« ForrigeFortsett »
this land ;* and, in selfish struggles between rival factions, the cause of the common country of all was sacrificed. It is, indeed, lamentable to have to record, that the prince who shines at this period most prominently in our annals, is one whose renown had been all acquired by victories over his own countrymen; and of whom not a single hostile movement against the common foe is recorded.t
This selfishly ambitious ruler was the renowned Feidlim, King of Cashel; and a brief sketch of his bold unprincipled career will show that, in addition to what Ireland had to suffer from her tormenting invaders, she was also cursed with rival tormentors within her own bosom.
The extent of power attained by the provincial throne of Munster comprising in its range almost the whole of the southern moiety of Ireland, has already been fully shown; as well as the manner in which the succession to this throne was shared alternately by the Eugenian and Dalcassian princes. It was shortly after the landing of Turgesius, that Feidlim Mac-Crimthan, by right of his Eugenian descent, came into possession of the crown of Cashel; and his course from thenceforth was marked with the worst excesses of rude and lawless power. While, in one part of the country, the Northmen were, as we have seen, visiting with all the horrors of fire and swordf such devoted monasteries and religious houses as offered temptations to the spoiler, this Jrish prince was to be found in another, pursuing zealously the same sacrilegious course. In many instances, too, the same holy communities which had served as victims to the rage of the foreign barbarians, were those selected for fresh ravage by their no less barbarous countrymen. Thus the monastery of Clonmacnois, which was one of those laid desolate by the Danes, had to experience a similar fate at the hands of the ruthless King Feidlim; who, besides burning all the lands of the abbey, “ up to the church door,"$ put numbers of its holy inmates to death. In like manner, -except that, in this case, the native de. predators had the first fruits of the spoil,-a party of the Danes attacked and devastated Kildare but a short time after it had been forcibly entered by King Feidlim, and the clergy carried off from thence in captivity along with his own slaves.
In this year (832–3) died the monarch Conquovar, after a reign of about fourteen years, and was succeeded on the throne by Niell Calne, son of Aodh Ornidhe.
It has been shown how immensely the power of the kings of Leath-Mogh bad, in the course of time, gained upon that of the monarchy; and u stirring ambitious prince like Feidlim could not fail to advance still farther the usurpation. So daring were his inroads into the monarch's territory, that, on more than one occasion, the whole country from Birr to Tara, was laid waste by his arms. Having revived also the ancient and bitter feud between the provinces of Munster and Connaught, respecting their claims to the territory now called Clare, he gained, in the course of this contest, a sanguinary victory over an army of Conacians, led by the O'Niells; and it is recorded of him, as a double A. D.
triumph, that, on the very same day when he received hostages from the princes of Connaught, he swept with his army over the rich plains of Meath, and seated
himself proudly in the ancient precincts of Temora. A council was held immediately after, at Cloomacnois, where Niell the monarch delivered to him hostages; and on that day, says the Munster annalist, Feidlim was supreme king of all Ireland. But his turbulent career was soon brought to a miserable end. A few
years after these brilliant events, which a poet of his own times commemorated, he received, while devastating the lands of the abbey of St. Ciaran, a wound from the staff of the abbot, and, at the same time, a curse from the holy man's lips, of the effects of which he never after
* A writer, whom none can justly accuse of ill-will or unfairness towards his own countrymen, thus speaks of this lamentable stain on their historical character :-" Pendant qu'une partie de ce peuple se consacroit entièrement à Dieu par un rénoncement parfait au monde, et servoit en cela de modele aux nations voisines, l'esprit de discorde fut toujours nourri chez eux.. .. ils étoient toujours armes les uns contre les autres, sans que l'évangile qu'ils venoient de recevoir avec tant de respect eût pu corriger cet esprit de discorde, qui fut cause de tant de désordres."-Abbé Mac Geoghegan, Hist. d Irlande, part 2. c. 4.
| One historian (O'Halloran, book x. c. 1,) attributes to this prince a successful attack upon the Danes, but without any authority for the assertion. The Polychronicon, indeed, states that, at the time when Tur. gesius landed, Feidhlim was king of Munster;—" tempore Feldmidii Norwegenses, duce Turgesio, terram hanc occuparunt,”—but of any conflict between this prince and the Danes, neither the Polychronicon nor any other records make mention.
