James Bryce Bryce.

The book of history. A history of all nations from the earliest times to the present, with over 8,000 illustrations (Volume 9) online

. (page 55 of 55)
Online LibraryJames Bryce BryceThe book of history. A history of all nations from the earliest times to the present, with over 8,000 illustrations (Volume 9) → online text (page 55 of 55)
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kings of Kent or Northumbria or Mercia
had claimed a general overlordship in
England. And when Henry of Anjou.
duke or count of half the provinces of
France, became Henry II., King of Eng-
land, he began to cherish vague ideas of
. . . K . , adding Ireland to his dominions.
^ 1S . ! 8 By way of preliminary, he got
the authorisation of the English

to England . , . __. , ,

Pope, Adrian IV., for the pro-
ject, since the Keltic Church was regarded
as rebellious, if not heretical, by the papacy.
Henry, however, would probably never
have found time to organise a conquest on
his own account ; it was Irish dissensions
that opened a door for him. Dermot, king
of Leinster, was hard put to it in a quarrel
with a neighbour whose wife he had
abducted ; he appealed to Henry for aid.
Henry permitted sundry adventurous
but impecunious barons to take up
Dermot's cause notably Richard de Clare,
called Strongbow, various Fitzgeralds,
Fitzurses, De Burghs, and others. Dermot
was duly restored, and rewarded the
Normans with baronies. Strongbow him-
self married Dermot's daughter, and was
recognised as his heir. Then Henry him-
self appeared on the scene ; the Normans,
already his liegemen, acknowledged his
suzerainty, and the native princes in general
were constrained to do the like. The clergy
made submission to the Roman authority.
Henry added " Lord of Ireland " to his
titles the theory being that the country
had been assigned to him by the Pope
and left a Norman " Justiciar " to represent
the royal authority, and to
"7 ' establish within the Norman
districts of Leinster, called " the
Pale," a system of government
based on that which Henry was organising
in England. The Norman baronage was
not limited to the Pale a district roughly
covering a semicircle of some four counties
with the city of Dublin as its centre ; the
Geraldine or Kildare territories extended


as Lord
of Ireland


considerably south and west, while the
Desmond branch of the same house was
established in Munster, and the Butlers of
Ormond occupied intervening territory.
The De Burghs in Connaught became
Burkes, and the Fitzurses translated their
name into the Irish equivalent M'Mahon.
The north remained entirely and the
west mainly Keltic ; but outside the Pale
the Normans became, as the saying was,
"more Irish than the Irish themselves."
Within the Pale, English and feudal
law was upheld ; outside it the native
" Brehon " law
prevailed in
defiance of Eng-
lishry and feudal-
ism ; but neither
within the Pale
nor without was
there any disposi-
tion on the part
of magnates or
population t o
pay superfluous
respect to any
law at all.

For nearly two
hundred years no
English king set
foot in Ireland,
nor was there
even the begin-
ning of a concep-
tion of loyalty to
the Eng 1 ish
government. In
the reign, of
Edward II., after
the English had
been fairly driven
out of Scotland,
Edward Bruce,
brother of King
Robert, went
near to wresting
Ireland from English rule and securing
the crown of Ireland for himself ; but
the attempt ultimately collapsed, owing
to the incapacity of the Irish clans for
acting continuously in unison. The Pale
and the rest of Ireland were increasingly
antagonistic. In the reign of Edward III.,
under the governorship of his son Lionel
of Clarence, the statute of Kilkenny for-
bade intermarriage, the recognition of
Irish law, or the adoption by the English
of Irish customs ; birth in England was
made a condition of holding government


appointments. The law was impossible
to enforce effectively, but intensified
racial hostilities. As " Deputies," Roger
Mortimer, the grandson of Lionel of
Clarence, and his grandson Richard of
York, father of Edward IV., succeeded
in making the House of York so far
popular in Ireland that the country
became Yorkist in the Wars of the Roses,
took up the cause of Lambert Simnel,
and started Perkin Warbeck on his career
as a Yorkist Pretender. The diplomatic
Henry VII., however, conciliated the
great Earl of Kil-
dare, who, except
during a brief
interval, was
Deputy during
most of the reign,,
on the principle
that " since all
Ireland could not
rule this man, this
man had better
rule all Ireland."
But the interval
itself forms a
notable epoch in
Irish history.
Kildare's very
doubtful loyalty
caused the tem-


of Sir

Edward Poynings
as Deputy the
nominal Governor
being the infant
Prince Henry
and " Poynings'
Law" established
the system of
government for
Ireland which

SIEGE OF WATERFORD prevailed for

nearly three cen-
turies. Ireland was to have its parlia-
ment ; but the initiation of all legislation
was reserved to the king and the
English Privy Council.

Henry VII. was by no means un-
successful in the policy of conciliating
the Irish magnates and ruling through
them ; but the policy was followed by his
successors only for brief intervals, alternat-
ing with prolonged periods of desultory
rigour, which produced neither goodwill
nor thorough subjection.


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Online LibraryJames Bryce BryceThe book of history. A history of all nations from the earliest times to the present, with over 8,000 illustrations (Volume 9) → online text (page 55 of 55)