Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

A. D.

no less than sixteen of the royal race of Connaught were among the slain on that day. At length, in the year at which we are now arrived, the wretched Roderic, wearied out with the unnatural conflict, agreed, as the only means of bringing it to an end, to surrender the kingdom to his eldest son, Connor Maumoy, and retire into a monastery.

However the transfer by king Henry to his son of a dominion which he himself but partially possessed, might, as a mere matter of form, be considered harmless, the measure adopted by him of actually sending this youth, who was now not more than twelve years of age, to rule over a kingdom requiring, at this crisis, the maturest counsels for its direction, was an act savouring, it must be owned, far more of the whim and wantonness of uncontrolled power, than of that deep and deliberate policy by which all the actions of this great king, even bis least temperate, were in general regulated. His suspicious nature, it is true, had been kept in continual alarm by the increasing popularity of Hugh de Lacy; and being, for the third time, about to remove that lord from the government, he looked forward, doubtless, with hope to the effects of the presence of a prince of his blood in that country, as being likely to counteract the dangerous influence now exercised, and help to rally around its legitimate centre, the throne, that popular favour which had been hitherto intercepted by a bold and ambitious subject.

But, whatever may have been his immediate motives for this step, it is clear, from the precautionary measures with which he guarded and fenced it round,

1184. that he was by no means unconscious of the dangers contingent on such an experiment. In order to prepare the way for the reception of the young prince, he sent over to Dublin, in the month of August, the new English archbishop of that see, Joho Cuming; and, in the following month, Philip of Worcester proceeded thither, attended by a guard of forty knights, to take possession of his government, having orders from Henry to send De Lacy over into England, and to await himself in Ireland the coming of prince John. The royal youth was to be accompanied by Ranulph de Glanville, the great justiciary of England, and highly distinguished both as a lawyer and a soldier ; while the historian, Gerald of Cambria, who had been sojourning for some time in Ireland, was appointed to attend John, as his secretary and tutor. If the notions impressed by the learned Welshman upon his pupil were at all similar to those he has recorded in his own writings, it is little to be wondered at that the prince and his companions should have been so much prepossessed against the country they were about to visit, and prepared to treat the unfortunate natives with indecent mockery and disdain.

On the last day of March, John, earl of Moreton and lord of Ireland, having been previously knighted by his father at Windsor, * embarked with his attendants Ass; at Milford Haven, where a fleet of sixty ships had been prepared to transport a large body of cavalry, of which 400 were knights, together with a considerable force of infantry, chiefly, as it appears, archers; and on the following day, about noon, the royal fleet arrived in the harbour of Waterford.

With such an army, added to the forces already in Ireland, a skilful leader, mixing conciliation with firmness, might have established the English power over the whole island. But the conduct of the new deputy, Philip of Worcester, had not been such as to inspire any confidence in the order of things of which he was the precursor. One of the first acts of his government—an act which, whatever might be its strict justice, was far from being calculated to render him popular-was to resume all the lands of the royal demesne, which De Lacy had parcelled out among his own friends and followers, and to appropriate them to the use of the king's household. The next measure of the lord deputy was to march an army into Ulster, a region of adventure hitherto occupied by John De Courcy alone, and where, ever siace a victory gained by him, in the year 1182, over Donald O'Lochlin, the spirit of the Irish had been considerably broken. The leader of the present enterprise had evidently no object but plunder and extortion; and from the clergy, more especially, so grinding were his exactions, that even Giraldus, so lenient in general to all misdeeds against the Irisli, brands the spoiler with his reprobation. “ Eve in the holy time of Lent,” says this chronicler," he extorted from the sacred order his execrable tribute of gold.”+ From Armagh, where, chiefly, these enormities were committed, Philip proceeded to Downpatrick; and a violent fit or pang which seized him

[ocr errors]

* Radulf. de Diceto.- According to the Annals of Margam, it was at Gloucester John was knighted :" Prius tamen a patre apud Gloucestriam miles effectus."

Diceto, in reroarking on the fortunes and situations of the different children of Henry, says, that “John, being secured by the promise and provision of his father, will reduce different parts of Ireland into a mo. narchy, it it shall bereafter be granted to him ;"—that is, adds Sayer, he shall have a kingdom, if he can win it.-Hist. of Bristol, chap. x.

