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Gerald and Raymond,- the latter but lately returned from his fruitless mission to Henry,—and though considerably straitened for the maintenance of the army, prepared boldly for defence. Nor was it long before his resolution and means were put to the trial; as a force, far more considerable than he could have expected to see assembled, was now brought to invest his position on every side ;-—the fleet of the Isles, which consisted of thirty ships, being so stationed as to block up the harbour, while the confederate Irish forces were all encamped around the city, and amounted, according to an estimate most probably exaggerated, to no less than 30,000 men. Among the leaders of this great national force was seen St. Laurence himself,—bearing arms, it is said, like the rest, and endeavouring to animate, by his example and eloquence, the numerous chieftains of all septs and factions, whom he had brought thus together under one banner.
But, encouraging as was all this commencement of the enterprise, the results fell miserably short of the cheering promise which it held forth. Whether from some difficulty in coming to an agreement among themselves, as to the peculiar mode of assault, or probably a persuasion among the majority, that a patient blockade, preventing entirely the introduction of provisions, would be the most secure mode of compelling the garrison to submission, it appears certain that for nearly two months this great besieging force lay wholly inactive before the city. In the desired object, however, of reducing the garrison to the utmost difficulties, the policy adopted was completely successful; and the earl having at length notified a desire to negotiate with the besiegers, the Archbishop of Armagh, as the most worthy representative of all that ought, at least, to have been the feelings of his countrymen at such a crisis, was unanimously deputed to receive his overtures.
The proposition of Strong bow was, that, provided Roderic would raise the siege and consent to receive bim as his vassal, he would, on his part, agree to receive the province of Leinster from the monarch, and to acknowledge him as his sovereign. This proposition having been laid before Roderic by the archbishop, an answer was returned, so much more in consonance with the character of the prelate himself than with that of his unworthy master, that it was most probably of his own dictation, in which it was declared that, unless the English would forth with surrender to Roderic the towns of Dublin, Waterford, and Wexford, together with all the forts and castles then possessed by them, and would agree, on a day assigned, to depart with all their forces from Ireland, the besieging army would without delay attack and storm the city. Taking into account the relative position of the two parties, the garrison being at that moment reduced to extremity, and apparently at the mercy of the besiegers, while the latter were still a fresh unbroken force, there was assuredly nothing in the nature of these terms, however mortifying to the hitherto successful invaders, which the Irish were not justified as well on grounds of equity and mercy to the conquered, as by a sense of duty towards their own aggrieved and insulted country, to demand.* So utterly hopeless was the state of the garrison, that there appeared every prospect of the earl being driven to accept of these terms, or even to surrender at discretion; when, by one of those inspirations of despair which, for the time, invest men with an almost supernatural strength, and enable them to control and conquer fortune itself, the whole complexion of the fortunes of the English were, in a few eventsul hours, brightened and changed.
Having eluded, by some means, the vigilance of the enemy, Donald Kavenagh, the son of the late King Dermot, had contrived to enter the city, and acquaint Strongbow with the distressing intelligence, that Fitz-Stephen was now closely besieged in the fort of Carrig, by a large multitude of the people of Wexford and Hy-Kinsellaght and that having with him but five knights and a small company of archers, if not relieved within a few days,f nat merely himself and his followers, but also his wife and children, who were shut up with him in the fort, must fall into the hands of the fierce and implacable besicgers. "On learning this painful intelligence, the earl summoned without delay a council of war to consult as to the measures that should be pursued; and for some time, all thoughts of their own reduced and desperate condition were forgotten in their anxiety for the fate of Fitz-Stephen and his family. At length, with a courage which could only have arisen out of the very hopelessness of their common lot, Maurice Fitz-Gerald proposed to his comrades, as the only chance now left for their own deliverance, or the relief of his kinsman Fitz-Stephen, that they should at once sally forth with the whole of the garrison, and cut their way through the besieging army.
