Foxe's Book of Martyrs -- 241. THE BEGINNING OF THE REIGN OF QUEEN MARY

241. THE BEGINNING OF THE REIGN OF QUEEN MARY

The first entering of Queen Mary to the crown, with the alteration of religion, and other perturbations happening the same time in this realm of England.

HAT time King Edward, by long sickness, began to appear more feeble and weak, in the mean while, during the time of this his sickness, a certain marriage was provided, concluded, and shortly also upon the same solemnized in the month of May, between the Lord Guilford, son to the duke of Northumberland, and the Lady Jane, the duke of Suffolk's daughter; whose mother, being then alive, was daughter to Mary, King Henry's second sister, who first was married to the French king, and afterward to Charles duke of Suffolk. But to make no long tarriance hereupon, the marriage being ended, and the king waxing every day more sick than other, whereas indeed there seemed in him no hope of recovery, it was brought to pass by the consent not only of the nobility, but also of the chief lawyers of the realm, that the king, by his testament, did appoint the aforesaid Lady Jane, daughter to the duke of Suffolk, to be inheritrix unto the crown of England, passing over his two sisters, Mary and Elizabeth.

            To this order subscribed all the king's council, and the chief of the nobility, the mayor and city of London, and almost all the judges and chief lawyers of this realm, saving only Justice Hales of Kent, a man both favouring true religion, and also an upright judge as any hath been noted in this realm, who, giving his consent unto Lady Mary, would in no case subscribe to Lady Jane. Of this man (God willing' you shall hear more in the sequel of this story. The causes laid against Lady Mary, were as well for that it was feared she would marry with a stranger, and thereby entangle the crown; as also that she would clean alter religion, used both in King Henry her father's, and also in King Edward her brother's days, and so bring in the pope, to the utter destruction of the realm, which indeed afterward came to pass, as by the course and sequel of this story may well appear.

            Much probable matter they had thus to conjecture of her, by reason of her great stubbornness showed and declared in her brother's days, as in the letters before mentioned, passing between her and King Edward and the council, may appear. The matter being thus concluded, and after confirmed by every man's hand, King Edward, an imp of so great hope, not long after this, departed by the vehemency of his sickness, when he was sixteen years of age; with whom also decayed in a manner the whole flourishing estate and honour of the English nation.

            When King Edward was dead, this Jane was established in the kingdom by the nobles' consent, and was forthwith published queen by proclamation at London, and in other cities where was any great resort, and was there so taken and named. Between this young damsel and King Edward there was little difference in age, though in learning and knowledge of the tongues she was not only equal, but also superior unto him, being instructed of a master right nobly learned. If her fortune had been as good as her bringing up, joined with fineness of wit, undoubtedly she might have seemed comparable not only to the house of Vespasians, Sempronians, and the mother of the Gracchi, yea, to any other women beside, that deserved high praise for their singular learning; but also to the university men, which have taken many degrees of the schools.

            In the mean time, while these things were a-working at London, Mary, which had knowledge of her brother's death, writeth to the lords of the council in form as followeth.

 

A letter of the Lady Mary, sent to the lords of the council, wherein she claimeth the crown after the decease of King Edward.

