I personally complain a lot about 24-hour news cycles and the overabundance of technology in the world today, but every now and then I read a story that makes me think: Wow, thank God for Facebook! (This doesn’t happen terribly often). I’m sure Thomas FitzGerald, the 10th Earl of Kildare, would have loved to have some fast, fairly reliable means of communication, because if he did, he’d either have managed to pull together a better rebellion, or, more likely, he never would have rebelled at all.
Thomas, also known by the fairly unthreatening nickname “Silken Thomas” was an Irish nobleman with ties to the English royal family (his mother was a cousin of Henry VII). Tom’s dad was called to London in 1534, and shortly thereafter Tom heard a rumor that his dad had been executed at the Tower of London and the government intended to do in Tom and his uncles the same way.
See, this would have been a perfect time for a text message: Dad, u ok? Heard u were headless. U did? Nope, fine here. LOL!
Sadly, ‘twas not to be. Tom overreacted and instead of, I don’t know, checking to see if the rumors were true, he gathered up 140 horsemen with silk fringes on tehir helments (hence the nickname) and publicly renounced his allegiance to Henry VIII at St. Mary’s Abbey in Dublin. He moved on and attacked Dublin Castle unsuccessfully in July, and presumably took out his frustration on an archbishop who tried to mediate. Tom’s execution of the archbishop lost him any support from the clergy and he retreated to Maynooth in County Kildare. In March of the following year, Maynooth was captured by English forces under Sir William Skeffington.
The garrison at Maynooth was summarily executed, and Tom belatedly begged for forgiveness. Henry was not the forgiving type and sent Tom to the Tower, where he was executed, along with five of his uncles, on May 3, 1537.
Oh, and Tom’s dad, whose alleged death caused all this? He died in London of an illness in 1534. Yeah, a text would’ve been helpful there.