« ForrigeFortsett »
During the disputes that arose between Henry and two successive sovereigns of Wales, Llewellyn and David, respecting the claim of feudal superiority advanced by the A. D. English king, a perpetual warfare continued to be maintained between the bor1240. derers of the two nations, which grew, at times, into sufficient importance to call into the field the respective sovereigns themselves. On an occasion of this kind, which occurred in the year 1245, the king, being then hard pressed by the Welsh, and likewise suffering from the intense severity of the winter, summoned to his aid Maurice FitzGerald, with his Irish forces.* A letter written at the time, by a nobleman in Henry's camp, thus gives, with the freshness of a sketch taken at the moment, an account of the state of the English army. "The king with his army lyeth at Gannock, fortifying that strong castle, and we live in our tents, thereby, watching, fasting, praying, and A. D. freezing with cold. We watch, for fear of the Welshmen, who are wont to invade and come upon us in the night-time; we fast, for want of meat, for the halfpenny loaf is worth five-pence; we pray to God to send us home speedily; we starve with cold, wanting our winter garments, having no more but a thin linen cloth between us and the wind. There is an arm of the sea under the castle where we lie, whereto the tide cometh, and many ships come up to the haven, which bring victuals to the camp from Ireland and Chester."+
All this time the king was looking impatiently for the Irish forces. At length their sails, says the chronicler, were descried; the fleet reached the shore; and Maurice FitzGerald, and the prince of Connaught, presented themselves in battle array before the king. But the tardiness of the lord justice, on this pressing occasion, was by no means forgiven by his royal master. Among other peculiar rights which the Irish barons, in those times, claimed, it was asserted by them that they were not bound to attend the king beyond the realm; differing in this from the nobles of England, who were obliged by law to assist the king in his expeditions as well without as within the kingdom. That Henry was aware of the exemption claimed by them, is clear, from the writs issued by him on this occasion having been accompanied by an express declaration that their attendance now should not be brought forward as a precedent. To mark his displeasure, however, at the lord justice's conduct, he soon after dismissed him from his high office,notwithstanding some eminent services performed recently by him in Ulster, and appointed Fitz-Geoffrey de Marisco to be his successor; on which Fitz-Gerald, retiring from the world, took upon him the habit of St. Francis, and dying about ten years after, was buried in the friary of that order, of which he had himself been the founder, at Youghal. He had lived all his life, says Mathew Paris, worthily and laudably, with the sole exception of the mark of infamy left, unjustly, perhaps, upon his name, by the share he was supposed to have taken in the events that led to the melancholy death of earl Richard.
A similar requisition for military aid had been addressed by Henry, the preceding year, to those Irish dynasts who had made their submission to the English government, desiring that they would join his standard with their respective forces in the expedition then meditated against the Scottish king. A list of the different Irish toparchs to whom this summons was addressed is found appended to the requisition, and they consist of about the same number, and are supposed to have been chiefly the same individuals who hastened to pay homage to king John, on his last expedition into Ireland.
The great charter of liberty communicated by Henry to his Irish subjects, proved, in the hands of those deputed to dispense its benefits, a worthless and barren gift. In vain were new writs issued, from time to time, by the English monarch, ordering the charter and laws of John to be observed. The absolute will of the petty tyrants among whom the country had been parcelled out now stood in the place of all law; and so low was the crown compelled to stoop, in submission to a tyranny of its own creating, that, 1246. in a writ or mandate sent over by the king in the 30th year of his reign, we find him enjoining his lay and spiritual lords, that, for the sake of the peace and tranquillity of the kingdom, they should "permit" it to be governed by English law. T It must at the same time be always kept in mind, that this anxiety to extend to Ireland the benefit of English law, implied by no means a wish to include in that benefit the Irish people. It was only by rare and reluctant exceptions that the few natives admitted to the protection of the conqueror's law were invested with that high privilege. In a writ of Henry, granting this favour to two brothers, Mamorch and Rotheric, care is taken to mark the exception, by an assertion of the general principle;-the writ stating that
Close Roll, 28 Henry III.
