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The Reign of Richard II.


In the reign of Richard II. few circumstances oc- 1377. curred material to the state of Ireland. The une- Rapid and quivocal proof of the mal-administration of that coun- ous succes.,

sion of gotry is more visibly discovered in this, than in any vernors. former reign by the rapid succession of deputies, who were kept in perpetual motion to and from the seat of that ill-fated government. Barring the two periods, during which Richard ruled the country in person, there appear twenty-five distinct changes within the space of twenty-two years, two months, and eight days. Making reasonable allowances for the uncertainty of weather, the slowness of travelling, and the general difficulties of communication in those days, the averaged interval between each appointment and recall would scarcely cover the term of nine calendar months *. The beginning of this King's reign, who was but eleven years of age when he ascended the

* Dav. Dis. In the intermediate time, namely, in the year 1392, Philip de Courtenay', a cousin of the king, was appointed Jord lieutenant of Ireland, by patent, for the term of ten years ; but in less than two was superseded, arrested for oppression and extortion, and his effects were seized to answer for the losses of the persons aggrieved.

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1377. throne, was conducted by the regency under the ine !

fuence of his uncle the Duke of Lancaster. First sketch Sir John Davies gives the following concise view of of Richard's reign. the beginning of this monarch's reign *. “In the be

ginning of this reign, the state of England began to think of the recovery of Ireland. For then was the first statute made against absentees t, commanding all such as had land in Ireland to return and reside thereupon, on pain of forfeiting two third parts of the profit thereof. The King committed the government of Ireland first to the Earl of Oxford, his chief favourite, whom he created Marquis of Dublin, and Duke of Ire. land; next, to the Duke of Surrey, his half brother ; and lastly to Lord Mortimer, Earl of March and Ul. ster, his cousin and heir apparent." In the fifth year of his reign, a writ was issued to the deputy in Ireland to summon a parliament for the good government of the realm, and to provide for the King's expenses in the war.

The dominion, which the English monarch at this time exercised over the Irish, appears to have been arbitrary and unconstitutional. In the ninth of Richard II. a most extraordinary grant was made (and with the consent of parliament) to the favourite Robert de Vere, Earl of Oxford, afterwards Duke of Ireland; by which he was intrusted with the absolute and entire regal dominion of the realm during his life, without making any payment for or rendering any account of it: he had power to pass all writs under his


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* Dav. Disc. t 3 Ric. II. Arch. Tur. Lond. Rot. Parl. p. 42.

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own test ; to place and displace all officers, even the 1396. chancellor, treasurer, and admiral; and to name his m own deputy, and ministers. He received a second patent in the same year, by which he was 'invested with the full dominion of all the land and islands belonging to Ireland, together with all royalties, that ever had been holden and enjoyed by any of the King's predecessors. Of this grant Sir Edward Coke said *, “ By the law the King by his letters patent could not grant so royal a member of his imperial style to any, no more than he could do his kingdom of England.” Although the English interest in Ireland from va- Reasons of

the English rious causes yearly ran into decline, the expense and interest de

clining in pomp, with which Richard went over in person to Ireland. complete the subjection of that country, appear to have been occasioned not by state necessity, but by the romantic vanity of the monarch to retrieve his honor, which he conceived had been touched by the sarcastic reflections of some of the German princes, who had declined supporting his pretensions to be elected emperor: viz. that he was unfit to command the empire, who was neither able to hold what his ancestors had gained in France, nor to rule his insolent subjects in England, nor master his refractory people of Ireland. Richard's force sufficed to have reduced the whole island. Satisfied however with a slight submission,


• 4 Inst. p. 357. He says also of this grant, “ Sed novus iste insolitus et umbratilis honor citò vanuit; and this also did first begin and end in him."

1394. he specially authorised Thomas Mowbray, the Earl

of Nottingham and marshal of England, to receive the homages and oaths of fidelity of all the Irish in Leinster. They were bounden by several indentures under great penalties to remain loyal, and by a certain day to give up to the King and his successors all their lands and possessions in Leinster, and to serve him in his wars against his other rebels. These indentures and submissions were solemnly enrolled and testified by a notary public, and the enrolments delivered by the.King himself to the bishop of Salisbury, then lord

treasurer of England. The Irish The young King, satisfied with these external acts' throw off sheir sub- of submission, broke up his army, and returned to

England with much honor, and little profit. He had spent a mass of treasure in transporting the army, which commanded these submissions, but had not increased his revenue by one pound, nor the English territory by one acre. The jurisdiction of his courts of justice remained confined to the English colonies, and the Irish lords scorning the forces, which were left behind, began to infest the borders, in defence of which Lord Roger Mortimer, the King's lieutenant, and heir apparent of the crown of England, was slain. To avenge his death, the King again appeared at the head of a powerful army, firmly resolved upon the full conquest of the island. He suffered much from marching his army through a desolated country without provisions. Internal commotions in England obliged him to leave Ireland; and he had scarcely landed




in Wales, when he was taken and delivered into the hands of his rival, the Duke of Lancaster. His inglorious reign was terminated in the 33d year of his age, by a resignation of the crown, and a parliamentary deposition.

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