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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.
It happened to Gerald Oge, as it had happened to his predecessors, to more than once incur the jealousy of the English Government, and to be deprived of his office of lord-deputy. What was yet worse, he unluckily drew upon himself the hatred of the stern and lynx-eyed Wolsey, and nearly lost his head in consequence.
The stout Earl weathered the storm which had well-nigh foundered him, and even again attained his former dignity; but it was only to relapse into suspicion and disgrace. He was once more called over to England, and recommitted to the Tower. Before his departure from Ireland, he constituted his son Thomas Lord Offaly vice-deputy, and strictly enjoined him to be wise and prudent,' and submissive to the council. Nevertheless, the 'hot and active temper' of the young lord could not be restrained. The murder of Archbishop Alen, perpetrated by his followers, led to the severe sentence of excommunication pronounced against him; which being shown to the old Earl in the Tower, had such an effect on him that he died shortly after of a broken heart. His remains received sepulture within the Tower walls, in St. Peter's Chapel,-a sorry recompense for all his services.
Some time before the ninth Earl died, a report reached Ireland that he was to be beheaded. A strange story is told by Holinshed, how this report was confirmed in secret letters written by certain servants of Sir William Skeffington. • One of these letters fell into the hands of a priest, who threw it among other papers, meaning to read it at leisure.
That nighte, a gentleman, a retainer of Lord Thomas', lodged with the priest, and sought in the morning when he rose for some paper to darne on his strayte stockings; and as the divell would, he hit upon the letter, and bore it away in the heele of his stocke.' At night he found the paper; and seeing that it announced the Earl's death, he carried it to his son Lord Thomas, who immediately resolved to throw off his allegiance to the English Crown.
From this moment the adventures of Thomas tenth Earl of Kildare, known (from the fringes on the helmets of his retainers) as Silken Thomas, form a chapter of romance ; and, after all, his determination was not so hopeless of success as many at the time imagined it to be, so extensive was the influence of the Geraldines. In disclaiming the English rule, the young Earl proceeded with all the chivalric honour of a knight of old. He called a meeting of the council at St. Mary's Abbey; and when he had seated himself at the head of the table, a party of his followers rushed in, to the sore amazement of those who had not been previously warned of his intentions. The words in which he then addressed them were worthy of his great ancestors, and show of what metal the Geraldines were made. He then tendered his sword of state to the chancellor (Cromer). The gentle prelate, who was a well-wisher of the Geraldines, besought him with tears to abandon his purpose. He might perhaps have succeeded, but that Nolan, an Irish bard then present, burst out into a heroic strain in his native tongue, in praise of Silken Thomas,' and concluded
by warning him that he had lingered there over long. This aroused the Earl, who, addressing the chancellor somewhat abruptly, renounced all allegiance to the English monarch, saying that he chose rather to die with valiantness and liberty.'
The subsequent career of 'Silken Thomas' fully corresponded with the above commencement. For a length of time he resisted successfully the famous lord-deputy Skeffington, with all the support that England could afford him, or that could be derived from Irish septs. When, finally deserted by the last of his allies, Kildare was obliged to surrender, it was upon a promise sealed upon the holy sacrament, that he should receive a full pardon upon his arrival in England. But this pledge was shamefully violated by Henry VIII. For sixteen months the Earl was imprisoned in the Tower of London ; and then, together with his five uncles, two of whom had always been staunch adherents of the king, was hanged, drawn, and quartered at Tyburn, on the 8th of February 1537, the Earl being then but twentyfour years of age.
The rebellion of ‘Silken Thomas' is a most romantic and touching episode in Irish history. It is melancholy to contrast the early condition of the gay, glittering noble, 'the Silken Lord,' vice-deputy of Ireland, and head of one of the most illustrious families in the world, with that bitter suffering which he described in a letter to an adherent while a prisoner in the Tower. He writes : ‘I never had any money syns I cam unto prison but a nobull, nor I have had