"Quod pro pace et tranquillitate ejusdem terræ, per easdem leges eos regi et et deduci permittant."-Pat. Roll, 30 Henry III.
this favour is conferred upon them notwithstanding that they were Irishmen, and alleging as the grounds of the exception, that they and their forefathers had stood firmly by the English, in their wars against the natives. This exclusive spirit, on the part of the state, called forth, even thus early, and while yet the two races were of one religion, an antagonist principle on the part of the Irish church,-the only portion of the native community that was still strong enough to make any effectual resistance. In a synod held about the year 1250, the archbishops, bishops, and clergy of Ireland, who were of Irish birth, enacted a decree that no Englishman born should be admitted a canon in any of their churches. A papal bull, however, issued at the instance of the king, compelled the clergy to rescind this retaliatory act.
There occurred, frequently, in the course of this reign, disputes between England and Scotland, arising out of those pretensions of feudal superiority on the part of England, which were carried to their highest pitch and realized by Henry's heroic, successor. Among other preparations for an expected war, at one of those junctures, a writ was addressed by the English monarch to Donald, king of Tyrconnel, and about twenty other great Irish chiefs, requiring them to join him with their respective forces, in an expedi. tion against Scotland.†
Another of those exigencies in which Henry had recourse for assistance to Ireland, occurred in the 38th year of his reign, when, under the apprehension that his dominions in Gascony were about to be invaded by the king of Castile, he issued writs to his lord justice in Ireland, pointing out how fatal to both countries might be the success of such an aggression, and urging him to embark, with all his friends, the following Easter, at Waterford, for the purpose of joining him, with horses, arms, and trusty soldiers, in Gascony. "Never, at any time," he adds, “would their aid and counsel be of such importance to him as the present." The same request was shortly after repeated, in writs directed "to the archbishops, bishops, &c.," whereby queen Elianor acquaints them that she had sent over John Fitz-Geoffrey, justiciary of Ireland, to explain to them the state of Gascony and imminent dangers of the crown; while, in another, they are told that their compliance with these requests will be “a measure redounding to their eternal honour."‡ From all this it may fairly be concluded, that, though so backward in many other essential points, this country already, in the peculiar aptitude of its people for military pursuits, contributed largely and usefully to the disposable strength of England for foreign warfare.
In contemplation of the approaching marriage between his son, prince Edward, and the infanta of Spain, Henry made a grant to him and his heirs for ever of the kingdom of Ireland, subjoining certain exceptions, and providing, by an express condition, that Ireland was never to be separated from the English crown. Not content with 1254. this provision, he also, in more than one instance, took care to assert his own jurisdiction, as supreme lord of that land; and even reserved and set aside certain acts of authority, such as the appointment of the lord justice, the issue of a writ of entry out of the Irish Court of Chancery, and one or two other acts of power, which the prince, presuming on his supposed rights, as lord of Ireland, had taken upon him to perform.||
The motive of the monarch, in thus superseding, occasionally, the authority of his son, arose doubtless from the same fear which appears to have influenced Henry II. under similar circumstances, lest the example of a completely separate and independent sovereign of Ireland, might, in after times, be adduced as a precedent for measures affecting the integrity and strength of the whole empire. How far the lot of that country might have been ameliorated or brightened, had prince Edward, as was once intended, gone over thither as lord lieutenant, and assumed personally the administration of its affairs, there is now no use in speculating. That he would have allowed any ordinary scruples, either of justice or humanity, to stand in the way of his stern policy, the course pursued by him afterwards in Scotland sufficiently forbids us to suppose. Whether, among the Irish chiefs of that day, he would have found or called forth a Bruce, a Douglas, or a Randolph, is a question involving too melancholy a contrast between the champions of the respective countries, to be more than thus glanced at in passing, and then left to the charity of silence.
These reflections are of course founded upon the generally received notion that
Quia si ipsi et antecessores sui sic se habuerunt cum Anglicis quamvis Hibernenses, injustum est, lice Hibernenses sint, quod," &c.-Close Roll, 37 Henry III. Pat. Roll, 38 Henry III.
