ON January 12, 1559, in the second year of the reign of Elizabeth, a Parliament was convened in Dublin to pass the Act of Supremacy ; that is to say, to establish Lutheranism in Ire-land, as had already been done in England, under the garb of Episcopalianism.
But the attempt was fated to encounter a more determined opposition in Dublin than it had in London.
Sir James Ware says, in reference to it : “At the very beginning of this Parliament, her Majestie’s well-wishers found that most of the nobility and Commonsthey were all English by blood or birthwere divided in opinion about the ecclesiastical government, which caused the Earl of Sussex (Lord Deputy) to dissolve them, and to go over to England to confer with her Majesty about the affairs of this kingdom.
” These differences were occasioned by the several alterations which had happened in ecclesiastical matters within the compass of twelve years.
” 1. King Henry VIII. held the ecclesiastical supremacy with the first-fruits and tenths, maintaining the seven sacraments with obits and mass for the living and the dead.
” 2. King Edward abolished the mass, authorizing the book of common prayers, and the consecration of the bread and wine in the English tongue, and establishing only two sacraments.
“3. Queen Mary, after King Edward’s decease, brought all back again to the Church of Rome, and the papal obedience.
” 4. Queen Elizabeth, on her first Parliament in England, took away the Pope’s supremacy, reserving the tenths and first-fruits to her heirs and successors. She put down the mass, and, for a general uniformity of worship in her dominions, as well in England as in Ireland, she established the book of common prayers, and forbade the use of popish ceremonies.”
Such is the very lucid sketch furnished by Ware of the changes which had taken place in religion in England within the brief space of twelve years.
The members of the Irish Parliament, although of English descent, could not so easily reconcile themselves to these rapid changes as their fellows in England had done ; in fact, they laid claim to a consciencea thing seemingly unknown to the English members, or, if known at all, of an exceedingly elastic and slippery nature. Here lay the difficulty : how was it to be overcome ? The conversation between Elizabeth and Sussex must have been of a very interesting character.
Returning with private instructions from the queen, the Earl of Sussex again convened the Parliament, which only consisted of the so called representatives of ten countiesDublin, Meath, West Meath, Louth, Kildare, Carlow, Kilkenny, Waterford, Tipperary, and Wexford. We see that the almost total extinction of the Kildare branch of the Geraldines had extended the English Pale. The other deputies were citizens and burgesses of those towns in which the royal authority predominated. ” With such an assembly,” says Leland, ” it is little wonder that, in de-spite of clamor and opposition, in a session of a few weeks, the whole ecclesiastical system of Queen Mary was entirely re-versed.” It is needless to remark that the people had nothing whatever to do with this reversal ; it merely looked on, or was already organizing for resistance.
Nevertheless, even in that assembly the queen’s agents were obliged to have recourse to fraud and deception, in order to carry her measures, and it cannot be said that they obtained a majority.
“The proceedings,” according to Mr. Haverty, “are involved in mystery, and the principal measures are believed to have been carried by means fraudulent and clandestine.” And, in a note, he adds : ” It is said that the Earl of Sussex, to calm the protests which were made in Parliament, when it was found that the law had been passed by a few members assembled privately, pledged himself solemnly that this statute would not be enforced generally on laymen during the reign of Elizabeth.”
Whatever the means adopted to introduce and carry out the new policy, it was certainly enacted that “the queen was the head of the Church of Ireland, the reformed worship was reëstablished as under Edward VI., and the book of common prayers, with further alterations, was reintroduced. A fine of twelve pence was imposed on every person who should not attend the new service, for each offence ; bishops were to be appointed only by the queen, and consecrated at her bidding. All officers and ministers, ecclesiastical or lay, were bound to take the oath of supremacy, under pain of forfeiture or incapacity ; and any one who maintained the spiritual supremacy of the Pope was to forfeit, for his first offence, all his estates, real and personal, or be imprisoned for one year, if not worth twenty pounds ; for the second offence, to be liable to praemunire; and for the third, to be guilty of high-treason.”
It was understood that those laws would be strictly enforced against all priests and friars, though left generally inoperative for lay people; and, with certain exceptions, mentioned by Dr. Curry, such was the rule observed. Thus, the reign of Elizabeth, which was such a cruel one for ecclesiastics, produced few martyrs among the laity in Ireland. And, for this reason, Sir James Ware is able to boast that, in all the “rebellions” of the Irish against Elizabeth, they falsely complained that their freedom of worship was curtailed, as though they could worship without either priests or churches.
But the. law was passed which made it “high-treason” to assert, three times in succession, the spiritual supremacy of the Pope ; and, henceforth, whoever should suffer in defence of that Catholic dogma, was to be a traitor and not a martyr.
The woman, seated on the English throne, speedily discovered that it was not so easy a matter to change the religion of the Irish as it had been to subvert completely that of her own people.
Deprived of religious houses and means of instruction, deprived of priests and churches, no communication with Rome save by stealth, the Irish still showed their oppressors that their consciences were free, and that no acts of Parliament or sentences of iniquitous tribunals could prevent their remaining Catholics.
By promising to deal as lightly with the laity as severely with the clergy, Elizabeth felt confident that the Catholic religion would soon perish in Ireland, and that, with the disappearance of the priests, the churches, sacraments, instruction, and open communion with Rome, would also disappear. To all seeming, her surmises were correct ; but the people were silently gathering and uniting together as they had never done before.
The whole of Elizabeth’s Irish policy may be comprised under two headings : 1. Her policy toward the nobles, apparently one of compromise and toleration, but really one of destruction, and so rightly did they understand it that they rose and called in foreign aid to their assistance ; 2. Her church policy, one of blood and total overthrow, which priests and people, now united forever in the same great cause, resisted from the outset, and finally defeated ; and the decrees of high-treason, which were mudded out with frightful barbarity, only served to confirm the Irish people in that unanimity which the wily dealings of Henry VIII. had originated.
I. With the nobility Elizabeth hoped to succeed by flattery, cunning, deceit, finally by treachery, and sowing dissension among them ; but all her efforts only served to knit them more firmly one to another, and to revive among them the true spirit of nationality and patriotism.
She did not state to them that her great object was to destroy the Catholic Church; nevertheless they should have felt and resented it from the beginning ; above all, ought they to have given expression to the contempt they entertained for the bait held out to them that the “laws ” would not be executed against them, but against Churchmen only. Had they been truly animated by the feelings which already possessed the hearts of the people, they would have scornfuly rejected the compromise proposed.
