Foxe's Book of Martyrs -- 434. QUEEN ELIZABETH.

434. QUEEN ELIZABETH.

Illustration -- Queen Elizabeth riding in Triumph

 

            And now to re-enter again to the time and story of Queen Elizabeth, where we left before.

            In her advancement and this her princely governance, it cannot sufficiently be expressed, what felicity and blessed happiness this realm hath received in receiving her at the Lord's almighty and gracious hand. For as there have been divers kings and rulers over this realm, and I have read of some, yet I could never find in English chronicle the like that may be written of this our noble and worthy queen, whose coming in was not only so calm, so joyful, and so peaceable, without shedding any blood, but also her reign hitherto, (reigning now twenty-four years and more,) hath been so quiet, that yet (the Lord have all the glory) to this present day, her sword is a virgin spotted and polluted with no drop of blood. In speaking whereof, I take not upon me the part here of the moral or of the divine philosopher, to judge of things done, but only keep me within the compass of an historiographer, declaring what hath been before, and comparing things done with things now present, the like whereof, as I said, is not to he found lightly in chronicles before. And this, as I speak ttoly, so I would to be taken without flattery to be left to our posterity, ad sempiternam clementić illius memoriam. In commendation of which her clemency, I might also here add how mildly her Grace, after she was advanced to her kingdom, did forgive the foresaid Sir Henry Benifield without molestation, suffering him to enjoy goods, life, lands, and liberty. But I let this pass.

            Thus hast thou, gentle reader, simply but truly described unto thee the time, first of the sorrowful adversity of this our most sovereign queen that now is, also the miraculous protection of God, so graciously preserving her in so many straits and distresses, which I thought here briefly to notify, the rather for that the wondrous works of the Lord ought not to be suppressed, and that also her Majesty, and we likewise, her poor subjects, having thereby a present matter always before our eyes, be admonished both how much we are bound to his Divine Majesty, and also to render thanks to him condignly for the same. Now remaineth likewise, in prosecuting the order of this, as of other histories before, to notify and discourse of things memorable especially in the church, such as happened in the time of this her Majesty's quiet and joyful government. And first, here I let pass by the way the death of Cardinal Pole, which was the next day after the death of Queen Mary; the death also of Christopherson bishop of Chichester, and Hopton bishop of Norwich; omitting also to speak of Dr. Weston, who, being chief disputer against Cranmer, Ridley, and Latimer, as is before declared, first fell in displeasure with the cardinal and other bishops, because he was unwilling to part from his deanery and house of Westminster unto the monks, whom indeed he favoured not, although in other things a maintainer of the Church of Rome. Then, being removed from thence, be was made dean of Windsor, where he, being apprehended in advowtry, was by the same cardinal put from all his spiritual livings. Wherefore he appealed to Rome, and, flying out of the realm, was taken by the way and clapped in the Tower of London, where he remained until this time that Queen Elizabeth was proclaimed; at which time being delivered, he fell sick and died.

            Also I let pass the coronation of this our most noble and Christian princess, and the order of the same, which was the fifteenth day of January, anno 1559. To pass over also the triumphant passage and honourable entertainment of the said our most dread sovereign through the city of London, with such celebrity, prayers, wishes, welcomings, cries, tender words, pageants, interludes, declamations, and verses set up, as the like hath not commonly been seen, arguing and declaring a wonderful earnest affection of loving hearts toward their sovereign. Item, To pretermit in silence the letters gratulatory, sent to her Majesty from divers and sundry foreign places, as from Zurich, Geneva, Basil, Bern, Wittenburg, Strasburg, Frankfort, &c.: these, I say, with many other things to let pass, we will now (God willing) begin with the disceptation or conference between the popish bishops, and the learned men exiled in Germany, had at Westminster; after that first we have inserted a certain oration of a worthy gentleman, called Master John Hales, sent and delivered to the said Queen Elizabeth in the beginning of her reign, the copy whereof is this.

 

To the noble Queen Elizabeth.

