Foreign State Assumption and National War, 1171 A.D.

From The Historic Case for Irish Independence by Darrell Figgis

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6. The coming of Henry the Second of England, however, in the year 1171 changed the nature of the issue into one of national conflict.

lt is interesting to note the steady, yet sharp, definition of that national conflict. Each of the adventurers was, according to the principle of the military organisation to which he belonged, the feudal underling of Henry of England, and therefore the areas which he plundered were, according to the fiction of that system, conquered territory, which he laid at his lord's feet and resumed as a gift, with so much more as Henry chose to add to it. Other underlings this King of England brought with him, to whom he assigned other large tracts of land, as yet unplundered, and therefore as yet unconquered. Through many parts of the country he himself carried war; and he concluded his stay in the country by a number of forced submissions that admitted him as feudal lord of Ireland, by the creation of a Viceroy to reign in his absence, by the grants of ecclesiastical offices to English clerics, and the apportionment of the country among his followers, such apportionments to be made good by the sword. Moreover, English law was declared for the country, and Irish law was held to be discontinued, was held, in fact, not to be law at all, but a sign of moral delinquency. All this meant but one thing and was at once so interpreted. A war of polity against polity was opened, in which nation was locked against nation: an ancient polity based on the moral rights of a whole people as against a polity that was less a polity than the system of a military caste; a polity created by a whole people devising their national estate, against a polity made by plundering leaders thinking for conquest and devising a scheme of efficient mobilisation to that end; a polity from which had been possible the cultural re-creation of Europe, against a polity made not for upbuilding but for destruction; and thus a higher civilisation against a lower. Henceforward, in terms of these two contents, the two nations became locked in war.

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