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A burning question in the sixteenth century, 1500-99, was: Who should control Ireland - the Irish chiefs or the Tudor monarchs? Henry VIII, King of Ireland Henry VIII was in no doubt about the answer. He was Lord of Ireland as well as King of England. The Lordship had been enjoyed by English kings since the twelfth century. However, it meant very little in practice. English rule was obeyed only in a very small part of Ireland - around Dublin. This area was called ‘The Pale’. The rest of the country was controlled by the native or Gaelic Irish or by ‘Old English’ or ‘Anglo-Irish’. The latter had gone to Ireland in Norman times but many had married into Irish families and adopted Irish ways and laws. Possible activities on the period – pdf Images of Tudor Ireland – slideshow Tudor conquest of Ireland: note for teachers
English law Land was granted by the king to the lord. It passed on to the eldest son - the law of primogeniture. Lord could inherit land and title. Criminal courts existed with judges who could order imprisonment or execution. Land and property was most held by men. Gaelic Irish (Brehon) law The chieftain did not own the land. It belonged to the clan or family - the law of tanistry. Chieftains were elected from the leading families. Judges acted as arbitrators and could order offenders to pay compensation but they could not order imprisonment or execution. Women could hold property. A ‘civil’ woman from the Pale and a Gaelic Irishman, c.1575. The picture was intended to show the deep division that was thought to exist in Irish society.
Henry wanted to change this. He wanted to control the whole country; to make the Irish people obedient to their rule. To show that he was serious, Henry stopped being Lord of Ireland. In 1541 he became King of Ireland. This is one of the Irish coins issued by Henry VIII as King of Ireland. In the centre are a crown and a harp. Can you guess what they stand for?
Tudor policy Henry’s successors, especially Mary and Elizabeth I continued the policy of trying to control Ireland by • introducing English laws, customs, language and methods of agriculture (crop rather than cattle farming) to Ireland; • spreading the Protestant religion to Ireland; and • ‘planting’ or settling English and Scottish people on land taken from the Irish.
The main reason for wanting to control Ireland was security. After the Reformation, Protestant England was often at odds with Catholic Europe. Ireland might be used as a base from which to attack England. The attempt to control Ireland became increasingly determined, especially under Elizabeth (right). One of her officials, Sir George Carew, said: ‘We must change Irish government, clothing, customs, manner of holding land, language and habits of life to make them obedient.’
Different ways of living Left The O’Hagan hill-fort, Tullaghoe, Ulster Below: Hugh de Lacy’s castle, Trim, County Meath
The Tudors in Ireland Right The Lord Deputy leaving Dublin Castle Below English soldiers on the march Contemporary engravings by John Derrick
Irish responses Most Irish people opposed these changes, especially Irish chiefs who wanted to rule their own territory. Some, like Grace O’Malley (alias Granuaile, the Pirate Queen) tried to be clever. She pretended to co-operate with the Tudors, yet continued in her old ways. She remained a Roman Catholic, plundered ships, raided her neighbours and met Elizabeth I. She died in poverty in 1603. This is how one historical novel describes Grace’s attitude to the English invader in an imaginary letter to her son, Toby, in 1575: Are you well, my son? Are the priests teaching you as I have instructed them? Learn your letters, study Latin, and memorise the names of the major seaports. Your older brothers by Donal O’Flaherty are merely simply warriors, all strength and shouting. I want more than that for you. Against an enemy as powerful as the English it is necessary to fight with one’s brains. Fortunately you and I both inherited good brains. Granuaile. The Pirate Queen by Llywelyn, M., O’Brien Press, 0-86278-5780-2, p. 59 Others resisted violently. They raided the new settlements, burning houses and taking cattle. Grace O’Malley meeting Elizabeth I Eighteenth-century engraving
