Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

could procure, and entreat of you not to be unmindful of me in your prayers.” The archbishop, in his answer to this letter, without pointing out the particular abuses of which he coinplains, intimates generally a no less unfavourable opinion of the Irish church than had been expressed by his predecessor, Lanfranc; and presses earnestly on his brother prelate, the duty of correcting, as far as lay in his power, so grievous a state of things, by implanting morals and good doctrines among the people over whom he spiri. tually presides.

But by far the most gloomy picture drawn of the state of religion and morals in Ireland at this time, is that which remains to us from the pen of the celebrated St. Bernard,-an effusion, which, together with the fervid and impetuous zeal that marked his whole life and writings, betrays also no small portion of the spirit of exaggeration and over-statement which naturally belongs to such a temperament.* The marriage of the clergy, and the intrusion of laymen into ecclesiastical property,—the two great scandals that then drew down the fulminations of popes and councils were the chief irregularities that provoked the anger of St. Bernard against Ireland; and in the known and flagrant fact of so many married laymen having usurped the rank and , rerogatives of the archbishop of Armagh, the saint found, it must be owned, a subject highly deserving of his most stern and denunciatory censure.

Of the fidelity, however, of his general picture of the state of Ireland, there appear good reasons for feeling distrustful. Having never himself been in the country, and deriving his sole information from natives, on the spot-a source of intelligence, too apt, in all times, to be imbittered by local and factious prejudices—he was led to generalize upon particular cases, not always in themselves authentic, and thus to present, on the whole, a false, or at least exaggerated, representation. Learning, for instance, that in the diocese of Connor-a place to which, from the nature of the task he was employed upon,t his inquiries were chiefly directed—there prevailed a frightful degree of immorality and barbarism, this vehement censor extends the charge at once to the whole king. dom; and, from ignorance of the peculiar forms observed in the marriages of the Irish, imputes to them, among other irregularities, that “ they did not enter into lawful wedlock." This charge, followed up by what Giraldus alleged at a later period, namely, that the natives “ did not yet contract marriage,” has furnished grounds for accusing the Irish of those times of having lived in a state of almost universal concubinage; whereas, in both instances, the meaning of a charge so ambiguously worded was not that the Irish dispensed with the ceremony of marriage altogether, but that they did not contract it in that particular form which ihe English and some other nations considered alone to be lawful. I

There was, doubtless, then, as there has been unfortunately at most periods of our history, quite enough in the real condition of the country to mourn over and condemn, without calling in also the hand of calumny to add new shadows to the picture.

Of the ecclesiastical transactions of the reign of Murkertach, one of ihe most remarkable-his dedication of the royal city of Cashel to the uses of the Church-has already been mentioned. In the year 1111 a great synod, of which neither the objects or acts are clearly specified, was held at Fiodh-Angusa, or Ængus's Grove, a place in the neighbourhood of the famed hill of Usneach, where, of old, the Druids held their rites. At this convention, besides Murkertach and the nobles of his kingdom, there attended also Moelmurry, Archbishop of Cashel—this see having been lately elevated to archiepiscopal rank—50 other bishops, 300 priests, and 3,000 persons of the clerical order. Shortly after this national meeting, there was held another great synod at Rath-Breasa il,presided over by Gillibert, Bishop of Limerick, who was then apostolic legate in Ireland, and the first, it appears, appointed to that high office. By this synod a regular division of the dioceses of Ireland was made, and their respective boundaries fixed ;* while by another important regulation, it was declared that the church revenues and lands allotted to the several bishops for their maintenance, were exempted from tribute, chief rents, and other public contributions.

A miller took out a pearl which he sold for 102 to one who sold it to the late Lady Glenanly for 301. with whom I saw it in a necklace. She refused 801. for it from the late Duchess of Ormond."

* As is said by a French author, who truly edited the writings of one of his victims, Abelard," he spared nobody,"-nec enim ulli pepercit.-See Bayle, art. $t. Bernard.

