The Inchiquin Truce, 1648

Reeling from the military disasters of Dungan's Hill and Knocknanuss, the Confederate Assembly debated how best to continue the war. The Anglo-Irish lords on the Assembly were loyal to King Charles and wanted the Confederacy to support the Royalists against Parliament. Cardinal Mazarin of France gave them tacit support, regarding King Charles' restoration to the throne as preferable to a puritan Parliament governing England. However, Archbishop Rinuccini, the clergy and the Gaelic Irish wanted Ireland returned to the Catholic Church and were prepared to abandon King Charles and invite Philip IV of Spain to become Ireland's protector. Although Rinuccini's power on the Assembly had declined, he insisted that no religious settlement could be accepted unless it had the Pope's sanction.

In the spring of 1648, Confederate commissioners went to France where discussions were held with Queen Henrietta Maria, the Marquis of Ormond and other leading Royalists. With French support, an ambitious plan developed whereby Ormond would return to Ireland and attempt to rally all the Confederate forces for an assault on Dublin. Once Dublin had fallen, the Prince of Wales was to lead an allied army of Royalists and Confederates in an invasion of England. Presbyterians in England and Scotland were also expected to join the campaign against Parliament and the Independents.

Meanwhile in Munster, Lord Inchiquin's support for Parliament was wavering. He had no sympathy for the dominant Independent faction in London, which seemed intent on making fundamental changes to the English constitution, and his military position in Ireland was threatened because Parliament's preoccupation with the Second Civil War in England left him marginalised and short of supplies. On 3 April 1648, Inchiquin renounced his support for Parliament and declared for the King. He called for a truce with the Confederates, which was readily accepted by the Anglo-Irish lords on the Supreme Council.

The treaty was signed at Kilkenny on 20 May, but the Inchiquin Truce caused further deep rifts within the Confederacy. Archbishop Rinuccini and his followers already opposed the plan to unite the Confederates under Ormond's authority and vehemently objected to any agreement with Inchiquin, who had slaughtered Catholics, murdered priests and destroyed churches. Rinuccini precipitously declared that any member of the Supreme Council who supported the Inchiquin Truce would be excommunicated. Most Confederate generals followed the Anglo-Irish lords and supported the treaty, but Owen Roe O'Neill and the powerful Ulster army remained loyal to Rinuccini. Prompted by Rinuccini, O'Neill declared war on the Supreme Council on 11 June and led the army of Ulster against Kilkenny. Although he failed to capture the Confederate capital, O'Neill's troops spent most of the summer of 1648 pillaging the surrounding country and manoeuvring against Inchiquin and the Confederates in Leinster.

The internal civil war that had broken out amongst the Confederates allowed Colonel Jones at Dublin to consolidate his position. Although Parliament's preoccupation with the war in England also left him short of supplies, Jones managed to clear most of the Pale around Dublin of Confederate garrisons. Similarly, Sir Charles Coote took advantage of the internal Confederate war to capture garrisons in Ulster.


S.R. Gardiner, History of the Great Civil War, vol.iv (London 1894)

Jane Ohlmeyer, The Civil Wars in Ireland (in The Civil Wars, a military history of England, Scotland and Ireland 1638-60), Oxford 1998

James Scott Wheeler, Cromwell in Ireland, (New York 1999)