famous Nicholas Sanders, who was armed with a legate’s commission and a banner blessed by the pope. Fitzmaurice fell soon after in a skirmish near Castleconnell, but Sanders and Desmond’s brothers still kept the field. When it was too late to act with effect, Desmond himself, a vain man, neither frankly loyal nor a bold rebel, took the field. He surprised Youghal, then an English town, by night, sacked it, and murdered the people. Roused at last, Elizabeth sent over Ormonde as general of Munster, and after long delay gave him the means of conducting a campaign. It was as much a war of Butlers against Geraldines as of loyal subjects against rebels, and Ormonde did his work only too well. Lord Baltinglass raised a hopeless subsidiary revolt in Wicklow (1580), which was signalized by a crushing defeat of the lord deputy, Lord Grey de Wilton (Arthegal) in Glenmalure. A force of Italians and Spaniards landing at Smerwick in Kerry, Grey hurried thither, and the foreigners, who had no commission, surrendered at discretion, and were put to the sword. Neither Grey nor the Spanish ambassador seems to have seen anything extraordinary in thus disposing of inconvenient prisoners. Spenser and Raleigh were present. Sanders perished obscurely in 1581, and in 1583 Desmond himself was hunted down and killed in the Kerry mountains. More than 500,000 Irish acres were forfeited to the crown. The horrors of this war it is impossible to exaggerate. The Four Masters says that the lowing of a cow or the voice of a ploughman could scarcely be heard from Cashel to the farthest point of Kerry; Ormonde, who, with all his severity, was honourably distinguished by good faith, claimed to have killed 5000 men in a few months. Spenser, an eye-witness, says famine slew far more than the sword. The survivors were unable to walk, but crawled out of the woods and glens. “They looked like anatomies of death; they did eat the dead carrion and one another soon after, insomuch as the very carcasses they spared not to scrape out of their graves; . . . to a plot of watercresses or shamrocks they flocked as to a feast.”
In 1584 Sir John Perrot, the ablest man available after Sidney’s retirement, became lord-deputy. Sir John Norris, famed in the Netherland wars, was president of Munster, and so impressed the Irish that they averred him to be in league with the devil. Perrot held a parliament in 1585 in which the number of members was considerably increased. He made a strenuous effort to found a university in Dublin, and proposed to endow it with the revenues of St Patrick’s, reasonably arguing that one cathedral was enough for any city. Here he was opposed by Adam Loftus, archbishop of Dublin and chancellor, who had expressed his anxiety for a college, but had no idea of endowing it at his own expense. The colonization of the Munster forfeitures was undertaken at this time. It failed chiefly from the grants to individuals who neglected to plant English farmers, and were often absentees themselves. Raleigh obtained 42,000 acres. The quit rents reserved to the crown were less than one penny per acre. Racked with the stone, hated by the official clique, thwarted on all sides, Perrot was goaded into using words capable of a treasonable interpretation. Archbishop Loftus pursued him to the end. He died in the Tower of London under sentence for treason, and we may charitably hope that Elizabeth would have pardoned him. In his will, written after sentence, he emphatically repudiates any treasonable intention—“I deny my Lord God if ever I proposed the same.”
In 1584 Hugh O’Neill, if O’Neill he was (being second son of Matthew, mentioned above), became chief of part of Tyrone; in 1587 he obtained the coveted earldom, and in 1593 was the admitted head of the whole tribe. A Last Desmond Rebellion. quarrel with the government was inevitable, and, Hugh Roe O’Donnell having joined him, Ulster was united against the crown. In 1598 James Fitzthomas Fitzgerald assumed the title of Desmond, to which he had some claims by blood, and which he pretended to hold as Tyrone’s gift. Tyrone had received a crown of peacock’s feathers from the pope, who was regarded by many as king of Ireland. The title of Sugan or straw-rope earl has been generally given to the Desmond pretender. Both ends of the island were soon in a blaze, and the Four Masters says that in seventeen days there was not one son of a Saxon left alive in the Desmond territories. Edmund Spenser lost his all, escaping only to die of misery in a London garret. Tyrone more than held his own in the north, completely defeated Sir Henry Bagnal in the battle of the Yellow Ford (1598), invaded Munster, and ravaged the lands of Lord Barrymore, who had remained true to his allegiance. Tyrone’s ally, Hugh Roe O’Donnell, overthrew the president of Connaught, Sir Conyers Clifford. “The Irish of Connaught,” says the Four Masters, “were not pleased at Clifford’s death; . . . he had never told them a falsehood.” Robert Devereux, earl of Essex, came over in 1599 with a great army, but did nothing of moment, was outgeneralled and outwitted by Tyrone, and threw up his command to enter on the mad and criminal career which led to the scaffold. In 1600 Sir George Carew became president of Munster, and, as always happened when the crown was well served, the rebellion was quickly put down. Charles Blount, Lord Mountjoy (afterwards earl of Devonshire), who succeeded Essex, joined Carew, and a Spanish force which landed at Kinsale surrendered. The destruction of their crops starved the people into submission, and the contest was only less terrible than the first Desmond war because it was much shorter. In Ulster Mountjoy was assisted by Sir Henry Docwra, who founded the second settlement at Derry, the first under Edward Randolph having been abandoned. Hugh O’Donnell sought help in Spain, where he died. Tyrone submitted at last, craving pardon on his knees, renouncing his Celtic chiefry, and abjuring all foreign powers; but still retaining his earldom, and power almost too great for a subject. Scarcely was the compact signed when he heard of the great queen’s death. He burst into tears, not of grief, but of vexation at not having held out for better terms.
In reviewing the Irish government of Elizabeth we shall
find much to blame, a want of truth in her dealings and of
steadiness in her policy. Violent efforts of coercion
were succeeded by fits of clemency, of parsimony
Elizabethan Conquest of Ireland.
Religious policy. or of apathy. Yet it is fair to remember that she was surrounded by enemies, that her best energies were expended in the death-struggle with Spain, and that she was rarely able to give undivided attention to the Irish problem. After all she conquered Ireland, which her predecessors had failed to do, though many of them were as crooked in action and less upright in intention. Considering the times, Elizabeth cannot be called a persecutor. “Do not,” she said to the elder Essex, “seek too hastily to bring people that have been trained in another religion from that in which they have been brought up.” Elizabeth saw that the Irish could only be reached through their own language. But for that harvest the labourers were necessarily few. The fate of Bishop Daly of Kildare, who preached in Irish, and who thrice had his house burned over his head, was not likely to encourage missionaries. In all wild parts divine service was neglected, and wandering friars or subtle Jesuits, supported by every patriotic or religious feeling of the people, kept Ireland faithful to Rome. Against her many shortcomings we must set the queen’s foundation of the university of Dublin, which has been the most successful English institution in Ireland, and which has continually borne the fairest fruit.
Great things were expected of James I. He was Mary Stuart’s son, and there was a curious antiquarian notion afloat that, because the Irish were the original “Scoti,” a Scottish king would sympathize with Ireland. Corporate James I. (1603-1625). towns set up the mass, and Mountjoy, who could argue as well as fight, had to teach them a sharp lesson. Finding Ireland conquered and in no condition to rise again, James established circuits and a complete system of shires. Sir John Davies was sent over as solicitor-general. His famous book (Discoverie of the State of Ireland) in which he glorifies his own and the king’s exploits gives far too much credit to the latter and far too little to his great predecessor.
Two legal decisions swept away the customs of tanistry and of Irish gavelkind, and the English land system was violently