* See Leland, who views in the same light the terms proposed on this occasion by the Irish. Dr. Campbell, confounding Leland with Lord Lyttelton, quotes the latter as expressing this opinion respecting the terms, though he has said noihing whatsoever about them.
Ecce Duvenaldus Dermitii filius Kenceliæ finibus adveniens, Stephanidem inter Karractense castrum á Guesfordia civibus nec non et Kenceliensibus quasi tribus virorum millibus cum paucis obsessum nunti. avit."- Hib. Erpugi 1. j. c. 22. Lord Lyttelton, whose general accuracy in the portion of his history which relates to Ireland, is deserving of the highest praise, has here fallen into a slight geographical error.' “ Fitz. Stephen," he says. " was besieged in his fort at Carrick, near Wexford, by the citizens of that town and the Irish of Kinsale ;" thus confounding the sen-port town of this name in the county of Cork with the great territory called Kinsellagh, or Hy-Kinsellagh, which comprehended the chief portion of the southern part of Leinster.
1 It is stated, in Regan's account, that Fitz-Stephen had still farther weakened his small garrison by contributing thirty-six of his soldiers to the force collected for the defence of Dublin by Strongbow.
As the historical fragment attributed to Regan, the servant and interpreter, as it is pretended, of Dermot, King of Leinster, will be occasionally referred to in these noies, it is right that the reader should know upon what grounds the pretensions of this tract to an authentic character are founded. Of the alleged author, or rather dictator, of this fragment, Maurice Regan, no mention whatever is made in our annals; and the original manuscript preserved at Lambeth, from which Sir George Carew made his translation, instead of being in Irish, as might have been expected, was written in old French or Norman verse, having been taken down, as we are told, in that form by a contemporary and friend of Regan himself. The following are the introductory lines of the Fragment:
This bold suggestion the gallant Raymond, with characteristic zeal and eloquence, seconded ; and Strongbow, adopting readily the project, selected from the garrison three bodies of horse; the first of which, forming the vanguard, consisted of twenty knights under the conduct of Raymond; while the second, thirty in number, and forming the centre, had for its leader Milo de Cogan, and the third, consisting of about forty knights, under the command of Strongbow himself and Fitz-Gerald, was appointed to bring up the rear. The remainder of the force, which amounted altogether, it is said, to but 600 men, was made up of the esquires of the knights, also on horseback, and of some infantry composed of the citizens of Dublin. With this small band the earl sallied forth, about the ninth hour of the day, to attack an army stated by the English chroniclers to have been no less than 30,000 strong.
In the presumed security of their own numbers and strength, and expecting hourly the surrender of the exhausted garrison, so sudden and vigorous an outbreak from the city was the very last of all possible events that the besieging multitude could have expected. In the terror and confusion, therefore, into which all were thrown by the first onset, their great numbers were but an impediment to effectual resistance; and the panic spreading also to the armies of Irish that were quartered to the north and south of ihe city, they, in like manner, with scarcely even an attempt at resistance, precipitately broke up their camps and fled. The monarch himself, who was at the time indulging in the luxury of a bath, received the first intimation of what had occurred from the sudden Aight of his attendants, and succeeded with difficulty in effecting his own escape. Having thus, not withstanding the fewness and feebleness of their force, dispersed in a few hours the mighty army that had held them in durance for nearly two months, the English returned at the close of the evening into the city, loaded with the spoils and baggage of the enemy, and having gained sufficient provisions to victual the city for a year.*
The relief of Fitz-Stephen from his alarming position was now the great object to which Strongbow's attention was devoted; and having committed the government of Dublin to Milo de Cogan, he without delay marched towards Wexford, to effect the delivery, if possible, of the fort of the Carrig. In his way thither the road lay through a narrow pass, in the territory then called Idrone, where he found himself stopped by O'Regan, the prince of that district, who waited to receive him with a considerable force. An action ensued, which was, for some time, maintained with balanced success, when at length an arrow, shot from the bow of a monk named Nicholas, who fought in the Eng. lish ranks,* brought the Prince of Idrone to the ground, and his troops, disheartened by the death of their leader, took to flight, and left the English army masters of the field. Among the knights who most distinguished themselves in this action was the young Meyler Fitz-Henry, another of the descendants of the fair Nesta, and nephew of Maurice Fitz-Gerald. A tale is told, but on no other authority, as il appears, than tradition, of a son of Strongbow, a youth of but seventeen years of age, who, making on this occasion his first appearance in a field of battle, was so terrified by the war-cry of the Irish, on advancing to the attack, that he instantly took to flight, and, returning to Dublin in the utmost terror, announced that his father and all the English forces were slain.