            "My Lords, we greet you well, and have received sure advertisement, that our dearest brother the king, our late sovereign lord, is departed to God's mercy; which news how woeful they be unto our heart, he only knoweth, to whose will and pleasure we must, and do, humbly submit us and our wills. But in this so lamentable a case, that is to wit now, after his Majesty's departure and death, concerning the crown and governance of this realm of England, with the title of France, and all things thereto belonging, what hath been provided by act of parliament, and the testament and last will of our dearest father, besides other circumstances advancing our right, you know, the realm and the whole world knoweth; the rolls and records appear by the authority of the king our said father, and the king our said brother, and the subjects of this realm; so that we verily trust that there is no good true subject, that is, can, or would, pretend to be ignorant thereof: and of our part we have of ourselves caused, and, as God shall aid and strengthen us, shall cause, our right and title in this behalf to be published and proclaimed accordingly. And albeit this so weighty a matter seemeth strange, that our said brother, dying upon Thursday at night last past, we hitherto had no knowledge from you thereof, yet we consider your wisdoms and prudence to be such, that having eftsoons amongst you debated, pondered, and well weighed this present case with our estate, with your own estate, the commonwealth, and all our honours, we shall and may conceive great hope and trust, with much assurance in your loyalty and service; and therefore for the time interpret and take things not to the worst, and that ye will, like noblemen, work the best. Nevertheless, we are not ignorant of your consultations, to undo the provisions made for our preferment, nor of the great bands, and provisions forcible, wherewith ye be assembled and prepared -- by whom, and to what end, God and you know, and nature cannot but fear some evil. But be it that some consideration politic, or whatsoever thing else hath moved you thereto; yet doubt you not, my Lords, but we can take all these your doings in gracious part, being also right ready to remit and fully pardon the same, and that freely, to eschew bloodshed and vengeance, against all those that can or will intend the same; trusting also assuredly you will take and accept this grace and virtue in good part, as appertaineth, and that we shall not be enforced to use the service of others our true subjects and friends, which in this our just and right cause, God, in whom our whole affiance is, shall send us. Wherefore, my Lords, we require you, and charge you and every of you, that of your allegiance which you owe to God and us, and to none other, for our honour and the surety of our person, only employ yourselves, and forthwith, upon receipt hereof, cause our right and title to the crown and government of this realm to be proclaimed in our city of London and other places, as to your wisdom shall seem good, and as to this case appertaineth; not failing hereof as our very trust is in you. And this our letter, signed with our hand, shall be your sufficient warrant in this behalf.

"Given under our signet, at our manor of Kenning-hall, the ninth of July, 1553."
Votre tres humble et tres obeissante fille
MARIE

 

            To this letter of the Lady Mary, the lords of the council make answer again, as followeth:

            "Madam, we have received your letters, the ninth of this instant, declaring your supposed title, which you judge yourself to have, to the imperial crown of this realm, and all the dominions thereunto belonging. For answer whereof, this is to advertise you, that forasmuch as our sovereign lady Queen Jane is, after the death of our sovereign lord Edward the Sixth, a prince of most noble memory, invested and possessed with the just and right title in the imperial crown of this realm, not only by good order of old ancient laws of this realm, but also by our late sovereign lord's letters patent, signed with his own hand, and sealed with the great seal of England, in presence of the most part of the nobles, councillors, judges, with divers other grave and sage personages, assenting and subscribing to the same: we must, therefore, as of most bounden duty and allegiance, assent unto her said Grace, and to none other, except we should (which faithful subjects cannot) fall into grievous and unspeakable enormities. Wherefore we can no less do, but, for the quiet both of the realm and you also, to advertise you, that forasmuch as the divorce made between the king of famous memory, King Henry the Eighth, and the Lady Katharine your mother, was necessary to be had both by the everlasting laws of God, and also by the ecclesiastical laws, and by the most part of the noble and learned universities of Christendom, and confirmed also by the sundry acts of parliaments remaining yet in their force, and thereby you justly made illegitimate and unheritable to the crown imperial of this realm, and the rules, and dominions, and possessions of the same, you will, upon just consideration hereof, and of divers other causes lawful to be alleged for the same, and for the just inheritanceof the right line and godly order taken by the late king our sovereign lord King Edward the Sixth, and agreed upon by the nobles and greatest personages aforesaid, surcease by any pretence to vex and molest any of our sovereign lady Queen Jane's subjects from their true faith and allegiance due unto her Grace: assuring you, that if you will for respect show yourself quiet and obedient, (as you ought,) you shall find us all and several ready to do you any service that we with duty may, and be glad, with your quietness, to preserve the common state of this realm, wherein you may be otherwise grievous unto us, to yourself, and to them. And thus we bid you most heartily well to fare. From the Tower of London, in this ninth of July, 1553.

            "Your Ladyship's friends, showing yourself an obedient subject,
Thomas Canterbury.
The Marquis of Winchester.
John Bedford.
William Northampton.
Thomas Ely, chancellor.
Northumberland.
Henry Suffolk.
Henry Arundel.
Shrewsbury.
Pembroke.
Cobham.
R. Riche.
Huntingdon.
Cheney.
Darcy.
R. Cotton.
John Gates.
W. Cecil.
W. Peter.
John Cheke.
John Mason.
Edward North.
R. Bowes."