+ He was then writing his Life of St. Malachy. The following is a specimen of his account of the state of Connor:-"Tunc intellexit homo Dei non ad homines se sed ad bestias destinatum. Nusquam adhuc tales expertus fuerat in quantacunque barbarie; nusquam repererat sic protervos ad mores, sic ferales ad ritus, sic ad fidem impios, ad leges barbaros," &c. After quoiing the whole of this description, Camden adjs, “ Thus St. Bernard ;-and, as I am informed, the present bishop, even at this day, is hardly able to give a better character of his flock."

| See an explanation by Dr. Lanigan (Hist. C. xxvi. note 52.) of the two different sorts of sponsalia, or espousals, distinguished by the old canon law; one called de presenti, and the other de futuro. The latter form of contract. called in English betrolhment, is what was chiefly practised by the Irish; and that their marriages were by high authority considered legitimate, appears from the language used on the subject by Lanfranc and Anselm, the former of whom speaks of the lawfully wedded wives of the Irish : - legitime sibi copulatam uxorem;"_" legitime sibi copulatas."-See their letters, above referred to, in Archbishop Usher's Sylloge. § Supposed to be the same as Hy-Bressail, now Clanbrassil, in the county of Armagh.

Among the abuses complained of by St. Bernard in Ireland, was the excessive numbe of bishops, -an evil partly caused, as already has been explained, by the practice adopted, from the example of the primitive church, of appointing chorepiscopi, or rural bishops; and this multiplication of the episcopal jurisdiction it was one of the objects of the synod of Clanbrassil to correct. So far was their purpose, however, from being attained, that at the time of the great council of Kells, about thirty years after, the bishoprics alone, exclusive of the archiepiscopal sees, amounted in number to thirty-four.

CHAPTER XXV.

Learned Irishmen of the eleventh century.—Tigernach, the chronicler.-Great value of his

Annals.—Dales of Eclipses preserved by him.-Proofs of the antiquity of Irish records.Marianus Scotus.-Account of his works.—St. Colinan, a patron saint of Austria.-Helias, of the Monastery of Monaghan, introduced first the Roman chant at Cologne.—Monastery erected for the Irish at Erford.—Another at Fulda.—Poems by Mac Liag, the secretary of Brian Boru.- Flann and Gilla.Coeman, metrical chronographers.-Learning of Gilla.Coeman.-Visit of Sulgenus, Bishop of St, David's, to the schools of Ireland.-English students at Armagh.

BEFORE we advance any farther into the twelfth century, I shall briefly advert to the few distinguished names in literature and science, that lie thinly but shiningly scattered throughout the period we have just traversed; this being a portion of my historic task, which, as offering a change and relief from its ordinary details, I would not willingly omit. Of that class of humble but useful writers, the annalists, who merely narrate, says Cicero, without adorning the course of public affairs, Ireland produced in this century, two of the most envinent, perhaps, in all Europe, Marianus Scotus and Tigernach. The latter of these writers, whose valuable annals have been so frequently referred to in these pages, is said to have been of the sept called the Muireadhaigh, or Murrays, in Connaught, and was abbot of Clonmacnois. His Annals, which were brought down by him to the year of his death, 1088, are scarcely more valuable for the materials of history which their own pages furnish, than for the proofs they afford of still earlier records existing when they were written ;t-records which, as appear from the dates of eclipses preserved by this chronicler, and which could not otherwise than by written memorials have reached him so accurately, I must have extended, at least, as far back as the period when Christianity became the religion of the country.

Another service conferred on the cause of Irish antiquities by this work, independently of its own intrinsic utility, arises from the number of metrical fragments we find scat

1 Exclusive of Dublin, which was left subject to Canterbury, there were to be, according to this division, twenty-four dioceses: twelve in Leath.Cuinn, or the northern portion of Ireland, subject to the Archbishop of Armagh, and twelve in the southern portion, or Leath-Mogh, under the jurisdiction of the Archbishop of Cashel. "On looking over the boundaries," says Dr. Lanigan, marked for these dioceses, a very great part of which can scarcely be pointed out at present, on account of the changes of names, it is clear that ihe synod intended, besides reducing the number of sees, to render all the dioceses of Ireland nearly of equal exient; but it did not succeed to any considerable degree in reducing the number: whereas, we find at the time of the Council of Kells, in 1152, many more sees than those here laid down; and, on the other hand, some of the said twenty-four sees not even spoken of; as if notwithstanding the decree of Rath-Breasail, they had either not been established, or had, in a very short time, ceased to exist."-Chap. 25. § 14.

