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Kilkenny, Confederation of

Kilkenny, Confederation of, 1642. The Irish rebellion of 1641 was not a spontaneous peasant rising but a planned insurrection, though the attempt to seize Dublin failed. 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, confirmed the privileges of the catholic church, and appointed a number of envoys to foreign powers. The situation was extremely complex. Ormond represented the king at Dublin, the Scots had sent an army into Ulster under Monro, and other leaders had declared for the English Parliament. 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. Ormond negotiated a truce or cessation in September 1643, which was repeatedly extended. But the negotiations proved difficult and protracted. 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. He dispatched the earl of Glamorgan on a special mission with powers to offer concessions far greater than Ormond could suggest—the next lord-lieutenant should be a catholic, and catholic bishops should sit in the Irish House of Lords. For good measure, Henrietta Maria conducted her own diplomacy in exile. When details of Glamorgan's proposals became known, Ormond's position was undermined and Charles had to repudiate the mission. It was, in any case, of no avail, for though Glamorgan succeeded in collecting a force together, Chester surrendered in February 1646 and there was nowhere left for them to land. The confederates now found the English Parliament a much more formidable opponent than Charles had been. The agreement they reached with Ormond in 1649, which marked the end of the Confederation, was too late to be of consequence, and their joint forces were routed at Rathmines by Michael Jones. Cromwell's campaigns of 1649 and 1650 restored English supremacy.

J. A. Cannon

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