Foxe's Book of Martyrs -- 262. THE QUEEN WTH CHILD

262. THE QUEEN WTH CHILD

            Ye heard a little before the council's letter sent to Bishop Bonner, signifying the good news of Queen Mary to be not only conceived, but also quick with child, which was in the month of November, the twenty-eighth day. Of this child great talk began at this time to rise in every man's mouth, with busy preparation, and much ado, especially amongst such as seemed in England to carry Spanish hearts in English bodies. In number of whom is here not to be forgotten, nor defrauded of his condign commendation for his worthy affection towards his prince and her issue, one Sir Richard Southwell, who, being the same time in the parliament house, when the lords were occupied in other affairs and matters of importance, suddenly starting up, for fulness of joy burst out in these words following: "Tush, my masters," quoth he, "what talk ye of these matters? I would have you take some order for our young master that is now coming into the world apace, lest he find us unprovided," &c. By the which words both of him, and also by the aforesaid letters of the council, and the common talk abroad, it may appear what an assured opinion was then conceived in men's heads of Queen Mary to be conceived and quick with child: insomuch that at the same time, and in the same parliament, there was eftsoons a bill exhibited, and an act made upon the same, the words whereof, for the more evidence, I thought good here to exemplify, as followeth.

 

Extract of an Act for the government of Queen Mary's issue.

            "Albeit we, the lords spiritual and temporal, and the commons in this present parliament assembled, have firm hope and confidence in the goodness of Almighty God, that like as he hath hitherto miraculously preserved the queen's Majesty from many great imminent perils and dangers; even so he will, of his infinite goodness, give her Highness strength, the rather by our continual prayers, to pass well the danger of deliverance of child, wherewith it hath pleased him (to all our great comforts) to bless her: yet forasmuch as all things of this world be uncertain. and having before our eyes the dolorous experience of the inconstant government, during the time of the reign of the late King Edward the Sixth, do plainly see the manifold inconveniences, great dangers and perils, that may ensue in this whole realm, if foresight be not used to prevent all evil chances, if they should happen: for the eschewing hereof, we, the lords spiritual and temporal, and the commons in this present parliament assembled, for and in consideration of a most special trust and confidence that we have and repose in the king's Majesty, for and concerning the politic government, order, and administration of this realm in the time of the young years of the issue or issues of her Majesty's body to be born (if it should please God to call the queen's Highness out of this present life, during the tender years of such issue or issues; which God forbid)-- according to such order and manner, as hereafter, in this present act, his Highness's most gracious pleasure is, should be declared and set forth, have made our humble suit, by the assent of the queen's Highness, that his Majesty would vouchsafe to accept and take upon him the rule, order, education, and government of the said issue or issues to be born, as is aforesaid: upon which our suit being of his said Majesty most graciously accepted, it hath pleased his Highness not only to declare, that like as for the most part his Majesty verily trusteth that Almighty God (who hath hitherto preserved the queen's Majesty, to give this realm so good a hope of certain succession in the blood royal of the same realm) will assist her Highness with his graces and benedictions, to see the fruit of her body well brought forth, live, and able to govern, (whereof neither all this realm, nay, all the world besides, should or could receive more comfort than his Majesty should and would,) yet, if such chance should happen, his Majesty at our humble desires is pleased and contented, not only to accept and take upon him the cure and charge of the education, rule, order, and government of such issues as of this most happy marriage shall be born between the queen's Highness and him; but also, during the time of such government, would, by all ways and means, study, travail, and employ himself to advance the weal both public and private of this realm and dominion thereunto belonging, according to the said trust in his Majesty reposed, with no less goodwill and affection, than if his Highness had been naturally born amongst us. In consideration whereof, be it enacted by the king and the queen's most excellent Majesties, by the assent of the lords spiritual and temporal, and the commons in this present parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same," &c.

            Thus much out of the act and statute I thought to rehearse, to the intent the reader may understand, not so much how parliaments may sometimes be deceived, (as by this child of Queen Mary may appear,) as rather what cause we Englishmen have to render most earnest thanks unto Almighty God, who so mercifully, against the opinion, expectation, and working of our adversaries, hath helped and delivered us in this case; which otherwise might have opened such a window to the Spaniards, to have entered and replenished this land, that peradadventure, by this time, Englishmen should have enjoyed no great quiet in their own country. The Lord therefore make us perpetually mindful of his benefits! Amen.

            Thus we see then how man doth purpose, but God disposeth as pleaseth him. For all this great labour, provision, and order taken in the parliament house for their young master long looked for, coming so surely into the world, in the end appeared neither young master, nor young mistress, that any man yet to this day can hear of. Furthermore, as the labour of the lay sort was herein deluded; so no less ridiculous it was to behold, what little effect the prayers of the pope's churchmen had with Almighty God, who travailed no less with their processions, masses, and collects, for the happy deliverance of this young master to come, as here followeth to be seen.

