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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 bis 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 1272.
the policy pursued by the rulers of Ireland, during that period, than is found in a
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 ;t and one of the most eloquent of ihe 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., whith 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 froin 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 ;ll 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 Red1273.
shanks, out of the Highlands, made a sudden incursion into Ireland, and committing
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 lo death all whom they could find; while such as dwelt, in the manner of the ancient Irislı, 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
Ufford, now for the second time lord justice; and the five or six following years, 1267.
during which, personally, or through his deputy, Stephen de Fulburn, he managed the affairs of the country, weru distracted by a series of petty wars, in which not only
Prynne, cap. Ixxvi. 357 “ Conditor nos:er Romulus tantum apientla valuit, ut plerosque populos eodem dle hostes deinde cives habuerit.” — Tacitus. 1 "Quid holie essel imperium, nisi saluhris providentia victos permiscuirset victoribus ?"- Seneca.
" Quasi omnes lliberni guerraverulit," says a M3. fragment, eited by Cox, respecting this general revolt. I Hanmer.
English fought with Irish, but the Irish, assisted by the arms of the foreigner, fought no less bitterly against their own countrymen. At the great battle of Glandelory, the English were defeated with much slaughter; and among the numerous prisoners taken is mentioned William Fitz-Roger, prior of the king's hospitallers. On the other hand, Ralph Pippard, assisted by O'Hanlon, gave, in the same year, a severe check to the great chieftain O'Neill.*
But it was in Thomond that the scenes most tumultuous and most disgraceful to the English name were now exhibited. A large grant of lands, in Thomond, had been, about this time, bestowed upon Thomas de Clare, son of the earl of Gloucester; -- whether by grant from the crown, or as a gift from one of the O'Brian family,t does not very clearly appear. Having thus got footing in that territory, De Clare proceeded on a course of open and flagrant treachery, such as proved both the simplicity of his victims, and his own daring craft. Taking advantage of the fierce strife then raging among the O'Brians for the succession to the throne of Thomond, he contrived, by supporting and be.
1277. traying each of the rivals, in turn, to enrich and aggrandize himself at the expense of all. To enter into the details of these multiplied treacheries would be an almost endJess task; but the following is a brief outline of the events as they are found related in the Annals of Inisfallen.
Forming an alliance with Brian Ruadh, whose nephew Tirlogh was then contending, with him for the principality, De Clare, attended by Brian himself, marched an army of English and Irish against his competitor. In the battle which then ensued, the allied forces under the English lord were utterly defeated, and among the slain was Patrick Fitz-Maurice, the son and heir of Fitz-Maurice of Kerry, and brother to De Clare's wife. As it was in Brian's cause this calamitous defeat had been incurred, the conclusion drawn by the barbarous logic of De Clare was, that upon him, first the disaster ought to be avenged; and, the wife and father-in-law of Fitz-Maurice being the most loud in demanding this sacrifice, the wretched chieftain was put to death, and, according
1277. to some accounts, with peculiar refinement of cruelty.
The manner in which De Clare followed up this crime affords a sequel, in every way, worthy of it. To Tirlogh; against whom he had so lately fought, in conjunction with Brian, he made a merit of having thus removed so formidable a rival ; while, at the same time, he entered into negotiations with Donogh O'Brian, the son of the murdered prince; and engaged to assist him in gaining the throne of Thomond. To effect this object, and put down the pretensions of the usurper, a forte was collected under the joint command of De Clare and Donogh, which, making an impetuous attack upon Tirlogh, drovę him, as the annalist describes the locality, "to the east of the wood of Forbair.” The Irish chieftain, however, making his way back through defiles and by-ways with which he was acquainted, fell upon the confederates by surprise, and gained so decisive a victory, that they were forced to surrender to him half of the country of Thomond, leaving the remainder in the hands of the rightful successor, Donogh. De Clare, in drawing off his troops from the territories of these chiefs, said significantly, that "the first of them who would lay waste the other's lands, should be his declared friend for life.” In one of these battles, fought by this lord with the Irish, himself and his father-in-law;, Fitz-Maurice, were drawn, with a part of their force, into a pass in the mountains of Slieve Bloom, and there compelled to surrender at discretion.
While such was the state of Thomond, in almost every other direction the same strife and struggle prevailed; the infatuated natives performing actively the work of the enemy; by butchering each other. Thus, in a battle between the king of Connaught and the chief of the Mac Dermots of Moy-Lurg, the army of Connaught was utterly defeated
† According to Lodge, “all that tract of Thomond which extends from Limerick to Ath Solais, was be. slowed by Bryan Ruadh, prince of Thomond, upon Thomas de Clare, in consideration of this lord coming with the English troops to reinstate Him in his kingdom." But, according to others, this immense property was a reckless gift from the crown: and a grant (Pat. Roll, 4 Ed. 1.,) of ample liberties in his lands of Thoniond to Thomas de Clare, seems to confirm this statement.--See Ryley's Placit. Parliamentar., Appendix, 439.