English view of the Irish One of these raids was described by an Englishman, John Derrick. He worked in Ireland at that time for the English government. He thought that the Irish were backward and barbaric, ready to be ‘civilised’. Can you find the first three letters of the alphabet in the picture? Why do you think the artist has put them there? Does the picture tell you anything about John Derrick’s view of Irish people? They spoil and burn and bear away as fit occasion serve, And think the greater ill they do, the greater praise deserve. They pass not the poor man’s cry nor yet respect his tears, But rather joy to see the fire to flash about his ears ... And thus bereaving him of house, of cattle and of store, They do return to the wood from whence they came before. ‘Cattle Raid’, Image of Ireland by John Derrick, 1581
Irish view of the English The Irish thought themselves superior to the English. Gaelic poets described the ‘Saxons’ and the ‘Scotch’ as ‘an arrogant, impure crowd, of foreigners’ blood’. They were very critical of Irish people who adopted the ways of such foreigners: You [Son 1] follow foreign ways and shave your thick-curled head: O slender fist, my choice! you are no good son of Donnchadh. He [Son 2, Eogan Bán] loved no foreign ways, our ladies’ darling, Eogan Bán, nor bent his will to the stranger, but took to the wilds instead. This very famous poem has been translated from Irish. It is called ‘Two Sons’ and was written in the late sixteenth century. As you will have guessed, the poet criticises one Irishman for choosing to follow Tudor ways, while his brother, Eogan Bán, has taken to the hills in revolt. Another Gaelic poem (also translated): ‘The Butter’
Irish leaders Two chiefs from Ulster, in the north of Ireland, led those Irish chiefs who wanted to keep their independence. Hugh O’Neill of Tyrone was described by one Englishman as ‘Educated, more disciplined and naturally valiant, he is worthily reputed the best man of war of his nation. Most of his followers are well-trained soldiers, using our weapons; and he is the greatest man of territory and revenue within that kingdom, and is absolute commander of the north of Ireland.’ Hugh O’Donnell of Donegal, ‘Red Hugh’, had been kidnapped and held hostage in Dublin Castle for four years, sometimes in chains. In 1591, when he was nineteen, friends smuggled a rope and some files into the prison. Hugh cut through his chains, got out through a window and let himself down with a rope. On his return home to Donegal, he joined O’Neill to plot his revenge. Hugh O’Neill, Earl of Tyrone Sixteenth-century engraving
This is how one historical novel imagines a discussion between Red Hugh and his captor, Lord Fitzwilliam: ‘ ... It is Her Majesty’s greatest wish that you should be taught and civilised.’ ‘Civilised! And ... and is it her belief that to speak English is to be civilised?’ ‘Of course, that is a start. With the language and customs and the manners. Once you understand our ways you will see how much better they are. We will teach you to build proper houses and towns and – ‘I am going to scream, thought Hugh. It is like beating your head against a brick wall. We do not want your towns,’ he said patiently, ‘nor your houses nor your customs nor your language. We ...’ He took a deep breath. ‘WE - ARE - NOT - ENGLISH.’ Red Hugh. The Kidnap of Hugh O’Donnell by Lisson, D., O’Brien Press, 0-86278-604-5, p. 84
The Nine Years War The two Hughs took to the field against Elizabeth in a savage war which lasted for nine years from 1594 until 1603. The outcome was often in doubt, for the Irish expected help from Spain, which was at war with England. O’Neill approaching the English commander before battle The Irish inflicted devastating defeats on the English. The most humiliating was the Yellow Ford in 1598, when the English commander was killed. Enraged, Elizabeth sent the ruthless Lord Mountjoy to Ireland as viceroy in 1600 to deal with her Irish problem. He did just that.
The battle of Kinsale A Spanish force arrived at Kinsale, County Cork, in October 1601. The Irish leaders marched from Dungannon in the north to join them. The march was made in the heart of winter, the worst time of the year for such a long march. Mountjoy’s forces were better prepared and defeated the Irish and the Spaniards at the Battle of Kinsale in December 1601. The Irish retreated to the north. In the following year the English strengthened their forts around O’Neill’s territory in Tyrone. Mountjoy ordered crops and cattle to be destroyed. He intended to starve the Irish into submission.
