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taken the strongholds of Saintes, Henry II. attacked with his engines of war the two large towers of the cathedral, in which Richard's partisans had taken up their quarters. He took this as well as the fort of Taillebury and several other castles, and, on his way back to Anjou, he devastated all the frontiers of the country of the Poitevins, burning the towns, and uprooting the vines and fruit-trees. He had scarcely arrived in Normandy when he learnt that his eldest son and the Earl of Flanders, having collected a great naval armament. were preparing to make a descent on England. This news determined him to embark for that country; he carried with him, as prisoners, his wife Eleanor, and his son's wife, Margaret, daughter of the French king.
From Southampton, where he disembarked, the king proceeded towards Canterbury, and as soon as he came in sight of the metropolitan church, that is to say, at three miles distance from the town, he descended from his horse, laid aside his silk apparel, took off his boots, and set off walking barefoot along the finty and muddy road. When he arrived in the church which contained the tomb of Thomas à Becket, he prostrated himself, with his face to the earth, crying and weeping, in presence of all the people of the town, who had been assembled by the sound of the bells. The Bishop of London, that same Gilbert Foliot, who had persecuted Thomas throughout his whole life, and who, after his death, had wished that his corpse might be thrown into a ditch, mounted the pulpit, and addressing himself to the congregation, said : “ All you here present, know that Henry, King of England, calling on God and the holy martyr for the salvation of his soul, protests before you, that he neither commanded, nor willed, nor willingly caused, nor desired in his heart the death of the martyr. But as it is possible that the murderers may have taken advantage of some words imprudently uttered by him, he declares that he implores his penance from the bishops here assembled, and consents to submit his naked flesh to the discipline of rods.”
Accordingly the king, accompanied by a great number of Norman bishops and abbots, and by all the Norman and Saxon monks of the chapter of Canterbury, descended to the crypt, where, two years before, they had been obliged to shut up the corpse of the archbishop as in a fort, to defend it from the insults of the royal officers and soldiers. There, kneeling on the stone of the tomb, and divesting himself of all his clothing, he placed himself, with his back bare, in the same attitude in which his justiciaries had on a former occasion caused those Englishmen to be placed, who had been publiciy flogged for having welcomed Thomas on his return from exile, or for having honoured him as a saint. Each of the bishops, whose part in the ceremony had been arranged beforehand, took one of the whips with several lashes which were used in monasteries to inflict ecclesiastical corrections, and which were therefore called disciplines : each one gave three or four stripes with this upon the shoulders of the prostrate king, saying : “As the Redeemer was scourged for the sins of men, so be thou for thy own sins.” From the hands of the bishops the discipline passed into that of the monks, who were very numerous, and for the most part of the English race. These sons of those who had been made serfs by the Conquest, imprinted the stripes of a whip upon the flesh of the Conqueror's grandson, and this was not without a secret joy, as is betrayed by some bitter pleasantries which we meet with in the recitals of that time.
But the momentary joy and triumph could not be productive of any good to the English population ; on the contrary, this people was made the dupe of this ignoble scene of hypocrisy which was performed before them by the Angevin king. Henry II., finding almost all his continental subjects opposed to him, had felt his need of the support of the Anglo-Saxons ; he thought that a few stripes of discipline would be a trifling thing if it would render him the same service with this people, whom
he had despised in his fortunate days, as promises and false vows had formerly rendered his grandfather Henry I. Ever since the murder of Thomas à Becket, love for this pretended martyr had become the passion, or rather, the madness of the English people. The adoration of the memory of the archbishop had replaced that of the old laws, hitherto so much regretted ! all recollections of ancient liberty weru effaced by the more recent impression of the nine years during which a primate of the Saxon race had been the object of the hopes, the vows, and the conversation of every Saxon. A striking testimony of sympathy with this popular sentiment was then the best bait that the king could at that time hold out to the men of the English race, to attract them to his cause, and to render them, in the words of an old historian, manageable with curb and harness. Such was the true motive of Henry II.'s pilgrimage to the tomb of him whom he had first loved as his boon companion, and then mortally hated as his political enemy.
