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Thrown back as the country had been by the harassing events of the century just now closed, into a state of confusion and disorganization, differing but little, in its general aspect, from barbarism, it could not be expected that her native literature would escape the prevailing eclipse, or leave any names behind which even the antiquary would consider worthy of preservation. There is still extant, however, a Metrical Catalogue of the kings of Ireland, composed, in this age, by a learned antiquary named Giolla Moduda, abbot of Ardbracken, in Meath. This chronological poem, which is frequently referred to, as of high authority, by Irish scholars, was written during the reign of the great Turlogh O'Connor; and it is a proof alike of the courage and the professional trustworthiness of the antiquary, that he ventured to deny to that powerful monarch, then in the full flow of success, any place in the series of Ireland's legitimate kings. To Celcus, or Cellach, the eminent archbishop of Armagh, who died a. D. has attributed a Book of Constitutions and other writings; but apparently on no better 1129, Bale grounds than he has for bestowing upon him a wife and children, and sending him to be educated at Oxford. With as little foundation, probably, has a Life of St. Malachy been attributed to Congan, one of those Irish correspondents of St. Bernard, whose entreaties, as he tells us, induced him to undertake a Life of St. Malachy himself.*
For whatever insight we may have gained, previously to the epoch of the English invasion, into the social condition and habits of the Irish, we are indebted solely to the testimony of the Irish themselves; for it is a singular fact that, so long had this people remained secluded from all the rest of the world, that the account given of them by the Welsh ecclesiastic Giraldus, who went thither, as we have seen, in the train of prince John, was the first and only one known to have been writen by a foreign visiter of that country, from the days of Himilco and the Greek geographers down to the time of Henry II. With the aid, therefore, of this light, but following cautiously its guidance, I shall proceed to offer some brief remarks respecting the social and moral condition of the Irish people, at the gloomy period we have now reached; and if not to throw around it any very favourable colouring, at least to show that it has been represented too darkly by others.
To those pre-occupied by the picture drawn in the pages of Giraldus of the low state of civilization among the Irish at this time, it would be difficult, I fear, to suggest any consideration that would weaken the hold his authority has taken of their minds. There are indeed few enormities, whether in morals or manners, that are not attributed by him to the natives. of the man himself ought to be taken into account; and, finding him so ready a believer In estimating the value, however, of his testimony, the character and reporter of all sorts of physical marvels and monsters, we should consider whether a taste for the morally monstrous may not also have inspired his pen, and induced him, in a similar manner, to impose as well upon himself, perhaps, as his readers. He who gravely tells of a certain race of people in Ossory,t who were, every seven years, transformed into wolves, would hardly hesitate at the easier effort of giving them also wolfish habits and dispositions.
There is yet another feature of his character as a censor, which must be attended to in appreciating the value of his censure, and that is, this proportion always found to exist between his general charge and the facts which he cites to support it. The Irish people he pronounces to be faithless, cruel, inhospitable, and barbarous; and as long as he deals thus only in generalities, the imagination is left at large to divine the extent to which all these vices may have been carried. But whenever, as in the following instance, he subjoins proofs of the alleged charge, the mind is relieved by knowing definitely the amount of the transgression. others the most uninformed in the very rudiments of faith,-they do not as yet pay tithes "This people," he says, "are a most filthy race; a race of all or first-offerings." He then adds the charge before noticed, respecting what he calls their "incestuous" marriages, meaning thereby marriages within that degree of consanguinity which the canons of the church had proscribed.
Another consideration which I have more than once endeavoured to press upon the reader's mind is, that at all periods of Ireland's course with which we are acquainted, so wide has been the interval, in civilization and social comforts, between her highest and
* In St. Bernard's Preface to this work, which is addressed to Congan, he says, "Tu id mihi Abba Congane, injungis. ..... ac tecum pariter (ut ex Hybernia scribis) vestra illa omnis ecclesia sanctorum, libens obedio.
He makes one of these Ossorian wolves tell his own story ;-" De quodam hominum genere sumus Os. syriensium, unde quolibet septennio per imprecationem sancti cujusdam Natalis scilicet Abbatis....formam enim humanam prorsus exuentes, induunt lupinam."
