Further Plantations and Uprooting of National Polity, 1603-1641

17. His fall meant the final downfall of the National State, and the reduction of all Ireland to a state of servitude. Henceforward the war was not the desperate defence of an ancient constitution, but the uprisings of a nation in bondage. On the discovery of a plot that threatened his life, O'Neill, some time after his defeat, fled the country, and found shelter in the Courts of Europe, that refused to surrender him to the demand of England. All the country over which he had ruled was, by English legal fiction, escheated and made ready for plantation. Throughout Ulster the States were broken up, the people driven out to waste and mountain to live as they might, and the rich and fertile plains granted to corporations and companies in London, and to favourites of the Court, for plantation with strangers. Inasmuch as these strangers had none to till the soil for them, they were permitted to employ a certain number of the "mere Irish," many of whom, loving the land that they had lately possessed, returned as servants and helots to the places where they had lived as freemen and legislators, where they and their fathers before them had built a wise polity based on the sanction of the people--a polity now only to be discovered in the books they bore with them furtively and the contents of which they told their children. Most of them, however, looked down from bleak mountains into valleys where the smoke curled from foreign hearths. This Plantation was but the prelude to others. Down the length of the Shannon, in the midlands, and in Leinster, plantation followed plantation, the old polity was broken and obliterated, and a sovereign people made slaves to a jailer ascendancy.