1 MS., translated by Charles O'Connor of Belanagare, and now in the possession of Messrs. Smith and Hodges, Dublin. Though Leland cites these annals as an authority for his account of De Clare's proceedings in Thomond, the statements made by him differ entirely from those found in the Annals.
$ The particulars of this treacherous act, as given by the Annalist, are as follows :—"The earl of Clare's son look Brian Roe O'Brian prisoner very deceitfully, after they had sworn to each other all the oaths in Mun. ster—as bells, relics of saints, and bachals-to be true to one another; also after they became sworn gossips, and for contirmation of this third indissoluble bond of perpetual friendship, they drew part of the blood of one another, which they put in a vessel and mingled it together. Aner all which protestations, the said Brian was taken, as aforesaid, and bound to a steed; and so was tortured to death by the said earl's son."
with the loss of two thousand men, and the king himself slain. It was with reA. D. 1277.
ference to this battle that the lord justice, Robert de Ufford, when called to account
by king Edward for permitting such disorders, replied shrewdly, that " he thought it not amiss to let rebels murder one another, as it would save the king's coffers, and purchase peace for the land."* It is clear that the petition addressed to the king, by the natives, praying for the pri
vileges of English law, had not yet been even taken into consideration by the 1280.
barons, as we find Edward, in the present year, again calling upon the lords spiri.
tual and temporal, as well as the whole body of English subjects in “ the Land of Ireland,"t to assemble and deliberate upon that prayer. Intimating clearly the views he himself entertained on the subject, and the nature of the decision, which, if left to his own clear sense and vigorous will, he could not have failed to adopt, he yet declares, that without the concurrence of at least the prelates and nobles of the land, he should not feel justified in granting the desired boon. With evident allusion, however, to certain excuses alleged by the barons for not sooner applying themselves to the subject, he enjoins strictly, that they shall by no means omit, in consequence of the absence of any of their body, whether owing to business or from their being under age, to meet at the time, which he had appointed, and to give to the subject such full and mature deliberation, as might serve to point out to him the line of policy most expedient for him to adopt. I
The petitioners, though styled, in vague language, " the community" of Ireland, were, in all probability, only the inhabitants of the districts bordering ou the English settlement, who, from contiguity of property and other causes, were brought the most frequently into collision with the king's subjects, in matters of law as well as of warfare ; and naturally wished, by acquiring possession of the same rights and privileges as were enjoyed by their neighbours, to share with them the safeguard of English law, instead of knowing it only as an instrument of oppression.
As the crown in those times, required to be bribed into justice, these wretched petitioners did not forget that necessary consideration, but offered to pay into the king's trea. sury 8000 marks, on condition that he would grant their request; and the king, in his reply to the lord justice,begins by mentioning-what was, with him, doubtless, not the least interesting part of the transaction—this tender of a sum of money; it having been, throughout his whole reign, one of the most pressing objects of his policy to raise supplies for the constant warfare, both foreign and internal, in which he was engaged. He then proceeds, in this letter, to say that, inasmuch as the laws used by the Irish were hateful in the sight of God, and so utierly at variance with justice as not to deserve to be regarded as laws, he had considered the question deliberately, with the aid of his council, and it had appeared to them sufficiently expedient to grant to that people the English laws:provided always, that the common consent of the English settlers, or at least of their well. disposed prelates and nobles, should lend sanction to such a measure.||
Thus laudibly anxious was this great prince to settle calmly the question, then first brought into discussion, whether the Irish were to be ruled by the same laws, and enjoy the same rights and privileges, as the English; a question which, under various forms and phases, has remained, essentially, down to the present day, in almost the same state in which Edward then found and left it. Notwithstanding the urgent terms of the royal mandate, no farther step appears to have been taken on this important subject, either by king or barons; and it may be concluded, indeed, from the records of licenses granted in this and subscquent reigns, admitting certain favoured individuals to the privileges of English law, that no such general measure of denization as the Irish had prayed for, and the throne wisely recoinmended, was, throughout that whole period, conceded.
Mean while, the entire country continued to be convulsed with constant warfare, not only of Irish with English, but of the natives and settlers respectively among themselves, and the long-standing feud between the Geraldines and the De Burghs was, owing to the A. D.
power of the great families enlisted in it, prolonged through the greater part of 1286.
this reign. But the deaths, in 1286, of the two leading barons, Gerald Fitz-Maurice and the lord Thomas de Clare, threw the ascendency, without farther dispute,
| The district occupied by the English, and known, at a later period, by the name of the Fale, was at this time, and for some centuries after called the Land of Ireland.""
i Pat. Roll, 8 Ed. I.
| In order to turn this concession to the most profitable account, for the recruitinent of his fiscal and mili. tary means, he desired the lord justice to agreo with the petitioners for the highest sum of money he could obiain; and also to stipulate that they should hold in readiness a certain number, as might be agreed upon, of good and able foot soldiers, to repair to him whensoever he should think fit to summon their aid.
