The Glorious Revolution
Orangeism is a movement steeped in Protestantism and British history.
Three years of tyranny in Britain under James II were ended with the Glorious Revolution. Many had tried to drive out the king and failed. In the summer of 1688 seven great Lords went over to Holland to invite King Jame's nephew and son in-law William of Orange to become King of Great Britain and Ireland.
William III was the uncrowned ruler of the Dutch Republic (Holland) his families title "Orange" was taken from a small town in France. His ancestors and the Huguenots had led Protestant Europe against Louis XlV of France. William of Orange landed on 5th November (Guy Fawkes day) 1688 at Brixham in Torbay in South Devon . His motto was:
"I will maintain...the Protestant religion and the liberties of England."
He had originally been sailing for Plymouth but his ship had lost its course due to high winds. William is reported to have been carried ashore on the back of a local Brixham man . Paintings show the man covered in mud, dripping with seawater but ever willing to carry the liberating King ashore. William marched on peacefully to London stopping at Exeter in Devon where his friends and followers formed the first Orange Association. King James fled to France and William and his wife Mary both Protestants were proclaimed King and Queen of England at Westminster Abbey on April 11th 1689.
In Scotland the revolution was less peaceful. King James' followers the Jacobites fought on until their leader Bonnie Prince Charlie (James' Grandson) was defeated at Culloden in 1746. In Ireland the Protestant towns of Enniskillen and Derry proclaimed William and Mary King and Queen. Having been proclaimed King of England William extended his revolution to Ireland. There were four great battles which won Ireland for William Derry, Aughrim, Enniskillen and the Boyne.
The Siege Of Derry 1689.
In Derry thirteen apprentice boys shut the gates against Lord Antrim's troops on the 7th of December. The siege began on April 18th 1689 and lasted 105 days until August the 1st. During the siege the Protestant people of Derry's motto was:
and it has been said that they even ate rats to survive. The city was liberated by the Mountjoy ship on August the 1st when it sailed up the Foyle and crashed through the boom.
Today the names of the names of the apprentice boys clubs are representative of the thirteen young men who shut the gates. Colonel Lundy (governor of Derry) the traitor who wanted to keep the gates open is still burned each year in the city's festival. The Derry flag and Apprentice Boys collarettes are crimson as it is the colour of the "Maiden City" which has never been captured or surrendered!
While the siege of Derry was continuing the men of Enniskillen decided to meet their danger rather than wait upon it. Setting out from their island stronghold in Lough Erne they laid raids and won battles against the Jacobites. The most famous being at Newtownbutler in Co. Fermanagh which was fought on 31st July 1689 when Derry was being relieved. Through their raiding the Enniskilleners developed a ferocious reputation as great fighting men, carrying out raids as far away as Dublin.
King William landed at Carrickfergus Castle on June 14th 1690, marched via Belfast, Hillsborough, Dromore and Banbridge to Loughbrickland. He encamped at what is now Scarva demesne where the famous Sham Fight is held each 13th July.
King William's army marched on through Newry and Dundalk to face King James's army at Old Bridge near Drogheda. James II's Jacobite force numbering 26,000 crossed the Boyne on 29th June 1690 and took up position on its South bank stretching from Oldbridge to a mile outside Drogheda, they were well positioned and would be hard to overcome. The Jacobite army had a large Irish contingent as well as French troops provided by James's Roman Catholic ally Louis XIV. William's army arrived at the Boyne on 30th June; the Williamite army took up position on the Boyne's North Bank on considerably higher ground. The Williamite army has often been described as cosmopolitan due to its different nationalities; this reflected how the war in Ireland was part of a wider European context. William's army consisted of:
7,000 Dutch troops
6,000 Danish troops
10,000 veteran Huguenots under the Duke of Schomberg
5,000 additional Huguenot reinforcements (many of them from Switzerland)
3,000 new English recruits
6,000 Londonderry and Enniskillen men
also units from Scotland, Sweden and Germany.
In total William's army numbered around 37,000 men and included quality soldiers such as the Huguenots, the Dutch Guards and the fierce Enniskillen men. His chief commander was a brave old Huguenot, Marshall Schomberg he was in his 70's when he took command of the Williamite army. On the evening of June 30th William held a council of war with his generals. The Duke of Schomberg suggested making a false attack at Oldbridge while secretly moving the bulk of the Williamite army up river to flank the enemy. The Dutch general Count Solms wanted to force a crossing at Oldbridge. William decided on a compromise between the two plans.
Count Schomberg (son of the Duke of Schomberg) was to lead a force of cavalry up river at daybreak to cross at a small ford, the plan being to flank the Jacobites who were mainly positioned at Oldbridge. James also held a council of war prior to the battle and decided to meet this Williamite move by sending a force of dragoons (mounted soldiers with muskets) to prevent the Williamite crossing upstream at Rosnaree near Slane.
Around ten in the morning reinforcements were sent to Count Schomberg who encountered difficulties in crossing due to the Jacobite resistance. Eventually one third of the entire Williamite army was advancing upstream at Rosnaree this would amount to around 12,300 men. (The map on the right shows how William having over 10,000 more men than James was able to dispatch one third of his army to flank the Jacobites.) James and his commanders feared this was the full Williamite attack and he and his commanders Lauzun and Lery dispatched the bulk of the Jacobite army including their strong cavalry under Patrick Sarsfield up river close to Rosnaree. This left the Jacobite position at Oldbridge significantly weakened, Richard Talbot Earl of Tyrconnell (James's governor for Ireland) commanded the remaining Jacobite force.
