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   Chapter 11 HENRY II. IN IRELAND.

The Story of Ireland By Emily Lawless Characters: 4466

Updated: 2017-11-30 00:05


This was practically the end of the struggle. The king had four thousand men-at-arms at his back, of whom no less than four hundred were knights. In addition his ships contained vast stores of provisions, a variety of war devices never before seen in Ireland, artizans for building bridges and making roads--a whole war train, in short. Such a display of force was felt to be irresistible. The chieftains one after the other came in and made their submission. Dermot McCarthy, lord of Desmond and Cork, was the first to do homage, followed by Donald O'Brien, Prince of Thomond; while another Donald, chieftain of Ossory, rapidly followed suit. The men of Wexford appeared, leading their prisoner with them by a chain, and presenting him as an offering to his master, who, first rating him soundly for his unauthorized proceedings, ordered him to be chained to another prisoner and shut up in Reginald's tower. Later, soothed by his own triumph, or touched, as Giraldus tells us, with compassion for a brave man, he, at the intercession of some of his courtiers, forgave and restored him to his possessions, reserving, however, the town of Wexford for himself.

From Wexford Henry marched to Dublin, having first visited Tipperary and Waterford. The Danes at once submitted and swore allegiance; so also did O'Carrol of Argial, O'Rorke of Brefny, and all the minor chieftains of Leinster; Roderick O'Connor still stood at bay behind the Shannon, and the north also remained aloof and hostile, but air the other chieftains, great and small, professed themselves willing to become tributaries of the king of England.

The idea of an Ard-Reagh, or Over-lord, was no new one, as we have seen, to any of them. Theoretically they had always acknowledged one, although, practically, he had rarely exercised any authority save over his own immediate subjects. Their feeling about Henry was doubtless the same. They were as willing to swear fealty to him as to Roderick O'Connor, more so in fact, seeing that he was stronger than Roderick, but that was all. To Henry and to his successors this recognition carried with it all the complicated dependence of feudalism, which in England meant that his land and everything else which a man pos

sessed was his only so long as he did service for it to the king. To these new Irish subjects, who had never heard of feudalism, it entailed nothing of the sort. They regarded it as a mere vague promise of adhesion, binding them at most to a general muster or "hosting" under his arms in case of war or some common peril. This was an initial misconception, which continued, as will be seen, to be a deeper and deeper source of confusion as the years went on.

In the meanwhile Henry was established in Dublin, where he kept Christmas in high state, occupying a palace built in the native fashion of painted wicker-work, set up just outside the walls. Here he entertained the chiefs, who were naturally astonished at the splendour of his entertainments. "They learnt," Giraldus observes with satisfaction, "to eat cranes"--does this mean herons?--"a species of food which they had previously loathed;" and, in general, were suitably impressed with the greatness and glory of the conqueror. The bishops were most of them already warmly in his favour, and at a synod shortly afterwards held at Cashel, at which all the Irish clergy were represented, the Church of Ireland was solemnly declared to be finally united to that of England, and it was laid down that, "as by Divine Providence Ireland has received her lord and king from England, so she should also submit to a reformation from the same source."

The weather that winter was so rough that hardly a ship could cross the channel, and Henry in his new kingdom found himself practically cut off from his old one. About the middle of Lent, the wind veering at last to the east, ships arrived from England and Aquitaine, bearers of very ill news to the king. Two legates were on their way, sent by the Pope, to inquire into the murder of Becket, and armed in case of an unsatisfactory reply with all the terrors of an interdict. Henry hastily made over the government of Ireland to Hugo de Lacy, whom he placed in Dublin as his representative, and sailed from Wexford upon Easter Monday. He never again revisited his new dominions, where many of the lessons inculcated by him--including possibly the delights of eating cranes--were destined before long to be forgotten.

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