Thursday, February 3, 2011

Silken Thomas

'The influence of these bards upon their patrons, and their admitted title to interfere in matters of the weightiest concern  may be also proved from the behavior of one of them at an interview between Thomas Fitzgerald, son of the Earl of Kildare, then about to renounce the English allegiance, and the Lord Chancellor Cromer, who made a long and goodly oration to dissuade him from his purpose. The young lord had come to the council “armed and wcaponed”,  and attended by seven score horsemen in their shirts of mail; and we are assured that the chancellor, having set forth his oration " with such a lamentable action as his cheekes were all beblubbered with tears, the horsemen, namelie  such as understood not English, began to divine what the lord-chancellor meant with all this long circumstance; some of them reporting that he was preaching a sermon, others said that he stood making of some heroical poetry in the praise of the Lord Thomas.   And thus as every idiot shot his foolish bolt at the wise chancellor his discourse.. who in effect had nought else but drop pretious stones before hogs, one Bard de Nelan, an Irish rithmour, and a rotten sheepe to infect a whole flocke, was chatting of Irish verses, as though his toong had run on pattens, in commendation of the Lord Thomas, investing him with the title of Silken Thomas, bicaus his horsemens jacks were gorgeously imbroidered with silkc: and in the end he told him that he lingered there ouer long; whereat the Lord Thomas being quickened," as Holinshed expresses it, bid defiance to the chancellor, threw down contemptuously the sword of office, which, in his father's absence, he held as deputy, and rushed forth to engage in open insurrection.'

Thomas Fitzgerald, or Silken Thomas, was executed by Henry VIII on February 3, 1537.  His crime was insurrection, including an attack on Dublin Castle.  The text above appears in a note to "The Poetical Works of Sir Walter Scott".

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