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Geraldine League

Geraldine League is the name given to the political alliance formed in 1538 in Ireland to seek the reinstatement of Gerald Fitzgerald as earl of Kildare, resist the protestant Reformation, and secure the recall of the Lord Deputy Grey. The instigator was Manus O'Donnell, chief of Tyrconnel, who was joined by Con O'Neill, James FitzJohn earl of Desmond, O'Connor of Sligo, and O'Brien of Thomond. In August 1539 they raided the Pale but were defeated by Grey at Bellahoe. Grey's successor, Sir Anthony St Leger, worked out a deal with the league which amounted to an ambitious new policy. The Irish chiefs were to recognize Henry VIII as king of Ireland, to surrender their lands and have them regranted, to be accorded full constitutional rights, and to be granted peerages as appropriate. It would have been an important step towards the Anglicization of Ireland, introducing English law and language. St Leger's scheme made some headway and he even succeeded in raising some troops for service abroad. But the death of Henry in 1547 and the decision of Edward VI's council to pursue a vigorous protestant policy produced fresh mistrust.

J. A. Cannon

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