"We have, accordingly, fragments preserved by Tigernach of Irish writers, who tlourished so early as before the 6th, 71h, and sih centuries, whose names, whose periods, whose very words are preserved, and the antiquity of whose idiom contirms, to a certainty, the ancient date which 'Tigernach himself assigns to them."-Dr. O'Connor, Ep. Nunc. Rer. Hib. Scrip. cxvi.

1 “Quod si inquiras unde haruin defectionum notitiam hauserit Tigernachus, aut qua ratione eas ad Regum Hibernorum annos potuerit tam accurate accommodare? Id procul dubio effecisse respondeo, non calculis astronomicis, sed veterum ope Scriptorum Hiberniensium, qui ea quæ vel ipsi viderunt, vel quæ in Monasteriorum Bibliothecis reposita crant, ad posterorum memoriam servavére."-16. p. xcviii.

tered throughout its pages, cited from writings still more ancient, which were then evidently existing, though at present no other vestige of them remains. That Tigernach had access to some library or libraries furnished with books of every description,* is manifest from his numerous references; and the correctness of his citations from foreign authors, with whose works we are acquainted, may be taken as a surety for the genuineness of his extracts from the writings of our own native authors, now lost :-thus affording an answer to those skeptical objectors who, because there are extant no Irish manuscriptst of an earlier date than about the eleventh or tenth century, contend that our pretensions to a vernacular literature, in the two or three centuries preceding that period, must be mere imposture or self-delusion.

Marianus Scotus, the contemporary of Tigernach, and, as some suppose, a monk in the very monastery over which he presided, I stands, as a chronographer, among the highest of his times. He wrote also Notes on the Epistles of St. Paul, a copy of which, transcribed by himself, is still extant in the imperial library of Vienna. Leaving Ireland about the year 1056, this learned marr joined at first a religious community of his own countrymen, at Cologne, and from thence repaired to Fulda, where he remained a recluse for the space of ten years. Being removed from thence, by order of the ecclesiastical authorities, to Mentz, he was there again, as he himself informs us, shut up, and remained a recluse till the year of his death, 1086. In one of the chief merits of a chronicler, that of skilfully turning to account the labours of his predecessors, Marianus appears to have been pre-eminent; and a learned antiquary, in speaking of the use thus made by him of Asser's interesting Life of King Alfred, says that, “ enamoured with the flowers of that work, he transplanted them to shine like stars in his own pages."

It appears that, by Marianus, as well as by his countryman, Tigernach, who had never been out of Ireland, the error of the Dionysian Cycle was clearly perceived; and to the former is even attributed the credit of having endeavoured, however unsuccessfully, to correct it. Il

Besides Marianus, T there appeared, in this century, several other distinguished Irishmen on the continent; among the foremost of whom may be mentioned St. Colman, whom Austria placed on the list of her patrons, and whose praise was celebrated in an odc by Stabius, the historiographer of the emperor Maximilian.** Having been unjustly

* “ Bibliothecan penes se habuisse patet, omnī librorum genere refertam, unde plures adducit auctores, tam exteros quam Hibernos, quorum quæ supersónt opera, ab eo accurate, etiam quoad verba producta, plane indicant eum reliquos jam deflendos, pari fidelitate, etiam quoad verba produxisse.”-Ib. p. cxviii.

We find in the obituary of Armagh not many years after Tigernach flourished, a notice of the death of the chief antiquary and librarian of that school.-". Primh Criochare a leabhar Coimhed."

For remarks on the causes which led to the loss of the earlier manuscripts, see chap. 14, of this work.

This supposition, for which there appears to be no foundation, arose from the mention which he makes of a certain Tigernach, as being the superior of the establishment he belonged to before he left Ireland. “ Hoc autem mihi retulit Tigernach Senior meus."