            After this answer received, and the minds of the lords perceived, Lady Mary speedeth herself secretly away far off from the city, hoping chiefly upon the good will of the commons, and yet perchance not destitute altogether of the secret advertisements of some of the nobles. When the council heard of her sudden departure, and perceived her stoutness, and that all came not to pass as they supposed, they gathered speedily a power of men together, appointing an army, and first assigned that the duke of Suffolk should take that enterprise in hand, and so have the leading of the band. But afterward, altering their minds, they thought it best to send forth the duke of Northumberland, with certain other lords and gentlemen; and that the duke of Suffolk should keep the Tower, where the Lord Guilford and the Lady Jane the same time were lodged.

            In the which expedition the guard also, albeit they were much unwilling at the first thereunto, yet notwithstanding, through the vehement persuasions of the lord treasurer, Master Chomley, and others, they were induced to assist the duke, and to set forward with him.

            These things thus agreed upon, and the duke now being set forward after the best array out of London, having notwithstanding his times prescribed, and his journey appointed by the council, to the intent he might not seem to do any thing but upon warrant, Mary, in the mean while, tossed with much travail up and down, to work the surest way for her best advantage, withdrew herself into the quarters of Norfolk and Suffolk, where she understood the duke's name to be had in much hatred for the service that had been done there of late under King Edward, in subduing the rebels; and there, gathering to her such aid of the commons on every side as she might, kept herself close for a space within Framlingham castle. To whom first of all resorted the Suffolk men; who, being always forward in promoting the proceedings of the gospel, promised her their aid and help, so that she would not attempt the alteration of the religion, which her brother King Edward had before established by laws and orders publicly enacted, and received by the consent of the whole realm in that behalf.

Illustration -- Queen Mary receiving a letter

            To make the matter short, unto this condition she eftsoons agreed, with such promise made unto them that no innovation should be made of religion, as that no man would or could then have misdoubted her. Which promise, if she had as constantly kept, as they did willingly preserve her with their bodies and weapons, she had done a deed both worthy her blood, and had also made her reign more stable to herself through former tranquillity. For though a man be never so puissant of power, yet breach of promise is an evil upholder of quietness; fear is worse; but cruelty is the worst of all.

            Thus Mary, being guarded with the power of the gospellers, did vanquish the duke, and all those that came against her. In consideration whereof it was, methinks, a heavy word that she answered to the Suffolk men afterwards, who did make supplication to her Grace to perform her promise: "Forasmuch," saith she, "as you, being but members, desire to rule your head, you shall one day well perceive that members must obey their head, and not look to bear rule over the same." And not only that, but also to cause the more terror unto others, a certain gentleman named Master Dobbe, dwelling about Wyndham side, for the same cause, (that is, for advertising her by humble request of her promise,) was punished, being three sundry times set on the pillory to be a gazing-stock unto all men. Divers others delivered her books and supplications made out of the Scripture, to exhort her to continue in the doctrine then established; and for their good will were sent to prison. But such is the condition of man's nature, as here you see, that we are for the must part more ready always to seek friendship when we stand in need of help, than ready to requite a benefit once past and received. Howbeit, against all this, one sheet-anchor we have, which may be a sure comfort to all miserable creatures, that equity and fidelity are ever perfect and certainly found with the Lord above; though the same, being shut out of the doors in this world, be not to be found here among men. But, seeing our intent is to write a story, not to treat of office, let us lay Suffolk men aside for a while, whose deserts, for their readiness and diligence with the queen, I will not here stand upon. What she performed on her part, the thing itself, and the whole story of this persecution, do testify, as hereafter more plainly will appear.

            On the contrary side, the duke of Northumberland, having his warrant under the broad seal, with all furniture in readiness, as he took his voyage, and was now forward in his way; what ado there was, what stirring on every side, what sending, what riding and posting, what letters, messages, and instructions went to and fro, what talking among the soldiers, what heart-burning among the people, what fair pretences outwardly, inwardly what privy practices there were, what speeding of ordnance daily and hourly out of the Tower, what rumours and coming down of soldiers from all quarters there were; a world it was to see, and a process to declare, enough to make a whole Iliad.

