Billeder på siden

48 Events in Ireland during the reign of Richard. This limit to his authority was acknowledged equally by himself and by foreigners; for when the pope sent his legate through all the dominions of Richard, in order to raise contributions for that monarch's service in the Holy-Land, his commission and jurisdiction were expressly limited to England and Wales and "those parts of Ireland in which John, Earl of Morton, had power and dominion." We find also, that John himself restricted his power within the same limits, for in his charter of franchise to the city of Dublin he grants immunities, not throughout all Ireland, where they would not be valued, but expressly throughout his own dominions in that country, (per totam terram et potestatem meam.) Some internal calamities, however, happened during this period, and among others, the burning of the city of Dublin, as well as the prevalence of a nefarious band of robbers, by which the peace and tranquillity of the country were greatly disturbed. This latter evil is ascribed by Dr. Hanmer to the famous Robin Hood, some of whose followers fled to Ireland, as a place where turbulence might reign without controul, and consequently as being well adapted for their predatory course of life. The system, however, became at last so flagrantly oppressive, that they were compelled by the natives to seek safety in Scotland. The only other event that occurred in Ireland during the reign of Richard, necessary to record, was the death of Roderick O'Connor,

Rejoiced to hear of the defeats of the English. 49

which happened in 1198. He was the last of the Irish monarchs, and had lived through a period of great violence and confusion. He died at an advanced age in the monastery of Cong*, where he passed his latter years in quiet, unmoved by the factions that agitated his distracted province. It was some alleviation, however, in his last moments, to hear of the advantages gained by his son Cathal over the English, whom he very naturally detested as his bitterest and most unprovoked enemies.

For an account of this monastery see Appendix, No. II.

[blocks in formation]



Character of John.





Reign of King John-Meilar Fitz-Henry appointed Lord Chief Justice in Ireland-His power not supported by the King-Violent commotions King John visits Ireland in 1210Division of the country into counties-John delegates the government to John de Gray, bishop of Norwich Reign of Edward I.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

RICHARD Cœur de Lion died in 1199, and to him succceded his brother John, a man as opposite to his predecessor as it is possible to conceive. His reign is equally the blot and glory of the English annals, for while his pusillanimous vices disgraced his age, the noble struggle of his Barons, who wrested from him the basis of all our liberties, Magna Charta, adorned and glorified it. Something, however, was done by him with respect to Ireland, which deserves to be recorded. One of his first acts upon his accession, was to remove with disgrace from the government of that country, Hamo de Valois, who had, from peculation both on the clergy and laity, amassed an immense treasure. Some of it, John, either from a love of avarice or a love of justice, from the former most probably, transferred into the English exchequer,

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Description of Meilar Fitz-Henry.


by mulcting him in a sum equal to fifteen thousand pounds of present money.

Meilar Fitz-Henry was appointed his successor as Lord Justice. He was the natural son of Henry I. by his concubine Nest, and was one of the most distinguished Barons who had originally adventured into Ireland. He is thus described by a contemporary historian, Giraldus Cambrensis: "Meilar was a man of a brown hue and complexion, his eyes black, his look grim, and his countenance sour and sharp, and of a mean stature; his body for the bigness very strong and broad breasted, and he was smali bellied. His arms and other limbs more sinewous than fleshy, a stout and valiant gentleman he was, and emulous. He never refused any adventure or enter prize which were either to be done by one alone, or by more; he would be the first that would enter the field, and the last that would depart from the In all services, he would either have the garland, or die in the place; and so impatient was he in all exploits, that he would either have his purpose, or lie in the dust; and so ambitious and desirous he was to have honour, and to attain thereunto, there was no means nor mild thing but that he would surely have the same either in death, or in life; for, if he could not have it and live, he would surely have it by dying. And verily both he and Reymund have been worthy of too much praise and commendation, if they had been less ambitious of worldly honours, and more


52 De Courcy recolts from King John.

careful of Christ's church, and devout in christian religion, whereby the ancient rights thereof might have been preserved and kept safe and sound; and also in consideration of their so many conquests and bloody victories, and of the spilling of so much innocent blood, and of murthering of so many christian people, they had been thankful to God, and liberally contributed some good portion for the furtherance of his church and religion. But what shall I say? It is not so strange, but much more to be lamented, that this unthankfulness, even from our first coming into this land, until these presents, this hath been the general and common fault of all our men."

The appointment of Meilar was like the shadowy lineage of Macbeth, for, unprotected by the King's countenance, it was placing only a barren. sceptre within his grasp. The rude and turbulent commotions which were fomented by John de Courcy and Hugh de Lacy, two of the most powerful settlers in Ireland, and who had for some time affected a state of independence, Meilar found himself unable either to repress or to subdue. De Courcy, indeed, so far from acknowledging allegiance to King John, openly impeached his title to the throne, and both he and De Lacy had united their forces in the cause of Cathal, the son of the deceased King Roderick. John was highly incensed at the revolt of De Courcy, and summoned him to repair to his presence and do hin Homage; but the mandate was treated with con

[ocr errors]
« ForrigeFortsæt »