Leland, Comment. de Scriptor. Brilan. The following is the forid language of the great antiquary: "Quarum et Marianus Scotus venustate totus caplus, flores ex eisdem avidus, veluti stellulas, quibus suam inpolaret historiam selegit." Chap. cxix.

| Sigebert (Chronic.) According to the editor, however, of Marianus (Basil. 1559, of which edition there is a splendid copy in the British Museum,) this chronicler succeeded in correcting the errors of this cycle; * Præstitit mebercle Marianus hic noster quod eorum qui Temporum rationes descripserunt nemo hactenus tentavit. Errores enim in Cycli Decemnovalis ratiocinatione a Dionyeio introductos, animadversione studiosa correxit." This enthusiastic editor is perhaps hardly to be trusted, as, besides adorning the recluse of the cell with every possible talent and accomplishment, he tells us that he travelled almost over the whole globe. But Henry de Knyghton also assigns to Marianus the credit of having been the first who corrected The error of the Dionysian period. This chronicler, whose testimony to the merit of Marianus has escaped, as far as I can see, the notice of Dr. O'Connor, thus explains the mode in which our countryman corrected the Cycle. “Itaque ab initio seculi annos singulos recensens axii annos qui cyclis prædictis deerant super. addidit."

1 In the instance of Marianus, as in many others which I have had occasion to notice, an effort has been made to transfer to Scotland a reputation which belongs legitimately to Ireland. On these points, the learned of the continent show far more accuracy, not to say honesty, than some of our authorities nearer home. Among the many proofs collected by Usher in confirmation of Ireland's right to Marianus, the following may be worth mentioning. In the great controversy arising out of the claim of Edward I. to a feudal su periority over Scotland, Marianus Scoius was one of the authorities brought forward by the English king; and again, when the same claim was revived under Henry IV. this chronicler was appealed to, as a Scottish authority, in favour of his pretensions. But the advocate

who argued for the rights

of Robert, in allowing full credit to Marianus, coniended, and successfully, that he was a Scot of Hibernia, not of Scotland.-Eccles. Primord. p. 735.

It is curious that Marianus himself was, as far as can be discovered, the first writer by whom the name of Scotia , appropriated previously to Ireland alone, was given to the present Scotland." See a Letter of Lynch (the author of Cambrensis' Eversus) appended to O'Flaherty's Ogygia Vindicated.

** Surius, Vies des Saints. In the commencement of the historiographer's ode there is an allusion to this Irish saint's royal descent, and his visit to the Holy Land:

" Austriæ sanctus canitur patronus,

Fulgidum sidus radians ab arcto;
Scotiæ geolis Colomannus acer,

Regia Proles.

seized and executed as a spy, some circumstances of a miraculous nature are said to have occurred at this saint's death, in consequence of which he received the honours of mar. tyrdom; and a Benedictine monastery was established, in memory of his name, at Melck, which still exists, it appears, in great splendour. Another Irish saint, named Helias, or Elias, who had come from the monastery of Monaghan, paid a visit, in the course of his travels, to Rome, and is recorded as the first who brought from thence the Roman chant, or church music, to Cologne.*

So great was the resort in those times of Irishmen to Germany, that in 1036 a monastery was erected for them, at Erford, by the Bishop Walter de Glysberg. There were likewise a number of Irish monks at Fulda, one of the most celebrated of whom, St. Amnichad, died a recluse in that monastery some years before Marianus entered it; and 80 strong an impression had he left of the sanctity of his character, that, as we learn on the authority of the chronographer just mentioned,t it was believed that lights were occasionally seen, and psalmody heard, over his tomb; and Marianus, as he himself tells us, celebrated mass over that tomb every day for ten years.

Judging of the internal condition of Ireland at this period, even as represented in the friendly pages of her own annals, without taking into account the unsightly picture drawn by a foreign hand, it is not to be wondered at that such of her pious and learned sons as could make their way to shores more favourable to their pursuits should gladly avail themselves of the power. Not that, even in this dark age, the celebrated schools of the country had ceased to be cherished or frequented, nor is there any want of, at least, dames of reputed eminence to grace the obituaries of the different monasteries;-—scarcely a year elapsing without honourable mention in these records of some persons thought worthy of commemoration, either as poets, theologians, antiquaries, or scribes. I

Early in this century died Mac Liag, to whom several poems, still extant, are attributed. Chief Ollamh, or Doctor, of Ireland, and secretary to Brian Boru, whom he is said to have survived but a year, this poet's muse was principally employed, as far as may be judged from the pieces remaining under his name,in commemorating the war. like achievements of his royal master, and lamenting over his loss.

