Dermod MacMurrough and Henry II.

Margaret Anne Cusack
start of chapter | Chapter XVI

When Dermod Mac Murrough was driven in disgrace from Ireland, he fled at once to Bristol. There he learned that Henry was still in Aquitaine, and thither, with a perseverance worthy of a better cause, he followed the English king. Henry was only too happy to listen to his complaints, and forward his views; but he was too much occupied with his personal affairs to attempt the conquest of a kingdom. Letters-patent were incomparably more convenient than men-at-arms, and with letters-patent the renegade was fain to be content. Dermod only asked help to recover the kingdom from which he had been expelled for his crimes; Henry pretended no more than to give the assistance asked, and for all reward only wished that Dermod should pay a vassal's homage to the English king. Henry may have known that his client was a villain, or he may not. Henry may have intended to annex Ireland to the British dominions (if he could), or he may merely have hoped for some temporary advantage from the new connexion. Whatever he knew or whatever he hoped, he received Dermod "into the bosom of his grace and benevolence," and he did but distantly insinuate his desires by proclaiming him his "faithful and liege subject." The royal letter ran thus:—"Henry, King of England, Duke of Normandy and Aquitaine, and Earl of Anjou, to all his liegemen, English, Norman, Welsh, and Scotch, and to all the nation under his dominion, sends greeting. As soon as the present letter shall come to your hands, know that Dermod, Prince of Leinster, has been received into the bosom of our grace and benevolence: wherefore, whosoever, within the ample extent of our territories, shall be willing to lend aid towards this prince as our faithful and liege subject, let such person know that we do hereby grant to him for said purpose our licence and favour."

In this document there is not even the most remote reference to the Bull of Adrian, conferring the island of Ireland on Henry, although this Bull had been obtained some time before. In whatever light we may view this omission, it is certainly inexplicable.