Talk:Battle of the Boyne

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decisive or not?[edit]

This page states both that the battle was "not militarily decisive" (first para) and that it was "decisive" (second para). Which is it?

Decisive politically but not militarily.

The Boyne was in military terms a tactical defeat for the Jacobites. They were pushed out of a defensive position around the Boyne river and forced to retreat on Dublin. But their losses were realtively light and there was no reason why they could not have regrouped in Dublin. They didn't but instead they regrouped in Limerick, where they won a victory when William tried to take it.

However, James decided that all was lost and fled to France on the day after the battle. The upshot of this was that because ofthe Boyne, he lost whatever chance he had of regaining his throne from William. So even though the war in Ireland went on for another year, the Boyne, or to be more precise, James' reaction to the defeat at the Boyne decided the political outcome of the war.

Jdorney 15:31, 29 August 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

It was decisive in that James' troops were routed. So as a battle, on its own, I reckon it could be considered decisive. --Mal 01:25, 30 August 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

No, strictly speaking, a decisive battle is one where one side takes overwhelming casualties and/or is disolved as an effective force. This is not what happened at the Boyne. Only a small portion of the Jacobite army was engaged in the battle. Of those that were engaged, the infantry were relatively easily pushed out of Oldbridge, but not pursued. The Jacobite cavalry put up determined resistance before retreating due to weight of numbers. The Jacobites, half of whose froces had been upriver at Roughgrange for the whole battle, then retreated. If William had managed to either pursue the Jacobite retreat closely, or to cut it off at one of several places such as Duleek or the Naul, then the Boyne wold have been a decisive victory in military terms.

The actual decisive Williamite victory of the war was at Aughrim, a year later. At this battle, the Jacobites lost a total of 8000 men, or nearly half their strength, killed wounded and taken prisoner.

Jdorney 08:55, 30 August 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Not entirely true. A decisive encounter does not always entail heavy casualties. The fact was that following the battle, James' hopes of seizing the throne and promoting Catholicism were now in shambles, as he had lost a great deal of support. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:51, 24 February 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I read a source claiming that the Irish battleplan included the orderly retreat performed, and that each side claimed victory after the battle. The Battle of the Boyne was not decisive because it had no import on either side. LoreTj (talk) 20:01, 6 March 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

A decisive encoutner does not always have to entail destructive casualties. Following the Battle of the Boyne James lost a mass of support and would never have the same amount of support again. You can argue it was decisive politically . . . which makes no sense; war is a political matter, and during war the two intertwine a great deal. The Boyne was decisive in the sense that it broke the spirit of the Jacobite Army, and James would never again have the kind of support he did prior to the Boyne. The Boyne has always been claimed as a decisive victory; so unless someone has a reliable source claiming otherwise, i'll revert it to decisive victory for now. (RockDrummerQ (talk) 01:20, 30 October 2009 (UTC))Reply[reply]

size of the battle[edit]

The casualty figure of the battle must stand as the lowest ever for a battle of such a scale - of the 40 000 or so participants, under 2000 died, mostly as a result of heat exhaustion.

This is not unusual, the biggest and most decisive battle of the English Civil War was the battle of Marston Moor in which about 40,000 men fought and less than 4000 were killed. By this yard stick the Boyne was not a "minor military skirmish". Philip Baird Shearer 17:51, 3 Sep 2004 (UTC)

Granted, the Boyne was not as decisive a battle as its reputation suggests, but over 2000 dead and more wounded in a space of a few square kilometres is not a "minor skirmish". In terms of numbers engaged, the Boyne was actually the biggest ever battle in Ireland. Also, most casualties were from heat exhaustion?? Utter nonsense. I'm going to have to remove that I'm afraid!

me aboveJdorney

Once I started editing, I realised I'd have to make quite a lot of changes. So I've put in a description of the battle and the correct reason why the Boyne replaced Aughrim as the Twelfth anniversary. The Boyne may have been military indecisive, but it was very politically important. Also, I removed the headline, "Catholic and Protestants fought on both sides", which, while laudable in the context of the sectarian myths around the battle, is a little misleading. Although internationally the battle was cross denominational, sadly, in Ireland it was another depressing episode of sectarian and ethnic violence, with the sides almost identical (in some caes actually the same people, eg Richard Talbot earl Tyrconnell) as the ones who'd fought each other in the Wars of the Three Kingdoms

