Hugh O’Neill: Elizabeth I’s Irish nemesis

Hiram Morgan tells the story of the Irish earl Hugh O'Neill, a brilliant warrior and slippery negotiator who led the resistance against the English during the Nine Years' War. As Morgan reveals, O'Neill ran rings around Elizabeth I's greatest generals and almost ended English rule in Ireland...

Irish national hero Hugh O'Neill, the 2nd Earl of Tyrone, makes a formal submission to the English following the suppression of his Irish rebellion, 1603. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

This article was first published in the March 2017 issue of BBC History Magazine.

In the dying days of the 16th century, one man drove Elizabeth I to distraction, wrecked the career of one of her most celebrated captains, brought her nation close to bankruptcy, and threw the very survival of her administration in Ireland into grave doubt. That man was Hugh O’Neill, Earl of Tyrone. His story is one of the most remarkable in the history of Anglo-Irish relations – and the Nine Years’ War empowered by O’Neill’s uprising threatened England’s hold on the island.

Want to read more?

Become a BBC History Magazine subscriber today to unlock all premium articles in The Library

Unlock now