King Richard II in Ireland

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King Richard II in Ireland


As part of the effort to shore up the decaying English lordship in Ireland, Richard II arrived in Waterford in October 1394. Between January and May 1395, Richard received the homage and submission of eighty paramount chiefs in Dublin or other centers. An example of these is the treaty with Niall Oge O'Neill, who submitted to the king in the name of his father, "prince of the Irish of Ulster." The situation with the Leinster chiefs was somewhat different, reflected in Art Mac Murrough's pledge to quit Leinster and go conquer lands elsewhere occupied by rebels and the king's enemies, thereby releasing his hereditary lands for English settlement and creating an extension of the English "Pale" in Ireland.

SEE ALSO English Government in Medieval Ireland; Norman Invasion and Gaelic Resurgence; Richard II in Ireland


(1) With Niall Oge O'Neill

On the 16th day of March 1395, in a room of the Friars Preachers in Drogheda, in the presence of King Richard, Nellanus juvenis O Nel [Niall Oge O'Neill] in person, captain of his nation, removing his girdle, dagger and cap, and on bended knee, fell at the feet of our said lord the King and, raising his two hands with the palms together and hold them between the hands of the King, took these words in the Irish language, which were rendered into English by Thomas O Locheran, interpreter, in the presence of many well understanding the Irish language, viz.

I, Niall junior O'Neill, captain of my nation, swear to be faithful liegeman of my Lord Richard, King of England and France and Lord of Ireland, my sovereign lord, and of his heirs and successors, being kings of England, from this day henceforth in life, limb, and earthly honour, so that he and they shall have over me power of life and death, and I will be faithful to the same and his heirs for ever in all things and will help to defend him and his heirs against all worldly enemies whatsoever, and will be obedient to the laws, commands, and ordinances of the same or any of them according to my power and that of all mine; and I will come to the said lord my King and his heirs, being kings of England, and to his or their parliament and council or otherwise whensoever he or they shall send for me or whenever I shall be required, called, or summoned on his or their part or the part of their lieutenants: and I will well and faithfully come to said Lord King, his heirs and their lieutenants, or to any of them, to give counsel, and I will do in all singular that which a good and faithful liegeman ought to do and is bound to do to his natural liege lord, so help me God and these God's holy Gospels.

For the observing of which allegiance and fealty to the Lord our King etc., he bound himself if he should violate the said oath in whole or part that he would pay to the Papal Curia 20,000 marks of English money. Whereupon the King admitted him to the kiss of peace as his liege, and Niall requested the notary to make a public instrument thereof.

Witnesses being, Thomas, archbishop of York, John of Armagh, Primate of all Ireland, the bishops of London, Chichester and Llandaff, Thomas Mowbray, Earl of Nottingham, Thomas Percy, Marshal of the Household, and William Scrope, the King's Chamberlain.

