A Synopsis of the Irish Material in Rodulf Gottfried, ed., Prose Works: A View of The Present State of Ireland [Variorum Edition] - Commentary & Bibliography.

Note: numbers in italics here refer to lines of Spenser’s text in Gottfried’s edition.

Names in View: Eudoxus = ‘honoured’; the spelling ‘Irenaeus’ found in Ware’s text and in BM Add. MS22022, but in no other MS of View; hardly from Gk. ‘peaceful’ and probably from Irana, the name for Ireland in Faerie Queene [FQ] , 5.1; there is an Irenaeus in Richard Stanyhurt’s Description of Ireland, where he quotes a dialogue by Nicholas Harpsfield, called Alan Cope (see Description, in Holinshed, Vol. 11); it would be dangerous to identify the experience of Irenius with Spenser.

View constructed on 3-fold plan: 1] the evils, 64-2898; 2] the redressing of evils, 2898-4400; 3] the final settlement, 4400-5291; O’Flaherty has long passage on Spenser’s error in saying that William replaced Saxon law and laid Norman law on the people (Ogygia, 368-89).

Sir John Davies: ‘our Norman conqueror .. governed All, both English and Norman, by one and the same Law; which was the ancient and common law of England, long before the Conquest’ (Discoverie, p.137-8) [94-6].

Brehon Laws (I): Ir brethemhan, or Breighoon in Campion, p.168, and Breawen in legal French, 1351 [117]. Spenser wrong in thinking Brehon law not committed to writing, viz. Sanchas Mor, the Great Law Compilation, treasured as national law; commission of 1852 to secure accurate transcription, the last of four vols. [by Atkinson] published as Ancient Laws and Institutes of Ireland (1885) [120-33; 281]. Spenser concentrates on Iriach (or eraic, wergild) as least defensible part of the system [281]; Act which created Henry and his heirs kings of Ireland [282].

Tanaiste: Spenser’s account of Irish tanistry more complete than any contemporary [183; 282]; Spenser’s account of the use of the inaugural stone corroborated in almost every detail (Joyce, Social History, 1, 45-50) [205-16] Spenser links Tanist with -tania; Morley relates it to ordinal tánise, 241-8]; Keating defends tanisty as safeguard against government by children (1., 67 & 69) [221-37]

Brehon Laws (II): Edward O’Reilly find no evidence in Brehon laws that the land was appropriated by tanist as tanist (TRIA, Antiq. 14, 204) [237]; by Act of Irish Parl., 33 Henry VIII, in 1542 [1541], royal title of Lord of Ireland changed to King of Ireland [263-81]; cites Sir Philip Sidney, ‘for untill by tyme they [the Irish] fynde the sweetenes of dew subjection, it is impossible that any genle meanes shoolde put owt the freshe remembreabce of their lost lyberty’, Discourse of Irish Affairs (1577), in Sidney, Works, ed. Albert Feuillerat, 1912-26, vol. 3., 49-50) [355-60; 286]

Giraldus Cambrensis: ‘this people is a craftie and subtile people, and more to be feared when it is peace, then when it is open warres; for their peace indeed is but enmitie, their polices but craft, their friendship but coloured, and therefore the more to be doubted and feared’, translated by Hooker in Holinshed, The Conquest of Ireland [Expugnatio] Vol. II, p.59) [364-8; 286]; bibl. Holinshed, Vol. II, The Supplie of Irish Chronicles, makes reference to the wood of Aherlow [288].

‘Bog of Allon’; cf. fennes of Allan, FQ,; Curlews; Moneroo; Orourks Countrie (N. Letrim); Glanmalo; Shillelah (Shillelagh, visited with Lord Grey) [428; 289]; Brackenah; Polmonte (Poll in móintighe, hole in the Moor, appears in marginal note in Egerton 1782, viz Poulmounty, seat of Kavanaghs in Ryan’s Hist. of Carlow; Tirconell (cf. anon. Description of Ireland, p.29) [429; 290].

Lionel Duke of Clarence, created Earl of Ulster, explanatory note by Ware on Spenser’s confusion: ‘It was not George Duke of Clarnece here spoken of ...’ [443-63]; ref. to Cathréim Thoirdhealbhaigh, ed. Standish O’Grady (1929) [291].

Irish kingdom: Eudoxius considers there was never any general king of Ireland, but always the country was in four or five dominions [490]; commentary cites Holinshed, who calls Gurmundus and Turgesius kings of Ireland and writes that before 1095, ‘Ireland was bestowed into two principall kingdomes, and sometime into more, where one was euer elected and reputed to th echeefe, and as it were a monarch, whome in their histories they name Maximum regem, that is, the greatest king, or else without addition, Regem Hiberniae, the king of Ireland’ and that ‘there was alwies one principall governor among the Irish, whom they named a monarch (Vol. II, The first habitation of Ireland, pp.55-6, 59; Conquest of Ireland, p.8). [292].

