Forced Conversion

Margaret Anne Cusack
start of chapter | Chapter XXIV

As it was now ascertained that the Irish people would not apostatize as a nation, an expedient was prepared for their utter extirpation. It would be impossible to believe that the human heart could be guilty of such cruelty, if we had not evidence of the fact in the State Papers. By this diabolical scheme it was arranged to kill or carry away their cattle, and to destroy their corn while it was green. "The very living of the Irishry," observes the writer, "doth clearly consist in two things; and take away the same from them, and they are past power to recover, or yet to annoy any subject in Ireland. Take first from them their corn—burn and destroy the same; and then have their cattle and beasts, which shall be most hardest to come by, and yet, with guides and policy, they be often had and taken." Such was the arrangement; and it was from no want of inclination that it was not entirely carried out, and the "Irishry" starved to death in their own land.

The title of King of Ireland had not as yet been given to English monarchs, but the ever-subservient Parliament of this reign granted Henry this addition to his privileges, such as it was. We have already seen the style in which the "supreme head of the Church" addressed the bishops whom he had appointed; we shall now give a specimen of their subserviency to their master, and the fashion in which they executed his commands, before returning to secular history.