“ Parsoen demande Latinner
L'moi conta de sim Historie
This metrical narrative which comprises a period only of three years, differs, on many essential points, from the accounts given of the same transactions by Giraldus and others; and notwithstanding the emphatic declaration of Harris that “whoever writes the history of Ireland during the English period, must make this piece the main basis of his account," the preference given by almost every writer who has hitherto treated of ihis period, to the authority of Giraldus over that of the supposed Regan, is a sufficient proof of the doubt entertained of the authenticity of this Fragment. “I cannot think," says Lord Lytielton, " that this rhyming chronicle, drawn from a verbal relation, imperfectly recollected, and mixed with other hearsays, picked up, we know not how, or from whom, is of equal credit with the history of Giraldus Cambrensis, whose near kinsmen were actors, and principal actors, in most of the facts he relates." Vol. v. note,
The notion of Mr. Whitty (Popular Hist. of Ireland,) that this Fragment may have been written by some Norman rhymester, who had accompanied his countrymen into Ireland, seems by no means improbable.
* Hibern. Expugnat. I. 1. c. 22, 23.
† An eloqueni Irishman of the present day, in a speech delivered by him some years since, at Wexford, thus alludes to this memorable tower and its history :“Situate at ihe gorge of the mountain, and com. manding the passage over the stream, whose waters are darkened with its shadow, it is invested with many
pp. 70, 71.
Hurrying on from Idrone inipatiently to his object, the earl was met at a short distance from Wexford by messengers sent to convey to him the painful intelligence, that the fort he was on his way to relieve had fallen, by an act of the basest treachery, into the hands of the Irish. After repeated and fruitless attacks upon the castle, the besiegers despairing at length of success, had resorted to a stratagem which, if at all fairly represented, must for ever draw down the historian's most unmitigated reprobation on all those persons, lay and clerical, who took part in so base and impious a fraud. In order to inveigle Fitz-Stephen into the surrender of his castle, information was conveyed to him that Roderic and his army had made themselves masters of Dublin; and a parley was proposed for the purpose of satisfying him of the truth and accuracy of this intelligence. With utter disregard as well of religious as of all moral obligations, they brought forward, it is said, at this conference, the Bishops of Wexford and Kildare, who, coming arrayed in their sacred vestments to the brink of the ditch, there took a most solemn oath, upon some relics of saints which they had brought for the purpose, that the Irish were in possession of Dublin; that the whole of the garrison, including the earl himself, Fitz-Gerald and Raymond, were all cut to pieces; and that the monarch was now on his march to Wexford, to extirpate the remains of the English adventurers in that quarter. It was partly out of friendship, as they pretended, to Fitz-Stephen, on account of his mild government of the territory over which he had been placed, ihat they now communicated to him this information; and, should he think right, while there was yet time for his rescue, to avail himself vf their protection, they solemnly promised to convey both himself and his garrison safely to Wales.
Deceived by this gross stratagem, Fitz Stephen surrendered himself into the hands of these perjurers; when instantly the mask they had assumed was thrown off, some of his companions were basely murdered by them, and the remainder, after having been beaten almost to death, were, together with himself, chained and thrown into prison.