Redshanks (cf. Holinshed, Description of Britain, and Fir[st] Inhabitation of Ireland) [521; 293]; [Pale, a boundary, mistakenly associated by Spenser with palatine, 913-5]; Jenkins believes that Spenser was present at ‘the point of Donluce’ when it was stormed in 1584 by Perrot (see anon. Hist . of John Perrot) [526; 293]

Knockfergus, for Carrickfergus [527]; Bruce passed through Belfast, 1217; Bruce crowned King of Ireland at Dundalk, 1/2 May 1316, and slain battle of Faughart, 14 Oct. 1318 [539-53; 295].

Renwick: besides the Desmond war, Grey had to deal with a rebellion in the Pale led by William Nugent and Lord Baltinglas [295]; Baltinglass, as Valtinglas, an ‘English lord’, said to join with O’Neill against the English on the Catholic party, in Papal Nuncio in France to Vatican, letter 29th March [296]. Spenser’s praise of Lord Grey [588ff]. Queen Elizabeth used to say that ‘the Irish were so allyed in kindred the one with the other, and she hauing a Cosine in the Country, could neuer get her right’ (Rich, Description).

Spenser’s experience of packed Irish juries in connection with is neighbour Lord Barry and a horsethief saved; Gottfried considers his remarks are thoroughly competent as guided by experience [298]; [garron = equus castratus, from Ir. gearr, cut (vide P. W. Joyce, Social History) [299]; ‘wilde Irishe’ [907]; loyalty of Thomas Butler, 10th Earl of Ormond, praised by Spenser, 2943-8]; bonnaaght, buannacht, billet-fee, 1062]

“Spende me and defende me”, Ir. ‘Caith agus cosain iad’; Spenser’s translation puts the words in the correct order, compared with Robert Payne, Description of Irleand, 1590, ‘They have a common saying which I am perswaded they speake unfeignedly, which is, Defend me and spend me, meaning from the oppression of the worst sorte of our countriemen’ (p.3-4); Ralegh, Prerogative of Parliaments, l.242, in Works, ed. Birch, 1751, ‘Defend me and spend me, saith the Irish Churl’ [1066]

Early Irish history: Spenser’s rendition of ancient Irish history commences, l.1170. Renwick calls Spenser deeply interested in Irish history, but he realised that entanglement in the usual labyrinth of citation and argument would be detrimental to his main purpose &c. [308]; Todd, Works, 1805, refers to men ‘of sound judgement and plentiful reading’ and ‘the extremely valuable researches of the Royal Irish Academy; the labours of an Usher, a Ware, a Leland, a Walker, a Vallancey, a Ledwich, a Beaufort, an O’Halloran, an Ousely, an Archdall’ [note to 1136-7].

Irish keening: described by Stanyhurst in two separate works (Description of Ireland, and De Rebus); also Barnaby Rich, The Irish Hubbub (1617), p.4: ‘Such brutish kinde of lamentation, as in the iudgement of any man that should but heare, and did not know their custome, would thinke it to be some prodigious presagement prognosticating some unlucky or ill successe, as they use to attribute to the howling of dogs, to the croacking of Ravens, and to the shrieking of Owles, fitter for Infidels and Barbarians, then to be in use and custome among Christians’ [against Spenser, l.1728-9]

Spenser’s indebtedness to Campion, who copies the substance of the letter of ‘inhabitants of the county and towne of Corke, being tyred with perpetuall oppressions of their Irish borderers’ (pp.94-96), which Spenser appears to copy [1976-91]. Ware wrote of Spenser: ‘In Hiberniam primum venit cum Arthuro Domino Grey (De Scriptoribus Hiberniae, 1639, p.137; quoted in Carpenter) [344].

On MacMahon and Bear’s Son, see Stanyhurst, Fitz úrsulies, now degenerat and called in Irish Mac Mahon, the Beares Sonne (Descript., p.39); but Keating and O’Flaherty accept the Irish origin of MacMahon, while Spenser significantly stipulates that he means the Northern MacMahons [2006-09]; O’Flaherty (Ogygia, 368), ‘Haec in praesenti sufficiunt ad omnem fidem historicam Spencero denegandum’ (regarding Spenser’s account of the flight of the Fitzurses to Ireland during the War of the Roses [2022-8; and see O’Flaherty, supra]. Ware omits the passage in which the Birmingham’s are said to have now waxed the ‘most savage Irish, naming himself Irishlike MacCorish’ [2055; 349].

