Silken Thomas History

Silken Thomas History

Lord Thomas Fitzgerald or “Silken Thomas”, as he was known in history because of his richness in clothes and the silken banners carried by his standard bearers, was “a hot impetuous brave, daring and chivalrous youth”. He was the son of Garret Og Fitzgerald, Earl of Kildare, of the Anglo-Normal Geraldines.
The Geraldine family was comprised of two great branches. One branch was ruled by the Earl of Desmond, the other by the Earl of Kildare, who was paramount and held the office of Lord Deputy. Being rich and powerful, Kildare enemies at court who were constantly plotting his overthrow and on many occasions he had to go to England to make his defence against these charges. He was usually able to vindicate his actions and remained on good terms with Henry VII. Wolsey, however, was suspicious of Kildare and especially at this time when Henry was revolting against Pope and bringing his politico-religious revolution which threw the whole English Realm into confusion. Loyalities to Henry were being questioned and bloody execution ensued.
Once again and for the last time Kildare was summoned to London and imprisoned in Tower. The charges against him was that he was slow in arresting his kinsman Desmond, who Wolsey claimed had sent letters to Francis the first of France and Charles the Fifth, King of Spain, asking these sovereigns to invade Ireland. While Kildare was imprisoned, Silken Thomas, who was barely twenty-one, acted as Lord deputy for his father.
Rumours of starting changes and executions were brought to Ireland by each mail. Then forged letters arrived, describing in detail how Kildare had been beheaded in the Tower of London. Broken hearted and convinced that his father was dead, Silken Thomas sought vengeance. He gathered his guards, retainers and his grief stricken kinsmen about him and marched on Mary’s Abbey. In the Council Chamber there he threw down his sword of office, declaring “I am no longer Henry Tudors deputy, I am his foe”.
No sooner had Silken Thomas started his rebellion against Henry than the truth emerged: his father had not been beheaded. The forged letters were just another plot to ruin the great Geraldine Family. But there was no turning back for Silken Thomas now. he set siege to Dublin, and Alan the Archbishop, and archenemy of the Geraldines fled the city by boat, which has been driven ashore on Clontarf, from where the archbishop sought refuge in the village of Artane.
Silken Thomas, together with his uncles and an armed party reached Artane. They dragged the archbishop from his bed, despite his pleas for his life the elder Geraldines who were savage men barbarously murdered Alan as he knelt at their feet. The murder of the archbishop ended any hope of success, which the rebellion might have had. They were all excommunicated. Kildare died in 1534 in his dungeon in London Tower, a heart broken man. on the 3rd of January 1537, Silken Thomas, along with his five uncles, was beheaded at Tyburn.
Epilogue The mass execution of Silken Thomas and his five uncles did not bring about the end of Geraldine Dynasty as Henry was advised it would. There was a child aged twelve, the sole survivor oof the Geraldine House – “whose life was sought with avidity equal to Herod’s”. Protected by loyal friends and relatives, he was safely landed in France four years later. From this child, gerald, the Geraldine line was preserved and branched out.
“In stately strength and princely power”