The main Williamite attack was to take place at the Oldbridge crossing. Williamâ€™s Dutch Guards crossed and held their position. They bravely fought off two attacks by a squadron of James II's bodyguard. William was reported to be quite distressed as he watched his Dutch Guards come under attack. The Duke of Schomberg realised that if the Dutch were attacked for a third time they would be crushed, and so he crossed with French and English troops to support them.
The Williamites at the Boyne made three main crossings. King William himself led the left wing of his army across the Boyne. Many of them were cavalrymen; they crossed at Drybridge further down river. Accounts tell of how William encountered severe difficulty in crossing the Boyne, with the water perhaps being as high as his horse's neck. (Although this is contrary to some Orange banner depictionâ€™s) His horse also became stuck in mud on the other side of the riverbank. William had to dismount and is reported to have been helped by an Inniskillinger. Southwell (William's secretary of state for Ireland) wrote of how the King being an asthmatic became out of breath. The Duke of Schomberg was killed around midday after William had crossed the Boyne.
Conditions at the Boyne were misty and the Williamite infantry encountered severe problems against the Jacobite cavalry of Patrick Sarsfield. The Williamites had lacked pikes, which were a 12ft long pole with a speared tip used to stop cavalrymen before they were close enough to strike the infantry. William himself was wounded early in battle possibly by Jacobite artillery, his wound was so bad he had difficulty holding his sword and may have switched it to his left hand.
William and his left wing cavalry fought the Jacobites in a small village called Donore on the Boyne's South bank. As the Williamites began to advance across the Boyne James's entourage began to fear for his safety and eventually the Jacobites began to make a disorderly retreat towards the town of Duleek, many of them abandoning their weapons in the confusion. William had only ordered Count Schomberg to pursue the Jacobites as far as Duleek. There was no command for the pursuit or capture of James II. Perhaps William wanted to avoid the embarrassing situation of holding his own father in-law as a prisoner of war. James quickly fled to Dublin where after a few days he sailed to France to the protection of his Roman Catholic ally Louis XIV.
King William's bravery was evident at the Boyne; he fought wounded in the saddle and also escaped danger when a musket ball struck his boot. James lost his credibility when he fled to Dublin.
The Jacobites suffered around 1000 loses from their 26,000 strong force. The Williamite army's loses were considerably low, they lost no more than 500 men from 37,000. But William lost many high calibre soldiers and officers especially from his Dutch Guards who had led the Oldbridge attack. Arguably William's greatest loss was that of his battle hardened general, the Duke of Schomberg.
Some narrow-minded people have branded the battle of the Boyne as nothing more than a skirmish. This view could not be further from the truth due to the sheer scale of the forces involved fighting on behalf of either king. The Boyne was also highly significant in terms of William's Irish campaign, the Glorious Revolution and the complex European politics of that era.
The Boyne was fought on July 1st 1690 but the victory is celebrated on July 12th as the calendar was changed by eleven days from old style to new style. The painting on the right shows the fighting at the Boyne. (Jan Wyck Ulster Museum)
There had been fighting all over south and West Ireland and around a year after the Boyne King William's armies under a Dutch General called Ginkell defeated St. Ruth the French Jacobite commander at Aughrim in Co. Galway on July 12th 1691. The battle of Aughrim was the crowning victory of the Williamite war in Ireland.
After Aughrim King William passes out of Irish history but his memory shall never be forgotten. William with the support of the pope and a European coalition waged constant warfare against the French and Louis XIV. King William III Prince Of Orange Died after a fall from his horse, which stumbled over a molehill at Hampton Court in 1702. The Jacobites always drank to the health of the "little gentleman in black velvet"(the mole) who had succeeded in killing their enemy King William, this was something they could never do!
Our Institution Is Born
105 years after the Battle Of The Boyne a battle took place at the Diamond in Loughgall Co. Armagh. Protestants had learned that a Roman Catholic group known as the defenders were planning to burn their homes. The Protestants grouped together for action at the Diamond crossroads on 21st September 1795. A Protestant called Daniel Winter and his family owned the land around the Diamond, his family home was also situated there. Dan Winter and his sons fought bravely to defend their property but eventually they had to retreat when the roof of their thatched cottage was set on fire.
After the battle many Protestants including James Wilson, James Sloan and Daniel Winter met in Winter's cottage. They vowed to form an Orange society for the protection of themselves and their faith. The first Loyal Orange Lodge met at the house of James Sloan on Loughgall's main street.
The house of James Sloan and Dan Winters cottage are both Orange Order museums today.
Orangeism was founded for the security of Protestants and the maintenance of their faith and not for the persecution of Roman Catholics as some modern Republicans suggest.
And so the great institution that was formed after the Battle Of The Diamond has maintained civil and religious liberty for Protestants across the world for over 300 years. Orangemen today still remain true to the principles of their Loughgall forefathers that is to:
-> honour all men
->love the brotherhood
->honour the king
1 Peter ch2 v17