With the outbreak of rebellion in Ireland and civil war in England came the opportunity for the covenanting regime to extend its influence beyond the national boundaries of Scotland. Intervention in Ireland took the form of the 10,000-strong expeditionary force dispatched to Ulster in early 1642 under the command of Major General Robert Monro. This was sanctioned by both the king and the English Parliament as a suitable solution to the immediate problem of providing support to the Irish government and the Protestant planters, then under much pressure from the Catholic insurgents. In particular the Scottish army could look to defend their countrymen in that part of the world as well as suppress the wider Catholic threat. It was a proposition that most Scots of all political hues could regard as a worthy cause. The prospect of intervening in English politics following the outbreak of civil war proved a far more divisive issue. The radical Covenanters headed by Argyll favoured joining in arms with the English Parliament and thereby work for the establishment of Presbyterianism south of the border once the war against Charles I had been won. They also sought to secure free trade for Scots merchants within England and the colonies as well as an increased Scottish presence within the royal household.