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  • The Battle of the Boyne, July 1 1690

    Beatriz Camino

    The Battle of the Boyne, July 1 1690

    The Battle of the Boyne was a battle that took place across the river Boyne, in Ireland, on July 1 1690. It was fought by deposed King James II of England and Ireland and King William III, who had ascended to the throne in 1689. The battle resulted in a victory for the latter and ensured the continuity of Protestant ascendancy in Ireland. 


    The Battle of the Boyne was a key battle during the Williamite War (1688-1691) in Ireland. The war was fought between the deposed King James II of England and Ireland and King William III. The main cause of the conflict was the Glorious Revolution in 1688, which resulted in the deposal of King James, the last Catholic monarch of England, Scotland and Ireland. He was replaced a year later by his daughter Mary and his cousin and son-in-law William of Orange, who was a Dutch Protestant.

    As James initially kept control of Ireland, he used the kingdom as a base for a campaign to regain the thrones of England and Scotland. He was supported by France, whose King Louis XIV wished to establish a Catholic dominance across Europe and sought to stop the Protestant Dutch Republic. To aid James, he sent 6000 troops to fight alongside the Irish Jacobites. Still, William counted on the support of the Netherlands and several kingdoms in continental Europe.

    The Battle

    William landed in Ireland on June 14, 1690, aiming to take Dublin. In the meanwhile, James placed his line of defence on the Boyne River, around 40 km from the city. William and his supporters, the Williamites, reached the river on June 29.

    The battle was fought on July 1 at a ford of the river at the village of Oldbridge. After William’s forces had secured the village, they held off cavalry attacks while others tried to cross the Boyne. Finally, the horsemen managed to cross it and held off the Jacobite cavalry, who retired at Donore. There, they put up resistance until eventually they retired.

    The casualties of the battle resulted in quite a low figure, as only 2,000 out of the 50,000 participants died, most of which were Jacobites. The defeat greatly demoralized them and many deserted, whereas the Williamites marched proudly into the city of Dublin. The Jacobites were then besieged in the city of Limerick and James was forced to seek refuge in France. Still, his supporters kept on fighting until the signing of the Treaty of Limerick in 1691.


    The defeat at the Boyne put an end to James’ campaign to regain his throne and assured the triumph of the Glorious Revolution. Moreover, the victory of the Williamites ensured the dominance of Protestantism over Ireland. This victory is still celebrated nowadays by the Protestant Orange Order on the twelfth of July. However, this celebration is considered to be a controversial topic, especially in Northern Ireland, where Protestants remember it as a great victory over Catholics.


     James II 1687 tin Halfpenny, dated on edge with intrinsic copper plug at centre      JAMES II 1687/6 GOLD GUINEA, SCARCE OVER DATEIJF81 - IRELAND, James II (1685-1691), John Knox's Coinage, Copper Halfpenny, 27mm, 7.05g., 1686

    William III 1696 heavy flan Sixpence piedfort, of highest rarity R5WILLIAM III, 1700 SILVER CROWNThrone of William Established, 1691.


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