"Gens enim hæc, gens spurcissima, gens vitiis involutissima, gens omnium gentium in fidei rudimentis incultissima:-Nondum enim decimas vel primitias solvunt."-Topog. Dist. 3. c. 19.
lowest classes, that no conclusion founded solely on acquaintance with one part of her population can furnish any analogies by which to judge of the real condition of the other. Giraldus himself appears to have been aware of this peculiarity in the structure of Irish society, or at least to have been puzzled by the contrasts resulting from it; and hence his summary of the character of the people is, that "where they are good you will find none better,-where they are bad, none worse."*
In his account of the clergy of the country, there are but few dark shades interspersed. He speaks of them as commendable for their attention to all religious duties, and possessing, among various other virtues which he allows to them, the "prerogative of chastity" in an eminent degree.f He lauds also their exceeding abstinence and sparingness of food; though in wine, he says, they were accustomed, after the fast and toils of the day, to indulge more freely than was becoming.‡ He repeats, however, his commendation of the blameless purity of their lives, which, notwithstanding this indulgence, they most strictly, he admits, preserved. Altogether, his tribute to the character of the Irish clergy (though of the bishops he complains as slothful and inattentive to their duty) is such as, at any period, it would be honourable to a clerical body to receive.
One of his charges against the Irish prelates was, that, from the time of St. Patrick's mission, not a single 1rish bishop had suffered martyrdom for the faith; and, on his advancing, one day, this opinion, in the presence of Maurice, achbishop of Cashel, whom he describes as a learned and discreet man, that prelate thus significantly replied to him: "It is true our nation may seem to be barbarous, uncultivated, and cruel; yet have they always shown reverence and honour to men of the church, nor ever would raise their hands in violence against the saints of God. But there is now come among us a people, who not only know how, but have been accustomed to make martyrs. From henceforth, therefore, Ireland will, like other nations, have her martyrs." ||
In his account of the state of manufactures and the useful arts among the Irish, Giraldus falls into no less inconsistencies than on the subject of their morals and manners. For while, on the one hand, he tells us that they had no sort of merchandize, nor practised any mechanical art whatsoever, he informs us, on the other, of articles common among them, such as cloth dresses, fringes, linen shirts, military weapons well steeled, musical instruments, and other works of art, all implying a certain advancement in different trades and handicrafts. T He mentions a book, also which he had seen at Kildare, containing a Concordance of the Four Gospels, according to the correction of St. Jerome; and which is described by him as so beautifully painted and embellished with innumerable emblems and miniatures, that you might be sure, he adds, it was the workmanship not of human, but of angelic hands.**
* "Est enim gens hæc cunctis fere in actibus immoderata et in omnes affectus vehementissima. sic mali, deterrimi sunt et nusquam pejores: ita et bonis meliores non reperies." The learned Petavius (Petau) attributes, almost in the same words, the same character to the ancient Athenians.-Orat. 8.
Inter varias quibus pollet virtutes, castitatis prærogativa præeminet atque præcellet." c. 27. "Inter tot millia vix unum invenies, qui post jugem tam jejuniorum quam orationum instantiam, vino variisque potionibus diurnos labores enorimius quam deceret, noctu non redimat."— Ibid.
Unde et hoc pro miraculo duci potest, quod ubi vina dominantur, Venus non regnat."
"Verum est, inquit ; quia licet gens nostra Barbara, nimis inculta et crudelis esse videtur, veris tamen Ecclesiasticis honorem magnum, et reverentiam semper exhibere solebant, et in sanctos Dei nulla occasione manum extendere. Sed nunc in regnum gens advenit quæ martyres et facere novit et consuevit. A modo Hibernia, sicut aliæ regiones, martyres habebit."-Dist. iii. c. 32.
¶"Item non lino vel lanificio, non aliquo mercimoniorum genere, nce ulla mechanicarum artium specie vitam producunt."-Dist. iii. c. 10. See Gratianus Lucius, c. 12, where he clearly proves, from Giraldus's own showing, that the Irish must have had "carminatores, tinctores, metrices, textores, fullones, panni tonsores, et sartores."