Some curious historical poems by Flann and Gilla-Coeman, two metrical chronographers of this century, have furnished a subject for much learned comment to the pen of the reverend editor of the Irish Chronicles; who, in proof of the accuracy of Gilla-Coeman's chronological computations, has shown that all the dates assigned by him to the great events of Scripture-history coincide, to a wonderful degree, with those laid down by no less authorities than Scaliger, Petavius, and Sir Isaac Newton. || It should have been added by the learned doctor, that when coming to apply this chronological skill to the ancient history of his own country, Coeman was found to be by no means so trustworthy, and for a very sufficient reason : having in his former task been guided by an acquaintance with foreign historians; whereas, in calculating the successions of the kings of his own country, he was led away partly by the national vanity on this point, and partly by the grave fictions of the bardic historians who had preceded him. The author of the Ogygia, who adopted Coeman as his chief guide, in computing the periods of the early Irish kings, has been thereby led into such wild and absurd Alights of chropology, IT as even the most sanguine of his brother antiquarians have refused to sanction.

“ Ille dum sanctam Solymorum urbem
Transiit, dulcem patriam relinquens,
Regios fastus, trabeam, coronam,

Sceptraque teinpsit." * Lanigan, Hist. Eccles. c. xxiv. 2.

| Florence of Worcester, ad ann. 1043. As Asser and Marianus had both copied the Saxon Chronicle, so Florence of Worcester, coming still later, transcribed and interpolated Marianus.-See Preface to Ingram's Saxon Chronicle.

1 " As to the ancient Scribes of the Irish, I cannot understand them in any other sense than as Readers of Divinity."-Ware, Antig chap. xxv. 8.3. li should rather be said, perhaps, that in the same manner as the soribes of the Hebrews were both writers and doctors of the law, so the scribes of the Irish were at once writers and doctors of divinity.

& Trans. Iberno. Celt. Society, xciv. In their record of the decease of this poet, the Four Masters have introduced two distichs, or ranns, of his composition, which give by no means a favourable notion of his poetic powers. It would appear, indeed, from the fragments of this nature scattered throughout the Annals, that ihe rhyming of one hemistich to the other, and the adaptation of the rythm and flow of the words to song, were all that the writers of these ranns attended to; as, with but few exceptions, their meaning is of the inost negative description.

"Quam accurate sint Cæmani rationes patebit ex subjuncta tabula, in qua cum rationibus Scaligeri, Fergusoni,

Usserii, Petavii, et Newtoni, conferuntur."-See the Rev. Doctor's notes on Coeman's poem, Prolegom. xxxv. 1 By this enthusiastic calculator the date of the arrival of the Milesian colony in Ireland is placed as far back in antiquity as the time when King Solomon reigned in Jerusalem. This was too much even for Mr. O'Connor of Belanagare; -at least in his later and more modified views of Irish antiquity. See his very candid retractations on the subject, Collect. Hibern. vol. iii.

Though somewhat anticipating, in point of time, it may save the trouble, perhaps, of future repetition and reference, to state, while touching on the subject, that the chronological list of the Irish kings, which had by Coeman been brought down to the time of St. Patrick, was by another metrical chronographer, Gilla Moduda, who fourished about the middle of the twelfth century, continued to the death of Malachy II., in a poem consisting of a number of ranns, or strophes, much in the manner of the metrical list of the Dalriadic kings, composed in Scotland in the reign of Malcolm III.

Among the native authors of this period, whose works were produced at home, may be included Dubdalethe, a nominal archbishop of Armagh,-being one of those laymen whose usurpation of this see was denounced so vehemently by St. Bernard. The saint acknowledged, however, in the midst of his ire, that these intruders were men of literary acquirements;* and Dubdalethe, one of the number, gave proofs of his claim to this character by writing some Annals of the affairs of Ireland (to which reference is more than once made in the chronicles that have reached us,t) as well as an account of the archbishops of Armagh, down to his own time.