But she appeared to allow them perfect freedom in religious matters ; she subjected them to no oath, as in England ; the new laws were a dead letter as far as regarded the native lords, who lived under other laws and remained silent, as with the lords of the Pale. Yet nothing was of such importance in her eyes as the enforcement of those decrees ; consequently, she could only accomplish her designs by deceit. George Browne, the first Protestant Archbishop of Dublin, had predicted that the old Irish race and the Anglo-Irish chieftains would unite and combine with Continental powers in order to establish their independence. The whole policy of Elizabeth’s reign would give us reason to believe that she rightly understood the deep remark of the worldly heretic. Hence, although (or, rather, because) the north, Ulster, was at that time the stronghold of Catholic feeling, and the O’Neills and O’Donnells its leaders, she flatters them, has them brought to her court, pardons several “rebel-lions ” of Shane the Proud, and afterward loads with her favors the young Hugh of Tyrone, whom she kept at her own court. She would dazzle them by the splendor of that court, by the royal presents she so royally lavishes upon them, and by the prospect of greater favors still to come. Meanwhile on the south she turns a stern eye, and makes up her mind to destroy what is left of the Geraldine family. This was to be the beginning of the war of extermination, and the nobility which at the time was disunited became firmly consolidated shortly after.
It is needless to go into the glorious and romantic history of’ the Geraldine family. Elizabeth chose them for the first object of her attack, because they, as Anglo-Irish Catholics, were more odious in her eye than the pure Irish.
She knew that the then Earl of Desmond had escaped almost by miracle from the island with his younger brother John, when the rest of the noble stock had been butchered at Tyburn. She knew that Gerald, after many wanderings, had finally reached Rome, been educated under the care of his kinsman, Cardinal Pole, cherished as a dear son by the reigning Pontiff, had subsequently appeared at the Tuscan court of Cosmo de Medici ; that consequently, since his return to Ireland, he might be considered the chief of the Catholic party there, although, to save himself from attainder and hold possession of his immense wealth in Munster, he displayed the greatest reserve in all his actions, appeared to respect the orders of the queen in all things, even in her external policy against the Church ; so that if priests were entertained in his castles, it was always by stealth, and they were compelled to lead a life of total retirement.
But, despite all this outward show, Elizabeth knew that Gerald was really a sincere Catholic, that he considered himself a sovereign prince, and would consequently have small scruple about entering into a league against her, not only with the northern Irish chieftains, but even with the Catholic princes of the Continent. She resolved, therefore, to destroy him.
Sidney was sent to Ireland as lord-lieutenant. He travelled first through all Munster, and complained bitterly that the Irish chieftains were destroying the country by their divisions, though perfectly conscious that those divisions were secretly encouraged by England. He appeared to listen to the people, when they complained of their lords, and yet at the holding of assizes he hanged this same people on the flimsiest pretexts, and had them executed wholesale. In one of his dispatches to the home government, he makes complacent allusion to the countless executions which accompanied his triumphant progress through Munster : ” I wrote not,” he says, ” the name of each particular varlet that has died since I arrived, as well by the ordinary course of the law, and the martial law, as flat fighting with them, when they would take food without the good-will of the giver ; for I think it is no stuff worthy the loading of my letters with ; but I do assure you, the number of them is great, and some of the best, and the rest tremble. For the most part they fight for their dinner, and many of them lose their heads before they are served with supper. Down they go in every corner, and down they shall go, God willing.”(Sidney’s Dispatches, Br. M.)
This was the man who announced himself as the avenger of the people on their rulers. He complained chiefly of Gerald of Desmond, and, without any pretext, summoned him with his brother John, carried them prisoners to Dublin, and afterward sent them to the Tower of London. The shanachy of the family relates that then, and then only, Gerald sent a private message to his kinsmen and retainers, appointing his cousin James, son of Maurice, known as James Fitzmaurice, the head and leader in his family during his own absence.
“For James,” says the shanachy, “was well known for his attachment to the ancient faith, no less than for his valor and chivalry, and gladly did the people of old Desmond receive these commands, and inviolable was their attachment to him who was now their appointed chieftain.”
James began directly to organize the memorable ” Geraldine League,” upon the fortunes of which, for years, the attention of Christendom was fixed.
This, the first open treaty of Irish lords with the Pope, as a sovereign prince, and with the King of Spain, calls for a few remarks on the right of the Irish to declare open war with England, and choose their own friends and allies, without being rebels.
The English were at this very time so conscious of the weakness of their title to the sovereignty of Ireland, that they were continually striving to prop up their claims by the most absurd pretensions.
In the posthumous act of attainder against Shane O’Neill in the Irish Parliament of 1569, Elizabeth’s ministers affected to trace her title to the realm of Ireland back to a period anterior to the Milesian race of kings. They invented a ridiculous story of a “King Gurmondus,” son to the noble King Belau of Great Britain, who was lord of Bayou in Spainthey probably meant Bayonne in Franceas were many of his successors down to the time of Henry II:, who possessed the island after the “comeing of Irishmen into the saine lande.”(Harvertty, Irish Statutes, 2 Eliz., sess. 3, cap. i.)
These learned men who flourished in the golden reign of Elizabeth must have thought the Irish very easily imposed upon if they imagined they could give ear to such a fabrication, at a time when each great family had its own chronicler to trace its pedigree back to the very source of the race of Miledh.
The title of conquest, at that time a valid one in all countries, had no value with the Irish who never had been and never admitted themselves to have been conquered. Had they not preserved their own laws, customs, language, local governments ? Had the English ever even attempted to subject them to their laws ? They had openly refused to grant their pretended benefits to those few “degenerate Irishmen” who in sheer despair had applied for them. This policy of separation was adopted by England with the view of “rooting out” the Irish. The English Government could therefore only accept the natural consequence of such a systemthat the Irish race should be left to itself, in the full enjoyment of its own laws and local governments.
The very policy of Henry VIII. and Elizabeth, as displayed in their attempt to break down the clans by favoring ” well-disposed Irishmen” and setting them up, by fraudulent elections, as chiefs of the various septs, proves that the English themselves admitted the clans to be real nationsnationsas they were called at the time by Irish chroniclers and by English writers even. It was an acknowledgment of the plain fact that the natives possessed and exercised their own laws of succession and election, their own government and autonomy.
The disappearance of the Ard-Righ, who had held the titular power over the whole country, is no proof that the Irish possessed no government : for they themselves had refused for several centuries to acknowledge his power. The island was split up into several small independent states, each with the right of levying war, and making peace and alliance. Gillapatrick, of Ossory, dispatched his ambassador to Henry VIII. to announce that if he, the English king, did not prevent his deputy, Rufus Pierce, of Dublin, from annoying the clans of Ossory, Gillapatrick would, in self defence, declare war against the King of England. And the imperious Henry Tudor, instead of laughing at the threat of the chieftain, was shrewd enough to recognize its significance, and prevented it being carried into execution by admitting the cause as valid, and submitting the conduct of his deputy to an investigation.
Moreover, the principles by which Christendom had been ruled for centuries, were just then being broken up by the ad-vent of Protestantism ; and novel theories were being introduced for the government of modern nations. What were the old principles, and what the new ; and how stood Ireland with respect to each.
