Billeder på siden
[ocr errors]

Is taken by the treachery of De Lacy. 53

tempt. Meanwhile De Lacy and his brother Walter being restored to the king's favour, they had a commission to seize and send De Courcy prisoner to his majesty. This commission De Lacy executed with treachery, for having declined to accept the challenge of De Courcy to meet him in single combat, he offered a large reward to any person who should deliver him into his hands alive or dead. Not satisfied with this, he bribed some. of his attendants who assailed De Courcy while in an act of devotion near the church of Down, and killed some of his retinue. De Courcy himself, however, was not to be easily subdued; and if we may credit the accounts which have come down to us, he sacrificed thirteen of his assailants to his fury, with a large wooden cross, before he could be overpowered, bound, and surrendered into the hands of De Lacy; who, with strict consistency of conduct, rewarded his agents first with the money he had promised, and then with the gibbet, for he ordered them every one to be hung. De Courcy meanwhile was conveyed to England, and confined in the Tower, where he remained unnoticed until a champion of Philip, King of France, appeared at the court of John, and proposed to assert his master's claim to Normandy in single combat. De Courcy was considered as a fit person to meet this challenge, which he at last accepted, after many indignant refusals. When he entered the lists, the Frenchman, terrified at his stern aspect and gigantic size, declined the combat, and basely


King John visits Ireland.

retired. De Courcy having won this bloodless victory, exhibited a proof of his bodily strength at the request of the two kings, by cleaving at one blow, a helmet, coat of mail, and stake on which they were fastened. John gave him his liberty, restored him to his possessions, and in compliance with a singular request of De Courcy, granted to him and his heirs the privilege of standing covered in their first audience with the Kings of England.

In 1210, John visited Ireland with a view to gratify personal revenge against a woman, who had ventured to accuse him of murdering his nephew Arthur. He arrived in the month of June, and soon after his landing, more than twenty dynasts attended to do him homage. There were. in his retinue several men of learning, by whose counsel and assistance a regular code and charter of English laws were drawn up and deposited in the exchequer of Dublin, under the King's seal, for the common benefit of the land, as the public records express it. In order to secure an effectual execution of these laws, John caused, besides the establishment of the King's courts of judicature in Dublin, a new division of the King's lands into counties, over which sheriffs and other officers were appointed. The twelve counties which were then established, viz. Dublin, Meath, Kildare, Argial, now called Louth, Katherlagh, Kilkenny, Wexford, Waterford, Cork, Kerry, Limerick, and Tipperary, mark the extent of the English territory, as confined to a part of Leinster and Mun

Reign of Henry III.

33 ster, and to those parts of Meath and Argial which lie in the province of Ulster. From this division also, we may infer the credibility of what the Irish annalists assert, that the chiefs in the remoter districts of Ulster had not given John a dominion of their lands.

John resided only three months in Ireland, and during those three months he attempted no military exploit. When he departed, he delegated the administration of his government to John de Grey, Bishop of Norwich, who held it for three years, administering the laws with a vigour and effect hitherto unknown. In 1213, the govern ment passed into the hands of Henry de Londres, Archbishop of Dublin; but its execution was chiefly by deputy, for the Archbishop was forced to attend his royal master in England, whose confidence he fully possessed. The rest of this monarch's ignoble reign presents no new features with respect to Ireland, though it furnishes one of the most illustrious in the annals of English history. He died at Newark in 1216, and was succeeded by his infant son Henry, the third of that name, who was crowned King at Gloucester in the 10th year of his age. The Earl of Pembroke was appointed protector during the minority of the young prince; and the Irish barons, stimulated by a like spirit of independence to what had impelled the English nobles to wrest from their pusillanimous monarch the great bulwark of our-freedom, transmitted a list of grievances to the

56 Death of the protector Pembroke.
Lord Protector, who had lived among them, and
supplicated him to vouchsafe his protection for
the security of their privileges. To this prayer,
Pembroke returned the noblest answer he could;
he sent them a duplicate of Magna Charta, in
which their rights, privileges and immunities were
placed upon the very same foundation with those
of the English. By that charter Ireland was
placed, as a free and independent nation, upon
precisely the same footing with respect to its civil
and political institutions as England, and in the
next year, 1217, Pembroke procured for them arati-
fication of the charter, which begins in the follow-
ing words: "The King to the archbishops, bishops,
abbots, earls, barons, knights, and free tenants,
and to all his faithful subjects in Ireland. In
proof of our approbation of your fidelity to our
father, which he has experienced, and which we
are likely to experience, we will, in consequence
of your distinguished fidelity, that you and your
heirs enjoy for ever, out of our favour, and as a
gift to your kingdom, the liberties granted you by
our father and ourselves."

Pembroke possessed large landed estates in Ireland, in consequence of his intermarriage with Eva, Earl Strongbow's daughter, and therefore had a more than usual interest in its tranquillity; consequently we find that during his protectorate, the country was but little harassed by internal feuds. Unfortunately, however, he died in the year 1219, when Hugn de Lacy, aided by O'Nial


Ireland governed by English laws.


of Tyr Owen, made incursions into his estates in Meath. The young Earl of Pembroke immediately hastened over to Ireland to secure his paternal property, and commenced hostilities with De Lacy, which occasioned the devastation of Meath and several adjoining districts. From this period also, may be dated the commencement of a turbulent and factious era, which continued during the four ensuing reigns, with very little diminution of its hostile character.

Hubert de Burgo, justiciary of England, was made deputy in Ireland in 1219; and he appointed as his deputy his kinsman, Richard de Burgo, and during his administration, an order was transmitted from England, commanding him at a certain day and place to summon "the archbishops, bishops, abbots, priors, earls, barons, knights, freeholders, and sheriffs, and in their presence to cause to be read publicly the charter of King John, and that in obedience to it, they should swear to observe the English laws and customs in Ireland, and that in behalf of the King, he should command the laws and customs contained in the said charter to be firmly observed in the several counties of Ireland, of which public proclamation should be made in each of them respectively, that none might presume to disobey his majesty's command. This was an admission to the English laws and liberties in their full extent, of all such Irishmen as renounced their ancient

« ForrigeFortsæt »