Secrets of Great British Castles (2015–…): Season 1, Episode 6 - Secrets of Great British Castles - full transcript

Dan Jones explores the history of Carrickfergus Castle in Co Antrim, one of the most ancient castles in Northern Ireland and a stronghold key to understanding the tempestuous relationship between Britain and Ireland. Dan travels t...

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DAN JONES: For me a great British castle
is a fortress, a palace, a home.

And a symbol of power, majesty and fear.

For nearly a thousand years,

castles have shaped
Britain's famous landscape.

These magnificent buildings have been home

to some of the greatest heroes
and villains in our national history.

And many of them
still stand proudly today,

bursting with incredible stories
of warfare,

treachery, intrigue and even murder.

Join me, Dan Jones,

as I uncover the secrets
behind six great British castles.

This time, I'm in Carrickfergus,
exploring one of the oldest

and longest-serving
military strongholds in Ireland.

Carrickfergus Castle
takes us right to the heart

of the long history of violence
and hatred between England and Ireland.

Neighbors, torn apart by wars over power,

religion and national identity.

Today, Carrickfergus
is a quiet town on the coast of Antrim,

a short drive north of Belfast.

It's part of Northern Ireland,

a country joined together
with Scotland, Wales and England

to make up the United Kingdom.

But traditionally, this British region
in the north of the island,

overlaps with the Irish province
known as Ulster.


This is where Britishness meets Irishness,

and Protestantism meets Catholicism.


Over the years,
the clash of those identities

has caused terrible bloodshed.


The story of the troubles
in Northern Ireland

goes back nearly 900 years
to the Middle Ages,

and it all starts here in Carrickfergus.

Today, when we think
of Ireland's troubled history,

we tend to think of Belfast,

but back in the 1100s,
Belfast was just a tiny hamlet

and it was Carrickfergus which,

thanks to its key geographical location,

was the most important town in Ulster.

And the first person
to spot the major military

and political potential in Carrickfergus

was a maverick young knight
called John de Courci.

de Courci was the second son
of a lord from Somerset,

in southwest England.

He had no claim to the family estates,

so he decided
to seek his fortune elsewhere.

Ireland was ripe for the taking.


The English
had traditionally left Ireland alone.

But de Courci was born at the right time.

In the 1170s,
the king of England, Henry II,

was raising an army
to conquer Ireland for himself.

de Courci was part of that invasion force

which swept through the country,
taking key regions and towns.

Whilst others captured the south and east,

de Courci set his sights on the north.

He assembled a small army of 22 knights,

and 300 foot soldiers,

and marched north
to the province of Ulster.

He put the Irish to the sword,
overthrew the native Ulster chiefs

and claimed lands on the east coast.


de Courci had conquered eastern Ulster,

and now he needed
somewhere to make his stronghold

and his principal residence in Ireland.

He chose this small strip of rock

overlooking the Irish Sea.

It was surrounded by water on three sides,

the perfect defensive site.

de Courci built a large stone keep,

with a high curtain wall and gate.

Within the walls, he built a great hall,

where he held court
as the self-appointed ruler of Ulster.

If you were an ambitious,
thrusting young noble like John de Courci,

this was the virgin territory, really.

Very much so and, um,
I think John de Courci was very ambitious,

very, very clever man and very brave.

Um, he took on...

He was going basically into the wilderness

to find this wealth

and to fight battles
in very unknown territory,

so you could come here

as a very poor lord or as younger son

and really make a fortune.
If you were brave enough to do it.

JONES: de Courci realized
it was all very well building this castle,

but to really cement his power,

he was going to have
to make peace with the locals,

which he did so effectively

that contemporary documents
refer to him as Princeps Ulidae,

Prince of Ulster.

This was a big problem for his new king
back in England.

By 1205, Henry II was dead.

His son, King John, was on the throne.

For a while, de Courci had proved himself
useful to the English Crown,

enforcing the law and raising taxes.

-Rent of half a shilling.
-MAN: Thank you, my lord.

