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The gaing ouer and landing of Robert Fitzstephans and of his companie in Ireland, and of the winning of the towne of Wexford.

IN the meane time Robert Fitzstephans, not vnmindfull aor carelesse of his word and promise, prepareth and prouideth all things in a readinesse, and being accompa nied with thirtie gentlmen of seruice of his owne kinsfolks & * rerteine armed men.
* Thrée score other in lacks. and about thrée hundred of archers and footmen, which were all of the best chosen and piked men in Wales, they all ship and imbarke themselues in thrée sundrie barkes, and saiting towards Ireland, they land about the calends of Maie at the (1) Banne. Then was the old prophesie of Merlin fulfilled, which was, that A (2) knight biparted should first enter with force in arms & breake the bounds of Ireland. If you will understand the mysterie herof, you must haue respect to his parents, for his father was a Norman and an Englishman, his mother the noble ladie Nesta was a Camber or a Britaine, in his companie also was Herueie of Mont Maurice, a man infortunat, vnarmed, and without all furniture: but he trauelling in the behalfe of the earle Richard, to whome he was vncle, was rather a (3) spie than a souldier. On the next daie following Maurice of Prendelgast a (4) iustie and a hardie man, and borne about Milford in west Wales, he with ten gentlemen of seruice, and a good number of archers imbarke themselues in two ships, and atriue also at the Banne. These men thus landed at the Banne, and not standing well assured of their safetie, by reason their comming was blowen abroad through the whole countrie, they with all hast sent messengers to Dermon, aduertising him of their comming. Wherevpon diuerse of that countrie, who dwelling vpon the sea coasts, and who when fortune frowned had and did shrinke awaie from Dermon, now perceiuing that she fauored him againe, returned and fawned vpon him; according to the saieng of the poet in these words:
"As fortune so the faith of man doth stand or fall."

Mac Morogh, assoone as he heard of their landing and comming, sent his base son Donold, a valiant gentleman vnto them with fiue hundred men: and verie shortlie after he himselfe also followed with great ioie and gladnesse. And then when they had renewed their former couenants and leagues, and had sworne each one to the other, to obserue the same and to kéepe faith: then, though they were people of contrarie dispositions, yet now being good fréends and all of one mind, they ioine their forces togither, and with one consent doo march towards the towne of Wexford, which is about tweiue miles distant from the Banne. When they of the towne heard therof, they being a fierce and vnrulie people, but yet much trusting to their woonted fortune, came foorth about two thousand of them, and were determined to wage and giue battell. But when they saw their aduersaries armie to be better set in order than in times past, and that the horssemen were well armed with armour and shield shining bright: then vpon new chances & changes taking new counsels, they set on fire and burned their suburbs, and retired into the towne.

Fitzstephans minding and preparing to giue the assault, filleth the ditches with armed men, and setteth his archers to marke and watch well the turrets of the wals: which things doone, he with great showtes and force giueth the assault. The townesmen within being readie to stand at defense, cast ouer the wals great peeces of timber & stones, and by that meanes hurting manie, made the rest to giue ouer and retire. Among whom a lustie yoong gentleman named Robert Barrie, being hot and of a lustie courage, and nothing afraid of death, so he might atchiue vnto honour, gineth the first aduenture to scale the wals: but he was striken with a great stone vpon the headpeece, wherwith he fell headlong downe into the ditch and escaped verie hardlie, for with much adoo did his fellowes draw & pull him out of the place. About sixteene yeares after, all his great teeth with the force and violence of this stroke fell out; and that which is verie strange, new téeth grew vp in their places. Vpon this repulse they all retired and withdrew themselues from the wals, & assembled themselues vpon the sea strands, where foorthwith they set on fire all such ships and vessels as they could there find. Among whome was one merchant ship latelie come out of England laden with wines and corne, which there laie then at anchor, and a companie of these lustie youths hauing gotten botes for the purpose, would haue taken hir: which the mariners perceiuing, suddenlie cut their cabels and hoised vp their sailes, & the wind being westerlie and blowing a good gale, they recouered the seas. These youths still following them, had almost lost all and marred the market: for if others their fellowes had not made good shift and rowed a good pace after them they would scarselie haue recouered the land againe. Thus fortune, which is onlie constant in inconstancie, séemed to haue forsaken Morogh and Fitzstephans, and to haue left them destitute of all hope and comfort: neuerthelesse, on the next morow hauing heard diuine seruice through the whole campe, they determine with better aduise and circumspection to giue a new assault, & with lustie courages drew to the wals. The townesmen within séeing this, began to distrust themselues, & to consider how most vnnaturallie and vniustlie they had rebelled against their prince & souereigne: whervpon being better aduised, they send messengers to him to intreat for peace. At length by the earnest intercession and mediation of two bishops, and certeine good and peaceable men which were within the towne, peace was granted; and foure of the best & chiefest men within the towne were deliuered and giuen for pledges and hostages, for the true kéeping of the peace and their fidelitie. Mac Morogh, to gratifie his men in these his first successes, and to acquit the first aduenturors, did (according to his former promise and couenant) giue vnto Robert Fitzstephans and Maurice Fitzgerald the towne of Wexford, and the territories therevnto adioining and apperteining, and vnto Herueie of Mont Morice he gaue in fee two cantreds, lieng on the sea side betwéene Wexford and Waterford.