† Pat. Roll, 28 Henry III,
§ Rymer. "Ita tamen quod prædictæ terræ et castra omnia nunquam separentur a coronâ, sed integre remaneant regibus Angliæ in perpetuum."
See in Prynne, cap. 76., the memorable writ (as he styled it) of Henry to the chief justice of Ireland, to stop all proceedings in law upon the illegal writ issued by the prince, his son.
prince Edward was in Ireland; but there is reason to believe, though we find no mention of it in any of our histories, that he did once, for a short time, visit his Irish dominions. There is, at least, extant, a royal mandate addressed by Henry in the year A. D. 1255, to this prince, approving of his project of passing over to Ireland from 1255. Gascony, and remaining there for the winter,-with the view, as he adds, of reforming and regulating the state of that country; and that the prince may have put such an intention in practice, is rendered, in a high degree, probable, by the tenor of letters addressed to him by the king, in the very same year, ordering him to convoke before him the prelates, barons, and other magnates of Ireland, for the purpose of consulting with them as to the redress and remedy of certain encroachments on their ancient rights complained of by the clergy.
Could a gallant example of self-defence have roused the Irish to an effective effort for their own deliverance, they had now, in the struggle of their brave neighbours the Welsh, against English aggression, a precedent worthy of being emulated by them;for most truly was it said of that people, now armed to a man in defence of their mountain soil, that "their cause was just, even in the sight of their enemies." In the course of this warfare, the earl of Chester, who was engaged for some time on the side of the Welsh, had recourse for assistance to Ireland; but prince EdA. D. ward, fitting out hastily a fleet, attacked the vessels which contained this Irish force, and having sunk the greater number of them, sent the remainder back with tidings of the defeat.
Shortly after, the king himself, renewing hostilities with the Welsh prince, Llewellyn, sent to ask for troops and supplies from Ireland, against the very cause she had lately so warmly espoused. Thus was it then, as it has been too frequently since, the hard fate of the Irish to be not only themselves the bond-slaves of England, but to be made, also, her unwilling instruments, in imposing the same yoke of slavery upon others.
In the year 1259 the office of lord justice was held by sir Stephen Longespè, who in an encounter with O'Neill, in the streets of Down, slew that chief and 350 of his followers. Before the end of the year, however, Longespé himself was treacherously
murdered by his own people. During the administration of his successor, WilA. D. liam Den, a general rising of the Mac Carthys of Desmond threw all Munster into 1259. confusion. This warlike sept, the ancient proprietors of the kingdom of Desmond, had, by the grants made to the Geraldines in that territory, been despoiled of almost the whole of their princely possessions. It was not, however, without fierce and frequent struggles that they suffered their soil to be thus usurped by the foreigners; and, at the time we now treat of, attacking suddenly a number of nobles and knights collected at Callan, they slew, among other distinguished Geraldines, the lord John Fitz-Thomas, founder of the monastery of Tralee, together with Maurice, his son, eight barons, 1261. and fifteen knights. In consequence of this great success, says the chronicler, the Mae Carthys grew, for a time, so powerful, that "the Geraldines durst not put a plough into the ground in Desmond.T
As usual, however, the dissension of the natives among themselves proved the safety and strength of the common enemy's cause. The mutual jealousy to which joint success so frequently leads now sprang up among the different septs, both of Carbery and Muskerry; and the Mac Carthys, O'Driscolls, O'Donovans, and Mac Mahons, who had lately joined, with such signal success, against the English being now disunited among themselves, fell powerless before them.
The remaining years of this long reign continued to roll on, at once dully and turbidly, in the same monotonous course of fierce but ignoble strife which had darkened its records from the commencement. As if schooled into civil discord by the example of the natives, scarcely had the swords of the great English lords found time to rest from their wars with the Mac Carthys and Mac Mahons, than they again drew them in deadly conflict against each other; and the families of the De Burghs and the Geraldines were now engaged in as fierce contention among themselves, as, but a short time before, they had
The writ for the sailing of the prince to Ireland, may be found in Rymer, tom. i. p. 560, 561.
