Page images
PDF
EPUB
[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small]

Of this fight it was prophesied and said that so many men should be killed in that place that their foemen might wade to their knees in their blood, and so it was, for as they fled before them, in the slime they followed after, and slew them, and as they slew drink " the blood of them that were slain, and flowed up to their knees that slew them. This same prophet said also that a poor man, as though he were fled or banished out of other lands, with little people, should come to Doune, and win the town without succour of any other, and there many fights and adventures of things that in that country should come, which were openly fulfilled in John de Coursey. That same John had in Irish written, and was thereafter a shewer of all his deeds. In the same book was found that a man with people weaponed should with strength the walls of Watterford break, and with great slaughter] of the citizens the town win ; and from thence by Wexforde went to Dubs]]inge without any let, and the city win. And all this is truly fulfilled of the Earl. He said that the city of Limrick should of Englishmen be lost twice, and at the third time kept fast, and so it was, of Raymond. Another of Philip de Bruce, as it openly shall be showed in his own place; whereof the prophecy was thus said, “The city thrice sought, and at the third time should be kept.”

Five great fights Sir John had,t after he went to Doune; one after Candlemas, as it is told ; that other at Midsummer, when he with few men overcame the battle of 15 thousand, and slew full many of them. The third was at Ferne at a prey-taking, that they came through a narrow pass and stiff fight, and so strong that many of his men was soon killed and the other part discomforted abroad the woods. The number was of Irish a 11 thousand men, and he was left with few men with him. When they had left their horses they went a-foot a 30 mile in their weapons]. They held the fight of their foemen two days and two nights, and were fasting till they came to his castle. The fourth fight was in Uriell; there many of his men were slain, but he put the other part to flight, and slew and drowned many. The fifth; at the bridge at Howthe, as he came with few men out of England; nevertheless there he overcame and slew full many, and came whole and sound to his own. Thus in th[re]e great fights he wan the over hand, and in two fights he did his foemen much harm.

