peers-11 spiritual and 14 temporal- and 226 commoners met to declare themselves in favour of the religious war on behalf of the Irish Catholics for freedom in religious matters. And now it seems difficult to understand against whom war was proclaimed. The Oath of Confederation implied that they were waging war in favour of the King of England, or at least to support the throne of England, but they rebelled against the cruel and iniquitous party in the State, and in the House of Commons, who turned religious animosity into the most bitter and absolute despotism, against those who worshipped God differently from themselves.
Causes - Charles I., then King, gradually found him self submerged in difficulties with the English Parliament. He was accused of Popish proclivities, and the charges against him became daily wider and more general, till a revolt against his authority in England October 1642. Thus there were two distinct parties in England - the Parliamentarians, on behalf of the Parliament, who scourged the Roman Catholic party; and the Royalists, in favour of the King. Ostensibly the Confederates were at the side of the King, but their sincerity was not believed, and the troops, first of the King, an afterwards of the Parliamentarians, when they came into power, were alike hurled against them.
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