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Queen in Ireland

Guest Gladstone

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Guest Gladstone

What's all the fuss about?

I don't mean that to sound like I'm trivialising the matter - it's an honest (ignorant) question.

What's the point of her visiting? Is it a step towards ironing things out with Ireland or something? I've never quite understood the Ireland thing to be honest.

Is it because the Republic of Ireland sees Northern Ireland as part of their country and the UK has repressed that part of the country (with all the violence that went with it)?

I realise I sound like a fucking moron here - but I'm genuinely interested.

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It's all to do with succession, religion and imperialism but it ultimately all boils down to power.

To explain the background:

Henry VIII, King of both England and Ireland, created the Anglican church in the 1530s when the Pope refused to let him annul his marriage to Catherine of Aragon. Henry was concerned because Catherine had given him no surviving sons and he was unsure his line of succession could survive. His solution was to boot out the church in England and to create a new church with him as its head. He could then grant himself a divorce.

Henry also relaxed the state's position on Protestantism at this time. Protestantism was a religious movement which spoke out against Catholic practices such as 'indulgences', a hugely profitable process by which the Catholic church collected monies for excusing sinners of their penitence. Nowadays I suppose you would call this a 'cash for sins' scandal. They were completely corrupt.

Anglicanism is a sort of mish-mash between Protestantism and Catholicism but most importantly the head of the church is the English monarch. So the power structures are so:



CHURCH (Pope in Rome)

CROWN (Henry)



CROWN (Henry and his successors)


The Irish especially adhered to this system and many believed the Pope to be their true King. Henry was having none of it.

When Henry VIII's daughter Elizabeth I died (the virgin Queen) without a successor she arranged for her cousin to take control of the throne and so James VI, King of Scots also became James I of England. This Union of the Crowns in 1603 is a bit of a misleading term as the two crowns, even to this day, remain distinct entities that rest on the same head of State.

James' son Charles I was executed in 1649 during the English Civil War. The English with Oliver Cromwell rebelled against the idea of an absolute monarchy and created a Republic that became 'The commonwealth of England, Scotland and Ireland'. After 11 years of a Republican Government the parliament reverted back to a monarchy making Charles I son; Charles II as King. This was the start of the process towards a more modern monarchy with the parliament retaining more power.

Charles II was succeeded by his brother, James II of England. James was Catholic, pro-French and a believer in a return to absolute monarchy. When he produced a catholic heir it was simply too much and he was sent packing.

He was replaced by his nephew, a Protestant known as William of Orange. In his oath before he became King he had to attest to be a non-believer in the Roman Catholic faith. This sectarian deceleration remained a part of the coronation vows of the British monarchy up until 1910 when they were changed so the incoming King/Queen would vow they were Protestant rather than saying 'non-Catholic'.

Our current Queen, Elizabeth II took this vow.

In 1701 the Act of Settlement cemented the line of English succession and put sectarianism into law. (This same act was recently in the news because it also means that if Kate and William have a daughter first and a son later it will be the son who becomes monarch).

This was nothing less than institutionalised sectarianism - but it conveniently prevented the English crown losing sovereignty to the Pope. In Ireland the majority of Catholic people were ruled by a Protestant minority known as 'The Ascendancy' which still exists today - the current Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osbourne is a part of this.

James II tried to retake the throne several times with his followers who became known as the Jacobites. As there were many Catholic supporters for James in Ireland he went there to start his uprising. He was defeated at the battle of Boyne in 1690. To this day some of the Protestant minority in Ireland (and in places in Scotland) celebrate this event with orange marches.

Since the Act of Settlement 1701 changed the rules of British succession without consulting Scotland, the Scottish Parliament passed the Act of Security in 1704 which made it unlikely that Scotland would adopt the same monarch as England in future. This resulted in the English Parliament passing the Alien Act 1705 which cut off all trade with Scotland and made hereditary titles in England much less likely to be retained by Scots Lords.

The Treaty of Union between Scotland and England was effected in 1707 securing the dynastic lineage of the Crown as set out in the Act of Settlement. (And the hereditary titles of Scots Lords). It didn't however treat Ireland as an equal. They were the poor crown of the three and were not represented in the new British parliament.

Both James II's son and his grandson tried to retake the throne in further Jacobite uprisings but the last attempt was brought to an end at the battle of Culloden in 1745. This secured the lineage of the Anglican/Protestant British monarchy.

In 1798 the catholic majority in Ireland were fed up of being ruled by an Irish Anglican parliament which no catholic could sit in. This caused the Irish Rebellion of that same year. This was right at the time of the French Revolution and since the idea of an independent Ireland predisposed to France was not favoured the Acts of Union between Great Britain and Ireland came into effect in 1800. This made Ireland an equal partner and secured rights for Irish Lords but with sectarianism still in effect.

By 1829 Roman Catholics were allowed to sit in the UK parliament and other legal discriminations against the majority were stopped. Understandably this did not put an end to Irish unrest.

In 1914 the Home Rule act to give Ireland its sovereignty was cancelled at the outbreak of World War I. This resulted in the IRA declaring a war of independence in 1919.

In 1920 home rule came to Ireland with the Anglo-Irish Peace Treaty. Since the majority of Protestants lived in the North of Ireland the treaty gave them the option to rule themselves out of an Irish Republic in which most of the power would be held by Catholics. That is what they did. So Britain set up a border commission and split the country in two. The confused remaining state of Northern Ireland has remained split along historical and religious lines ever since.

But on the plus side Henry VIII got that divorce he wanted. He married a further 5 times.

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How did you get Henry VIII wrong so many times, apart from right at the end?

And when you went back to edit it, how did you miss it again?

I made the same typo twice and I simply didn't notice. It can be difficult proofreading your own writing because sometimes you read what you meant to write rather than what you actually wrote.

EDIT: Perhaps one of the mods will be kind enough to change it to Henry VIII.

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Oh, the proper Queen. I thought May and Taylor had finally sunk as low as possible and hired Daniel O' Donnell for vocals.

Sad thing is that wouldn't surprise me given their determination to tarnish the good name of the band!

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