The Battle of the Boyne (Irish: Cath na Bóinne IPA: [kah nə bˠoːn̪ʲə]) was a battle in 1690 between the English King James II, and the Dutch Prince William of Orange, who along with his wife, Mary II (his cousin and James daughter) had overthrown James in England in 1688th The battle took place on the River Boyne near Drogheda town on the east coast of Ireland, and resulted in a victory for William. This proved the power of James unsuccessful attempts to regain the British crown and ultimately help to ensure continued Protestant upper hand in Ireland.

The battle took place July 1, 1690 in the old style (Julian) calendar. This corresponds to July 11 in New Style (Gregorian) calendar, but today its commemoration is held July 12, [1] as the decisive battle of Aughrim fought a year later. William James’s forces defeated army, which consisted mostly of raw recruits. The symbolic significance of this kind has made it one of the most famous battles in the history of the British Isles and an important part of the folklore of the Orange Order. Its commemoration today mainly by the Protestant Orange Institution.


The battle was the decisive encounter in a war that was primarily about James attempts to regain the thrones of England and Scotland, as a result of the invitation to William and William’s wife, Maria, to take the throne. It is considered a key moment in the struggle between the Irish Protestant and Catholic interests.

Previous years, William had sent the Duke of Schomberg to take care of the Irish campaign. He was a 75-year-old professional soldier who had followed William the Glorious Revolution. During his command had questions remained static and very little had been done, partly because of the English troops, unaccustomed to the climate [ citation needed ] , was hard hit by the fever.William, dissatisfied with the state of things in Ireland, decided to take care personally.

In an Irish context, the war was a sectarian and ethnic conflicts, in many ways a replay of the Irish Association of Wars 50 years earlier. For the Jacobites, the war was fought for Irish sovereignty, religious toleration for Catholicism, and land ownership. The Catholic upper classes had lost almost all their lands after Cromwell’s conquest, as well as the right to hold public office, practice their religion, and sit in the Irish Parliament. They saw the Catholic King James as a way to remedy these abuses and ensure the autonomy of Ireland from England. To this end, according to Richard Talbot, 1st Earl of Tyrconnel they had raised an army to restore James after the Glorious Revolution. By 1690, they controlled all of Ireland except for the province of Ulster. Most of James II’s troops at the Boyne were Irish Catholics; But there was also Scottish-Irish Presbyterians struggle for James II.

The majority of Irish people were Jacobites and supported James II because of his 1687 declaration of indulgence or as it is also known, the explanation for the freedom of conscience granted religious freedom for all denominations in England and Scotland, and also because of James II’s promise that the Irish Parliament for a possible right to self-determination.[2] [3]

Conversely, for Williamites, the war was about to sustain Protestant and English rule in Ireland. They feared for their lives and property of James and his Catholic supporters would exclude Ireland, nor do they trust the promise of tolerance, see Declaration of Indulgence as a ploy to re-establish Catholicism as the sole state religion. Above all, they feared a repeat of the Irish rebellion in 1641, which had been marked by widespread killings. For these reasons, Protestants fought en masse for William of Orange. Many Williamite troops at the Boyne, including their very effective irregular cavalry, were the Ulster Protestants, who called themselves “Inniskillingers” and was referred to by contemporaries as “Scots-Irish”. These “Inniskillingers” were mostly descendants of the Anglo-Scottish Border Reivers and a large number of these Reivers had beaten around Enniskillen in County Fermanagh, hence the name “Inniskillingers”.

Ironically, the historian Derek Brown notes that if the battle is seen as part of the War of the Grand Alliance, Alexander VIII was an ally of William and an enemy of James; The Papal States were part of the Grand Alliance with a common hostility to the Catholic Louis XIV of France, who at the time was trying to establish dominance in Europe and to whom James was an ally. [4]


The opposing armies in the battle led by the Roman Catholic King James II of England, Scotland, and Ireland and opposing him, his nephew and son-in-law, the Protestant King William III ( “William of Orange”) who had set aside James last year. James followers controlled large parts of Ireland and the Irish Parliament. James also had the support of his cousin, Louis XIV, who do not want to see a hostile monarch on the throne of England. Louis sent 6,000 French troops to Ireland to support the Irish Jacobites. William was already governor of the Netherlands and was able to call on Dutch and allied troops from Europe as well as England and Scotland.

James was an experienced officer who had shown their courage in fighting for his brother – King Charles II – in Europe, especially in the Battle of the Dunes (1658). However, recent historians noted that he was prone to panic under pressure and make hasty decisions, possibly because of the onset of dementia that would drive him completely in recent years. William, an experienced commander, was hardly one of history’s great generals and had yet to win a major battle.

