235. THE DOWNFALL OF EDWARD, DUKE OF SOMERSET
The tragical history of the worthy Lord Edward, duke of Somerset, lord protector, with the whole cause of his troubles and handling.
After so many troublous matters in this history afore-passed, coming now to the lamentable and tragical narration of the Lord Edward, duke of Somerset, the king's uncle, and protector of his person and of his realm, I could not well enter into the story of him without some premonition, first, to all noble personages, of what honour or calling so-ever within this realm, by way of history, briefly to admonish them, no man to plant any trust or assurance upon the brickle pillars of worldly prosperity, how high soever it seemeth, considering that there is no state so high, but it hath his ruin; no wisdom so circumspect, but it may be circumvented; no virtue so perfect, but it may be envied; neither any man's trade so simple, but it may be beguiled. And therefore, seeing the condition of mortal things is so, that no man can always stand in this so ruinous a world, the surest way is, for every man to choose his standing so, that his fall may be the easier. But, because my purpose is (as I have said in the stories before) to abridge and make short, I will here stay; referring thee to the secret consideration of that which remaineth further by me in this matter to be uttered; and so, falling into the story of the lord protector, duke of Somerset, we will (the Lord willing) declare in order the original and whole occasion of his trouble and decay, even from the beginning.
King Edward, after that both his father and mother were dead, had three uncles left him by his mother's side, Edward, Thomas, and Henry Seymour; of the which two first, one was made protector of the realm, and the other high admiral of the same. These two brethren, so long as they were knit and joined in amity and concord, preserved both themselves, the king their nephew, and the whole commonwealth, from the violence and fear of all danger. But the subtle old serpent, always envying man's felicity, through slanderous tongues sought to sow matter, first of discord between them; then of suspicion: and last of all, extreme hatred: insomuch that the protector suffered his brother, being accused, (whether truly or falsely the Lord knoweth,) to be condemned, and to lose his head. Whereby it came to pass, (whether by the correction of God's judgment upon him, or whether that he, after the death of his brother, and the king, being yet but young and tender of age, was the less able to shift for himself,) that, not long after, he was overmatched and overthrown of his enemies; and so cast into the Tower, and at last lost his head also -- to the great lamentation of many good men, as in the sequel of this history followeth to be declared. For the better introduction of which history, first to begin with the aforesaid brother of the lord protector, namely, Sir Thomas Seymour, high admiral of England, and the king's uncle, here is to be understood, that he had married Queen Katharine, late wife to King Henry the Eighth, of whom ye heard before. Now it happened, (upon what occasion I know not,) that there fell a displeasure betwixt the said queen and the duchess of Somerset, and thereupon also, in the behalf of their wives, displeasure and grudge began between the brethren; which, albeit, through persuasion of friends, it was for a time appeased between them, yet, in short space after, (perchance not without the privy setting-forward of some, which were back friends to the gospel,) it brake out again, both to the trouble of the realm, and especially to the confusion of them both, as after it proved. First, to the lord admiral's charge it was laid, that he purposed to destroy the young king, and translate the crown unto himself; and for the same being attainted and condemned, he did suffer at Tower Hill the twentieth of March, 1549. As many there were, which reported that the duchess of Somerset had wrought his death; so many more there were, who, misdoubting the long standing of the lord protector in his state and dignity, thought and affirmed no less, but that the fall of the one brother would be the ruin of the other; the experiment whereof, as it hath often been proved, so, in these also, eftsoons it ensued.
It was not long after the beheading of the lord admiral, that insurrections began to kindle, the same year, in divers quarters of the realm, as is above storied; by the occasion whereof the Lord Russel, lord privy seal, was sent to the west parts, and the Lord Dudley, earl of Warwick, was sent with an army into Norfolk, where both he himself, and a great number of gentlemen that were with him, meeting with the rebels, were in great danger: notwithstanding, in the end the overthrow was given to the rebels; which was about the beginning of September, 1549. After this victory achieved, in the next month following, which was October, how the matter fell out between the lord protector and certain other lords, I know not, but, at the return of the earl of Warwick aforesaid, great working and consultation there was among the lords, assembling themselves in the house of Master York, and at Baynard's Castle, and in the lord mayor's house, at London, against the lord protector, remaining then with the king at Hampton Court. Of the which business and trouble, thus the lord protector writeth, in his letters to the Lord Russel in the west country, as followeth.
A letter of the lord protector, to the Lord Russel, lord privy seal, concerning troubles working against him.
"After our right hearty commendations to your good Lordship: here hath of late risen such a conspiracy against the king's Majesty and us, as never hath been seen, the which they cannot maintain but with such vain letters and false tales surmised, as was never meant or intended of us. They pretend and say, that we have sold Boulogne to the French, and that we do withhold wages from the soldiers; and other such tales and letters they do spread abroad (of the which if any one thing were true, we would not wish to live): the matter now being brought to a marvellous extremity, such as we would never have thought it could have come unto, specially of those men, towards the king's Majesty and us, of whom we have deserved no such thing, but rather much favour and love. But the case being as it is, this is to require and pray you to hasten you hither to the defence of the king's Majesty, in such force and power as you may, to show the part of a true gentleman, and of a very friend: the which thing we trust God shall reward, and the king's Majesty, in time to come, and we shall never be unmindful of it too. We are sure you shall have other letters from them; but, as you tender your duty to the king's Majesty, we require you to make no stay, but immediately repair, with such force as ye have, to his Highness in his castle of Windsor, and cause the rest of such force as ye may make, to follow you. And so we bid you right heartily farewell.