Scarcely had this infamous fraud been accomplished, when, to the utter dismay of all the accomplices in it, intelligence reached them that Earl Strongbow, having forced the Irish to raise the siege of Dublin, was advancing with his army to Wexford. Thrown into consternation by this news, they immediately set fire to the town, and taking with them their effects, and all the prisoners they had made at the Carrig, retired to an island, lying off the harbour, called Beg-Erin, or Little Erin.t
On Strongbow's arrival in the neighbourhood of the scene of this transaction, he had to endure the double mortification of at once hearing of the melancholy fate of his friends, and finding himself debarred from even the satisfaction of taking revenge; for, on his approach to the town of Wexford, he was met by persons sent from Beg-Eri, to give him warning that, should he attempt to invade or molest that retreat, the heads of all the English prisoners would be cut off and sent to him. As there appeared no means, therefore, of releasing Fitz-Stephen at present, the earl and his companions abandoned their intention of proceeding to Wexford, and " with sorrow in their hearts,” says the chronicler, “turned their reins towards Waterford."*
melancholy associations, and imparts to the solemnity of the scene what I may call a political picturesque. From the fosse of that tower, memory may take a long and dismal retrospect : . . . . years have flowed by, like the walers which it overshadows, and yet it is not changed. It stands as if it were the work of yester: day; and, as it was the first product of English domination, so it is its type, &c. &c."-Speech of Mr. Sheil delivered at Werford, 22d of July, 1825.
* " We have a sample,” say's Dr. Lanigan. “ of the hopeful kind of ecclesiastics who came over to Ireland with Strongbow and others, in one Nicholas, a monk who fought in their armies. . . . . Such were the mis. sionaries who, according to the wish of Adrian IV., were to establish pure religion and sound ecclesiastical discipline in Ireland.”— Eccles. Hist. chap. xxix. note 106.
† According to Regan's account, Beckerin (as he calls it) was “a castle situated upon the river Slane." See Ware, Antiq. ch. 6. at Edri; also ch. 30., where, in speaking of Beg. Eri, he says, “ Perhaps this is the island which Pliny calls Edros, and Ptolemy, Edri.” This island was celebrated for a monastery built upon it by 8t. Ibar; in reference to which there occurs a passage in the life of St. Abban, another Irish saint, which will be found contirmatory of what I have above stated, as to the extent of the territory anciently called Hy.Kinsellagh. “In fainosissimo quondam et sanctissimo monasterio suo quod Beg.Erin, id est, Parva Hibernia vocatur, et situm est ad Australem partem regionis Hua Kensellach."-Quoted by Usher, Eccles. Primord. Addend. et Emendand.
O'Halloran's Irish learning, such as it was, ought to have taught him better than to identify Hy.Kinsellagh in extent with Wexford. "Mac Murchad," he says, (book xiii. ch. 1.,) " was to possess the country of Hy-Cinsellagh, or Wexford."
It has been already stated that Raymond le Gros, whom Strongbow had sent with a letter of submission to his royal master, returned to Ireland without any answer from the king. In the intelligence, however, brought by him, there appeared sufficient encourage. ment to induce the earl to despatch another envoy, and Hervey of Mount-Maurice, his own uncle, was the person selected for this mission. On the earl's arrival now at Wa. terford, he found this gentleman just landed from England, charged with messages and letters from persons whom he had consulted, all advising him to lose not a moment in presenting himself before the king. This advice Strongbow followed without delay, and, repairing to England, waited upon Henry, who was then at Newnham in Gloucestershire, with a large army in a state of preparation to pass over with him into Ireland. To meet the expenses of this expedition he had levied, from the landed proprietors throughout his dominions, that pecuniary composition, in lieu of personal service, called Escuage, or Scutage; and from the disbursements made for the arms, provision, and shipping of the army, as set forth in the Pipe Roll of the year 1171, still preserved, it would appear that the force raised for the expedition was much more numerous than has been represented by historians.t
Still maintaining his tone of displeasure towards Strongbow, the king refused at first to admit him into his presence; but the loyal readiness evinced by the earl to submit unconditionally to his will, soon smoothed the way to peace, and succeeded in satisfying as well the pride as the self-interest of offended majesty. Through the intervention, accordingly, of Hervey, a reconciliation was easily effected ;- the terms agreed upon being, that the earl, renewing his bomage and oath of fealiy, should surrender to the king the city of Dublin and the adjacent country, together with all the other sea-port towns and forts possessed by him in Ireland; the king, on his part, graciously consenting that all the other Irish possessions of Strongbow should remain in perpetuity to that earl and his heirs, to be held under homage and fealty to the English crown.