36,000 Williamites 23,000 Jacobites (not counting 2000 left as a garrison) gives nearly 50,000, not 40,000, 5-6% or so casualties for the Jacxobites. Militarily not particularly big losses, politically it cost James all. Philip Baird Shearer playing a bit fast n loose above never mentions of ~45,000 at Marston Moor most (2/3) were Parliamentary or Scots but losses were very large for Royalists (4000- 5500) ~30%, mostly from the excellent Royalist infantry. So yes Marston was very decisive, the king's army lost most of a veteran infantry force casualties, prisoners or scattered, lots of arms, all its artillery, baggage, etc. Basically the King's northern army ceased to exist after Marston Moor. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:29, 17 January 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

an chaca?[edit]

In the Jacobitism article the phrase "James fled to France, acquiring the nickname Séamus an chaca (James the beshitten)" was taken from one of the cited reference books. While I don't have the Gaelic, "Jim who shit(s) himself" seems to fit dick the situation better than "Jim the shit" which is effectively the translation given here. Can anyone translate this more accurately? Also, is the accent right in Séamus?

From a TV documentary I remember something about William's lieutenant taking his cavalry west to another crossing point, so that James sent his cavalry west along the south bank to counter this threat, leaving the way clear for William's infantry to cross over, join in battle and form squares against the returning Jacobite cavalry. Hopefully someone with better memory or knowledge can add to the battle...dave souza 18:37, 3 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Dave, you're nearly right. I would have put this in myself, but I didn't want to be too long-winded. William sent about a quarter of his men to cross at place called Roughgrange, near Slane. Schmoberg's son led this crossing. James paniced when he saw that he might be outflanked and sent nearly half his troops, along with most of his cannon to counter this move. What niether side had realised was that there was a deep ravine at Roughgrange, so that the forces there could not engage each other, but litterally sat out the battle. The Williamites ther went on a long detour march which, late in the day, almost saw them cut off the Jacobite retreat. BUT, this did not really affect the main crossing at Oldbridge, except that the Jacobites could presumably have used their artillery. The ground there is very broken and rises steeply away from the river. at the top of the rise was the village of Oldbridge, with walls, ditches etc. So the first phase of the crossing was an infantry v infantry battle, which the Williamite's Blue Guards won due to their superior weapons and training. Once they had taken the village, they held off the Jacobite cavalry, most of whom were not sent to Roughgrange. They did this mainly through disciplined volley fire. I read this stuff Padraig Lenihan's recent book on the Battle of the Boyne, which was published in late 2003. If you want this to go in, fire ahead.

Re an chaca, well in Irish "an" is "the" and chaca (caca if it doesn't have an "an" before it) means "shit". I was too polite to write this in the article however! But maybe to native speakers of Irish And Scottish Gaelic this would have meant, "who shits himself". This would make sense in fact, because Gaelic poety at the time depicted James as, "the cowardly shit" who ran away and "lost Ireland" to the foreigners. Jdorney

also, the accent, or fada in Gaelic, is in the right place. btw, now that I think about it, I have seen it written as Seamus a chaca which means "James who shits [himself]!". this is the kind of historical debate people should have more often! Jdorney

Yes please in terms of putting the additional info in: this is the article about the battle, and like other battle articles should give a reasonably full description of what went on, in my opinion. This article quite rightly also has a lot about the context and later interpretation, but still needs to cover the battle itself. If by "fire ahead" you want me to do it, I'm a bit tied up with other articles just now but will try to get onto it fairly soon..dave souza 10:03, 6 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Right, I've expanded the battle section, put in the numbers and strengths of the two armies and a bit about the strategic situation. I'm now going to leave this article alone! Jdorney

Looks good to me. Thanks, dave souza 23:58, 14 Mar 2005 (UTC)

11 or 12 July?[edit]

On Official Battle of the Boyne website:

The Battle of the Boyne, between King William III and his father-in-law, King James II, was fought on 1 July 1690 (11 July according to our modern calendar).

--ajvol 5 July 2005 21:05 (UTC)

On the 11th Night people burn bonfires around Northern Ireland, I think this is to mark the end of the battle, then, on the 12th the battle is celebrated. You should look further into it. Keith 11:27, 23 August 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I have always known the 11th of July to be referred to as "bonfire night." Huge bonfires are built for days leading up to it, some several stories high. It would be nice to include a mention in the article. User:bonfire 15:33, 2 February 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Its celebrated on the 12th of July. The 11th of July Bonfires origin can possibly be found here;

"A Royal Salute was fired from the Castle and was echoed and re-echoed by the guns which Schomberg had placed at wide intervals for the purpose of conveying signals from post to post. Wherever it was heard it was known that King William had come. Before midnight all the heights of Antrim and Down were blazing with bonfires"

So i'm assuming that the Bonfires were used as beacons to signal that William had arrived in Ireland. User:Unregistered 15:33, 2 February 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

My understanding of it is that the locals lit bonfires all around Belfast Lough to help guide William into dock at Carrickfergus. --Mal 01:31, 30 August 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

It was on the 1st but is remembered on the 12th due to the change to theGregorian calendar —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:17, 8 July 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

That's misleading. It was on the 1st (os), which was equivalent to the 11th (ns), but it's nowadays celebrated on the 12th. See below @ Gregorian/Julian dates for my comments on this issue. -- Jack of Oz ... speak! ... 03:34, 20 January 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Is the celebration date the 12th because that was actually the date of the later Battle of Aughrim and originally it was that battle that was marked on the 12th. Not totally sure why that changed.

