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were the peace, welfare, and prosperity of the Irish 1296. nation sacrificed to the corrupt influence and interests of some few men in power *. Edward, to supply the necessities of his government, Edward ob
" tains a fifhad recourse in a most unconstitutional manner to the teenth from interposition of the Pope, and obtained the grant of a tenth of allthe ecclesiastical revenues of the Irish clergy, on pretence of providing for an expedition to the holy land. But that clergy, which had always withstood the usurpations of temporal power by the Pope more firmly, than the English, was neither disposed to countenance this innovation, nor enabled to comply with the demand. By appeal to Rome, the illegal requisition was avoided; but Edward obtained from the more docile laity of Ireland, after some hesitation, a grant of a fifteenth of their effects. . To enforce these exactions with prudence, and allay Differences
between De the public irritation, William De Vezey, who bore the Vezey and character of humanity and integrity, was intrusted with the government of Ireland. In his opposition to the Irish insurgents he was tolerably successful; but in probing the evil, he so provoked John Fitz Thomas Fitz Gerald, Baron of Ophaly, that they both appealed to the king, before whom they appeared in person, pleaded against each other, and challenged the combat; of which our historians give, both a. romantic and burlesque account. In 1295 John Wogan was appointed to the govern- The first
2. Irish parliam ment as possessing a discretion unknown to his prede- menu.
* Sce Day. Disc. passim.
1295. cessors. Amidst the contending parties he procured a
truce for two years, that he might have leisure to apply some remedy to the general disorder of the realm. A parliament was in the mean time summoned more regularly, than any which had hitherto been convened in Ireland. Writs were issued to the lords spiritual and temporal, and to the sheriffs, directing them to return two knights for each of the counties. This assembly constituted properly the first parliament of this imperfect kingdom. Although it were inconsiderable in point of number, yet by the ordinances it enacted, it has the merit of having maturely weighed the public grievances, not without some real intention of provid. ing effectual redress. But the wishes of the King were still fatally frustrated by the more powerful action of his corrupt servants. Wholesome ordinances were enacted, but mischieyous practices were set up and
countenanced to render them inefficient. Wholesome It was enacted, that tenants of every degree should the first provide according to their rank towards a militia, and parliament.
that absentees should contribute out of their Irish reve-
nances of like, though subordinate tendency were pass: 1295. ed by the express order of Edward, who it appears really wished to promote the welfare of Ireland, though in so doing he forgot. not his own interest, however he were thwarted in it by the mal-administration of this distant government. In cases of any sudden insurrection of the Irish, when the chief governor was at a distance, it was further enacted, that from the moment hostilities commenced the country attacked should instantly, and without further orders rise in arms, and maintain the war at their own charges without intermission or suspension, till the enemy should be reduced or consent to a cessation, or the chief governor should otherwise direct. And in order to deprive the enemy of their usual shelter, every lord was directed to repair and clear the roads through his woods and forests, to make bridges, pathways, and other provisions for traversing the country with readiness and security, and pursuing the insurgents into their retreats. And for the purpose of preventing any mistake between Englishmen and Irishmen (for killing the latter there was no punishment), it was still further enacted, that all Englishmen should conform strictly to the garb and tonsure of their own countrymen, at least in the tonsure of their hair, on pain of seizure of their lands and chattels, and inpri. sonment of their persons. And lastly, two lords in every county and liberty, in which Irishmen were resident, were, in the absence of the chief governor, vested with full power to treat with the Irish in all matters, in which the public tranquillity was concerned.
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These ordinances devised with equity and policy, at first produced a partial effect in checking, though they never effectually put an end to the disorders of the realm. A spirit of insubordination giving free course to the treachery and turbulence both of the English and Irish chieftains, rather increased than diminished them. Disorder reached the very seat of government; and the utmost efforts of the chief governor, and the few well-affected lords, were scarcely sufficient to defend even the province of Leinster, Whilst the affairs of Ireland were thus embroiled, Edward died at the age of 69 years, during 35 of which he sat upon the thrones of England and Ireland,
The Reign of Edward II.
A MORE unfortunate monarch than Edward II. 1307. never sat on the English throne, which he ascended in:
Character the 24th year of his age. He was gifted with all the of Edward qualities of mind and body, which are generally allowed to render the possessor amiable. His flatterers have not attempted to extol his eminent virtue, nor have his enemies charged him with any particular vice. He was unfortunate in being married to a woman of intrigue (Isabella, a daughter of France). The sensibility of his disposition converted the friendship of the man into the favouritism of the monarch; which not only in the days of those boisterous barons, but in the more refined times of modern improvements, is the most fatal propensity, in which a limited monarch can indulge.
Edward's first act of sovereignty over Ireland was Gavaston to render it subservient to the very fatality of his reign. the fave He had during the life of his father contracted a warm friendship for a young gentleman of Gascopy, Piers Gavaston, whom Edward the First had selected for the companion of his youth, and whom nature had lavishly endowed with the most captivating qualities. So powerful an ascendancy had the amiable powers of Gavaston acquired over the mind of this young prince, that his father found it necessary to