At the time of Henry's proclamation against Strongbow, he had also seized on the English estate of that nobleman, as forfeited to the crown by his act of disobedience. I The restoration of this property was one of the fruits of the reconcilement now effected; and the whole having been satisfactorily arranged, the king, attended by Strongbow, proceeded, by the Severn-side and western coast of Wales, to Pembroke, where he took up his abode for the short interval during which the ships, for the transport of his army to Ireland, were collecting in Milford Haven. Even here, however, the jealous wakefulness of Henry's fears, with regard to the danger likely to result from Strongbow's example, very strikingly manifested itself; as, during his stay at this time in Wales, he called severely to account all those baronse who had suffered an expedition, forbidden by himself, to sail unopposed from their coasts; and even punished this proof of disloyalty, as he deemed it, by seizing on the castles of these lords and garrisoning them with his own troops.
The whole armament being now in a state of readiness, the king, having previously performed his devotions in the church of St. David, embarked at Milford, attended by Strongbow, William Fitz-Aldelm, Humphry de Bohen, Hugh de Lacy, Robert
1171. Fitz-Barnard, and other lords. His entire force, which was distributed in 400 ships,ll consisted of 500 knights, and about 4000 men at arms; and, after a prosperous
* "Quibus auditis, non sine magna mentium amaritudine versis in dexteram loris, versus Guaterfordiam iter arripiunt."-Hibern. Erpugnat. I. 1. c. 28.
Lynch, Feudal Dignities. fc. Some of the smaller payments, as given by this writer from the Pipe Roll (17 Henry II.,) preserved in Somerset House, are not a little curious. Thus we find 268. 2d. paid for adorning and gilding the king's swords; 121. 10s, for 1000 pounds of wax; 1188. 7d. for 569 pounds of almonds sent to the king in Ireland; 158. 11d. for five carts, bringing the clothes of the king's household from Stafford to Chester, on their way to that country; 101. 78. for spices and electuaries for Josephus Medicus, his majesty's doctor; 41. for one ship carrying the armour, &c. of Robert Poer; 297. 08. 2. for wine bought at Waterford; 9s. 8d. for the carriage of the king's treasure from Oxford to Winton; 3331. 68. d. to Jobn the marshal, to carry over to the king in Ireland; and 2001. to the king's chamberlain, to bring to his majesty on returning froin that country.”
“ Applicuit in Hibernia cum 400 magnis navibus." Lord Lyttelton makes the number of ships 440; but I know not on what authority. Gervas, Diceto, and Bromlon, all agree in the number I have stated.
voyage, he landed at Croch,* a place near Waterford, on St. Luke's day, the 18th of October, A. D. 1171.7
During the whole of these momentous and singular transactions, while a foreign prince was thus dealing with Ireland as with his own rightful property, and affecting to consider as rebels to himself all those minor intruders and depredators, who had but anticipated him by a few months, and on a smaller scale, in that work of nsurpation he was now come by wholesale to accomplish,-during all these deliberate arrangements for the utter extinction of an ancient nation's independence, the nation itself was awaiting tamely, and with scarcely even a show of alarm or resistance, the result. As if exhausted, or rather satisfied, with the few feeble and scattered efforts already made by them, the people now heard, without even an attenupt to arouse the national spirit, of the mighty preparations in progress to invade their shores, and stood unmoved as if under the influence of some baleful fascination, to allow the collar of political slavery to be slipped quietly round their necks.