 

A prayer made by Dr. Weston, dean of Westminster, daily to be said for the queen's deliverance.-- Out of Latin into English.

            "O most righteous Lord God, which, for the offence of the first woman, has threatened unto all women, a common, sharp, and inevitable malediction, and hath enjoined them that they should conceive in sin, and, being conceived, should be subject to many and grievous torments; and finally, be delivered with the danger and jeopardy of their lives: we beseech thee for thine exceeding great goodness and bottomless mercy, to mitigate the strictness of that law. Assuage thine anger for a while, and cherish in the bosom of thy favour and mercy our most gracious Queen Mary, being now at the point to be delivered. So help her, that without danger of her life she may overcome the sorrow, and in due season bring forth a child, in body beautiful and comely, in mind noble and valiant. So that afterward, she, forgetting the trouble, may, with joy, laud and praise the bountifulness of thy mercy, and, together with us, praise and bless both thee and thy holy name, world without end. This, O Lord, we desire thee, we beseech thee, and most heartily crave of thee. Hear us, O Lord, and grant us our petition: let not the enemies of thy faith and of thy church say, 'Where is their God?'"

 

A solemn prayer made for King Philip and Queen Mary's child, that it may be a male child, well-favoured, and witty, &c.

            "O most mighty Lord God, which regardest the prayer of the humble, and despisest not their request; bow down from thine high habitation of the heavens, the eyes of thy mercy unto us wretched sinners, bowing the knees of our hearts, and with many and deep sighs bewailing our sins and offences; humbly, with eyes intent and hands displayed, praying and beseeching thee, with the shield of thy protection, to defend Mary thy servant, and our queen, who hath none other helper but thee, and whom, through thy grace, thou hast willed to be conceived with child: and at the time of her travail graciously, with the help of thy right hand, deliver her; and from all danger, with the child in her conceived, mercifully preserve.

            "It hath seemed good in thy sight, merciful Father, by thy servant Mary, to work these wonders; that is to say, in her hands to vanquish and overthrow the stout enemy, and to deliver us, thy people, out of the hands of heretics, infidels, enemies to thee and to the cross of thy beloved Son Jesus Christ; that of thy servant thou mightest speak in far countries. Therefore, for these wonderful works which thou dost to thy servants, thou art magnified, Lord God, for ever; and we thy people bless thee, the God of heaven, which hath wrought upon us this great mercy, and Lath excluded from us the heretic, the enemy of truth, the persecutor of thy church. We know, we know, that we have grievously, Lord, sinned; that we have been deceived by vanity, and that we have forsaken thee our God. Our iniquities be multiplied on our head, and our sins be increased up to heaven: and we ourselves, having offended, and our princes and our priests, for these our sins have deserved a hypocrite to our prince; our sins have deserved a tyrant to our governor, that should bring our life to a bitterness. We be not worthy to have so gentle and merciful a queen, so godly a ruler, and finally, so virtuous a prince; at the very beginning of whose reign, a new light, as it were, of God's religion seemed to us for to spring and rise. The Jews did bless the widow Judith with one voice, saying, 'Thou art the glory of Jerusalem, thou art the joy of Israel, thou art the honour of our people, for that thou hast loved chastity; and thou shalt be blessed for ever.'

            "And we, the English people, with one agreeable consent do cry: 'Thou Mary art the glory of England,' our joy, the honour of thy people; for that thou hast embraced chastity. Thine heart is strengthened, for the hand of our Lord hath comforted thee, and therefore thou shalt be blessed for ever. But bow down, O most merciful Father, thine ear, and open thine eyes, and behold our affliction, and our humble confession. Thou knowest, Lord, that against Philip, (not by human, but by thy ordinance, our king,) and against thy servant Mary, (by thy providence our queen,) the restorers and maintainers of thy testament of the faith, and most constant defenders of thy church: thou knowest, I say, that against these, our two governors, the enemies of thy holy Testament, and of the church thy spouse, be most rank rebels and spiteful murmurers, walking after their lusts; whose mouth speaketh words of pride, to the end they may set up the kingdom of heretics and schismatics. By the power of their hands they would change thy promises, and destroy thine inheritance, and stop and shut up the mouths of them that praise thee, and extinguish the glory of thy catholic church and altar.