The form of these licenses may be seen in Prynne, 258.
into the hands of the De Burghs; the powerful head of which family, Richard, carl of Ulster, commonly called the Red Earl, aitained, during this reign, such inimense authority, that his name is frequently, in the king's letters, found mentioned before that of the lord justice. Presuming upon this great power, and without any grounds, as it appears, but his own grasping self-will
, he laid claim to the lands in Meath inherited by Theobald de Verdon, in right of Margaret, his mother, daughter of Walter de Lacy. With a large tumultuary force, De Burgh invaded this territory, and besieged De Verdon in one of his castles;* but no other result of this daring aggression is mentioned, than the
1288. usual havoc and horror attendant on such inroads.
It was during the time when John Sandford, archbishop of Dublin, held the office of chief governor, that the irruption just mentioned took place; and the same period is rendered, in another sense, memorable, by the statute entitled “ An Ordinance for the State of Ireland," which was made in the seventeenth year of this reign, and which, in the now defunct controversy respecting the right of the English parliament to bind
1289. Ireland, forins part of the evidence adduced in support of that questioned right.
The reader has already been prepared, on entering into this Anglo-Irish period, to find the people of the land thrown darkly into the background of their country's history, while a small colony of foreign intruders usurp, insultingly, their place. I So lamentably is this the case, that it is only in the feuds and forays of the English barons that the historianif he may lay claim to such a title-can find materials for his barren and uphonoured task. A personal quarrel of this description, which now occurred, excited in both countries, from the peculiar circumstances attendant upon it, a more than ordinary share of attention. William de Vescy, a lord high in favour with Edward, having been appointed lord justice of Ireland in the year 1290, a mutual jealousy sprung up between him and John Pitz-Thomas Fitz-Gerald, baron of Oraley,f which broke out, at last,
1290. into open enmity; and each, accusing the other of treason and rebellion, hurried to England to lay their complaints before the king.
Being admitted to plead their cause before him, in council, they there poured out upon each other speeches full of abuse and recrimination, of which a report, professing to be faithful, is preserved by the English chronicler.f! De Vescy having, by his marriage with one of the co-heiresses of the house of Pembroke, become possessor of the actual terri. tory of Kildare, while Fitz-Thomas was but the titular earl of that district, the latter alluded thus to this circumstance, in one of his speeches :" By your honour and mine, my lord, and by king Edward's hand, you would if you durst, approach me in plain terms of treason or felony. For, where I have the title, and you the fleece, of Kildare, I wot well how great an eye-sore I am in your sight; so that, if I might be handsomely trussed up for a felon, then might my master, your son, become a gentleman." When their cause was again heard, before the king in council, Filz-Thomas concluded his speech with the following defiance :-"Wherefore, to justify that I am a true subject, and that thou, Vescy, art an arch-traitor to God and my king, I here, in the presence of his highness, and in the hearing of this honourable assembly, challange the combat.” Whereat (says the chronicler) all the auditory shouted. T
De Vescy accepted the challange; but, on the day fixed for the combat, when all was ready, the lists prepared, and a crowd assembled to witness the trial, it was found that he had withdrawn privately to France. This unchivalrous step being regarded as an avowal of guilt, the king bestowed on the baron of Offaley the lordships of Kildare and Rathangan, which had hitherto been held by his rival, saying that, “though De Vesey had conveyed his person to France, he had left his lands behind him in Ireland.”
Elated with this great success, the ambitious and turbulent lord of Offaley indulged, unrestrainedly, on his return to Ireland, in a course of insulting aggression upon all who had, in any manner, opposed his domineering views; and among the first objects of his hostility was Richard de Burgh, earl of Ulster, whom he took prisoner, together with his brother in Meath, and confined them both in the strong castle of Ley. He then transferred the scene of his activity to Kildare, where the Irish, rising in immense
1294. force, under Calwagh, brother of the king of Offaley, had seized on the castle of • Marleburrough.-Davies. See this work, chap. xxxii. p. 296. el seq.
1 Ibid. Ś This lord, who sat as baron of Offa ley, in the parliament of 1295, is, in the pedigree of the carls of Kil. dare, made the soventh lord Offaley.--See Lodge. He had issue two sons, says ihe same authority ;-John, the eighth lord of Offaley, created earl of Kildare; and Maurice, created earl of Desmond. A report on Ireland, in the State Papers (K. Henry VIII.,) in speaking of William de Vescy, styles him "one Vescy, which was lord of Kildar befor iher was aney erle of Kildar."-Vol. ii. | Holinshed. See Rymer, tom. ii.; “ De adjornatjone duelli inter Willielmum de Vescy et Johannem filium Thomæ."
i Annal. Hibern. ap. Camden,
Kildare, and burnt all the rolls and tallies relating to the county records and accounts. Between its English and Irish depredators, that district was entirely laid waste, and death and desolation followed wherever they went.
At length an attempt was made, during the government of sir John Wogan, to moderate the dissensions of these lawless barons; and a truce for two years having been agreed upon between the Giraldines and the De Burghs, the lord justice was enabled, by this
short respite from strife, to consider of some means of remedying the unquiet and 1295.
disorganized state of the kingdom. A general parliament was accordingly as
sembled by him, which, though insignificant in point of numbers, passed sonie measures of no ordinary importance and use. It was during this reign, as the reader will recollect, that the parliament of England, after a long series of progressive experiments, was moulded into its present shape; nor did a house of commons, before this period, form a regular and essential part of the English legislature.t In Ireland, where, from obvious causes, the materials of a third estate were not easily to be found, the growth of such an institution would be, of course, proportionably slow; and the assemblies held there during this reign, and for some time after, though usually dignified with the name of parliament, differed but little, it is clear, in their constitution, from those ancient common councils, at which only nobles and ecclesiastics, together with, occasionally, a few tenants in capite, and, perhaps, the retainers of some of the great lords, were expected to give their attendance.
Among the acts passed by this parliament, there is one ordaining a new divisiou of the kingdom into counties; the division established under king John, as well as the distribu. tion then made of sheriffs, having been found defective and inconvenient. Another object that engaged their attention was the defenceless state of the English territory, and the harassing incursions of the natives dwelling upon its borders; and, as this scourge was owing chiefly to the absence of the lords marchers, it was now enacted that all such marchers as neglected to maintain their necessary wards should forfeit their lands. Among other measures for the maintenance of a military force, it was ordained that all ab. sentees should ussign, out of their Irish revenues, a competent portion for that purpose :a proof how early the anomalies involved in the forced connexion between the two countries began to unfold their disturbing effects. To check the private expeditions, or forays, of the barons, a provision was made that, for the future, no lord should wage war but by license of the chief governor, or by special mandate of the king. With a like view to curbing the power of the great lords, an effort was made at this time to limit the number of their retainers, by forbidding every person, of whatever degree, to harbour more of such followers than he could himself maintain ; and for all exactions and violences committed by these idle-men, or kerns (as they were styled,) their lords were to be made answerable.
To this parliament is likewise attributed an ordinance,- belonging, really however, to a somewhat later period, which, in reference to the tendency already manifested by the English to conform to the customs and manners of the natives, ordains that all Englishmen should still, in their garb and the cut of their hair, adhere to the fashion of their own country; that whoever, in the mode of wearing their hair, affected to appear like Irishmen, would be treated as such ; that their lands and chattels would be seized, and them. selves imprisoned.
During the two or three following years, supplies of troops were sent from IreA. D. 1298.
land, at different intervals, to the aid of the king in his Scottish wars;ll the sort of
warfare the Irish were accustomed to ainong their own lakes and mountains, rendering them a force peculiarly suited to the present state of the war in Scotland, where
the northern and mountainous parts of the country alone remained to be subdued. 1299.
In the spring of the present year, John Wogan, the lord justice, having been summoned to join the king, T in Scotland, repaired thither with a select force, and
* Black Book of Christ Church, Dublin.-See Ledwich (Hist. and Antiquities of Irishtoron and Kilkenny,) who confounds this parliament with one held in 1309.
Speaking of the ordainers in the following reign, Lingard says, “ From the tenor of the ordinances, it is plain that the authority of the parliament was hitherto supposed to reside in the baronage, the great council of former reigns. The commons had nothing to do but to present petitions and to grant money."
1 For the different divisions of the kingdom into counties by John and Edward I., see Ware, Antiq. c. 5. Whatever may have been the improved distribution inade by Edward I., it is clear that the ancient form, which allotted one sheriff to Connaught, and another to Roscommon, was still in use in the time of Edward II. Thus we find in rolls of that reign, Gerald Tirrel," vice-comes de Roscommon," and Henry Bermingbam, nuper vice comes Connaciæ."-See Serjeant Mayari's Answer lo Sir R. Bollon, Hibernica, 35.
Black Book of Christ Church, Dublin.
The contributions of Ireland towards this object had commenced some time before, and a tenth of the revenues of the clergy had been granted for it.-Rymer, tom. 11. 519, lom. jii. 442.
of "The king sent unto John Wogan, lord justice, commanding bim to give summons unto the nobles of Ireland, to prepare themselves with horse and armour, to come in tbeir best array for the war, lo serve against the Scots."- Holinshed.