Lionel Duke of Clarence

From A Compendium of Irish Biography, 1878

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Clarence, Lionel, Duke of, second son of Edward III., was born at Antwerp 29th November 1338. In 1352 he married Lady Elizabeth de Burgh, heiress of the Earl of Ulster, and in her right assumed the style of Earl of Ulster, Lord of Connaught and Tuam. Accompanied by his wife, he landed in Ireland, 15th September 1361, as Lord-Lieutenant, at the head of a powerful army, commanded by the ablest English warriors. He gave much offence to the Anglo-Irish lords by his English exclusiveness, and by forbidding any Irish-born to approach his camp.

His first expedition against the O'Byrnes was singularly unsuccessful, and by February, "being in imminent peril from the daily increasing strength of his enemies," his father was obliged to send him additional reinforcements. Next year he was created Duke of Clarence, from the lordship of Clare, in Suffolk, which he had acquired through his wife. She died during his residence in Ireland. He strengthened Dublin Castle, and for a time removed the Exchequer from Dublin to Carlow. He was unsuccessful in prosecuting his Irish wars, or in recovering any of his wife's estates. In the course of the six following years he was thrice Lord-Lieutenant. In 1367 the Duke left the country finally, and shortly afterwards he married an Italian princess, with a dowry of £200,000, besides the town of Alba and several castles in Piedmont.

During his administration, and under his presidency, in 1367, the memorable Statute of Kilkenny was passed by the Irish Parliament, rigidly prescribing laws of demarcation between the inhabitants of the Pale and the rest of Ireland. Mr. Richey, after considering this statute, comes to "the conclusion that the English government at this time abandoned the prospect of reducing to obedience the Irish and degenerate English, and, adopting a policy purely defensive, sought merely to preserve in allegiance to the English crown the miserable remains of the Irish kingdom." Yet it was not long after the passage of this statute that we find the colonists of the Pale writing to the King that "the Irish, with his other enemies and rebels, continued to ride over the country in hostile array, slaying those who oppose them, despoiling the monasteries, churches, castles, towns, and fortresses of the English, without reverence for God or Holy Church, to the great shame and disherison of his Majesty." The Duke of Clarence died in 1368, aged about 30, and the dukedom became extinct.

Sources

134. Four Masters, Annals of Ireland by the: Translated and Edited by John O'Donovan. 7 vols. Dublin, 1856.

174. Ireland, History of, Lectures on the: Alexander G. Richey. 2 vols. Dublin, 1869-'70.

335. Viceroys of Ireland, History: John T. Gilbert. Dublin, 1865.

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