previous next

The causes why England could not make the full and finall conquest of Ireland.

IT were not amisse, that we now did consider the causes, and declare the impediments, why the kings sonne had not the best successe in this his so honourable a iournie, and wherefore his so famous attempt tooke not effect: that albeit the same can not reuoke and remedie that which is past and doone, yet that it maie be a forewarning to that which maie follow and insue. The principall and chiefe cause I suppose and thinke to be, bicause that whereas the patriarch of Ierusaiem named Heraclius came in an ambassage vnto him, in the name and behalfe of all the whole land of Palestine called the holie land, requesting that he would take vpon him to be their helpe, and defending the same against the Saladine then king of Egypt and of Damasco: who hauing bent his whole force against them, was like within two yeares following vtterlie to be ouerrun, the said holie land, vnlesse some rescue in the meane time and with expedition were prouided: he vtterlie denied and refused the same. And being further vrged to send one of his sonnes, although it were the yoongest: he denied that also: making no account neither of the cause it selfe, which was Christ; nor of the people, which were christians: neither yet of the person, which was a reuerend and honourable personage.

And yet neuerthelesse he sent foorth his yoonger sonne in a iournie or hosting, more sumptuous than are néedfull or profitable? And whither I praie you? Was it into the east and against the Saracens and miscreants? No, no, it was into the west, & against his euen christian, nothing séeking the aduancing of Gods glorie, nor promoting of his cause, but onelie for his owne priuat lucre and singular commoditie. An other cause was this. At the first landing and entrie of the kings sonne at Waterford, a great manie of the chiefest of the Irishmen in those parties, and who since their first submission to king Henrie had continued faitfull and true, they being aduertised of this his arriuall, did come and resort vnto him in peaceable maner, and after their best order to salute him, and congratulate his comming. But our new men & Normans, who had not before béene in those parties, making small account of them, did not onelie mocke them, and laugh them to scorne for the manner of their apparell, as also for their long beards and great glibs, which they did then weare and vse according to the vsage of their countrie: but also they did hardlie deale and ill intreat manie of them. These men nothing liking such interteinment shifted themselues out of the towne, & with all hast sped themselues home: euerie one into his owne house; & from thense they with their wines, children, and houshold, departed and went some to the prince of Limerike, some to the prince of Corke, some to Rothorike prince of Connagh, and some to one lord, and some to an other: and to these they declared orderlie how they had béene at Waterford, and what they had séene there, and how they were intreated; and how that a yoong man was come thither garded with yoong men, and guided by the counsels of yoong men: in whom there was no staie, no sobrietie, no stedfastnesse, no assurednesse, whereby they and their countrie might be assured of anie safetie.

