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brother, she eloped from an island in Meath where her husband The king of Connaught, who was forced Dermot to restore the
had placed her for security. then also king of Ireland, guilty wife to her husband. But the feud thus begun lasted, with fluctuations of fortune, as the national sovereignty changed hands, through fifteen years. Then (1168 A.D.) a new king of Connaught was crowned at Meath, and espoused the cause of his vassal effectually. The federal army, aided by the Ostmen of Dublin, who had some experience of Dermot's barbarity, united, and drove the king of Leinster from his dominions. Embittered by the desertion of his vassals, and with his kingdom declared forfeit, Dermot burned his capital, Ferns, and repaired to the court of Henry II. in Aquitaine. The offer to hold Leinster, if Henry would reinstate him, as an English fief, procured Dermot free quarters in Bristol, to which he speedily returned, and letters patent authorizing any English subject to assist him. Dermot published these, and promised large rewards in land to those who would help him to win back his kingdom.
The most powerful ally whom Dermot's offers attracted was Richard de Clare, surnamed Strongbow, earl of Pembroke, and distant cousin to the king. A promise of Dermot's daughter Eva to wife, with the succession of Leinster as a dowry, induced the earl, whose fortunes were dilapidated, to promise that he would embark next year with his whole force in the enterprize. Three other adventurers were enlisted. Two of them, Robert Fitz-Stephen and Maurice Fitz-Gerald, were sons, by different fathers, of Nest, a Welsh princess; the third was Maurice de Prendergast. Dermot, in his impatience, preceded his allies into Ireland. He sustained a repulse, but contrived to negotiate, till, in May, 1169 A.D., Fitz-Stephen landed near Wexford. Forty knights, sixty men-at-arms, and three hundred and sixty archers, composed the Anglo-Norman force, which was only recruited by five hundred men under Dermot, when it marched to the siege of Wexford. The citizens had prepared to meet the invaders in the field, but the sight of mail-clad men inspired a panic: they burned their suburbs, and
FITZ-STEPHEN AND STRONGBOW.
retired within the walls. A vigorous and successful defence the first day did not inspirit them. They agreed to capitulate, gave hostages, and renewed their allegiance to Dermot. Wexford was at once handed over with its territory to FitzStephen. The first success of the allies was followed up by a vengeful expedition into Ossory. In a victory here, two hundred heads were laid at the feet of Dermot. The gray savage danced in triumph over the bloody spoils, and, recognizing the features of a private enemy, caught up the head by its gory scalp, and fastened his teeth in the mouth and nose. Before long, the army of Ireland had taken the field under its king, Roderic O'Connor. But it could effect nothing against the walls of Ferns, in which Dermot's troops sheltered themselves. The king consented to re-invest Dermot with Leinster as a fief; and peace was made. A secret article stipulated that no more strangers should be brought over. But the next troops who arrived were none the less taken into Dermot's service, and their presence enabled him to reduce Dublin to allegiance. Roderic was occupied with a civil war in the north.
In spite of all the advantages won, the position of the allies was still insecure. Something more than an invincible army was wanted to found a kingdom. Fitz-Stephen was admirable in the field, a dashing cavalry captain, open-handed and genial, but over-fond of women and wine, and without the higher capacity of a general or a statesman. The presence of Strongbow, who had not yet come over, was the more earnestly desired, as he possessed all the qualities which Fitz-Stephen lacked. An ungainly, scrofulous man, with the quavering voice of a woman, gentle-natured and wanting in enterprize, Richard de Clare was a diplomatist in council and a tactician in the field. No reverses disheartened him, and no fortune tempted him into any indiscretion. He was prone to hesitate on the brink of a great achievement, but he stood firmly by the purpose he had once adopted, and carried it out against stronger opposition than had daunted him at first.1 He had delayed crossing till the terms
1 The characters of Fitz-Stephen and Strongbow are very vividly portrayed by Giraldus Cambrensis.-Hib. Exp., caps. 26, 27.
THE ROCK OF DUNDOLF.
of the royal patent were already fulfilled; Dermot was reinstated, and English subjects had no authority to carry on war on their own account in Ireland. Strongbow accordingly went to Normandy, and asked permission to push the advantages gained; he could only obtain an ambiguous answer from the king, but determined to consider it in his favour, and went back into Wales to prepare an expedition. In May 1170 A.D., he sent over Raymond le Gros, Fitz-Stephen's half nephew, as his precursor. At the rock of Dundolf, near Waterford, Raymond, with fifteen knights at most and not a hundred archers, defeated three thousand Irish with immense slaughter;1 but the victory was sullied by the murder of seventy prisoners, whose bones were broken and themselves thrown into the sea. The excuse of this crime was, that the Irish gave no quarter, that their prisoners paid no ransom, and that on this occasion the captives outnumbered the captors. Raymond, it is said, was averse to the massacre, and only yielded to the advice of Hervei de Mount-Maurice, who knew the country. It is clear that the bitter hatred of race was already springing up-a dangerous feeling for both, where the conquerors were raised like demigods by their armour and civilization above the natives, and where these were certain one day to bridge over the interval. It is probable that Dermot's treachery did much to exasperate the Normans. Flushed with success, he had treated his allies with contempt, and was suspected, on probable grounds, of intending to rid the country of them.