Degeneracy: MS has ‘degendred’ for print copy ‘degenerated’ [348]; Keating denies that it is just for the conqueror to force the conquered to use their language (History, 1, 37). Lynch denies that the Romans did so (1.178) [2092-5; 350; see text, infra]; Barnaby Rich also inveighs against fosterage and intermarriage (Description, p.100; Remembrance, p.128) [210ff; 350; see text, infra]. Statute of Kilkenny (p.9, 11) made fosterage and inter-marriage illegal; other acts cited [351]; [Spenser’s account of clothing, cloaks, headgear, etc., commences 2138].

Irish soldiers: Stanyhurst, like Spenser [2194-9] cannot conceal his admiration for the Irish manner of mounting a horse [‘... Tam autem ascension ita in eorum consuetudine vrsatur, ut non sit tam laudabile illud munus praestare, quam turpe non perficere’, in De rebus, pp.40-1) [353]; Gallowglass [2214]; Holinshed, ‘three sorts or degrees of soldiers .. horsemen .. Kernaugh, a gentleman or a freeholder born .. Gallowglass, brought by the Englishmen’ (Conquest, p.7) [kern, 2214-20]; [Bale’s description of soldiers, in The Vocacyon of Johan Bale, 1553]; in appraising Spenser’s criticism of the bards.

Bardic Poetry: Gottfried remarks that ‘many of the bardic poems that have survived are characterised by a love of destruction’ and cites Eochaidh Ó hEoghasa’s encouragements to the Maguire, as well as Tadhg Dall Ó hUigginn’s urgings to Brian O’Rourke to destroy his enemies: ‘By him be felled their rich-bearing fruit trees. Leave hungry famine in Boyne’s fertile borders, &c.’ (Poem Book of the Gael, ed. Eleanor Hull, pp.170-1); see also Miscellany of Irish Bardic Poetry, ed. Lambert McKenna; and Quiggin (n.dd.) [358]; Henley (pp.16, 103) remarks that Tadhg, the bard of his unfriendly neighbour Lord Roche, may have assisted Spenser in the study of Irish poetry; Spenser’s statement reveals his interest in Irish poetry rather than his familiarity with it [359]; ‘swete wott’ and ‘invencion’; ‘ornaments [Rawlinson, ‘argumentes’]; ‘prettie flowers’, interpreted by Henley as sound effects; Standish O’Grady answers Spenser’s call for the ‘reformation’ of the bards [2338, see text, infra] - with this: ‘Reasonable enough from the Spenserian standpoint, Edmund’s own Virtue was in or about 1580 beautified and adorned with a grant of 3000 acres in the county Cork’ (Cat. of Irish MSS in the BML, 1.341).

Cess [tax]: cuille for giolla, horseboy; bawns; raths; barrows; cessing of soldiers, whether Spenser considered cesse an Irish word is doubtful [364] aquavite for usquebagh; Spenser argues that winter is the best time to wage war [3143].

War strategy: Gottfried educes many examples of the belief that a soft war against the Irish is contrary to policy, and supplied many cartographical and logistical notes to the military campaign that Spenser sketches, especially in Ulster; Smerick, reported at [3360] ‘myselfe being as near as any’; he reports the Grey told the Italians and Spaniards they they could seek no terms as ‘they were not any lawful enemies’ as lacking a commission for coming into another prince’s dominions and they confessed themselves only adventurers ‘that came to seek fortune abroad’; he objects to people who ‘slander the sacred ashes of that most just and honorable personage’ [Lord Grey] [3392]; ‘any such sinster suggestion of Cruelty’ [3400]; resorts to medical analogy [3420; see TEXT infra]

Queen took grave offence at the execution of Nugent and others in the Dublin rebellion, Nov-Oct. 1581 [385]; Raleigh, 1593: ‘The kinge of Spayne seek[e]th not Irlande for Irlande, but having raysed up troops of beggars on our backs, shall be able to inforce us to cast our eyes over our shoulders, while those before us strike us on the braynes.’ (John P. Hennessy, Sir Walter Raleigh in Ireland, 1883), p.180; O’Donnell, Macmahon, and Maguire [3522-7].

Shane O’Neil [3529ff]; for genealogy of O’Neill, see Paul Walsh, The Will and Family of Hugh O’Neill, Earl of Tyrone, PRIA, Arch. 40, 132-42; Hamiton, p.18; McKenna, Miscellany of Irish Bardic Poetry, 2.230 [a chart is produced here, Gottfried, 389]; since Elizabeth discourage contemptuous remarks about Catholics in England, Spenser remarks before each reference to Irish religion that he is not equipt to profess an opinion - but he does so anyway. [see text, 2614 & 5035, infra.]

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Rodulf Gottfried, ed., Prose Works [Variorum Edition], Commentary on A View of The Present State of Ireland (1949), “Bibliography” [Inter alia:]
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