Earls in Exile

Justin McCarthy
Chapter V | Start of Chapter

When King James heard of their flight he at once demanded from France the surrender of the Earls, but Henry IV. refused to surrender them. Henry received the exiles with gracious and friendly greeting, but it was not thought prudent by the Earls any more than by the French King that they should remain in France at the risk of involving the two countries in war. The Earls, with their families and followers, went into Flanders, and then on to Rome. Pope Paul V. gave them a cordial welcome, and made liberal arrangements for their maintenance, while the King of Spain showed his traditional sympathy with Ireland by settling pensions on them. Tyrconnel died soon after, in the Franciscan Church of St. Pietro di Montorio, and was laid in his grave wrapped in the robe of a Franciscan Friar. Tyrone lived for several years. He was filled in this later time by a passionate longing to see once more the loved country of his birth, and he appealed to the English Government for permission to return to Ireland and live quietly there until the end came. His request was not granted. The English authorities, no doubt, felt good reason to believe that his return to Ireland would be the cause of profound and dangerous emotion among the people who loved him and whom he loved so well. His later years in Rome were literally darkened, because his sight, which had been for some time failing, soon left him to absolute blindness. He died on July 20, 1616, having lived a life of seventy-six years. Tyrone's body was laid to rest in the same church which held the body of his comrade Tyrconnel. Their graves are side by side.

A modern writer tells us that the church which has become the tomb of the two exiled Earls stands "where the Janiculum overlooks the glory of Rome, the yellow Tiber and the Alban Hills, the deathless Coliseum, and the stretching Campagna." "Raphael had painted his Transfiguration for the grand altar; the hand of Sebastiano del Piombo had coloured the walls with the scourging of the Redeemer." The present writer has seen the graves, and even the merest stranger to the spirit of Irish history must feel impressed by the story of the two exiles who found their last resting-place enclosed by such a scene.