Monday, July 12, 2010

Pop History Moment: The Battle Of The Boyne


On this day in 1690 supporters of the deposed King James II and VII - who'd been removed from the throne of England during the Glorious Revolution of 1688 owing to his blatant Catholicism - were defeated by William III (who in best royal style was both his predecessor's nephew and son-in-law) near the Irish town of Drogheda. Largely due to his anti-Catholic tyranny, as well as his inability to respect the ancient sovereignty of Ireland, William III resides in the Irish imagination today alongside such villains as Oliver Cromwell.

Unique among battles in the British Isles, the Battle of the Boyne (shown above, in a painting by Jan Wyck, circa 1693) is still commemorated in Ireland by the Protestant Orange Order on the Twelfth of July, even though in reality the two armies who faced off against each other on the opposite sides of the River Boyne had a decidedly non-sectarian nature.  Nevertheless, it's provided ample opportunities over the years for Protestant interlopers to bash the heads of the poor Irish who, unlike the English, actually belonged there.

Owing to the perpetual clusterfuck of the whole Julian-Gregorian calendar mess, much of the celebratory tone of July 12th among Catholics is in commemoration of the Battle of Aughrim - which took place a year after Boyne and at which the English were handed a resounding defeat. Under the old Julian Calendar the Boyne had taken place on July 1st, but was moved up when the Gregorian calendar was adopted. Thus both Protestants and Catholics have an event of major bloodshed to celebrate on the 12th - which are all-too frequently celebrated with even more of the same, even now...
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1 comment:

Seumas Gagne said...

Drogheda was where my mother told me her father was from. Not sure it was true, though. Genealogy has a way of debunking family myths.