In the old organization of Christendom, the key-stone of the whole political edifice was the papacy. Up to the sixteenth century, the Sovereign Pontiff had been acknowledged by all Christian nations as supreme arbiter in international questions, and if England did possess any shadow of authority over Ireland, it was owing to former decisions of popes, who, being misinformed, had allowed the Anglo Norman kings to establish their power in the island. Whatever may be thought of the bull of Adrian IV., this much is certain : we do not pretend to solve that vexed historical problem.
But, by rebelling against Rome, by rejecting the title of the Pope, England threw away even that claim, and by the bull of excommunication, issued against Elizabeth, the Irish were re-leased from their allegiance to her, supposing that such allegiance had existed, solely built upon this claim.
So well was this understood at the time, that the Roman Pontiffs, as rulers of the Papal States, the Emperors of Germany, as heads of the German Empire, and the Kings of Spain and France, always covertly and sometimes openly received the envoys of O’Neill, Desmond, and O’Donnell, and openly dispatched troops and fleets to assist the Irish in their struggle for their de facto independence.
All this was in perfect accordance, not merely with the authority which Catholic powers still recognized in the Sovereign Pontiff, but even with the new order of things which Protestant-ism had introduced into Western Europe, and which England, as henceforth a leading Protestant power, had accepted and eagerly embraced. By the rejection of the supreme arbitration of the Popes, on the part of the new heretics, Europe lost its unity as Christendom, and naturally formed itself into two leagues, the Catholic and the Protestant. An oppressed Catholic nationality, above all a weak and powerless one, had therefore the right of appeal to the great Catholic powers for help against oppression. And the pretension of England to the possession of Ireland was the very essence of oppression and tyranny in itself, doubly aggravated by the fact of an apostate and vicious king or queen making it treason for a people, utterly separate and distinct from theirs, to hold fast to its ancient and revered religion.
Who can say, then, that Gregory VIII. was guilty of injustice and of abetting rebellion when, in 1578, he furnished James Fitzmaurice, the great Geraldine, with a fleet and army to fight against Elizabeth? The authority greatest in Catholic eyes, and most worthy of respect in the eyes of all impartial menthe Popethus endorsed the patent fact that Ireland was an independent nation, and could wage war against her oppressors. Here we have a stand-point from which to argue the question for future times.
The rash or, perhaps, treacherous share taken by a few Irish chieftains, in the schismatical and heretical as well as unpatriotic decrees of the Parliament of 1541, and in the subsequent ones of 1549, could compromise the Irish nation in nowise, inasmuch as the people, being still even in legal enjoyment of their own government, their chieftains possessed no authority to decide on such questions without the full concurrence of their clans, and these had already pronounced, clearly enough and unmistakably; on the return of their lords from their title-hunting expedition in England.
All the chroniclers of the time agree that “the people” was invariably sound in faith, siding with the chieftains wherever they rose in opposition to oppressive decrees, abandoning them when they showed signs of wavering, even ; but, above all, when they ranged themselves with the oppressors of the Church. The English Protestant writers of the period confirm this honorable testimony of the Irish bards, by constantly accusing the natives of a ” rebellious ” spirit.
The history of the Geraldine struggle is known to all readers of Irish history, and does not enter into the scope of these pages. We have, however, to consider the foreign aid which the chieftains received, from Spain chiefly, and the causes of these failures, which at first would seem to argue a lack of firmness or the part of the Irish themselves. During the Geraldine wars, and later on in what is called the rebellion of Hugh O’Neill and Hugh O’Donnell, the King of Spain sent vessels and troops to the assistance of the Irish. All these expeditions failed, and the destruction of the natives was far greater than it might other-wise have been, in consequence of the greater number of English troops sent to Ireland to face the expected Spanish invasion.
The same ill success attended the French fleet and army dispatched to Limerick by Louis XIV. to assist James II., and, later still, the large fleet and well-appointed troops sent by the French Convention to the aid of the ” United Irishmen,” in 1798.
In like manner, the Vendéans, on the other side, those French “rebels” against the Convention itself, received their death-blow in consequence of the English who were sent to their succor at Quiberon.
It seems, indeed, a universal historic law that, when a nation or a party in a nation struggles against another, the almost in-variable consequence of foreign aid is failure; but no conclusion can be deduced from that fact of lack of bravery, steadfastness, even ultimate success, on the part of those who rise in arms against oppression. Of the many causes which may be assigned to that apparently strange law of history, the chief are :
1. The difficulty of effecting a joint and simultaneous effort between the insurgent forces and the distant friendly power. Help comes either too soon or too late, or lands on a point of the coast where aid is worse than useless, and where it only throws confusion into the ranks of the struggling native forces, whose plans are thus all disarranged, disconcerted, and thrown into confusion. Add to this the dangers of the sea, the possibly insufficient knowledge of the soundings and of the nature of the coast, the differences of spirit, customs, and language, of the two coalescing forces, and it may be easily concluded that the chances of success, as opposed to those of failure, are but scanty.
2. The forces against which the coalition is made are always immeasurably increased for the very purpose of meeting it, its purport being always known beforehand. In the case under consideration, it were easy to show that Elizabeth was prompted by the fear of Spain to be speedy in crushing the attempted ” rebellions” in the south and north. Historians have made a computation of the troops dispatched from England by the queen, and of the treasure spent in these expeditions during her reign, and the result is astonishing for the times. In fact, the whole strength of England was brought into requisition for the purpose of overpowering Ireland.
In our own days, the successful insurrection of Greece against Turkey seems at variance with these considerations. But the independence of the Greeks was brought about rather by the unanimous voice of Europe coercing Turkey than by the few troops sent from France, or by the few English or Poles who volunteered their aid to the insurgents.
The remarks we have made may be further corroborated by the reflection that the successful risings of oppressed nationalities, recorded in modern history, were wholly effected by the unaided forces of the insurgents. Thus, the seven cantons of Switzerland succeeded against Austria, the Venetian Republic against the barbarians of the North, the Portuguese in the Braganza revolution against Spain, and the United Provinces of the Low Countries against Spain and Germany.
The only historical instance which may contravene this general rule is found in the Revolution of the United States of America, where the French cooperation was timely and of real use, chiefly because the foreign aid was placed entirely under the control and at the command of the supreme head of the colonists, General Washington.
These few words suffice for our purpose.
The policy of Elizabeth toward the Irish nobility is well known to our readers. The fate of the house of Desmond was, in her mind, sealed from the beginning. It is now an ascertained fact that she drove the great earl into rebellion, who, for a long time, refused openly to avow his approbation of the con-federates’ schemes, and even seemed at first to cooperate with the queen’s forces in opposition to them. It was only after his cousin Fitzmaurice and his brother John had been almost ruined that, convinced of the determination of the English Government to seize and occupy Munster with his five or six millions of acres, he boldly stood up for his faith and his country, and perished in the attempt.
It was then that ” Protestant plantations” began in Ireland. The confiscated estates of Desmondwhich, in reality, did not belong to him but to his tribewere handed over to companies of ” planters out of Devonshire, Dorsetshire, and Somersetshire, out of Lancashire and Cheshire, organized for defence and to be supported by standing forces.”(Prendergast.)
