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jects' livings wrongfully by despoiling them of their lives. I, John Fitzthomas, Baron of Offaly, doe tell thee, William Vesci, that I am noe traytour, noe felon; but that thou art the only battress by which the king's enemies are supported.' Both parties being summoned to the royal presence, Fitzgerald maintained the same bold language, accusing the justiciary of corruption, and saying that, while the nobility were excluded from his presence, 'an Irish cow could at all times have access to him. But, continued Offaly, so much as our mutual complaints stand upon, the one his yea and the other his nay, and that you would be taken for a champion, and I am known to be no coward, let us, in God's name, leave lieing for varlets, bearding for ruffians, facing for crakers, chatting for twatlers, scolding for callets, booking for scriveners, pleading for lawyers; and let us try, with the dint of swords, as it becomes martial men to do, our mutual quarrels. Therefore, to justify that I am a true subject, and that thou, Vesci, art an arch-traitor to God and to my king, here, in the presence of his highness, and in the hearing of this honourable assembly, I challenge the combat.' De Vesci accepted the challenge amidst the applauses of the assembly; but either he doubted the goodness of his cause, or feared to contend with so formidable an adversary. Before the appointed day he fled to France, whereupon the king declared Offaly innocent; adding, 'Albeit De Vesci conveyed his person into France, yet he left his lands behind him in Ireland ;' and he granted them to the Baron of Offaly, who subsequently, in many a
hard-fought day, showed himself no less true than valiant. For his good services the English monarch, Edward 11., created him Earl of Kildare, and assigned to him the town and castle of that name.
We now pass over many illustrious chiefs of this house to come to Gerald eighth Earl of Kildare, called the Great, who was constituted, on his accession to the peerage, lorddeputy to Richard Duke of York. In 1480 he was reappointed lord-deputy; and again, upon the accession of Henry VII., deputy to Jasper Duke of Bedford, the Lordlieutenant. Upon the arrival, however, of Lambert Simnel,
his tutor Richard Simon, an Oxford priest, in Ireland, the lord-deputy, the chancellor (Thomas Fitzgerald, the deputy's brother), treasurer, and other nobles in the York interest, immediately acknowledged the impostor, and had him proclaimed in Dublin by the style of Edward vi.; and the lord-deputy assisted with the others at his coronation in Christ's Church, May 2, 1487, where the ceremony was performed with great solemnity; the chancellor, the Archbishop of Dublin, the Earl of Lincoln, Lord Lovel, Jenico Mark, Mayor of Dublin, and several other persons of rank attending. The crown was borrowed from the image of the Virgin Mary. John Pain, Bishop of Meath, preached the coronation sermon; and the pretender was subsequently conveyed upon the shoulders of Darcy of Platen, a person of extraordinary height, to the Castle of Dublin, amidst the shouts of the populace. In the engagement which afterwards decided the fate of Simnel, near Stoke, the chancellor
Fitzgerald fell; but the lord-deputy had the good fortune to make his peace with the king. And well, both by his fidelity and his talents as a statesman and a soldier, did this great man repay the king's confidence.
Perkin Warbeck, on his landing at Cork in 1497, was successfully opposed by the Earls of Kildare and Desmond, and narrowly escaped being taken prisoner. For this good service King Henry conferred on Kildare several manors in the counties of Warwick and Gloucester. With a strong hand, too, the Earl controlled the unruly native chieftains ; and if he could not entirely extinguish the spirit of revolt, rebellion was instantly put down.
This unquiet spirit, however, showed itself in formidable array against the king's authority amongst many of the most powerful native chiefs under the Lord of Clanricarde, who had married Kildare's daughter, but had so neglected her as to excite much ill blood between the lady's husband and her father. Never had the Earl's son Gerald's preeminent skill and courage been more severely tested. When he came in sight of the rebels, they were drawn up in full force under Knock Taugh, or the hill of axes, now called Knockdoe, about seven miles from Galway. Many of the lords of the Pale began to be alarmed for the result, the enemy having collected the largest army ever seen in the country since the invasion of 1169. They would have persuaded the Earl to offer terms of peace, but the stout old soldier refused to listen for a moment to such timid counsels. Having drawn up his men in
battle array, he bluntly told them that their own safety, as well as the king's honour, rested on their unflinching valour in that day's service. The onset was made by the rebels in gallant style ; but they were received with such a volley of arrows from the Leinster men, that they fell back in confusion. The Earl then commanded his vanguard to advance, when his son Gerald, in the impatience of youthful courage, charged without orders at the head of his men most bravely and resolutely. “Far away from the troops,' says the Irish chronicler, were heard the violent onset of the martial chiefs, the vehement efforts of the champions, the charge of the royal heroes, the noise of the swords, the clamour of the troops when endangered, the shouts and exultations of the youths, the sound made by the falling of brave men, and the triumph of nobles over plebeians.' It was a fierce battle, such as had not been known in latter times. Of Clanricarde's nine divisions which were in solid array, there survived only one broken battalion. The rebels were completely routed, their slain being computed at nearly 9000 men, though this may be exaggeration. For this good service Kildare was created by Henry a Knight of the Garter.
The days of this great man were now drawing fast to a conclusion. In 1513 he marched against Lemyvannon, or “O'Carroll's Castle, now called Leap Castle, in the King's County ; but as he was watering his horse in the River Greese, at Kilkea, he was shot by one of the O’Mores of Leix, and after lingering for a few days he died
of his wound, and was buried in his own chapel at Christ's Church before the high altar. Holinshed describes him as a "mightie man of stature, full of honours and courage, who had been Lord-deputie and Lord Justice of Ireland three and thirtie yeares. Kildare was in government milde, to his enemies sterne. He was open and playne, hardly able to move himself when he was moved ; in anger not so sharp as short, being easily displeased and sooner appeased.'
Gerald Oge, that is, Gerald the younger, the ninth Earl of Kildare, entered upon his office of lord-deputy under less favourable auspices than his predecessor had done. As governor of Ireland, Gerald seemed to consider himself as representing the king's interests only in the Pale, which at that time included the counties of Dublin, Louth, Meath, and Kildare, ruling the rest of his possessions as independently as any native chief; and these were tolerably extensive, for he and his kinsmen occupied the counties of Kildare and Carlow as far as the bridge of Leighlin, exacting coin and livery within these bounds. In fact, , while he was English to the Irish, he was, to a certain degree, Irish to the English who were placed in this unfortunate dilemma: they must of necessity support the lorddeputy, from his influence over the Pale, which was their instrument for curbing the rest of Ireland, then divided amongst thirty great Anglo-Irish lords and sixty Irish chieftains. On the other hand, there was always a danger of the lord-deputy's growing over-powerful, and turning round upon his master.