"From Hampton Court the sixth of October. "Your Lordship's assured loving friend,
Substance of a letter of the Lord Russel in answer to the lord protector's letter.
"To this letter of the lord protector sent the sixth of October, the Lord Russel returning answer again upon the eighth of the said month, first lamenteth the heavy dissension fallen between the nobility and him, which he taketh for such a plague, as a greater could not be sent of Almighty God upon this realm, being the next way, saith he, to make of us conquerors, slaves, and like to induce upon the whole realm a universal calamity and thraldom, unless the merciful goodness of the Lord do help, and some wise order be taken in staying these great extremities. And as touching the duke's request in his letters, forasmuch as he heard before of this broil of the lords, and fearing lest some conspiracy had been meant against the king's person, he hasted forward with such company as he could make, for the surety of the king, as to him appertained. Now, perceiving by the lords' letters sent unto him the same sixth day of October these tumults to rise upon private causes between him and them, he therefore thought it expedient, that a convenient power should be levied, to be in a readiness to withstand the worst, (what perils soever might ensue,) for the preservation both of the king and state of the realm from the invasion of foreign enemies, and also for the staying of bloodshed, if any such thing should be intended between the parties in the heat of this faction. And this, he, thinking best for discharge of his allegiance, humbly beseecheth his Grace to have the same also in special regard and consideration, first, that the king's Majesty be put in no fear; and that if there be any such thing wherein he hath given just cause to them thus to proceed, he will so conform himself as no such private quarrels do redound to the public disturbance of the realm; certifying, moreover, the duke, that if it were true, which he understandeth by the letters of the lords, that he should send about proclamations and letters for raising up of the commons, he liked not the same. Notwithstanding, he trusted well that his wisdom would take such a way as no effusion of blood should follow."
And thus much being contained in his former letter of the eighth of October, in his next letter again, written the eleventh day of October, the said Lord Russel wrote to this effect:
"He (rejoicing to hear of the most reasonable offers of the lord protector made unto the lords) writeth unto him, and promiseth to do what, in the uttermost power of him (and likewise of Sir William Harbert joined together with him) doth lie, to work some honourable reconciliation between him and them; so as his said offers being accepted and satisfied, some good conclusion might ensue, according to their good hope and expectation: signifying moreover, that as touching the levying of men, they had resolved to have the same in readiness for the benefit of the realm, to occur all inconveniences, whatsoever (either by foreign invasion or otherwise) might happen; and so, having their power at hand, to draw near, whereby they might have the better opportunity to be solicitors, and a means for this reformation on both parts," &c.
And thus much for answer of the Lord Russel to the lord protector's letters.
But now to the matter again of the lords, who, together with the earl of Warwick, (upon what occasion God knoweth,) being assembled at London, as ye heard, against the lord protector; when the king with his council at Hampton Court heard thereof, first Secretary Peter with the king's message was sent unto them, whom the lords, notwithstanding, detained still with them, making as yet no answer to the message. Whereupon the lord protector writeth to them in this manner as followeth:
"My Lords, we commend us most heartily unto you: and whereas the king's Majesty was informed that you were assembled in such sort as you do now also remain; and was advised by us, and such other of his council as were then here about his person, to send Master Secretary Peter unto you, with such message as whereby might have ensued the surety of his Majesty's person, with preservation of his realm and subjects, and the quiet both of us and yourselves, as Master Secretary can well declare to you: his Majesty, and we of his council here, do not a little marvel that you stay still with you the said Master Secretary, and have not, as it were, vouchsafed to send answer to his Majesty, either by him or yet any other. And for ourselves, we do much more marvel, and are right sorry, as both we and you have good cause to be, to see the manner of your doings bent with violence, to bring the king's Majesty and us to these extremities. Which as we do intend, if you will take no other way but violence, to defend (as nature and our allegiance doth bind us) to extremity of death, and to put all to God's hand, who giveth victory as it pleaseth him: so that if any reasonable conditions and offers would take place, (as hitherto none have been signified unto us from you, nor do we understand what you do require or seek, or what you do mean,) and that you do seek no hurt to the king's Majesty's person; as touching all other private matters, to avoid the effusion of Christian blood, and to preserve the king's Majesty's person, his realm and subjects, you shall find us agreeable to any reasonable condition that you will require. For we do esteem the king's wealth and tranquillity of the realm, more than all other worldly things; yea, more than our own life. Thus, praying you to send us your determinate answer herein by Master Secretary Peter, or, if you will not him go, by this bearer, we beseech God to give both you and us grace to determine this matter, as may be to God's honour, the preservation of the king, and the quiet of us all; which may be, if the fault be not in you. And so we bid you most heartily farewell.
"From the king's Majesty's castle of Windsor, the 7th of October, 1549.
"Your Lordship's loving friend,
After these letters received, and the reasonable conditions of the lord protector offered, and yet not much regarded of the lords, they, persisting still in their intended purpose, took this advice, first to keep themselves in the city of London, as strong as they might; and therefore, calling upon the mayor and the aldermen, they willed them in any case to provide a good and substantial watch by night, and a good ward by day, for the safeguard of their city, and the ports and gates thereof; which was consented unto, and the companies of London, in their turns, warned to watch and ward accordingly.