Then the work set on foot by Henry II. in favor of Strong-bow, De Lacy, De Courcy, and others, was resumed, after an interval of four hundred years, to be carried through to the end ; that is to say, to the complete pauperizing of the native race.
Among the “undertakers” and “planters ” introduced into Munster by Elizabeth, a word may not be out of place on Edmund Spenser and Walter Raleigh, the first a great poet, the second a great warrior and courtier. They both united in advocating the extermination of the native race, a policy which Henry VIII. was too high-minded to accept, and Elizabeth too great a despiser of “the people” to notice. To Henry and Elizabeth Tudor the people was nothing ; the nobility every thing. Spenser, Raleigh, and other Englishmen of note, who came into daily contact with the nation, saw very well that account should be taken of it, and thought, as Sir John Davies had thought before them, that it ought to be ” rooted out.” That great question of the Irish people was assuming vaster proportions every day ; the people was soon to show itself in all its strength and reality, to be crushed out apparently by Cromwell, but really to be pre-served by Providence for a future age, now at hand today.
Spenser and Raleigh, being gifted with keener foresight than most of their countrymen, were for the entire destruction of the people, thinking, as did many French revolutionists of our own days, that ” only the dead never come back.”
The author of the ” Faerie Queene,” who had taken an active part in the horrible butcheries of the Geraldine war, when all the Irish of Munster were indiscriminately slaughtered, insists that a similar policy should be adopted for the whole island. In his work ” On the State of Ireland,” he asks for “large masses of troops to tread down all that standeth before them on foot, and lay on the ground all the stiff-necked people of that land.” He urges that the war be carried on not only in the summer but in the winter ; ” for then, the trees are bare and naked, which use both to hold and house the kerne; the ground is cold and wet, which useth to be his bedding ; the air is sharp and bitter, to blow through his naked sides and legs ; the kine are barren and without milk, which useth to be his food, besides being all with calf (for the most part), they will through much chasing and driving cast all their calf, and lose all their milk, which should relieve him in the next summer.”
Spenser here employs his splendid imagination to present gloatingly such details as the most effective means for the destruction of the hated race. All he demands is, that ” the end should be very short,” and he gives us an example of the effectiveness and beauty of his system “in the late wars in Munster.” For, “notwithstanding that the same” (Munster) “was a most rich and plentiful country, full of corne and cattle, . . . yet ere one yeare and a half they” (the Irish) “were brought to such wretchednesse as that any stony heart would have rued the same. Out of every corner of woods and glynnes, they came creeping forthe upon their hands, for their legges could not beare them ; they looked like anatomies of death ; they spoke like ghosts crying out of their graves … . that in short space there were none almost left, and a most populous and plentiful country suddenly left void of man and beast.”
Such is a picture, horribly graphic, of the state to which Munster had been reduced by the policy of England as carried out by a Gilbert, a Peter Carew, and a Cosby ; and to this pass the ” gentle” Spenser would have wished to see the whole country come.
Even Mr. Fronde is compelled to denounce in scathing terms the monsters employed by the queen, and his facts are all de-rived, he tells us, from existing ” state papers.”
Writing of the end of the Geraldine war, he says : ” The English nation was at that time shuddering over the atrocities of the Duke of Alva. The children in the nurseries were being inflamed to patriotic rage and madness by the tales of Spanish tyranny. Yet, Alva’s bloody sword never touched the young, defenceless, or those whose sex even dogs can recognize and respect.
” Sir Peter Carew has been seen murdering women and children, and babies that had scarcely left the breast ; but Sir Peter Carew was not called on to answer for his conduct, and remained in favor with the deputy. Gilbert, who was left in command at Kilnallock, was illustrating yet more signally the same tendency.” Nor “was Gilbert a bad man. As time went on, he passed for a brave and chivalrous gentleman, not the least distinguished in that high band of adventurers who carried the English flag into the western hemisphere . . . . above all, a man of ‘ special piety.’ He regarded himself as dealing rather with savage beasts than with human beings (in Ireland), and, when he tracked them to their dens, he strangled the cubs, and rooted out the entire brood.
” The Gilbert method of treatment has this disadvantage, that it must be carried out to the last extremity, or it ought not to be tried at all. The dead do not come back ; and if the mothers and babies are slaughtered with the men, the race gives no further trouble ; but the work must be done thoroughly ; partial and fitful cruelty lays up only a long debt of deserved and ever-deepening hate.
“In justice to the English soldiers, however, it must be said that it was no fault of theirs if any Irish child of that generation was allowed to live to manhood.”(Hist. of Engl., vol. x., p. 507.)
These Munster horrors occurred directly after the defeat of the Irish at Kinsale. Cromwell, therefore, in the atrocities which will come under our notice, only followed out the policy of the ” Virgin Queen.” And it is but too evident that the English of 1598 were the fathers or grandfathers of those of 1650. Both were inaugurating a system of warfare which had never been adopted before, even among pagans, unless by the Tartar troops under Genghis Khan ; a system which in future ages should shape the policy, which was followed, for a short time, by the French Convention in la Vendée.
Raleigh, as well as Spenser, seems to have been a vigorous advocate of this system. It is true that his sole appearance on the scene was on the occasion of the surrender of Smerwick by the Spanish garrison ; but the Saxon spirit of the man was displayed in his execution of Lord Grey’s orders, who, after, according to all the Irish accounts, promising their lives to the Spaniards, had them executed ; and Raleigh appears to have directed that execution, whereby eight hundred prisoners of war were cruelly butchered and flung over the rocks in the sea. From that time out the phrase ” Grey’s faith ” (Graia fides) became a proverb with the Irish.)
After having succeeded in crushing Desmond and “planting” Munster, the attention of Elizabeth was directed to the O’Neills and O’Donnells of Ulster. That thrilling history is well known. It is enough to say that O’Donnell from his youth was designedly exasperated by ill-treatment and imprisonment ; and that as soon as O’Neill, who had been treated with the greatest apparent kindness by the queen, that he might become a queen’s man, showed that he was still an Irishman and a lover of his country, he was marked out as a victim, and all the troops and treasures of England were poured out lavishly to crush him and destroy the royal races of the north.
In that gigantic struggle one feature is remarkablethat, whenever the English Government felt obliged to come to terms with the last asserters of Irish independence, the first condition invariably laid down by O’Neill and O’Donnell was the free exercise of the Catholic religion. For we must not lose sight of the well-ascertained fact that the English queen, who at the very commencement of her reign had had her spiritual supremacy acknowledged by the Irish Parliament under pain of forfeiture, præmunire, and high-treason, insisted all along on the binding obligation of this title ; and though at first she had secretly promised that this law should not be enforced against the laity, she showed by all her measures that its observance was of paramount importance in her eyes.
