Thursday, September 30

Red Hugh of Ireland & the English Civil Wars

The English Civil War (1642–1651) was a series of civil wars and political machinations between Parliamentarians ("Roundheads") and Royalists ("Cavaliers"), mainly over the manner of England's governance and issues of religious freedom...

After years of conflict between Parliament and King Charles I, the king tried to arrest five members of Parliament in 1642 who had been actively disagreeing with his policies. These members fled into the back streets of London, but when the king went after them, the citizens expelled him angrily from their city. This was a direct violation by the people of the supreme power of the king and marked the beginning of the English Civil War.

Those English who supported the King (the Cavaliers) had support in north England and Wales, and the Parliamentarians (Roundheads) had support in the rest of England. Despite the fairly even start, however, the Cavaliers were fought back and in 1646 the Roundheads forced the King to surrender. However, at the ceasefire negotiations, Charles would not agree to the Roundhead terms, and after a stalemate, the war erupted again in 1648. Once again, the Cavaliers were defeated, but this time the Roundheads did not accept a surrender and instead captured and executed Charles in 1649. Thus England found itself with no King. 

For the next 11 years England was a Republic of sorts. It was ruled from 1653 to 1658 by a general named Oliver Cromwell, who was was a fundamental Protestant but an extremely cruel man. He was given the title 'Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England', but he had been active in Ireland long before he undertook that role.

In 1641, just prior to the Civil War, the Irish of Ulster had begun an uprising and attacked the planters who had been settled 30 years before. Between 10,000 and 15,000 Protestant planters were murdered by the Irish at places such as Portadown. Due to the war, the English did nothing about this and the death-toll became heavily exaggerated over time. In 1649, after the Civil War had ended, Cromwell landed at Dublin with 12,000 men with the intention of punishing those who had uprisen. He first attacked Drogheda and captured it, killing over 3000 people. He then marched on Wexford town and massacred several hundred people there. The surrounding towns of Cork, Bandon, Kinsale and Youghal surrendered. Cromwell left Ireland in 1650 having dealt a severe blow to the uprising Irish.

A problem of equal concern to Cromwell after the Civil War, however, was the fact that most of the soldiers in the Roundhead army still needed paid for their time served in the Civil War, but Parliament had no money to give them. So Cromwell decided to pay them in land. He forcibly moved thousands of Irish from their homes in Munster and Leinster and resettled them in counties Clare, Galway, Mayo and Roscommon. This was by far the poorest land in Ireland and, as well as this, they were not allowed to live within 3 miles of the coast. This strip, called the 'Mile Line' was given to Cromwell’s soldiers. In 1652 the newly cleared land in Munster and Leinster was given to Protestants in what was called the 'Cromwellian Settlement'. There was now no part of Ireland where Catholics owned more than ½ of the land. The main reason for this was Cromwell's belief in fundamental Protestantism and hatred of Catholicism. He claimed to be acting on God's behalf and expelled about 1000 Catholic priests from Ireland.


  • Red Hugh of Ireland 
    • The year is 1587. Fair Ireland and her proud people are being crushed by the iron fist of English rule under the unyielding Queen Elizabeth. Sir John, the Queen’s Lord Deputy to Ireland, and his conniving henchman, Dragos, are determined to quash the last of the resistance by any means necessary. Young Hugh O’Donnell is everything his family could wish him to be—clever, handsome, generous, and fiercely loyal to Ireland and the O’Donnell clan. So when he and Art O’Neill, the son of a rival clan, are kidnapped by the evil Dragos and held hostage in Dublin Castle on condition of their families’ surrender, all hope seems lost. However, Hugh and Art have friends outside their prison walls, waiting to help the boys and their country to freedom.
  • English Civil War: Beginning to End


Make / Do


  • Trial by Ordeal
  • Divine Right of Kings
  • Charles I
  • Wales
  • Northern Ireland
  • Republic of Ireland
  • Scotland
  • England
  • Parliament
  • Long Parliament
  • Short Parliament
  • Rump Parliament
  • Cromwell
  • House of Commons
  • Henrietta Maria
  • Restoration


  • Red Hugh of Ireland is set just before the English Civil Wars.  How can we see foreshadowing to future events in the book?
  • How were the English Civil War and Commonwealth periods seen as models for and precursors to other European and American political revolutions in the Era of Revolutions (1688-1789)?

Enjoying this unit? You might like Beautiful Book Studies!

Each unit addresses a new topic, including science, history, and geography.  Each unit has introductory text, which will give the student basic background information about the topic at hand.

  • You will also find a short list of reading books, including a featured novel that the unit builds upon.
  • There are vocabulary words, places, and people to identify.
  • Reading comprehension, critical thinking questions, and writing assignments are included.
  • We add fun with hands-on activities and extra videos to watch that will bring the topic to life.

Table of Contents

  • The King’s Fifth
  • Red Falcons of Tremoine
  • Golden Hawks of Genghis Khan
  • Red Hugh of Ireland
  • Calico Captive
  • The Story of Eli Whitney
  • Island of the Blue Dolphins
  • The Lost Kingdom
  • The Secret Garden
  • Heidi
  • Girl of the Limberlost
  • The Winged Watchman
  • When the Dikes Broke
  • Using the Good & the Beautiful in High School

The books selected for these unit studies can be found in the upper grades areas of The Good and the Beautiful Book List.  However, Homeschool On the Range and Sparks Academy are not employed by or affiliated with, nor do they receive any compensation from, The Good and the Beautiful.  It has simply been their curriculum of choice for many years.  These unit studies are not endorsed by The Good and the Beautiful or Jenny Phillips.

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