"A sacro clero auri tributum execrabile tam exigens cuam extorquens."- Hibern. Erpugnat. I. 2. c. 24. Thus gently rendered by the English translator :-“ Being well laden with gold, silver, and money, which he had exacted in every place where he came, for other good he did none."

in the course of his journey, is regarded by the writers of the time as a judgment upon him for the wrongs be had just been committing.

From this expedition he was returned but a few days before the arrival of prince John at Waterford, whither the archbishop of Dublin and other English lords had gone to receive the illustrious visiter on his landing. There came likewise, soon after, to wait upon him, many of those Irish chiefs of Leinster who had ever since the time of their first submission been living quietly under the English government, and now hastened to welcome the young prince, and acknowledge him loyally as their lord. But the kind of reception these chieftains experienced showed at the outset how weak and infatuated was the policy of sending a stripling, a mere boy, attended by a train of idle and insolent courtiers, upon a mission involving interests of so grave and momentous a description. Unaccustomed to the peculiar manners and dress of the Irish, their long bushy beards, their hair hanging in glibbes, or locks, down their backs,* the young Norman nobles, who formed the court of John, and who were themselves, to an unmanly degree, attentive to their dress,t broke out in open derision of their visiters; and when the chiefs advancing towards the prince were about to give him, according to the manner of their country, the Kiss of Peace, f they found themselves rudely and mockingly repulsed by bis attendants, some of whom even proceeded to such insolence as to pluck these proud chiefs by their beards.

To a race and class such as were these princes at this period, the fading remains of the ancient royalty of the land, and become but the more watchful and exacting in their claims to personal respect, in proportion as the foundation of those claims had grown more unreal and nominal,—to men thus circumstanced, thus proudly alive to the least passing shade of disrespect, it may easily be imagined how far transcending all ordinary modes of provocation was the kind of insult this contemptuous treatment conveyed. Resolved on deadly revenge, they returned immediately to their own homes, withdrew their families and septs from the English territory, and repairing, some to Donald O'Brian, the still untamed foe of the foreigners, others to the chiefs of Desmond and of Connaught, represented the indignities which, in their persons, had been offered to all Ireland; asking, “when such was the manner in which even loyal submission was received, what farther hope remained for the country but in general and determined resistance ?"

Some of the chieftains, thus addressed, had been on their way to offer their homage at Waterford; but this news checked at once their purpose. Instead of loyalty, they now breathed only revenge; and, the flame rapidly catching from one to another, a spirit of hostility to the sway of the English sprung up, such as had never been before witnessed since the time of their coming into the country. Agreeing to merge in the common cause all local and personal differences, the chiefs pledged themselves by the most sacred oaths to each other, to stake their lives upon the issue, and "stand to the defence of their country'and Jiberty.” While such was the feeling of resistance awakened by the insolent bearing of the young prince's courtiers, the policy in other respects pursued by his government was calculated to aggravate, far more than to soften, this first impression. Nor were the Welsh settlers treated with much less harshness than the native Irish themselves, as they removed these people from the garrison towns in which they had been hitherio stationed, and forced them to serve in the marches. With a severity, too, even more impolitic than it was unjust, they drove from their settlements within the English territory some Irish septs that had long held peaceably those possessions, and divided their lands among some of the newly arrived foreigners. The consequence was, that the septs thus unwisely ejected, joined the ranks of their now arming fellow.countrymen, and took with them not only a strong accession of revengeful feeling, but also a knowledge of the plans and policy of the enemy, an acquaintance with his strong and weak points of defence, and every requisite, in short, that could render them useful, as informers and guides, in the momentous struggle about to be hazarded.

While thus threatening was the aspect of the public mind, the advisers of the prince pursued unchecked their heedless career. Whether trusting to the people's divisions among themselves, as likely to avert the danger threatened by the league of their chiefs, or unable to awaken in John and his dissolute Normans any thought but of their own

* " The Irisli," says Ware. " wore their hair (by the moderns called glibs) hanging down their backs." • Proud they are (says Campion) of long crisped glibbes, and do nourish the same with all their cunning ; to crop the front thereof they take it for a notable piece of villany."

* In Camden's Remains we find them described as "all gallant, with coats to the mid-knee, head shorn, heard shaved, arms laden with bracelets, and faces painted." Lingard, in the same manner represents the Norman's as ostentatiously fond of dress,” but describes their hair as worn long and curled.

