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Some writers, it is true, have asserted that on this monarch's accession to the throne, he found the laws of England already in full operation throughout his Irish dominions. But there seems little doubt that to him is to be attributed, besides other useful measures, the division of such parts of the kingdom as were in his possession into shires, or counties,* with their respective sheriffs and other officers, after the manner of England; and that the first sterling money circulated in Ireland was coined under his direction.†
We need look, indeed, for no stronger evidence of the important share which this prince, in other respects so odious, took in the great task of transplanting his country's laws and institutions into Ireland, than is found in a record of the reign of his successor, Henry III., wherein it is set forth that "John brought with him into Ireland discreet men, skilled in the laws, by whose advice he commanded the laws of England to be observed in Ireland, and left the said laws reduced in writing, under his seal, in the Exchequer of Dublin." Having provided thus for the better administration of that kingdom's affairs, and in so far redeemed the disgrace of his former experiment, the king set sail for England, leaving to John de Grey, bishop of Norwich, whom he had appointed lord justice, the task of carrying all these measures into effect; and such was the tranquillizing influence, both of his policy and of the skill and vigour with which he administered it, that, when the French king, shortly after, threatened an invasion of England, the lord justice was enabled to spare from the force under his command a company of knights and 300 infantry, to aid the cause of his royal master.¡
Throughout the remainder of this monarch's reign, which passed in a series of struggles, as dishonouring as they were disastrous, first with the pope, and then with his own turbulent_barons, there appears to have been no effort made by his subjects in Ireland, whether English or native, to turn the' embarrassments of his position to account for the advancement of their own several interests and views. On the contrary, in defiance of all ordinary speculation, and a similar anomaly presents itself at more than one crisis of our history, while England was affording an example of rebellion and riot, which mere neighbourhood, it might be supposed, would have rendered infectious, the sister country mean while looked quietly on, and remained in unbroken peace. There are extant, indeed, letters of John, written at the time when the English barons were in arms against his authority, returning thanks to the barons of Ireland for their fidelity and service to him, and asking their advice respecting some arduous affairs in which he was then engaged. It appears, also, from an order addressed at this time to the archbishop of Dublin, that seasonable presents to the native princes and chiefs were among the means adopted for keeping them in good humour; that prelate having been commissioned to purchase, forthwith, a sufficient quantity of scarlet cloth, to be made into robes for the Irish kings, and others of the native grandees. T
As in the contentions between John and his barons the people of Ireland had taken no part, so neither in the Charter of Liberties wrung from him by those turbulent nobles did his Irish subjects enjoy any immediate communion or share. There were notwithstanding, present, on the side of the king, at Runnymede, two eminent personages, Henri de Londres,** and William, earl marshal,tt who might both, from their 1215. respective stations, be naturally looked to as representatives of Irish interests; De Londres being archbishop of Dublin, and at this time justiciary of Ireland, while the lord marshal was a baron of immense hereditary possessions in that country. By neither, however, of these great lords, does any claim appear to have been advanced in behalf
*Of the counties of Ireland, says Ware," twelve were erected in Leinster and Munster, by king John: viz. Dublin, Kildare, Meath, Uriel (or Louth,) Catherlough (or Carlow.) Kilkenny, Wexford, Waterford, Cork, Limerick, Kerry, and Tipperary."
† Some of the coins of John were struck before his accession to the throne. Those which he caused to be struck at this time (1210) consisted of pennies, half-pence, and farthings, of the same standard as the English which gives twenty-two and a half grains to the penny.-Lindsay's View of the Coinage of Ireland.
See this writ in Cox, p. 51.
Several of such writs from the crown, during this reign, asking "consilium et auxilium" of the nobles of Ireland, may be found among the records in the Tower.
Rymer tom. i.-Presents of cloth were sometimes made to the chiefs in acknowledgment of their au thority; and so late as the middle of th fifteenth century, we find John May, on being appointed archbishop of Armagh presenting to O'Neil of Ulster, six yards of good cloth for his (O'Neil's) investiture, and three yards of like cloth for his wifes tunic.-(Regist. Armach.
