Brian Boru

Justin McCarthy
Chapter II | Start of Chapter

Brian Boru was brother of the King, or Chief, of Munster, and had already made himself very popular with the people in general. Apparently, he had only been waiting for the opportunity to develop the genius of a warlike commander, and now showed himself capable of turning it to the fullest advantage. He raised and organized an army, attacked the Danes, and inflicted on them some heavy defeats. He brought them to that condition of temporary humiliation which made them willing to remain in the island, provided they consented to live quietly in the seaport towns and make no effort at re-conquest. Then followed what might have been expected in the career of a conqueror. Brian became possessed by the conviction that his country would thrive better and more securely under the reign of a single Sovereign than under the separate rule of the Chiefs, and that he was the man who ought to be supreme ruler. It was the story of Alexander, of Caesar, of the first Napoleon, told at a different time and under different conditions. Many native historians insist that Brian was actuated by purely patriotic motives, that he believed Ireland could only be safe and prosperous under the rule of one Sovereign, and that he best knew how to initiate such a rule. It seems only reasonable, when we survey Brian's whole career, to assume that there must have been some element of the purely patriotic mingling with his natural ambition.