1 This ceremony of the Kiss of Peace was observed also in Richard II.'s reign, when that monarch received, by his commissioner, the earl marshal, the homage and sealty of the Leinster chieftains.

reckless indulgence,–* whatsoever was the cause, the attention of the government appears to have been but little directed to the gathering storm;t and the erection of three forts or castles at Tipperary, Ardfinnan, and Lismore, was the only measure for the security of their power, which the incapable advisers of the prince had yet adopted. Even these castles, however, were not left long unassailed. That of Ardfinnan, built upon a rock overlooking the Suir, was attacked by Donald O'Brian, prince of Limerick, and its small garrison put to the sword. In Ossory, Roger de Poer, a young officer of brilliant promise, was cut off: while, in an assault upon Lismore, the Brave Robert Barry, one of those who had accompanied Fitz-Stephen inio Ireland, was taken and slain. In various other quarters, the incursions of the natives were attended with equal success; and two other English Icaders, Raymond Fitz-Hugh, who fell at Olechan, and Raymond Canton, slain at Odrone, were added to the victims, which the outraged feelings of the people now offered up in bitter revenge for their wrongs. I

On the other hand, an attack upon Cork, by Mac Carthy of Desmond, was so vigorously resisted by Theobald Walter, the chief butler, who had accompanied John into Ireland, that the Irish prince and the whole of his party were slain in the encounter. A like success awaited the arms of the English in Meath, into which district, defying the measures for its defence adopted by Hugh de Lacy, the septs on its western borders made now a desperate inroad; but were repulsed with immense slaughter by William Petit, a feudatory of De Lacy, who sent 100 heads of the slain, as a trophy of his victory, to Dublin. Notwithstanding these occasional successes on the part of the invaders, the general fortune of the war was decidedly in favour of the natives; and according to the chronicles of the English themselves, John lost, in the different conflicts with the Irish, almost his whole army. 8 At length, informed of the imminent danger with which the very existence of his power in that realm was threatened, Henry sent over orders instantly, recalling the prince and his head long advisers to England, and placing the whole power of the government, both civil

and military, in the bands of De Courcy. Though a liegeman of De Lacy had in the late warfare, acted so loyally, complaints of that lord himself were forwarded to England by John and his ministers, representing him as actuated by feelings of jealousy towards their government for having superseded his own, and as exerting the whole of his great talent and influence for the purpose of thwarting and bringing disgrace on their measures. It was believed, also, that this baron had, among his own vassals and partisans, assumed the title of king of Meath, receiving tribute in that character from Connaught; and had even proceeded so far in this assumption as to order a regal crown to be made for his own head.|| But, whatever grounds there may have been for these charges, De Lacy did not live to be called upon to answer to them, -having met his death this year from a hand so obscure, that not even a name remains associated with the deed. I

He had been engaged for some time in erecting a castle at a place called Darmaigh, in the southern part of ancient Meath, upon a spot hallowed in the eyes

of

1186. the natives, as being the site of a monastery founded by their great saint, Columba. Being in the habit of attending personally to the building, De Lacy had gone forth to inspect the outworks, attended but by three English soldiers and an Irish labourer; and just as he was in the act, we are told, of stooping down to mark out the line of some wall or trench, the Irish workman drew forth a battle axe which he had brought, concealed beneath his mantle for the purpose, and at one blow smote off the baron's hcad. The assassin escaped into a neighbouring wood, and being doubtless favoured in his flight by the country people, contrived to elude all persuit.**

On hearing of this event, at which he is said to have openly rejoiced, the first step of

A. D.

* " All that authority," says lord Lyttelton," over the minds of the Irish, which the courtesy, gravity, and prudence of Henry, during his abode in their island, bad happily gained, was lost in a few days by the petulent levity of John and his courtiers; the good will of that people, on which Henry had desired to establish bis dominion, being instantly turned into a national hatred."

The abbot of Peterborough attributes a great part of the failure of John's enterprise to the desertions of the soldiers of his army to the ranks of the Trish, in consequence of their pay having been withheld from them, and embezzled : _ Sed ipse Johannes parum ibi profecit. quia pro defectu indigenarum qui cum eo tenere debebant et pro eo quod stipendia militibus et solidariis suis dare noluit."

Hibern. Expugnat. I. 2. c. 34.