These princes and namelie they thrée of Connagh, Corke, and Limerike, who were the chéefest, and who were then preparing themselues in a readinesse to haue come and saluted the kings sonne, and to haue yéelded vnto him the dutifull obeisance of faithfull subiects: when they heard these newes, they began streightwaies to imagine, that of such euill beginnings woorse endings would insue: and reasoning the matter among themselues, did conclude, that if they thus at the first did deale so discourteouslie with the humble, quiet, and peaceable men: what would they doo to such as were mightie and stout, and who would be loth to receiue such discourtesies at their hands? Wherefore with one consent they concluded to stand and ioine togither against the English nation, and to their vttermost to aduenture their liues, and to stand to the defense of their countrie and libertie. And for the performance thereof, they enter into a new league among themselues, and swore each one to the other, and by that means enimies before are now made fréends and reconciled. This we know to be true, and therefore we speake it, and that which we saw we doo boldlie witnesse. And for so much as we thus fondlie and in our pride did abuse them, who in humblenesse came vnto vs: therefore did we well deserue by Gods iust iudgement (who hateth the proud and high minded) to lose the others, for by this example they were vtterlie discouraged to like of vs. And this people and nation though it be barbarous and rude, not knowing what apperteineth vnto honour: yet most and aboue all others doo they desire to be exalted and honoured. And although they be not ashamed to be found false of their word, and vniust in their dealings: yet will they greatlie discommend Feng and commend truth, louing that in others, which is not to be found in themselues. But to the matter. What great euils and inconueniences doo grow by such follies and insolencies, a wise man may soone learne by the example of Renoboam the sonne of Salomon, & so by an other mans harme learne to beware of his owne. (2) For he being lead and carried by yoong mens councels, gaue a yoong mans answer vnto his people, saieng vnto them; "My finger is greater than was my fathers Ioins, and whereas he beat you with rods, I will scourge you with scorpions," by reason whereof ten tribes forsooke him for euer, and followed after Ieroboam. Another cause is this, when Robert Fitzstephans came first ouer, and also the earle; there were certeine Irishmen which tooke part with them, and faithfullie serued vnder them: and these were rewarded and had giuen vnto them for recompense certeine Iands, which they quietlie held and inioied, vntill this time of the comming ouer of the king his sonne: for now the same were taken from them, and giuen to such as were new come ouer, contrarie to the promise & grant to them before made. Wherevpon they forsooke vs and fled to our enimies, and became not onelie spies vpon vs, but were also guiders and conductors of them against vs: they being so much the more able to hurt and annoie vs, bicause they were before our familiars, and knew all our orders and secrets. Besides this, the cities and townes vpon and néere the seacoasts, with all such lands, reuenues, tributes, and commodities as to the same did belong and apperteine, and which before was imploied and spent for the defense of the commonwealth & countrie, and in the seruice against the enimies, were now all assigned and bestowed vpon such as were giuen to pilling and polling, and who laie still within the townes, spending their whole time, and all that they had in drunkennesse and surfetting, to the losse and damage of the good citizens and inhabitants, and not to the annoiance of the enimies. And besides sundrie other commodities, this was one, and a speciall one; that at the verie first entrie of the king his sonne into this vnrulie and rebellious land, the people being barbarous, and not knowing what it was to be a subiect, nor what apperteineth to gouernment, such men were appointed to haue the charge, rule and gouernement, The inconueniences following euill gouernment. as who were more méet to talke in a parlor than to fight in the fields, better skill to be clad in a warme gowne than to be shrowded in armor, and who knew better how to pill and poll the good subiects than to resist and incounter the enimie: yea for their valiantnesse and prowesse they might well be resembled vnto William Fitzaldelme, vnder whose gouernement both Ireland and Wales were almost vtterlie destroied & lost. For whie, they were neither faithfull to their owne people nor dreadfull to their enimies; yea they were vtterlie void of that affect, which is naturallie ingrafted in man, which is to be pittifull to the humble and prostrate, and to resist the proud and obstinat; but rather of the contrarie, they spoiled their owne citizens, and winked at their enimies: for to resist and withstand them nothing was doone, no castels nor fortresses builded, no passes for safetie made, no waies for seruice opened, but althings went to ruine, and the common state to wracke. Moreouer, the seruing men and the soldiers which were in garrison, they liking well of their capteins and masters maners and loose life, gaue themselues to the like, spending their whole time in rioting, bankering, whoredome, and all other dissolute and wanton orders, tarrieng still within the townes and places far off from the enimies. For as for the marches (so called bicause the same bordered vpon their enimies; or rather of Mars, bicause in those places martiall affaires were and are woont to be most exercised) they would not come néere the sight thereof, and by that means the people there dwelling and seated, the soiles there manured, the castels there builded, were altogether destroied, wasted, spoiled, and burned. And thus the prowesse of the old capteins, the good seruices of the veterans & well experimented soldiers by the insolent, distemperat, and lewd life of these new comes was discredited: whereof was nothing else to be awaited for but after such calmes must néeds insue stormes and tempests. And albeit they thus lieng in the townes in securitie and at rest, wallowing in lose and wanton life, euerie daie being a holie daie to Bacchus and Venus: yet the state of the land at large was most miserable and lamentable. For euerie where was howling and wéeping, the manured fields became waste, the castels destroied, and the people murthered, and no newes but that the vtter destruction of the whole land was at hand. And in this distresse and necessitie it had béene verie requisit and néedfull that the souldiers should haue taken vp their weapons, serued against the enimie, and haue defended the common state: but it was farre otherwise, for there was such lawing & vexation Lawing woorse than warring. in the towns, one dailie suing and troubling another, that the veterane was more troubled with lawing within the towne, than he was in perill at large with the enimie. And thus our men, giuen ouer to this trade and kind of life, became faintharted, and afraid to looke vpon the enimie: and on the contrarie the enimic most strong, stout, and bold. Thus was the land then gouerned, and thus the same posted towards the destruction of the English nation and gouernment, which had doubtlesse verie shortlie followed and insued, had not the king prouided a speedie remedie for the same. For the king being aduertised how disorderlie things framed, and considering with himselfe in what perill the state of his realme and people stood, he with all spéed sendeth for all these new come souldiors, in whome (other than the name of a souldior was nothing of anie value and commendation) and commandeth them to repaire and come home, and sendeth ouer in their places these old beaten and well tried soldiors, by whose seruice the land before had beene conquered and kept, among whome one and the cheefest was Iohn de Courcie, who was made lord deputie, and had the gouernement of the land committed vnto him: who, according to his office and dutie, setteth in hand the reformation of all things méet and requisit to be redressed: who the more valiant and forward he was in his said affaires and seruices, the more the land grew to good order, and inioied peace & quietnesse. For whie, he would not be idle himselfe, neither would he suffer his souldiers to lie idle like loiterers and sluggards: but was alwaies labouring and trauelling abroad, and marching still towards the enimies, whome he followed and pursued euen through the whole land, to the vttermost parts thereof, as well in Corke, Thomond, Connagh, and elsewhere; and if by any means he could haue anie aduantage of them, he would suerlie giue the onset and aduenture vpon them: which for the most part was to their ouerthrowe, though he and his sometimes were galled, and felt the smart. And would to God he had beene as prudent a capteine as he was a valiant souldior; and as prouident in the one as skilfull and hardie in the other! But to my former purpose. Among the manie and sundrie inconueniences happened by euill gouernment of these new officers (as is before said) there was none greater, nor more to be lamented than was this: that notwithstanding God of his goodnesse did giue the victorie, and send the happie successe in Aba Giraldus! could you sée that curssed fault and abuse? this noble conquest: yet was there neither due thanks attributed vnto God, nor anie remembrance giuen vnto his church; but to increase a further ingratitude, they tooke and spoiled awaie from the same their lands and possessions, as also minded to abridge them of their old and ancient priuileges & liberties. Too great a note of ingratitude, and an argument of too much vnthankfulnes: wherof what vnquietnesse and troubles did insue, the sequele therof (for the course of sundrie years) did shew and declare.

