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Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 42.djvu/215

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O'Neill
O'Neill
209

to the Queene's Majestie.’ His demand for a safe-conduct under the queen's own hand, though reflecting on the Earl of Sussex, was conceded, but Shane manifested no inclination to fulfil his promise; on the contrary, he endeavoured ‘by warres and other practicis to drawe O'Donel, O'Raylie, and others … to joyn with him in his damnable and trayterous enterprisys.’ In this he was not very successful, but it was clear that nothing but force would reduce him to submission. Efforts were accordingly made through the Earl of Argyll to detach the MacDonnells from him, while the hostility of O'Donnell and O'Reilly was stimulated by the prospect of a coronet.

The scheme failed, for O'Neill by a cleverly contrived stratagem succeeded in getting hold of O'Donnell, and though Sussex proclaimed him a traitor, and harried his country with fire and sword, he managed not only to avoid capture, but also to keep a tight hold of his prisoner. Feigning an air of injured innocence, he charged Sussex with hindering his approach to the queen by beginning ‘an unjust war’ against him, and swore roundly that until the garrison Sussex had placed in Armagh Cathedral was withdrawn he would not go near Elizabeth. Nor did he confine himself to mere protests, and though never venturing into the open, he succeeded by watching his opportunity in so harassing the army that Sussex was compelled to withdraw to Newry. Fixing the blame entirely on the lord-lieutenant, he expressed himself willing, if the garrison at Armagh was withdrawn, to give hostages to the Earl of Ormonde for his speedy repair into England, and, in order to demonstrate his appreciation of English civilisation, he at the same time preferred a request for the hand of Sussex's sister. Sussex, who must have regarded his request as an insult, was not deluded by his professions, and insisted that his excuses were of ‘the nature of Sir John Gaskon's tales, who devysing them himselfe, beleved by often tellying of them that they were true in dede.’ Thinking himself justified in using every weapon, Sussex, while preparing to take the field once more, tried to bribe O'Neill's messenger to assassinate him. The attempt, if made, failed, and, compelled to resort to more legitimate methods, Sussex inflicted considerable damage on O'Neill's territory, when to his chagrin the Earl of Kildare arrived as the envoy of the government in Dublin with authority to treat. Shane, who was master of the situation, declined to treat unless his demands, which included the evacuation of Armagh, were conceded. The Earl of Kildare, who was blamed for having too little regard for the honour of the crown, yielded, though he subsequently induced Shane to waive his demand for the withdrawal of the garrison, and on 18 Oct. 1561 a treaty was arranged, and Shane, having first obtained good security for his safe return, consented to go to England.

The expenses of his journey were defrayed by government, and accordingly, accompanied by the Earls of Kildare and Ormonde, and with a train suitable to his pretensions, he sailed from Dublin on 3 Dec., arriving in London on 4 Jan. 1562. His appearance at court and in the streets of London, attended by his bareheaded gallowglasses in their saffron-coloured shirts and shaggy frieze mantles, caused an immense sensation. On 6 Jan. he publicly submitted to Elizabeth, prostrating himself before her, and confessing his crime and rebellion ‘with howling,’ as it seemed to the bystanders, who did not understand Irish. Being interrogated as to his claims, he insisted that he was the eldest legitimate son of Con O'Neill, and by joint consent of the nobility and people designated O'Neill. The surrender made by Con he maintained was invalid, ‘forasmuch as Con had no estate in that which he surrendered but for life, nor could surrender it without the consent of the nobility and people by whom he was elected to the honour of O'Neill.’ For the crown it was argued that Mathew, the late baron of Dungannon, and his son Brian claimed by letters patent and not by legitimation, and that the arrangement arrived at was by right of conquest. It was hopeless to attempt to reconcile views so diametrically opposed. But the question that chiefly concerned Elizabeth was whether it was expedient or not under the circumstances to recognise Shane's claims. Her word had been passed for his safety, but nothing had been said about the length of his stay, and accordingly he was under one pretext and another detained in England, in the vain hope that something would turn up to rescue government from its dilemma. But his detention was not without risk. On 3 April de Quadra wrote to Granvelle that Shane and ten or twelve of his principal followers had received the sacrament at the Spanish embassy in secret, and had promised to be perfectly steadfast on the question of religion, and de Quadra, though he looked on him as little better than a savage, was not without hope that Philip when he saw fit to interfere in English affairs would find a useful instrument in him. Something of this seems to have come to Cecil's ears, and the murder of Mathew's son Brian by Turlough Luineach O'Neill [q. v.] on 12 April furnishing a reasonable excuse to get rid of him, he was allowed