Then the said lords and councillors demanded of the lord mayor and his brethren five hundred men to aid them to fetch the lord protector out of Windsor from the king; but thereunto the mayor answered, that he could grant no aid without the assent of common-council of the city: whereupon, the next day, a common-council was warned. But, in the mean time, the said lords of the council assembled themselves at the lord mayor's house of London, who then was Sir Henry Amcottes, fishmonger, and William Locke, mercer, and Sir John Aileph, sheriffs of the said city; and there the said council did agree and publish a proclamation forthwith, against the lord protector, the effect of which proclamation was as followeth:
"First, That the lord protector, by his malicious and evil government, was the occasion of all the sedition that of late happened within the realm.
"2. The loss of the king's pieces in France.
"3. That he was ambitious, and sought his own glory, as appeareth by building of most sumptuous and costly houses in the time of the king's wars.
"4. That he esteemed nothing the grave counsel of the councillors.
"5. That he sowed division between the nobles, the gentlemen, and commons.
"6. That the nobles assembled themselves together at London for no other purpose, but to have caused the protector to have lived within limits, and to have put such order for the surety of the king's Majesty, as appertained, whatsoever the protector's doings were; which, they said, were unnatural, ingrate, and traitorous.
"7. That the protector slandered the council to the king, and did what in him lay, to cause variance between the king and the nobles.
"8. That he was a great traitor; and, therefore, the lords desired the city and commons to aid them, to take him from the king."
And in witness and testimony of the contents of the said proclamation, the lords subscribed their names, which were these:
"The lord Riche, lord chancellor.
The lord St. John, lord great master, and president of the council.
The lord marquis of Northampton.
The earl of Warwick, lord great chamberlain.
The earl of Arundel, lord chamberlain.
The earl of Shrewsbury.
The earl of Southampton (Wriothesley).
Sir Thomas Cheney, knight, treasurer of the king's house, and lord warden of the Cinque Ports.
Sir John Gage, knight, constable of the Tower.
Sir William Peter, knight, secretary.
Sir Edward North, knight.
Sir Edward Montague, chief justice of the Common Pleas.
Sir Ralph Sadler.
Sir John Baker.
Sir Edward Wootton.
Sir Richard Southwell.
Dr. Wootton, dean of Canterbury."
After the aforesaid proclamation was proclaimed, the lords, or the most part of them, still continuing and lying in London, came the next day to the Guildhall, during the time that the lord mayor and his brethren sat in their court or inner chamber, and entered and communed a long while with the mayor; and at the last, the mayor and his brethren came forth unto the common-council, where was read the king's letter sent to the mayor and citizens, commanding them to aid him with a thousand well-appointed men out of their city, and to send the same with all speed to his castle at Windsor.
This letter by name was directed to Sir Henry Amcottes, knight, lord mayor, to Sir Rowland Hill, knight, mayor elect; and to the aldermen and common-council of the city of London. The day and date of the letter was the sixth of October, in the third year of his reign, being signed with the hand of the king, and the lord protector; the contents of which letter, for the satisfaction of the reader, are here to be seen in manner and form as followeth.
By the king.
"Trusty and well-beloved, we greet you well. We charge and command you most earnestly, to give order, with all speed, for the defence and preservation of that our city of London for us; and to levy out of hand, and to put in order, as many as conveniently you may, well weaponed and arrayed, keeping good watch at the gates; and to send us hither, for the defence of our person, one thousand of that our city, of trusty and faithful men, to attend upon us, and our most entirely beloved uncle, Edward duke of Somerset, governor of our person, and protector of our realms, dominions, and subjects, well harnessed, and with good and convenient weapon; so that they do make their repair hither unto us this night, if it be possible, or at least to-morrow before noon; and, in the mean time, to do what appertaineth unto your duty, for ours and our said uncle's defence against all such as attempt any conspiracy or enterprise of violence against us or our said uncle, as you know best for our preservation and defence at this present.
"Given under our signet, at our manor of Hampton Court, the sixth of October, the third year of our reign.
"You shall further give credit to our trusty and well-beloved Owen Cleydon, the bearer hereof, in all such things as he shall further declare unto you on the behalf of us, and our said uncle the lord protector.
This letter of the king, and of the lord protector, was not so secretly devised, nor so speedily sent, but the lords keeping at London had knowledge immediately thereof, (by the means, as some suppose, of the Lord Paget, who was then with the king and the protector, but the truth the Lord knoweth,) being there ready furnished with their own bands of serving men, and other soldiers and men of arms; who, forthwith upon the same, addressed their letters in semblable wise to the said lord mayor and aldermen in the king's name, not only for a supportation of armed men to serve their purposes, and for a sufficient watch to fortify their city; but also, that they should not obey any such letters, proclamations, or injunctions sent to them from the duke: which letter of the lords at the same instant came likewise to the lord mayor and his brethren, the sixth day of the said month of October; the tenor and copy of which letter here ensueth.
"To our very good lord, the lord mayor, aldermen, and citizens of London.
"After our right hearty commendations unto your good Lordship: knowing your hearty favour and earnest seals to the preservation of the person of the king's Majesty, and of this realm, and other his Majesty's realms and dominions, we have thought good to advertise you, that notwithstanding all the good advice and counsel that we could give to the duke of Somerset, to stay himself within reasonable limits, and to use his government now, in the tender age of his Majesty, in such sort as might tend to his Highness's surety, to the conservation of his estate, and to his honour; the said duke, nevertheless, still continuing in his pride, covetousness, and ambition, ceaseth not daily, by all the ways and means he can devise, to enrich himself without measure, and to impoverish his Majesty.
