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Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 42.djvu/198

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O'Neill
O'Neill
192

other parley in March. A few days later Tyrone wrote to O'Donnell that he had refused to make peace, and advised him to strengthen himself in Connaught. The day appointed for the parley arrived, but Tyrone asked that it might be postponed, ‘pretending that his pledges were not changed according to covenant, nor restitution made him by those that had purged his country, and that his confederates could not come so soon.’ Norris, Bourchier, and Fenton, who had been appointed to treat with him, replied that they were not to be deluded with his excuses, and fixed 16 April as the last day of grace. Meanwhile, a ship from Spain arrived in Donegal, and Tyrone hastened to Lifford to learn the news. He asserted at the same time that, ‘if all the Spaniards in Spain should come into Ireland, they could not alter his mind from being a dutiful subject to her majesty, if promise was kept with him;’ but by this time neither Norris nor Fenton believed him, and Tyrone thought it prudent not to go to Dundalk on 16 April.

On 22 May Russell surrendered the sword of state to Thomas, lord Borough, and on the same day Norris wrote to Tyrone, offering a final meeting for 20 June. The new deputy, who declared that he was ‘not so covetous of action that he would not most willingly hearken to terms of humiliation,’ refused to be deluded by Tyrone's excuses, and sternly reproved him for his disloyalty. A general hosting was proclaimed for 6 June, and a day or two later Captain Turner attacked Tyrone between Newry and Armagh. The earl was completely taken by surprise, but managed to escape, with the loss of his horse and hat, into a neighbouring bog. Armagh was revictualled by Turner, and Tyrone withdrew across the Blackwater. On 14 July the lord deputy captured the fort on the Blackwater, and, having placed a strong garrison in it, returned to Dublin. But Tyrone, who ‘hanged twenty of his knaves that were appointed for the defence of the sconce,’ pressed the garrison so closely that Borough was compelled to return to their relief. Succeeding in this, but failing to come to ‘prick proke’ with Tyrone, he was pushing forward to Dungannon, when he was taken suddenly ill, and compelled to retire to Newry. There he died, a few days later, on 13 Oct. It was anticipated that Tyrone would seize the opportunity to overrun the Pale, which, according to Loftus, he could very easily have done, ‘even to the gates of Dublin.’ But instead of doing so, he wrote submissively to the state, and on 22 Dec. humbly submitted himself to the Earl of Ormonde at Dundalk, ‘and upon the knees of his heart professed most hearty penitence for his disloyalty, and especially his foul relapses thereinto.’ He promised to renounce the title of O'Neill, to refrain from putting obstacles in the way of victualling the fort on the Blackwater; and undertook not to correspond with Spain or any other foreign nation. Ormonde promised to transmit his grievances and petitions, in which ‘free liberty of conscience for all the inhabitants of Ireland’ held the foremost place, to Elizabeth, and on these terms a truce for eight weeks, subsequently renewed to 7 June 1598, was concluded.

His pardon passed the great seal on 11 April 1598; but, feeling that the demands of the crown, if yielded to, would completely destroy his authority over his urraghs, he took advantage of the expiration of the truce to besiege the fort on the Blackwater. His efforts to capture it were not successful, but lack of provisions before long reduced the garrison to the direst extremities. In August a strong force, under the command of Marshal Sir Henry Bagenal, was sent to relieve it; but on 14 Aug. it was cut to pieces and almost annihilated by Tyrone at Beal-an-atha-buidhe, or the Yellow Ford on the Blackwater. The government was panic-stricken at the news. But Tyrone, who might have marched directly on Dublin, showed no ability to profit by his unexpected victory, and was content to allow the remnants of Bagenal's army to retreat to Newry, ‘so that the fort might be delivered him, to the governor whereof, Captain Williams, and his soldiers, he would give no better conditions than to depart in their doublets and hose only with rapier and dagger.’ As a result of the victory, the smouldering elements of discontent burst everywhere into open activity. Nowhere was the effect more visible than in Munster, which, in the expressive language of the Irish annalists, again became ‘a trembling sod.’ But three months elapsed before Tyrone showed any appreciation of the advantage he had won, or manifested any design of extending his operations beyond the limits of a provincial revolt. In October he sent a strong force into Munster under Tyrrell, and Cecil was informed ‘that the very day they set foot within the province, Munster to a man was in arms before noon.’ The general estimation in which Tyrone was at this time held may be gathered from the fact that the king of Spain was said to have stayed all Irish ships that had not the earl's pass. Under his protection James Fitzthomas Fitzgerald, commonly called the Sugan Earl [q. v.], assumed the title of Earl of Desmond, and before long found himself at the head of eight thousand clansmen. Donald MacCarthy, Florence MacCarthy's