            "Albeit there be innumerable gifts and benefits of Almighty God, whereof every one would wonderfully comfort any person, on whom it should please his goodness to bestow it; yet is none of them, either separate by itself, or joined with any other, or yet all mingled together, to be compared to this one: that it hath pleased God of his mercy to deliver this realm, our country, from the tyranny of malicious Mary, and to commit it to the government of virtuous Elizabeth. For if a man had all the treasure of Solomon, and might not be suffered to have the use thereof, in what better case were he, than miserable Tantalus, over whose head the apples continually hung, yet, being hunger-starved, he could never touch them? If a man had as strong a body as had Samson, and besides, were as whole as a fish, as the proverb is, yet, if he were kept in bands, what should it avail him? Yea, rather, if it be well considered, it is a hurt to him, if continuance of torment and pains may be a hurt.

            "If a man had as many children as had Gideon the judge, and might not be so suffered to bring them up in the fear of God, and good knowledge and manners, had he not been more happy to be without them, than to have them? If a man had as much knowledge of God as had St. Paul, and durst not profess it openly with mouth, as he is commanded, but for fear of death should declare the contrary in deed, slander the word of God, and deny Christ, which is forbidden, should it not rather be a furtherance to his damnation than otherwise?

            And, to be short, if any one man had all these gifts together, or generally all the gifts of fortune, the body, the mind, and of grace, yet if he might not have the use of them, what should they profit him? Verily, nothing at all. For felicity is not in having, but in using; not in possessing, but in occupying; not in knowledge, but in doing.

            "But alas! our natural mother England, which hath been counted to be the surest, the richest, and of late also the most godly nation of the earth, hath been these whole five years most violently by tyrants forced to lack the use of all the gifts and benefits wherewith God and nature hath endued her. Her natural and loving children could not be suffered to enjoy their right inheritance, whereby they might relieve and succour her or themselves; but whatsoever they had was, either by open force, or by crafty dealing, pulled from them. And surely this had been tolerable, if none other mischief had been therewith intended.

            "He is a gentle thief, (if thieves may be counted gentle,) that only robbeth a man of his goods, and refraineth violent hands from his person: for such loss, with labour and diligence, may be recovered. He may be called a merciful murderer, that only killeth the aged parents, and useth no force on the children. For nature hath made all men mortal, and that in like space; and to kill the parents, is as it were but a prevention of a short time, if it were to the uttermost enjoyed. But these tyrants were more ungentle than common thieves, more empty of mercy than common murderers. For they were not only not contented to have the goods of the people, but they would have it delivered to them by the owners' own hands, that it might be said to the world, they gave it with their heart; and were not therewith pleased, but they would have their lives, that they should not bewray them; and yet herewith they were not satisfied, but they meant to root out the whole progeny and nation of Englishmen, that none should be left to revenge and cry out on their extremities, and to bring our country into the Spaniards' dominion.

            "It is a horrible cruelty for one brother to kill another, much more horrible for the children to lay violent and murdering hands on their parents, but most horrible of all to murder the children in the sight of their parents, or the parents in the sight of their children, as these most cruel tormentors have done.

            "But what do I stand in these things, which have some defence, because the Turks perchance use so to do; and ethnics kill one another, to make sacrifice of men to their fantastical gods?

            "It was not enough for these unnatural English tormentors, tyrants, and false Christians, to be the lords of the goods, possessions, and bodies of their brethren and countrymen: but, being very antichrist, and enemies of Christ's cross, they would be gods, and reign in the consciences and souls of men. Every man, woman, and child, must deny Christ in word openly, abhor Christ in their deeds, slander his gospel with word and deed, worship and honour false gods, as they would have them, and themselves did, and so give body and soul to the devil their master, or secretly flee; or, after inward torments, be burnt openly. O cruelty, cruelty! far exceeding all cruelties committed by those ancient and famous tyrants and cruel murderers, Pharaoh, Herod, Caligula, Nero, Domitian, Maximinian, Dioclesian, Decius, whose names, for their cruel persecution of the people of God, and their own tyranny practised on the people, have been, be, and ever shall be in perpetual hatred, and their souls in continual torment in hell. If any man would take upon him to set forth particularly all the acts that have been done these full five years, by this unnatural woman, (no, no woman, but a monster, and the devil of hell covered with the shape of a woman,) as it is most necessary for the glory of God, and the profit of his church and this realm, it should be done; he shall find it a matter sufficient for a perfect great history, and not to be contained in an oration, to be uttered at one time by the voice of man. But to comprehend the sum of all their wickedness in few words: behold, whatsoever malice in mischief, covetousness in spoil, cruelty in punishing, tyranny in destruction could do, that all this poor English nation, this full five years, suffered already; or should have suffered, had not the great mercy of God prevented it.