"He buildeth in four or five places most sumptuously, and leaveth the poor soldiers unpaid of their wages, unvictualled, and in all things so unfurnished, as the losses lately sustained, to the greatest dishonour that ever came to the king and this realm, do declare. He soweth daily division between the nobles and gentlemen, and commons. He rewardeth and entertaineth a number of those that were captains of the commons in these late insurrections; and finally, in such wise subverteth all laws, justice, and good order, (as is evident,) that, putting his trust in the commons, and perceiving that the nobles and gentlemen should be an impediment to him in his devilish purposes, he laboureth first to have them destroyed, and thinketh after, easily enough to achieve his desire; which, it appeareth plainly, is, to occupy the king's Majesty's place. For his doings, whosoever list to behold them, do manifestly declare, that he mindeth never to render account to his Majesty of his proceedings.
"These things, with many more too long to recite, considered, we pondered with ourselves, that either we must travail for some reformation, or we must, in effect as it were, consent with him to the destruction of our sovereign lord and country. Whereupon, laying apart all respects, and resting only upon our duties, we joined in counsel, and thought quietly to have treated the matter with him; who, perceiving that we joined for the king, and would have such order as might be for the surety of his Majesty's person and the commonwealth, straight put himself in force, and resteth at plain point, (as it appeareth,) either to go through with his detestable purpose in such sort as he hath done, or to try it by the sword.
"Now, forasmuch as we see presently, that unless there be a reformation, the person of the king's Majesty is in most certain danger, and this realm, our natural country, like to be destroyed, with all our posterities; like as we have again fully resolved, with God's help, either to deliver the king's Majesty and the realm from this extreme ruin and destruction, or to spend our lives for the declaration of our faithful hearts and duties; so, knowing your hearty good wills and truth to his Majesty, and therefore nothing doubting of your readiness to join with us in our godly purpose, we thought good to let you know the very truth of our enterprise, and, in the king's Majesty's behalf, to require you not only to put good and substantial order for watch and ward, but also to have an earnest continual regard to the preservation, within your city, of all harness, weapons, and munitions, so as none be suffered to be conveyed to the said duke, nor any others attending about him; and besides, that you from henceforth obey no letters, proclamations, nor other commandments to be sent from the said duke. And thus we bid your Lordship most heartily farewell.
"From London, the 6th of October.
"Your Lordship's assured loving friends,
William St. John.
After the receiving of these two letters above mentioned, the one from the king, the other from the lords, which came both at one instant, with contrary commandment to the lord mayor and citizens of London, the case seemed hard to them, and very doubtful (as it was indeed) what way to take, and what were best for the citizens of London to do. On the one side, the name and authority of the king was much; on the other side, the power and garrisons of the lords, lying then in London,was not little,which seemed then to be such as would have no repulse.
The case thus standing perplexedly, first by the mouth of the recorder it was requested, that the citizens would grant their aid rather unto the lords, for that the protector had abused both the king's Majesty and the whole realm; and that without he were taken from the king, and made to understand his folly, this realm was in great hazard; and he therefore required, that the citizens would willingly assent to aid the lords with five hundred men.
Hereunto of a great part in the common-council was no other answer made but silence. But the recorder (who at that time was Master Brook) still rested upon them for answer. At the last stepped up a wise and good citizen, named George Stadlow, and said:
"In this case it is good for us to think of things past, to avoid the danger of things to come. I remember," saith he, "in a story written in Fabian's Chronicle, of the war between the king and his barons, which was in the time of King Henry the Third, and the same time the barons (as our lords do now) demanded aid of the mayor and city of London, and that in a rightful cause, for the commonwealth, which was for the execution of divers good laws against the king, who would not suffer those laws to be put in execution. And the city did aid them, and it came to an open battle, and the lords prevailed against the king, and took the king and his son prisoners; and, upon certain conditions, the lords restored the king and his son again to their liberties, and among all other conditions this was one, that the king should not only grant his pardon to the lords, but also to the citizens of London; the which was granted, yea, and the same was ratified by act of parliament. But what followed of it? Was it forgotten? No surely, nor forgiven neither, during the king's life. The liberties of the city were taken away, strangers appointed to be our heads and governors, the citizens given away body and goods, and from one persecution to another were most miserably afflicted. Such a thing is it, to enter into the wrath of a prince; as Solomon saith, The wrath and indignation of a prince is death. Wherefore, forasmuch as this aid is required of the king's Majesty, whose voice we ought to hearken unto, (for he is our high shepherd,) rather than unto the lords, and yet I would not wish the lords to be clearly shaken off; my counsel is, that they with us, and we with them, may join in suit, and make our most humble petition to the king's Majesty, that it would please his Highness to hear such complaint against the government of the lord protector, as may be justly alleged and proved; and I doubt not but this matter will be so pacified, that neither shall the King, nor yet the lords, have cause to seek for further aid, neither we to offend any of them both."
After this tale the commons stayed, and the lord mayor and his brethren for that time brake up, till they had further communed with the lords. To make short, I let pass what order by the city was taken; but the conclusion was, that the lords (upon what occasion I know not) sat the next day in council in the Star Chamber, and from thence sent Sir Philip Hobby with their letter of credence to the king's Majesty, beseeching and requesting his Majesty to give credit to that which the said Sir Philip should declare unto his Majesty in their names. And the king gave him liberty to speak, and most gently heard all that he had to say; who so handled the matter, declaring his message in the name of the lords, that in the end the lord protector was commanded from the king's presence, and shortly was committed to ward in a tower within the castle of Windsor, called Beauchamp Tower; and soon after were stayed Sir Thomas Smith, Master Whalley, Master Fisher, and many other gentlemen that attended upon the lord protector. The same day the lords of the council resorted to the King; and the next day they brought from thence the lord protector, and the others that were there stayed, and conveyed them through the city of London unto the Tower, and there left them.