Power of the chieftains broken In 1603 O’Neill and the other Irish chieftains did submit and signed the Treaty of Mellifont. They promised to be subject to the English monarch and to adopt English customs and language. O’Neill was given the title of Earl of Tyrone and O’Donnell became Earl of Tyrconnell. Ireland remained Catholic but the power of the chieftains had been broken. O’Neill’s submission to Mountjoy at Mellifont in March 1603, a seventeenth-century print
The Flight of the Earls The two Hughs, O’Neill and O’Donnell, were unhappy with the restrictions on their power. Restless and fearful for their safety, they and over 100 Irish chiefs fled from Ulster to the continent in 1607. The flight enabled the English to consolidate their hold on Ireland by settling even more people in Ireland, particularly in Ulster, the area which had most strongly resisted English rule. The Flight of the Earls A nineteenth-century picture (left) and a modern painting by Tom Ryan (right)
The plantation of Ulster The biggest plantation of Ireland took place in Ulster, in 1609, when James I was king. The government gave to English and Scottish people land in places such as Donegal, Londonderry, Tyrone, Fermanagh, Cavan and Armagh was given to English and Scottish people. Many had fought in Ulster and saw how prosperous a land it could be and they were prepared to take a chance to live there. This plantation helped to solve one problem - establishing English control of Ireland. Did it also store up trouble for the future?
Different ways Ulster houses in the seventeenth century – Irish (top), planter’s (bottom) BACK TO TEXT
O’Donnell, Hugh (Aodh Ruadh Ó Domhnaill) (1572-1602), called ‘Red Hugh’, lord of Tirconnell from 1592. Son of Hugh O’Donnell and Finola MacDonnell, he saw his first military action at the age of 12. In 1587 Perrot (the Lord Deputy), fearing the implications of Red Hugh’s betrothal to a daughter of Hugh O’Neill, had him captured by sending a ship to Rathmullen, on board which he was lured to drink. He languished for four years in Dublin Castle until he escaped, at the second attempt, with the connivance of O’Neill. Upon his return in 1592 his mother arranged the deposition of her senile husband in his favour. During the Nine Years War the betrayal of Sligo Castle into O’Donnell’s hands allowed him to exercise overlordship in north Connacht and to mount further raids into Clanricard and Thomond. Only in 1600, with the establishment of Docwra’s garrison at Derry, did his authority begin to wane. When Spanish forces landed at Kinsale in 1601, O’Donnell marched his army to Munster, evading George Carew, who blocked his passage at Cashel, by a brilliant flanking manoeuvre across the Slievefelim Mountains. After the Irish defeat at Kinsale, Hugh went to Spain to seek further help but died at Simancas. Allegations that he was poisoned are probably unfounded. Red Hugh was immortalized soon afterwards in Lughaidh Ó Cléirigh’s Beatha Aodha Ruaidh Uí Dhomhnaill (Life of Red Hugh O’Donnell). This biography, which portrays Red Hugh at the centre of events, has distorted historical interpretation. O’Donnell was certainly more impulsive than O’Neill, but he generally played second fiddle to the older man. BACK TO TEXT
O’Malley, Grace (c.1503-c.1603), alias Granuaile, legendary pirate-queen of Connacht, celebrated in popular tradition as a nationalist heroine and now a feminist icon. She married first Donal O’Flaherty, and later Richard ‘Iron Dick’ Bourke, but was a power-broker in her own right owing to the unique naval power of the O’Malleys. One English official wrote in 1559: There are three very good galleys with Tibbot ne Longe, son of Grany O'Malley, his brother and O'Malley that will carry 300 men apiece. These, if employed by Her Majesty, would do much good in the north, and the O'Malleys are much feared everywhere by sea. There are no galleys in Ireland but these.’ More than the ‘pirate queen’ of Irish legend, Granuaile was a courageous woman who stood up for her rights during the turbulent Tudor conquest of Ireland. When young, it is said she cut off her hair and wore male clothes to go to sea. More than a woman, Granuaile was a Gaelic chieftain. She commanded a fleet of war and merchant ships, trading with France, Spain, England and Portugal, dominating the waters off Western Ireland, and resisting and then treating with the invading Tudors. By land Granuaile stormed and defended castles, engaged in the then favourite Irish practice of cattle-rustling, gave birth to four children and generally showed she was the equal if not the better of any man. According to one horrified Tudor official, she ‘hath impudently passed the part of womanhood and been a great spoiler and chief commander and director of thieves and murderers at sea’. Despite clashes with the crown, which imprisoned her in 1577-79, she urged her husbands and sons to seek accommodation with the encroaching state. While in London in 1593 with other Connacht notables complaining of Bingham’s government, she petitioned the queen for a grant of lands - under Gaelic law she was not entitled, as a widow, to any part of her husband’s estate. Her petition was successful, but Granuaile died ten years later outwitted and impoverished by Tudor officials who never forgave her earlier ‘betrayals’. BACK TO TEXT
O’Neill, Hugh (c.1550-1616), and earl of Tyrone and last inaugurated O’Neill. Hugh was raised in the Pale after the assassination of his father Matthew in 1558. The crown re-established him in Ulster ten years later as a bulwark against the pretensions of Turlough O’Neill. When it tried to curb his growing power after 1587, Hugh resorted to bribing officials and opened up contacts with Spain. Fitzwilliam’s partition of Monaghan proved the decisive break. O’Neill tried to entangle the main beneficiary of government reform, Sir Henry Bagenal, in a marriage alliance by eloping with his sister Mabel. In 1592 Red Hugh O’Donnell, his son-in-law, assisted him in the encirclement of Turlough and the achievement of supremacy in Ulster. At the start of the Nine Years War O’Neill managed an outward show of loyalty while using proxies to oppose militarily the implementation of further reform. Victory at the Yellow Ford in 1598 enabled the extension of his authority through the midlands and into Munster. A major stumbling block was the Old English, to whom O’Neill appealed unsuccessfully on the grounds of common nationality and religion. O’Neill and O’Donnell were defeated at Kinsale and he himself surrendered at Mellifont in 1603. The subsequent Flight of the Earls was a gamble by O’Neill which went badly wrong. He died in Rome in 1616. That Hugh O’Neill enjoys such an enigmatic reputation is largely the result of 19th-century misinterpretation. Uncritical use of O Cléirigh’s life of O’Donnell, and the mistaken idea that O’Neill was brought up in England, fashioned a vacillating figure caught between two cultures. In fact O’Neill was an adept politician and gifted soldier who made the most of limited resources in a period of rapid change. BACK TO TEXT
Two SonsLaoiseach Mac an Bháird, late 16th centuryIn the work of this Monaghan poet is the first occurrence of the great theme of the coming of the final ‘stranger’ to Ireland. In this poem criticism is aimed at one of two brothers who has apparently chosen Tudor ways, while the other has taken to the hills in revolt - an indication of the shape of much future history. You follow foreign ways and shave your thick-curled head: O slender fist, my choice! you are no good son of Donnchadh. If you were, you would not yield your hair to a foreign fashion - the fairest feature in Fódla’s land - and your head done up in a crown. Little you think of your yellow hair, but that other detests their locks and going cropped in the foreign way. Your manners are little like. He loved no foreign ways, our ladies’ darling, Eogan Bán, nor bent his will to the stranger, but took to the wilds instead. Eogan Bán thinks little of your views. He would give his britches gladly and accept a rag for a cloak and ask no coat nor hose. He hates the jewelled spur on his boot at the narrow of his foot, or stockings in the foreign style, nor allows their locks upon him. A blunt rapier wouldn’t kill a fly holds no charm for Donnchadh’s son, nor a bodkin weighing at his rump as he climbs to the gathering place. Little his wish for a gold cloak or a high Holland collar; a golden bangle would only annoy or a satin scarf to the heel. He has no thought for a feather bed but would rather lie on rushes, more at ease - Donnchadh’s good son - in a rough-wattled hut than a tower top. Throng of horse in the mouth of a gap, foot-soldiers’ fight, the hard fray, are some of Donnchadh’s son’s delights, and looking for fight with the foreigner. You are not like Eogan Ban. They laugh as you step to the mounting block. A pity you cannot see your fault, as you follow foreign ways. BACK TO TEXT
The ButterTadgh Dall Ó Huigínn, late 16th centuryA sixteenth-century health warning I myself got good butter from a woman The good butter if it be good I don’t think it came from a cow Whatever its origin, it destroyed me. There was a beard sprouting from it, Bad health to the fellow’s beard A juice from it as venomous as poison It was tallow with a sour draught taste. It was speckled, it was grey It was not from a milch goat It was no gift of butter When we had to look at it every day. Its long lock was like a horse’s mane Alas, no knives were found to crop it He who partook of it has long been sick The good butter that was in our hut. A wrapping cloth (was placed) around the sour grease Like a shroud taken from a corpse It was disgusting to the eye To look at the rag from the amount of its foulness. There was a strong stench from that fellow That choked and stupified us We imagined it to be multicoloured Covered by a branching crest of fungus. It had never seen the salt The salt never saw it except at a distance Its memory does not leave us in health White butter bluer than coal. There was grease in it, and not only that But every other bit was of wax Little butter did I eat after it The fleshy butter I received. BACK TO TEXT
Granuaile. The Pirate Queen by Llywelyn, Morgan O’Brien Press, 0-86278-578-2 Grace O’Malley, alias Granuaile, pirate & politician, c. 1530-1603, is one of Ireland’s most infamous figures. She was, however, more than the 'pirate queen' of Irish legend. She was a courageous woman who stood up for her rights during the turbulent Tudor conquest of Ireland. This inventive, if uncritical, historical novel is an excellent source for storytelling. The narrative is interweaved with imaginary letters between Grace and her son, Tibert, which capture a lesser-known side of the Pirate Queen. BACK TO TEXT
Red Hugh. The Kidnap of Hugh O’Donnell by Lisson, Deborah O’Brien Press, 0-86278-604-5 The extraordinary true story of Red Hugh O’Donnell (1572-1602) - kidnap, gaol, dungeons and escape. Ireland in 1587 was a tough place. The old Irish clans struggled desperately to hold on to their lands. With the Spanish Armada threatening her in the background, the English queen, Elizabeth I, set out to subdue them. A few weeks before his fifteenth birthday, Red Hugh was captured and taken to Dublin Castle - held as hostage to ensure the good behaviour of his father, chief of the powerful O’Donnell clan of Donegal. After several years, one freezing winter’s night the chance of escape seemed to come at last, but there were great risks ... In the Irish curriculum, the novel is used to debate aspects of personal development and education for citizenship. BACK TO TEXT
Citizenship in Red Hugh Myself Growing & changing Feeling and emotions discussing and practising how to express feeling in appropriate manners Discuss effectiveness of the Earl of Tyrone’s dissembling (p. 52) and Red Hugh's rages or tempers ( pp 32, 100) Myself Making decisions Recognising that opportunities to exercise choice can increase as responsibilities are accepted and the trust of others is earned Discuss Red Hugh’s reluctant and gradual acceptance of responsibility (pp 169, 208, 210), and his realisation that ‘bravery without brains’ is a 'dangerous virtue' (p 203) Myself & others Relating to others Examining the various ways in which language can be used to isolate and discriminate against people Discuss the insulting expressions used by the Irish captives, e.g., ‘black as an Englishman's guts’ (p. 104), ‘as tight as the truth in a Saxon's mouth’ (p. 101) Fitzwilliam’s arrogant belief that ‘to speak English is to be civilised’ (p. 84) BACK TO TEXT
Tudor conquest of Ireland – note for teachers The Oxford Companion to Irish History edited by S.J. Connolly, OUP, 1998, 0-19866-240-8, 553-4 Tudor conquest, a term denoting the extension of English lordship, previously effective only in the Pale, to full English sovereignty throughout Ireland. This was the result of a reform policy which invariably ended being applied by force. Sir John Davies’s Discovery of the True Causes (1610), trumpeting the subsequent establishment of the common law, did not hesitate to use the term ‘conquest’. The process, generally seen as getting under way in 1534 and lasting until 1603, involved conflicts of increasing scale: the Kildare rebellion, the war of the Geraldine League, the revolt of Shane O’Neill, the Desmond and Baltinglass revolts, and the Nine Years War. An important reason for the Tudor conquest was the existence of a frontier and the related problems of defence and grand strategy. The original objective in 1534 was merely the reform of the Pale under the closer direction of Whitehall. This departure coincided with England’s break with Rome, which left her diplomatically isolated and strategically vulnerable. An English lord deputy with a standing army and little local support was always apt to take the military option. Such actions in Ireland created strategic threats where none had hitherto existed. The military activities of Lord Deputy Grey in the 1530s resulted in the establishment of the Geraldine League with its appeals to the Scottish king. The creation of the kingdom of Ireland (1541) necessarily entailed consideration of administrative centralization across the whole island. When the related integrative policy of surrender and regrant faltered, the placement of garrisons in Leix and Offaly caused the O’Mores and O’Connors to appeal to France. The line of the Pale was breached, the frontier was now moving, and the process continuous. The crown became anxious to assert control for fear that foreign powers would exploit the situation. It