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The Treaty of Limerick 1691

Limerick, treaty of (3 Oct. 1691), ending the Williamite War. In exchange for the surrender of their last stronghold in Limerick, Jacobite soldiers were offered free passage to France, where they could continue the war in what became theIrish Brigade. Those remaining in Ireland were secured in their estates and guaranteed the right to practise their trades or professions and, if gentlemen or nobles, to carry arms. Catholics in general were guaranteed such religious freedoms �as are consistent with the laws of Ireland�, or as they had enjoyed under Charles II (see restoration). There was also a ban on lawsuits for plunder or trespass committed during the war.

To William III and Ginkel these concessions were a fair price for freeing resources tied up in what had always been a diversion from the main struggle against France. Irish Protestants, however, were outraged both by the denial of redress for wartime losses and by the failure to secure the final destruction of Catholic political power. Their resentment encouraged the sole right agitation of 1692, as well as a bitter campaign against Sir Charles Porter, lord chancellor 1690�6, one of those who had signed the treaty. The act by which the Irish parliament eventually ratified the treaty, in 1697, omitted the reference to freedom of religion, as well as an undertaking that Catholics would be obliged to take no oath other than a pledge of simple allegiance. Also omitted was an important clause, left out of the fair copy of the articles but acknowledged by letters patent four months later, that extended the full protection of the treaty to civilians in Jacobite‐held territories. Despite these concessions to Protestant feeling the provisions of the treaty relating to Jacobite estates (including those covered by the �missing clause�) were scrupulously observed, sharply limiting the scope of the Williamite confiscations. Legislation forbidding Catholics to possess arms or to practise law also exempted those covered by the treaty. Catholics nevertheless argued that the penal laws enacted from 1695 breached the treaty's guarantee of religious freedom, but their case was weakened by the vagueness of the relevant clause. This in turn reflected the extent to which the main preoccupation of Sarsfield and the other Jacobite leaders had been with the removal of the army intact to France. It was only in retrospect that army intact to France. It was only in retrospect that the other articles, seen at the time as the terms of a temporary truce, came to be interpreted as a statement of the terms on which Catholics might have been willing to live permanently under a Protestant government.

"Limerick, treaty of." The Oxford Companion to Irish History. Oxford University Press. 2007. Retrieved December 27, 2009 from