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BATTLE OF KELLS
thereby one sterling pound, nor enlarge the English borders the bredth of one acre of land; neither did hee extend the jurisdiction of his Courtes of Justice by one foote further thar. the English colonies, wherein it was used and exercised before.'
Richard had no sooner turned his back than the Irish were up in arms again. The English of Leinster attempted to capture MacMurrough, 'but,' says the Four Masters, this was of no avail to them, for he escaped from them by the strength of his arm, and by his valour.' The viceroy, Edmond Mortimer, Earl of March, now took the field against MacMurrough. The Irish met him at Kells, near Kilkenny, where a great battle was fought (1397). The English were completely routed, and the viceroy was left dead upon the field. Richard resolved to return to Ireland, to avenge Mortimer's death and to annihilate MacMurrough. Accordingly, in the spring of 1399, he prepared a second expedition. Previously he proclaimed a great tournament at Windsor, of forty knights and as many esquires against all comers. To witness the feats of arms, Richard, with his fair and sweet childwife, Isabella of Valois, sat in splendid state, 'though,' says Froissart, 'few came to the feast, whether lords or knights or other men, for they held the king in such hatred.' Then Richard appointed his uncle, the Duke of York, to act as regent during his absence; and at the door of St George's Chapel, where they had heard mass, he bade farewell to his twelve-years-old queen-lifting her up in his arms, proudly kissing her, and saying, 'Adieu, adieu, madam, till we meet again.' But they met no more.
A fleet of two hundred sail carried Richard and his army across St George's Channel. Disembarking at Waterford, he advanced to Kilkenny, where he waited a fortnight for reinforcements under the Duke of Albemarle. With his whole force, he then marched against MacMurrough, who, secluded within his woods and fastnesses, boldly defied the English power; denounced the king's authority as based upon violence and injustice; and declared his resolution to defend the land unto his death.' Richard for a time placed his army at the entrance of the dense woods which sheltered MacMurrough's followers, but the Irish chieftain was too wary to meet them in the open field. Richard, therefore, resumed his advance, having previously created several knights, among whom was a young, fair and promising youth, Henry of Monmouth, afterwards the hero of Agincourt. The way being obstructed by fallen trees, and frequently lying across heavy bogs into which the men-at-arms sank up to their waists, the march of the royal army was tedious and slow, while the foragers and stragglers were cut off by the attacks of flying parties of Irish, who were so nimble and swift of foot, that, like unto stags, they run over mountains and valleys.'
As Richard pushed forward, MacMurrough retreated, and the English army began to suffer from want of provisions. Richard then sent a message to the Irish king, requesting him to submit himself humbly to his liege lord, in
1399] MACMURROUGH AND GLOUCESTER 53
which case not only would his submission be accepted, but he would be rewarded with ample gifts of towns and territories. MacMurrough replied that not all the gold in the world would bribe him into submission, that he would still continue to carry on the war, and do the king all the injury in his power. There was no help for Richard but to break up his camp and march immediately for Dublin. Even this movement was not accomplished without molestation, for MacMurrough hung like a thundercloud in his rear, incessantly harassing his troops with desultory attacks. MacMurrough now agreed to a parley, and consented to meet one of the king's ambassadors in open conference.
The Earl of Gloucester with 100 lances and 1000 archers, was now sent to treat with the King of Leinster. The expedition was accompanied by a French writer, from whose pen we have a description of MacMurrough as he appeared at the meeting :-'From a mountain between two woods, not far from the sea, I saw MacMurrough descend, accompanied by multitudes of the Irish, and mounted on a horse without a saddle or saddle-bow, which cost him, it was reported, four hundred cows, so good and handsome an animal it was. This horse was fast, and, in speeding down the hill towards us, ran as swift as any stag, hare, or the swiftest beast I have ever seen. In his right hand MacMurrough bore a long spear, which, when near the spot where he was to meet the earl, he cast from him with much dexterity. The crowd that followed him then remained behind, while he advanced to meet the earl. The Irish king was tall of stature, well composed, strong and active; his countenance fell and ferocious to the eye-a man of deed.'
The conference lasted for some time, but as MacMurrough absolutely refused Richard's terms of unconditional surrender, it broke up without results. Gloucester returned to Dublin, and MacMurrough withdrew into his native fastnesses. Richard, on learning the failure of the conference, burst into a tempest of wrath, and swore by St Edward that he would never de. part out of Ireland until he had MacMurrough, living or dead, in his hands.
But as he was preparing, with his army reunited and reinforced, to march into the heart of MacMurrough's country, the terrible tidings came from England that Henry Bolingbroke had landed at Ravenspur, and that some of the most powerful of the English nobles had already joined his banner. Richard lost heart as he read this ominous writing on the wall. 'Good Lord !'he exclaimed, this man designs to deprive me of my kingdom,' but instead of acting with prompt decision, he delayed three weeks at Dublin, so that before he landed on the English coast his throne was lost and won.
MacMurrough now remained master of the situation. Throughout the reign of Henry IV. (1399-1413) he harried the English settlements, and upheld his authority within his own territories. In 1405 he sacked Carlow and Castledermot-two formidable English strongholdsand overran Wexford. In 1407 the lord-deputy
1407-1417) DEATH OF MACMURROUGH
raised a powerful army and resolved to carry the war into MacMurrough's country. MacMurrough, nothing daunted, once more met the invaders half way, and offered them battle near Callan, in the County Kilkenny.
The fight lasted from morning to night. At the outset MacMurrough carried everything before him. But English reinforcements then arrived, and, in the end, his army was completely routed.
The lord-deputy followed up this victory by marching on Callan, where he attacked MacMurrough's ally, O'Carrol, and destroyed his little force of 800 men-O'Carrol himself falling in the thick of the fight.
MacMurrough now remained quiet for some years, but in 1413 he attacked the English at Wexford, and inflicted a crushing defeat on them. Three years later they resolved to avenge this defeat, and to chastise the King of Leinster in his own territories. But MacMurrough did not await their coming. He poured his forces into Wexford, fought a pitched battle on the enemy's ground, and swept them within the walls of the town. This was his last achievement. He died in 1417 in the town of New Ross, having ruled Leinster for forty-two years, and dealt the severest blow which had yet been struck at English dominion in the island.
'He was a man,' say the Four Masters, who defended his own province against the English from his sixteenth to his sixtieth year; a man full of hospitality, knowledge and chivalry ; a