Prelude to the Easter Rising of 1916

Prelude to the Easter Rising of 1916
The Signatories of the Proclamation

Search This Blog

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The Earl Gearóid Mór Kildare

Gerald FitzGerald 8th earl of Kildare Coat of Arms

Kildare, Gerald FitzGerald 8th earl of ( Gearóid Mór Kildare), (1456–1513), the dominant figure in English Ireland from 1478 until his death. Kildare was governor of Ireland for over 30 years (1478, 1479–92, 1496–1513), serving under five kings and crowning a sixth, ‘ Edward VI’ ( Lambert Simnel) in 1487. The key to an understanding of the earl's turbulent and colourful career was his tripartite relationship with successive English kings and both Englishry and Irishry in Ireland: his ultimate success reflected his ability to reconcile the divergent interests of these three parties.

English kings valued Kildare's ability to deploy his extensive manrœd (his connection and tenantry available for military service) for the good rule and defence of the English Pale and saw in the earl a potentially cheap and effective instrument of provincial government—provided his reliability could be assured. Edward IV's reforms of the Dublin administration in 1479 had this in mind, but Henry Tudor's later efforts to wean Kildare away from his Yorkist sympathies (see wars of the roses) were much more protracted. By 1496, however, Sir Edward Poynings had eliminated Ireland's potential as a Yorkist bridgehead. Kildare was married to the king's cousin, Elizabeth St John, and reappointed governor, leaving his son at court as pledge for his good conduct.

Such evident marks of royal favour also raised the earl's standing among the English of Ireland, damping down factional rivalries and promoting stronger government which tipped the military balance in the lordship's favour. Yet Kildare's success also rested on forging cross-border alliances with Gaelic chiefs, often cemented by marriages, to stabilize the lordship's defence. Indeed, from a Gaelic perspective, Kildare's dealings with border chieftaincies differed little from relations between a Gaelic overlord and his uirríghthe (sub-chieftains). The earl's court included a Gaelic entourage, but concurrently he was extracting black rents from chiefs and ejecting clansmen from disputed marchlands.

Earl Gerald's extended connection was most visibly and effectively deployed in the battle of Knockdoe (1504), for which Henry made kildare in reward Knight of the Garter. He eventually died of a gunshot wound and his son Lord Gerald succeeded him as earl and governor.

No comments:

Post a Comment