" Fere amisit totum exercitum suum in pluribus conflictibus quo sui fecerant contra Hybernienses." Benedict Abbas.

1 “ Videbaturque sibi jam magis quam regi Anglorum regnum Hybernicum æmulari, in tantum ut diadema sibi regium parasse diceretur."--Gulielm. Neubrig. 1. 3. c. 9.

11 Gulielm. Neubrig. ut supra. Several names have been assigned to the perpetrator of this act, but all differing so much from each other, as to show that the real name was unknown. Geoffry Keating, with that love of dull invention which distinguisbed him, describes the assassin as a young gentleman in disguise.

** Gulielm. Neubrig. ut supra. Ware's Annals, ad ann. 1186.

the king was to order John to return into Ireland, for the purpose of taking possession of De Lacy's castles and lands, during the nonage of that baron's eldest son Walter. But the death of Geoffry, duke of Bretagne, the third son of the king, who was carried off at this time by a fever, prevented an experiment which would have most probably ended but in a repetition of the former failure and disgrace.

CHAPTER XXXII.

Review of the steps taken by Henry for the transfer of Ireland to John. Translation of the

relics of the three great Irish Saints.—Exploits of De Courcy in Ulster.-Death of Henry the second.-Remarks on the arguments of Molyneux and others respecting the transfer of the dominion of Ireland to John.-De Courcy resents the appointment of De Lacy as deputy.-Cathal of the bloody hand gains the kingdom of Connaught.

Is joined by the princes of Thomond and Desmond.--Accession of Richard I.-Hugh De Lacy, son of the first lord of Meath, appointed deputy.--Affairs of Connaught.-Defeat of the English by Donald O'Brian.-Perfidy of O'Brian.-His death.—Rapid change of Deputies.- Insurrec. tion of the Irish. Successes of Mac Carty of Desmond.—Death of Roderic O'Connor.Low state of Irish Literature at this period.-Remarks on Giraldus.

the step.

On the subject of Henry's grant of the realm of Ireland to his son John, and the supposed effects of that measure, as regarded the political relations between the two countries, a question has been more than once raised, among constitutional lawyers, upon which it may be expected that I should bere offer some remarks. But a more direct opportunity will occur for considering this controversy when we come to notice the events of the subsequent reign. Mean while, a brief review of the steps taken, at different times, by Henry, towards such a transfer of bis Irish dominion, may put the reader more clearly in possession of the bearings of the question that has since arisen out of that measure; and will also show that Henry himself was not without doubts as to the safety and policy of

His relinquishment, indeed, of the design originally entertained by him of bestowing upon John the title of king, arose, most probably, from the apprehension that the establishment of a separate sovereignty over that country might, at some future time, be assumed as a ground for questioning the dependence of Ireland on the English crown. On no other supposition is it easy to account for the great uncertainty of purpose exhibited by him on this point. Thus, though, in the year 1177, he actually intended to make this boy king of Ireland, and caused him, with the pope's permission, to be so declared by a council or parliament at Oxford, it is yet clear, from numerous records, that Jobn took no other title than that of lord of Hibernia. Notwithstanding this, when he was about to proceed to that country, in 1185, application was made by his father to pope Lucius III., requesting that he would allow the young prince to be crowned; but the pope, for what reason is not known, refused his consent. On the accession, however, of Urban III., the same request, it appears, was renewed; for that pontiff

, shortly after his election, granted permission to Henry to crown any one of his sons whom he should choose king of Ireland, and, at the same time, sent him, as a mark of his peculiar favour, a crown inade of peacock's feathers interwoven with gold. In reply to this gracious communication, Henry named to the pope his youngest son John, and requested that a legate should be sent to assist at his coronation. On the arrival, however, of the cardinal Octavian for that purpose, the king, who in the mean time had given up his project of sending Jobn again into Ireland, abandoned likewise all intention of crowning him.