** It is told of this prelate, that, having called together his tenants, for the purpose of learning, as he alleged, by what title they held their lands, he thus got possession of all their leases, and other evidences of their property, and then consigned the whole to the flames; for which act, it is added, he was nicknamed "Scorch villain," or " Burn bill" (as Holinshed explains it,) by the natives.-See this idle story, with all its redundant particulars, in Hanmer's Chronicle.
tt The founder of Tintern abbey, in the county of Wexford. This lord, being in great danger at sea, made a vow to found an abbey on whatever spot he should reach in safety. His bark found shelter in Bannow bay, and he religiously performed his vow, filling the abbey which he there founded with Cistercian monks, brought from Tintern, in Monmothshire.-Archdall, Monast. Hibern.
of the king's Irish subjects, nor any effort made to include them specifically in the grants and privileges accorded by the charter.
The same respite, however, from civil strife, continued through the remainder of John's inglorious reign; and the chief merit of this unusual calm may doubtless be attributed to the talent and judgment of Henri de Londres and Geoffrey de Marisco, to whom, successively, and, for a time, jointly, during this interval, was entrusted the task of administering the affairs of the realm.
Accession of Henry III.-Grant of the great charter to his English subjects in Ireland.— Exclusion of the natives from all share of English laws and liberties.-Individual exceptions.-Hostilities between Hugh de Lacy and the Earl of Pembroke.-Surrender of their principalities by the Irish chiefs-agree to hold them in future as tenants of the crown.Breach of faith on the part of the King towards Cathal.-Visit of Feidlim, Prince of Connaught, to the English King.-Rebellion and death of Richard, Earl Marshall.—Irish forces employed by the King in his warfare against Wales.-Admission of a few natives to the participation of English law.-Threatened invasion of the King's dominions in Gascony, and pressing requests for aid from Ireland.-Grant by Henry of the Lordship of Ireland to his son, Prince Edward.-Important reservations in that grant.-Probability that Prince Edward visited Ireland.-Renewal of hostilities with Wales.-General rising of the Mac Carthys of Desmond.—A number of Geraldine Lords and Knights put to death by them.Fall out among themselves and are crushed. Dissensions also between the De Burghs and the Geraldines.—A parliament, or council, held at Kilkenny, and peace restored between these two families.-Adininistration of Sir Robert de Ufford.
THE new monarch being but ten years old when he ascended the throne, it became necessary to appoint a guardian both of the king and of the realm; and the earl A. D. of Pembroke, who, as marshal of England, was already at the head of the armies, 1216. and who, though faithful to the fortunes of John, had yet retained the respect of the people, was, by a general council of his brother barons, appointed protector of the realm. To this nobleman, in addition to his immense possessions in England and Wales, had devolved, by his marriage with Isabella, daughter and heiress of earl Strongbow, the lordship, or rather royal palatinate, of Leinster. Having, personally, therefore, so deep an interest in the prosperity of the English settlement, it could little be doubted that affairs connected with that country's welfare would under his government, become objects of special attention.
Accordingly one of the first measures of the new reign was to transmit to Ireland a duplicate of the instrument by which, in a grand council held at Bristol, Henry had renewed and ratified the great Charter of Liberty granted by his father. Neither had the English settlers themselves been so little alive to the favourable prospect, which a reign, opening under the auspices of the lord of Leinster, presented, as not to avail themselves of the first opportunity of making an appeal to the consideration of the throne. Shortly after the king's accession, they had laid before him, through the medium of one of his chaplains, Ralph of Norwich, a statement of the grievances under which they laboured; and it was in about seven weeks after that the duplicate of the renowned English charter was transmitted to them,* "sealed," says the letter of Henry, which accompanied it, "with the seals of our lord Gualo, legate of the apostolical see, and of our trusty earl, William Marshall, our governor, and the governor of our kingdom,-because as yet we possess no seal."+
There prevailed a notion, it is evident, through the few first reigns of the Anglo-Irish period, that the kingdom of Ireland ought to have for its rulers some member of the reign
* Pat. Roll, Henry III.
