[Footnote 48: The Irish had been very learned in former ages, but had declined for several centuries before the reign of Henry II. Vide Bede. [D.S.]]
The other reason why civility made such late entrances into that island, may be imputed to its natural situation, lying more out of the road of commerce or conquest than any other part of the known world. All the intercourse the inhabitants had, was only with the western coasts of Wales and Scotland, from whence, at least in those ages, they were not like to learn very much politeness.
The King, about the second year of his reign, sent ambassadors to Pope Adrian, with injunctions to desire his licence for reducing the savage people of Ireland from their brutish way of living, and subjecting them to the crown of England. The King proceeded thus, in order to set up a title to the island, wherein the Pope himself pretended to be lord of the see; for in his letter, which is an answer and grant to the King’s requests, he insists upon it, that all islands, upon their admitting the Christian faith, become subject to the See of Rome; and the Irish themselves avowed the same thing to some of the first conquerors. In that forementioned letter, the Pope highly praises the King’s generous design, and recommends to him the civilizing the natives, the protection of the Church, and the payment of Peter-pence. The ill success of all past endeavours to procure from a people so miserable and irreligious this revenue to the holy see was a main inducement with the Pope to be easy and liberal in his grant; for the King professed a design of securing its regular payment. However, this expedition was not undertaken until some years after, when there happened an incident to set it forward, as we shall relate in its place.
[Footnote 49: Radulphus de Diceto. [D.S.]]
EXTRACTED FROM THE MONKS
Hard to gather his character from such bad authors.
A wise prince, to whom other princes referred their differences; and had ambassadors from both empires, east and west, as well as others, at once in his court.
Strong and brawny body, patient of cold and heat, big head, broad breast, broken voice, temperate in meat, using much exercise, just stature, forma elegantissima, colore sub-rufo, oculis glaucis, sharp wit, very great memory, constancy in adversity [and] in felicity, except at last he yielded, because almost forsaken of all; liberal, imposed few tributes, excellent soldier and fortunate, wise and not unlearned. His vices: mild and promising in adversity, fierce and hard, and a violator of faith in prosperity; covetous to his domestics and children, although liberal to soldiers and strangers, which turned the former from him; loved profit more than justice; very lustful, which likewise turned his sons and others from him.