By Cromwell’s Settlement (1652) the proportion of Irish land in Catholic hands fell from 60 to 8 per cent, confined to inland Connacht. Catholics were also banned from towns and public office. The preceding campaign of conquest has become notorious for its brutality. However, other than the massacres that followed the capture of Drogheda and Wexford, its conduct was typical of its time. The Protestant invaders had been fed (grossly exaggerated) reports of the massacres of their co-religionists in the initial rebellion, and were bent on revenge. The key battle, Rathmines, preceded Cromwell’s arrival, breaking the siege of Dublin and enabling the secure disembarkation of his army. After Wexford, Cromwell pursued the Confederates all the way to Kerry, capturing their capital Kilkenny en route. His successor Henry Ireton died besieging Limerick, after authorizing wholesale crop destruction to deter banditry and insurgency: far more would die of disease and famine than through military action.
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