Battle of the Boyne, 1690

The War of the two Kings

In 1685 King James II, a Catholic, became the King of England following the death of his brother Charles II. The English wanted a Protestant king and were determined to get rid of King James II. They invited the
Protestant prince William of Orange of the Netherlands to take the throne. William was married to King James II's eldest daughter Mary Stuart. King James refused to give up his throne or to carry out reforms that William requested. However in 1689, William of Orange and Mary were crowned the monarchs of England. William was now king of Ireland too.

Most Irish people wanted to get the throne back for James II. They decided to help King James, and a war began in Ireland.

Fighting broke out in Ireland and also in Scotland, where James was from. The people who fought for King James were known as ‘Jacobites’. The people who supported William were known as 'Williamites'. King James went to France and Ireland to get support from Catholics. James was not popular with the Protestant Irish because he removed many of them from positions of power. Many Protestants did not at first wish to support Prince William but they disliked the way James took away their power.

Fighting broke out in many places in Ireland. In 1689, the city of Derry was placed under siege by the army of King James because the soldiers there were not loyal to James and would not let his army enter the city. The siege lasted for over one hundred days causing terrible suffering to the civilians of the city. The supporters of King William eventually won and the siege was ended.


In June 1690,
William of Orange landed in Carickfergus. He brought a large army with him. His army was made up of Dutch, French, Irish, Scottish and Italian soldiers and many others. William marched south towards Dublin . However, King James also had an army in Ireland at the time. Some of James’ army were Irish but others were English, Scots and French. The French King, Louis XIV gave soldiers to James as he wanted James to be king of England.

William’s army fought King James II at the Battle of the Boyne in July 1690. The leader of James’ army was Patrick Sarsfield. William of Orange won the battle and also captured the cities of Dublin and Cork. King James left Ireland for France.

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