Shortly after the lords resorted unto the Tower, and there charged the lord protector with sundry articles, which follow:
"Imprimis, You took upon you the office of protector and governor, upon condition expressly and specially, that you would do nothing in the King's affairs, publicly or privately, but by the assent of the late king's executors.
"II. Also you, contrary to the said condition, of your own authority did stay and let justice, and subverted the laws, as well by your letters, as by your commandments.
"III. Also, you caused divers persons being arrested and imprisoned for treason, murder, manslaughter, and felony, to be discharged and set at large, against the king's laws and statutes of this realm.
"IV. Also, you have made and ordained lieutenants for the king's armies, and other weighty affairs, under your own writing and seal.
"V. Also, you have communed with the ambassadors of other realms, discoursing alone with them the weighty causes of this realm.
"VI. Also, you have sometime rebuked, checked, and taunted, as well privately as openly, divers of the king's most honourable councillors, for showing and declaring their advises and opinions against your purposes, in the king's weighty affairs; saying sometimes to them, that you need not to open matters unto them, and would therefore be otherwise advised; and that you would, if they were not agreeable to your opinion, put them out, and take others at your pleasure.
"VII. Also, you had and held, against the law, in your own house, a court of requests; and thereby did enforce divers the king's subjects to answer for their freeholds and goods, and determined the same to the subversion of the same laws.
"VIII. Also you, being no officer, without the advice of the council, or the more part of them, did dispose of the offices of the king's gift for money, and granted leases and wards of the king's, and gave presentations to the king's benefices and bishoprics, having no authority so to do. And further, you did meddle with the selling of the king's lands.
"IX. Also, you commanded multiplication and alchymy to be practised, to abuse the king's coin.
"X. Also, you caused a proclamation to be made concerning enclosures, whereby the common people have made divers insurrections, and levied open war, and distrained and spoiled divers of the king's subjects; which proclamation went forth against the will of the whole council.
"XI. Also, you have caused a commission, with certain articles thereunto annexed, to be made out concerning enclosures of commons, high-ways, decaying of cottages, and divers other things, giving the commissioners authority to hear and determine the same causes, to the subversion of the laws and statutes of this realm; whereby much sedition, insurrection, and rebellion, have risen and grown amongst the king's subjects.
"XII. Also, you have suffered the rebels and traitors to assemble, and to lie in camp and armour against the king, his nobles and gentlemen, without any speedy subduing or repressing of them.
"XIII. Also, you did comfort and encourage divers of the said rebels, by giving of them divers sums of your own money, and by promising to divers of them fees, rewards, and services.
"XIV. Also, you in favour of the said rebels did, against the laws, cause a proclamation to be made, that none of the said rebels or traitors should be sued or vexed by any person for any their offences in the said rebellion; to the clear subversion of the same law.
"XV. Also you have said, in the time of therebellion, that you liked well the doings and proceedings of the said rebels and traitors; and said, that the covetousness of the gentlemen gave occasion to the common people to rise; saying also, that better it were for the commons to die, than perish for lack of living.
"XVI. Also you said, that the lords of the parliament were loth to incline themselves to reformation of enclosures and other things; therefore the people had good cause to reform the things themselves.
XVII. Also you, after the report and declaration of the defaults and lacks reported to you by such as did survey Boulogne and the pieces there, would never amend the same defaults.
"XVIII. Also, you would not suffer the king's pieces beyond the seas, called Newhaven and Black-nest, to be furnished with men and victuals, although you were advertised of the defaults therein by the captains of the same pieces and others, and were thereto advertised by the king's council; whereby the French king, being the king's open enemy, was encouraged and comforted to invade and win the said pieces; to the king's great loss, and dishonour of his realm.
"XIX. Also, you declared and published untruly, as well to the king's Majesty, as to other the young lords attendant upon his Grace's person, that the lords of the council at London minded to destroy the king; and you required the king never to forget it, but to revenge it: and likewise you required the young lords to put the king in remembrance thereof, to the intent to make sedition and discord between the king and his lords.
"XX. Also, whereas the king's Majesty's privy council, of their love and zeal that they did bear unto the king and his realm, did consult at London, to have communed with you, to the intent to move you charitably to amend your doings and misgovernment, you, hearing of their said assembly, caused to be declared, by letters in divers places, the said lords to be high traitors to the king, to the great disturbance of the realm."
And thus much hitherto, concerning the first trouble of the lord protector, duke of Somerset, with the crimes and articles objected against him, with his imprisonment also in the Tower, and the terrible proclamation given out against him. All which purposes of man, though they seemed fully to intend no less than the spilling of his blood; yet the Lord above, the only disposer of all men's purposes, so ordered the matter, by the means of the king labouring for his uncle, that in short while after, he was let out of the Tower, and that proclamation which before had made him a traitor, within three days after was called in again, with commandment given, none of them to be sold. And so the duke of Somerset, graciously escaping this adversity, was again restored, though not to the former office, yet unto liberty, wherein he continued the space of two years and two days. After the which time of respite being expired, the said duke of Somerset was apprehended and committed again to the Tower, and with him also Sir Michael Stanhope, Sir Ralph Vane, Sir Miles Partridge, and others, &c. At length the time being come of his arraignment, the aforesaid good duke, being brought from the Tower, was conveyed through London with the axe of the Tower before him, and with great preparance of bills, halberts, pikes, and poleaxes, in most forcible wise; a watch also set and appointed before every man's door through the high street of London: and so was he brought into Westminster Hall, where the lords of the council, sitting as his judges in the middle of the hall, upon a new scaffold, he was there before them arraigned and charged both with treason and felony.