Cum ducibus solitis Marte et Vulcano.-Bromton.
Umhlacht do ionnas gur ab lan Righ Eirionn an la sni e." -Annal. Inisfall. ad ann. 840. In this boast of the Munster annalist, originated, no doubt, the impression which led Giraldus to rank Feidlim among the monarchs of Ireland.' " De gente igitur ista ab adventu Patricii usque ad Felmidji regis tempora 33 reges per 400 annos in Hibernia regnaverunt." See Archdall (Monast. Hibern., at Clonmacnoise,) where, likewise on the authority of the Munster Annals, the same dignity is attributed to Feidlim.
| Annal. IV. Mag. ad an. 839, (849.) The annals of Inisfallen add that, in the course of this inroad be carried off Gormdatha, daughter of the King of Meath, together with all her handmaido.
recovered. Devoting the close of his days to penitence and the Church, he died in the
following year ;* and, in the very face of all the enormities which their own pages
have recorded of him, is described by his ecclesiastical historians as “the most 846.
religious and learned anchoret that Erin could boast in his day."! In the year 837, a considerable addition had been made to the Danish force in Ire. land ;-two fleets from the Baltic, consisting altogether, it is said, of 120 sail, having arrived, one in the river Boyne, and the other in the Liffey; from whence, pouring forth their swarms over the plains through which these rivers flow, they inflicted on the already sacked and exhausted country new varieties of desolation and ruin. It was their custom to avail themselves of the facilities which the fine inland waters of Ireland afforded; being enabled, by means of light barke which they launched on the rivers and lakes, to penetrate far into the country, and, by sudden landings, take the unguarded and panic-struck natives by surprise.
To attempt to follow, through all its frightful details, the course of outrage and massacre which continued to be pursued by the bands of Turgesius throughout the remainder of that tyrant's turbulent life, would be a task as wearisome as revolting. Let it suffice, therefore, to state that there is not a single spot of renown in the ecclesiastical history of our country, not one of those numerous religious foundations, the seats and monuments of the early piety of her sons, that was not frequently, during this period, made the scene of the most fearful and brutal excesses. The repeated destruction by fire, year after year, of the same monasteries and churches, may naturally be accounted for by the material of these structures having been wood. But, as few things of any value could have survived such conflagrations, the mere wantonness of barbarity alone, could have tempted them so often to repeat the outrage. The devoted courage, however, of those crowds of martyrs who still returned undismayed to the same spot, choosing rather to encounter sufferings and death than leave the holy place untenanted, presents one of those affecting pictures of quiet heroism with which the history of the Christian church abounds.
Though, in their assaults upon religious houses, the Danes in general put most of the inmates to death, they in some cases carried off the chief ecclesiastics, either as hostages, or for the sake of ransom, Thus Farannan, the primate of Armagb, was, together with all the religious and students of the house, as well as the precious church relics, taken away to the Danish ships at Limerick ;f and, at a somewhat later period, Maelcob, the Bishop of Armagh, and Mocteus, the Reader, were in like manner made prisoners by the invaders.
That the Northmen, in their first plundering incursions, may have found a quantity of gold and silver in Ireland, appears by no means improbable. Though coined money was not yet introduced among the natives,g and the word “ pecunia," which is often supposed to have implied coin, was employed in those days to express cattle and all other sorts of property, the use of the precious metals, in ingots, had long been generally known; and the ornaments of the shrines in which saintly relics were enclosed, appear to have been, in many instances valuable.ll. The tomb of St. Brigid, at Kildare, was overhung, we are told, with crowns of gold and silver; T and the relics of St. Columba, which the abbot of Iona removed for safety, in the year 830, to Ireland, are stated to have been enclosed in a shrine of gold.**
** The luxury of ornament, indeed, which we have reason to believe was bestowed on the illumination and covering of manuscripts at that period, tt would lead us to give credit to much of what is related of the richness of the utensils found in monasteries by the Danes.