Many of his battles ended in stalemates, prompting at least one modern historian to argue that William lacked an ability to manage armies in the thick of the conflict. William success against the French were dependent on tactical maneuvers and good diplomacy rather than force. His diplomacy had assembled the League of Augsburg, a multinational coalition formed to resist French aggression in Europe. From William’s point of view, his seizure of power in England and the ensuing campaign in Ireland was just another front in the war against King Louis XIV.

Subordinate commanders James II was Richard Talbot, 1st Earl of Tyrconnell, who was Lord Deputy of Ireland and James’s most powerful supporters in Ireland; and the French general Lauzun. William’s second in command was the Duke of Schomberg. Born in Heidelberg, Germany, Schomberg had formerly been a Marshal of France, but being a Huguenot, was forced to leave France in 1685 because of the revocation of the Edict of Nantes.


The Williamite army at the Boyne was about 36,000 strong, consisting of troops from many countries. About 20,000 soldiers had been in Ireland since 1689, commanded by Schomberg. William himself arrived with another 16,000 in June 1690. William’s troops were generally much better trained and equipped than James. The best Williamite infantry were from Denmark and the Netherlands, professional soldiers equipped with the latest flintlock muskets. There was also a large contingent of French Huguenot troops fighting with Williamites. William does not have a high opinion of his English and Scottish soldiers, with the exception of the Ulster Protestant irregulars who had held Ulster in the previous year. The English and Scottish soldiers were considered politically unreliable, since James had been their legitimate monarch up to a year before. In addition, they had only been raised recently and had seen little fighting action.

The Jacobites were 23,500 strong. James had several regiments French troops, but most of his labor provided by Irish Catholic. Jacobites’ Irish cavalry, recruited from the property damage irländskalågadeln, proved to be high caliber troops during the battle. But the Irish infantry, predominantly peasants who had been pressed into service, were not trained soldiers. They had hastily trained, badly equipped, and only a minority of them had functional muskets. In fact, some of them carried only farm implements like scythes at the Boyne. On top of that, the Jacobite infantry who actually had firearms equipped with obsolete matchlock musket.

The Battle

William had landed in Carrickfergus in Ulster June 14, 1690 and marsche south to take Dublin. He was heard to observe that “it was worth fighting for.James chose to place his line of defense on the Boyne river, about 30 miles (48 km) from Dublin. The Williamites reached the Boyne on 29 June. The day before the battle, William himself had a narrow escape when he was wounded in the shoulder by Jacobite artillery while surveying the fords over which his troops would cross the Boyne.

The battle itself was fought July 1 OS (11 NS), for control of a ford on the Boyne near Drogheda, about 2.5 kilometers (1.6 mi) northwest of the village of Oldbridge (and about 1.5 kilometers (0.9 mi ) west-northwest of the modern Boyne River Bridge). William sent about a quarter of his men to cross the river at the Grange, about 4 km (2.5 mi) west of Donore and about 6 miles (9.7 km) southwest of Oldbridge. The Duke of Schomberg’s son, Meinhardt, led this crossing, which Irish dragoons in picquet under Neil O’Neill successfully received. James, an inexperienced general thought he could be outflanked and sent half his troops, along with most of his artillery, to counter this move. What neither side had realized was that there was a deep, swampy ravine at the Grange. Because of the ravine, the opposing forces that could engage each other, but literally set battle. The Williamite forces went on a long detour march later in the day, almost saw them cut off the Jacobite retreat at the village of Naul.

At the main ford near Oldbridge, William infantry led by the elite Dutch Blue Guards forced their way across the river, using their superior firepower to slowly drive back the enemy foot soldiers, but became exposed when the Jacobite cavalry counter-attack. After securing the village Oldbridge, some Williamite infantry tried to wait for another cavalry attacks with disciplined volley fire, but were scattered and driven into the river, with the exception of the blue guards. William’s second-in-command, the Duke of Schomberg, and George Walker were killed in this phase of the battle. The Williamites could not resume their advance until their own horsemen managed to cross the river and after being badly mauled, managed to hold off the Jacobite cavalry until they retired and regrouped at Donore, where they again put up stiff resistance before retiring.