In the which judgment I pass over the unseemly speech, the vile taunts and despiteful rebukes, without all modesty or honesty, used by certain of the serjeants and justices, and some others sitting there. All which, notwithstanding, he patiently and quietly did suffer, neither storming inwardly in stomach, nor reviling them with words again; but like a lamb, following the true Lamb and example of all meekness, was contented to take all things at their hands, and with no less patience to bear now their ungentle and cruel railings, than he did before their glavering words and flatterings, in time of his high estate and prosperity. And as the patience of this good duke was marvellous in forbearing his enemies, so also was his discretion and temperance no less seen in answering for himself to the articles to him objected; whereunto he wisely and substantially replied, putting himself, in the end, to be tried by his peers; who then, at length, after consultation had, did frame and temper their verdict thus: That as concerning the case of treason, wherewith he was charged, they discharged him, but they accounted him guilty of felony. When the people (which were there present to a great number) heard the lords say,"not guilty," (meaning by the case of treason,) supposing no less but that he had been clearly acquitted by these words, and especially seeing the axe of the Tower to be carried away, for great joy and gladness they made an outcry; well declaring their loving affection and hearty favour unto the duke, whose life they greatly desired. But this opinion of the people was deceived, and the innocent duke condemned to die for felony; which act of felony had been made a little before against the rebels and unlawful assemblies, such as should seek or procure the death of any councillor, so that every such attempt and procurement, according to the act, should be adjudged felony. By the virtue of which act the duke being accused, with certain others his complices, to intend and purpose the death of the duke of Northumberland, and of certain besides, was therefore cast and condemned of felony, and so was returned toward the Tower again; at whose passage through the city, great exclamations and outcries were made again of the people, some rejoicing that he was acquitted, some bewailing that he was condemned.
Thus the good duke, passing through a great part of the city, landing at the Crane in the Vintry, was conveyed to the Tower, where he endured till the twenty-second of January; upon the which day, at the coming down of the letter of execution from the king and the council, the aforesaid duke and uncle to the king, being found no traitor, only being cast by the act of felony, was delivered unto the sheriffs, and so brought to the place of execution.
Touching which execution a few words here would be [well] bestowed, in describing the wonderful order and manner thereof, as it hath faithfully been suggested to us upon the credit of a certain noble personage, who not only was there present at the deed-doing, but also, in a manner, next unto him upon the scaffold, beholding the order of all things with his eyes; and with his pen, also, reporting the same in order and manner as here followeth.
Illustration -- Edward duke of Somerset on the scaffold
"In the year of our Lord 1552, the two and twentieth of January, in the fifth year of the reign of King Edward the Sixth, he being yet under age and governance of tutors, the noble duke of Somerset, uncle to King Edward, was brought out of the Tower of London, and, according to the manner, delivered to the sheriffs of the city; and, compassed round about with a great number of armed men, both of the guard and others, he was brought unto the scaffold on Tower Hill, where he, nothing changing either voice or countenance, but in a manner with the same gesture which he commonly used at home, kneeling down upon both his knees, and lifting up his hands, commended himself unto God.
"After that he had ended a few short prayers, standing up again, and turning himself toward the east side of the scaffold, nothing at all abashed (as it seemed to me, standing about the midst of the scaffold, and diligently marking all things) either with the sight of the axe, or yet of the hangman, or of present death; but with the like alacrity and cheerfulness of mind and countenance as beforetimes he was accustomed to hear the causes and supplication of others, and especially the poor, (towards whom, as it were with a certain fatherly love to his children, he always showed himself most attentive,) he uttered these words to the people:
"'Dearly beloved friends, I am brought hither to suffer death, albeit that I never offended against the king either by word or deed, and have been always as faithful and true unto this realm as any man hath been. But forasmuch as I am by a law condemned to die, I do acknowledge myself, as well as others, to be subject thereunto. Wherefore, to testify my obedience which I owe unto the laws, I am come hither to suffer death: whereunto I willingly offer myself, with most hearty thanks unto God, that hath given me this time of repentance, who might, through sudden death, have taken away my life, that neither I should have acknowledged him, nor myself.
"'Moreover, dearly beloved friends, there is yet somewhat that I must put you in mind of, as touching Christian religion; which so long as I was in authority I always diligently set forth and furthered to my power. Neither do I repent me of my doings, but rejoice therein, since that now the state of Christian religion cometh most near unto the form and order of the primitive church; which thing I esteem as a great benefit, given of God, both unto you and me: most heartily exhorting you all, that this which is most purely set forth unto you, you will, with like thankfulness, accept and embrace, and set out the same in your living. Which thing if you do not, without doubt greater mischief and calamity will follow.'