The year 1186 was rendered memorable in our ecclesiastical annals, by the

translation of the remains of the three great national saints, Patrick, Columba, 1186.

and Brigid, which had been discovered in Down in the preceding year. The pious bishop of that see, Malachy, used frequently, we are told, to implore of God, in his devotions, that he would vouchsafe to point out to him the particular place or places in which the bodies of these saints lay concealed. While thus employed, one night, in the cathedral of Down, he saw a light, like a sunbeam, traversing the church, and at length

A. D.

A. D.

resting at a spot where, upon digging, the bones of the three bodies were found.* This discovery having been reported to John de Courcy, then lord of Down, it was determined that messengers should be despatched to pope Urban III., for the purpose of procuring bis permission to remove or translate these relics to some part of the church more worthy to receive them. The pope accordingly sent over as his legate on the occasion cardinal Vivian, who was already well acquainted with Down and its clergy; and, on the 9th of June, the relics of the three saints, having been put into distinct boxes, or coffins, were removed, with the usual solemnities, to a more distinguished part of the church, and there deposited in one monument.t

John de Courcy, now left to encounter the whole brunt of the Irish struggle almost alone, owed the success wbich in general attended his arms far less to his own and bis small army's prowess, than to the wretched feuds and divisions which distracted the multitudes opposed to him; who, instead of following the rare example set by the chieftains of the south, and reserving, by a truce among themselves, their combined hostility for the oppressor, still continued their mutual broils and feuds, and, in the very face of the common enemy, thought only of flying upon each other. In the year 1187, O'Loghlin, prince of Tirone, was, after a sanguinary struggle, deposed from his throne ; but the prince who succeeded him, Roderic O'Lachertair, bad but a brief tenure of his ill-got power, as, in a few months after his accession, when in the act of ravaging and despoiling the county of Tirconnel, this vsurper was put to death, and the rightful ruler restored. Nor was it long before O'Loghlin himself fell on the field, but in a cause far more worthy of an ancient national chief. Having been attacked at Cavan-ne-cran, by the English garrison of the castle of Mogcava, he gained, after a desperately fought action, a

1187. complete victory over them, but was himself killed by an English arrow in the moment of triumph. About the same time O'Cavenan, king of Tirconnel, attacked by surprise when on a journey, by Flahertach O'Medory, another of these petty princes, was, together with his brother and a number of servants, treacherously murdered. I

Those who thus recklessly made war upon their own countrymen would not scruple, of course, to aid the enemy in the same cause; and we find, in the same year, a native chieftain, Cornelius O'Dermot, leagued with De Courcy in an invasion of Connaught, whither that lord had been invited by a faction within the province, for the purpose of deposing from the sovereignty Connor Manmoy, to whom his father, the feeble Roderic, had, some few years before, surrendered the reins of power. The province of Connaught had been active in the revolt against John, and this treacherous invitation now opened to De Courcy a means of reducing it to obedience. The son of Boderic, however, had secured the aid of the brave and indefatigable Donald O'Brian, and their united armies engaging De Courey, who had not counted on so formidable a resistance, forced him to retreat precipitately from Connaught. Then, putting down the rebellious faction he had come to assist, they re-established the authority of Connor on apparently secure grounds.

The very next year, however, some of the nearest friends of this prince, having joined in a conspiracy against himn with the late vanquished party, he was, be

1189. tween both factions, basely murdered. Nor even then did the curse of discord ceasc to hang around that ill-fated house; as, for many a year after, Connaught continued to be torn and convulsed by the remains of this unnatural strife ; while the fallen monarch, Roderic O'Connor, still lived to witness, from his melancholy retreat at Cong, the merited judgments which a long course of crime and dissention was now bringing down on his ill-starred realm and race.

Whatever hope might still have been cherished, by those who looked to Ireland, with other views than of mere plunder, that Henry might yet find leisure to apply himself to the peaceful settlement of a country, which, according to the policy now pursued towards it, was to become either the prop and ornament, or the disgrace and burden, of England, such slight opening of hope was now closed for ever by the death of this powerful king, which took place in the month of July 1189, at the castle of Chinon, in Normandy ;the event being embittered, if not accelerated, by his discovery of the base treachery, and ingratitude towards him, of his favourite son, John. He died, say the historians, cursing his children.

The period of Anglo-Irish history-for of this mixed character has my task now be

A. D.

* Officium Translationis, &c., of which a portion is given by Usher, Primord. Eccles. 849.—" Et cum nocte gủadam instantissime in Ecclesia Dunensi sic oraret, vidit quasi radium solis

per ecclesiam, et usque ad locum sepulturæ dictorum sanctorum corporum perlustrantem."

Lanigan, ch. xxx. $ 8.

Ware's Anpals, ad. ann. 1188. & Ware's Annals, ut supra. Vallancey's Laws of Tanistry.

« ForrigeFortsett »