Had the Irish followed the English as a nation, and accepted Protestantism, Elizabeth would scarcely have made war upon them, nor introduced her “plantations.” All along the Irish were “traitors” and ” rebels” simply because they chose to re-main Catholics, and McGeoghegan has well remarked that, “not-withstanding the severe laws enacted by Henry VIII., Edward VI., and Elizabeth, down to James I., it is a well-established truth that, during that period, the number of Irishmen who em-braced the ‘reformed religion’ did not amount to sixty in a country which at the time contained two millions of souls.” And McGeoghegan might have added that, of these sixty, not one belonged to the people ; they were all native chieftains who said their religion in order to hold their estates or receive favors from the queen.
Sir James Ware is bold enough to say that, in all her dealings with the Irish nobility, Elizabeth never mentioned religion, and their right of practising it as they wished never came into the question. She certainly never subjected them to any oath, as was the case in England. Technically speaking, this statement seems correct. Yet it is undeniable that Elizabeth allowed no Catholic bishops or priests to remain in the island; permitted the Irish to have none but Protestant school-teachers for their children ; bestowed all their churches on heretical ministers ; closed, one by one, all the buildings which Catholics used for their worship, as soon as their existence became known to the police ; in fact obliged them to practise Protestantism or no religion at all.
In the eyes of Elizabeth a Catholic was a “rebel.” Whoever was executed for religion during her reign was executed for ” rebellion.” The Roman emperors who persecuted the Church during the first three centuries, might have advanced the same pretences And indeed the early Christians were said to be tortured and executed for their ” violation of the laws of the empire.”
This point will come more clearly before us in considering the second phase of the policy of Elizabeth, her direct interference with the Church.
II. If the policy of England’s queen had been one of treachery and deceit toward the nobility, toward the Church it was avowedly one of blood and destruction.
Well-intentioned and otherwise well-informed writers, among them Mr. Prendergast, seem to consider that the main object of the atrocious proceedings we now proceed to glance at was ” greed,” and that the English Government merely connived at the covetous desires of adventurers and undertakers, who wished to destroy the Irish and occupy their lands ; for, as Spenser says :
Sure it was a most beautiful and sweete country as any under heaven, being stored throughout with many goodly rivers, replenished with all sorts of fish most abundantly ; sprinkled with many very sweete islands, and goodly lakes like little inland seas ; adorned with goodly woods ; also full of very good ports and havens opening upon England as inviting us to come into them.”
Such, according to those writers, was the policy of England from the first landing of Strongbow on the shores of Erin, and even during the preceding four centuries, when both races were Catholic, and the conversion of the natives to Protestantism could not enter the thoughts of the invaders.
This, to a certain extent, is true. Still, it seems very doubtful to us that Elizabeth should have undertaken so many wars in Ireland, which lasted through her whole reign, and on which she employed all the strength and resources of England, merely to please a certain number of nobles who wished to find foreign ostates whereon to settle their numerous offspring.
The chief importance, in her eyes, of the conquest was clearly to establish her spiritual superiority in that part of her dominions. She would have left the native nobles at peace, and even conferred on them her choicest favors, had they only consented, as English subjects, to break with Rome. Rome had excommunicated her ; Pius V. had released her subjects from their allegiance because of her heresy, and Ireland did not reject the bull of the Pope. This in her eyes constituted the great and unpardonable offence of the Irish. And that, for her, the whole question bore a religious character, will appear more clearly from her conduct toward the Catholic Church throughout her reign. Into this part of our subject the examination of the step taken by Pius V. naturally enters, and, in examining it, we shall see whether, and how far, the Irish can be called rebels and “traitors.”
In his history of the Reformation, Dr. Ileylin says of Elizabeth : ” She knew full well that her legitimation and the Pope’s supremacy could not stand together, and she could not possibly maintain the one without discarding the other.” This is perfectly true, and furnishes us with the key to all her church measures.
She pretended to be a Catholic during Mary’s reign ; but it was merely pretence. To persevere in Catholicity required of her the sacrifice of her political aspirations ; for the Church could not admit of her legitimacy, and consequently her title to the crown of England. Hence, upon the death of Mary Tudor, the Queen of Scots immediately assumed the title of Queen of England ; and although the Pope, then Pius IV., did not immediately declare himself in favor of Mary Stuart, but reserved his decision for a future period, nevertheless, the view of the case adopted by the Pontiff could not be mistaken. Elizabeth’s legitimacy, or, as Heylin has it, “legitimation and the Pope’s supremacy could not stand together. ” No course was left open to her, then, than to reject the pontifical authority, and establish her own in her dominions, as she did not possess faith enough to set her soul above a crown ; and the success of her father, Henry VIII., and of her half-brother, Edward VI., encouraged her in this step. This fully explains her policy. It became a principle with her that, to accept the Pope’s supremacy in spirituals, was to deny her legitimacy, and consequently to be guilty of treason against her. This made the position of Catholics in England and Ireland a most trying one. But their moral duty was clear enough, and every other obligation had to give way before that. In the persecution which followed they were certainly martyrs to their duty and their religion.
That the question of the succession in England was an open one, must be admitted by every candid man. Who was the Legitimate Queen of England at the death of Mary Tudor ? The Queen of Scots assumed the title, and, as the legitimate off-spring of the sister of Henry VIII., she had the right to it as the nearest direct descendant in the event of Elizabeth’s pretensions not being admitted by the nation. The nation at the time was in fact, though not in right, the nobles, who enriched themselves at the expense of the Church, and were therefore deeply interested in the exclusion of Catholic principles. A Parliament composed of the nobles had already acknowledged Elizabeth to the exclusion of the Queen of Scots, and the former decision was reaffirmed as against a ” female pretender” supported by a foreign power, namely, France.
England, that is to say, the corrupt nobility of the kingdom, by taking upon itself that decision, refused to submit the question to the arbitration of the Pope ; and thus, for the first time, the principles which had guided Christendom for eight hundred years, were discarded. Yet, under Mary, the Catholic Church had been declared the Church of the state; at her death, no change took place ; the mass of the people was still Catholic. It took Elizabeth her whole reign to make the English a thoroughly Protestant people. The great mass of the nation came consequently then, even legally, under the law of mediaeval times, which surrendered the decision of such cases into the hands of the Roman Pontiff.
Again, when we reflect that our present object is the consideration of who was the legitimate Queen of Ireland, the question becomes clearer and simpler still. The supremacy of Henry VIII: had never been acknowledged in the island, even by those who had subscribed to the decrees of the Parliament of 1541 and 1569. The Irish chieftains had not only never assented, but had always preserved their independence in all, save the suzerainty of the English monarchs, and they were at the time, without exception, Catholics. For them, therefore, the Pope was the expounder of the law of succession to the throne, as, up to that time, he had been generally recognized in Europe. Elizabeth, consequently, as an acknowledged illegitimate child, could not become a legitimate queen without a positive declaration and election by the true representatives of the people, approved by the Pope. Her assumption, then, of the supreme government was a mere usurpation. The theory of governments de facto being obeyed as quasi-legitimate had not yet been mooted among lawyers and theologians. With respect to the whole question, there can be no doubt as to the conclusion at which any able constitutional jurist of our days would arrive.