† Qaui sigillum nondum habuimus.
ing family of England. An unsuccessful trial of this experiment took place, as we have seen, under Henry Plantagenet; and the reign at present occupying our attention exhibits an equally injudicious partition of the royal title and power; the first suggestion of such a plan having originated with the Irish barons themselves, who, in the memorial addressed by them to Henry, on his accession, desired, among other requests, that either the queen dowager or the king's brother should be sent to reside in that country. In giving an account of the transmission to Ireland, by Henry III., of a copy or duplicate of the great charter, historians have left it too much to be implied that the charters for both countries were exactly the same; without any, even, of those 1216. adaptations and compliances which the variance in customs between the two countries would reasonably require. The language of Henry himself, in transmitting the document, somewhat favours this view of the transaction. But such was not likely to have been the mode in which an instrument, then deemed so important, was framed. Among the persons by whose advice it had been granted were William Marshall, lord of Leinster, Walter de Lacy, lord of Meath, John, lord marshal of Ireland,† and several other noblemen, all connected, as lords of the soil and public functionaries, with Ireland, and intimately acquainted with the peculiar laws and customs of the land. As might naturally be expected, therefore, several minute but not unimportant differences are found to exist between the two charters: some in the forms, for instance, of administering justice; others in the proceedings for the advowsons of churches; and some arising out of the peculiar Irish custom as to dowers; while all imply, in those who drew up the document, a desire to accommodate the laws of the new settlers to the customs and usages of the country in which they were located.‡
It appears strange, however, that any such deference for the native customs and institutions should be shown by legislators, who yet left the natives themselves almost wholly out of their consideration; the monstrous fact being, that the actual people of Ireland were wholly excluded from any share in the laws and measures by which their own country was to be thus disposed of and governed. Individual exceptions, indeed, to this general exclusion of the natives occur so early as the time of king John, during whose reign there appear " charters" of English laws and liberties, to such of the natives as thought it necessary to obtain them; and it is but just to say of John, as well as of his immediate successors, Henry and Edward, that they endeavoured, each of them, to establish a community of laws among all the inhabitants of the country. But the foreign lords of the land were opposed invariably to this wise and just policy; and succeeded in substituting for it a monstrous system of outlawry and proscription, the disturbing effects of which were continued down from age to age, nor have ceased to be felt and execrated even to the present day.
The desire of plunder, which had hitherto united the English settlers against the natives, was now, by a natural process, dividing the enriched English among themselves. The first very violent interruption of the peace that occurred in Henry's reign arose out of the rival pretensions of two powerful barons, Hugh de Lacy and the young William, earl of Peinbroke, the latter of whom, on the death of his father, in 1219, had succeeded to his vast Irish possessions. Some part of the lands which thus descended to him having been claimed, as rightfully his own, by De Lacy, the arbitrement of the sword was appealed to, in preference to that of the law, and fierce hostilities between them ensued; in the course of which Trim|| was besieged by Pembroke, and gallantly defended, and the counties of Leinster and Meath were alternately laid waste. The power- 1220. ful chief of Tyrone, O'Neill, lent his aid, in this war of plunder to De Lacy.T How little of fairness or good faith the wretched natives had to expect in their dealings with the foreigner, was, about this time, made but two warningly manifest. Regarding the throne as their only refuge against the swarm of petty tyrants by whom they were harassed, more than one of the great Irish captains now followed the example of Cathal of Connaught, in formally surrendering to the king their ancient principalities, and then receiving back a portion by royal grant, to be held in future by them as tenants of the English crown;-thus making a sacrifice of part of their hereditary rights, in order to
* Close Roll. 1 Henry III.
Nephew of the lord William Marshall, and appointed by king John to the marshalsea of all Ireland, in the ninth year of his reign.
Lynch, View of the Legal Institutions, &c. established in Ireland, chap. 2.
So early as the year 1216, John had laid a precedent for this sort of charters, by his grant of “English law and liberty" to Donald O'Neill.-Pat. Roll, 17 John.
It is generally believed that the still existing castle of Trim was built by the younger De Lacy, soon after this seige.
enjoy, as they hoped, more securely what remained. In this manner O'Brian, prince of Thomond, received from Henry a grant of part of that territory, for which he was to pay a yearly rent of 130 marks. The fate of Connaught, however, held forth 1221. but scanty encouragement to those inclined to rely on such specious compacts. In despite of the solemn engagement entered into by king John,t in the year 1219, assuring to Cathal the safe possession of a third part of Connaught, on the condition of his surrendering the other two parts to the king, the whole of that province was now, by a grant of Henry III., bestowed upon Richard de Burgh,-the factious baron who had caused so much trouble to the crown, in the reign of king John,-to be taken, possession of by him after Cathal's death.
This violation of public faith was not allowed to pass unresisted or unrevenged. On the death of Cathal, which occurred soon after, the people of his province, re1223. gardless of Henry's grant, and supported by the ever ready sword of O'Neill, proceeded to elect a successor to the chieftainship, and conferred that dignity upon Tirlogh, Cathal's brother. So daring a defiance of the will of the government called down on the offenders the vengeance of the lord justice, Geoffrey de Marisco; and a long furious struggle ensued, during which, the sovereignty of Connaught, after having passed from Tirlogh to Aedh, a son of Cathal, settled at last on the brow of Feidlim, another son of that prince.
However fertile were these dark times in acts of injustice, violence, and treachery, there are few events in which all these qualities can be found more odiously exemplified, than in the melancholy fate of the young Richard, earl marshal, son of the late protector of the realm. This lord, having incurred the resentment of Henry, by joining in 1233. a confederacy against him, with the earl of Cornwall and other malcontent lords, found himself, without trial, deprived of his high office of marshal, and was forced to retire for safety into Wales; where entering into an alliance with Llewellyn and other chiefs of that province, he successfully defended one of his own castles that had been attacked by the king's troops, and made reprisals on the royal territories in
To repress such daring movements by force, would have been, on the king's part, no more than an exercise of a natural right of self-defence. But treachery was the means employed to get rid of this refractory young lord. By the base contrivance, as it is said, of the bishop of Winchester, Henry's chief adviser, letters under the kings seal, fraudulently obtained, were sent to the lord justice, Maurice Fitz-Gerald, to Hugh and Walter de Lacy, Richard de Burgh, Geoffrey de Marisco, and others of the Irish barons, informing them that Richard, late earl marshal of England, having been proscribed, banished, and deprived of his estates, by the king, yet still continuing in rebellion against his authority, it was required of these lords, that should Richard by chance land in Ireland, they should forthwith seize upon his person, and send him, dead or alive, to the king. In consideration, it was added, of this service, all the possessions and lands that had devolved to Richard in Ireland, and were now at the king's disposal, would by him be granted to them and their heirs forever.‡
So tempting a bribe, to men brought up in no very scrupulous notions of right and wrong, could not fail to appeal with irresistible effect; and from thenceforth, no art or treachery appears to have been spared to lure the victim into their toils. In order to in
duce him to pass over into Ireland, exaggerated accounts were conveyed to him of A. D. the force of his immediate adherents; together with secret assurances of support 1334. from many of the barons themselves. Thus deceived as to the extent of his resources, he rashly ventured over with a guard of but fifteen followers, and, immediately on his arrival, was waited upon by the chief actor in the plot, Geoffrey de Marisco; who, reminding him of his ancient rights, and of the valiant blood flowing in his veins, advised him to avenge the insults he had received by attacking the king's territories without delay. This advice the unsuspecting young earl adopted; and, taking the field with whatever force he could hastily collect, succeeded in recovering some of his own castles, and got possession of the city of Limerick after a siege of but four days.
Still farther to carry on the delusion till all should be ripe for his ruin, the treacherous barons now affected alarm at the success of his arms, as threatenep danger to the king's government; and, proposing a truce, requested an interview with him for the purpose
Cox. According to Leland, but, I think, incorrectly, the payment was a yearly rent of 100%. and a fine of 1000 marks. "This was the only grant (says Cox) made by the crown of England to any mere Irishman to that time, excepting that to the king of Connaught."
↑ Mathew Paris.
"Limeric quoque famosam Hiberniæ civitatem quadriduana cepit obsidione.”—Mathew Paris.
of arranging the terms. To this, little suspecting the treachery that hung over him, the gallant young earl assented; and, attended by Geoffrey de Marisco and about a hundred followers, proceeded to the place of conference on the great plain of Kildare. But it was soon manifest that he had been decoyed thither only to be betrayed. The pretence of a conference had been devised with the sole view of provoking a conflict: and the signal for onset having been given on the side of the barons, Richard found himself suddenly deserted by his perfidious prompter, De Marisco, who, drawing off eighty of the earl's band, left him with little more than the fifteen followers who had accompanied him from Wales, to stand the shock of a force ten times their number. Even thus abandoned and beset, the earl marshal kept his ground, till at length unhorsed, and attacked by a traitor from behind, who plunged a dagger up to the hilt in his back, he fell, all but lifeless, on the field; and being conveyed from thence to one of his own castles, which had just fallen into the hands of the justiciary, Maurice Fitz-Gerald, breathed his last, in the midst of enemies, with only a youth of his own household to watch over him in his dying moments.*
Richard was one of five brothers, the sons of the protector Pembroke, who all lived to be earls of Pembroke, and all died childless; in consequence of which default of heirs, the high and warlike house of Marshal became extinct. The death of this 1234. gallant nobleman, from the peculiar circumstances attending it, created a strong sensation, not only throughout Ireland, but in England where he was looked up to, says Mathew Paris, as "the very flower of the chivalry of modern times."+
Among the few legislative measures, directed to peaceful or useful objects, that greet the course of the historian through these times, must be mentioned a writ addressed by the king to his chief justice in Ireland, for free commerce between the subjects of both kingdoms, without any impediment or restraint;-a measure which “some," it is added, "endeavoured to hinder, to the great prejudice of both."}
The rapacity and violence which had marked the conduct of De Burgh and his kingman, throughout these contests, had been made known to Henry through various channels. Among others, Feidlim, the new dynast of Connaught, had addressed the king A. D. confidentially on the subject,|| and requested leave to visit him in England, for the 1240. purpose of consulting with him on their mutual interests and concerns. After due deliberation, on the part of Henry, the conference with his royal brother of Connaught was accorded; and, so successfully did Feidlim plead his own suit, and expose the injustice of the grasping family opposed to him, that the king wrote to Maurice FitzGerald, then lord justice, and, with a floridness of style, caught, as it would seem, from his new Irish associates, desired that he would "pluck up by the root that fruitless sycamore, De Burgh, which the earl of Kent, in the insolence of his power, had planted in those parts, nor suffer it to bud forth any longer."¶
"Cum uno tantum Juvene de suis inter hostes remansit."-Mathew Paris. This story of the last days and death of the earl Richard occupies in the diffuse narrative of the old historian no less than fourteen or fifteen folio pages. "Militia flos temporum modernorum." The following are tributes to his fame from contemporary writers :
Close Roll, 29 Henry III. Walter Hemingford, a chronicler, who himself lived in this reign, and of whom Leland (Comment. de Script. Britann.) says, that he narrated the events of his own time with the greatest care (" summa curâ,") yet states, that an army was led by the king at this time into Ireland, in consequence of the expedition thither of earl Richard, and that having pacified the country, after that lord's death, he returned the same year to England!
§ Prynne, cap. 76.
Rymer, tom. i. 391.-The following is an extract from Feidlim's letter:-" Grates referimus infinitas ; et maxime pro eo quod pro nobis Willielmo de Dene justo vesto Hiberniæ bonæ memoriæ pro restitutione habenda de dampnis nobis per Walterum de Burgo et suam seguelam, in terra nostra de Tyrmara, illatis, devote scripsisti." See also, writ for the safe conduct of Feidlim (ib. 422,) wherein he is styled "Fedlinius O'Cancanir, filius regis Conact."
TUt ipsius iniquæ palntationis, quam Comes Cantia Hubertus in illis pratibus, dum suâ potentiâ debaccharet, plantavit, infructaosam sicomorum radicitus evulsam, non sineret amplius pullulare."