**Ut vere hæc omnia angelica potius quam humana intelligentią jam asseveraveris esse composita."— Dist. ii. c. 38.
Condition of Ireland during the reign of king John.-The dissensions among the natives fomented by the great English Lords.-Contention between Cathal and Carrach for the principality of Connaught.-Each abetted by English auxiliaries.-Two thirds of that province surrendered by Cathal to king John.-Rivalry between John de Courcy and Hugh de Lacy.-De Courcy sent prisoner to England,-The earldom of Ulster transferred, on his death, to De Lacy.-Murder of De Courcy's natural son by one of the De Lacys.-Expedition of king John to Ireland.-Submission of many of the Irish chiefs.-Effect of his presence upon the English barons.-Panic and flight of William de Braosa and the two De Lacys.-Outrage committed by the septs of Wicklow.-Introduction by John of English laws and usages into Ireland,-His return to England.-Administration of De Grey.Peace in Ireland.
THE reign of king John, which, in the hands of the English historian, presents so proud and stirring an example of successful resistance to wrong, exhibits in our Irish records, but a melancholy picture of slavery and suffering. Some brief struggles were, indeed, attempted, in the course of this reign, by the natives; but, while fondly persuading themselves that, in these efforts, they fought in their own cause, they were, really, but instruments in the hands of some rival English lords, who, by exciting and assisting the native chieftains against each other, divided and weakened the national strength, and thereby advanced their own violent and rapacious views.
Thus, when, on the death of the monarch Roderic, his two sons broke out into A. D. fierce contention for the right of succession, William de Burgh, a baron of the 1198. family of Fitz-Adelm, espoused the cause of the brother named Carrach, while John de Courcy and Walter de Lacy were seen to range themselves on the side of Cathal of the Bloody Hand;* and a signal victory gained over the latter and his English auxiliaries, at Kilmacdaugh, appeared, for a time, to have finally decided the contest. As the alliance, however, of William de Burgh had been chiefly the means of ensuring Carrach's success, there was yet a chance that this powerful lord might be brought to
desert the chief's cause, and that thus the fortunes of the discomfited Cathal A. D. might again be retrieved. Speculating, justly, as it appears, on the selfish views 1200. of De Burgh, this prince held forth to him such prospects of gain and advantage, as succeeded in winning him over from the banner of his rival. With the aid of so disreputable an alliance, Cathal again took the field against his brother, and, after a sanguinary action, in the course of which Carrach was slain, regained his principality.
Down to this period, the province of Connaught, the hereditary kingdom of the last Irish monarch, had, however, torn by civil dissension, continued to preserve its territorial integrity, as guaranteed by the solemn treaty between Henry and king Roderic. But at the crisis we have now reached, this inviolability of the realm of the O'Connors was set aside, and through the act of its own reigning prince. Whether from weariness of the constant dissensions he had been involved in, or, perhaps, hoping that by the cession of a part of his territories he might secure a more valid title to the remainder, Cathal, of his own free will, agreed to surrender to king John two parts of Connaught, and to hold the third from him in vassalage, paying annually for it the sum of 100 marks. The letter of king John, wherein the terms of this compact are stated and agreed to, is A. D. addressed to Meyler Fitz-Henry, who, was, at this time, justiciary or lord justice of Ireland and whose name is associated with the earliest adventures of the AngloNormans in this island.
See chap. xxxii. of this Work, pp. 299. 300.
† Ware's Annals, ad. an. 1200.
Annal. Inisfall. The Book of Clonmacnoise, at the years 1201-2, commemorates a number of achievements performed by Cathal, in conjunction with William de Burgh.
Close Roll, 6 John.
This letter is given by Leland at full length, p. 175.
The mischief of the policy pursued by Henry II., in deputing to an upstart and suddenly enriched aristocracy (the most odious, perhaps, of all forms of political power) the administration of Irish possessions, was in a few instances more strikingly exemplified than in the rivalry, which now had reached its most disturbing height, between John de Courcy and the rich and powerful baron, Hugh de Lacy, son of the first lord of Meath. Following the example of De Courcy himself, this baron had assumed for some time, a state of princely independence, entering into treaties with his brother lords and the native chiefs, and aiding the latter in their local and provincial feuds.
