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. In 2011, Phil Hogan, the Fine Gael Minister for the Environment and Local Government announced that the Kinsale Town Council would be abolished in 2014, along with all other town councils in Ireland. This will be the first time in nearly 700 years that Kinsale will be left without its own elected local authority.
In 1601, Kinsale was the site of a battle in which English forces defeated an Irish/Spanish force, led by the princes Hugh Roe O'Donnell and Hugh O'Neill. 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.
In 1690, James II of England and Ireland, following his defeat at the Battle of the Boyne, departed to France.