"Causa autem eorum etiam hostibus eorum just a videbatur."
This officer, who was a descendant of the countess Ela of Salisbury (foundress of Lacock Abbey,) is styled, in the Book of Lacock, earl of Ulster; and Borlase, among others, has adopted the mistake. The truth is, Stephen Longespé married the widow of Hugh de Lacy, who had been male earl of Ulster by king John, and hence, no doubt the misconception. See Annals and Antiquities of Lacock Abbey, by the Rev. W. L. Bowles, pp. 154, 155,
The Mac Carthys (says the old chronicler, in language worthy of his subject) "were now playing the devil in Desmond."
been waging jointly against the Irish. Walter de Burgh, who in consequence of his marriage with the daughter and heiress of Hugh de Lacy, had been created earl of Ul- A. D. ster, was, at this time, the head of the great house of the De Burghs; and to such a 1264. pitch had arisen the feud between them and the Geraldines, that, at a meeting held this year at Castle Dermond, Maurice Fitz-Maurice Fitz-Gerald, assisted by John FitzThomas (afterwards earl of Kildare,) audaciously seized on the persons of Richard de Capella, the lord justice, of Richard de Burgh, heir apparent of Ulster, of Theobald le Butler, and one or two other great partisans of the family of the De Burghs, and committed them to prison in the castles of Ley and Dunamase.*
At length, the attention of the English monarch, already sufficiently distracted by the difficulties of his own position, was drawn to the disturbed state of his Irish dominions. A parliament or council was held at Kilkenny, by whose advice the prisoners so arbitrarily detained by the Geraldines were released; and the king, recalling the present lord justice, appointed in his place David Barry (the ancestor of the noble family of Barrymore,) who, curbing the insolent ambition of the Geraldines, restored peace between the two rival houses.
Among those unerring symptoms of a weak and vicious systern of policy, which meet the eye on the very surface of the dreary history we are pursuing, may be rec- A. D. koned the frequent change of chief governors;-showing how uneasy, under such 1267. laws, was power, as well to the rulers as the ruled. David Barry had been but a few months the lord justice, when he was replaced by sir Robert de Ufford, during whose administration there came over a writ from king Henry to levy aurum regina for Elianor, the wife of prince Edward. This act of sovereignty, exercised by Henry in Ireland, sufficiently proves how far from his intention it had been to cede to his son the right of dominion over that realm. But a still stronger proof is afforded by a writ issued in the same year, wherein he annuls a grant of some lands made by Edward, without his permission, and transfers them to the son of his own brother, Richard, earl of Cornwall. During the administration of sir James Audley, or Aldethel, the last but one of the numerous chief governors who administered the affairs of the country during this A. D. reign, a more than ordinary effort of vigour was made by the natives to wreak vengeance, at least, on their masters, if not to right and emancipate themselves. Rising up in arms all over the country, they burned, despoiled, and slaughtered in every direction, making victims both of high and low. In the country then called Offaley, all the fortified places were destroyed by them; while, in the mean time, the prince of Connaught, availing himself of the general excitement, took the field against Walter de Burgh, earl of Ulster, and putting his forces to rout, killed, among a number of other nobles and knights, the lords Richard and John de Verdon.
In the year 1272, this long reign-the longest to be found in the English annals-was brought to a close: and the few meager and scattered records which have been strung together in this chapter comprise all that Ireland furnishes towards the history of a reign whose course, in England, was marked by events so pregnant with interest and importance,-events which by leading to a new distribution of political power, were the means of introducing a third estate into the constitution of the English legislature. It is somewhat remarkable, too, that the very same order of men, the fierce and haughty barons, who laid the foundation, at this time, in Ireland, of a system of provincial despotism, of which not only the memory but the vestiges still remain, should have been likewise, by the strong force of circumstances, made subservient to the future establishment of representative government and free institutions in England.