The power which these foreigners had now so long exercised, owed clearly its consolidation and continuance to one single directing mind; and the standard raised by Turgesius, however uneasily and amidst constant conflict upheld, presented a rallying point, not merely to the multitude of Northmen already in the country, but to all such swarms of new adventurers as were from time to time attracted to its shores. To these
* Annal, IV. Mag. ad an. 845. (Æræ Com. 846.) Rer. Hib. tom i., in Calel. Regum. . Annal. IV. Mag. The Chronicon Scotorum calls him " the last king of the Scots." M‘Curtin quotes, for his flattering character of Feidhlim, the Leabhar Irse, or Book of Records.
The Four Masters place this event in 813. Usher, Ind. Chron. 848. $ Simon (Essay on Irish Coins) is of a different opinion; but having no authority in favour of his notion except the Sagas, his reasons are of but little weight.
| Shrines of gold and silver are mentioned in the Annals of Ulster, under the dates a. D. 799 and 800. 1 Coronis aureis et argenteis desu per predentibus. Cogitosus, de Vila & Brigid, a work which Vossius (de Hist. Lat. 1. 3.) pronounces to be of great antiquity; but whether of so early a date as is assigned to it, namely, the sixth century, appears doubtful. See Ware, Writers.
** Rer. Bib. Scríp. tom. iv. p. 205, note.
fierce and hardy assailants, combined under one head, and having one common object, was opposed a brave but divided people, whose numerous leaders followed each his own personal interest or ambition; and who, from long habits of indiscriminate warfare, had almost lost the power of distinguishing between enemies and friends. Yet, notwithstanding all this, such was the unconquerable spirit of the Irish people, that while, about this very period, one of the fairest portions of France became the fief of the Northmen, and while England twice, in the course of a few centuries, passed tamely under their yoke, it was only during the short interval of the Turgesian persecution that their domi. nion can fairly be asserted to have prevailed over Ireland.
That upon the life of their able leader the power of the Danes in this country chiefly depended, is proved by the rapid dissolution of their union, and, consequently, strength, which succeeded immediately upon his death. The obscurity which
844. involves the details of this latter event has been turned to account by those ready and fluent historians who, when most stinted in facts, are then always most prodigal in details; and a story, briefly related by Cambrensis, respecting the circumstances which led to the Norse chief's death, has become amplified in this manner by successive historians, each adding some new grace or incident to the original tale. The following is the substance of the anecdote, as told by Giraldus:*—The beauty of the daughter of O’Melachlin, King of Meath, having awakened a passion in the breast of Turgesius, that tyrant, accustomed to the ready accomplishment of all his desires, made known to her father the unlawful views which he entertained. Concealing his horror at such a proposal, the king, in appearance, consented to surrender to him his daughter; and a small island upon Loch-var, in the county of Meath, was the place appointed for the desired interview. Thither it was fixed that the princess, attended by fifteen maidens, should come at an appointed hour; and there Turgesius, with as many young Danish noblemen, was waiting impatient to receive her. The supposed handmaids, however, of the princess were, in reality, fifteen brave and beardless youths, selected for the purpose, who, hiding each a skian or dagger under his robe, took advantage of the first opportunity that offered, and, falling upon the tyrant and his followers, despatched the whole party. It is added, that the fame of this gallant achievement having spread rapidly through the country, the Danes were in every quarter attacked,t and either got rid of by the knife or sword, or else compelled to return to Norway and the different isles from whence they came. I
This romantic account of the death of Turgesius, resembling, in some of its particulars, a stratagem recorded by Plutarch in his Life of Pelopidas, is not to be found in any of the Irish books of annals; wherein it is simply stated, that the tyrant fell into the hands of OʻMelachlin, and was by him drowned in Loch-var. But, whatever may have been the real circumstances attending the death of this pirate-king, of the great importance of its results there is not any reason to doubt; and although, to the wholesale assertion of Giraldus, that Ireland was from thenceforth entirely free from the yoke of the Danes, her subsequent history affords but too downright a contradiction, it is certain that their power was from thenceforth considerably reduced; and that, however harassing at all times, and even occasionally formidable, they never afterwards regained their former strength or sway.
