Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 08.djvu/84

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contemplating other similar reforms, when an attack by Desmond on his kinsman Sir Maurice Fitzgerald led (1565) to a pitched battle between the supporters of the two earls at Affone, a ford near the river Finisk, a tributary of the Blackwater. Desmond was wounded by Sir Edmund Butler, Ormonde's brother, and taken prisoner. Elizabeth, angered beyond measure by this act of private war, summoned both earls again to her presence. The queen's councillors were divided as to the degrees of guilt attaching to the offenders, and the court factions aggravated the local struggle. Sussex insisted that Ormonde was guiltless. Sir Henry Sidney and the Leicester faction denied that Desmond had shown disloyalty to the English cause. Finally, both earls agreed (September 1565) to enter into their recognisances in 20,000l. to abide such orders as her majesty might prescribe. Elizabeth evinced unmistakable sympathy for Ormonde; the attentions she paid him at the time gave rise to no little scandal, and induced him to linger at court for the next five years. Meanwhile Sir Henry Sidney succeeded Sussex as lord deputy, and he was inclined to favour Desmond, but the queen insisted that Ormonde's claims whenever conflict arose deserved the higher consideration. In 1567 Sidney visited Munster and reported that it was absolutely uncontrolled, and as turbulent as it well could be. Desmond was ravaging Ormonde's territory in the earl's absence. A royal commission was nominated in October 1567 to determine the truth of Ormonde's allegation, that he had suffered terribly from Desmond's aggressions; an award was made in his favour, and Desmond was mulcted in the sum of 20,894l. 12s. 8d. Early in 1568 the Earl of Desmond and his brother John were sent to the Tower of London. Although Ormonde (in Sidney's words) still ‘politicly kept himself in England,’ the Butler influence was in the ascendant during the imprisonment of the rival earl. Edward and Sir Edmund, Ormonde's brothers, used their power, as his representatives in Munster, with the utmost cruelty and injustice. In June 1569 Sir Edmund, who had a personal hatred of Sidney, in temporary concert with some members of the Desmond family, broke into open revolt against the lord deputy. Sidney asserted that Ormonde's presence was indispensable to the peace of South Ireland, and the earl returned home with the queen's permission. He landed at Waterford in July 1569, and found Munster in the throes of a civil war, in which his brother Sir Edmund was matched against Sidney's lieutenant, Sir Peter Carew. Ormonde honestly endeavoured to arbitrate between the combatants, but Sidney clearly regarded him at the time with deep suspicion. Early in 1570, however, Ormonde wrote to Cecil that he and Sidney were reconciled, and as proof of his goodwill he crushed, at Sidney's request, a rebellion of the Earl of Thomond, one of the Munster malcontents. In April Ormonde's three brothers, Edmund, Edward, and Piers, were attainted, and Ormonde passionately protested against the indignity; but though the three Butlers were pardoned in 1573, and became loyal subjects, they were not, through some legal error, restored in blood. In 1571 Ormonde was busily engaged in repressing further tumults in Munster, which the Desmond influence continued to foment. At the beginning of 1572 Fitzwilliam, the lord deputy, wrote to Burghley that ‘the South was always the ticklish part of Ireland, and that Ormonde alone could manage it.’

In 1572 the earl spent several months in London, and visited his old rival, the Earl of Desmond, who was still in confinement. Desmond begged Ormonde to use his influence to secure his release, and probably Ormonde recommended the course, which was soon after adopted, of letting Desmond return to Ireland under guarantees of good behaviour. Ormonde's domain grew very turbulent in his renewed absence, and Desmond, scorning all his promises, resolved on striking a desperate blow at English rule in South Ireland. In July 1573 Ormonde entreated him in vain to abandon his threatening designs. While Ormonde was on another visit to London, news reached Elizabeth (December 1579) of a rising of the Desmond faction in Munster, aided and encouraged by papal envoys and Spanish soldiers. Ormonde was straightway appointed military governor of the province, with a commission ‘to banish and vanquish those cankered Desmonds.’ In March 1580 he marched from Kilkenny to Kerry, ravaging the country with fire and sword. In the mountains of Kerry he captured many of the rebel leaders, and in a report of his services drawn up in July 1580 he claimed to have put to the sword within three months 46 captains, 800 notorious traitors and malefactors, and 4,000 other persons. In September, when the rebels were encouraged to renew the struggle by the arrival of a second detachment of Spaniards at Smerwick, Ormonde showed less activity, although he still maintained a large army and supported the movements of the government. His conduct gave rise in England to some groundless suspicions of his loyalty. In April 1581, when the immediate danger had passed, he declared himself weary of killing, and induced Elizabeth to proclaim pardon to