Monday, November 28, 2011

Letter of Hugh O'Neill to King Philip III

An appeal for an Irish seminary.
The appeal below for the Irish seminary in Douai was sent to King Philip III of Spain in 1599 by Hugh O’Neill, King of Tyrone and then also regarded by his supporters in the war against Queen Elizabeth as the rightful King of Ireland. (Significantly, when the Spaniard Mateo de Oviedo was appointed Archbishop of Dublin the following year, Pope Clement VIII sent with him a crown made of peacock feathers for O’Neill.)

The Irish seminary at Douai (then part of the Spanish Netherlands) was founded around 1577 by Fr Ralph Cusack. King Philip endowed the Irish seminary in 1604 with 5,000 florins. (Incidentally it is little understood today just how crucial the support and generosity of the Kings of Spain was to the survival of Catholicism in Ireland.) After the Flight of the Earls, Hugh O’Neill would stay at the seminary in 1607 on his way to Rome (where Paul V welcomed him lavishly and the same King Philip awarded him with a substantial pension).
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