"When he had spoken these words, suddenly there was a terrible noise heard; whereupon there came a great fear upon all men. This noise was as it had been the noise of some great storm or tempest, which, unto some, seemed to be heard from above; like as if a great deal of gunpowder, being enclosed in an armoury, and having caught fire, had violently broken out. But unto some, again, it seemed as though it had been a great multitude of horsemen running together, or coming upon them. Such a noise then was in the ears of all men, albeit they saw nothing. Whereby it happened that all the people, being amazed without any evident cause, without any violence or stroke stricken, or any man seen, they ran away, some into the ditches and puddles, and some into the houses thereabouts: others, being afraid of the horror and noise, fell down grovelling unto the ground, with their poleaxes and halberts; and most of them cried out, 'Jesus save us, Jesus save us.' Those which tarried still in their places, for fear knew not wherethey were; and I myself which was there present among the rest, being also afraid in this hurly-burly, stood still altogether amazed, looking when any man would knock me on the head. It happened here, as the evangelists write it did unto Christ, when the officers of the high priests and Pharisees, coming with weapons to take him, being astonied, ran backwards and fell to the ground.
"In the mean time, while these things were thus in doing, the people by chance spied one Sir Anthony Brown riding under the scaffold; which was the occasion of a new noise. For when they saw him coming, they conjectured that which was not true, but notwithstanding which they all wished for -- that the king, by that messenger, had sent his uncle pardon; and therefore, with great rejoicing and casting up their caps, they cried out, 'Pardon, pardon is come; God save the king.' Thus this good duke, although he was destitute of all man's help, yet he saw, before his departure, in how great love and favour he was with all men. And truly I do not think that, in so great slaughter of dukes as hath been in England within these few years, there were so many weeping eyes at one time; and not without cause. For all men did see in the decay of this duke, the public ruin of all England; except such as indeed did perceive nothing.
"But now to return from whence we have strayed; the duke in the mean time standing still in the same place, modestly, and with a grave countenance, made a sign to the people with his hand, that they would keep themselves quiet; which thing being done, and silence obtained, he spake unto them in this manner:
"'Dearly beloved friends, there is no such matter here in hand as you vainly hope or believe. It seemeth thus good unto Almighty God, whose ordinance it is meet and necessary that we all he obedient unto. Wherefore I pray you all to be quiet, and to be contented with my death, which I am most willing to suffer; and let us now join in prayer unto the Lord for the preservation of the king's Majesty, unto whom hitherto I have always showed myself a most faithful and true subject. I have always been most diligent about his Majesty in his affairs, both at home and abroad, and no less diligent in seeking the common commodity of the whole realm:' at which words all the people cried out and said, 'It was most true.'
"Then the duke proceeding, said, Unto whose Majesty I wish continual health, with all felicity and all prosperous success: 'whereunto the people again cried out, Amen.'
"'Moreover, I do wish unto all his councillors the grace and favour of God, whereby they may rule in all things uprightly with justice. Unto whom I exhort you all, in the Lord, to show yourselves obedient, (as it is your bounden duty, under the pain of condemnation,) and also most profitable for the preservation and safeguard of the king's Majesty.
"'Moreover, forasmuch as heretofore I have had oftentimes affairs with divers men, and hard it is to please every man, therefore, if there be any that hath been offended and injured by me, I most humbly require and ask him forgiveness, but especially Almighty God, whom, throughout all my life, I have most grievously offended; and all others whatsoever they be that have offended me, I do with my whole heart forgive them. Now I once again require you, dearly beloved in the Lord, that you will keep yourselves quiet and still, lest, through your tumult, you might trouble me. For albeit the spirit be willing and ready, the flesh is frail and wavering, and, through your quietness, I shall be much more quiet. Moreover, I desire you all to bear me witness, that I die here in the faith of Jesus Christ; desiring you to help me with your prayers, that I may persevere constant in the same unto my life's end.'
"After this, he, turning himself again about like a meek lamb, kneeled down upon his knees. Then Dr. Coxe, who was there present to counsel and advertise him, delivered a certain scroll into his hand, wherein was contained a brief confession unto God; which being read, he stood up again upon his feet, without any trouble of mind, (as it appeared,) and first bade the sheriffs farewell, then the lieutenant of the Tower, and others, taking them all by the hands who were upon the scaffold with him. Then he gave the hangman certain money; which done, he put off his gown, and kneeling down again in the straw, untied his shirtstrings. After that, the hangman, coming unto him, turned down his collar round about his neck, and all other things which did let or hinder him. Then, lifting up his eyes to heaven, where his only hope remained, and covering his face with his own handkerchief; he laid himself down along, showing no manner of token of trouble or fear, neither did his countenance change, but that, before his eyes were covered, there began to appear a red colour in the midst of his cheeks.
"Thus this most meek and gentle duke, lying along, and looking for the stroke, because his doublet covered his neck, he was commanded to rise up and put it off; and then laying himself down again upon the block, and calling thrice upon the name of Jesus, saying, Lord Jesu, save me!' as he was the third time repeating the same, even as the name of Jesu was in uttering, in a moment he was bereft both of bead and life, and slept in the Lord Jesus, being taken away from all the dangers and evils of this life, and resting now in the peace of God; in the preferment of whose truth and gospel he always showed himself an excellent instrument and member, and therefore hath received the reward of his labours."
