Confederation of Kilkenny

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The Irish rebellion of 1641 was not a spontaneous peasant rising but a planned insurrection. The rebels, while protesting their loyalty to Charles I, took steps to organize the large areas under their control. An assembly or parliament summoned at Kilkenny in October 1642 adopted a provisional constitution, with a general assembly choosing a supreme council. The new Confederation raised armies for the four provinces, imposed taxes, and confirmed the privileges of the catholic church. Charles I's policy was to offer terms to the Confederation that would enable an army to be sent over to England to turn the scales in the Civil War, and as his position worsened, the terms improved. Many of the confederates were prepared to wait until Charles was forced to offer not merely relaxation of the penal laws against catholics but their total removal, and they were strengthened when the papal nuncio, Rinuccini, who arrived in November 1645, took an intransigent line. Charles's diplomacy was characteristically convoluted, but to no avail, for Chester surrendered in February 1646 and there was nowhere left for Irish reinforcements to land. The confederates now found the English Parliament a much more formidable opponent than Charles had been and their forces were routed at Rathmines by Michael Jones. Cromwell's campaigns of 1649 and 1650 restored English supremacy.

Subjects: British History.

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