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those relative to ecclesiastical jurisdiction had all the violence of religious enthusiasm to encounter. The Romish party had collected their adherents, and were prepared for a vigorous contention. The two proctors from each diocese, who had usually been summoned to parliament composed a formidable body of ecclesiastics, avowed adherents to the holy see. They claimed to be members of the legislative body, and to have a full right of suffrage in every public question: it therefore became neces sary, before the act of supremacy should be proposed, to define their rights. It was declared by a previous act, that their claim 'was presumptuous and groundless; that they were summoned merely as counsellors and assistants, (as the King's judges and other learned men had decided) and that from the first day of that parliament they should be accepted and taken as counsel lors and assistants only, whose assent and concurrence were by no means necessary to any parliamentary transaction.*
Although the partisans of Rome were thus deprived of the assistance
of so powerful a body, yet when the act of supremacy came to be proposed, Lords and Commons joined in expressing their abhorrence of the spiritual authority assumed by the King, whilst the ministers of the royal party were equally determined in defence of it. Archbishop Browne took the first part in supporting the propriety of this act, by such arguments as probably had their weight upon his own mind, and were more likely to influence his hearers, than those of greater force and solidity. He pleaded the authority of the Popes themselves against the usurpation of Rome; so that in asserting the king's supremacy, he claimed no more than what Eleutherius, bishop of Rome, had granted to Lucius, the first Christian King of the Britons : but the argument he concluded with, was most likely to confound opposition; he pronounced those, who made any difficulty of concurring with him, to have no right to be regarded or treated as loyal subjects.f Fear served to allay the
• This act, intituled, An Act against Proctors to be any Member of the Parliament, was passed, and by a retrospective operation from the first day of the sessions, disqualified this large body of two clergymen from each dio. cese, who had been regularly summoned to parliament, from voting as they usually had at all times done. By the act they are assimilated to our English convocation, that usually meets at the same time as the parliament. The reason why the English members of the convocation had no vote in parliament was, that at that time they taxed themselves, and formed a sort of third estate, representing the ecclesiastical property of the nation, which reason would give them a right to vote in the Irish parliament, because in that country there was no convocation. However, their expulsion from parliament, whether right or wrong, was to answer the designs of Henry, and must have tended to irritate a nation, which ever held the ministers of their eligion in the highest estimation.
† In this he adhered closely to the spirit of the act, which makes the refusal to swear to the supremacy an act of high treason. This curious specimen of Archbishop Browne's eloquence is to be scen in sir R. Cox, 1 vol. 249.
violence of such as could not be persuaded ; and the most determined partisans of Rome were obliged to reserve themselves for a clandestine opposition to the execution of a law, which they could not prevent from being enacted.
At this period of the Irish history, the whole Irish nation, within and without the pale, was Catholic. Archbishop Browne and the other commissioners, together with the ministers and royal party, whom they had gained over to the Reformation, were the only Protestants in the country. The hand of power was therefore called in to compel submission to these acts thus forced upon the nation. The royal party, who had possessed themselves of the reins of power within the pale, aware of the consequences of their abusing it, ere the session was over, passed a special act, to make it felony to attempt to invalidate any of the laws passed during this session of the parliament. And no wonder, as Leland observes, that to these vigorous counsels and decisions of the legislature, it was at this time peculiarly necessary to add an extraordinary vigilance and activity in the field. It was obvious to foresee, that religious controversy must aggravate and protract the disorders so long and so griev. ously experienced in this country. Rightly then was it said, * At this time a new schism arose, which has been the bane and pestilence of Ireland. The question of papal authority threatened to divide those, who had hitherto been most united; and whilst the king's subjects within the pale, who disapproved the late regulations, were thus in danger of being seduced from their allegiance, at the same time a new bond of union was formed amongst the old Irish chieftains. Formerly to their petty septs (called nations ) their views had ever principally been confined : then their temporal interests were separate, and their mutual enmities frequent, fierce, and rancorous. But now the defence of their ancient religion was inculcated as the cause of all, and afforded a new pretence for insurrection : a pretence which operated so powerfully upon the Irish, that it seemed almost for the time to have absorbed the other numerous and heavy grievances, which Henry had accumulated upon their nation. Whoever makes the fair