            "And albeit there have been many that have hazarded and lost their lives to shake off this most rough break (wherewith this virago, rather than virgin, as she would be called and taken, boasted herself to be sent of God, to ride and tame the people of England); albeit there have been many that have gone about to loose their brethren out of the yoke of this most miserable captivity; and albeit some have proved to break the bands of this most cruel tyranny: yet could they never bring to pass that, which they so earnestly laboured, and so manfully attempted.

            "And it is nothing to be wondered, let the papists boast thereof what it pleaseth them. For Almighty God, being a most indifferent Governor, punishing evil, and rewarding good, could not of his justice suffer his scourge so soon to be taken from this our land, if he meant the salvation of the people, as most manifestly it appeareth he did. For having once given to this realm the greatest jewel that might be, that is, the free use of his lively word, (which if they had embraced and followed, it would have reformed all disorders and sins for which his wrath was kindled and provoked,) the people nothing regarded it, but either utterly contemned it, or abused it; and many made it a cloak and colour to cover their mischief. So that if he should suddenly have withdrawn this plague, as tyrants and evil governors be the plague of God, they would neither have passed on his justice, nor yet should they have felt the sweetness of his mercy. For commonly the people regard but things present, and neither remember things past, nor yet pass on things to come, unless they be warned by exceeding extremities.

            "Besides this, it is most evident, that he had determined to make this noble conquest alone, with his own hand and mighty power; and would not that it should be done by man, lest man should impute any part of the glory of this victory to his own strength, or to his own policy; or that fortune should seem to bear any stroke in so glorious a conquest, and so be partaker, in men's opinions, of the triumph so worthy.

            "Neither did his almighty power work this when man would have it despatched, that is, as soon as the enemy began to gather their force; for it is not so great a victory to discomfit a few dispersed people, as it is to destroy a perfectly united army: but he suffered them to make their force as great as was possible, to work whatsoever mischiefs by spoil, banishment, prisonment, hanging, heading, burning, or otherwise could be imagined.

            "Neither would his most provident wisdom do it out of season; but, as the good husbandman doth not crop his tree till he hath rendered his fruit, so would he not root out these pestilent tyrannies, till the most profit might be taken thereof.

            "When he had given sufficient leisure to all kind of men to declare themselves; who were crocodiles, sometimes lying in water, sometimes on land, that is, both gospellers and papists; who where sponges, suspected whether they had life or not life, whether they were Christians or epicures; who were cameleons, that could turn themselves into all colours; with protestants, protestants; with papists, papists; with Spaniards, Spaniards; with Englishmen, Englishmen: who were gnathos, that could apply themselves to every man's appetite that was in authority; who were marigolds, that followed Mary's mad affections; who were weather-cocks, that did turn with every wind; who were mastiffs, that could bite, and bark not; who were curs, ever barking; who were foxes, that would promise much, and perform nothing; who could bind themselves with many oaths, and do clean contrary; who were Cains, that sought the innocent Abels' deaths; who were the wolves, that worried the lambs. And finally, when he had suffered the spiritual shavelings to spew out their venom, and every man plainly to declare outwardly what he was inwardly, then doth he work this most victorious conquest. And with his works he seemeth plainly to say thus unto us: 'Ye see, my people, what I have done for you, not for your sakes, which nothing regarded the benefits that I most plenteously poured on you, and have deserved most grievous punishment for your unthankfulness; but of mine infinite mercy, and for my glory's sake, which I will have opened to all the world in these latter days, to the fear of evildoers, and to the comfort of the well-doers. Provoke no more my wrath: ye see what will follow it. Be hereafter more prudent and wise than ye were before. Ye may, if ye will, be more circumspect in time to come, than ye have been in the time past: ye may, if ye list, put me to less trouble, and keep yourselves in more safety. I have not only discovered mine, yours, and my land of England's enemies, and all the crafts, subtleties, and policies that have been, or may be used by them, or any like hereafter; but I have also taken away their head and captain, and destroyed a great number of them, that ye should not be troubled with them; and some of them have I left, that ye may make them spectacles and examples, to the terror and fear of their posterity. Love me, and I will love you: seek my honour and glory, and I will work your commodity and safety: walk in my ways and commandments, and I will be with you for ever.'