            "It is manifest and plain, how many contentions, how many conspiracies and seditions, how great wars, what tumults, how many and how great troublesome vexations, how many heresies and schisms, (for these be the most ready devices and evident tokens of heretics,) for our sins do hang over us, if thy servant be taken from this life: for we acknowledge that our Lord is omnipotent, who hath pitched his dwelling-place in the midst of his people, to the intent to deliver us out of the hands of our enemies. Turn therefore thy countenance unto us, show unto us, O Lord, thy face. Punish us for our sins according to thy will and pleasure; only now deliver us. We, bowing the knees of our heart, beseech thee, that thou wilt not reserve unto us punishment for ever; and we shall praise thee all the days of our life. Hear our cry, and the prayer of thy people, and open to them the treasure of thy mercy, thy gracious favour, the spring of lively water. Thou that hast begun, make in the hand of thy servant a perfect work. Suffer not, we pray thee, the faithless rebels to say of thy servant and her councillors, that they have devised matters which they cannot perform. And grant unto thy servant a happy and an easy travail: for it is not impossible to thy power, nor indecent to thy justice, nor unwonted to thy mercy.

            "It is well known unto us, how marvellously thou didst work in Sarah of the age of ninety years, and in Elizabeth, the barren, and also far stricken in age: for thy counsel is not in the power of men. Thou, Lord, that art the searcher of hearts and thoughts, thou knowest that thy servant never lusted after man, never gave herself to wanton company, nor made herself partaker with them that walk in lightness: but she consented to take a husband with thy fear, and not with her lust. Thou knowest that thy servant took a husband not for carnal pleasure, but only for the desire and love of posterity, wherein thy name might be blessed for ever and ever.

            "Give therefore unto thy servants Philip our king and Mary our queen, a male issue, which may sit in the seat of thy kingdom. Give unto our queen thy servant a little infant, in fashion and body comely and beautiful, in pregnant wit notable and excellent. Grant the same to be in obedience like Abraham, in hospitality like Lot, in chastity and brotherly love like Joseph, in meekness and mildness like Moses, in strength and valour like Samson. Let him be found faithful as David after thy heart. Let him be wise among kings as the most wise Solomon. Let him be like Job, a simple and an upright man, fearing God and eschewing evil. Let him, finally, be garnished with the comeliness of all virtuous conditions, and in the same let him wax old and live, that he may see his children's children to the third and fourth generation. And give unto our sovereign lord and lady, King Philip and Queen Mary, thy blessings and long life upon earth; and grant that of them may come kings and queens, which may stedfastly continue in faith, love, and holiness. And blessed be their seed of our God, that all nations may know, thou art only God in all the earth, which art blessed for ever and ever: Amen!"

 

Another prayer for Queen Mary, and her conceived child.

            "O Almighty Father, which didst sanctify the blessed Virgin and mother Mary in her conception, and in the birth of Christ our Saviour thine only Son; also, by thine omnipotent power, didst safely deliver the prophet Jonas out of the whale's belly: defend, O Lord, we beseech thee, thy servant Mary, our queen, with child conceived; and so visit her in and with thy godly gift of health, that not only the child thy creature, within her contained, may joyfully come from her into this world, and receive the blessed sacraments of baptism and confirmation, enjoying therewith daily increase of all princely and gracious gifts both of body and soul; but that also she, (the mother,) through thy special grace and mercy, may in time of her travail avoid all excessive dolour and pain, and abide perfect and sure from all peril and danger of death, with long and prosperous life, through Christ our Lord. Amen."

            It followeth now further, in process of the story, that upon the Tuesday, being the tenth of January, nineteen of the lower house of the parliament, with the speaker, came to Whitehall to the king, and offered him the government of the realm and of the issue, if the queen should fail, which was confirmed by act of parliament within ten days after.

            On Wednesday following, being the sixteenth of January, the parliament was clean dissolved. In this parliament, amongst other tidings, the bishop of Rome was established, and all such laws as were made against him since the twentieth year of King Henry the Eighth, were repealed, and also Cardinal Pole, Bishop Pates, Lilly, and others were restored to their blood. Also there was an act made for speaking of words; that whoever should speak any thing against the king or queen, or that might move any sedition or rebellion, at the first time to have one of his ears cut off, or to forfeit a hundred marks; and at the second time to have both his ears cut off, or else to forfeit a hundred pounds; and whosoever should write, cipher, or print any of the premises, to have their right hand cut off.

            Also in this parliament three statutes were revived for trial of heresy; one made in the fifth year of Richard the Second: another in the second year of Henry the Fourth: and the third in the second year of Henry the Fifth. Also the doing of Master Rose, and the others that were with him, was communed of in this parliament; and upon that occasion an act was made, that certain evil prayers should be treason against the queen's Highness. The prayers of these men were thus: "God turn the heart of Queen Mary from idolatry; or else shorten her days."

 

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