slew an Irishman (except one of the five regal and privileged bloods) he was not to be tried for murder, for Irish law admitted composition (eric) for murder. In Magna Charta there is a proviso that foreign merchants shall be treated as English merchants are treated in the country whence the travellers came. Yet some enlightened men strove to fuse the two nations together, and the native Irish, or that section which bordered on the settlements and suffered great oppression, offered 8000 marks to Edward I. for the privilege of living under English law. The justiciary supported their petition, but the prelates and nobles refused to consent.
There is a vague tradition that Edward I. visited Ireland about 1256, when his father ordained that the prince’s seal should have regal authority in that country. A vast number of documents remain to prove that he did Edward I. (1272-1307). not neglect Irish business. Yet this great king cannot be credited with any specially enlightened views as to Ireland. Hearing with anger of enormities committed in his name, he summoned the viceroy, Robert de Ufford (d. 1298), to explain, who coolly said that he thought it expedient to wink at one knave cutting off another, “whereat the king smiled and bade him return into Ireland.” The colonists were strong enough to send large forces to the king in his Scottish wars, but as there was no corresponding immigration this really weakened the English, whose best hopes lay in agriculture and the arts of peace, while the Celtic race waxed proportionally numerous. Outwardly all seemed fair. The De Burghs were supreme in Connaught, and English families occupied eastern Ulster. The fertile southern and central lands were dominated by strong castles. But Tyrone and Tyrconnel, and the mountains everywhere, sheltered the Celtic race, which, having reached its lowest point under Edward I., began to recover under his son.
In 1315, the year after Bannockburn, Edward Bruce landed near Larne with 6000 men, including some of the best knights in Scotland. Supported by O’Neill and other chiefs, and for a time assisted by his famous brother, Bruce Edward II. (1307-1327). gained many victories. There was no general effort of the natives in their favour; perhaps the Irish thought one Norman no better than another, and their total incapacity for national organization forbade the idea of a native sovereign. The family quarrels of the O’Connors at this time, and their alliances with the Burkes, or De Burghs, and the Berminghams, may be traced in great detail in the annalists—the general result being fatal to the royal tribe of Connaught, which is said to have lost 10,000 warriors in the battle of Templetogher. In other places the English were less successful, the Butlers being beaten by the O’Carrolls in 1318, and Richard de Clare falling about the same time in the decisive battle of Dysert O’Dea. The O’Briens re-established their sway in Thomond and the illustrious name of Clare disappears from Irish history. Edward Bruce fell in battle near Dundalk, and most of his army recrossed the channel, leaving behind a reputation for cruelty and rapacity. The colonists were victorious, but their organization was undermined, and the authority of the crown, which had never been able to keep the peace, grew rapidly weaker. Within twenty years after the great victory of Dundalk, the quarrels of the barons allowed the Irish to recover much of the land they had lost.
John de Bermingham, earl of Louth, the conqueror of Bruce, was murdered in 1329 by the Gernons, Cusacks, Everards and other English of that county, who disliked his firm government. They were never brought to justice. Edward III. (1327-1377). Talbot of Malahide and two hundred of Bermingham’s relations and adherents were massacred at the same time. In 1333, William de Burgh, the young earl of Ulster, was murdered by the Mandevilles and others; in this case signal vengeance was taken, but the feudal dominion never recovered the blow, and on the north-east coast the English laws and language were soon confined to Drogheda and Dundalk. The earl left one daughter, Elizabeth, who was of course a royal ward. She married Lionel, duke of Clarence, and from her springs the royal line of England from Edward IV., as well as James V. of Scotland and his descendants.
The two chief men among the De Burghs were loth to hold their lands of a little absentee girl. Having no grounds for opposing the royal title to the wardship of the heiress, they abjured English law and became Irish chieftains. As such they were obeyed, for the king’s arm was short in Ireland. The one appropriated Mayo as the Lower (Oughter) M‘William, and the earldom of Mayo perpetuates the memory of the event. The other as the Upper (Eighter) M‘William took Galway, and from him the earls of Clanricarde afterwards sprung.
Edward III. being busy with foreign wars had little time to spare for Ireland, and the native chiefs everywhere seized their opportunity. Perhaps the most remarkable of these aggressive chiefs was Lysaght O’More, who reconquered Leix. Clyn the Franciscan annalist, whose Latinity is so far above the medieval level as almost to recall Tacitus, sums up Lysaght’s career epigrammatically: “He was a slave, he became a master; he was a subject, he became a prince (de servo dominus, de subjecto princeps effectus).” The two great earldoms whose contests form a large part of the history of the south of Ireland were created by Edward III. James Butler, eldest son of Edmund, earl of Carrick, became earl of Ormonde and palatine of Tipperary in 1328. Next year Maurice Fitzgerald was made earl of Desmond, and from his three brethren descended the historic houses of the White Knight, the knight of Glin, and the knight of Kerry. The earldom of Kildare dates from 1316. In this reign too was passed the statute of Kilkenny (q.v.), a confession by the crown that obedient subjects were the minority. The enactments against Irish dress and customs, and against marriage and fostering proved a dead letter.
In two expeditions to Ireland Richard II. at first overcame all opposition, but neither had any permanent effect. Art MacMurrough, the great hero of the Leinster Celts, practically had the best of the contest. The king in Richard II. (1377-1399). his despatches divided the population into Irish enemies, Irish rebels and English subjects. As he found them so he left them, lingering in Dublin long enough to lose his own crown. But for MacMurrough and his allies the house of Lancaster might never have reigned. No English king again visited Ireland until James II., declared by his English subjects to have abdicated, and by the more outspoken Scots to have forfeited the crown, appealed to the loyalty or piety of the Catholic Irish.
Henry IV. had a bad title, and his necessities were conducive to the growth of the English constitution, but fatal to the Anglo-Irish. His son Thomas, duke of Clarence, was viceroy in 1401, but did very little. “Your son,” wrote the Henry IV. (1399-1413). Irish council to Henry, “is so destitute of money that he has not a penny in the world, nor can borrow a single penny, because all his jewels and his plate that he can spare, and those which he must of necessity keep, are pledged to lie in pawn.” The nobles waged private war unrestrained, and the game of playing off one chieftain against another was carried on with varying success. The provisions of the statute of Kilkenny against trading with the Irish failed, for markets cannot exist without buyers.
The brilliant reign of Henry V. was a time of extreme misery to the colony in Ireland. Half the English-speaking people fled to England, where they were not welcome. The Henry V. (1413-1422). disastrous reign of the third Lancastrian completed the discomfiture of the original colony in Ireland. Quarrels between the Ormonde and Talbot parties paralysed the government, and a “Pale” of 30 m. by 20 was all that remained. Even the walled towns, Kilkenny, Ross, Wexford, Kinsale, Youghal, Clonmel, Kilmallock, Thomastown, Fethard and Cashel, were almost starved Henry VI. (1422-1461). out; Waterford itself was half ruined and half deserted. Only one parliament was held for thirty years, but taxation was not remitted on that account. No viceroy even pretended to reside continuously. The north and west were still