            "Surely, if we consider the wonderful mercy that it hath pleased God to use towards us, in the delivering of the realm, and us his people, out of the hands of those most cruel tyrants, as we cannot but do, unless we will declare ourselves to be the most unthankful people that ever lived, we must needs judge it not only worthy to be compared to, but also far to exceed, the deliverance of the children of Israel out of Egypt from the tyranny of Pharaoh, and from the powers of Holofernes and Sennacherib: for it is not read, that either Pharaoh, or the other two, sought any other thing, than to be the lords of the goods and bodies of the Israelites: they forced them not to commit idolatry, and to serve false gods, as these English tyrants did.

            "But besides, if we will note the wonderful works of God in handling this matter, we shall well perceive, that far much more is wrought to his glory, and to the profit of his church and people, than perchance all men at the first do see. For he hath not only despatched the realm of the chief per sonages and head of these tyrants, but also as it were declareth, that he minded not that either they or their doings should continue. For, albeit that all acts done by tyrants tyrannously, be by all laws, reason, and equity, of no force, yet, because no disputation should follow on this -- what is tyrannously done, and what is not tyrannously done, he hath provided that this question needeth not to come in question; for he utterly blinded their eyes, and suffered them to build on false grounds, which can no longer stand than they be propt up with rope, sword, and faggot. For her first parliament, whereon they grounded and wrought a great part of their tyranny, and wherein they meant to overthrow whatsoever King Edward had for the advancement of God's glory brought to pass, was of no force or authority. For she, perceiving that her enemy's stomach could not be emptied, nor her malice spewed on the people by any good order, she committeth a great disorder. She, by force and violence, taketh from the commons their liberty, that, according to the ancient laws and customs of the realm, they could not have their free election of knights and burgesses for the parliament: for she well knew, that if either Christian men, or true Englishmen, should be elected, it was not possible [for] that to succeed, which she intended. And therefore in many places divers were chosen by force of her threats, meet to serve her malicious affections. Wherefore that parliament was no parliament, but may be justly called a conspiracy of tyrants and traitors. For the greater part, by whose authority and voices things proceeded in that court, by their acts most manifestly declared themselves so: the rest, being both Christians and true Englishmen, although they had good wills, yet were not able to resist or prevail against the multitude of voices and suffrages of so many evil, false to God, and enemies to their country.

            "Also divers burgesses being orderly chosen, and lawfully returned, as in some places the people did what they could to resist her purposes, were disorderly and unlawfully put out, and others, without any order of law, in their places placed. Dr. Taylor, bishop of Lincoln, a Christian bishop and a true Englishman, being lawfully and orderly called to the parliament, and placed in the lords' house in his degree, was, in his robes, violently thrust out of the house. Alexander Nowell with two others, all three being burgesses for divers shires, and Christian men and true Englishmen, and lawfully chosen, returned, and admitted, were, by force, put out of the house of the commons: for the which cause the said parliament is also void, as by a precedent of the parliament holden at Coventry, in the thirty-eighth year of King Henry the Sixth, it most manifestly appeareth. And the third parliament, called in the name of her husband, and of her evil Grace, wherein they would have undone that her noble father and the realm had brought to pass for the restitution of the liberty of the realm, and for extinguishment of the usurped authority of the bishop of Rome, is also void, and of none authority; for that the title and style of supreme head of the Church of England, which by a statute made in the thirty-fifth year of the reign of the said King Henry, was ordained, that it should be united and annexed for ever to the imperial crown of this realm, was omitted in the writs of summoning. Wherefore, as a woman can bring forth no child without a man, so cannot those writs bring forth good and sure fruit, because this part of the title, which was ordained by the parliament for the form to be always used in the king's style, was left out. For greater error is in lack of form, than in lack of matter; and where the foundation is naught, there can nothing builded thereon be good. There is no law spiritual nor temporal, (as they term them,) nor any good reason, but allows these rules for infallible principles. And if any man will say, that it was in the free choice, liberty, and pleasure of the king of this realm, and the queen, whether they would express the said title in their style, or not, -- as that subtle serpent Gardiner, being chancellor of the realm, and traitorously sending out the writs of parliament without the same style, perceiving he had over-shot himself in calling the parliament, and having committed many horrible murders and most mischievous acts, would have excused it, as appeareth by a piece of a statute made in the same parliament, in the eighth chapter and two-and-twentieth leaf, it may be justly and truly answered, that they could not so do. For although every person may by law renounce his own private right, yet may he not renounce his right in that which toucheth the commonwealth, or a third person.

