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O'Neill
O'Neill
191

had fallen, and its commander, George Bingham, been slain. On 24 June Tyrone was proclaimed a traitor in English and Irish at Dundalk. There was plenty of skirmishing and considerable loss of life; but Norris failed to bring him to an open engagement, and Cecil, who thought the situation dangerous, advised a compromise. ‘Her majesty,’ he wrote, ‘would be content to see what was in the traitor's heart, and what he would offer.’ But Tyrone insisted on a general pardon all round, and to this Norris refused to consent.

In the midst of the struggle old Turlough Luineach died, and Tyrone assumed the title, as he had for some time past possessed the authority, of O'Neill. ‘The coming to the place of O'Neill,’ wrote Norris, ‘hath made the rebel much prouder and harder to yield to his duty, and he flattereth himself much with the hope of foreign assistance.’ As if to confirm Norris's statement, letters were shortly afterwards intercepted from him and O'Donnell to Philip II and Don John d'Aquila, soliciting speedy assistance. But Tyrone protested that he had never corresponded with Spain before 20 Aug., which was probably true enough, and, the government being willing to accept his assurances, a truce was concluded on 2 Oct. for a week, but was subsequently extended to 1 Jan. 1596. Gardiner and Wallop were sent to Dundalk to come to some terms with him; but Elizabeth thought their language too subservient to him, and substituted Norris and Fenton. On 9 April Maguire, MacMahon, and O'Reilly submitted on their knees in the market-place of Dundalk. But Tyrone and O'Donnell refused to meet the commissioners anywhere except in the open fields, and, this being regarded as undignified, intermediaries were appointed. ‘Free liberty of conscience’ and local autonomy were the points chiefly insisted on. But there were explanations, and Elizabeth having professed herself satisfied, a hollow peace was signed on 24 April.

A day or two later a messenger arrived from Spain with a letter from Philip to Tyrone, encouraging him to persevere in his valiant defence of the catholic cause. There can be no question as to the nature of Tyrone's answer, for it is extant in the archives at Simancas, and has been published (O'Clery, Life of O'Donnell, p. lxxviii). But to Norris Tyrone declared that he had told the Spaniard who brought the letter that he and O'Donnell had been received into the favour of their own princess, and therefore could not answer Philip's expectations. To put the matter at rest, he submitted Philip's letter to Russell's inspection. But in this he rather overshot his mark, for Russell retained the letter, and caused it to be transmitted to Philip, who was indignant at Tyrone's breach of faith. Tyrone excused himself by saying his secretary had run away with it.

For the next two years it is impossible to describe the relations between Tyrone and the government as those either of settled peace or open war. So far as Tyrone was concerned, it was, of course, to his interest to avoid coming to an open breach with the government until the arrival of Spanish assistance was assured. The unfriendly relations existing between Sir William Russell and Sir John Norris, and the obstinate blindness of the latter to Tyrone's real intentions, favoured his design. He manifested no eagerness to sue out his pardon, but when it arrived he received it, according to Fenton, ‘most dutifully, and, as a public token of his rejoicing, caused a great volley of shot to be discharged in his camp.’ He proffered his assistance to restore order in Connaught; but nothing came, as it was meant nothing should come, of his intervention. To everybody except Norris it was evident that he was merely spinning out the time. At the end of August 1596 two ‘barks of adviso’ were announced to have arrived at Killybegs, and Tyrone, O'Donnell, and O'Rourke at once posted thither. Letters addressed by them to the king of Spain, the infante, and Don John d'Aquila, calling for instant support, were betrayed by Tyrone's secretary, Nott, but it was some time, ‘owing to the handling of the matter by the Earl of Tyrone,’ before any absolute knowledge of the correspondence came into the possession of the government. After this, further dissimulation on his part might have seemed impossible. Nevertheless, he was highly indignant at what he called Russell's breach of faith in attacking his ally, Fiagh MacHugh O'Byrne, and threatened instant war unless the deputy desisted from his purpose. But Russell treated his threats with contempt, and Tyrone, after making a demonstration on the borders of the Pale and cutting off all supplies from the garrison at Armagh, abandoned his ally.

In January 1597 Norris moved down to Dundalk, and the earl, ‘contrary to the minds of his brethren and chief followers, who would have him still remain Irish,’ consented to parley. He could not deny having written letters to Spain, but he laid the blame partly on O'Donnell, partly on the government. He protested his loyalty with ‘oaths deep and vehement.’ But Norris doubted whether his words corresponded with ‘his heart or inward meaning,’ and refused to assure him of the queen's pardon, though agreeing to an-