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HENRY, previous to the recal of Strongbow, had been engaged in a dangerous contest with one of his own subjects, Becket, whom he had raised to the archbishopric of Canterbury. Instigated by the pope, Adrian III. the same who granted to Henry the sovereignty of Ireland, the archbishop had pertinaciously opposed the constitutions of Clarendon, whereby the civil was declared independent on the ecclesiastical authority. Incensed by his insolence and ingratitude, Henry, amongst other passionate exclamations, was overhead to complain that no one had attempted to rid his sovereign of the turbulent and refractory prelate. Four of his knights, zealously attached to the person of their monarch, imagining they could not better display their promptitude in his service, silently quitted France, where Henry then was, and making all speed to England, assassinated the archbishop in church, while performing his duty at the altar. Henry was stunned by the intelligence of this atrocious deed, which threatened to arm the papal power for his destruction. By his great abilities, however, he frustrated the designs of his enemies at the court of Rome, and having brought matters to an accommodation, he at length found leisure to attend to the state of Ireland, and, after his return to England, had summoned Strongbow, as we formerly observed, to appear and answer for his conduct.
The earl waited on the king at Newnham, near Gloucester, and surrendering to him his territory round Dublin and his
inaritime fortresses, was, by the intercession of his uncle, Hervey de Mountmorres, received into the royal favour, and permitted to retain all his other Irish possessions under Henry and his heirs for ever.
Henry, now determined to push his personal expedition to Ireland with the utmost vigour, accompanied by the earl, proceeded through South Wales to Pembroke, seizing the castles of many Welch chieftains in his route : and at length having completed his preparations, set sail from Milford Haven with a fleet of two hundred and forty vessels and about five thousand men. He arrived in the harbour of Waterford, on the feast of St. Luke, in October, one thousand one hundred and seventytwo. Destitute of a common interest to unite them in their own defence, and already dispirited by the successes of the first adventurers, the Irish made little or no resistance to the king of England. His progress, resembled more the procession of a triumphant prince through his own dominions than the march of an invading ariny. The chieftains flocked eagerly from all quarters to make their obeisance : he had only to accept their homage. The men of Wexford waited on him soon after his landing, and delivered up their prisoner, Fitzstephen, whom they represented as a traitor. He was afterwards pardoned ; and surrendering to Henry the town of Wexford, was reinstated in his other possessions. The grandeur of Henry, his condescension, his munificence, seem to have made great impression on the minds of the Irish chieftains, his new subjects, whom he magnificently entertained during the feast of Christmas in an immense fabric erected for the purpose in the suburbs of Dublin; while William Fitzandelm and Hugh de Lacey were dispatched with a body of troops against O'Connor of Connaught, and O‘Nial, the powerful prince of Ulster, who declined submission.
As the inclemency of the season prevented the reduction of these monarchs, Henry summoned the clergy and the lords who had made their submission to meet at Cashel, in order to take into consideration the affairs of the church, the ostensible object of his invasion. By this convention Henry was solemnly acknowledged sovereign of Ireland: The clergy were declared independent of the civil magistrate in criminal cases, and their
lands exempted from secular taxes: But the most important decree passed by this assembly, a decree which, notwithstanding the violent shocks by which the country has been convulsed, has continued unremittingly to exert its force, was that whereby the Irish churches were reduced to a similarity with that of England, consequently to a dependance on the see of Rome.
After having been about six months in Ireland, during which period he had made several regulations for the government of his new dominions, and was preparing to subdue by his arms the whole island, he was unexpectedly summoned, before he had even secured those conquests he had already made, to appear before Albert and Theodine in Normandy, two cardinals whom the pope had appointed to investigate the causes of the murder of Becket, under pain of excommunication and an interdict on his dominions, acts of spiritual power, which, during the melancholy reign of bigotry and ignorance, were sufficient to convulse the greatest states, and to shake to their bases the thrones of the mightiest monarchs! Henry, alarmed at the danger with which he was threatened, made some hasty arrangements for the government of the country during his absence. He appointed Hugh de Lacy chief governor,' and invested him with the lordship of the territory of Meath, and empowering the chancellor with several others to elect another chief governor in case of de Lacy's death, hastened his departure from Wexford and made the best of his way to Normandy, where the two cardinals were expecting his arrival.
