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History Is Full of Surprises

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  • History Is Full of Surprises

    I've been reading up a bit again on 17th Century British history recently, including Scottish history and its involvement in the British story and I do find it one of the most complicated periods to get my brain cell around. You just begin to feel you've sussed out who sided with who and what the issues were when you suddenly find out that another story played out instead. So much wheeling and dealing behind the scenes.

    So only yesterday I was surprised by what was a revelation to me. We all know that the very keystone of those following the Protestant Orange tradition is the emphatic victory of (Protestant) King William III (aka King Billy) on his white stallion and his Protestant army (Dutch, British) etc over Roman Catholic ex-King James II and his Irish Catholic army at the Battle of the Boyne on 12th July 1690. Putting aside King William was on a black horse and the Battle was fought on 1st July, what could be more iconic to Orangemen than this symbol of Protestant power and determination not to be ruled by Roman Catholics ?

    So what do you suppose the Pope was doing when the news of the battle came through ? Prayers of commiseration ? Apoplectic rage ? Letters to the French and Spanish urging a holy war ?

    Well, here's an extract of what happened. I admit it's Wikipedia, but its history sections can be good some of the time:-

    “Historian Derek Brown notes that the battle (of the Boyne) is seen as part of the War of the Grand Alliance. Pope Alexander VIII was an ally of William and an enemy to James; the Papal States were part of the Grand Alliance with a shared hostility to Louis XIV of France, who at the time was attempting to establish dominance in Europe and to whom James was an ally.

    The battle was overshadowed in its time in England by the defeat of an Anglo-Dutch fleet by the French two days later at the Battle of Beachy Head, a far more serious event in the short term; only on the continent was the Boyne treated as an important victory. Its importance lay in the fact that it was the first proper victory for the League of Augsburg, the first-ever alliance between the Vatican and Protestant countries. Thus the victory motivated more nations to join the alliance and in effect ended the fear of a French conquest of Europe.

    Ironically, due to the political situation mentioned above, the Pope also hailed the victory of William at the Boyne, ordered the bells of the Vatican to be rung in celebration.”

    So Rangers supporters didn't need to sing bad things about the Pope after all !
    Last edited by Lachlan09; 23rd April 2015, 04:06.