While thus not a few of the natives themselves continued to cultivate, even in those stormy times, most of the studies for which their country was once so famous, neither does it appear that the attractions and advantages, by which foreign students were formerly drawn to their schools, had altogether at this dark periods ceased. An instance to the contrary, indeed, is afforded in the case of Sulgenus, afterwards Bishop of St. David's who, " moved by the love,” as we are told, " of study, set out, in imitation of his ancestors, to visit the land of the Irish, so wonderfully celebrated for learning." Having been driven back by a storm to his own country, it was not till after a long lapse of time that he again ventured on the voyage, when, reaching the country of the Scots in safety, he remained there tranquilly for more than ten years, studying constantly the Holy Scriptures, and storing his mind with the spiritual wealth which they contained. Such is the account given, in a poem written by his own song of the studious labours of Bishop Sulgenus in the schools of Ireland at this period; and Usher cites the poem as a proof that the study of letters had at this time revived in the country, and that Ireland, even in the eleventh century, was still “a storehouse of the most learned and holy men.”ll

In recording one of the great conflagrations that oceurred in this century at Armagh, the Four Masters state that the part of the city called the Trian Saxon, T that is, the division inhabited by the Saxons, had suffered considerably by the fire. That this region of the city may have been originally so called, from its having been the principal quar

[ocr errors]

Viri uxorati et absque ordinibus, literati tamen."-Vit. Malach chap. vii. | Annal. Ult. ad ann. 962 and 1021; also, in the Annals of the Four Masters, ad ann. 978, there will be found some verses of this prelate cited. See Ware (Bishops,) Lanigan, chap. xxiv. § 4., and Rer. Hib. Scrip. Ep. Nunc. ciii.

| According to some authorities, the schools of Ireland, had, in a great degree, revived at this period. “Les écoles," says Geoghegan,“ étoient déjá bien rétablies dans l'intervalle de la journée de Clontarf, jus. qu'a l'arrivée des Anglois, principalement celles d'Ardmach."— Tome i. part. 2. chap. 7. Archbishop Usher, by tracing through the ninth and tenth centuries a succession of professors of divinity at Armagh, has shown that even through the gloom and storms of the Danish persecution some vestiges of that noble school may be discerned :-"Quæ idcirco commemoravimus, ut Ardmachanæ academiæ, inter medias Norwagiensis lempes. tatis procellas, emergentis, iliqua deprehendi possint vestigia."- Eccles. Primord p. 861. Dr. Campbell (Striciures, &c.) has thus misrepresented the import of this passage :-" which I have enumerated, in order to trace the thriving slate of the university of Armagh during the severest tempests of the Norman devastation."

& Sylloge Præfat.

Exemplo patrum commotus amore legendi,
Ivit ad Hibernos Sophiâ, mirabile, claros.
Sed, cum jam cimbá voluisset adire revectus
Famosam gentem scripturis atque magistris,
Appulit ad patriam, ventorum Hatibus actus
Nomine quam noto perhibent Albania longè ;
Ac remoratus ibi certè tum quinque per annos
Indefessus agit votum, &c.
His ita digestis Scotorum visitat arva:
Ac mox scripturas multo meditamine sacras
Legis divine scrutatur, sæpe retractaus:
Ast ibi per denog tricens jam placidus annos
Congregat immensam pretioso pondere massam," &c.

* Revixisse tamen bonarum literarum studia, et seculo adhuc undecimo habitam fuisse Hiberniam (ut in Vitâ Florentii loquitur Franciscus Guillimannus) virorum sanctissimorum doctissimorumque officinam." Ano. ther conclusion which Usher draws from this poem is, that the name of Scots was still in the eleventh century applied, x&T BOXnv, to the Irish.

1 Seth do trian Sar. IV. Mag. ad ann. 1092. The present English Street,'" says Stuart,“ seems clearly to have derived its name from ihe old denomination • Trian Sessenagh,' or the Saxon portion of the city." Hist. Memoirs of the City of Armagh.

« ForrigeFortsett »