From the date of the treaty of Limerick, William was acknowledged by all but the extreme Jacobites, at least de facto--King of Ireland. The prevailing party in Ulster had long recognized him, and the only expression of the national will then possible accepted his title, in the treaty signed at Limerick on the 3rd of October, 1691. For three years Ireland had resisted his power, for twelve years longer she was to bear the yoke of his government.
Though the history of William's twelve years' reign in Ireland is a history of proscription, the King himself is answerable only as a consenting party to such proscription. He was neither by temper nor policy a persecutor; his allies were Spain, Austria and Rome; he had thousands of Catholics in his own army, and he gave his confidence as freely to brave and capable men of one creed as of another. But the oligarchy, calling itself the "Protestant Ascendancy," which had grown so powerful under Cromwell and Charles II., backed as they once again were by all the religious intolerance of England, proved too strong for William's good intentions. He was, moreover, pre-occupied with the grand plans of the European coalition, in which Ireland, without an army, was no longer an element of calculation. He abandoned, therefore, not without an occasional grumbling protest, the vanquished Catholics to the mercy of that oligarchy, whose history, during the eighteenth century, forms so prominent a feature of the history of the kingdom.
The civil articles of Limerick, which Sarsfield vainly hoped might prove the Magna Charta of his co-religionists, were thirteen in number. Art. I. guaranteed to members of that denomination, remaining in the kingdom, "such privileges in the exercise of their religion as are consistent with the law of Ireland, or as they enjoyed in the reign of King Charles II.;" this article further provided, that "their majesties, as soon as their affairs will permit them to summon a Parliament in this kingdom, will endeavour to procure the said Roman Catholics such further security in that particular as may preserve them from any disturbance on account of their said religion." Art. II. guaranteed pardon and protection to all who had served King James, on taking the oath of allegiance prescribed in Art. IX., as follows: