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presence of Henry II. and the several aggressions of Strongbow with fresh reinforcements under Henry's reign, all ended in making some colonial lodgments on the sea coast, and instilling into the natives a dread of the English arms and discipline, and a hatred of their name and race. So says Sir John Davies ;.... “ he (Henry) departed out of Ireland without striking one “blow, or building one castle, or planting one garrison among “ the Irish; neither left he behind him one true subject more " than those that he found there at his first coming over, which
were only the English adventurers spoken of before, who had “ gained the port towns of Leinster and Mounster, and posses. “ sed some scopes of land thereunto adjoining, partly with “ Strongbow's assurance with the land of Leinster, and partly “ by plain invasion and conquest. And this is that conquest of “ King Henry II. so much spoken of by so many writers, which
though it were in no other manner than is before expressed, “ yet is the entire conquest of all Ireland attributed to him.”
It is usual with most of our writers to represent the force which these adventurers landed, in such formidable colours, as if nothing in Ireland could withstand it; but every day's experience teaches us the incalculable advantages of discipline over numbers, strength, and valour. The Irish nation cannot be said - to have opposed this invasion; some Irish families, indeed, did oppose it; and because they opposed it separately, they were separately defeated. After the siege of Dublin, Roderic O'Cc le nor had disbanded his army, when O'Rourke, with his own clan of Breffny, made a vigorous assault upon the town; the spirit of which, says Leland, * proved that the forces of one Irish chieftain, united and obedient, were really more formidable than much more considerable numbers collected from different provinces, without mutual harmony or subordination. It is admitted on all hands, that several chiefs sent over deputies to invite Henry to Ireland: the men of Wexford, O'Bryan of Thomond, and all the inferior chiefs of Munster, vied with each other in the alacrity of their submission.
This æra of the Irish history exhibits the singular phænomenon of the Irish in the very meridian of papal ascendency in their country, which had been so firmly and so recently rivetted at the convocation of Kells, publicly disregarding a bull from the Holy See, and fighting against the invader, who came armed with the plenitude of the high pontifical authority. Although, however, the Irish clergy of that day were too wise, and too honest, to permit their Hocks to submit to this stretch of temporal power in the supreme bishop, by receiving him (the invader) honourably, and reverencing him as their Lord; yet if we may
* Vol. I. p. 65. VOL. I.
be allowed at this distant period to combine facts and narratives, the consequence will be a fair suggestion, that this papal bull produced a certain effect upon the clergy, which rendered them less adverse to the pretensions of the Norman invader, than they otherwise would have been; for at the very critical mo. ment when the preparations and plans of Roderic seemed to ensure the total subjugation of the kingdom of Leinster, and the consequent discomfiture of the invading ally of Dermod, then the clergy, in a body, waited on Roderic; and, prostrating themselves before him, besought him to have pity on the country, and stop the further effusion of Christian blood. Through their intercession he commenced a truce, and at length granted peace to the king of Leinster on very advantageous terms : for by it the latter was reinstated in his dominions in as ample a manner as they had been enjoyed by any of his predecessors; he engaging to dismiss his foreigners and pay to O'Rourke 100 ounces of gold for the injury he had received ; and for the faithful performance of these conditions, he put into the monarch's hands his natural son and six of the principal of his nobility.
Without attempting a detail, much less a disquisition into the nature, dates, motives or causes of the different events which ensued during the reign of Henry, upon which the Irish annalists are much at variance, it will suffice to notice generally, that the princes of Munster were the first who set the example of submission to their countrymen. The king of south Munster did homage there to Henry for his country; and the king of North Munster did the same, soon after, at Cashell. The English sovereign also received the homage of Strongbow for the kingdom of Leinster, and the submission of the nobility of Leinster, and of the Ossorians in Dublin. Roderic, the monarch, though still at the head of a powerful army, met Henry on the banks of the Shannon ; and although nothing were finally concluded upon at this interview, it gave rise to the treaty of peace soon after made at Windsor; and signed by the archbishop of Dublin, his chancellor, and the archbishop of Tuam, on the side of the Irish monarch, and by Henry's ministers on the side of England.* We cannot collect from history the particular views and motives for the homages and submissions which Henry received before his return to England. The treaty of Windsor certainly goes no further than a tributary acknowledgment of Henry as lord paramount; Roderic preserving allegiance to Henry, and retaining the kingdom of Connaught with the same rights of royal sovereignty he enjoyed before Henry
* Vide this treaty, App. No. II. The kingdom of Ulster was not included in, or affected by this treaty, or any of the anterior submissions or homages,
had landed in Ireland. This, in truth, appears to be the ex-
I am the more con-
ing the discernment of such a pontiff, without our being guilty
up to be mangled to pieces by the teeth of the most cruel and
This effort to regain the kingdom of Ireland was defeated, in the loss of the famous battle of Athunree in the year 1315: it was the most bloody contest that ever took place between the two nations; it happened on the 10th of August, and continued through the whole day from the rising to the setting sun The Irish attacked with the most ferocious impetuosity; but they were neither armed nor disciplined: they were rather headed than commanded, by Felim O'Connor. Such was the enthusiasm of his army, that above 10,000 of them fell in the field; amongst which were twenty-nine subaltern chiefs of Con. naught. Tradition states, that after this decisive battle, the O'Connor family, like the Fabian, was so nearly exterminated, that throughout all Connaught not one of the name remained (except Felim's brother) who was capable of bearing arms.