Jacobites retired in good order. William had a chance to catch them when they retreated across the river Nanny at Duleek, but his troops were held up by a successful rear-guard action. The Dutch secretary of King William, Constantijn Huygens, Jr., has given a good description (in Dutch) of the battle and its aftermath, including recent atrocities committed by the victorious soldiers. [5]

The figures of the battle was quite low for a battle of such a scale the 50,000 or so participants on the 2000 died. Three-quarters of the dead were Jacobites. William’s army had considerably more wounded. At that time, most of the victims of the fighting tended to be inflicted in the pursuit of an already defeated enemy; This did not happen at the Boyne, as counter attacks skilled Jacobite cavalry screened the retreat of the rest of his army, and besides William was always reluctant to endanger the person James, because he was the father of his wife, Mary. The Jacobites were badly demoralized by the order to retreat, which lost them the battle. Many of the Irish infantry fate. The Williamites triumphantly marched into Dublin two days after the battle. Jacobite army abandoned the city and marched to Limerick, behind the river Shannon, where they unsuccessfully besieged.

Shortly after the battle, William issued the Declaration of Finglas, offers full pardons common Jacobite soldiers but not their leaders. After his defeat, James did not live in Dublin, but rode with a small escort tillDuncannon and returned to exile in France, even though his army left the field relatively unscathed. James loss of nerve and quick exit from the battlefield enraged his Irish supporters, who fought on until the Treaty of Limerick in 1691; he derisively nicknamed Seamus a “Chaca (” James shit “) in Irish.

There is an oral tradition that no battle took place at all, a symbolic victory demonstrated by the passage of the River Boyne and the total deaths were a result of Williamite Cavalry attacking the local able-bodied men.

It is well documented that Williams horse that day was black, despite all the Orange Order murals depicting it as white with William holding his sword between the horse’s ears to make it look like a unicorn as a symbol of his “savior” status. Depictions of William has been strongly influenced by Benjamin West’s 1778 painting The Battle of the Boyne .


The battle was overshadowed by defeat an Anglo-Dutch fleet by the French two days later at the Battle of Beachy Head, a far more serious event in the short term; only on the Continent was the Boyne treated as an important victory. Its importance lay in the fact that it was the first real victory for the League of Augsburg, the first ever alliance between the Vatican and Protestant countries. The victory motivated more nations to join the Alliance and, in fact ending the fear of a French conquest of Europe.

Boyne also had strategic importance to both England and Ireland. It marked the end of James, hoping to regain his throne by military means and probably secure the triumph of the Glorious Revolution. In Scotland, the news of this defeat temporarily silenced the Highlanders supports Jacobite Rising, Bonnie Dundee had led. In Ireland Boyne Jacobites absolutely sure that they can successfully resist William. But there was a common victory for William, and still celebrated by the Protestant Orange Order on July 12. Ironically, because of the political situation mentioned above, the Pope also celebrated victory of William the Boyne, ordered the bells of the Vatican that called for celebrating.

Some Irish Catholics who were captured after the battle were tortured until they agreed to convert to Protestantism. [6]

Treaty of Limerick was very generous towards Catholics. It allowed the majority of landowners to keep their land as long as they swore allegiance to William of Orange. It also said that James was able to take a certain number of his troops and return to France. But Protestants in England was irritated with this type of treatment against Catholic, especially when they increase in strength and money. Because of this, criminal laws have been introduced.These laws included banning Catholics from owning weapons, reducing their land, and prohibit them from working in the legal profession.



Originally, Irish Protestants celebrated the Battle of Aughrim July 12 (old style, corresponding to 22 July new style), which symbolize their victory iWilliamite war in Ireland. At Aughrim, which took place a year after the Boyne, the Jacobite army was destroyed, deciding the war in Williamites advantage. Boyne, as in the old Julian calendar, took place July 1 were treated as less important, third after Aughrim and the anniversary of the Irish uprising 1641den 23 October.

In 1752, the Gregorian calendar was adopted in Ireland, incorrectly placed the Boyne on July 12 instead of Aughrim (correct corresponding date was 11 July, as the difference between the calendars for the current year, 1690, was not 11 days but within 10 days) . But even after that date, “the twelfth” still celebrated Aughrim. [ Clarification needed ] But after the Orange Order was founded in 1795 in the middle sectarian violence in Armagh [ further explanation needed ] , the focus of parades July 12 switched to the Battle of the Boyne. [ More explanation needed ] Usually date before the introduction of the calendar on 14 September 1752 mapped in English history directly on the Julian date without moving them with 10 or 11 days. [8]

Being suspicious of anything with papist connotations, but rather than move the anniversary of the Boyne to the new July 1 [ clarification needed ] or celebrate the new anniversary of Aughrim, the Orangemen continued to march on July 12 that was (wrongly) thought to have marked the battle the Boyne in new style dates. [ clarification needed ] Despite this, there are also smaller parades and demonstrations on July 1, the date on which maps the old style date of the Boyne to the new style in the usual way and also celebrate the great losses in 36 th (Ulster) Division on the first day of the battle of the Somme in July 1916. [ citation needed ]

The memory of the battle also has resonance among Irish nationalists. In 1923, members of the IRA blew up a large monument to the battle on the battlefield location on the Boyne, and destroyed a statue of William III in 1929 which stood outside Trinity College in the center of the Irish capital. [Citation needed ]

“The twelfth” in the UK and Ireland today

Main article: The twelfth

Battle of the Boyne remains a controversial topic today in Northern Ireland, where some Protestants remember it as the great victory over the Catholics that resulted in the sovereignty of Parliament and the Protestant monarchy .