But now John realized

he was getting too rich
and too big for his boots.

And if that wasn't enough,
de Courci did something really stupid.

When he was here, he started

-minting his own coins? That's right?
-He did.

Yes, he did start minting his own coins.

This was seen by the King John,
back in England,

as a real threat to his authority.

At the time, coins were seen
as a real symbol of power.

Uh, the King would have
minted coins to show that

he controlled all the trade and commerce.

So, when John de Courci
decided to mint coins,

he was really making
a declaration of independence.

JONES: He's saying,
I'm the person who controls commerce,

who controls
power in this part of the world.

MCALLISTER: Absolutely.

JONES: Almost like
he's the King of Ulster himself.

That's exactly what he was saying.

And John was a very mean
and vindictive man.

He felt very insecure
in his place on the throne.

And he would have
been absolutely outraged by such

a declaration of independence
from himself.

It was just unfeasible that

a mere knight could do this kind of thing.

And can we see the coin?

We can see it here, in this little box.

It's very, very small.

It's just a tiny fragment,
really now, but you can

still make out it's silver, isn't it?

It's still silver, but with quite
a high percentage of tin in it,

which makes it very brittle.

It's amazing to think
that out of this tiny coin

arose so much trouble
between King John and John de Courci.

MCALLISTER: Absolutely, he was making
such a statement with this tiny coin.

It was a real
gesture of defiance to King John.

It's fascinating.

It's very small,
but it's a very, very powerful symbol.

JONES: At first,
John asked another nobleman

to force de Courci out of Carrickfergus.

But eventually, he realized there was
a much more effective solution.

John decided to do the job properly.

He came over to Ireland
and took the castle into royal hands.

de Courci's armies had been defeated.

He was stripped
of his lands and power in Ulster

and thrown out of the castle.

But King John wasn't finished yet.

Work began
on building the castle's middle ward

and four new towers.

It was all surrounded
by a massive new curtain wall

which strengthened the castle's defenses

against attacks from land and sea.

To the Irish chieftains in Ulster,

Carrickfergus was now an English town,
right in their midst.

In return,
King John saw Ulster as the Wild West,

an uncivilized place inhabited by savages

who needed to be
kept firmly at arm's length.

And that attitude
was captured by a chronicler

who visited Ireland alongside John

and wrote about
its conquest by the English.

He writes of the Irish,

"They are a wild and inhospitable people.

"They live on beasts only
and live like beasts.

"They have not progressed at all

"from the primitive habits
of pastoral living."

It goes on and on, he says,

"While man usually progresses
from the woods to the fields

"and from the fields to settlements
and communities of citizens,

"this people..." That's the Irish.

"...despises work on the land,

"has little use
for the money making of towns,

"condemns the rights
and privileges of citizenship,

"and desires neither to abandon,

"nor lose respect from,

"the life which it has been
accustomed to lead

"in the woods and the countryside."

By the time John died in 1216,

Carrickfergus Castle was
a menacing military presence on the coast.

And it needed to be.

Because across the Irish Sea,
another enemy force was gathering.

And their number one target
was Carrickfergus.

In the Middle Ages, Carrickfergus was
the most important town in Ulster.

And its castle
was a sign of the daunting military power

of the invaders who occupied it.

But because of its position,

this castle was also
a place to play out struggles

with their origins
in other parts of the British Isles.

In the 14th century,
that's exactly what happened.

Carrickfergus Castle has been
besieged plenty of times over the years.

It's at the heart of the story
of the English conquest of Ireland,

so it's the key to understanding
the tumultuous relationship

between those two countries.

But it wasn't always the English invading.

In fact, this castle was the pivotal point
in a Scottish invasion of Ireland.

In the early 14th century,

the Scots were fighting a vicious war
of independence against England.

They were led by Robert the Bruce,

one of the greatest
military leaders in their history,

who was determined
to be recognized as King of Scots.



For Robert, smashing the English
on his home soil wasn't enough.