against the oppression of the English, it is impossible not to conceive, that unjust as the bull of Adrian was, yet it certainly operated in a great degree towards forwarding the submissions made to Henry. *
There can be no other reason for referring the reader to these remote periods of the Irish history than that of enabling him to form a comprehensive and comparative judgment of the great benefit conferred upon that country by its union with Great
Bri. From these he will see how every other system than that of a legislative union deviated from the principles of the English constitution ; how the arrogance of conquest begat oppression, how oppression engendered hatred and implacable revenge: from these he will learn that the native diffidence, jealousy, and hatred which the Irish shewed for so many centuries towards the English, originated not in the difference of religion ; for even in the heat of the two last centuries they never were mounted to a higher pitch, and never were acted upon more uninterruptedly, than during that long space of nearly 400 years, during which both nations professed the same religion.
Henry having succeeded so far beyond his expectations, ingratiated himself with the chiefs, who had submitted to him, not only by promises of protection and aggrandizement, but by magnificent presents. Had he in fact faithfully complied with what he very judiciously engaged to perform, and secured to this people the constitution and laws of England,t which he made them swear to observe and uphold, no revolution could have been more fortunate for the nation ; none more glorious to the monarch. But Henry thus early set the fatal example of perfidy and oppression to the Irish. In lieu of his promises of future favours to the chieftains, he dispossessed them of their honours and territories, and granted them out with the arbitrary prodigality of a conquering despot to his Norman adventurers, whom he raised at the same time to the rank of feudatory princes. Thus unfortunately was laid by the hand of power the corner-stone of that rancorous animosity, which has withstood the revolutions of six centuries, to be laid at last by the soothing powers of an incorporate union. The natives, as was to be expected, disappointed of their hopes, and stripped of their property and consequence, endeavoured to re-enter their several countries by force.* Thus was the kingdom reduced to a more grievous state of warfare and anarchy than it had ever suffered even under the Danes. England, which by uniting at that time with Ireland, would have acquired incalculable advantages, was in fact a sufferer by the accession of a country, which kept her for the space of 400 years in constant alarm, expence, and warfare.
* This is pointedly corroborated by a letter of the King of Ulster to Pope John XXII. in which he says: “ Your predecessor Adrian IV. who was by * birth an Englishman, instead of punishing Henry for invading the rights of " the church, and the murder of the archbishop of Canterbury, has delivered
up our nation as a prey to his countrymen, or indeed rather to monsters, “ whose cruelties are unparalleled.” And “ During the course of so many “ centuries (continue the prince) our sovereigns, jealous of their glory, never “ would suffer their independence to be called in question. Invaded more " than once by foreign powers, they wanted neither courage to attack, nor s force to repel their enemies, and give freedom to their country. But that “spirit, which they opposed to force, they would not to the simple decree of " Adrian your predecessor.” No other observation is to be made, than that the clergy at the time were ashamed to avow the consequence they really an. nexed to this crusading commission of Adrian, and that cotemporary and subsequent historians either overlooked, suppressed, or disclaimed it. Scoto. Chron. Vol. III. p. 908.
+ This was done at the great council of Lismore, where says Mat. Paris, Leges Angliæ sunt ab omnibus gratanter acceptæ. It is also recorded by some, that at this council the bull of Adrian was read and approved of. A circumstance which bespeaks too prompt a submission of the clergy to the power of the day, but which fully justifies the observations already made upon the effects of that bul!.
Notwithstanding the nominal or pretended conquest of the whole kingdom of Ireland by Henry II. and the grant and confirmation thereof by the Popes Adrian and Alexander, the truth is, that the English power and authority during the reign of Henry II. was confined and it so continued for above 400 years) to a certain district afterwards called the Pale. This comprised the counties of Dublin, Kildare, Meath, and Uriel, with the cities of Waterford, Cork, and Limerick, and the lands immediately surrounding them. Over the other parts of the kingdom, which were without the Pale, neither Henry II. nor any of his successors, until the reign of James I. either had or even pretended to claim more than a naked sovereignty, marked by nothing else than a formal homage, an inconsiderable tribute and an empty title. Insomuch that Sir John Davies says, thatt “ England never sent over either numbers of men or quanti“ties of treasure sufficient to defend the small territory of the “ Pale, much less to reduce that which was lost, or to finish the
conquest of the whole island.”\ Accordingly the English adventurers governed their district by their own model; the native chiefs,
though by far the greatest part of Ireland, acted independently of the English government; made war and peace; entered into leagues and treaties, not only amongst each other, but with foreign powers; punished malefactors, and governed
• It should not be forgotten, that the valiant Sir John de Courcy (afterwards made earl of Ulster) rather upon a private adventure, than under any royal commission, made several successful inroads into that province, secured some posts on the coast, and was said generally, though improperly, to have made a conquest of the whole province. † Dav. Disc. p. 69.
Lel. 1 Vol. 154.