In August, 1170 A.D., as Strongbow was preparing to embark, he received an explicit order from the king not to proceed. Quietly disregarding it, he crossed with a little army of twelve hundred men, out of whom two hundred were knights. The storm of Waterford was his first exploit; and it illustrates the Irish architecture of the times, that the city walls were trenched by cutting away the wooden props of a
1 This startling result is partly ascribed by Regan (Conquest of Ireland, p. 70) to accident. The cattle in the English camp, terrified at the preparations for battle, rushed out, and disordered the Irish ranks.
2 "Cumque jam solvere pararet."-Newburgh, vol. i., p. 161.
THE STORM OF DUBLIN.
house that was built into them. The frightful carnage of the storm was succeeded by the earl's marriage with Eva, who brought a kingdom as her dower. Then the united forces
army under Strongbow The men of
marched upon Dublin, where the governor, Hasculf, had lately been encouraged, by the presence of a large Roderic, to throw off his allegiance to Dermot. penetrated between the Irish forces and the city. Dublin sent out their archbishop to mediate, and terms had almost been arranged, when Miles de Cogan became impatient, and stormed the walls at a weak point which he had reconnoitred. The inhabitants experienced the worst miseries of the conquered. Hasculf, and Asgall, king of the Northmen, escaped on board some small vessels to their countrymen in the Orkneys. Miles de Cogan was left in command of the city he had won. The earl and Dermot returned to Ferns, where the king died soon afterwards, full of years and stricken with a mysterious disease, in which his contemporaries recognized the avenging hand of God. Yet he meditated the conquest of all Ireland, and sacrificed his son, whom the king of Connaught put to death, to his unwillingness to make peace. Never traitor was more worthless than Dermot. But his death did not relieve his nation from the fears which now overshadowed them. The synod of Armagh had met during this year, and declared that God was judging the people for their sins, especially for the crime of keeping Christians in bondage. It was ordered that all the slaves throughout the land should be set free.
It seemed for a moment as if the Irish would free themselves. Indignant at Strongbow's disobedience, Henry summoned him to appear before the curia, forbade all traffic and intercourse with Ireland, and commanded all English subjects there to return before Easter, 1171 A.D., on pain of banishment and forfeiture of their estates. The earl, in alarm, sent Raymond le Gros to the court, which was then in Aquitaine, reminded the king of his permission once given, and offered to hold all his conquests of the crown. Henry did not even deign to answer this letter. The earl
IRISH SIEGE OF DUBLIN.
resolved to bide by his enterprize, and risk the forfeiture of his English estates. But his followers were less hearty in the cause many of the English left his standard and returned; and the Irish melted away from a chief to whom they owed no natural allegiance. Presently Hasculf appeared in the Liffey, with sixty ships from the Orkneys and Norway.1 But his Danish allies, though better armed than the Irish, were not more successful against the Norman chivalry. The small garrison of Miles de Cogan won a glorious victory, and Hasculf himself was taken. His gallant threat, that he would do greater things if he lived, provoked the governor, who ordered him to be killed. Strongbow had, perhaps, arrived in time to take part in the fight. He was certainly in the city soon after, when a league, promoted by archbishop Laurence, brought together a second Norwegian fleet from the Isle of Man, and a federal Irish army under Roderic of Connaught. Dublin was closely invested; and, as the English were short of provisions, which had hitherto come to them from England, the besiegers trusted to a blockade. Two months had passed, and Strongbow was reduced to such extremities that he offered to become Roderic's vassal. He was answered with a summons to quit the country, or prepare for an assault. At the same time news came that Fitz-Stephen was besieged in Carrig, near Wexford, and could only hold out some three days longer. His wife and children were in the fort with him. Despair and alarm inspired Maurice Fitz-Gerald, Fitz-Stephen's half-brother, with a happy suggestion he proposed to Strongbow that they should cut their way through the investing army. The sally ended in a decisive victory: six hundred English routed thirty thousand Irish, and returned laden with plunder and provisions. The road to Carrig was now clear, but the relieving army arrived too late.
Mr. Wright, in his preface to Regan's Conquest of Ireland, p. xi., has impugned the dates given by Giraldus, and placed the siege by O'Connor before the siege by Hasculf. I cannot discover any reason for this. There was ample time for the two sieges between Easter and St. Bartholomew's day.
2" Mès des Engleis à icel jor Esteit Ricard de tut la flur."-Regan's Conquest of Ireland, p. 114. But I confess I place no confidence in Regan's