Category Archives: Archbishop Maurice Fitzgibbon
Letter of the Archbishop of Cashel to King Philip II of Spain, 26th July, 1570
Encouraged by the confidence I have in your Catholic Majesty, I have dared to speak more freely than perhaps I should have done, but I trust your Majesty will excuse me, as the business is of such importance.
I understand that the English, after having done us all the harm they could, wish to make peace with your Majesty, which is with no other intention than that they may be able, after the peace is concluded with your Majesty, to treat us more freely by doing all the mischief they wish against us. These injuries, which will be felt by all in general, will be more terrible for myself, because our chieftains have had great confidence in your Majesty, and I have written many times encouraging them to resist the English, assuring them that your Majesty would not fail to send assistance, as I was told by the Cardinal and other men of high position in the name of your Majesty. We have refused on this account, many times, the pardon the English have offered us for the past, telling us to enjoy our goods and lands as before, on condition we would be of their opinion, and recognise Her Majesty as Sovereign and Queen.
Neither can your Majesty conscientiously refuse to send us some assistance in virtue of the promises made through me by your Majesty, and that without delay, as we have already been kept in suspense for one year and three months; for, you must hold in mind that your Majesty is the Catholic King, having received that name from your ancestors for the increase of Catholic faith, by favouring the cause of Catholics. In, the same way as the Queen of England has favoured and favours the rebel heretics in France, your Majesty can, in an underhand manner, send some assistance to our chieftains, in arms and men, under pretence of their going to Holland, who, contrary to your will, or for some other cause, should go to Ireland.
Your Majesty has now a good opportunity for so doing, by taking advantage of the arrival of that Englishman, Thomas Stukely, who has received such insults from his own countrymen that he will not fail to do them all the harm he can. He is a very daring man, clever in war matters, in which he has been engaged most of his life. He is well acquainted with our own country, its forts, its harbours. I have been informed that he has brought with him experienced mariners from all parts of Ireland. This is the most favourable season in the year, because now our land abounds with good corn and meat, much more than at other seasons of the year; besides if your Majesty does not send some succour within three months, the English will take such hold of our forts and harbours, that even if your Majesty were to make use of all your power, you would not overcome them. I mention this, because I have been informed that the English are making great preparations, and are endeavouring to take possession of the whole country, and to keep it in such subjection that the natives shall no longer be able to make any resistance as they have hitherto done in some places. If the English succeed in their plans (which God forbid), your Majesty will have the worst enemies whom you have ever known. All this your Majesty can prevent now, with the assistance of a few men, by being the first to take possession of the ports and fortresses. The whole success depends on celerity, for your Majesty will be able to do with 10,000 men, and a little expense, what you will not afterwards be able to accomplish with 100,000 men and all available power. If perchance your Majesty is not satisfied with my embassy, or doubts lest perhaps those who sent me should not keep their word, let your Majesty send some one with me to my country, and I shall make those chieftains place their fortunes and estates under your Majesty’s jurisdiction by oath, or give any security required by your Majesty until they fulfil what they have promised. If it does not please your Majesty to send prompt assistance, as I was promised by the Cardinal and other noblemen in your Majesty’s name, I request your Majesty to grant me the favour of allowing me to return to my native land, that thus I may discharge my conscience of the great weight I have from the Church, and apologise to my brethren for my delay, by testifying my willingness to die for the Catholic faith, and for the liberty of my country, as much as each of them does. My remaining here would only serve to increase the expenses of your Majesty, without any benefit to myself or my country.
The humble servant and chaplain of your Majesty,