Henry was obliged to leave his new dominions in a very unsettled state. That part of Ireland already possessed by the British, which, afterwards extended, consisted of the counties of Dublin, Kildare, Meath, and Uriel, together with the cities of Cork, Limerick, and Waterford, formed what was called the English F.!e, had the advantage of the same laws with England. The inhabitants of the remainder, including those who had made their submission, continued to live under the same form of government as before. They professed allegiance to Henry: Their native independance and ferocity were in reality the same as ever. The English settlers quickly felt the evil consequences of this unorganized state of the country. The chieftains who had so lately sworn allegiance to the crown of Eng
land rose every where in arms; while Henry was so far from being able to give any assistance towards reducing them to submission, that he was obliged to draw off great part of the troops already stationed in Ireland, in order to suppress the unnatural rebellion of his own sons. Strongbow, as soon as he learned the danger of his sovereign, had hasted to Normandy to his assistance, which mark of loyalty and attachment to his person so highly gratified Henry, that he sent him back to Ireland as chief governor, and invested him with discretionary powers for the government of its turbulent affairs. On his return (1174] he found the troops so prejudiced against their leader, Hervey de Mountmorres, that he was obliged to deprive him of his command, and to substitute in his place Raymond le Gross, whom they importunately demanded for their general. This valiant soldier immediately began to act with vigour. With his little army he ravaged Ofally and Lismore, and gratified the rapacity of his followers with the acquisition of considerable plunder. Having shipped his booty on board several small vessels, he marched along the coast on his return towards Waterford. In this situation he was attacked both by sea and land, but obtained a complete victory on both elements.
Elated by his success in this and other expeditions, Raymond demanded Strongbow's daughter Basilia in marriage, which the earl coldly refused. Indignant at a denial which he thought his services had not merited, le Gross gave in his resignation and returned to Wales. Mountmorres was again invested with the chief command. A body of troops, however, on its march to join him at Cashel, was intercepted at Thurles by O'Brien of Thomond, and driven back with the loss of four hundred men. Alarmed by this misfortune, and the general revolt of of the Irish chieftains, who, not excepting even the hitherto faithful Donald Kevanagh, every where took arms, the earl was obliged to retreat with precipitation to Waterford, whence he sent solicitations to Raymond to return to Ireland, promising, should he comply, to bestow on him his daughter.
Flattered by this invitation, Raymond immediatly set sail. His arrival was fortunate; as the inhabitants of Waterford had premeditated a .general massacre of the English, which was only prevented by the appearance of his fleet in the harbour at the moment of its intended execution. On the day succeeding that of his nuptials with Basilia, which were solemnized at Wexford, he, together with his father-in-law, marched into Meath against O'Connor, who had suddenly crossed the Shannon and ravaged the country, demolishing at the same time the fortresses of the English. By the defection of several chieftains, Roderic was forced to retreat, and was pursued by Raymond with considerable slaughter. Leinster being thus reduced to temporary quiet, the victorious commanders turned their arms against North Munster, where the British standard was again crowned with success.
Meantime O'Connor, justly incensed at the fickleness and perfidy of his compatriots, resolved to save at least his own province, by making a timely submission to the king of England. For this purpose he dispatched to Henry, whose affairs had by this time assumed a prosperous appearance, he having reduced to obedience his unnatural sons and vanquished the efforts of their ungenerous allies, three deputies, with offers to do homage for his kingdom of Connaught, and to pay a tribute as an acknowledgment of the sovereignty of Henry. The king received them at Windsor, and accepting the terms proposed, permitted the monarch of Connaught to retain in full all his possessions, and his nominal title of king of Ireland, with the exception of the territory possessed by the English.
The warfare of the other Irish chieftains continued. O'Brien of Thomond besieged Limerick [1176,) and on the march of Raymond to its relief with about five hundred men and a body of auxiliaries furnished by the lords of Ossory and Glandelagh, endeavoured to intercept him by posting his forces in a defile near Cashel. But Raymond at the head of his five hundred men, while his Irish confederates stood spectators of the engagement, prepared to side with whichever party should prove the stronger, forced his entrenchments and compelled him to give hostages for his submission. He then turned his arms against the son of Mac-Arthy, prince of Desmond, who had deprived his father of his principality, and thrown him into prison. He reinstated the injured prince on his throne, and received a tract of land as a recompence for his services. He had scarce accomplished this laudable achievement, when he received in