At Carrickfergus,
he was about to prove it.

In 1314,

Robert the Bruce won
a famous victory for Scottish independence

at the Battle of Bannockburn.

Bruce, eager to follow up on his success,

decided to open a second front
against the English,

here in Ireland.

Robert already had a connection
with this part of the world.

He was married to the daughter
of the Earl of Ulster,

so he knew the significance
of Carrickfergus Castle all too well.

When you stand
here on the coast of Antrim,

you really understand
why Bruce thought he could invade.

Because just out there,

very clear on the horizon,
is the Mull of Kintyre,

that's the coast of Scotland.

And it looks,
not quite close enough to swim,

but certainly only a few hours' sail
on a nice clear day like today.


To oversee his invasion,

Robert chose another man who knew Ireland.

His younger brother, Edward Bruce.


Their plan was simple.
The Bruces would bring together

all the Gaelic peoples in one mass,
anti-English movement.

Bruce brought 6,000 men
over in boats called Birlinns,

which looked just like Viking longboats.

It would have taken
a full day's rowing to get from Scotland.

When they arrived in Ireland,

they set about allying
with local families.

Their aim
was to take Carrickfergus Castle

and turn Ulster Scottish.

Edward and his troops landed at Larne,
just north of the castle.

After overrunning the town,
his triumphant army was on the march.

The first thing Edward did
was to declare himself King of Ireland.

Then, he attacked Carrickfergus Castle.

Edward's army arrived
in front of the castle

in September 1315.

Inside, the small garrison
watched thousands of Scottish soldiers

take up their positions outside the walls.

Edward was confident of victory.

But there was a problem.

He didn't have any siege equipment.

So instead,
he surrounded the place and waited.

A year later, he was still waiting.


The castle was stocked
with descent reserves of food.

But the defenders inside

had also been joined by townspeople
fearful for their lives.


Inevitably, after months without relief,

the food started running out.

The inhabitants were reduced
to chewing on animal hides to survive.


Edward sent messengers
inside to discuss terms of surrender,

but they never returned.

Accounts say
up to 30 captured Scottish soldiers

were imprisoned in the castle.

And not all of them made it out alive.

As the siege progressed,

it's believed
that the castle's starving defenders

started killing and eating the prisoners.

The siege lasted a staggering 12 months,

and by then, only a handful
of the original occupants had survived.

In the autumn of 1316,

the long siege
of Carrickfergus Castle was over.

Edward Bruce had taken
a magnificent prize.

But he wouldn't hold it for very long.

Ireland was in the grip of a major famine.

It was increasingly difficult
to feed troops in the field.

Two years
after capturing Carrickfergus Castle,

Edward's weakened Scots-Irish army

was annihilated by the English
at the Battle of Faughart.


Edward was killed.

His body was quartered
and sent to the four corners of Ireland.

His head was sent to the King in England.

Two months later,

the castle that Edward
had taken at such cost was recaptured.

Carrickfergus remained the key
to controlling Ulster

and now it was back in English hands.

And that's how it stayed for 200 years,

when the castle
was the center of a new war.

This time, a war of religion.


In 1558, Elizabeth I became
Queen of England.

She claimed to be queen of Ireland, too.

Elizabeth was a Protestant monarch,

and she wanted both her realms
to be Protestant as well.

And to achieve her aim,

she planned to get rid
of the Catholic ruling classes,

by whatever means necessary.

But what started here
at Carrickfergus Castle

in the course of her reign,
still divides Ulster today.

There were always people ready
to ingratiate themselves with the Queen

by seizing land for the Crown in Ireland.

And one in particular stands out.

Walter Devereux, Earl of Essex.

He came to Carrickfergus in 1573

with a force of 1,200 men,

and began a notoriously
bloody campaign in Ulster.

Essex was an ambitious, ruthless man.

And he was at the center
of one of the worst atrocities

in British and Irish history.

Whilst Elizabeth's plan was
to strip the Irish of lands and power,

Essex wanted to slaughter them.