John was a man fair and white of limbs, body bony, strong, and big, none harder than he, nor none so strong that durst fight with him. In every fight he would be the first, and in the perilous” place ever he would ever be. He was so accounted in fight when he led an host and came to fight, he would never tarry as a leader, but with the first would strike some while behind; where most peril was, there would he be. Sturdy and straight out of weapon, nevertheless he was meek and sober, and worshipped God much and holy Church, and in all things he loved God and his service, and all that befell of him he gave God thanks for the grace that he sent him. He spoused Godfrey's daughter the King of Man. And after many perilous battles that he did, not without great labour and peril of life and much mischief, at the last he overcame all the country, and castled the land in conveniable places, and such place[s] made that none better might be steadfaster. But great wonder is, and not but as please God all thing[s] must be, these four great posts of the Conquest of Ireland, namely, Robert Stevenson, Harvey of Mount Morthy, Raymond de la Gross, and John de Courssy, might never have children by their married wives. This much we have shortly told of John de Coursy; and the other part of his manfulness we leave that to write to others that will it write, saith Camerus, for I will write no more. Me-think it strange that Gerald Camerus, vicar, made no more account of Sir John Coursy, being the first Earl of Oulster and Lord of Conoghe. He neither gave him his name of honour, neither yet the twenty part of his right commendations, and for that he was refused by the said Sir John to be general vicar and secretary to to the Prince f at the coming of King John, with whom $ he came. You may see what the world is, that vanity draweth truth aside, as it shall appear hereafter of other thing[s] which the said Camerus did for displeasure. This Sir John de Coursy being of the house of Bretayne in his mother's side, was one of the strongest men that then was in Europa. The valiantest, the fairest, the courtest, the soberest, the wisest, the fiercest in Europa was not his like. When he was sent by the prince into Ireland it was given him by patent so much as he had win in Ireland of any land, he and his friends whom he listed to prefer that should enjoy, without charge or tribute, for his reward of service, saving homage. In all affairs he served King Henry the Second in all his wars. This said Sir John Coursy was in friendship with a worthy knight, Sir Amore Tristerame, now called Saint Larans, by reason the said Sir Amore married his sister, and being in talk together in Our Lady Church in France in Rone, did agree together that what the said Sir John Curusy or he had win in any realm, either by service or other, should be divided between them, and upon this they companied together as followeth, in France, in Angeou, Normandy, and England; and now sent into Ireland as is aforesaid, and took a bark and landed first at Houthe, where as a cruel battle was fought beside a bridge as they landed. Then Sir John Cowrsy, being sore sick, or some other impediment, aboard the ship was absent then; and by reason that Sir Amore then and there was chieftain in the field, which stalworthly and knightly did use himself, this same was allotted to him for his part of the Conquest at the beginning, with other things, by the said Sir John Coursey. There was also a squire that hight Mongwmrey, Sir Amore's sister['s] son, that bare Sir Amory's standard that day, stalworthly did use him in that battle. After the killing of the two standard bearers afore, I find that there was slain of the Saint Larans at that battle seven sons, uncles, and nephews of Sir Amore's. And so Sir John Coursy and his company after that battle went forward into the realm, and would not have tarried in company with William Aldelmus by reason of his evil using of himself, as cruel, ireful, covetous, and disdainful; and so passing through Iriell and so to Doune ere men was ware, and there did much marvelous acts with his men and with his own hands. Amongst all he had another field with the King of Ulester, called O'Donyll, in this order, which among all other battles was noted as followeth. Sir John sent Sir Amorey as chieftain of the horsemen, as alway he was, to-fore, to fetch a prey. Sir John was always a-foot when any business or battle was to be done, and ever was afore his men as a common soldier, for he was so desirous to fight as ever he was to do anything. It was his only delight and pleasure, as a hawk to his prey or a wolf to his kind. His like was not seen nor heard afore. And after the prey was gathered,” both kine and stud and other cattle, ere that Sir Amorey could come where as Sir John was, Sir John was beset with the King of Ulester with 15 thousand men, and fought with him a cruel battle. There was never blow that Sir John strack that day.f. At last he killed a man, and sore hurt another; so worthy a knight could not be found in all the world, at that day; and so, by force of so huge a number of enemies, Sir John and his men was driven to a strait, which they kept from 10 of the clock in the morning till seven of the clock at night, and, notwithstanding this terrible and mortal battle, and great losses of his men, always he had in mind his brother-in-law, Sir Amory, which he thought was slain before, ere the King did give the charge upon him and his battle, and ever would say, as he fought, “If my brother, Sir Amore, were here, I could find in my heart to die with him. Alas! my dear brother; alas ! that ever I knew him ; for Sir Gawayn was never to be compared above thee in all thy doings. Alas! alas ! This day had not gone thus if he had been here. I would be sure this battle had been our fortune if he were alive.” As they were thus occupied, Sir Amore then coming to the top of a great hill, he saw a three miles off a great number of people, and said, that the quietness that they had in making the prey “was none other but those men whom we see was gathering to give battle unto us, which now do appear to be true before us. God send that they meet not with my brother Sir John before our coming, and then, I trust, we shall use them kindly and stalworthly; and yet my heart do not well like of this day's journey. I fear the stoutness and the stalworthness of my brother would not tarry our coming, or that he be set on unwares of himself, and so all cast away. Alas, for my brother's chancel My heart do lament, and know not the cause. O God why was I absent this day from so dear a friend in time of his necessity ?” As Sir Amory came within half a mile to the battle, he found where as the battle began, with many dead men grovelling on the ground, amongst whom he met his page, one Gallame Blound, and his leg cut off above the knee, and told all news. The horsemen would have Sir Amory to take another way, and said their enemies were 20 men to a man of theirs that was alive left. “Alas!” said Sir Amory, and stood still ; “shall my evil fortune be recorded with the deadly blood of my brother Sir John Coursy ; Shall his sister say to me that her brother is lost for lack of me this day? Shall our enemies say well of his worthy death, and evil of our miserable life? Shall this death record my life : All the world will testify this same. Wo is me this day if I shall flee, as your desire is. Who shall bury these dead corses The wolves and birds shall devour them. Who shall revive and give relief to the wounded in their necessity?” With that he cried, “Alas! my trusty and beloved brother, alas ! my dear brother;” and cried and wept with a loud cry. “My friends and trusty fellows in arms, you shall understand that I will to this battle with the help of God; and you, and all those that loved my brother Sir John and me, follow me, and let us live with praise or die with honour; and, as we hath promised a day of service to God and to our friends, and told not when, let this be the day.” And with that he strack his horse with the spurs, and gave the charge. And as Sir Amore's standard appeared to Sir John Coursy, then as a lion he roared and cried, “My brother is come ! Now, worthy soldiers of all worthiness and stalworthness, let us to rejoice and give aid to yonder noble standard, that never