Could usurped rights such as these invest Elizabeth with authority to declare herself paramount not only in political but also in religious matters ? And, because she was called queen, can it be considered treason for an Irishman to believe in the spiritual supremacy of the Pope? Yet, unless we look upon as martyrs those who died on the rack and the gibbet in Ireland during her reign, because they refused to admit in a woman the title of Vicar of Christ, to such decision must we come.
The policy of the English queen toward Catholic bishops, priests, and monks, presents the question in a still stronger light. Its chief feature will now come before us, and will show how all of these suffered for Christ. We say all, because not only those are included in the category who held aloof from politics and confined themselves to the exercise of their spiritual functions, but those also who, at the bidding of the Pope, or following the natural promptings of their own inclinations, favored the so-called rebellion of the Geraldine and of the Ulster chieftains. The lives and death of both are now well known, and to both we award the title of heroes and Christian martyrs.
As it would be too long to present here a complete picture of those events, and trace the biography of many of those who suffered persecution at that time, we content ourselves with two faithful representatives of the classes above mentionedRichard Creagh, Archbishop of Armagh, and Dr. Hurley, Archbishop of Cashel. The case of the great Oliver Plunkett, who suffered under Charles II., and who was the victim of the entire English nation, is beyond our present discussion.
The biography of the first of these has been written by several authors, who, agreeing as to the main facts of his history, differ only in their chronology. Dr. Roothe’s account is the longest of all, and is intricate, and subject to some confusion with regard to dates ; but a sketch of that life, which appeared in the Rambler of April, 1853, is the most consistent and easily reconciled with the well-known facts of the general history of the period, and therefore we follow it :
Richard Creagh, proposed for the See of Armagh by the nuncio, David Wolfe, arrived at Limerick in the August of 1560, at the very beginning of the reign of Elizabeth. Pius IV., who was then Pontiff, had not come to any conclusion respecting the sovereignty of England, and did not openly declare himself in favor of the right of Mary Stuart to the crown. The Pope, not having given any positive injunctions to Archbishop Creagh, with regard to his political conduct, the latter was left free to follow the dictates of his conscience. He came only with a letter, to Shane O’Neill, who, at the time, was almost independent in Ulster.
Not only did the archbishop not take any part in the political measures of the Ulster chieftain, who was often at war with Elizabeth, but he soon came to a disagreement with him on purely conscientious grounds, and finally excommunicated him. In the midst of the many difficulties which surrounded him, he resolved to inculcate peace and loyalty to Elizabeth throughout Ulster, asking of Shane only one favor, that of founding colleges and schools, and thinking that, by remaining loyal to the queen, he might obtain her assistance in founding a university. The good prelate little knew the character of the woman with whom he had to deal, imagining probably that the decree of her spiritual supremacy would remain a dead letter for the priesthood, as had been falsely promised to the laity.
But he was not left long to indulge in these delusions ; for, in the act of celebrating mass in a monastery of his diocese, he was betrayed by some informer, and was arrested by a troop of soldiers, who conducted him before the government authorities, by whom he was sent to London and confined in the Tower on January 18, 1565. He was there several times interrogated by Cecil and the Recorder of London, who could easily ascertain that the prelate was altogether guiltless of political intrigue.
He escaped miraculously, passed through Louvain, went to Spain, at the time at peace with England, and, wishing to return to Ireland, wrote, through the Spanish ambassador, to Leicester, then all-powerful with the queen, to protest beforehand that, if the Pope should order him to return to his diocese, he intended only to render to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s. Even then, after his prison experience of several months, he thought that, if he could persuade Elizabeth that he was truly loyal to her, she would forgive him his Catholicity.
Receiving no answer, he set sail for his country, where he landed in August, 1566, and shortly after wrote to Sir Henry Sidney, then lord-deputy, in the very terms he had used with Leicester, and proposing in addition to use his efforts in inducing Shane O’Neill to conclude peace.
What Sidney and his masters in London, Cecil and Leicester, must have thought of the simplicity of this good man, it is impossible to say. They condescended to return no answer to his more than straightforward communication, save the short verbal reply concerning O’Neill : ” We have given forth speach of his extermination by war.”
The good prelate, after having so clearly defined his position, thought he might safely follow the dictates of his conscience, and govern his flock in peace ; but he was soon taken prisoner, in April, 1567, by O’Shaughnessy, who received a special letter of thanks from Elizabeth for his services on this occasion.
By order of the queen, he was tried in Dublin ; but, so clear was the case before them, that even a Protestant jury could not convict him. The honest Dublin jurors were therefore cast into prison and heavily fined, while the prelate was once again transferred to London, whence he a second time escaped by the connivance of his jailor.
Retaken in 1567, he was handed over to the queen’s officers, under a pledge that his life would be spared. And, in consequence of this pledge alone, was he never brought to trial, but kept a close prisoner in the Tower for eighteen years, until in 1585 he was, according to all reliable accounts, deliberately poisoned.
This simple narrative certainly proves that in Elizabeth’s eyes the mere sustaining the Pope’s spiritual supremacy was treason, and every Catholic consequently, because Catholic, a traitor deserving death.
True, the Irish prelates, monks, and people, might have imitated the majority of the English nobles and people in accepting the new dogma. In that case, they would have become truly loyal and dutiful subjects, and been admitted to all the rights of citizenship ; the nobles would have retained possession of their estates, the gentry obtained seats in the Irish Parliament ; while the common people, renouncing clanship, absurd old traditions, the memory of their ancestors, together with their obedience to the See of Rome, would not have been excluded from the benefits of education ; would have been allowed to engage in trades and manufactures ; would have been permitted to keep their land, or hold it by long leases ; would have enjoyed the privilege of dwelling in walled towns and cities, if they felt no inclination for agriculture. They would have become no doubt ” a highly-prosperous” nation, as the English and Scotch of our days have become, partakers of all the advantages of the glorious British Constitution, cultivating the fields of their ancestors, and converting their beautiful island into a paradise more enchanting than the rich meadows and wheat-fields of England itself.
On the other hand, they would have obtained all those temporal advantages at the expense of their faith, which no one had a right to take from them ; in their opinion, and in that of mill-ions of their fellow-Catholics, they would have forfeited their right to heaven, and the Irish have always been unreasonable enough to prefer heaven to earth. They have preferred, as the holy men of old of whom St. Paul speaks, ” to be stoned, cut asunder, tempted, put to death by the sword, to wander about in sheep-skins, in goat-skins ; being in want, distressed, afflicted, of’ whom the world was not worthy ; wandering in deserts, in mountains, in dens, and in the caves of the earth, being approved by the testimony of faith : ” that is to say, having the testimony of their conscience and the approval of God, and considering this better than worldly prosperity and earthly happiness.
