expurgitated inter a conglomerous aggregation of elements
But the successful expeditions against both the North and South undertaken by the Deputy in 1539 seems to have put an end to all concerted defence, and to have reduced the Irish princes to a state of utter helplessness. One after another they hastened to make their submission, to accept titles and honours and money from the king, and to consent to hold their territories by royal patent. Already in 1534 the Earl of Ormond had accepted the religious policy of Henry VIII. in the hope of scoring a triumph over his old rivals, the Geraldines. Three years later (1537) MacGillapatrick of Ossory promised faithfully to abolish the usurped jurisdiction of the Pope, to have the English language spoken in his territories, and to send his son to be brought up with a knowledge of the English language and customs. In return for this he received a royal grant of his land and possessions, was created Baron of Colthill and Castleton, and was promised a seat in the House of Lords, a favour which he obtained in 1543, when he was appointed a peer with the title of Baron of Upper Ossory. Brian O'Connor of Offaly and his rival Cahir made their submission in March 1538. They renounced the jurisdiction of the Pope, agreed to hold their lands from the king, and to abandon all claims to tribute or black rent from their neighbours of the Pale. Brian O'Connor was created Baron of Offaly. He was followed in his submission by the Earl of Desmond (1541), MacWilliam Burke, O'Brien of Thomond, Manus O'Donnell (Aug. 1541) and finally by Con O'Neill (1542). All these, together with a host of minor chieftains and dependents, renounced the authority of the Pope, accepted re-grants of their lands from the king, begged for English titles, and did not think it beneath their dignity to accept gifts of money and robes. Con O'Neill became Earl of Tyrone, his son Matthew Baron of Dungannon, O'Brien Earl of Thomond, his nephew Donogh Baron of Ibricken, MacWilliam Burke Earl of Clanrickard, while knighthoods were distributed freely among the lesser nobles. Although there may have existed in the minds of the Irish chieftains a certain amount of confusion about the temporal and spiritual jurisdiction of the Pope, especially as the Popes seem to have claimed a peculiar sovereignty in Ireland, yet it is impossible to suppose that they could have acted in good faith in signing the documents of submission to which they attached their signatures. That they recognised the dangerous and heretical tendencies of Henry's religious policy is evident enough from the correspondence of the years 1537-39, and that they never made any serious efforts to carry out the terms of these agreements must be admitted. It is quite possible that like the noblemen of England they were personally willing to acquiesce in Henry VIII.'s religious policy for the sake of securing good terms for themselves, but that they found it impossible to do anything on account of the opposition of the vast body of the people. Henry VIII. recognised that he was not in a position to enforce his authority in case of O'Brien, O'Donnell, O'Neill, MacWilliam Burke, etc., and hence he advised his officials to seek to win these over by kindness and persuasion rather than by force. In particular they were to endeavour "to persuade them discreetly" to suppress the religious houses in their territories, but at the same time no attempt was to be made "to press them overmuch in any vigorous sort." O'Brien of Thomond and Desmond were not unwilling to share in the plunder of the monasteries, but as a rule the condition of affairs as regards religion was but slightly affected by the submissions of the chieftains.
The new Deputy, Anthony St. Leger (1540), was well fitted to profit by the military successes of Lord Grey. As a royal commissioner three years before he had ample opportunity of knowing the condition of Ireland, the characters of the principal leaders, and the inducements by which they might be tempted to acknowledge the authority of the King of England. He relied upon diplomatic rather than military pressure, and he was so completely successful that the privy council could report in 1542 that Ireland was at peace. Already in 1537, Alen, the Master of the Rolls, had called the attention of the royal commissioners to the fact that many of the Irish regarded the Pope as the temporal sovereign of Ireland and the King of England only as Lord of Ireland by virtue of the Papal authority, and advised them that Henry should be proclaimed King of Ireland by an Act of Parliament. This advice was approved warmly by Staples, Bishop of Meath (1538), and was endorsed by the Deputy and council in a letter addressed to Henry VIII. in December 1540. The suggestion was accepted by the king, who empowered St. Leger to summon a Parliament to give it effect (1541).