In recent decades, “the twelfth” has often been marked by confrontations, as members of the Orange Order attempt to celebrate the day by marching past or through what they see as their traditional way. Some of these areas, but now has a nationalist majority who oppose marches passing through what they see as their fields.

Each side thus dresses up the disputes regarding the other alleged attempts to suppress them; Nationalists still see Orange Order marches as provocative attempts to “show who’s the boss”, while unionists insist that they have the right to “walk the Queen’s highway”. Since the beginning of the Troubles is the celebration of the battle seen as playing a crucial role in the awareness of those involved in the trade / nationalist tensions in Northern Ireland.

The battlefield today

The location of the Battle of the Boyne sprawls over a large area west of the town of Drogheda. In the county development plan for 2000, Meath County Council rezoned the land at the eastern edge of Oldbridge, on the site of the main Williamite crossing, to housing status. A subsequent planning application for a development of more than 700 houses were granted by Meath County Council and this was appealed by local historians to An Bord Pleanála (Planning Board). In March 2008, after an extremely long appeal process, An Bord Pleanála approved permit for this development to continue. But because of the current economic climate in Ireland, no work has yet started on this development.

The current Interpretive Centre dedicated to inform tourists and other visitors about the battle is about 1 mil (1.6 km) west of the main crossing point. This facility was rebuilt in 2008 and is now open to tourists. Battle other main battle areas (at Duleek, Donore and Plattin – along the Jacobite line of retreat) are marked with tourist signs.

On April 4, 2007 in a sign of improved relations between the union and nationalist groups, the newly elected first minister of Northern Ireland, the Reverend Ian Paisley, was invited to visit the battle site of the Prime Minister (Prime Minister) Bertie Ahern, later in the year. Invitation Paisley commented that “such a visit would help to show how far we have come when we can celebrate and learn from the past so the next generation understand more clearly”. On May 10, the visit took place, and Paisley presented the Prime Minister with a Jacobite musket against Ahern gift at St Andrews speaks of a walnut bowl made of a tree from the site. A new tree is also planted in the grounds of Oldbridge House of the two politicians to mark the occasion. [9]

See also

  • Boyne Water
  • Irish calendar
  • Irish battles
  • British military history
  • orange Institution



^ The battle took place on 11 July NS, but the anniversary is now celebrated on 12 July.


  1. Jump up ^ Once the Gregorian calendar first came into use in the UK in 1752 was the difference between the two calendars was 11 days since the date of 28 February 1700. However, for dates before when it was still only 10 days, and this led to some confusion in the translation dates of events that occurred before the beginning of the 18th century.
  2. Jump up ^ Harris, Tim (2006). Revolution: the great crisis of the British monarchy, 1685-1720. London: Allen Lane. p. 440. ISBN 978-0-7139-9759-0.
  3. Jump up ^ Magennis, Eoin (1998). “A” besieged Protestant? “Walter Harris and writing of fiction Unmasked Mid-18th century Ireland”.Eighteenth-century Ireland. 13 : 6-111. Retrieved March 16, 2012.
  4. Jump up ^ How the Battle of the Boyne earned its place in history, The Guardian, July 11, 2000
  5. Jump up ^ Observaties van een Zeventiende-eeuwse wereldbeschouwer, Constantijn Huygens one the uitvinding van het moderne dagboek .Dekker, Rudolf, Amsterdam 2013 pp. 45-47.
  6. Jump up ^ The O’Fee Family Northern Ireland family records and oral traditions, has explained this to the descendants. Their ancestors were captured in this fight, and will remain a Protestant to this day.
  7. Jump up ^ Chambers, Robert (1832). The Book of Days: A Miscellany of Modern Antiquities in connection with the calendar, including the anecdote, biography and history, Curiosities of Literature and Oddities of human life and nature, volume 2 London .: W. & R. Chambers Limited.Retrieved January 7, 2016.
  8. Jump up ^ For example, William of Orange is said to have landed at Brixham in England on November 5, although Dutch history records he left the Netherlands on 11 November because the Netherlands already use the Gregorian calendar.
  9. Jump up ^ staff, BBCNews – Paisley and Ahern visit place in 1690, the BBC, May 11, 2007