Every year there is a celebration of the life and achievements of the tyrant Oliver Cromwell here in London. This year, the 100th anniversary of the Easter Rising, we will be taking part in a demonstration to say that Oliver Cromwell was a genocidal religious fanatic and butcher of the innocent. A vicious war criminal, a bigot and a man guilty of the worst ethnic cleansing and sex trafficking of unknown amounts of Irish women and children. May his history be re-written and his crimes be writ large for all to see and to remember for all time.
Join us by his statue right next to the Houses Of Parliament (Westminster tube is just a couple of minutes walk) at 1-30pm on Saturday 3rd September and bring flags, banners and placards. A special guest known to many of you will be performing!!
Cromwell and Irish Slavery
The term ‘slavery’ is rarely associated with the white race, although during the 1600’s this was the most significant portion of the market. More specifically, the Irish were targeted the most and the fact that the population of Ireland fell by 850,000 in the space of one decade highlights just how brutal things were.
Oliver Cromwell was one of the main reasons why the situation got to this point. His fanatical anti-Catholic views meant that any action he took over the Irish was brutal to say the least and as well as utilising the conquest of Ireland for religious and political means, he was bidding to cleanse the country of Catholics. In achieving this, selling the Irish off as slaves was one of his biggest weapons, but he also made sure life was as difficult as possible for those that did stay by burning off their crops, removing them from their land and sending them to Connacht. Anyone who did not agree with such policies were to be dealt with in the harshest means possible and in most cases, this either resulted in death or being sold to the West Indies as a slave. The fact that the drop in population was so drastic highlights how successful he was with these tactics. Cromwell is most notorious for the victims he burnt alive in St. Peters church in Drogheda, and the civilian and military massacres there, but also the civilian massacres at Wexford. We also have to remember he was responsible for ethnic cleaning that resulted in 50% of the population dying or sold off as slaves in the ten years after his invasion. In 1641, Ireland’s population was 1,466,000 and in 1652, 616,000. According to Sir William Petty (who served Cromwell in Ireland), 850,000 were wasted by the sword, plague, deliberate crop burning, hardship and banishment during the Irish catholic ethnic cleansing between 1641-1652
The main question that is generally posed at this point is why Irish slaves were in demand, when the African slavery market had been the primary ‘sector’, so to speak, for so many years. The answer was simple; money. Even though one could argue that the African’s were much more suited to working in the hot climates of the Caribbean, they still had to be purchased. The Irish on the other hand simply had to be caught or sentenced for transportation and it was therefore much more cost effective. Instead, they were captured before a payment was collected at their destination. The African’s on the other hand usually required two sets of payment, one for the initial purchase and the second for their next sale. Considering the fact that this could bring the total cost of an African slave up to £50, as opposed to the £5 that was generally demanded for white slaves, there was certainly reasoning behind the rise of this ‘sector’. It also meant that Cromwell was well and truly encouraged to adapt his harsh approach, with demand for white slaves clearly evident.
The fact that Cromwell was the mastermind of the vast majority of advances that Britain made into Ireland obviously holds a lot of significance. One of the most notable sieges of Cromwell’s career was the Battle of Drogheda, which resulted in approximately 3,000 Irish being killed. Unfortunately, this was just the start of the ruthlessness and any men that were not killed, were immediately sold to planters in the Barbados. Things were only to get worse though and it’s understood that one of his most ‘fruitful’ achievements during this time was selling 25,000 captured Irish to planters in St. Kitt in 1650. However, most will remember is his brutal disregard for children and it’s thought that through the 1650s he orchestrated the sale of over 100,000 Irish children, some as young as 10, to sell to the Americas. Unsurprisingly, there was a deep religious motive behind this and all of these children were from Catholic families – something that we have already established that Cromwell detested.
While many are under the belief that a lot of Cromwell’s military decision-making was to attempt to gain an upper political hand for Parliament, there are large parts that still revolved purely around white slavery. One of the main reasons he commissioned wars against Holland in 1651 was to monopolize the industry, as Britain were mainly competing with the Dutch. The seizure of Jamaica from Spain in 1655 was performed just as strategically and meant that the English slave trade could become dominant in Jamaica from this point onwards.
Ethnic Cleansing Of Ireland
However, the biggest move of all concerning white slavery came on 14 August 1652 – the start of Cromwell’s Ethnic Cleansing of Ireland.
Cromwell’s first task was to sell 12,000 Irish prisoners to Barbados although incredibly, this was merely the tip of the iceberg. Upon Cromwell’s ‘To hell or Connaught’ proclamation, the Irish were issued a horrific ultimatum. On 1 May 1654 they were told that they would have to surrender and move to the west of the Shannon, or face the alternative of being sent to the West Indies. The fact that the former was nothing like habitable meant that Irish landowners were put in an impossible situation and many decided to ignore the orders until they were forced to do otherwise.
The reason why Cromwell had opted for such ruthless tactics was because of the value of the Irish land. Soldiers had been told that they would be rewarded with land for their services to the army, while Cromwell had made similar promises to investors who had ultimately funded his exploits in Ireland. Therefore, the country’s failure to respond to his proclamation meant that he must respond in even sterner form. A law was passed on 26 June 1657 declaring that anyone who refused to relocate to the specified location would be sent to the Americas, while anyone who had already banished but was planning on returning would be threatened with death.
Cromwell’s White Slavery Legacy
The above highlights how deep the white slavery problem was becoming, although there’s no doubt that it was the Irish who were mainly affected. Records suggest that Cromwell was behind the sale of approximately 100,000 Irish people including 52,000 women and children, to Barbados and Virginia. It was proving to be a lucrative market for Cromwell to dabble in, but his tenure was absolutely loathed by Ireland. As such, upon his death in 1660, there was great relief – even though the problem of white slavery was certainly not over. In fact, it wasn’t until 1839 when a resolution was sought, and this was only when Britain decided to end slavery once and for all. However, few would disagree that Cromwell’s policies were at the pinnacle of white slavery and this is why his legacy is intensely defended by the English establishment and continues to be reviled by the Irish, Scottish and Catholic communities.
Have you ever walked the lonesome hills
And heard the curlews cry
Or seen the raven black as night
Upon a windswept sky
To walk the purple heather
And hear the westwind cry
To know that’s where the rapparee must die
Since Cromwell pushed us westward
To live our lowly lives
There’s some of us have deemed to fight
From Tipperary mountains high
Noble men with wills of iron
Who are not afraid to die
Who’ll fight with gaelic honour held on high
A curse upon you Oliver Cromwell
You who raped our Motherland
I hope you’re rotting down in hell
For the horrors that you sent
To our misfortunate forefathers
Whom you robbed of their birthright
“To hell or Connaught” may you burn in hell tonight
Of one such man I’d like to speak
A rapparee by name and deed
His family dispossessed and slaughtered
They put a price upon his head
His name is know in song and story
His deeds are legends still
And murdered for blood money
Was young Ned of the hill
You have robbed our homes and fortunes
Even drove us from our land
You tried to break our spirit
But you’ll never understand
The love of dear old Ireland
That will forge and iron will
As long as there are gallant men
Like young Ned of the hill
After the demonstration we will of course adjourn to a nearby hostelry for a medicinal or two and then head off to the official aftershow at The Veg Bar in Brixton. A celebration of Irish and Scottish culture with The Cundeez coming down to play their debut London show all the way from Dundee with firm celtic-punk favourites Black Water County also on the bill supported by Kilburn Bomb Squad, the legendary Comrade X and new boys Dissent. No tickets its first in first served fiver on the door. Facebook event page here.
See you at Parliament!