Cromwell is recognized as one of the greats of English history. His role however in the state of Ireland is quite questionable. As a start we must remember that In October 1641, Phelim O’Neill launched a rebellion. His collected the Irish catholic and attacked the settlers from England. Records indicate that 4000 of the settlers were killed and another 12000 died after having been usurped from their homes. The atmosphere was thus vitiated with poison and revenge.
This was the beginning of ethnic cleansing that later gripped Ireland and perhaps precursor to modern ideas on this subject. Order was restored
by Cromwell. He landed in Ireland with his army and by 1652 Cromwell re-conquered Ireland. Cromwell had his own method of revenge and teaching a lesson to the Irish Catholics by settling over 12,000 of his soldiers on Irish Land. They became a sort of unofficial militia and could be relied upon by Cromwell to help him when needed. In addition Cromwell carried out wholesale burning of crops, forced population movement and slaughter of civilians. The effect of Cromwell lasted even after him and from 1641-1691 there was civil war when the Irish Catholics fought the British forces and Protestant settlers. The Catholic elite were wiped out and the ruling classes were replaced by
the Protestants. Sir
The next man who furthered the Cromwell concepts was Sir William Petty (1623-87). He was a – mathematician, mechanic, physician, cartographer and statistician and arrived in Ireland in 1652. He was a man who engineered the concept of ‘social engineering’ Eugenics and Ethnic Cleansing Petty explored the idea of deporting 10,000 Irishwomen of marriageable age to England every year and replacing them with a like number of Englishwomen. This was his method of ethnic cleansing. And he followed up by enforcing English and English customs.
All land east of the River Shannon was claimed by the English Crown. About 8,400,000 acres were taken from Catholic owners and transferred to Protestant owners. The Irish owners were either banished to poorer land reserved in Connaught or were given an option to be tenants of the new Protestant owners. The result was catastrophic and Catholic ownership of land fell from 60% before the rebellion to less than 10% after 1652.
It was a great experiment in the movement of populations and transference of social power. Petty may have provided some useful ideas to Hitler, Saddam Hussain and the Turkish leadership. Cromwell and his followers were thus the first to experiment with issues that are of great importance today and is the genesis of the Irish-English fight later on.