On the accession, however, of John to the English throne, the daring openness with which De Courcy spoke of that event, as well as of the dark and guilty deed by which it was followed, drew down upon him the king's heaviest wrath; and to his rival, Hugh de Lacy, now made lord justice, was committed the not unwelcome task of seizing the rebellious baron, and sending him prisoner to England. What was ultimately the fate of this hardy warrior we have no trust-worthy means of ascertaining.* The stories toldf of his subsequent adventures in England, his acceptance of the challenge of the champion of France, and his display of prowess in the presence of the two kings, are all not only fabulous in themselves, but wholly at variance with known historical events. That he did not succeed, as some have alleged, in regaining his place in the royal favour, may be taken for granted from the fact that, though he left a son to inherit his possessions, both the title and property of the earldom of Ulster were, on his decease, transferred to his rival, Hugh de Lacy. Nor did the hatred he had awakened in this family die with A. D. himself, but extended also to his race; as we find that, not many years after, a 1205. natural son of his, who bore the title of lord of Ratheny and Kilbarrock, was assassinated in cold blood, by one of the De Lacys.
In the year 1210, king John, with the view, chiefly, as it would seem, of diverting the minds of his people from the depressing effects of the papal interdict which now hung like a benumbing spell over his kingdom, undertook a military expedition against Scotland; and, having succeeded in that quarter, led, soon after, a numerous army 1210. into Ireland. Between the exactions and cruelties of the English on one side, and the constant revolts and fierce reprisals of the maddened natives on the other, a sufficient case for armed intervention was doubtless then, as it has been at almost all periods since, but too easily found. The very display, however, of so large a force was, of itself, sufficient to produce a temporary calm. No less than twenty, we are told, of the Irish princes, or chiefs, came to pay homage to the monarch, among whom were O'Neill of Tyrone, and the warlike Cathal, prince of Connaught; the latter offering, for the first time, his homage as a vassal of the English crown. After remaining but two days in Dublin,** the king proceeded to Carrick furgus, the ancient castle of which town he took possession of, and fixed his abode there for ten days.tt
While thus auspicious appears to have been the effect of the presence of royalty upon the natives, it produced, in a different way, no less salutary consequences, by the check it gave to the career of some of those rapacious barons, compared to whose multiform misrule the tyranny of one would have been hailed as a blessing. Among these, one of the most impracticable had been William de Breuse, or Braosa, to whom the king soon after his accession, had made a grant of estates in the south of Ireland. Struck with panic at the consciousness of his own misdeeds, this lord took flight precipitately from the kingdom, leaving his wife and daughter at the mercy of the monarch, who, when at Carrickfurgus, had them both taken into custody, and brought them over with him, on his return into England. At Bristol, he yielded so far to the lady's entreaties, as to allow an interview
According to the Annals of Inisfallen, he was slain by the De Lacys, Hanmar, whom Lodge follows, makes him die in France.
†By Holinshed, Campion, and others.
Pat. Roll. 6 John.
Annal. Hibern. apud Camden.
To defray the expenses of this expedition, he had seized and plundered the wretched Jews, all over England; and the memorable torture inflicted upon a Jew at Bristol, by striking out, every day, one of his cheekteeth, was for the purpose of forcing him to pay down 10,000 marks towards the cost of the Irish expedition. The religious house of Margam, in Wales, was specially exempted from the general exaction levied on this occasion, in consequence of the hospitality extended by its inmates to Henry and his army, both on their way to Ireland, and on their return.-Annal. de Margam.
Walsingham represents Cathal as having been, at this time, conquered and reduced by John. "In suam ditionem redegat totam terram Cutalo rege Conacciæ triumphato."-Ypodig Neustria. But the Annals of Inisfallen, with more correctness, state it to have been an act of willing homage. "Cathal Crob Dearg, king of Connaught, came with a great retinue to pay his court to king John." See, for John taking Cathal under his protection, Rymer, tom. i. p. 136.
** Itinerary of king John.
11 Rex Johannes transfretavit in Hiberniam et cepit ibi castrum Krakefergus.-Chronic. Thoma. Wikes. See also Itinerary.
between her and her husband ;* but she is said to have been afterwards, by his order, imprisoned in Windsor Castle, and, together with her son, inhumanly starved to death.