From his base at Carrickfergus,

Essex divided the local clan chiefs

and picked them off one by one.

Before long,
every clan leader was either dead

or had sworn allegiance to the Queen.

All except one.

The one obstacle remaining to Essex
was a Scots-Irish clan

led by Sorley Boy MacDonnell.

The MacDonnell clan
were originally from Scotland,

but they'd been settled
in Ireland for generations.

Sorley Boy had fought in dozens of battles

and had absolutely no respect
for Englishmen like Essex.

In July 1575,

Essex decided to drive
Sorley Boy out of Ulster

once and for all.

When Sorely Boy heard
that Essex was on the attack,

he sent hundreds of vulnerable people,

women, children, the sick,

the elderly to Rathlin Island for safety.

But that didn't put Essex off.

he hired the services
of John Norreys and one Francis Drake

to take a large fleet over to the island

and flush out the vulnerable people
hiding there.

Norreys and Drake
packed ships with soldiers and firepower

and set sail north
from Carrickfergus towards Rathlin Island.

Their orders
were to kill anyone they found.

Sorley Boy's supporters
had taken refuge in Rathlin Castle.

Drake used cannon to soften them up.

Then Norreys ordered a direct assault.

Even when Sorley Boy's
followers surrendered,

the English showed no mercy.

Essex's men massacred 200 people

they found hiding in the island's castle.

Then they scoured the rest of the island

for between 300 and 400 more

who were hiding in undergrowth and caves.



Most were women and children.

Essex's men massacred them all.



Sorley Boy's entire family
was slaughtered in the massacre.

Something Essex later boasted about

in a letter to the Queen's secretary.

He said Sorley Boy had watched
the massacre helplessly from the mainland

and was likely to run mad for sorrow.

Given the horrific nature
of the Rathlin Island massacre,

it's hard to believe that Queen Elizabeth

would have thought of this
as something to be proud of.

But apparently she did,

because she wrote a letter
to the Earl of Essex

asking him to congratulate John Norreys,
and tell

"The executioner of his
well-designed enterprise,

"that she would not be
unmindful of his services."

A month after the massacre,

Sorley Boy and his followers
sought revenge.

They attacked Carrickfergus,

plundered the town
and ransacked the castle.

But it was too late.

Essex was gone.

Deep in debt,
he had been recalled to England

and died a year later from dysentery,
aged 35.

The massacre was a turning point

in the struggle between Protestant
and Catholic communities in Ireland.

It would leave a deep scar in the memories
of Ireland's Catholic people.

And it wasn't the end
of English attempts to colonize Ulster.

Once again, Carrickfergus Castle

was central to a vicious conflict
between the two countries.

And this time,
the Irish resistance sparked a rebellion

which would have dramatic consequences
across the rest of the British Isles.

Since it was built at the end
of the 12th century,

Carrickfergus Castle
had attracted a stream of headstrong

and violent English invaders to Ireland.

One of the most brutal
of all arrived in 1599,

and took up his post
as the Governor of Carrickfergus.

His name was Sir Arthur Chichester.

Chichester was a famous soldier

who'd fought against the Spanish Armada
and sailed with Drake to the New World.

He had a reputation for bravery
and ruthless cruelty.

Chichester is still
in Carrickfergus today,

buried just around the corner
from the castle

at the Church of St. Nicholas.

This enormous tomb is a monument
to one of the most important families

in the history of Carrickfergus Castle.

They're the Chichesters,
and we can see them here.

This is Sir John Chichester,
as you can see he's lost his hands.

In life, he lost his head

because he fell out
with the MacDonnell clan,

they chopped it off. And legend has it,
they played football with it.

And that led to his brother, Arthur,
becoming governor of the castle

and he's the really important guy.

Here he is, here,
with his wife Letitia and between them,

their baby son, also called Arthur,
who died when he was two months old.

But what I love most of all
is this inscription,

which is the most wonderful piece
of propaganda about the whole family.