allowances for the workings of those principles and opinions, which have been inculcated into the pliancy of early youth, and which in every stage of life have been enforced and revered as the first concern of man; whoever views a people of high national honour, filled with the pride of ancestry, enthusiastically devoted to the ministers of their religion, of quick sympathy and thoughtless impetuosity ; whoever considers that a small number of invaders had, for centuries, claimed the sovereignty of the whole, and by force, oppression, and terror actually kept possession of the select parts of their country, must necessarily perceive the effects which human nature, ever uniform in her operations, must have produced under these circumstances of provocation and oppression. Every part of the system was calculated for ends diame. trically opposite to those of union. Archbishop Browne, the great agent of the Irish Reformation, found the utmost difficulty even in the seat of government to counteract the secret practices of Cromer and his party. The very clergy of his cathedral opposed his attempt to remove their images and relics, and had sent a special emissary to Rome to express their devotion to the holy father, and to implore his interposition in support of his spiritual authority in Ireland.* So ignorant were the Romish partisans of the inflexible and determined spirit of Henry, that they addressed themselves to the Duke of Norfolk, and hoped by his mediation to divert the king from his scheme of reformation in Ireland. Several of the most respectable incumbents of the diocese of Dublin chose to resign their benefices" rather than acknowledge the king's spiritual supremacy: nor did the new regal archbishop dare to fill their vacancies, till he had consulted his patron Lord Cromwell. He repeated his complaints to this minister of the difficulties he experienced from the ignorance and obstinacy of the clergy, with an insinuation, that he was not as strenuously supported by government as the critical occasion required. This archbishop (as from his conventual habits was to be expected) was slightly conversant with the practical delusions and intrigues of cabinets and courts. Expecting when he undertook this mission, that his zeal and enthusiasm for reform would have been backed by all the energy of the state, he sorely lamented his disappointment, and in a letter to his patron he said, “ the viceroy is of little or no power 66 with the old natives, therefore your lordship will expect of
* Lord Clare's speech, 7. In this instance we may be allowed to hope, that the noble Earl was less accurate in predicting the future than in rehearsing the past : for he continues, “ It has rendered her a blank amidst the nations " of Europe, and will, I fear, long continue to retard her progress in the " civilized world.”
No motive that can be conceived to estrange the Irish from the English at this time was omitted: nothing neglected that could tend to provoke insurrection, or ensure its punishment. The Irish annalists tell us, that those who were commissioned to enforce the spiritual supremacy of the king, seized the most valuable utensils and furniture of the churches, which they exposed to sale without decency or reserve. Lord Gray burnt the cathedral of Down, and destroyed the ancient monuments of the Saints Patrick, Bridget, and Columbkille. The crucifix of the abbey of Ballibagan, and the celebrated crosier believed to have belonged to St. Patrick, which the natives at all times held in great relative veneration, were indignantly committed to the fames as objects of superstitious idolatry. The violence done by one party to the feelings and favourite prepossessions of the other, superadded to numberless provocations and insults, produced collisions in the body politic that treatened its very existence.
* me no more than I am able.” This prelate was sent as it were on a single combat against the whole hierarchy of the Irish church: true it is, that he commanded all the lures and incen. tives that the state could furnish, and his apprehensions of the effects of forcing the natives to relinquish their own, and adopt another system of religion, have been forcibly felt after the lapse of more than two centuries; and are thus expressed by Dr. Leland. * “ Ever since the first settlement of the Englishmen in “ Ireland, the old natives have always been desirous of some “ foreign power to support and govern them; and now both « English and Irish sacrifice their private quarrels to the cause " of religion, and seem on the point of forming a dangerous “ confederacy, which some foreigner may soon be invited to “ lead against the English government.”
Nearly four centuries had elapsed since the invasion of Ireland by the English ; this whole space of time had been a chequered scene of arrogant oppression or servile humiliation ; intemperate conquest or calamitous defeat; rancorous perfidy or hostile outrage. Fierce, cruel, and vindictive as the Irish were to each other, never till now did religion afford fuel to insurrec. tion. Immorality, sloth, ignorance, perfidy, cruelty, and incontinence had been their mutual recriminations; both professed the principles, from which these were deviations: they both agreed in faith and communion upon spiritual points; but on temporal differences, they fought, betrayed, and massacred each other. But from the introduction of the Reformation into Ireland, we are to look for religious differences superadded to the former seeds of internal dissensions.
