Silken Thomas

Justin McCarthy
Chapter IV | Start of Chapter

It is not necessary to follow the story much farther. Kildare was accused of having entered into treasonable alliances with Irish Chieftains, and this was a much more serious charge than any accusation of attempting to make himself master of the lives and liberties of the King's loyal subjects while still acting professedly as the King's Lord Deputy. Kildare was summoned to England to give account of his conduct, and was committed to the Tower of London. A report of his execution in the Tower reached Ireland almost at once, and led to some striking events there. It seems to be historically established that Kildare was not executed, but that after a long confinement his health broke down, and he died quietly in his prison. His son, Lord Thomas Fitzgerald, had for some time held the office of Vice-Deputy in Ireland, having received the appointment from his father. He was a brave, brilliant, and open-hearted young man, with a strong affection for the country of his adoption as well as for the country of his birth, but he was impulsive and incautious, and fond of display. The manner in which he adorned the war costumes of himself and his immediate retainers with fringes of silk and lace procured for him the nickname of "Silken Thomas." When Thomas Fitzgerald heard of his father's imprisonment and received the added story of his immediate execution, he took counsel with some of his close friends, the O'Neills and O'Connors, and all agreed that an effort must be made to free the country from the arbitrary rule of the English King.