(1) The Banne is a little créeke lieng in the countie of Wexford, neere to Fither a fisher towne, which is belonging to the bishop of that diocesse, the open seas being on the east and not farre from the hauen mouth of Waterford on the south: and as it should séeme, Fitzstephans and his companie mistooke the place or were driuen in there, the same being verie vnapt for a harborow: but the same being the place of the first receipt of Englishmen, there were certeine monuments made in memorie thereof, and were named the Banna & the Boenne, which were the names (as the common fame is) of the two greatest ships in which the Englishmen there arriued.

(2) A knight biparted. The prophesie was not onelie verified in respect of the parents of Robert Fitzstephans, the one being a Norman Saxon, and the other a Camber: but also in respect of his armes and ensigne which were biparted being of two sundrie changes, namelie partie per pale gules, and ermine a saltier counterchanged. For commonlie all prophesies haue their aliusions vnto armes, and by them they are discouered, though at the first not so appearing before the euent thereof.

(3) Gentlemen. The Latine word is Milites, which in the now common spéeches is termed knights, a name of worship and honour: but the word it selfe importeth and meaneth men expert and skilfull to serue in the wars, whether it be on foot or horssebacke. In times past when men ruled by the sword, then such as were valiant and of good experience grew into credit and estimation; and the people did make choise of such to gouerne, rule, and defend them, and who for their excellent vertues were called Nobiles, which in English is gentlemen. And then men being ambitious of honour, did contend who might best excell in feats of prowesse and chiualrie: some deliting to excell in the seruice on foot: and bicause they vsed chieflie the target and shield, they tooke their name thereof, & were called Scutiferi. Some practised chieflie the seruice on horssebacke, and they (according to the manner of their seruice) were named Equites: but both the one and the other were in processe of time called Armigeri, in English esquiers: and this is taken for a degrée somewhat aboue the estate of a onelie gentleman. And for somuch as seruice in the fields did carie awaie with it the greatest honor and credit, and princes willing & desirous to incourage gentlemen to excell that waie and in that kind of seruice, they deuised a third degree of honour named knighthood. And this as it excelleth the others before and not to be giuen but for great desert: so to increase the credit and estimation thereof, it was not to be giuen but with great so emnities and ceremonies; and the person so to be honored, was to be adorned with such ornaments as doo speciallie apperteine to the furniture of such seruice, as namelie a sword, a target, a helme, a paire of spurres, and such like: and they which were thus aduanced were named Milites or knights, and thus the name of seruice was turned to the name of worship: yea this degree did grow and wax to be of such credit, honor and estimation, that kings and princes were and would be verie circumspect and aduised, before they would dub or promote auie man to this estate. Wherefore considering the estate, nature & worship of a knight, and weieng also the course of this historie, it cannot be intended that all they which went ouer and serued in this conquest, though they were named Milites, that therfore they should be compted & taken for knights of worship and high calling: but that they were such as were expert and skilfull to serue in warres according to the nature of the word Miles. Wherefore I haue and doo English the word Miles in this historie a gentleman of seruice.

(4) A spie, not to watch the dooings of his countrimen, whereby to take them in a trip, but to note, marke and consider the nature, maner, and disposition of the countrie and people: whereby to aduertise the earle how he should prouide and order his dooings against his comming ouer into the land.

(5) Maurice of Prendalgast was doubtlesse a valiant gentleman, and borne and bred in west Wales, in or about the prouince of Penbroke. He is not named nor mentioned in some books of this historie; but I finding in such exemplars as I haue of best credit, doo thinke I should haue doone wrong to haue omitted him. There are yet of his race, posteritie and name, remaining at these daies in the countie of Wexford, and elsewhere.

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