Siege of Derry Begins
The siege of Derry was of great significance in determining the future path of the British monarchy as the deposed King James II came close to taking the whole of Ireland after his ‘abdication’ when forced to flee the country in 1688. The coronation of William and Mary took place on 11th April 1689 ; the same month James landed in Ireland with an invasion force, his intention being to make Ireland a power base from which he would eventually expel his enemies in England.
James had some 6000 French soldiers under his command, and gathered Stuart loyalists to his side. Derry, according to its governor Robert Lundy, was not supplied for a long siege, but the population of the city refused to countenance the surrender for which Lundy was preparing – he wrote to James in Omagh offering surrender - leading him and some of his followers to quit the place.
Derry held out against James’ forces, much to its cost: it is thought that of the 30,000 who were alive when the largely Catholic force arrived at the city gates on April 18 1689 only 22,000 were left alive when the Royal Navy lifted the siege 105 days later. The 8000 who perished were in the majority victims of disease rather than military action, though there were major clashes of arms during the siege including one on April 21 when a raiding party from the city took the Jacobite forces by surprise and killed their leader, General Maumont, at Pennyburn Mill, a blow to the morale and pride of the French contingent.
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