And it says that,
"Arthur, having suppressed O'Dogherty

"and other northern rebels,

"and settled the plantation
of this province,

"well and happily governed
this kingdom in flourishing estate."

Which sounds great, but actually it
wasn't as simple as all that.

Chichester looks
very peaceful on his tomb,

but in life, he was
a real hate figure for the Irish.

He believed in brutal war tactics

including starvation and scorched earth.

Like every Englishmen before him,

Chichester used his powers to harass
Ulster's leading Irish chieftains.

But his treatment here
at Carrickfergus Castle

of one powerful clan leader, Conn O'Neill,

inadvertently tightened links
between Ulster and the Scots.

Conn was imprisoned here
after his men got into a skirmish

with some men of Arthur Chichester.

It began over some confiscated wine

and it ended with Conn locked up
in one of the castle's dungeons.

Conn O'Neill was sentenced to death

and thrown in this damp,
dark dungeon to rot.

But he wouldn't be there for very long.

Chichester imprisoned
Conn O'Neill in this dungeon.

Now, Conn was facing execution,
so he was quite desperate.

So desperate, in fact, that he
made a deal through his wife

with a Scotsman called Hugh Montgomery.

The deal was if Hugh
could bust Conn out of prison,

Conn would divvy up his lands
with Montgomery.

Hugh's escape plan
was simple but ingenious.

He hid a rope in a block of cheese,

and smuggled it into Conn's cell.

Now, Conn could then throw
the rope through the window

and escape down the castle walls
to a boat waiting outside.

Now, Conn stuck to his side of the deal,

he divided up his lands with Hugh,

who was then able to bring
his relatives over from Scotland.

And that started what would become
the great Scots settlement of Ulster.

While the re-settlement of the Scots
into Ireland wasn't official policy,

it soon would be.

When Queen Elizabeth died,
her cousin, James VI of Scotland,

became James I, King of England,
Scotland and Ireland.

Under James, a systematic policy
of plantation in Ulster began.


Plantation had been used effectively
by the English in the New World.

Settlers were imported
to a foreign country

where they took land from the natives

and created English-speaking towns
of their own.

To impose the policy in Ireland,
James turned to Sir Arthur Chichester.

He was promoted
from Governor of Carrickfergus

to Lord Deputy of Ireland,
the most powerful man in Ulster.

His actions started a sectarian war

that would last for another 400 years.

Here outside the town of Omagh,

this model plantation village
shows us exactly what happened.

Plantation villages like this sprung up
when the Crown seized land in Ireland

and colonized it with settlers
from England and Scotland.

Until Elizabeth's reign,

it had mainly been
the work of individuals,

but in the 17th century,

it became official policy
that would divide Ireland forever.

Four million acres of confiscated land

in six counties west of Carrickfergus

was now handed
to Protestant settlers from Britain.

There were strict conditions.

In most cases, settlers were banned
from having Irish tenants,

they couldn't sell any land to the Irish
and they couldn't employ any Irish labor.

Today, we'd call that ethnic cleansing.

But that's not how James I saw it.

He saw the systematic replacement

of Ireland's native
Gaelic-speaking Catholics

with English-speaking Protestants
as a civilizing enterprise.

Initially the plantation
of Ulster was a mixed success,

but by the 1630s there are
as many as 30,000 settlers

and the population was growing rapidly

because just under half of them
were women.

So towns like
Carrickfergus were flourishing.

By now, Carrickfergus Castle

was unmistakably a symbol
of English occupation.

It defended a Protestant town
full of settlers living English lives

in the middle of Catholic Ulster.

Before he died in 1625,

Chichester ordered the building
of a high wall around the town

to keep the native Irish out.

And to keep the British settlers in,

Chichester relied on
fear-mongering and propaganda.

It was said that
the English settlers were in danger

if they ventured even a mile
outside the walled towns

because the forests
and the countryside were crawling

with native Irish rebels known as Tories.

The name came from the Gaelic word
toraí, meaning pursuer.