“After having been thus scourged by his own free-will,” says the contemporary historian, “ he continued his orisons before the holy martyr all the day and all night, took no nourishment, and did not leave the spot for any occasion whatever ! but as he came so he remained, and did not allow any carpet, or anything of the kind, to be placed beneath his knees. After matins he made the circuit of the higher church, prayed before all the altars and all the relics, then returned to the vault of the saint. On Saturday, when the sun was risen, he asked for and heard mass, then having drunk holy water of the martyr and having filled a flask with it, he departed joyfully from Canterbury.”
This comedy was entirely successful ; and there was great enthusiasm among the Anglo-Saxon serfs of the town and the neighbouring country, on the day when it was announced in the churches that the king had made his reconciliation with the blessed martyr by penitence and tears. It chanced, at this time, that William, King of Scotland, who had made a hostile incursion upon the English territory, was vanquished and made prisoner near Alnwick, in Northumberland. The Saxon population, enthusiastic for the honour of St. Thomas, believed that they saw in this victory an evident sign of the martyr's good-will and protection, and from this day they inclined to the cause of the king whom the new saint seemed to
In consequence of this superstitious impulse, the English enrolled themselves in crowds under the royal banner, and fought with ardour against the abettors of the revolt of Henry the younger and his two brothers. Poor and despised though they were, they formed the great mass of the inhabitants, and nothing can resist such a force when organised. The Norman malcontents were defeated in every county, their castles taken by assault, and a great number of earls and barons made prisoners. “So many were taken,” says a contemporary, “that there was difficulty in finding cords sufficient to bind them, and prisons to contain them.” This rapid train of successes put an end to the project of a descent upon England, formed by Henry the younger and the Earl of Flanders.
69.—THE CONQUEST OF IRELAND.
BURKE. Between the death of Becket and the king's absolution, he resolved on the execution of a design, by which he reduced under his dominion a country, not more separated from the rest of Europe by its situation, than by the laws, customs, and way of life of the inhabitants ; for the people of Ireland, with no difference but that of religion, still retained the native manners of the original Celtæ. The king had meditated this design from the very beginning of his reign, and had obtained a Bull from the then Pope, Adrian the Fourth, an Englishman, to authorize the at
tempt. He well knew, from the internal weakness, and advantageous situation of this noble island, the easiness and importance of such a conquest. But at this particular time he was strongly urged to his engaging personally in the enterprise by two other powerful motives. For, first, the murder of Becket had bred very ill humour in his subjects, the chief of whom, always impatient of a long peace, were glad of any pretence for rebellion ; it was therefore expedient, and serviceable to
; the crown, to find an employment abroad for this spirit, which could not exert itself without being destructive at home. And, next, as he had obtained the grant of Ireland from the Pope, upon condition of subjecting it to Peterpence, he knew that the speedy performance of this condition would greatly facilitate his recovering the good graces of the court of Rome. Before we give a short narrative of the reduction of Ireland, I propose to lay open to the reader the state of that kingdom,
Ι that we may see what grounds Henry had to hope for success in this expedition.
Ireland is about half as large as England. In the temperature of the climate there is little difference, other than that more rain falls ; as the country is more mountainous and exposed full to the westerly wind, which blowing from the Atlantic Ocean prevails during the greater part of the year. This moisture, as it has enriched the country with large and frequent rivers, and spread out a number of fair and magnificent lakes, beyond the proportion of other places, has on the other hand encumbered the island with an uncommon multitude of bogs and morasses ; so that in general, it is less praised for corn than pasturage, in which no soil is more rich and luxuriant. Whilst it possesses these internal means of wealth, it opens on all sides a great number of ports, spacious and secure, and by their advantageous situation inviting to universal commerce. But on these ports, better known than those of Britain in the time of the Romans, at this time there were few towns, scarce any fortifications, and no trade, that deserves to be mentioned.