Turning now to those prelates, monks, and priests, who during Elizabeth’s reign took part in Irish politics against the queen, can we on that account deny them the title of martyrs to their faith ?
Dr. Hurley, Archbishop of Cashel, whose memoirs were published by Miles O’Reilly, may be taken as a type of this class. Suppose, as well grounded, although never proved, the suspicion of the English Government with regard to his political mission. Prelates and priests, generally speaking, were put to death under Elizabeth, or confined to dungeons on mere suspicion, and, as we have seen in the case of the Archbishop of Armagh, even clear proofs of their innocence would not save them.
On his father’s side, Dr. Hurley was naturally in the interest of James Geraldine, Earl of Desmond ; and, on his mother’s, he belonged to the royal family of O’Briens of Munster. Consecrated Archbishop of Cashel at Rome in 1580, under Gregory XIII., during the Geraldine rebellion, he was compelled to use the utmost precaution in entering Ireland. The police of Elizabeth was particularly active at that time in hunting up priests and monks throughout the whole island, but particularly in the south.
The archbishop escaped all these dangers, and he avoided the certain denunciation of Walter Baal, the Mayor of Dublin probably, who was then actually persecuting his mother, Dame Eleanor Birmingham; he fled to the castle of Thomas Fleming, who concealed him in a secret chamber in his house and treated him as a friend. But when everybody thought the danger past, and that it was no longer imprudent for him to mix in the society of the castle, he was suspected by an Anglo-Irishman of the naine of Dillon, denounced by him, and finally surrendered by Thomas Fleming, and conveyed to Dublin, where proceedings were set on foot against him by the Irish Council and the queen’s ministers in England.
His imprisonment was coincident with the suppression of the rising in Munster, and the Earl of Desmond was beginning that frightful outlaw-life which only ended with his miserable death.
The object of the archbishop’s accusers was to connect him with the designs of Rome and the Munster insurrection; and the state papers preserved in London have disclosed to us the correspondence between Adam Loftus, the Protestant Archbishop of Dublin, on the one side, and Walsingham and Cecil on the other.
The only proofs of the Archbishop’s having joined the south-ern confederacy were: 1. Suspicions, as he was consecrated in Rome about the time of the sailing of the expedition under James Fitzmaurice; 2. The information of a certain Christopher Barnwell, then in jail, who was promised his life if he could furnish proofs enough to convict the prelate. The value of the testimony of an ” informer ” under such circumstances is proverbial ; yet all Barnwell could allege was, that “he was present at a conversation in Rome between Dr. Hurley and Cardinal Comensis, the Pope’s secretary, and the result of the whole conversation was, “that the doctor did not know nor believe that the Earl of Kildare had joined the rebellion of Fitzmaurice and Desmond, and he was rebuked by the cardinal for not believing it.”
This was considered overwhelming proof against him, in spite of his positive denial. Torture was applied, but the most awful sufferings could not wring from him the acknowledgment of having taken part in the conspiracy. Yet Loftus and Wallop were of opinion that he was a “rebel” and ought to be put to death. The only difficulty, which presented itself to the “Lords Justices” of Ireland was, that there was no statute in Ireland against “traitors” who had plotted beyond the seas, and they asked that the archbishop should either be sent to be tried in England, or tried in Ireland by martial law, which would screen them from responsibility.
This last favor was granted them; and the holy archbishop was taken from prison at early dawn, on a Friday, either in May or June, 1584. Ile was barbarously hanged in a withey (withe), calling on God, and forgiving his torturers with all his heart.
Our purpose is not to inveigh against this judicial murder, and, by further details, increase the horror which every honest man must feel at the narrative of such atrocious proceedings. We will suppose, on the contrary, that the cooperation of the Archbishop of Cashel with Fitzmaurice and Desmond, and even with the Pope and King of Spain, had been clearly provedas it is certain that, if not in this case, at least in some others, during the reign of Elizabeth, the bishops or priests accused had really taken part in the attempt of the Irish to free themselves from such tyrannyand insist that, even then, the murdered Catholic ecclesiastics really died for their religion, and could be called “rebels” in no sense whatever.
First, the question might arise as to how far the Irish were subject to the English crown. We have seen how, a few years before, Gillapatrick, of Ossory, asserted his right of making war on England, when he felt sufficient provocation. Under Elizabeth the case was still clearer, at least for Catholics, after the excommunication of the queen by Pius V. As we have seen, the chief title of England to Ireland rested on two pretended papal bulls : another Pope could and did recall the grant, which had been founded on misrepresentation. Up to that time, there had been no real subjection by conquest, outside of the Pale, which formed but an insignificant part of the island.
Under such circumstances, it must at least be admitted that a radically and clearly unjust law, imposed by a foreign though perhaps suzerain power, could be justly resisted by force of arms. And such was the case in Ireland. The Queen of Englandthe Irish Parliament of 1539 had no other authority than that of the queen, and represented no part of the peoplehad made it rebellion for the Irish to remain faithful to their religion. What could prevent the Irish from resisting such pretension, even at the cost of effusion of blood ? The early Christians, under the Roman Empire, it is true, never rose in arms against the bloody edicts of the Caesar’s or the Antonines ; but the cases are not parallel.
Suppose that Greece or Asia Minor had never succumbed to the Roman power, and had become entirely Christian : no one would refuse to admit their right to offer armed resistance to the extension of the edicts of persecution into their territory On the contrary, it would have been their duty to do so : and every one of their inhabitants, who was taken and executed as a rebel, would have been crowned with the martyr’s crown.
At this point, indeed, comes in the consideration of the special motive which animated each belligerent, even when fighting on the right side. We are far from saying that all the Irishmen, particularly the leaders and chieftains who at that time ranged themselves under the banners of the Desmonds or the O’Neills, fought purely for Christ and religion. Many of them, no doubt, engaged in the contest from mere worldly motives, perhaps even for purposes unworthy of Christians ; and in this case, those who fell in the struggle were in no sense soldiers of Christ.
But how many such are to be found among the bishops, priests, or monks, who perished under Elizabeth ? May it not be said of them that, to a man, they fell for the sake of religion ? We may even be bold enough to say that the majority of the common Irish people who lost their lives in those wars may be placed in the same category as their spiritual rulers, being in reality the upholders of right and the champions of Catholicity.
Let it be remembered that, at the period of which we speak, the only real question involved in the contest was gradually assuming more and more a religious character. Henry VIII. and his deputy, St. Leger, had struck a fatal blow at clanship and Irish institutions in general, by bestowing on and compelling the chieftains to accept English titles, and by investing them with new deeds of their lands under feudal tenure. By Elizabeth, the same policy was steadily and successfully pursued, her court being always graced by the presence of young Irish lords, educated under her own eyes, and loaded with all her royal favors. All she asked of them in return was that they should become Queen’s men. The repugnance once felt by Irishmen for that gilded slavery was each day becoming less marked. But, while every thing was seemingly working so well for the attainment of Elizabeth’s object at the commencement of her reign, a new feature suddenly shows itself, and grows rapidly into prominence the attachment of the Irish to their religion, and the violent opposition to the change always kept foremost in view by the queen, namely the substitution of her spiritual supremacy for that of the Pope.