            The greatest help that made for the Lady Mary was the short journeys of the duke, which by commission were assigned to him before, as is above mentioned. For the longer the duke lingered in his voyage, the Lady Mary the more increased in puissance, the hearts of the people being mightily bent unto her, which after the council at London perceived, and understood how the common multitude did withdraw their hearts from them, to stand with her, and that certain noblemen began to go the other way, they turned their song, and proclaimed for queen the Lady Mary, eldest daughter to King Henry the Eighth, and appointed by parliament to succeed King Edward, dying without issue.

            And so the duke of Northumberland, being by counsel and advice sent forth against her, was left destitute, and forsaken alone at Cambridge with some of his sons, and a few others, among whom the earl of Huntingdon was one; who there were arrested and brought to the Tower of London, as traitors to the crown, notwithstanding that he had there proclaimed her queen before.

            Thus have ye Mary now made a queen, and the sword of authority put into her hand, which how she afterward did use, we may see in the sequel of this book. Therefore, (as I said,) when she had been thus advanced by the gospellers, and saw all in quiet by means that her enemies were conquered, sending the duke captive to the Tower before, (which was the twenty-fifth of July,) she followed not long after, being brought up the third day of August to London, with the great rejoicing of many men, but with a greater fear of more, and yet with flattery peradventure most great, of feigned hearts.

            Thus coming up to London, her first lodging she took at the Tower, where the aforesaid Lady Jane, with her husband the Lord Guilford, a little before her coming, were imprisoned; where they remained waiting her pleasure almost five months. But the duke, within a month after his coming to the Tower, being adjudged to death, was brought forth to the scaffold, and there beheaded; albeit he, having a promise, and being put in hope of pardon, (yea, though his head were upon the block,) if he would recant and hear mass, consented thereto, and denied in words that true religion, which, before time, as well in King Henry the Eighth's days, as in King Edward's, he had oft evidently declared himself both to favour and further -- exhorting also the people to return to the catholic faith, as he termed it; whose recantation the papists did forthwith publish and set abroad, rejoicing not a little at his conversion, or rather subversion, as then appeared.

            Thus the duke of Northumberland, with Sir John Gates, and Sir Thomas Palmer, (which Palmer, on the other side, confessed his faith that he had learned in the gospel, and lamented that he had not lived more gospel-like,) being put to death; in the mean time Queen Mary, entering thus her reign with the blood of these men, besides hearing mass herself in the Tower, gave a heavy show and signification hereby, but especially by the sudden delivering of Stephen Gardiner out of the Tower, that she was not minded to stand to that which she so deeply had promised to the Suffolk men before, concerning the not subverting or altering the state of religion, as in very deed the surmise of the people was therein nothing deceived.

            Besides the premises, other things also followed, which every day more and more discomforted the people, declaring the queen to bear no good will to the present state of religion; as not only the releasing of Gardiner, being then made lord chancellor of England and bishop of Winchester, Dr. Poynet being put out; but also that Bonner was restored to his bishopric again, and Dr. Ridley displaced. Item, Dr. Day, to the bishopric of Chichester; John Scory being put out. Item, Dr. Tonstal to the bishopric of Durham. Item, Dr. Heath to the bishopric of Worcester, and John Hooper committed to the Fleet. Item, Dr. Vesey to Exeter, and Miles Coverdale put out. These things being marked and perceived, great heaviness and discomfort grew more and more to all good men's hearts; but on the contrary, to the wicked, great rejoicing: in which discord of minds, and diversity of affections, was now to be seen a miserable face of things in the whole commonwealth of England. They that could dissemble, took no great care how the matter went: but such whose consciences were joined to truth, perceived already coals to be kindled, which after should be the destruction of many a true Christian man; as indeed it came to pass. In the mean while Queen Mary, after these beginnings, having removed from the Tower to Hampton Court, caused a parliament to be summoned against the tenth of October next ensuing, whereof more is to be said hereafter.

 

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