The people of Ireland lay claim to a very extravagant antiquity, through a vanity common to all nations. The accounts which are given by their ancient chronicles, of their first settlements, are generally tales confuted by their own absurdity. The settlement of the greatest consequence, the best authenticated, and from which the Irish deduce the pedigree of the best families, is derived from Spain ; it was called Clan Milea, or the descendants of Milesius, and Kin Scuit, or the race of Scyths, afterwards known by the name of Scots. The Irish historians suppose this race descended from a person called Gathel, a Scythian by birth, an Ægyptian by education, the contemporary and friend of the prophet Moses. But these histories, seeming clear-sighted in the obscure affairs of so blind an antiquity, instead of passing for treasuries of ancient facts, are regarded by the judicious as modern fictions. In cases of this sort rational conjectures are more to be relied on than improbable relations. It is more probable that Ireland was first peopled from Britain. The coasts of these countries are in some places in sight of each other. The language, the manners, and religion of the most ancient inhabitants of both are nearly the same. The Milesian colony, whenever it arrived in Ireland, could have made no great change in the manners or language, as the ancient Spaniards were a branch of the Celtæ, as well as the old inhabitants of Ireland. The Irish language is not different from that of all other nations, as Temple and Rapin, from ignorance of it, have asserted. On the contrary, many of its words bear a remarkable resemblance not only to those of the Welsh and Armorick, but also to the Greek and Latin. Neither is the figure of the letters very different from the vulgar character, though their order is not the same with that of other nations, nor the names, which are taken from the Irish proper names of several species of trees ; a circumstance, which, notwithstanding their similitude to the Roman letters, argues a different original and great antiquity. The Druid discipline anciently flourished
in that island ; in the fourth century it fell down before the preaching of St. Patrick ; then the Christian religion was embraced, and cultivated with an uncommon zeal, which displayed itself in the number and consequence of the persons, who in all parts embraced the contemplative life. This mode of life, and the situation of Ireland, removed from the horror of those devastations which shook the rest of Europe, made it a refuge for learning, almost extinguished every where else. Science flourished in Ireland during the seventh and eighth centuries.
The same cause which destroyed it in other countries, also destroyed it there. The Danes, then Pagans, made themselves masters of the island after a long and wasteful war, in which they destroyed the sciences along with the monasteries, in which they were cultivated. By as destructive a war they were at length expelled ; but neither their ancient science nor repose retured to the Irish ; who falling into domestic distractions as soon as they were freed from their foreign enemies, sunk quickly into a state of ignorance, poverty, and barbarism ; which must' have been very great, since it exceeded that of the rest of Europe. The disorders in the church were equal to those in the civil economy, and furnished to the Pope a plausible pretext for giving Henry a commission to conquer the kingdom, in order to reform it.
The Irish were divided into a number of tribes or clans, each clan forming within itself a separate government. It was ordered by a chief, who was not raised to that dignity either by election, or by the ordinary course of descent, but as the eldest and worthiest of the blood of the deceased lord. This order of successiori, called Tanistry, was said to have been invented in the Danish troubles, lest tha tribe, during a minority, should have been endangered for want of a sufficient leader. It was probably much more ancient; but it was however, attended with very great and perpicious inconveniences, as it was obviously an affair of difficulty to determine who should be called the worthiest of the blood ; and a door being always left open for ambition, this order introduced a greater mischief than it was in tended to remedy. Almost every tribe, besides its contention with the neighbour ing tribes, nourished faction and disconter:t within itself. The chiefs we speak of were in general called Tierna, or Lords, and those of more consideration Riagh, or Kings; over these were placed five kings more eminent than the rest, answerable to the five provinces, into which the island was anciently divided. These again were subordinate to one head, who was called Monarch of all Ireland, raised to that power by election, or more properly speaking, by violence.