Parliament met in June 1541. How many members attended the House of Commons or what particular districts were represented is not known for certain; but in all probability it was only from the eastern and southern counties and cities that deputies were appointed. In the House of Lords there were present two archbishops together with twelve bishops, the Earls of Ormond and Desmond, and a number of viscounts, lords and barons, nearly all of whom belonged to the Anglo-Irish faction. O'Brien of Thomond did not attend, but he sent deputies to represent him; O'Donnell and O'Neill held themselves aloof from the proceedings; and Donogh O'Brien, MacWilliam Burke, Cahir MacArt Kavanagh, O'Reilly, Phelim Roe O'Neill of Clandeboy, and Kedagh O'More attended in person, but were not allowed to take an active part in the proceedings or to vote. A bill was introduced by St. Leger bestowing on Henry VIII. the title of King of Ireland, and was read three times in the House of Lords in one day. The next day it was passed by the House of Commons. It was agreed that the monarch should be styled "Henry VIII. by the Grace of God King of England, France, and Ireland, Defender of the Faith, and of the Church of England, and also of Ireland, on earth the Supreme Head." The proclamation, it was reported, was received with joyous acclamation in Dublin, where a modified general amnesty was declared in honour of the happy event. The report of what had taken place produced undoubtedly a great effect on those princes who still held aloof, so that before the end of the year 1542 even Con O'Neill had made an ignominious peace with the government.
While the questions of royal supremacy and the jurisdiction of the Pope were being debated in Parliament (1536-7) the bishops and proctors of the clergy incurred the wrath of Browne and the English officials generally by their courageous resistance to the new proposals, showing thereby that they had no sympathy with the anti- Roman measures. Nor is there any reason to suppose that any considerable body of them adopted a different attitude, though the submission of their English brethren could not have failed to produce some effect on them, particularly as some of them were Englishmen themselves, and many of them must have received their education at some of the English universities. In addition to Browne, who boasted of being only "a king's bishop," the only men who can be proved to have taken an active part in propagating the new views were Edmund Staples of Meath and Richard Nangle, the bishop whom Henry VIII. endeavoured to intrude into Clonfert (1536). The former of these was an Englishman appointed by the Pope (1529) at the request of Henry VIII. As might have been expected he took the side of the king against the Earl of Kildare, and when the struggle began in Ireland between the friends and the opponents of royal supremacy in Ireland he joined the former. Like so many of the other Reformers he showed his anxiety for the gospel by taking to himself a wife and by appropriating for his own use the goods of the Church, but there is no evidence that his efforts produced any effect on the great body of his clergy. Richard Nangle of Clonfert found himself opposed by Roland de Burgo, the bishop provided by the Pope to the See of Clonfert (Feb. 1539) Browne announced that he intended personally to carry the light of the gospel wherever English was understood, and that he had secured a suffragan in the person of Dr. Nangle, Bishop of Clonfert, to set forth God's Word and the king's cause in the Irish tongue. Owing to the state of open hostility existing between Browne and Staples the archbishop did not regard the latter as a fellow-labourer. But evidently at this period these were the only three bishops on whom any reliance could be placed by Henry VIII. Similarly in a document drawn up in 1542 entitled /Certain Devices for the Reformation of Ireland/, Browne and Staples alone were mentioned as favouring the gospel or as capable of "instructing the Irish bishops of this realm, causing them to relinquish and renounce all popish or papistical doctrine, and to set forth within each of their dioceses the true Word of God."
But though none of the Irish bishops appointed by the Pope, with the single exception of Staples of Meath, took any active steps to assist the king, few of them entered the lists boldly in defence of the Roman See, and many of them, like their English brethren, tried to temporise in the hope that the storm might soon blow past. Edmund Butler, the illegitimate son of Sir Piers Butler, afterwards Earl of Ormond, seems to have joined with the rest of his family in acknowledging royal supremacy. He took a seat in the privy council, acted as intermediary between the government and the Earl of Desmond, signed as a witness the document by which the latter renounced the authority of the Pope, accepted for himself portions of the property of the suppressed Franciscan Friary at Cashel, and was present at the Parliament of 1541. Hugh O'Cervallen of Clogher was appointed by the Pope in 1535, but he went to London in 1542 as chaplain to Con O'Neill, surrendered his Bulls of appointment, took the oath proscribed by Henry VIII., and accepted a grant by royal patent of his diocese, together with a pension of ￡40 a year. Needless to say he was repudiated by the Pope, who appointed another to take his place, and was driven from his See. John Quinn of Limerick was reported by Lord Grey to have taken the oath of royal supremacy in 1538, but the Deputy's leanings towards Rome even on this journey were proclaimed so frequently by his opponents on the council that it would be difficult to believe him, did not the name of the Bishop of Limerick appear amongst the witnesses to the submission of the Earl of Desmond. Though his attitude at this period was at least doubtful, it is certain that he stood loyal to Rome once he discovered the schismatical tendency of the new movement, since it was found necessary by the government to attempt to displace him in 1551 by the appointment of one who was likely to be more pliable.