They fought a guerrilla war
against the settlers.

In return, they were seen as fair game.

Tory hunting was a popular blood sport

that attracted many adventurers to Ulster,
eager to join the chase.

Horrific sectarian atrocities
were committed on both sides.

But here at the National Library
of Ireland in Dublin,

one incredible document shows
how the blame for all the brutality

was heaped on the Irish.

So, Gillian, tell me what we've got here?

This looks like the front page
of a newspaper.

GILLIAN KENNY: It's a broadsheet printed
in 1647 and what it is, is basically,

a way of telling
ordinary people of the events

that were supposed to have happened
in Ireland in 1641.

Especially in Ulster,

where there were allegedly
terrible massacres carried out.

So this is a very gory retelling
of what actually that is.

JONES: Who was this addressed to?

KENNY: This was addressed
to the general public.

It's done in a way
to outrage people as well.

It's all about atrocity

and of course, it's accompanied
by an illustration

for people who were illiterate.

They could just look at this
and know exactly what it's about.

So it's a kind of list of really
neat little examples of terrible things

that have happened in Ireland.

It's almost like a, sort of,
Twitter feed of atrocity,

and they say some awful things
that the Irish supposedly have done.

"They have hung up English by the arms

"and then hacked them with their swords

"to try how many blows they would
endure before they died."

So the tone is quite evocative.

These stress quite a lot,
attacks on the innocent,

and it's, I suppose,

they put it in a situation
of Catholic versus Protestant.

In 1641, the Catholics rose up,

and, um, according to reports at the time,
started slaughtering Protestants.

JONES: In 1641,

the countryside around
Carrickfergus became a war zone

when the native Irish rose in rebellion.

In the space of a year,

up to 12,000 English and Scottish settlers

were massacred or died of starvation

after being driven from their homes.

The rising raged for 11 years.

So, when the English
public at home read things like,

"They have boyld children
to death in Cauldrons.

"They hanged a women and her daughter
in the hair of her own head."

This is being presented as fact,

and people who weren't in Ireland
would have thought,

"Well, that's exactly what's happening."

KENNY: Exactly,
and it's part of a tradition,

really, of showing the Irish as barbaric

which really begins in around
the 12th century and continues through.

What adds to this is,
of course, is the fact that

by the time this comes out in 1647,

to be Irish is to be Catholic

and therefore, um, to be
an enemy of the English state.

So that adds into that propaganda as well.

So, in a sense, the Irish doing this
are in a way subhuman.

They are capable of
carrying out these atrocities

because they are very much non-English
and not loyal to the English state.

And this isn't just a sort of
document of horror

designed to put the fear up
the masses, is it?

This is actually calling
for political action because it says here,

"Recompense unto them
double what they have done unto others."

That's a call for full on
military attack, isn't it?

KENNY: Absolutely.

It's estimated between 1649 to '53,

about 20% of Ireland's population died.

Um, there was...

The rules of war didn't apply
to soldiers in Ireland,

so you weren't allowed
to give quarter to the Irish

when they were here,
and genocide was smiled upon because

it was seen to be just.

So if you put yourself
in 17th-century terms,

it's absolutely justifiable
to behave as they did.

All of this propaganda
being fed back to England

about the ghastly acts
the Irish had committed

led to the sense
that the Irish had to be dealt with.

But there is an argument,
"Who would raise the army to do it?"

England at the time was in chaos

and in the middle of the 17th century,
King Charles I was beheaded.


England was declared a republic.

And at its head,

was one of the most feared
and ruthless leaders in British history.

Oliver Cromwell wanted to place
Ireland firmly back under English rule.

One of his first actions

was to send troops
to Carrickfergus Castle.

Then, Cromwell's massive army terrorized

the Catholic population
throughout Ireland.

His military campaign scarred
the Irish psyche for centuries.

But he wasn't the last English ruler

to leave his permanent mark
at Carrickfergus.