Whilst the dignities of the state were disposed of by a sort of election, the office of judges, who were called Brehons, the trades of mechanics, and even those arts which we are apt to consider as depending principally on natural genius, such as poetry and music, were confined in succession to certain races ; the Irish imagining that greater advantages were to be derived from an early institution, and the affection of parents desirous of perpetuating the secrets of their art in their families, than from the casual efforts of particular fancy and application. This is much in the strain of the Eastern policy ; but these and many other of the Irish institutions, well enough calculated to preserve good arts and useful discipline when these arts came to degenerate, were equally well calculated to prevent all improvement, and
perpetuate corruption, by infusing an invincible tenaciousness of ancient customs.
The people of Ireland were much more addicted to pasturage than agriculture, not more from the quality of their soil, than from a remnant of the Scythian manpers. They had but few towns, and those not fortified, each clan living dispersed over its own territory. The few walled towns they had lay on the sea-coast ; they were built by the Danes, and held after they had lost their conquests in the inland
parts; kere was carried on the little foreign trade which the island then possessed.
The Irish militia was of two kinds ; ore called Keons, which were foot, slightly armed with a long knife or dagger, and almost naked; the other Gailoglasses, who were horse ; poorly mounted, and generally armed only with a battle-axe. Neither horse nor foot made much use of the spear, the sword, or the bow. With indifferent arms, they had still worse discipline. In these circumstances their natural bravery, which, though considerable, was not superior to that of their invaders, stood them in little stead.
Such was the situation of things in Ireland, when Dermot, king of Leinster, having violently carried away the wife of one of the neighbouring petty sovereigns, Roderic, king of Connaught, and Monarch of Ireland, joined with the injured husbaud to punish so flagrant an outrage ; and with their united forces spoiled Dermot of his territories, and obliged him to abandon the kingdom. The fugitive prince, not unapprised of Henry's designs upon his country, threw himself at his feet, implored his protection, and promised to hold of him, as his feudatory, the sovereignty he should recover by his assistance. Henry was at this time at Guienne; nothing could be more agreeable to him than such an incident; but as his French dominions actually lay under an interdict on account of his quarrel with Becket, and all his affairs, both at home and abroad, were in a troubled and dubious situation, it was not prudent to remove his person, nor venture any considerable body of his forces, on a distant enterprise. Yet not willing to lose su favourable an opportuvity, he warmly recommended the cause of Dermot to his regency in England, permitting and encouraging all persons to arm in his favour : a permission, in this age of enterprise, greedily accepted by many ; but the person who brought the most assistance to it, and indeed gave a form and spirit to the whole design, was Richard, Earl of Striaul, commonly known by the name of Strongbow. Dermot, to confirm in his interest this potent and warlike peer, promised him his daughter in marriage with the reversion of his crown. The beginnings of so great an enterprise were formed with a very slender force. Not four hundred men landed near Werford ; they took the town by storm. When reinforced they did not exceed twelve hundred; but, being joined with three thousand men by Dermot, with an incredible rapidity of success they reduced Waterford, Dublin, Limerick, the only considerable cities in Ireland. By the novelty of their arms they had obtained some striking advantages in their first engagements; and by these advantages they attained a superiority of opinion over the Irish, which every success increased. Before the effect of this first impression had time to wear off, Henry, having settled his affairs abroad, entered the harbour of Cork with a fleet of four hundred sail, at once to secure the conquest, and the allegiance of the conquerors. The fame of so great a force arriving under a prince, dreaded by all Europe, very soon disposed all the petty princes, with their King Roderic, to submit and do homage to Henry. They had not been able to resist the arms of his vassals, and they hoped better treatment from submitting to the ambition of a great king, who left them every thing but the honour of their independency, than from the avarice of adventurers, from which nothing was secure. The bishops and the body of the clergy greatly contributed to this submission, from respect to the Pope, and the horror of their late defeats, which they began to regard as judgments. A national council was held at Cashel for bringing the church of Ireland to a perfect conformity, in rites and discipline, to that of England. It is not to be thought, that in this council the temporal interests of England were entirely forgotten. Many of the English were established in their particular conquests under the tenure of knights-service, now first introduced into Ireland; a tenure, which, if it has not proved the best calculated to