"Fabulam olent (says Dr. O'Connor) quæ de morte Turgesii a 15 puellis interfecto refert Giraldus." . Annal. iv. Mag. 843. (844.) In the Chronic. de Gesl. Northman. published by André du Cbesne, this victory of the Irish over the Danes (which the chronicler places in the year 848,) is thus triumphantly recorded :-"Scoti super Northmannos irruentes, auxilio Dei victores, eos à suis finibus expelluni."- Hist. Franc. et Norman. Script. Antiq.
Fama igitur pernicibus alis totam statim insulam pervolante, et rei eventum, ut assolet, divulgante Norwagienses ubique truncantur, et in brevi omnes omnino seu vi, seu dolo, vel morti traduntur; vel iterum Norwagiam et insulas unde venerant, navigio adire compelluntur.-Girald. Cambrens. Topog. Hibern. Dist. iii. c. 41.
$ Annal. Ult. ad an. 844. This lake is, by Seward (Topograph. Hibern.,) placed near Mullingar. According to the Annals of Inisfallen, however, the scene of the tyrant's death was Lake Annin in Meath. Much doubt bag arisen as to the exact year in which this event happened; some placing it in 844, when Malachy was still but King of Meath, while others (Usher, Ind. Chron.) advance it to 848, when he had been raised to the throne of Ireland. I have followed, as the reader will see, the ordinary date of our own annals; though the record cited above from the Norse Chronicles, fixing the reduction and expulsion of the Danes from Ireland at A. D. 848, would incline me to think that the date of the death of Turgesius should be referred to the same year.
Arrival of reinforcements to the Danes.-Alliances between these foreigners and the natives.
-Demoralizing effects thereof.—Divisions among the Northmen themselves.-Arrival of these Norwegian brothers.--Tax called nose-money imposed on the Irish.-Reign of the monarch Aod Finliath.-Exploits of Anlaf the Dane.-Reign of the monarch Flan Siona.Retrospect of the affairs of the Scots of North Britain.- Reign of Cormac Mac Culinan, King of Munster.- Death of Cormac in the great Battle of Moyalbe.- His character.
So signal and decisive appeared the advantage which had been gained over the common enemy, that Melachlin, who had now succeeded to the throne of Ireland,* despatched ambassadors to the court of France on the occasion, announcing his intention to go on a pilgrimage to the Holy City, as an act of thanksgiving for such a deliverance, and asking permission to pass through France on his way.f The constant influx of Irish mission. aries into France during the eighth and ninth centuries, had brought the two countries, as has been already remarked, into amicable relations with each other; and the high repute which the learned Irishman, John Erigena, now enjoyed at the French court, must have still more conciliated for his countrymen the good opinion both of the monarch and his subjects. The ambassadors sent on the solemn mission just referred to, were the bearers of costly presents to the French King; but the intended visit of the royal pilgrim, which they came to announce, was, by a return of the troubles of his kingdom, frustrated.
The Danes, though dispersed and apparently subdued, were still numerous in those parts of the island they had so long possessed ; and waited but a reinforcement from the
shores of the Baltic, to enable them to reappear in the field as formidable as ever. 49.
With so strong a sense of the value of the possession they had lost, they were of
course not slow in devising means for its speedy recovery; and accordingly, in the year 849, a fleet from the north, consisting of 140 sail, landed a fresh supply of force upon the coast of Ireland :ll and the war, which had slumbered but from want of fuel, was now with all its former vigour rekindled.