One short and unsupported effort was, indeed, ventured upon by the veteran O'Ruarc, who, encouraged by the weakened state of the garrison of Dublin, in consequence of the troops drawn from thence by Strongbow on his departure, raised hastily a for in Ulster and East Connaught, and made a furious assault on the walls of the city. But, as usual, the want of patient coolness and discipline rendered even valour itself of little avail. Just as the Irish were rushing forward to the attack, Milo de Cogan sallied forth unexpectedly from the gates, and charging them, at the head of a small but gallant band, put the whole multitude, with immense slaughter, to rout. With the exception of this one headlong effort, not a single movement appears to have been hazarded against the common enemy, during the whole interval which elapsed between the departure of Strongbow from the counıry and his return in the train of a forcign sovereign. Nor was it that the habitual warfare of the natives was, in other respects, suspended at this crisis; for, on the contrary, there occur few periods in our history during which its annals are found more crowded with records of civil strife; and a fierce war was actually raging in the heart of Ulsterf at the very moment when a foreign prince was about to descend upon the shores, and reduce all parties alike to one common level of subjection and vassalage.
Soon after his landing at Waterford, the king was waited upon by a deputation of those citizens of Wexford who had been concerned in the atrocious capture of Fitz-Stephen; nor could he bave been presented with more genuine specimens of that worst species of Irishmen, at once cruel and servile, tyrants as well as slaves, who were destined in future to render themselves useful as tools of the English power. Making a merit in the eyes of Henry, of their flagitious conduct towards Fitz-Stephen, these citizens brought with them their captive in fetters, like a criminal, and presented him to the king, as "one who had made war without his sovereign's permission in Ireland, and had been thereby the occasion of much enmity and wrong;' Though at once fathoming the mean policy of his new courtiers, Henry was resolved not to be behindband with them in dissimulation, but, affecting sincere indignation against Fitz-Stephen,|| for “daring to attempt the conquest of Ireland without his leave," he ordered him to be handcuffed and chained, and committed him, as a prisoner of state, to Reginald's Tower.
The design of the king was clearly to impress on the minds of the people that he came rather to protect them from the aggressions of others than to acquire any advantage or possession for himself; and this skilful policy it was, combined with the total want of a united or national spirit among the people themselves, that rendered his progress now, as far as it extended, much more like the visit of an acknowledged sovereign to his own states and subjects than the first descent of a royal invader upon wholly
* Bromton," Cum magno gaudio in Hibernia applicuit, in loco qui dicitur Croch qui a Waterfordia per octo miliaria distat et ibi nocte remansit." This place is supposed to be the Crook, over against Hook Tower. See Whitelaw's Hist. of Dublin. Introduct.
| Doctor Leland has fallen, somewhat strangely, into the error of advancing the date of Henry's arrival to " the October of the year cleven hundred and seventy-two;" a mark of carelessness, unquestionably, but by no means meriting the grave severity with which Dr. O'Connor remarks upon it, as being a false step at the threshold, which inspires distrust in all that follows:-In ipso itaque limine titubantis, et in rebus præcipuis, quid ja minutioribus sperandum sit accurate scriptum, quod critico acumine ad trutinam revocatum, vix divinari relinquunt."--Rer. Hib. Scrip. tom. 2. cxv. It should be recollected, also, that for the date 1172, Leland has the authority of Giraldus Cambrensis. 1 Rer. Hib. Script. tom. ii. cxiii. note. Hoveden mentions,
as a lucky omen, that on Henry's landing a white hare was seen to jump out of a neighbouring hedge. The animal was caught immediately, says the chronicler, and presented to the king in signum victoria."
Stanihurst (lib. iii..) who in his usual inflated style, has made the most of this incident. The follow- be taken as a specimen of the mock-heroic language which he supposes the king to address to Fitz
.“Quare oculorum ardore in rheum contumeliis opertum atque oppressum intuens: quis tu es, in. injus reipub. munia sustinere audeas? Nihil præter regiam dignitatem ambitiosum luum animum erit? Me doctore, condisces optabilius esse nobis servire, quam alienis imperare."