« ZurückWeiter »
parts ; here 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 Galloglasses, 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 husband 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 opportunity, 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 met 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 fare 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 secure the obedience of the vassal to the sovereign, has never failed in any instance of preserving a vanquished people in obedience to the conquerors. The English lords built strong castles on their demesnes ; they put themselves at the head of the tribes, whose chiefs they had slain ; they assumed the Irish garb and manners; and thus partly by force, partly by policy, the first English families took a firm root in Ireland. It was indeed long before they were able entirely to subdue the island to the laws of England ; but the continual efforts of the Irish, for more than four hundred years, proved insufficient to dislodge them.
70.- THE DEATH OF ROSAMOND.
[From "Henry II. by Thomas May.) [The following poem, by one of our early poets, is founded upon the most commonly received tradition. The real history of Rosamond de Clifford is very obscure: we extract the following brief account from the Pictorial History of England :
“ The history of the 'Fair Rosamond,' has been enveloped in romantic traditions which have scarcely any foundation in truth, but which have taken so firm a hold on the popular mind, and have been identified with so much poetry, that it is neither an easy nor a pleasant task to dissipate the fanciful illusion, and unpeople the bower' in the sylvan shades of Woodstock. Rosamond de Clifford was the daughter of a baron of Herefordshire, the beautiful site of whose antique castle, in the valley of the Wye, is pointed out to the traveller between the town of the Welsh Hay and the city of Hereford, at a point where the most romantic of rivers, after foaming through its rocky, narrow bed in Wales, sweeps freely and tranquilly through an open English valley of surpassing loveliness. Henry became enamoured of her in his youth, before he was a king, and the connexion continued for many years ; but long before his death, and even long before his quarrel with his wife and legitimate sons (with which it appears she had nothing to do), Rosamond retired to lead a religious and penitent life, into the little nunnery' of Godestow, in the ‘rich meadows of Evenlod, near unto Oxford.'”
“ As Henry still preserved gentle and generous feelings towards the object of his youthful and ardent passion, he made many donations to the little nunnery,' on her account; and when she died (some time at least, before the first rebellion) the nuns, in gratitude to one who had been both directly and indirectly their benefactress, buried her in their choir, hung á silken pall over her tomb, and kept tapers constantly burning around it. These few lines, we believe, comprise all that is really known of the fair Rosamond. The legeud, so familiar to the childhood of all of us, was of later and gradual growth, not being the product of one imagination. The chronicler Brompton, who wrote in the time of Edward III., or more than a century and a half after the event, gave the first description we possess of the secret bower of Rosamond. He says, that in order that she might not be easily taken unawares by the queen' (ne forsán a regina facile deprehenderetur) Henry constructed, near Wodestocke,' a bower for this most sightly maiden, (puellæ spectatissimæ), of wonderful contrivance, and not unlike the Dædalean labyrinth ; but he speaks only of a device against surprise, and intimates in clear terms, that Rosamond died a natural death. The clue of silk, and the poison-bowl forced on her fair and gentle rival, by the jealous and revengeful Eleanor, were additions of a still more modern date."
Fair Rosamond within her bower of late,
And he from England last had absent been)
About those places, while the times were free,
Now came that fatal day, ordain'd to see
But most of all, while pearly drops distain'd
“I dare not hope you should so far relent,
By what strong arts I was at first betray'd,
you be forc'd to see, when I am dead,
“No more (reply'd the furious queen) ; have done ;