While the violence, too, of the contending parties continued, in its renewed shape, as fierce and barbarous as ever, there was now introduced in their relations to each other a material and demoralizing change,-a readiness to merge their mutual hostility in the joint pursuit of plunder or revenge; and to fight side by side under the same banner, regardless of aught but the selfish interests of the moment;—a change, which, it is evident, to the moral character of both parties could not be otherwise than deeply and lastingly injurious. Upon the public mind of Ireland, in particular, the effects of such warfare must have been to the deepest degree degrading. The dissensions of a people among themselves, however fatal to the national strength, may not be inconsistent with a generous zeal for the national glory and welfare; but when, as in this instance, they invite the foreigner to cast his sword into the scale, they not only blindly invite slavery, but also richly deserve it.
The first example of such degeneracy at this period was set by the Irish monarch, 850.
Melachlin himself; who achieved, with the assistance of the Danes, a dishonour
able victory over his own countrymen. In like manner, a prince named Keneth, the lord of the Cianachta T of Meath, was enabled by the same base sort of confederacy
* It would appear, from the instance of Malachy, that even when lord of all Meath by inheritance, the muonarch was not suffered to retain that principality after his succession to the supreme throne ; as we shall find that, during Malachy's reign, Meath was held jointly by two other princes.
1 “Rex Scotorum ad Carolum, pacis et amicitire gratía, legatos cum muneribus mittit, viam sibi petendi Romam concedi deposcens."-Chron. de Gest. Norman.
I With an easterly wind the northern navigators calculated but three days as the average duration of a voyage to the British Isles :-"Triduo, flantibus Euris, vela panduntur."-Script. Rer. Dan.
Annal. Inisfall. ad ann. 849.
There were several other Cianachtas throughout Ireland; but this in Meath, and the other, called the Cianachta of Glingiven, in the North Hy-Nial, were the most noted. See Dissert. on Hist. of Ireland. There was also another in Derry, from whence a sept of the O'Connors derived the title of O'Concubar Kianachta. O'Brien (in voce Cianachta) interprets the use of the word, in this instance, as meaning that these O'Connors were descended from Cian, the son of the great Olliol-Ollum; and this derivation of the term would seem to be countenanced by a similar application of the word Eoganacth to territories belonging to the descendants of Eogan More (See Ware, Antiq. c. 7.) But Cianachta appears to me to have had a more general import ; and, from the manner in which it is used by Tigernach (Rer. Hib. Script. p. 44.,) must have meant, I think, a particular measure of land, as he spe there of " a thirty.fold Cianachata."-Trichac. Ciansa.
to lay waste the territories of the princely Hy-Niells from the source of the Shannon to the sea.*
Had this spirit of disunion and faithlessness been confined to the natives alone, they must at once have fallen an easy prey to the stranger; but, luckily, the habit of serving as mercenaries soon estranged the loyalty of the Danes from their own cause : and, according as they became divided among themselves, they grew less formidable as enemies. There occurred an event, also, about the middle of this century, which added a new source of internal division to the many that already distracted and weakened their strength. An army of Northmen, called the Dubh-Gals, or Black Strangers, as being of a different race from those hitherto known in Ireland, having landed in considerable force in the year 850,+ made an attack on the Fin-Gals, or White Strangers, already in possession of Dublin ;t and, after defeating them with great slaughter, made themselves masters of that city and its adjoining territories. In the following year, however, the Fin-Gals, being reinforced from their own country, attacked the Black Gentiles, by whom they had been driven from Dublin; and, after a battle which lasted, according to the annalists,ỹ three days and three nights, compelled them to abandon their ships, and regained possession of the city.