So manie outrages & disorders, which did créepe in by the disordred gouernement vnder the king his sonne, were not so much to be imputed to his yoong and tender yeares, as vnto the euill counsels and directions of such as were about him, and had the speciall charge thereof; for such a sauage, rude, and barbarous nation was by good counsels, discréet directions and prudent gouernement to haue béene gouerned and reduced to good order and conformitie. For whie, if a realme which by wise and prudent gouernement is brought and reduced to a perfect state, yet being committed to the gouernement of a child is cursed and brought to manifold distresses, troubles and miseries (5) how much more then is it to be so thought of that land, which of it selfe being rude and barbarous, is committed to the gouernement of such as be not onelie rude and barbarous, but also lewd and cuill disposed. And that this did so happen and come to passe in Ireland, all wisemen doo know it, and the elder sort doo confesse it to be true; although yoong men to couer their folies, would reiect it to some other causes & impediments. For whie, such of them as had procured vnto themselues great liuings, lordships and territories, they pretended at the first that they would be readie to serue the king his sonne, to defend the countrie, to resist the enimie, and that they would doo this and that with manie good morowes. But when they had gotten what they would, and had that they sought for, then it manifestlie appeared that it was singular gaine & priuat profit which they shot at: for hauing obteined that, they neuer remembred their oth to their lord, nor cared for the common state, nor passed for the safetie and defense of the countrie, which in dutie they ought chiefelie to haue considered.

(1) The Irish nation and people euen from the beginning haue béene alwaies of a hard bringing vp, & are not onelie rude in apparell but also rough & ouglie in their bodies: their beards and heads they neuer wash, clense, nor cut, especiallie their heads; the haire whereof they suffer to grow, sauing that some doo vse to round it: and by reason the same is neuer kembed, it groweth fast togither, and in processe of time it matteth so thicke and fast togither, that it is in stéed of a hat, and kéepeth the head verie warme, & also will beare off a great blow or stroke, and this head of haire they call a glibe, and therein they haue a great pleasure.

(2) The historie is written in the first booke of the kings the twelfe chapter, and in the second of the chronicles the tenth chapter: the effect therof is, that after the death of Salomon the people of Israell requested Rehoboam his sonne, to ease them of the grieuous burdens and heauie yoke which his father laied vpon them, who leauing the counsell of the old counsellors, gaue them answer by the aduise of yoong heads, as in this place is recited.

(3) What these Irishmen were, there are diuerse opinions. Some thinke that they were such as did inhabit about Wexford, some thinke that they were they of Kencelo, for they faithfullie serued the Englishmen vnder their capteine named Morogh at Limerike, when the earle of Reimond recouered the same. But I find it to be noted of the Orians, who are now dwelling within the baronie of Odron, and had a seat there by the gift of the Kauenaughs, but since resisting against them and denieng to paie their accustomable cheuerie, yéelded themselues vnto the earle of Ormond, paieng vnto him a certeine blacke rent to be their defendor against the said Keuenaughs, but in right they are tenants to the barons of Odron.

(4) This is meant of that which is before spoken in the twentie chapter in the description of this Iohn de Curcie, where his too much rashnes is noted to be a great fault in him.

(5) It is written by the preacher, or Ecclesiastes; "Wo he vnto thee O thou land whose king is but a child." Which is not ment absolutelie of a child, but of such a one who (as a child) hath an euill affection, and is void of that grauitie, wisedome, and maiestie as is required in a prince and gouernour. For Iosias when he was crowned king of Iehuda, was but eight yeares of age; and yet bicause he did that which was right in the sight of God, and ruled the land godlie and vprightlie, he is commended in the scriptures for the same.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: