At Dublin, Richard prepared to celebrate the festival of Christmas, with all the splendour of which he was so fond. He had received letters from his council in England warmly congratulating him on the results of his "noble voyage" and his successes against "his rebel Make Murgh." Several lords and chiefs were hospitably entertained by him during the holidays--but the greater magnates did not yet present themselves--unless we suppose them to have continued his guests at Dublin, from Christmas till Easter, which is hardly credible.
The supplies which he had provided were soon devoured by so vast a following. His army, however, were paid their wages weekly, and were well satisfied. But whatever the King or his flatterers might pretend, the real object of all the mighty preparations made was still in the distance, and fresh supplies were needed for the projected campaign of 1395. To raise the requisite funds, he determined to send to England his uncle, the Duke of Gloucester. Gloucester carried a letter to the regent, the Duke of York, countersigned "Lincolne," and dated from Dublin, "Feb. 1, 1395." The council, consisting of the Earls of Derby, Arundel, de Ware, Salisbury, Northumberland, and others, was convened, and they "readily voted a tenth off the clergy, and a fifteenth off the laity, for the King's supply." This they sent with a document, signed by them all, exhorting him to a vigorous prosecution of the war, and the demolition of all forts belonging to "MacMourgh [or] le grand O'Nel." They also addressed him another letter, complimentary of his valour and discretion in all things.
While awaiting supplies from England, Richard made a progress as far northward as Drogheda, where he took up his abode in the Dominican Convent of St. Mary Magdalen. On the eve of St. Patrick's Day, O'Neil, O'Donnell, O'Reilly, O'Hanlon, and MacMahon, visited and exchanged professions of friendship with him. It is said they made "submission" to him as their sovereign lord, but until the Indentures, which have been spoken of, but never published, are exhibited, it will be impossible to determine what, in their minds and in his, were the exact relations subsisting between the native Irish princes and the King of England at that time. O'Neil, and other lords of Ulster, accompanied him back to Dublin, where they found O'Brien, O'Conor, and McMurrogh, lately arrived. They were all lodged in a fair mansion, according to the notion of Master Castide, Froissart's informant, and were under the care of the Earl of Ormond and Castide himself, both of whom spoke familiarly the Irish language.
The glimpse we get through Norman spectacles of the manners and customs of these chieftains is eminently instructive, both as regards the observers and the observed. They would have, it seems, very much to the disedification of the English esquire, "their minstrels and principal servants sit at the same table and eat from the same dish." The interpreters employed all their eloquence in vain to dissuade them from this lewd habit, which they perversely called "a praiseworthy custom," till at last, to get rid of importunities, they consented to have it ordered otherwise, during their stay as King Richard's guests.
On the 24th of March the Cathedral of Christ's Church beheld the four kings devoutly keeping the vigil preparatory to knighthood. They had been induced to accept that honour from Richard's hand. They had apologized at first, saying they were all knighted at the age of seven. But the ceremony, as performed in the rest of Christendom, was represented to them as a great and religious custom, which made the simplest knight the equal of his sovereign, which added new lustre to the crowned head, and fresh honour to the victorious sword. On the Feast of the Annunciation they went through the imposing ceremony, according to the custom obtaining among their entertainers.
While the native Princes of the four Provinces were thus lodged together in one house, it was inevitable that plans of co-operation for the future should be discussed between them. Soon after the Earl of Ormond, who knew their language, appeared before Richard as the accuser of McMurrogh, who was, on his statement, committed to close confinement in the Castle. He was, however, soon after set at liberty, though O'Moore, O'Byrne, and John O'Mullain were retained in custody, probably as hostages, for the fulfilment of the terms of his release. By this time the expected supplies had arrived from England, and the festival of Easter was happily passed. Before breaking up from his winter quarters Richard celebrated with great pomp the festival of his namesake, St. Richard, Bishop of Chichester, and then summoned a parliament to meet him at Kilkenny on the 12th of the month. The acts of this parliament have not seen the light; an obscurity which they share in common with all the documents of this Prince's progress in Ireland. The same remark was made three centuries ago by the English chronicler, Grafton, who adds with much simplicity, that as Richard's voyage into Ireland "was nothing profitable nor honourable to him, therefore the writers think it scant worth the noting."
Early in May a deputation, at the head of which was the celebrated William of Wyckham, arrived from England, invoking the personal presence of the King to quiet the disturbances caused by the progress of Lollardism. With this invitation he decided at once to comply, but first he appointed the youthful Earl of March his lieutenant in Ireland, and confirmed the ordinance of Edward III., empowering the chief governor in council to convene parliament by writ, which writ should be of equal obligation with the King's writ in England. He ordained that a fine of not less than fifty marks, and not more than one hundred, should be exacted of every representative of a town or shire, who, being elected as such, neglected or refused to attend. He reformed the royal courts, and appointed Walter de Hankerford and William Sturmey, two Englishmen, "well learned in the law" as judges, whose annual salaries were to be forty pounds each. Having made these arrangements, he took an affectionate leave of his heir and cousin, and sailed for England, whither he was accompanied by most of the great nobles who had passed over with him to the Irish wars. Little dreamt they of the fate which impended over many of their heads. Three short years and Gloucester would die by the assassin's hand, Arundel by the executioner's axe, and Mowbray, Earl Marshal, the ambassador at Ballygorry, would pine to death in Italian banishment. Even a greater change than any of these--a change of dynasty--was soon to come over England.
The young Earl of March, now left in the supreme direction of affairs, so far as we know, had no better title to govern than that he was heir to the English throne, unless it may have been considered an additional recommendation that he was sixth in descent from the Lady Eva McMurrogh. To his English title, he added that of Earl of Ulster and Lord of Connaught, derived from his mother, the daughter of Lionel, Duke of Clarence, and those of Lord of Trim and Clare, from other relations. The counsellors with whom he was surrounded included the wisest statesmen and most experienced soldiers of "the Pale." Among them were Almaric, Baron Grace, who, contrary to the statute of Kilkenny, had married an O'Meagher of Ikerrin, and whose family had intermarried with the McMurroghs; the third Earl of Ormond, an indomitable soldier, who had acted as Lord Deputy, in former years of this reign; Cranley, Archbishop of Dublin, and Roche, the Cistercian Abbot of St. Mary's, lately created Lord Treasurer of Ireland; Stephen Bray, Chief Justice; and Gerald, fifth Earl of Kildare. Among his advisers of English birth were Roger Grey, his successor; the new Judges Hankerford and Sturmey, and others of less pacific reputation. With the dignitaries of the Church, and the innumerable priors and abbots, in and about Dublin, the court of the Heir-Presumptive must have been a crowded and imposing one for those times, and had its external prospects been peaceful, much ease and pleasure might have been enjoyed within its walls.
In the three years of this administration, the struggle between the natives, the naturalized, and the English interest knew no cessation in Leinster. Some form of submission had been wrung from McMurrogh before his release from Dublin Castle, in the spring of 1395, but this engagement extorted under duress, from a guest towards whom every rite of hospitality had been violated, he did not feel bound by after his enlargement. In the same year an attempt was made to entrap him at a banquet given in one of the castles of the frontier, but warned by his bard, he made good his escape "by the strength of his arm, and by bravery." After this double violation of what among his countrymen, even of the fiercest tribes, was always held sacred, the privileged character of a guest, he never again placed himself at the mercy of prince or peer, but prosecuted the war with unfaltering determination. In 1396, his neighbour, the chief of Imayle, carried off from an engagement near Dublin, six score heads of the foreigners: and the next year--an exploit hardly second in its kind to the taking of Ross --the strong castle and town of Carlow were captured by McMurrogh himself. In the campaign of 1398, on the 20th of July, was fought the eventful battle of Kenlis, or Kells, on the banks of the stream called "the King's river," in the barony of Kells, and county of Kilkenny. Here fell the Heir-Presumptive to the English crown, whose premature removal was one of the causes which contributed to the revolution in England, a year or two later. The tidings of this event filled "the Pale" with consternation, and thoroughly aroused the vindictive temper of Richard. He at once despatched to Dublin his half-brother, Thomas Holland, Earl of Kent, recently created Duke of Surrey. To this duke he made a gift of Carlow castle and town, to be held (if taken) by knights' service. He then, as much, perhaps, to give occupation to the minds of his people, as to prosecute his old project of subduing Ireland, began to make preparations for his second expedition thither. Death again delayed him. John of Ghent, Duke of Lancaster, his uncle, and one of the most famous soldiers of the time, suddenly sickened, and died. As Henry, his son, was in banishment, the King, under pretence of appropriating his vast wealth to the service of the nation, seized it into his own hands, and despite the warnings of his wisest counsellors as to the disturbed state of the kingdom, again took up his march for Milford Haven.
A French knight, named Creton, had obtained leave with a brother-in-arms to accompany this expedition, and has left us a very vivid account of its progress. Quitting Paris they reached London just as King Richard was about "to cross the sea on account of the injuries and grievances that his mortal enemies had committed against him in Ireland, where they had put to death many of his faithful friends." Wherefore they were further told, "he would take no rest until he had avenged himself upon MacMore, who called himself most excellent King and Lord of great Ireland; where he had but little territory of any kind."
They at once set out for Milford, where, "waiting for the north wind," they remained "ten whole days." Here they found King Richard with a great army, and a corresponding fleet. The clergy were taxed to supply horses, waggons, and money--the nobles, shires, and towns, their knights, men-at-arms, and archers-the seaports, from Whitehaven to Penzance, were obliged, by an order in council, dated February 7th, to send vessels rated at twenty-five tons and upwards to Milford, by the octave of Easter. King's letters were issued whenever the usual ordinances failed, and even the press-gang was resorted to, to raise the required number of mariners. Minstrels of all kinds crowded to the camp, enlivening it by their strains, and enriching themselves the while. The wind coming fair, the vessels "took in their lading of bread, wine, cows and calves, salt meat and plenty of water," and the King taking leave of his ladies, they set sail.
In two days they saw "the tower of Waterford." The condition to which the people of this English stronghold had been reduced by the war was pitiable in the extreme. Some were in rags, others girt with ropes, and their dwellings seemed to the voyagers but huts and holes. They rushed into the tide up to their waists, for the speedy unloading of the ships, especially attending to those that bore the supplies of the army. Little did the proud cavaliers and well-fed yeomen, who then looked on, imagine, as they pitied the poor wretches of Waterford, that before many weeks were over, they would themselves be reduced to the like necessity--even to rushing into the sea to contend for a morsel of food.
Six days after his arrival, which was on the 1st of June, King Richard marched from Waterford "in close order to Kilkenny." He had now the advantage of long days and warm nights, which in his first expedition he had not. His forces were rather less than in 1394; some say twenty, some twenty-four thousand in all. The Earl of Rutland, with a reinforcement in one hundred ships, was to have followed him, but this unfaithful courtier did not greatly hasten his preparations to overtake his master. With the King were the Lord Steward of England, Sir Thomas Percy; the Duke of Exeter; De Spencer, Earl of Gloucester; the Lord Henry of Lancaster, afterwards King Henry V.; the son of the late Duke of Gloucester; the son of the Countess of Salisbury; the Bishop of Exeter and London; the Abbot of Westminster, and a gallant Welsh gentleman, afterwards known to fame as Owen Glendower. He dropped the subterfuge of bearing Edward the Confessor's banner, and advanced his own standard, which bore leopards and flower de luces. In this order, "riding boldly," they reached Kilkenny, where Richard remained a fortnight awaiting news of the Earl of Rutland from Waterford. No news, however, came. But while he waited, he received intelligence from Kildare which gratified his thirst for vengeance. Jenico d'Artois, a Gascon knight of great discretion and valour, who had come over the preceding year with the Duke of Surrey, marching towards Kilkenny, had encountered some bands of the Irish in Kildare (bound on a like errand to their prince), whom he fought and put to flight, leaving two hundred of them dead upon the field. This Jenico, relishing Irish warfare more than most foreign soldiers of his age, continued long after to serve in Ireland--married one of his daughters to Preston, Baron of Naas, and another to the first Lord Portlester.
On the 23rd of June, "the very vigil of St. John," a saint to whom the King was very much devoted, Richard, resolving to delay no longer, left Kilkenny, and marched directly towards Catherlough. He sent a message in advance to McMurrogh, "who would neither submit nor obey him in anyway; but affirmed that he was the rightful King of Ireland, and that he would never cease from war and the defence of his country until his death; and said that the wish to deprive him of it by conquest was unlawful."
Art McMurrogh, now some years beyond middle age, had with him in arms "three thousand hardy men," "who did not appear," says our French knight, "to be much afraid of the English." The cattle and corn, the women and the helpless, he had removed into the interior of the fastnesses, while he himself awaited, in Idrone, the approach of the enemy.
This district, which lies north and south between the rivers Slaney and Barrow, is of a diversified and broken soil, watered with several small streams, and patched with tracts of morass and marsh. It was then half covered with wood, except in the neighbourhood of Old Leighlin, and a few other places where villages had grown up around the castles, raths, and monasteries of earlier days. On reaching the border of the forest, King Richard ordered all the habitations in sight to be set on fire; and then "two thousand five hundred of the well affected people," or, as others say, prisoners, "began to hew a highway into the woods."
When the first space was cleared, Richard, ever fond of pageantry, ordered his standard to be planted on the new ground, and pennons and banners arrayed on every side. Then he sent for the sons of the Dukes of Gloucester and Lancaster, his cousins, and the son of the Countess of Salisbury and other bachelors-in-arms, and there knighted them with all due solemnity. To young Lancaster, he said, "My fair cousin, henceforth, be preux and valiant, for you have some valiant blood to conquer." The youth to whom he made this address was little more than a boy, but tall of his age, and very vigorous. He had been a hard student at Oxford, and was now as unbridled as a colt new loosed into a meadow. He was fond of music, and afterwards became illustrious as the Fifth Henry of English history. Who could have foreseen, when first he put on his spurs by the wood's side, in Catherlough, that he would one day inherit the throne of England and make good the pretensions of all his predecessors to the throne of France?
Richard's advance was slow and wearisome in the forests of Idrone. His route was towards the eastern coast. McMurrogh retreated before him, harassing him dreadfully, carrying off everything fit for food for man or beast, surprising and slaying his foragers, and filling his camp nightly with alarm and blood. The English archers got occasional shots at his men, "so that they did not all escape;" and they in turn often attacked the rear-guard, "and threw their darts with such force that they pierced haubergeon and plates through and through." The Leinster King would risk no open battle so long as he could thus cut off the enemy in detail. Many brave knights fell, many men-at-arms and archers; and a deep disrelish for the service began to manifest itself in the English camp.
A party of Wexford settlers, however, brought one day to his camp Malachy McMurrogh, uncle to Art, a timid, treaty-making man. According to the custom of that century--observed by the defenders of Stirling and the burgesses of Calais--he submitted with a wythe about his neck, rendering up a naked sword. His retinue, bareheaded and barefoot, followed him into the presence of Richard, who received them graciously. "Friends," said he to them, "as to the evils and wrongs that you have committed against me, I pardon you on condition that each of you will swear to be faithful to me for the time to come." Of this circumstance he made the most, as our guide goes on to tell in these words: "Then every one readily complied with his demand; and took the oath. When this was done he sent word to MacMore, who called himself Lord and King of Ireland, (that country,) where he has many a wood but little cultivated land, that if he would come straightways to him with a rope about his neck, as his uncle had done, he would admit him to mercy, and elsewhere give him castles and lands in abundance." The answer of King Art is thus reported: "MacMore told the King's people he would do no such thing for all the treasures of the sea or on this side, (the sea,) but would continue to fight and harass him."
For eleven days longer Richard continued his route in the direction of Dublin, McMurrogh and his allies falling back towards the hills and glens of Wicklow. The English could find nothing by the way but "a few green oats" for the horses, which being exposed night and day, and so badly fed, perished in great numbers. The general discontent now made itself audible even to the ears of the King. For many days five or six men had but a "single loaf." Even gentlemen, knights and squires, fasted in succession; and our chivalrous guide, for his part, "would have been heartily glad to have been penniless at Poitiers or Paris." Daily deaths made the camp a scene of continued mourning, and all the minstrels that had come across the sea to amuse their victor countrymen, like the poet who went with Edward II. to Bannockburn to celebrate the conquest of the Scots, found their gay imaginings turned to a sorrowful reverse.
At last, however, they came in sight of the sea-coast, where vessels laden with provisions, sent from Dublin, were awaiting them. So eager were the famished men for food, that "they rushed into the sea as eagerly as they would into their straw." All their money was poured into the hands of the merchants; some of them even fought in the water about a morsel of food, while in their thirst they drank all the wine they could lay hands on. Our guide saw full a thousand men drunk that day on "the wine of Ossey and Spain." The scene of this extraordinary incident is conjectured to have been at or near Arklow, where the beach is sandy and flat, such as it is not at any point of Wicklow north of that place.
The morning after the arrival of these stores, King Richard again set forward for Dublin, determining to penetrate Wicklow by the valleys that lead from the Meeting of the Waters to Bray. He had not proceeded far on his march, when a Franciscan friar reached his camp as Ambassador from the Leinster King. This unnamed messenger, whose cowl history cannot raise, expressed the willingness of his lord to treat with the King, through some accredited agent--"some lord who might be relied upon"--"so that their anger (Richard's and his own), that had long been cruel, might now be extinguished." The announcement spread "great joy" in the English camp. A halt was ordered, and a council called. After a consultation, it was resolved that de Spencer, Earl of Gloucester, should be empowered to confer with Art. This nobleman, now but 26 years of age, had served in the campaign of 1394. He was one of the most powerful peers of England, and had married Constance, daughter of the Duke of York, Richard's cousin. From his possessions in Wales, he probably knew something of the Gaelic customs and speech. He was captain of the rearguard on this expedition, and now, with 200 lances, and 1,000 archers, all of whom were chosen men, he set out for the conference. The French knight also went with him, as he himself relates in these words:
"Between two woods, at some distance from the sea, I beheld MacMore and a body of the Irish, more than I can number, descend the mountain. He had a horse, without housing or saddle, which was so fine and good, that it had cost him, they said, four hundred cows; for there is little money in the country, wherefore their usual traffic is only with cattle. In coming down, it galloped so hard, that, in my opinion, I never saw hare, deer, sheep, or any other animal, I declare to you for a certainty, run with such speed as it did. In his right hand he bore a great long dart, which he cast with much skill. * * * His people drew up in front of the wood. These two (Gloucester and the King), like an out-post, met near a little brook. There MacMore stopped. He was a fine large man--wondrously active. To look at him, he seemed very stern and savage, and an able man. He and the Earl spake of their doings, recounting the evil and injury that MacMore had done towards the King at sundry times; and how they all foreswore their fidelity when wrongfully, without judgment or law, they most mischievously put to death the courteous Earl of March. Then they exchanged much discourse, but did not come to agreement; they took short leave, and hastily parted. Each took his way apart, and the Earl returned towards King Richard."
This interview seems to have taken place in the lower vale of Ovoca, locally called Glen-Art, both from the description of the scenery, and the stage of his march at which Richard halted. The two woods, the hills on either hand, the summer-shrunken river, which, to one accustomed to the Seine and the Thames naturally looked no bigger than a brook, form a picture, the original of which can only be found in that locality. The name itself, a name not to be found among the immediate chiefs of Wicklow, would seem to confirm this hypothesis.
The Earl on his return declared, "he could find nothing in him, (Art,) save only that he would ask for pardon, truly, upon condition of having peace without reserve, free from any molestation or imprisonment; otherwise, he will never come to agreement as long as he lives; and, (he said,) 'nothing venture, nothing have.' This speech," says the French knight, "was not agreeable to the King; it appeared to me that his face grew pale with anger; he swore in great wrath by St. Edward, that, no, never would he depart from Ireland, till, alive or dead, he had him in his power."
The King, notwithstanding, was most anxious to reach Dublin. He at once broke up his camp, and marched on through Wicklow, "for all the shoutings of the enemie." What other losses he met in those deep valleys our guide deigns not to tell, but only that they arrived at last in Dublin "more than 30,000" strong, which includes, of course, the forces of the Anglo-Irish lords that joined them on the way. There "the whole of their ills were soon forgotten, and their sorrow removed." The provost and sheriffs feasted them sumptuously, and they were all well-housed and clad. After the dangers they had undergone, these attentions were doubly grateful to them. But for long years the memory of this doleful march lived in the recollection of the English on both sides the Irish sea, and but once more for above a century did a hostile army venture into the fastnesses of Idrone and Hy-Kinsellah.
When Richard arrived in Dublin, still galled by the memory of his disasters, he divided his force into three divisions, and sent them out in quest of McMurrogh, promising to whosoever should bring him to Dublin, alive or dead, "100 marks, in pure gold." "Every one took care to remember these words," says Creton, "for it was a good hearing." And Richard, moreover, declared that if they did not capture him when the autumn came, and the trees were leafless and dry, he would burn "all the woods great and small," or find out that troublous rebel. The same day he sent out his three troops, the Earl of Rutland, his laggard cousin, arrived at Dublin with 100 barges. His unaccountable delay he submissively apologized for, and was readily pardoned. "Joy and delight" now reigned in Dublin. The crown jewels shone at daily banquets, tournaments, and mysteries. Every day some new pastime was invented, and thus six weeks passed, and August drew to an end. Richard's happiness would have been complete had any of his soldiers brought in McMurrogh's head: but far other news was on the way to him. Though there was such merriment in Dublin, a long-continued storm swept the channel. When good weather returned, a barge arrived from Chester, bearing Sir William Bagot, who brought intelligence that Henry of Lancaster, the banished Duke, had landed at Ravenspur, and raised a formidable insurrection amongst the people, winning over the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Duke of York, and other great nobles. Richard was struck with dismay. He at once sent the Earl of Salisbury into Wales to announce his return, and then, taking the evil counsel of Rutland, marched himself to Waterford, with most part of his force, and collected the remainder on the way. Eighteen days after the news arrived he embarked for England, leaving Sir John Stanley as Lord Lieutenant in Ireland. Before quitting Dublin, he confined the sons of the Dukes of Lancaster and Gloucester, in the strong fortress of Trim, from which they were liberated to share the triumph of the successful usurper, Henry IV.
It is beyond our province to follow the after-fate of the monarch, whose Irish campaigns we have endeavoured to restore to their relative importance. His deposition and cruel death, in the prison of Pontefract, are familiar to readers of English history. The unsuccessful insurrections suppressed during his rival's reign, and the glory won by the son of that rival, as Henry V., seem to have established the house of Lancaster firmly on the throne; but the long minority of Henry VI.--who inherited the royal dignity at nine months old--and the factions among the other members of that family, opened opportunities, too tempting to be resisted, to the rival dynasty of York. During the first sixty years of the century on which we are next to enter, we shall find the English interest in Ireland controlled by the house of Lancaster; in the succeeding twenty-five years the partizans of the house of York are in the ascendant; until at length, after the victory of Bosworth field