Annal. Hib, ap. Camd.-Dunamase, signifying the Fortress of the Plain, was in ancient times, the stronghold of the O'Moores, princes of Ley. As this rock bounded the English Pale on the west, a castle was built there for the protection of the vicinity, which Vallancey thinks must have been erected about the beginning of Henry the Third's reign; as, nearly at the same time, the castle of Ley, a structure similar in its general style of architecture, and about eight miles distant, was erected by the barons of Offaley on the banks of the Barrow."-Collectanea, vol. ii.
† See this writ in Cox.
Laws of England not yet extended to the Irish.-Revolt of the natives-seize on the person of the lord deputy, and defeat his successor in battle.-Wars of De Clare in Thomondhis treachery to the contending chiefs-is defeated by Tirlogh O'Brian.-Petition of the Irish to be admitted to the benefits of English law-the king favourable to their request.Grant of charters of denization.-Continuance of the feud between the Geraldines and the De Burghs. Great power of the earl of Ulster.-Contest between De Vescy and the baron of Offaley-triumph of the latter, and his insolence in consequence-throws the earl of Ulster into prison.-Truce between the Geraldines and De Burghs-A parliament assembled.Irish forces summoned to join the king in Scotland.-Savage murders committed both by English and Irish.
THERE had now elapsed exactly a century from the time of the landing of Henry II.; and it would be difficult to pronounce a severer or more significant comment upon A. D. the policy pursued by the rulers of Ireland, during that period, than is found in a 1272. petition addressed to king Edward, in an early part of his reign, praying that he
would extend to the Irish the benefit of the laws and usages of England..*
It was the wise boast of the Romans, that their enemies, on the day they were conquered, became their fellow citizens;† and one of the most eloquent of the Roman philosophers demands, "What would have become of the empire had not a kindly Providence mixed up together the victors and the vanquished?" Far different was the policy adopted by the rude satraps of the English colony, who, seeing no safety for their own abused power but in the weakness of those subjected to them, took counsel of their fears, and, never relaxing the unsure hold, continued through ages to keep the Irish in the very same hostile and alien state in which they had found them.
The reign of Edward I., which forms so eventful a portion of England's history and, combines in its course so rare and remarkable a mixture of the brilliant and the solid, the glorious and the useful, presents, as viewed through the meager records of Ireland, a barren and melancholy waste-unenlivened even by those fiery outbreaks of just revenge, which, at most other periods, flash out from time to time, lighting up fearfully the scene of suffering and strife. In the first year, indeed, of this reign, before the return of Edward from abroad, advantage was taken of his absence, by the natives, to make a sudden and desperate effort for their own deliverence. Attacking the castles of Roscommon Aldleck, and Sligo, they dismantled, or, as it is said, destroyed thein;|| and at 1272. the same time were enabled, through the treachery of his followers, to seize the person of the lord justice, Maurice Fitz-Maurice, and cast him into prison. T This nobleman was succeeded in his high office by the lord Walter Genevil, newly returned from the Holy Land, during whose administration the Scots and RedA. D. shanks, out of the Highlands, made a sudden incursion into Ireland, and committing 1273. the most cruel murders and depredations, escaped with their booty before the inhabitants had time to rally in their defence. Shortly after, however, a considerable force under Richard de Burgh and sir Eustace de Poer, invading, in their turn, the Highlands and Scottish isles, spread desolation wherever they went, putting to death all whom they could find; while such as dwelt, in the manner of the ancient Irish, in caves, were smoked out from thence, like foxes from their holes, or destroyed by suffocation.
The successor of Genevil in the government of the country was Robert de A. D. Ufford, now for the second time lord justice; and the five or six following years, during which, personally, or through his deputy, Stephen de Fulburn, he managed the affairs of the country, were distracted by a series of petty wars, in which not only
* Prynne, cap Ixxvi. 257
"Conditor noster Romulus tantum apientia valuit, ut plerosque populos eodem die hostes deinde cives habuerit."-Tacitus.
"Quid hodie esset imperium, nisi salubris providentia victos permiscuisset victoribus?"—Seneca. §Quasi omnes Hiberni guerraverunt," says a MS. fragment, cited by Cox, respecting this general revolt. Hanmer. T Ware's Annals.