The fact that some of the bishops surrendered the religious houses of which they were commendatory priors, as for example, Edmund Nugent of Kilmore, Milo Baron of Ossory, and Walter Wellesley of Kildare, and accepted pensions from the king as a compensation for the loss they sustained by the suppression of the monasteries, creates a grave suspicion of their orthodoxy, though it does not prove that they accepted royal supremacy. Baron was undoubtedly in close communication with the government officials, and Nugent seems to have been removed by the Pope. Again, several of the bishops, Roland de Burgo of Clonfert, Florence Kirwan of Clonmacnoise, Eugene MacGuinness of Down and Connor, and Thady Reynolds of Kildare surrendered the Bulls they had received from Rome, and accepted grants of their dioceses from the king. Such a step, however, affords no decisive evidence of disloyalty to the Holy See. For years a sharp controversy had been waged between the Kings of England and the Pope regarding the temporalities of bishoprics. The Popes claimed to have the right of appointment to both the spiritualities and the temporalities, and gave expression to these claims in the Bulls of appointment. The kings on their part asserted their jurisdiction over the temporalities, and to safeguard their rights they insisted that the bishop-elect should surrender the papal grant in return for a royal grant. Such a custom was well known before any schismatical tendencies had made themselves felt in England, and compliance with it would not prove that the bishops involved looked upon the king as the source of their spiritual jurisdiction. The main point to be considered in case of the bishops who surrendered their monasteries or their Bulls is what kind of oath, if any, were they obliged to take. If they consented to swear the form of renunciation prescribed for Irish bishops by the king their orthodoxy could not well be defended, but it is possible that, as Henry VIII. did not wish to press matters to extremes with the Irish princes, he may have adopted an equally prudent policy in case of the bishops, and contented himself with the oath of allegiance.
Fully cognisant of the importance of winning the bishops to his side, Henry VIII. took care to appoint his own nominees as soon as a vacancy occurred. By doing so he hoped to secure the submission of the clergy and people, and to obtain for himself the fees paid formerly to Rome. During the ten years, between 1536 and 1546, he appointed Dominic Tirrey to Cork, Richard Nangle to Clonfert, Christopher Bodkin, already Bishop of Kilmacduagh to Tuam, Alexander Devereux to Ferns, William Meagh to Kildare, Richard O'Ferral, late prior of Granard to Ardagh, Aeneas O'Hernan (or O'Heffernan), late preceptor of Aney, to Emly, George Dowdall, late prior of Ardee, to Armagh, Conat O'Siaghail, a chaplain of Manus O'Donnell to Elphin, and Cornelius O'Dea, a chaplain of O'Brien of Thomond, to Killaloe. Though there can be little doubt that some of these received their appointments as a reward for their acceptance of royal supremacy, it is difficult to determine how far they were committed to the religious policy of Henry VIII. It is certain that none of them, with the possible exception of Nangle, took an active part in favouring the cause of the Reformation in Ireland once they understood the real issues at stake, and that the fact of their being opposed in every single case by a lawful bishop appointed by the Pope rendered it impossible for them to do much, however willing they might have been to comply with the wishes of the king.
During this critical period in Irish history Pope Paul III. was in close correspondence with several of the Irish bishops and lay princes. Time and again the officials in Ireland complain of the "Rome-runners," of the provisions made by the Pope to Irish bishoprics, of the messengers passing to and fro between Ireland and Rome, and of the Pope's co-operation in organising the Geraldine League in 1538 and 1539. It should be noted, however, that the silly letter attributed by Robert Ware to Paul III., wherein he is supposed to have warned O'Neill that he and his councillors in Rome had discovered from a prophecy of St. Laserian that whenever the Church in Ireland should fall the Church of Rome should fall also, is a pure forgery published merely to discredit the Pope and the Roman See. Undoubtedly Paul III. was gravely concerned about the progress of a movement that threatened to involve Ireland in the English schism, and was anxious to encourage the bishops and princes to stand firm in their resistance to royal supremacy. In 1539 reports reached Rome that George Cromer, the Archbishop of Armagh, who had resisted the measures directed against the Pope during the years 1536-38, had yielded, and as a result the administration of the See was committed (1539) to Robert Wauchope, a distinguished Scotch theologian then resident in Rome. What proofs were adduced in favour of Cromer's guilt are not known, but it is certain that the official correspondence of the period will be searched in vain for any evidence to show that Cromer accepted either in theory or in practice the ecclesiastical headship of Henry VIII. He held aloof from the meetings of the privy council, never showed the slightest sympathy with the action of the Archbishop of Dublin, and though his name appears on some of the lists of the spiritual peers in the Parliament of 1541, the official report of St. Leger makes it certain that he did not attend. It is quite possible that the Archbishop did not find himself in agreement with the political schemes whereby the Irish princes and the King of Scotland were to join hands for the overthrow of English authority in Ireland, and on this account the King of Scotland was desirous of having him removed to make way for his agent at the Roman Court.