July 12th

On this day, King William III’  decisive defeat of King James II in the Battle of the Boyne is celebrated by the annual Orange Order March.

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A battle not only seeking a consensus with regards to royal claims but also a central conflict relating to friction between Catholicism and Protestantism in Ireland, the battle is commemorated annually by Orange-men walking through Northern Ireland.

After losing the throne to William the previous year with fears of James’ motivation regarding the establishment of a catholic dynasty, King James, exiled in France, found sympathy with Catholic King Louis XIV, who proceeded to provide the necessary troops for the estranged King to seek his former crown. Whilst a predominantly Catholic Ireland was eager to welcome the prospect of the return of Catholicism to the crown, the Pope backed William, reticent to support a further expression of French warmongering in Europe. The military prowess of Williams forces was clear from the start, enjoying the ‘Grand Alliance’ of protestants persecuted by the Catholic King Louis and employing the largest invasion force Ireland had seen in order to defend his throne.

After just 4 hours, James issued the order to retreat, providing decisive victory for William after crossing the Boyne and ending the battle on higher ground. The 1691 Treaty of Limerick enshrined the result. The Battle of the Boyne marked the final time two crowned kings of England, Scotland and Ireland met in battle.

The continued celebration of such by the orange order continues to spark discontent and unrest within a country divided along religious lines.

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