Coursey's commendation.

* This word is very doubtful. It seems to be “drynk” or “dryns” in MS., with an “e” over the “y.”

+ “hède,” Ms.

f “fyrst,” MS.

§ “This,” MS.

Coursey married the King of Man's daughter.

None of the 4 posts of Ireland never had issue mulier.

f.42.

Coursey Earl of Oulster and Lord of Conoght.

Coursey's reward
of service.

The first acquain-
tance between
Coursey and Saint
Laurens.

* “perrells,” MS., here and elsewhere.
+ “secryt,” MS.

f “Princes,” MS.

§ “fome,” MS.

The first battle at
Howthe.

Howthe given to
Saint Laurens.

The King O'Donell
did give battle to
Coursey, his horse-
men being absent.

f. 43.

* “goder,” MS. Sic.

Coursey's grief.

Sir Amorey's complaint.

The horsemen's counsel.

Sir Amore's lamentation.

f. 44.

Coursey's courage.

Sir Amore in point of death.

Nicholas wounded.

Amori's praise.

had dishonour in no danger nor field. Come on, and follow me.”

Assuredly there was not Tristeram, Launsselot, nor Ectore, that could do more than Sir John did that day. By very force of fight their enemies at that charge was put back with such slaughter of men, which was above four 1,000 and more, that seldom was seen with so few a number. For three days they followed the chase, that after that day he had never field in Ulester more, and so did possess Ulester wholly.

After the field fought, Sir John called for his brother, and found him not a long while after; at length was found lying or leaning upon his shield by a little hedgerow, where as he had of the honeysuckles and wild roses in his ha[n]o for his relief, by reason he lost so much of his blood, being so sore hurt that he could not depart that ground, but was borne between four men upon his shield, for he had three great wounds, that none granted him life. During nine days after this passed over, and all thing[s] put in order accordingly. At this time he was so disdained by reason of great report did sound of all his doings and stalworthness.

At this battle was wounded and killed 5 score and more of Sir John's friends and men, and had been all slain were it not that Sir John took a stronghold or strait so soon as he did, and that Sir Amory had not come so soon ; amongst whom was a worthy knight and a stalworth, called the Young Nicholas FitzAmorey, borne by Sir John Coursy's sister, wounded in nine several places, and left for dead, and at that day best did, and worthiest praise, after Sir John and his father, left for dead;” and Sir Amore himself left for dead in the field also. God and his enemies could report that amongst a thousand knights Sir Amory might be chosen for beauty, stout-stomachhead,t and stalworthness; for he was stout and sturdy to his peer, and humble and full of courtesy to his inferiors, and nothing would yield but in the way of gentleness.

When that into Ireland the Legate was come to Dublinge, he called all the bishops and clergy of Ireland, and held his council there. He showed openly the King's right of England to Ireland, and the Pope his grant and his confirmation, and, upon pain of banishing, forbade men, learned men and unlearned, that none, so hardy should come against the King's truth. For the Irishmen were wont to keep all their victuals in churches, he gave the Englishmen leave, when they had led their hosts and might not find victuals other ways, that where as they find victuals in any church they should take it out, and give to the keepers of the church as it were worth.

Legate's doings.

f “stomaked,” MS,

« PreviousContinue »