Page images
PDF
EPUB
[merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

THE History of Ireland, during a long period, conlifting of one continued insurrection, seldom diversified, it, . neither required nor admitted of Marginal Notes so uniformly as the preceding Volumes of the Work. Where such Notes, therefore, appear less frequently than usual, the intervals are to be imputed to the Amilarity of the subject. .

[blocks in formation]

From the earliest authentic Accounts of Ireland to the

Accession of Edward II).

T

HE Irish, more than the inhabitants of any other

nation, appear to be zealous for the antiquity of

their country, and pretend to trace their origin from the agès almost immediately subsequent to the deluge. According to their traditions, the first inhabitants of that island came from Spain ; though the more probable accounts are, that it was originally peopled from Britain. But whether from one or the other, and at whatever period, it is certain, that the Irish 'hiftory, before the reign of Henry II. of England, is involved in fable and perplexity; and with that epoch, therefore, in conformity to the most judicious of the Irish Historians, we shall begin the prea fent work.

The small principalities, into which Ireland was anciently divided, exercifed perpetual rapine and violence ,

B

against

against each other; the uncertain succession of their princes Ancient

was a continual source of domestic convulsions; the ufual fate of Ire- title of each petty sovereign was the murder of his predeland. ceffor; courage and force, though exercised in the com

million of crimes, were more honoured than any pacific virtues ; and the most simple arts of life, even that of agriculture, were almost wholly unknown among them. They had experienced the invasions of the Danes and the other northern tribes; but these inroads, which had spread barbarism in other parts of Europe, tended rather to improve the Irish ; and the only towns, which were to be found in the island, had been planted along the coast by the freebooters of Norway and Denmark. The other inhabitants exercised pasturage in the open country; fought, in their forests and morasses, for protection from any danger; and being divided by the fiercest animosities against each other, were still more intent on the means of mutual injury, than on the expedients for common or even for private intereft.

Beside many small tribes, there were in the age of Henry II. five principal sovereignties in the illand. These were Munster, Leinster, Meath, Ulster, and Cormaught; and as it had been usual for one or the other of these to take the lead in their wars, there was commonly some prince, who seemed, for the time, to act as monarch of Ireland. Roderic O'Connor, king of Connaught, was then advanced to this dignity; but his

government, ill obeyed even within his own territory, could not unite the people in any measures, either for the establishment of order, or for defence against foreigners. The ambition of Henry had, very early in his reign, been moved, by the prospect of those advantages, to attempt the subjecting of Ireland ; and a pretence was only wanting to invade a people, who, being always confined to their own illand, had never given any reason of complains to any of their neighbours. For this purpose, he had recourse to Rome, which assumed a right to dispose of kingdoms and empires; and not foreseeing the dangerous disputes, which he was one day to maintain with that see, he contributed, for present, or rather for an imaginary, convenience, to give sanction to claims which were now become dangerous to all sovereigns. Adrian III. who then filled the papal chair, was by birth an Englishman; and being, on that account, the more disposed to oblige Henry, he was easily persuaded to make, without any hazard or expence, the acquisition of a great island to his

spiritual

[piritual jurisdi&tion a. The Irish had, by preceding miss lioparies from the Britons, been imperfectly converted to Cbriftianity; and, what the pope regarded as the surest mark of their imperfect conversion, they followed the doctrines of their first teachers, and had never acknowleged any subjection to the fee of Rome. Adrian, there- A.D.1158. fore, in the year 1156, issued a bull in favour of Henry; in which, after premising, that this prince had ever shown The pope an anxious care to enlarge the church of God on earth; granıs Hex, and to increase the number of his faints and

elect in hea- ry 11. a bull ven; he represents his design of subduing Ireland as de- 'ing ireland. rived from the same pious motives : he considers Henry's care of previously applying for the apostolic sanction as a sure earnest of success and victory; and having established it as a point incontestible, that all Christian kingdoms belong to the patrimony of St. Peter, he acknowleges it to be his own duty to fow among them the seeds of the Gospel : he exhorts the king to invade Ireland, in order to extirpate the vice and wickedness of the natives, and oblige them to pay yearly, from every house, a penny to the see of Rome: he gives him entire right and authority over the island, and commands all the inhabitants to obey him as their sovereign. Henry, though armed with this authority, did not immediately put his design in execution ; but being detained by more interesting business on the continent, waited for a favourable opportunity of invada ing Ireland.

Dermot Macmorrogh, king of Leinster, had, by his licentious tyranny, rendered himself odious to his subjects, who seized with alacrity the first occafion that offered, of throwing off the yoke, which they found to be extremely oppressive. This prince had formed a design on Dovergilda, wife of Ororic, prince of Breffiny; and taking advantage of her husband's absence, who, being obliged to visit a distant part of his territory, had left his wife secure, as he thought, in an island, surrounded by a bog, he suddenly invaded the place, and carried off the princess. This exploit provoked the resentment of the husband; who having collected forces, and being strengthened by the alliance of Roderic, king of Cons naught, invaded the dominions of Dermot, and expelled him his kingdom. The exiled prince had recourfe to Henry, who was at this time in Guienne, craved his affistance in restoring him to his sovereignty, and offered,

a Brompton, Neubrig.

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

on that event, to hold his kingdom in vaftalage under the
crown of England b. Henry, whose views were already
turned towards making acquisitions in Ireland, readily
accepted the offer; but being at that time embarrassed by
the rebellions of his French subjects, as well as by his dis-
putes with the fee of Rome, he declined, for the present,
embarking in the enterprize, and gave Dermot no farther
assistance than letters-patent, by which he empowered all
his subjects to aid the Irish prince in the recovery of his
dominions c. Dermot, supported by this authority, came
to Bristol ; and, after endeavouring, though for fome
time in vain, to engage adventurers in the enterprize, he
at last formed a treaty with Richard, surnamed Strongbow,
earl of Strigul. This nobleman, who was of the house of
Clare, had impaired bis fortune by expensive pleasures ;
and being ready for any defparate undertaking, he pro-
mifed aslistance to Dermot, on condition that he should
elpouse Eva, daughter of that prince, and be declared heir
to all his dominions. While Richard was affembling his
succours, Dermot went into Wales; and meeting with
Robert Fitz-Stephens, constable of Abertivi, and Maurice
Fitz-Gerald, he also engaged them in his service, and
obtained their promise of invading Ireland. Being now
assured of succour, he returned privately to his own state ;
and lurking in the monastery of Fernes, which he had

founded, waited impatiently for the return of spring, AD1169 when the English auxiliaries were to arrive. The intelli

gence was industriously spread abroad, and served to ani-
mate his adherents. As the secret of his return could not
be long concealed, he affumed the appearance of the ut-
most confidence; and marching at the head of his ad-
herents, poffefled himself of a part of his dominions called
Hi-Kenselah. Yet secretly tormented by delay, and
dreading a disappointment, 'he dispatched a messenger to
England, to hasten the promised succours, and to follicit
others, with an assurance of rich fettlements and large

rewards to all adventurers. Conquest of

Fitz-Stephen, whose troops were first ready, landed in
Ireland. Ireland with thirty knights, fixty esquires, and three hun-

dred archers; and this small body, being brave men, not
unacquainted with discipline, and completely armed, å
thing almost unknown in Ireland, struck a great terror in-
to the barbarous inhabitants. The conjunction of Mau-
rice de Pendergast, who, about the same time, brought

[blocks in formation]
« PreviousContinue »