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the feudal land-tenures and laws of succession. This, however, was not to be. The growing tendency towards amalgamation was checked by the Statutes of Kilkenny, passed in 1367. It is difficult to believe that these statutes were not dictated more by antipathy than policy. They were certainly as impolitic as they were malicious. To intermarry with the Irish, to form any connection with them in the way of fostering or of “ gossipred,” to adopt or submit to the Brehon laws, were declared to be acts of high treason, and to be punishable as such.* On the other hand, it was made penal to present an Irishman to an ecclesiastical benefice, or to entertain an Irish bard, minstrel, or story-teller. In short, intercourse with the natives was for ever interdicted, and perpetual war declared, not only against them, but against every one of English blood who, having settled beyond the Pale, had formed connections with them or adopted their customs.
The effect of these statutes was to draw together the Irisb rebels and the Irish enemies. The area of conquered land, which, constantly changing in extent, had at one time covered more than five counties, was very soon reduced to a single county. By the time of Henry IV., after two centuries of the conflict, there was little left to the English except the county of Dublin. . In the time of Edward IV., the Pale was at such an ebb that its defenders consisted of only eighty archers on horseback and forty spearmen! By the time of Henry VII., it was verging on extinction. From a report made in the reign of Henry VIII., it appears that “the English order, tongue, and habit” were used, and the English laws obeyed, within a district of not more
A statute of Kilkenny is said to be now in force in New Zealand. Marriage with the natives is criminal, but concubinage is permitted.
than twenty miles in compass ; sixty “regions” of Ireland were under the dominion of Irish chieftains; and thirty“ regions” under the authority of chiefs of AngloNorman descent—the Irish rebels—who acknowledged neither the laws nor the government of England. In the mean time, the relations between the septs and the barons of the Pale had come to a great extent to be reversed; and the barons on the borders, who did not lose their lands, paid tribute to the native chiefs for protection. It seems as if the existence of the Pale must have often depended on the native contempt for it. Perhaps a wholesome dread of England's power, which had more than once been paraded in Ireland—a first time by Henry II., and twice afterwards by Richard II. -restrained the septs from the attempt; but it is obvious that had there been anything like national spirit in Ireland, the Irish could easily have cleared the country, at least for a time, of all who did not fall in with their own ways. There was, however, no Irish nation, and as yet no push for the mastery of the country had been made by the English. The real struggle came later. When it came, it was a war for the overthrow of the septs; which, beginning under Henry VIII., after long wavering ended with the fall of Tyrone, in the time of Elizabeth, leaving Ireland a waste of blood and ashes.
The event which precipitated the struggle was undoubtedly the Reformation. Henry VIII., having finally quarrelled with Rome, assumed the title of King of Ireland ; the English kings had previously been mere lords of Ireland under the authority of the Popes. The conquest, begun in a communion of the interests of Rome and England, was now to be consummated through their opposition. Both were to retain a hold on the common prey—this to win the political, and that the spiritual allegiance ; this the kingdom, and that the people. The struggle, had it come earlier, would have been for the land merely. Coming when and as it did, it was not only a war of races, but of religions. The Irish hatred of England, says an eloquent writer, was before an instinct; it was now to become a passion.
From the first there was a religious difference, but strictly it was rather a difference of Church-adherence than of religion. The Irish Church had early acknowledged the See of Rome. It had peculiarities of organisation and discipline, however, and continued to be a separate and independent Church. With the Church of the Pale, in which the ecclesiastical order of England was established, it had absolutely no connection. They were both Christian—they were both Catholic ; the difference was that the English was a Romish Church, and the Irish was not, save by remote acknowledgment. It was independent.
By the course of events which followed the Reformation the relations of the Churches came to be reversed. The Church of the Pale became Protestant-separate from Rome; the Church of the Irish became Roman Catholic, and the most zealous and devoted of the Romish Churches. Rome, become the natural ally of the Irish, bent her energies to win them, and succeeded. The power
of England, under Henry and Elizabeth, was so exerted against the Irish that they welcomed countenance from any quarter. To the chiefs the change may have been a policy ; to the septmen an act of fealty: at any rate it was thorough. A Papal Church was quickly organised. Its organisation was as quickly braced by manifold persecutions.
The Reformation, as Henry VIII. understood it, consisted mainly in the assumption by himself of the Pope's place, rights, and powers in England and its dependencies. The same armies which compelled the Irish generally to acknowledge his temporal authority secured their admission of his spiritual supremacy. He pushed Protestantism no further than this in Ireland, save to make profit out of it by suppressing the religious houses and confiscating their property. In the next reign, the people had to choose between martyrdom and Protestantism in the more alarming shape of a reformed liturgy. The reign of “Bloody Mary” gave the Irish a short respite ; their "bloody” Queen was the good Queen Bess. Her root-and-branch policy, which ruined the septs, sprung quite as much from religious as political considerations. Behind her generals, as they proceeded crushing the people, went her propagandists, converting the survivors by the best short and easy methods known to her times. One of her first acts in Ireland was the expulsion from their cures of all the priests who declined to become Protestant- a wholesale measure which rendered the native Church henceforth the chief opposition to English supremacy.
The love of plunder had now found a powerful auxiliary in zeal for the reformed religion, and Ireland was doomed to be at once Protestantised and parcelled out to Englishmen. The time had come when the extermination or removal of the native race was, in many quarters, openly avowed and longed for. At any rate, it was agreed that vigorous measures should be taken against the contumacious savages. The root-andbranch policy was entered upon. The details of its progress are unimportant; its objects are as clear as its results have been lamentable.
Leinster had been overrun by Henry VIII. It swarmed, at the date of Elizabeth's accession, with landless, homeless septmen, leading in the wilds and woods a life of wretchedness and desperation. Connaught had been overrun and devastated in the same reign. It was now the scene of a destructive war between rival branches of the ruling tribe. Munster was distracted by a similar struggle for provincial supremacy ; while in Ulster the powerful Tyrone was at once a sovereign and a rebel.
Munster was fated to be first struck by Elizabeth. The blow was most efficacious, and the power of the chiefs in this province was gone for ever.
The English army
acted indeed as if its mission were not to conquer, but to destroy the people. Its route was everywhere marked by slaughter, famine, and desolation.
“ The soldiers in the camp,” says an English chronicler, “were so hot upon the spur and so eager upon the vile rebels, that they spared neither man, woman, nor child, but all were committed to the sword.” The natives, when they crowded into castles, were burnt or slain in the
Their cattle were carried off, and their crops cut down; and those whom the sword spared hunger destroyed. Famine led to cannibalism ; children devoured their parents—parents their children ; the bodies even of the buried were taken up and eaten at the open graves. Spenser has left a painful commemorative picture of the desolation. “Notwithstanding,” he says, “ that the same was a most rich and plentifull countrey,
yet, ere one yeare and a halfe, they were brought to such wretchednesse as that any stony heart would have rued the same. Out of every corner of the woods and glynnes they came creeping forth upon
their hands, for their legges could not beare them; they looked like