In the opening section one will find the following sentence:

The symbolic importance of this battle has made it one of the best-known battles in British and Irish history and a key part in Irish Protestant folklore.

In said sentence "Irish Protestant" links to Protestant Nationalist. Clearly, in the context, this makes no sense. I planned on changing it, but I am uncertain as to what Irish Protestant should link. Anyone have any suggestions? ---RepublicanJacobiteThe'FortyFive' 03:36, 14 September 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Gregorian/Julian dates[edit]

There seems to be a general belief that 1 July 1690 (Julian) = 12 July 1690 (Gregorian); that is, the difference between the calendars was 11 days. That is simply not so: the difference in 1690 was only 10 days. The difference only became 11 days on 1 March 1700. 1 July 1690 (Julian) = 11 July 1690 (Gregorian), and rightly the celebrations should be held on 11 July, not 12 July. Now, the tradition has become to celebrate it on 12 July every year, and I'm not proposing to change that. But we have to have a more accurate explanation of why it's held on the 12th rather than the 11th. From what I've gleaned, they first did the date adjustment at a time when the difference (for then current dates) had become 11 days. But when they were doing the calculation shouldn't have had any bearing on the accurate conversion of the historical date from 1 July 1690 (OS) to 11 July 1690 (NS). -- JackofOz (talk) 04:04, 17 July 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

The Battle of the Boyle web-site (1st reference) quotes the battle date as 11th July (Gregorian). —Preceding unsigned comment added by Squire55 (talkcontribs) 01:02, 20 January 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

OK. That's what I'm getting at.
As is made clear at Gregorian calendar#Difference between Gregorian and Julian calendar dates, the difference in the calendars between 1582 and 1700 was 10 days; therefore, 1 July 1690 (os) is equivalent to 11 July 1690 (ns), not 12 July 1690 (ns). Whether they did this calculation before 1700, or in 1752, or in 2010, or in 454,685, makes no difference to the outcome; had the Gregorian calendar been in place in Britain and Ireland in 1690, the date would have been 11 July and only 11 July. It was never 12 July, and it can never somehow become 12 July.
But it's celebrated on 12 July these days, for whatever reason. We have to tell our readers that; and not mislead them that 12 July is the actual anniversary of the battle, because it's not; and not grossly mislead them "The battle took place on 1 July 1690 (old style Julian calendar – equivalent to 12 July 'new style' or Gregorian calendar" - because that is totally, 100% inaccurate. -- Jack of Oz ... speak! ... 03:31, 20 January 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I don't know anything about the calendar calculations but the dating is fairly standard, eg Padraig Lenihan, The Battle of the Boyne, p258-259, "The 18th century anniverseries of the Boyne and Aughrim served as the focus of more plebian comemmorations that included bonfires and parading. In this context, the 'twelfth' was the most symbolically important battle comemmoration but it referred to Aughrim. Until Britain belatedly adopted the Gregorian Calendar in 1752, 1 July was the anniversary of the Boyne and 12 July the anniversary of Aughrim."

Before modifying the articles in question we would need to see some more sources. Jdorney (talk) 23:57, 3 March 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Commemoration of the battle[edit]

I recovered these two paragraphs from an earlier version of the article, intending to restore them, but on 2nd look, they really are not well written. I bring them here for discussion:

The battle wasn't really celebrated that much until 100 years after it took place. At this time, Catholics were gaining a lot more power. As a symbol of Protestant rule over Catholic-Irish, Protestants revived William of Oranges image as a 'Defender of Protestants'. Now, people join in the Loyal Orange Order to remember the battle. The Loyal Orange Order are Loyalists who put on marches etc. in Ireland every year to remember the battle.
The Apprentice Boys do similar things to the Loyal Orange Order. The Apprentice Boys name comes from the apprentice boys of Derry. When King James II attacked Derry, they refused to surrender. Instead, they closed the doors to the city. They were made to suffer a long siege from James until William's army finally came to help them. Over the city walls they shouted 'No Surrender' which is still a well known phrase used by Loyalist/Unionists.