Because before long Cromwell was dead,

the English monarchy was restored

and Carrickfergus Castle
was welcoming ashore another man

who would change
British and Irish history forever.

This time, he was Dutch.

At the end of the 17th century,

Carrickfergus Castle became
the focus of the most definitive

and iconic military event
in Irish history.

But this battle wasn't just about
who ruled Ireland,

it was about who would rule England.

When the Catholic king James II
was chased out of England,

he set about amassing a huge army,
first in France

and then in Ireland.

The intention was to win back his crown.

Because in England,
a new Protestant king was on the throne...


And even today his name is a rallying cry

in tensions across
Ulster's religious divide.

When we think of all
the famous kings of England,

William III doesn't usually
feature very highly.

But in Ireland, William III
or William of Orange

is an icon and a hero
to the Protestant population.

William invaded England
in 1688 from Holland,

aiming to put an end
to the Catholic revival

led by his father-in-law, James II.

And Carrickfergus Castle
would be absolutely pivotal.

William's conquest of England
was a relatively bloodless affair.

But in Ireland,
after centuries of sectarian slaughter,

nothing was ever bloodless.

Carrickfergus Castle was now held
by forces loyal to James II,

who were called Jacobites.

In 1688, the castle's defenses
were state-of-the-art.

It had been revamped to include artillery,

with gun ports and embrasures
for cannon installed around the walls.

Soon, they would be put to the test.

The next summer,
the castle was under attack.

When the Irish Jacobite garrison
heard William's forces were on the way,

they burned homes in the town

and dragged Protestant hostages
into the castle.

William's general, Frederick Schomberg,
attacked with 10,000 men

and forced the Irish garrison
to surrender.

But it's what happened next
that showed the depth of hatred

between Catholic
and Protestant populations.

Outside the walls,
local Protestants waited.

The cowardly acts of the Jacobite garrison
would soon be revenged.

An eyewitness wrote that as the garrison
left the castle the local people,

"Stripped most part of the women

"and forced a great many arms
from the men.

"And that Schomberg
was forced to ride in among them

"with his pistol in his hand to stop
the Irish from being murdered."

But there was more bloodshed to follow.

A year later, in 1690,

William realized James II

was planning to use
Ireland as a launch pad

for an invasion of England.

He decided to cut him off.

He was at the head of a 36,000-man army

of English, Scottish
and Dutch Protestants.

William was heading
for a showdown with James II,

who was himself at the head
of a massive Catholic army.

The future of Britain

and the freedom of Ireland
was on the line.

After landing his forces at Carrickfergus,

William marched south
to meet James II and his followers,

known as Jacobites.

And the two armies came together here

to fight one of the most important
battles in Irish history,

the Battle of the Boyne.

William's troops
were professional soldiers,

well-trained and equipped
with the latest artillery and muskets.

The Jacobite forces, on the other hand,
were mainly Irish peasants

armed with little more than
scythes and hay forks.

The outcome was inevitable.

Outmatched and outfought
by William's well-drilled army,

the Jacobite forces scattered in disarray.


And to the disgust
of his Irish supporters,

James II turned and fled to France.

It was a stunning victory for William,

which would ensure
the Protestant ascendency over Ulster.

And it's still celebrated to this day,

every year on July 12th.


Just over a hundred years
after the Battle of the Boyne,

the Orange Order was founded.

When they march through towns
like Carrickfergus today,

they're remembering William III's victory

on one of Ireland's bloodiest days.

The triumph of William of Orange

established a Protestant
ruling class in Ulster.

Over the next century or so,

Carrickfergus was overtaken by Belfast

as the political center
of Northern Ireland.

In 1928, the British War Department

transferred Carrickfergus Castle
to civilian control

after 750 years
of continuous military occupation.

There's no better symbol

of the turbulent history
between Britain and Ireland.


From the Norman Conquest
to the Tudor plantation,

the Cromwellian war
and the triumph of William of Orange,

today, Carrickfergus is remembered
as a Great British castle

that stands proudly

as a monument to the victories
and the victims alike.