The Irish rebellion, which began in Ulster in 1641, was launched by Irish Catholic gentry who attempted to seize control of the English administration in Ireland and gain concessions for Catholics. The revolt may have also been precipitated by long-standing grievances caused by the Ulster Plantation of 1610. The attempted coup then developed into a conflict, known as the Irish Confederate Wars, which lasted for a decade, between Gaelic Irish and old English Catholics on one side and English Protestants and Scottish Presbyterians on the other. For much of this decade the de facto ruler of Ireland was the Catholic Confederation, formed of Catholic upper classes and clergy, who were loosely aligned with the Royalist side in the English Civil War. The suspected association of the Irish rebels with Charles I was a precipitating factor in the Civil War, which broke out in October 1642. Following the inconclusive battle of Edgehill, the Royalists advanced from their northern and western strongholds winning repeated victories at Tadcaster, Adwalton Moor, Bradock Down and Roundway Down. But Charles’s truce with the Irish solidified Puritan resolve, and Parliamentarian General Lord Essex’s non-professional but highly committed troops from the Puritan heartlands of the Eastern Association were improving with every battle, particularly Cromwell’s ‘Ironside’ cavalry. In autumn 1643, the Royalist advance on London was repulsed at Newbury, and Hull and Gloucester were relieved: the tide was turning.
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