Thus, gentle reader, thou hast here the true history of this worthy and noble duke, and if any man report it otherwise, let it be counted as a lie. As touching the manners, disposition, life, and conversation of the said duke and the king's uncle, what shall we need to speak, when he cannot be sufficiently commended according to the dignity of his virtues? There was always in him great humanity, and such meekness and gentleness, as is rare to be found in so high estate. He was prone and ready to give ear unto the complaints and supplications of the poor, and no less attentive unto the affairs of the commonwealth, to which, if he had lived together with King Edward, he was like to do much good, in reforming many misorders within this realm. He was utterly ignorant of all craft and deceit, and as far void of all pride and ambition, as he was from doing of injury; being indeed utterly void of both. He was of a gentle disposition, not coveting to be revenged; more apt and ready to be deceived, than to deceive. His ancient love and zeal of the gospel and of religion, he brought with him to the state of this his dignity. The proof whereof sufficiently was seen, in his constant standing to God's truth, and zealous defence thereof, against the bishops of Chichester, Norwich, Lincoln, London, and others more, in the consultation had at Windsor, the first year of the king's reign.
Briefly, considering the nature and virtues of this duke, I may (as seemeth) not unaptly compare and resemble him unto Duke Humphrey, the good duke of Gloucester; who, likewise, being uncle unto King Henry the Sixth, and protector of the realm, (as this was, also, to King Edward the Sixth,) yet he wanted not his enemies and privy enviers, especially Henry Beaufort, cardinal, bishop of Winchester, and lord chancellor of England; who, at that time disdaining and envying the rule and authority of this duke, procured much trouble against him, and great division in the whole realm, insomuch that all the shops within the city of London were shut in, for fear of the favourers of these two great personages; for each party had assembled no small number of people. For pacifying whereof, the archbishop of Canterbury and the duke of Coimbra (called the prince of Portugal) rode seven times in one day between the two adversaries. Such were then the troubles of this tumultuous division within the realm, between these two, as is before expressed; not much unlike to the troublesome discord betwixt parties in this protector's days. And as, in their afflictions and troubles, these two dukes seemed not much unlike, so, in matters of religion, and in discerning truth from falsehood, their zeals seemed not much discrepant. Although the light of the gospel did not so fully then shine out, as in the time of this latter duke, (the Lord be praised there-for,) yet the wisdom and towardness of the other duke also, touching the same, was not utterly unworthy of his commendation. For the more manifest declaration whereof, amongst many other his godly doings, we may take for example the prudent and famous act of that noble duke, in discerning and trying out the false lying miracle and popish hypocrisy of the blind beggar at St. Alban's, mentioned in his story before; for which cause, and for his diligent study in reforming that, and such other blind abuses of feigned religion, he was the more hated of the spiritualty, and such as Winchester afterwards was.
Finally, as this lord protector, duke of Somerset, the king's uncle, by certain of the council was then accused, arraigned, and condemned, for the trespass (as it was given forth) of felony, (although I never heard he murdered or robbed any,) so the other uncle of King Henry the Sixth was made away; of whose decease thus writeth Master Tyndale in his Practice of Prelates: "At the last, they found the means to contrive a drift to bring their matters to pass, and made a parliament far from the citizens of London, where was slain the said good duke, and the only wealth of the realm, and the mighty shield which so long had kept it from the sorrow, which, shortly after his death, fell upon them by heaps. But the chronicles," saith he, "cannot tell wherefore he died, nor by what means. Nevertheless, this they testify, that he was a virtuous man, godly, and good to the commonwealth."
But, to leave Duke Humphrey, and to return to the manners and virtues of the duke of Somerset, which before we were about to describe:-- As he was a gentle and courteous duke at home, so was he no less fortunate a captain in warfare abroad; under whose government and guiding not only divers rebellious commotions were happily suppressed here at home; but also abroad, in the expedition of Scotland, such a victory was given him of God, that with the loss of scarce six hundred of his own men, there were, of the enemies, as good or little less than ten thousand slain and put to flight; and even the very same day and time in which all the idolatrous images were here burnt at London. And yet, all these wars notwithstanding, whereunto he was against his will compelled, he was a man of nature singularly given to peace, as maybe seen by the sweet and peaceable exhortation by him set forth in print before, and sent to the realm of Scotland. But as there is nothing in this world so perfect in all respects, which is not blotted or darkened with some spot of vice adjoined withal; so, amongst the manifold commendations of this duke, one thing there was too, which both distained his honour and estimation much, and also more impaired and hindered his own life and safety; which was, that he, in condescending to the death of his brother, followed too rashly the persuasion of certain whosoever they were: for that matter lacked not, perchance, some singular fetch and policy of some more craftily than godly disposed persons; as many good men have supposed.
But whatsoever of that matter is to be deemed, credible it is, that the said duke, in suffering or procuring the death of his brother, not only endamaged himself, and weakened his own power, but also provoked the chastisement of God's scourge and rod, which did so light upon him.
Furthermore, as touching the death and decay of the Lord Henry, earl of Surrey, who also suffered at the Tower next before the lord admiral, the lord protector's brother; because the casting of him was so near to the death of King Henry, as I know not upon whom or what cause the same did proceed, so I pass it over and leave it to the Lord. Notwithstanding, as for the duke of Somerset, whatsoever his other vices and virtues were, this is certain, that his end (the Lord so working with him) was constant in Christ's truth, as his life was before a great maintenance of the same.
Moreover, on the twenty-sixth day of February in the same year, were Sir Ralph Vane and Sir Miles Partridge both hanged at the Tower Hill, and Sir Michael Stanhope and Sir Thomas Arundel beheaded upon the scaffold; all which four were condemned by the said act of unlawful assembly, and as accessories unto the duke of Somerset.