Hugh O’ Neill was no unruly Irish chieftain. Raised within the Pale, and awarded the Earlship of Tyrone by Queen Elizabeth, he carefully planned his insurrection. From the early 1590s he stockpiled arms and recruited mercenaries. He elicited promise of support from King Philip of Spain. In 1595, he struck, seizing Mountjoy fort and defeating the English forces sent to subdue him at Clontribet. He then annihilated an English army at Yellow Ford (1598). Now rebellion was spreading through the land, and a new English expedition under Lord Essex was harried and ravaged by disease into suing for truce. This brought in Baron Mountjoy, who would prove O’Neill’s nemesis. Practising attrition, he landed at Derry and laid waste to the countryside. A desperate O’ Neill hurried south to join the Spanish who had finally arrived in Kinsale. But Mountjoy achieved a crushing victory (1601), and O’Neill fled the country.
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