O'Nial, O'Brien, and several other Irish chieftains of less repute made the defence of their religion the cause or the pretext for rising in arms against the English government. They failed, and submitted to Henry; and their examples were followed by several other native dynasts. Henry began to learn by experience, that his power over the Irish would encrease more rapidly by grace and favours, than by severity and force: he therefore adopted a new system; he held out every encouragement to the native chieftains to submit to his government; he bestowed favours, honours, and titles upon several of the chief families of those who came in, and induced them to resort to his court, where he honoured them with particular marks of attention, and loaded them with presents.t
* 2 Leland, p. 171.
† Ulial de Burgo was created earl of Clanricarde and baron of Dunkellan : Murrough O'Brien earl of Thomond and baron of Inchequin ; and his son Connor baron of Ibracken: O'Nial renounced his name, promised to follow the English manners and laws, and accepted of the title of earl of Tyroven; and his son was by the same patent created baron of Dungannon.
These new lords thus constituted peers of parliament, and members of the Irish council, were to be allured to an intercourse with the king's servants, and habituated to an attendance on the state, so as to preserve (at least exteriorly) their attach. ment, and reconcile them to English government. For this purpose the king granted to each of the new earls a house and lands near Dublin, for their more convenient attendance on the lord lieutenant and parliament. They, as well as many other of the principal chieftains, surrendered their possessions into the king's hands, and accepted of fresh grants of them from the crown of England to be holden by military service. The Reformation made considerable progress with the great, who had something to gain by it ; but it advanced more slowly, as it ever since has done, with the lower orders.*
To second the disposition of the Irish, which now appeared favourable to peace, and to give weight and brilliancy to the English government, it was resolved to change the style of Lord of Ireland, with which the crown of England had hitherto been contented, to that of King. It was resolved in the En. glish cabinet, that the Irish parliament should conser the title of King of Ireland upon Henry, and his heirs.f St. Leger was commissioned to summon a parliament; and by the first act thereof it is enacted, that forasmuch as the king, and his pro
* The observations of those, who remark that the bulk of the Irish nation adhere to their ancient faith more from fashion, prejudice, and influence, than from conviction, are futile in the extreme. No nation was so systematically devoted as the Irish to the will, dictates, and example of their chieftains. At present almost the whole of the nobility and gentry of Ireland are protestants, and above two-thirds of the population are catholic. Not only a very severe code of penal laws has long pressed upon these lower ranks of society as well as upon the higher orders; but from the beginning of the Reformation, over and above these statute laws, we find the great men of the nation who followed the example of Henry in renouncing the See of Rome, armed with the most arbitrary powers, and obliging themselves to exert them in exterminating such of their vassals, clans, or septs, who should refuse to follow their example of conformity. We are informed that O'Connor, and O'Dwyn or Dun, and O'Donnell covenanted with Henry, on the 6th of August, 33 Hen. VIII. (A. D. 1542.) by their separate indentures, that “ they would renounce, re
linquish, and annihilate, according to their abilities, the usurped authority " and primacy of the Roman poutiff; and by no means receive, protect, or de. “ fend those who should adhere unto him ; nor suffer them, or any of them, “ lo exist in their country, but would, with all industry and diligence, expel, "eject, and exterminate them and every of them, and force and compel them " to submit themselves to the lord the king and his successors." It is said, that Hugh O'Kelly, abbot of Knockmoy, submitted also in this form; as did Jikewise O'Rourke, M‘Donnel, and M William, on the 18th of May, 1543. Other forms may also be seen in Sir R. Cox, 1 vol. p. 273. This example however, it is admitted on all hands, has been followed by, comparatively, few. This sharp-edged sword of persecution put into the hands of individuals, was little calculated to promote the union of the country.
† The collation of this royal dignity by the Irish nation alone, is a proof and a full recognition by England, of the absolute sovereignty and independence of the Irish nation.