In 1333, under a charter granted by King Edward III of England, the Corporation of Kinsale was established to undertake local government in the town. The corporation existed for over 500 years until the passing of the Municipal Corporations (Ireland) Act 1840, when local government in Kinsale was transferred to the Town Commissioners who had been elected in the town since 1828. These Town Commissioners became the Kinsale Council under the Local Government (Ireland) Act 1898 and the Kinsale Town Council existed until 2014 when this layer of local government was abolished in Ireland as part of measures to reduce Ireland’s budget deficit following the financial crisis of 2008-2010 (see Post-2008 Irish economic downturn). It returned two members to the Irish House of Commons prior to its abolition in 1800.
In its history, Kinsale has also important occasional links with Spain. In 1518 Archduke Ferdinand, later Emperor Ferdinand I, paid an unscheduled visit to the town, during which one of his staff wrote a remarkable account of its inhabitants. In 1601 a Spanish military expedition – the last of the Armadas launched against England – landed in Kinsale in order to link with Irish rebel forces and attack England through Ireland. As a result, the battle of Kinsale took place at the end of the Nine Years War in which English forces led by Charles Blount, 8th Baron Mountjoy defeated the rebel Irish force, led by the princes Hugh Roe O’Donnell and Hugh O’Neill, which was allied with forces of the Spanish empire of Philip III of Spain and Portugal. Following this battle the Flight of the Earls occurred in which a number of the native Irish aristocrats, including the Earls of Tyrone and Tir Conaill, abandoned their lands and fled to mainland Europe. Shortly after the battle, James’s Fort was built to protect the harbour.
In 1649 Prince Rupert of the Rhine declared Charles II king of England, Scotland and Ireland at St Multose Church in Kinsale upon hearing of the execution of Charles I in London by Parliamentarian forces during the English Civil War.