Thus we find the Irish leaders, when proclaiming their grievances, either on the eve of war, or the signing of a treaty of peace, always giving their religious convictions the first place on the list. The religious question, then, was becoming more and more the question, and, notwithstanding all her fine assurances that she would not infringe upon the religious predilections of the laity, Elizabeth’s great purpose, in Ireland and in England, was to destroy Catholicity, by destroying the priesthood, root and branch.
The nobles showed how fully convinced they were of this, when they came to adopt a system of concealment, even of duplicity, to which Irishmen ought never to have been weak enough to submit. Not only were the practices of their religion confined to places where no Englishman or Protestant could penetrate, but gradually they allowed their houses–those sanctuaries of freedomto be invaded by the pursuivants of the queen, searching for priests or monks ” lately arrived from Rome.”
Secret apartments were constructed by skilful architects in noblemen’s manors; recesses were artfully contrived under the roofs, in roomy staircases, or even in basements and cellars. There the unfortunate minister of religion was confined for weeks and months, creeping forth only at night, to breathe the fresh air at the top of the house or in the thick shrubbery of the adjoining park. All the means of evading the law used by the Christians of the first centuries were reproduced and resorted to in Catholic Ireland by chieftains who possessed the ” secret promise ” of the queen that their religion should not be interfered with, and that her supremacy should not be enforced against them.
Not thus did the people act : their keen sense of injustice took in at once all the circumstances of the case. It was a religious persecution, nothing else; and this the nobles also felt in their inmost souls. The people saw the ministers of religion hunted down, seized, dragged to prison, tried, convicted, barbarously executed ; they recognized it in its reality as a sheer attempt to destroy Catholicity, and as such they opposed it by every means in their power. They beheld the monks and friars treated as though they had been wild beasts ; the soldiers falling on them wherever they met them, and putting them to death with every circumstance of cruelty and insult, without trial, without even the identification required for outlaws. Mr. Miles O’Reilly’s book, “Irish Martyrs,” is full of eases of this kind. Hence the people frequently offered open resistance to the execution of the law ; the soldiers had to disperse the mob ; but the real mob was the very troop commanded by English officers.
When at length the Irish lords no longer dared offer asylum to the outlawed priesthood in their manors and castles, the hut of the peasant lay open to them still. The greater the quantity of blood poured out by the executors of the barbarous laws, the greater the determination of the people to protect the oppressed and save the Lord’s anointed.
Then opened a scene which had never been witnessed, even under the most cruel persecutions of the tyrants of old Rome. The whole strength of the English kingdom had been called into play to crush the Irish nobility during the wars of Ulster and Munster ; the whole police of the same kingdom was now put in requisition for the apprehension and destruction of church-men. Nay, from this very occupation, the great police system which since that time has flourished in most European states, arose, being invented or at least perfected for the purpose.
Then, for the first time in modern history, numbers of ” spies” and ” informers” were paid for the service of English ministers of state. Not only did the cities of England and Ire-land, harbor cities chiefly, swarm with them, but they covered the whole country ; they were to be found everywhere : around the humble dwelling of the peasant and the artisan, in the streets and on the highways, inspecting every stranger who might be a friar or monk in disguise. They spread through the whole European Continentalong the coast and in the interior of France and Belgium, Italy and Spain, in the churches, convents, and colleges, even in the courts of princes, and, as we have seen in the case of Dr. Hurley, in the very halls of the Vatican. The English state papers have disclosed their secret, and the whole history is now before us.
To support this army of spies and informers, the soldiers of that other army of England, who were employed either in keeping England under the yoke or in crushing freedom and religion out of Ireland, did not disdain to execute the orders which converted them into policemen and sbirri. And it may be said, to their credit, that they executed those orders with a ferocious alacrity unequalled in the annals of military life in other countries. If, during the most fearful commotions in France, the army has been employed for a similar purpose, it must be acknowledged that, as far as the troops were concerned, they performed their unwelcome task with reluctance, and softened down, at least, their execution, by considerate manners and respectful demeanor. But these soldiers of Elizabeth showed themselves, from first to last, full of ferocity. They generally went far beyond the letter of their orders ; they took an Inhuman delight in adding insult to injury, uniting in their persons the double character of preservers of public order and ruffianly executioners of innocent victims. Many and many a record of their barbarity is kept to this day. We add a few, only to justiff our necessarily severe language :
” The Rev. Thaddeus Donald and John Hanly received their martyr’s crown on the 10th of August, 1580. They had long labored among the suffering faithful along the southwestern coast of Ireland. When the convent of Bantry was seized by the English troops, these holy men received their wished-for crown of martyrdom. Being conducted to a high rock impending over the sea, they were tied back to back, and precipitated into the waves beneath”
“In the convent of Enniscorthy, Thaddeus O’Meran, father-guardian of the convent, Felix O’Hara, and Henry Layhode, under the government of Henry Wallop, Viceroy of Ireland, were taken prisoners by the soldiers, for five days tortured in various ways, and then slain.”
” Rev. Donatus O’Riedy, of Connaught, and parish priest of Coolrah, when the soldiers of Elizabeth rushed into the village, sought refuge in the church ; but in vain, for he was there hanged near the high altar, and afterward pierced with swords, 12th of June, 1582.”
“While Drury was lord-deputy, about 1577, Fergal Ward, a Franciscan, . . . fell into the hands of the soldiery, and, being scourged with great barbarity, was hanged from the branches of a tree with the cincture of his own religious habit.”
In order to find a parallel to atrocities such as these, we must go back to the record of some of the sufferings of the early martyrsSt. Ignatius of Antioch, for instance, who wrote of the guards appointed to conduct him to Italy : ” From Syria as far as Rome, I had to fight with wild beasts, on sea and on land, tied night and day to a pack of ten leopards, that is to say, ten soldiers who kept me, and were the more ferocious the more I tried to be kind to them.”
Instances of such extreme cruelty are rare, even in the Acts of the early martyrs, but they meet us every moment in the memoirs of the days of Elizabeth. Both the police-spies and the soldier-police were animated with the rage and fury which must have possessed the soul of the queen herself ; for, after all, the cruelty practised in her reign, and mostly under her orders, was not necessary in order to secure her throne to her, during life ; and, as she could hope for no posterity of her own, it was not the desire of retaining the crown to her children which could excuse so much bloodshed and suffering. She evidently followed the promptings of a cruel heart in those atrocious measures which constitute the feature of the home policy of her reign. The persecution which raged incessantly throughout her long career, in Ireland and England. is surely one of the most bloody in the annals of the Catholic Church.