An anonymous editor recently changed the 2nd paragraph to this:

The Apprentice Boys are to the Loyal Orange Order. The Apprentice Boys name comes from the apprentice boys of Derry. The difference being "the ABOD" is not based on religion. When King James II attacked Derry, they refused to surrender. Instead, they closed the doors to the city. They were made to suffer a long siege from James until William's army finally came to help them. Over the city walls they shouted 'No Surrender' which is still a well known phrase used by Loyalist/Unionists.

But, this is not an improvement. Clearly something about the Apprentice Boys and Orange Order should be in the article but not this poorly-written mess. Any thoughts? ---RepublicanJacobiteThe'FortyFive' 17:27, 12 July 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Casualty figures[edit]

Why are these casualty figures low for the size of the armies involved? At the Battle of Long Island, which if you count the Royal Navy, some 50,000 did actually take part in the battle and suffered roughly the same amount of casualties as at the Boyne. (Trip Johnson (talk) 13:49, 26 August 2009 (UTC))Reply[reply]

A strong rear guard action action by Jacobite cavalry & dragoons & lack of initiative by Williams' Army to pursue.

James: Experienced or not?[edit]

The first sentence in paragraph seven states that "James was a seasoned general who had proven his bravery", however, in the middle of the twelfth paragraph it is said that "James, an inexperienced general, thought that he might be outflanked..." Which is it? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 09:13, 28 February 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

He was a seasoned office (see for example Battle of the Dunes (1658)) but an inexperienced general. I am not sure that he had commanded more than a regiment in battle before this one. This question defiantly does not need a huge banner box at the top of the article. -- PBS (talk) 10:54, 16 August 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

section: the battle the first line appears wrong[edit]

"The battle

William had landed in Ledbury in Ulster on 14 June 1690 and marched south to take Cheltenham."

as far as i can tell there is no cheltenham in Ireland.

i also found no mention of cheltenham in the references.

perhaps an editing troll did it —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:49, 12 March 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

being present when King William III's horse was shot, dismounted, and offered his to the King[edit]

I wondered if my mother's cousin's action is worthy of inclusion? "James-Fitzgerald Uniacke, of Coolegaragh, since called Mount Uniacke, commanded a troop of cavalry, and being present when King William III's horse was shot, dismounted, and offered his to the King, who, accepting it, called him a faithful and true man, and taking a pistol from his holster said, "Let that be your crest evermore." The family crest previous to this was a dexter armed arm gauntleted, holding a hawk's lure, but James-Fitzgerald Uniacke, and his descendants have since used the motto, "faithful and brave", and taken for crest a dexter arm in armour holding a pistol." Mount Uniacke Fitzgerald of Lisquinlan and Corkbeg A Genealogical and Heraldic Dictionary of the Landed Gentry of Great Britain and Ireland By Bernard Burke Contributor Bernard Burke Published by Harrison, 1863 Item notes: v.2 Original from Oxford University Digitized Jun 9, 2006 1759 pagesMifren (talk) 14:34, 3 April 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

No mention of the pope funding william at the boyne?[edit] — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:38, 25 October 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Gone With The Wind?[edit]

"The battle is also mentioned in the novel, Gone With The Wind, written by Margaret Mitchell.[1]"

Why was this in the page's intro section? Is it remotely relevant? I'm sure many novels mention the battle - why mention the fact, or highlight this one?
If I'm misunderstanding, and there's an especially good reason to mention it, please feel free to revert my edit, but the reason is non-obvious, so some explanation would be helpful (in the encyclopedia page, not merely here on the Talk page), and if it does to be mentioned, it probably ought to be towards the end of the page, not in the intro, a summary of the absolute key facts about the topic.
Ministry (talk) 16:18, 26 April 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]


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King vs Prince William[edit]

The intro refers to William as Prince of Orange - Parliament declared the throne vacant in 1689 and declared William and Mary joint sovereigns, and held their coronation that year. So William was King in 1690, not merely Prince. James had vacated the throne so was, at best, a former king.Gymnophoria (talk) 12:04, 5 February 2017 (UTC)Reply[reply]

he retained his title of "Prince of Orange" from the Netherlands (talk) 12:52, 1 July 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Wiki Education assignment: CMN2160B[edit]

This article was the subject of a Wiki Education Foundation-supported course assignment, between 8 September 2022 and 15 December 2022. Further details are available on the course page. Student editor(s): Ainemoreau (article contribs).

— Assignment last updated by Xinyue Hu (talk) 13:28, 23 December 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]