is not unreasonable to suggest that the New English, as captains, constables, seneschals, and provincial presidents, deliberately provoked conflicts so as to reap rewards in the lands and offices which subsequently became available. The commissions of martial law to local commanders introduced by Sussex in 1556 escalated the level of violence involved. A new English colonialism justified by old chauvinist ideas and new religious prejudices was generated, with land-hungry younger sons acquiring confiscated Irish estates as a means of providing an income and gentry status. The role of lords deputy as architects of the conquest is a subject of debate. The most aggressive policies belong to Sussex, Sidney, Grey, and Perrot, but ironically those of the corrupt, reactive, and underfinanced Fitzwilliam caused the most bother. Canny asserts that Sidney produced a blueprint of plantations and provincial presidencies for the establishment of Tudor rule. Brady insists that the government’s intention was always the establishment of the common law by reform not conquest, and concentrates on Sidney’s alternative policy of composition. Crawford emphasizes the role of the privy council. This executive body had an obvious interest in making English sovereignty effective. At local level the object was shire government with sheriffs, justices of the peace, jailhouses, and visiting assizes. Most of Ireland was shired on paper by the mid-1580s, but it was physical control of the country after 1603 that enabled the system to operate. BACK TO TEXT
Military matters bulk large in any account of the Tudor conquest. The army grew to a peak of 16,000 during the Nine Years War. Expeditions into the interior against errant Gaelic lords were pointless. The only effective strategy was the establishment of garrisons followed by spoliation of the people, their crops, and their livestock, bringing starvation and eventual submission. These tactics were very expensive to maintain and were employed only in the Desmond and Nine Years wars (1). Massacres took place at Rathlin, Belfast, Mullaghmast (2), and Smerwick. Hostages were frequently taken to guarantee ceasefires during wartime and to secure compliance during peacetime. Irish revenues never sustained the cost of the standing army, which had always to be subsidized from England. The Irish lords also increased and modernized their forces. They employed large numbers of redshanks (light infantry usually hired for the summer months from the Highlands and Islands of Scotland during the summer) and then utilized the supply system these developed to increase local infantry recruits. Firearms aided Irish guerrilla tactics, and assisted in victories such as Glenmalure (3) and the Yellow Ford (4), but the infrastructure needed for siege warfare was lacking. Explanatory notes 1. Nine Years War (Apr. 1593-Mar. 1603), also known as Tyrone’s rebellion, after the state’s main antagonist in the conflict, Hugh O’Neill, 2nd earl of Tyrone. It arose from Fitzwilliam’s partition of Monaghan, which broke up the MacMahon lordship and threatened other Ulster lordships with a similar fate. The state’s other main antagonist, Red Hugh O’Donnell, was O’Neill’s son-in-law. Their alliance transcended traditional rivalry in Ulster and came to include many other Gaelic lords in an oath-bound confederacy which initially took the form of a secret conspiracy. Map of Nine Years War The first action of the war was an exercise in manipulation and deceit by O’Neill. After the ejection of a sheriff from Fermanagh, O’Neill fought on the side of the government while simultaneously directing his brother Cormac, and other relatives whom he allegedly could not control, against the state. This was a delaying tactic, because the northern lords were hoping for aid from Spain, where they had sent agents as early as 1592. O’Neill disclosed his true role in February 1595 when he ordered the destruction of the garrison on the river Blackwater. The state finally proclaimed him a traitor in June 1595. Irish tactics during the war were primarily defensive. The buannacht system (billeting of mercenary soldiers on civilians) used to accommodate redshanks was reoriented to put local troops into the field. These were well trained and leavened with English and Spanish veterans. Up to a third of the confederates fought with firearms, supplied by Scottish and Old English merchants, which enhanced their traditional guerrilla-style tactics. A major lack was artillery, which made the taking of forts and towns, other than by ruse or betrayal, impossible. The English army, surprised by the discipline of their opponents, suffered from a divided command, BACK TO TEXT
