How Iohn de Courcie inuadeth Flster.
IOHN Courcie, who (as is before said) was ioined in commission with William
Fitzaldelme, when he saw the course and maner of his dealings, who as he was couetous,
and did nothing but for monie; so was he timerous, and did all things in
craft and deceit: as also that the enimie feared him not, and the good subiect
loued him not. And considering also that the souldiers and garrison at Dublin,
by means of their capteins couetousnesse were vnpaid of their wages, and by reason
of his slouth and sluggishnesse the vittels waxed scant, & none went & scouted
anie more abrode as they were woont to get anie booties or preies, he secretlie dealeth
with some of them, and by his wise conference, and wittie persuasions, allureth
and intiseth vnto him euen such as were the valiantest, honestest, and chosen men
of them all: who were content and verie glad to accompanie and follow him. And
hauing so gotten into his companie two and twentie gentlemen, and about three
hundred others, he boldlie entreth and inuadeth into the prouince of Vlster, a
countrie which hitherto had not tried the force and strength of the English nation.
And then was fulfilled the prophesie of Merlin Celodine (as is said, howbeit I will
A prophesie of Merlin fulfilled.
not so affirme it) "A white knight sitting vpon a white horse, bearing birds in
his shield, shall be the first which with force of armes shall enter and inuade
This Iohn Courcie was somewhat of a browne colour, but therewith somewhat
whitish, and at that time he rode vpon a white horsse, as also did beare in his shield
three painted (1) birds. After that he had passed three daies iourneie through the
countrie of Vriell, he came the fourth daie (being the kalends of Februarie) to
the citie of (2) Downe, without anie resistance of the inhabitants thereof: he being
an enimie and a ghest vnlooked for. And (3) Odonell then the ruler of that countrie,
being astonied and amazed at their so sudden conmming, fled awaie. The
souldiers which before their comming from Dublin were halfe pined with famine,
and hunger starued, hauing now recouered great booties and preies of neat and
cattels, were full and well refreshed.
At this verie present time, there was come thither out of Scotland a legat from
Rome named Viuianus, & he tooke great pains to intreat & make a peace betwéene
Odonell & Iohn de Courcie, vsing all the persuasions that he could, affirming that
if he would depart and go awaie, there should be a yearelie tribute paid to the king
of England: but all his words auailed nothing. Odonell séeing that worls could
little auaile, assembleth all the forces of the countrie: and within eight daies hauing
gotten about ten thousand souldiors, with force inuadeth, & with great courage
commeth to enter & breake into the citie of Downe. For in Ireland, as it is commonlie
also in all other lands, they which inhabit in the north, are more warlike
and cruell than anie others in other parts. Iohn Courcie séeing the course and
bent of the enimies, who not onelie vpon a hope and confidence of their great
multitude against so few enimies; but also their valiant and couragious minds, who
were fullie determined to inuade the citie: thought it better with his small companie
(which though they were but few in respect of their aduersaries, yet they
were souldiors valiant, coragious, and of good seruice) to issue out and aduenture
the fight with them, than to be pinned & shut vp in a beggerlie ward made with
turffes in a corner of the citie, and there for want of vittels to be famished. Wherefore
he issued out and ioined the battell with them, where the fight was hot, the
bowes a farre off on the one side, and the darts on the other side: then lance against
lance, and the bill against the spar, and the sword against the skeine: who buckled
so lustilie the one against the other, that manie a man fell that daie to the dust.
And in this terrible fight and buckling, he that had séene how valiantlie each man
shewed himselfe, and speciallie how Iohn Courcie most valiantlie with the stroke
of his sword mangled manie a man, killing some, but wounded and maimed manie,
would and must néeds haue commended him for a right woorthie, noble, and right
(1) He giueth thrée birds as this author saith, which by heralds are thus blasoned.
Argent thrée griphs or geires gules crowned gold: this griph or geire is a kind of
an eagle, but such as is rauenous, and feedeth more vpon carren than vpon anie
foule of his owne preieng: & for his cowardnesse carieth neither the name nor
praise apperteining to the true eagle.
(2) Downe is a towne lieng in the Ards, which is in Vlster, a profitable and a
fertile soile : it is the sée of the bishop of that diocesse, who beareth his name of
the said towne, being called the bishop of Downe.
(3) The Latine word is Dunlenus,
, which I doo find to be Englished Odonell,
which is the name of a great familie or nation in the prouince of Vlster; but whether
this Latine be trulie so interpreted, I refer it to the reader, or such as be
expert in such Irish names.