(2) With Art Oge MacMurrough Kavanagh

This indenture, made on Thursday the 7th day of January, in the 18th year of King Richard (1395), in a field between Tullow and Newcastle, between the noble lord Thomas, Earl of Nottingham and Marshal of England, etc., on one part, and Art MacMurrough, born liege Irishman of our said lord the King, for himself and his men on the other, witnesses: that at the instance and supplication of the said Art our lord the King received the said Art to his grace and peace under the form which follows, viz. that the said Art has sworn by the holy Cross and on the holy Gospels, touched by him, to keep fealty for ever to our lord the King, his heirs, and successors, being kings of England, and that he will deliver to our lord the King, or any of his deputies, or any whom he shall depute, full possession of all lands, tenements, castles, fortresses, woods, and pastures with all their appurtenances, which have been of late occupied by the said Art of his allies, men, or adherents within the land of Leinster, without any reservation to himself made or to be made in any manner and without fraud or guile; and that the said Art has sworn and promised as for himself and all his, that all his subjects and tenants of any condition whatsoever in the lands and places aforesaid shall likewise swear to keep fealty for ever to the Lord King and his successors and deputies, or those whom he shall depute, as above, and that they will stand to and obey the laws, commands, and ordinances of the King and his successors; and that the said Art has likewise sworn that by the first Sunday of Lent next (28 February), he will leave the whole country of Leinster to the true obedience, use, and disposition of the King, his heirs, and successors, as above, saving and excepting always to him (Art) all his movable goods, and that for greater security of observance of the above fealty the said Art shall deliver to the said Lord our King and to his deputies or those whom he shall depute the son of Thomas Carragh Kavanagh his brother, as a true hostage within the next fortnight following after the date of these presents and sooner, if he can, without fraud or guile, and that, the said hostage thus received, our Lord the King shall of special grace kindly treat the said Art as his true liege, and that he will grant to the said Art to go and return well and peacefully in security; and that the Lord our King after these things are done shall generously make provision for the said Art and will grant to him and his heirs eighty marks yearly for ever, together with the heritage of the said Art's wife in the barony of Norragh with its appurtenances; and that all the armed men, warriors, or fighting men of the following, household, or nation of the said Art shall quit the whole land of Leinster aforesaid and shall go with him and shall have fitting wages from the King, for the time being, to go and conquer other parts occupied by rebels of the said Lord King, and that Art and all his men aforesaid shall have all lands which they may thus acquire and hold them of the Lord King, his heirs, and successors as above, and as his true lieges and obedient and subject to his laws, by liege homage and befitting duty done therefor as above to the King, his heirs, and successors, and that they shall enjoy them in perpetuity and by hereditary descent. Also subsequently by the above indenture it was understood and agreed between the Earl Marshal on one hand and O'Byrne, O'More, O'Nolan, O'Morchoe, MacEochaidh [Keogh], O'Dunn, Mackerelt, David Moore MacManus, and all those of Hy Kinsella on the other, that all the aforesaid O'Byrne, etc., and all of Hy Kinsella have sworn by the holy Cross and on the holy Gospels that they and all their armed upon men, warriors, and fighting men shall deliver all their possessions in Leinster to the said Lord King, his heirs, and successors, his deputies and those whom he may depute, and quit that country, saving however their movable goods always to themselves. And that when that is done the Lord King shall maintain those captains at expense of his Household at good and fitting wages, fees, or salaries, payable yearly from the King's Treasury to all and sundry these captains for the term of their lives, and that the Lord King will give to them and their fighting men aforesaid fitting wages to go, attack, and conquer other parts occupied by rebels of the King. And he will give to them all lands which they shall so acquire and they shall hold them of our Lord the King, his heirs and successors, by liege homage and befitting the duty, as his true lieges, obedient and subject to his laws. And that they shall deliver hostages to the said King, his deputies and those whom he shall depute, for the fulfilment on their part of all the above as they have sworn it. And that the peace of all the aforesaid shall be publicly proclaimed in the said field by the said Earl in the name of the King, and that likewise it is understood that all the aforesaid Irishmen, so sworn, shall abide in peace in their places even to the first Sunday of Lent above-named, nor shall they permit any rebels of our Lord the King or evil-doers to be received in their localities, but shall expel them to the best of their power from their borders. And in case, which God forbid, that any mischance shall happen between the date of these presents and the first Sunday of Lent aforesaid against these conventions through any of the aforesaid parties or their adherents, the peace shall not on account of that be broken, but within a fortnight after due notice made it shall be amended and fittingly restored without guile or fraud. And that the said Art has sworn and promised that if any of the aforesaid who have thus sworn shall rashly presume to go against the said conventions, he will make war on them according to his power as his deadly and capital enemies. And so that all these conventions shall be faithfully observed by the aforesaid parties, the said Earl Marshal of England swore by the holy Cross on the holy Gospels and likewise the said Art and all the others for their part swore by the holy Cross and on the holy Gospels.

In witness whereof for his part of the indenture the said Earl affixed his seal in presence of the said Art MacMurrough, and for their part of the indenture the said Art and O'Byrne affixed their seals, in presence of the said Earl Marshal.

Witnesses: John Griffin, bishop of Leighlin, John Golafre, Lawrence Verkerell, lord of Coytyf, John Greyly of Gascony, etc., Brother Edmund Vale, Master of the Hospital of Kyllergy, and many others.

Which indenture, sealed with two seals in red wax, the notary saw, read, and has faithfully turned into a public deed. Whereupon the said Irishmen requested him to make them public instruments.

Witnesses: John Golafre and other knights.

Richard II in Ireland, 1394–5, edited by Edmund Curtis (1927), pp. 159–160, 169–173.