The two De Lacys, alarmed at the arrival of the king in Ireland, took flight into France, and there found employment, as garden labourers, in the abbey of St. Taurin. In this retreat they had remained concealed for two or three years, when the abbot, induced, by some circumstances, to suspect their real rank, drew forth from themselves the particulars of their story; and then by appealing, in their behalf, to the clemency of John, succeeded in prevailing upon him to receive them again into favour. On condition of Walter paying 2500 marks for Meath, and Hugh, on his part, paying 4000 marks for the earldom of Ulster, the two brothers were both reinstated in their possessions. In grateful acknowledgment of the service rendered him by the abbot of St. Taurin, Walter de Lacy, in returning to Ireland, brought with him the abbot's nephew, and, after making him a knight, bestowed upon him the seignory of Dingle.
By a writ to his barons and justices, in the ninth year of his reign, John had ordered that measures should be taken for the expulsion from the king's lands of all robbers and plunderers, and all such persons as harboured them; and an instance of outrage, said to have occurred about the same time, will show how daring was the spirit of lawlessness then abroad, even in the neighbourhood of the chief seat of English power. 1209. The population of the city of Dublin, at this time, appears to have consisted, for the most part, of colonists from Bristol, who, induced by the grant which Henry II. had so unceremoniously made of Dublin to the Bristolians, established themselves there in great numbers. These citizens having, on the Monday of Easter week, flocked out from the town, for air and recreation, towards a place still called Cullen's Wood, were there attacked by some lawless septs, inhabiting the mountains in the neighbourhood of Wicklow, and no less than 300 of the assemblage, exclusive of women and children, inhumanly butchered. In commemoration of this massacre, it continued long after to be the custom of the citizens of Dublin to hold a feast every year, on Easter Monday, upon the spot where the memorable outrage had been committed. There, pitching their numerous tents, the citizens passed the day in sports and recreation; and, among other modes of celebrating the occasion, used to challenge, from time to time, the "mountain enemy" to come forth and attack them, if he dared.¶
To introduce into the new territories of which they possessed themselves the laws and usages of the country they had left, would be naturally a favourite object of the first settlers in Ireland; and in this civilizing process Henry II., though so limited in time for his task, made very considerable progress. Thus, for instance, the duties, conditions, and services by which, under the feudal system, property was held in England, continued to be the grounds of tenure in all the grants made by him in locating his new colony. The esta blishment, also, of courts baron, by the respective lords to whom he had granted lands, implies, manifestly, the adoption among them of the common law of England; and it appears, from a record of the reign of Edward III., that Hugh de Lacy, from the time of the grant to him of the territory of Meath by Henry II., held and enjoyed all jurisdictions and cognizance of all pleas within that district.** In the incorporation charter which John, as lord of Ireland, granted to the city of Dublin, in the year 1192, we find the principle of burgage tenure established, the messuages, plantations, and buildings, within the metes of the city, having been granted to the burgesses, "to be held by them in free burgage, and by the service of landgable which they render within the walls." When John, for the second time, now landed upon, the Irish shore, not finding any onemy, to encounter his mighty force, he was left the more leisure to attend to the civil condition of the realm; and not only did he give to the laws and institutions which he found there already established a more extended scope and exercise, but he had, also, the werit of introducing others of no less import to the future well being of the settlement.‡‡
* Letter of king John. See Description of the Patent Rolls, &c., by Thomas D. Hardy, F. S. A. Our histories in general represent De Braosa as being at this time in France. Pat. Roll 17 John. ↑ Annal Hibern. apud Camden. Hanmer.
Pat. Roll, 9 John.
In process of time the singing boys of the cathedral were deputed to offer this defiance (Stuart, Hist. Memoirs of Armagh, ch. viii. ;) and the choirs, says Leland, are annually regaled at this place, called the Wood of Cullen, to the present day.
**Chancery Roll, Dublin, cited by Lynch, View of Legal Institutions, p. 6.
tt Gale, Inquiry into the Ancient Corporate System of Ireland, Appendix, iv. "Nor should it be concealed that, from the beginning of his reign, this inconsistent prince (John) had shown a singular readiness to convert demesne towns into corporate boroughs;-a measure inimical to all despotism."-Roger Wendover.
11 Mathew Paris,-Henry de Knyghton,-Walter de Hemingford, &c. "Statuitque ibidem (says Henry de Knyghton) legem Anglicanam, et ut omnia eorum judicia, secundum eandem, vel Anglicanam consuetudinem, terminarentur."