between Lord Deputy Russell and Lord General Norris in 1596-7, and between Black Tom Butler of Ormond and Henry Bagenal in 1598. Their offensive tactics usually amounted to no more than a single expedition to establish or relieve outlying garrisons. The resulting Irish victories were in fact large ambushes - the Ford of the biscuits (1594), Clontibret (1595), the Yellow Ford (1598). These successes, together with the fall of Sligo and Cavan, allowed the war to spread to Connacht and Leinster in 1595 and to Munster in 1598. For the Irish, politics was an extension of war. O’Neill used ceasefires and long-drawn-out negotiations as a delaying tactic in which the hard-pressed and factionalised state acquiesced. A compromise, which would have left O’Neill supreme in Ulster, was negotiated in 1596 but aborted by the timely arrival of Spanish agents. Further negotiations, prolonged in the case of Ormond in 1598, and short and secret in the case of Essex in 1599, worked to O’Neill’s advantage. After the debacle of Essex’s lieutenancy, O’Neill and his confederates controlled the greater part of Ireland. Unable to take the towns by force, O’Neill now tried to win over the Old English Catholics. In November 1599 he issued a proclamation requesting the Old English to join his fight for faith and fatherland. A final negotiating position with the crown, which would have provided for an autonomous Catholic Ireland run jointly by its great lords and the Old English, was drawn up. Cecil, the English secretary of state, marked these 22 demands with the word ‘Utopia’. O’Neill’s adoption of the concept of fatherland frightened the crown more than it encouraged the Old English. Mountjoy was rapidly dispatched to Dublin and Docwra established at Lough Foyle behind confederate lines. The strategy was now the establishment of small garrisons, closely placed and mutually supporting, to wear down the economy that supported the irregular warfare of the Irish. The long-heralded Spanish expedition finally landed at Kinsale, only to withdraw ignominiously after O’Neill and O’Donnell abandoned their defensive tactics and risked all in a pitched battle. The garrisons in Ulster brought famine in their wake. One by one O’Neill’s allies sued for peace and he went into hiding. In September 1602 Mountjoy destroyed the symbol of his authority at Tullaghoge. However, the garrison policy was proving very expensive and could be sustained only by the debasement of the Irish currency. The state was therefore glad when O’Neill submitted at Mellifont in March 16035. The war had cost the English exchequer nearly £2 million - eight times as much as any previous Irish war and as much as Elizabeth’s continental wars. But it had given England complete control of Ireland for the first time since the Anglo-Norman invasion. (pp 338-9) 2. Mullaghmast, massacre of (Nov.-Dec. 1577), the slaughter of Moris O’More and at least 40 others after they had been summoned to the fort of Mullaghmast, Co. Kildare, by the soldier-colonists Francis Cosby and Robert Hartpole to do military service. This bloody episode in the troubled relations between the Laois-Offaly planters and the displaced O’Mores and O’Connors occurred at a time when Lord Deputy Sidney was trying to quell the revolt of Rory Óg O’More. (p. 372) BACK TO TEXT
3. Glenmalure, battle of (25 Aug. 1580). The newly arrived Lord Deputy Grey decided on an immediate prosecution of the rebel forces of Viscount Baltinglass and Feagh MacHugh O’Byrne, which had withdrawn into Glenmalure in the Wicklow Mountains. Grey sent half his army under George Moore to flush them out. Soldiers fresh from England in bright coats and officers in armour made easy targets, especially for the hundred ‘shot’ (soldiers with firearms) at O’Byrne’s disposal. At least 30 Englishmen were killed, including Moore himself. (p. 222) 4. Yellow Ford, battle of (14 Aug. 1598), the greatest single defeat suffered by English forces in 16th-century Ireland. The queen’s army under Henry Bagenal, taking supplies to the beleaguered Blackwater Fort, was ambushed in difficult terrain north of Armagh by Hugh O’Neill. Bagenal and 800 of his men were killed and the Blackwater and Armagh garrisons had to be abandoned. O’Neill gained unimpeded access to the midlands enabling in turn the overthrow of the Munster plantation. (p. 601) 5. Mellifont, treaty of (30-1 Mar. 1603), ending the Nine Years War. Moryson’s account has Hugh O’Neill making an unconditional surrender to Mountjoy, unaware of the death of Queen Elizabeth. However, it has been shown that, while the queen’s death was indeed kept secret, O’Neill’s submission was the result of hard bargaining at Tullaghoge and later Mellifont. O’Neill avoided confiscation, gaining a pardon and a new patent for his lands. He abandoned the O’Neill title but crucially retained control of O’Cahan, his principal uirrí (sub-kingship). His position was consolidated at a subsequent meeting with the English privy council. BACK TO TEXT
Atlas of Irish History by Seán Duffy Gill & Macmillan, 07173-093-2, p. 61 BACK TO TEXT