It was soon after this latter occurrence that the three brothers, Anlaf, Ivar, and Sitric, of the royal blood of Norway, arriving with a large army collected from the different isles of the North, took possession of the three great maritime positions,—Dublin,
A, D. Limerick, and Waterford ; || and while Anlaf and Ivar, to whom fell the sovereignty
853. over the former two cities, enlarged considerably their boundaries, and, it is not improbable, fortified them, the remaining brother, Sitric, is generally allowed to have been the first founder of Waterford. I
However suspicious, in most of its circumstances, is the tale told by Cambrensis, ** respecting the stratagems of these brother chieftains, in coming under the assumed guise of merchants, and thus obtaining for themselves and their followers a friendly footing in different parts of the country, it is by no means improbable that to their skill and success in commercial pursuits, as well as to that command over the Irish sea-coasts which their position and practice in seamanship gave them, they were mainly indebted for the acknowledged influence they so soon attained throughout the kingdom. How considerable was the amount of this power may be judged from two pregnant facts stated by the annalists,—that to these brothers not only the foreigners throughout the whole island submitted, but likewise the natives were all compelled to pay them tribute.tt
What was the nature of the tribute they exacted from the Irish, or whether it resembled the famous Danegelt in its first form, when paid by the English to purchase a respite from Danish plunder, does not appear from any of the records. We are told, indeed, of a tax imposed by Turgesius, called Argiod. Sron, or Nose-money, from the penalty attached to its non-payment being no less than the loss of the defaulter's nose. A sort of tax, bearing the same name, but not enforced by the same inhuman forfeit, appears, from
Annal. IV. Mag. ad ann. 848. † Ann. Ult.-Ware and Lanigan place it in the year 851. The Four Masters, as usual, antedate the event, making it in 849.
| In Harris's Annals of Dublin, A. D. 838, it is said, “Dublin now submitted to them (the Ostmen, or Danes) for the first time, in which they raised a strong rath, and thereby curbed not only the city, but, in a Jittle time, extended their conquests through Fingal to the north, and as far as Bray and the mountains of Wicklow to the south. These parts seem to have been soon after made the head of the Danish settlements in Leinster; and from them Fingal took its name, as much as to say, The Territory of the White Foreigners, or Norwegians, as the country to the south of Dublin was called Dubh-Gall, or the Territory of the Black Foreigners, from the Danes. This last denomination is not preserved in history, that we know of; but it remains by tradition among the native Irish of these parts to this day." The writer would have found, in the Annals of the Four Masters, the name of Dubh-ghall applied to these strangers, while in the Annals of Inisfallen and of Ulster, they are styled Dubh-gentie, or Black Gentiles, and the others, Fionn-geinte, or White Gentiles. § Annal. Ult. ad an. 851. (852.) Annal. Inisfall. ad ann. 852.
Annal. Ult. ad an. 852 (253.) Annal. Inisfall. ad ann. 853. i Smith, Hist. of Waterford, c. 4.-" Were we to believe Giraldus Cambrensis," says Dr. Lanigan, "Sitric was the founder of Limerick" (c. xxi. sect. 14, note 143.) But this is an oversight; for it is to Ivar that Giraldus attributes the construction of this city. "Constructis itaque primò civitatibus tribus, Dublinia, Gwaterfordia, Limerico, Dublinia principatus cessit Amelao, Gwater fordiæ Sytaraco, Limerici Yuoro."Topog. Hib. Dist. iii. c. 43. It is clear that Dublin, of which Giraldus attributes the building to Amlaf, bad been
in existence, though probably but an inconsiderable place, long before this time; and the Annals of Inisfallen fix the first occupation of it by the Danes, in the year 827. Or Limerick, its historian, Ferrar, says, " According to a manuscript in the editor's possession, the Danes got possession of Limerick in the year 855." But we have seen that, about a dozen years earlier, that place had been used by the Northmen as a station for their ships. ** Topograph. Hibern. Dist. 3. c. 43.
tt iv. Mag. ad ann. 851. Annal. Inisfall. ad ann. 852. The latter annalist thus states the fact :-Gur ghiallsat Lochlannaicch Eirionn do, 7 cios o Ghadhalaibh do.