Speech of King James II to His Council, July 1, 1690

On July 1, 1690, the forces of King James II were defeated by the forces of the Prince of Orange at the Battle of the Boyne. That evening at 11 o'clock King James made the following speech to his Council in Dublin.

A printed version of the text can be found on pages 401 and 402 of volume 8 (N.S.) of Calendar of the Manuscripts of the Marquess of Ormonde, K.P., Preserved at Kilkenny Castle. Reports of the Historical Manuscripts Commission [36] (London: His Majesty's Stationery Office, 1920).

I had a very good army in England, and when I had the greatest occasion for them, they deserted me and went to the enemy, and finding a total defection against me there, I returned and went to France, where I was kindly received by that King, and had all the assurances imaginable from him to re-establish me on my throne.

In some time after I came to this kingdom, and found my roman Catholic subjects here equipped and prepared to defend my cause as their ability could bear, and though I have often been cautioned that when it came to the touch they would never bear the brunt of a battle, I could never credit the same till this day, when having a good army and all preparations fit to engage any foreign invader, I found the fatal truth of what I had been so often precautioned, and though the army did not desert me here, as they did in England, yet when it came to a trial they basely fled the field and left the spoil to the enemies, nor could they be prevailed upon to rally, though the loss in the whole defeat was but inconsiderable; so that henceforward, I never more determine to head an Irish army, and do now resolve to shift for myself, and so gentlemen must you.

It has often been debated in case such a revolution should happen whether upon deserting the city of Dublin, the same ought not to be fired. I do therefore now charge you on your allegiance that you neither rifle the city by plunder, nor destroy it by fire, which in all kingdoms will be judged very barbarous, and must be believed to be done by my orders, and if done there will be but little mercy expected from an enemy thus enraged.

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