Flight of the Earls chronicles the history of that momentous occasion when some ninety-nine persons, led by Hugh O’Neill, Earl of Tyrone and Rory O’Donnell, Earl of Tyrconnell, sailed from Rathmullan, County Donegal on 14 September 1607. Their intended destination was Spain, from where it was hoped a new expedition would be launched, but bad weather forced them to land in France; from there they headed towards Flanders, then a Spanish dependency. While wintering in Louvain, they heard the bitter news that Spain no longer wished to receive them. Eventually they were obliged to settle for Rome. The Flight was to end in failure, with the leaders’ thwarted attempt to solicit aid from Spain to return to Ireland, and also tragedy, as all of the key figures would die in exile within a few years of leaving. This book gives a detailed but highly readable account of this event, whose significance to Irish history cannot be overstated. The Flight paved the way for the Plantation of Ulster, which introduced into that province Scots Presbyterians and thereby led to a sectarian division that persisted for four hundred years.
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