            "And this title and style more touched the commonwealth and realm of England, than the king. For, as I said before, it was ordained for the conservation of the liberty of the whole realm, and to exclude the usurped authority of the bishop of Rome. And therefore no king nor queen alone could renounce such title: but it ought (if they would have it taken away) to be taken away orderly and formally by act of parliament, sufficiently called and summoned. For the natural and right way to loose and undo things, is to dissolve them by that means they were ordained. And so it most manifestly appeareth, that all their doings, from the beginning to the end, were and be of none effect, force, or authority: but all that they have done, hath been mere tyranny. O most marvellous providence of Almighty God, that always, and in all things, doth that is best for the wealth of his people! O most mighty power, that so suddenly overthroweth the counsels of the wicked, and bringeth their devices to nought! O infinite mercy, that so gently dealeth with his people, that he saveth them whom he might most justly destroy! O most joyful, most merry, and never to be forgotten 'Hope-Wednesday,' in which it hath pleased thee, O God, to deliver thy church, this realm, and thy people from so horrible tyranny! No tongue can express, no pen can indite, no eloquence can worthily set out, much less exornate these thy marvellous doings. No, no heart is able to render unto thy goodness sufficient thanks for the benefits we have received. Who could ever have hoped this most joyful time? Yea, who did not look rather for thy most sharp visitation, and utter destruction of this realm, as of Sodom, Gomorrah, and Jerusalem? But we see and feel, good Lord, that thy mercy is greater than all men's sins, and far above all thy works.

            "And albeit there is no Christian and natural Englishman, woman, or child, either present, or that shall succeed us, which is not or shall not be partaker of this most exceeding mercy and wonderful benefit of Almighty God, and therefore is bound continually to praise and thank him; yet there is not one creature that is more bound so to do, than you, noble Queen Elizabeth! For in this horrible tyranny, and most cruel persecution, your Grace hath been more hunted for than any other. Divers times they have taken you; sometimes they have had you in stronghold, secluded from all liberty; sometimes at liberty, but not without most cruel gaolers' custody; and many times they determined, that without justice ye should be murdered privily. They thought, if your Grace had been suppressed, they should have fully prevailed: if ye had been destroyed, their doings for ever should be established: if ye had been taken out of the way, there were none left that would or could undo that they had ordained. But He that sitteth on high, and laugheth at their madness, would not suffer that the malicious purposes and most cruel devised injustice should have success. He took upon him the protection of you. He only hath been our Jehosheba, that preserved you from this wicked Athaliah: he only was the Jehoiada, that destroyed this cruel Athaliah: he only hath made you queen of this realm, instead of this mischievous Marana. No earthly creature can claim any piece of thanks there-for; no man's force, no man's counsel, no man's aid, hath been the cause thereof. Wherefore, the greater his benefits have been toward you, the more are you bound to seek his glory, and to set forth his honour. Ye see his power, what he is able to do: he alone can save, and he can destroy; he can pull down, and he can set up. If ye fear him, and seek to do his will, then will he favour you, and preserve you to the end from all enemies, as he did King David. If ye now fall from him, or juggle with him, look for no more favour than Saul had showed to him. But I have a good hope, that both his justice and benefits be so printed in your heart, that ye will never forget them; but seek by all means to have the one, and to fear to fall into the other. I trust, also, your wisdom will not only consider the causes of this late most sharp visitation, but also to your uttermost power endeavour to out-root them.

            "And forasmuch as, besides this infinite mercy poured on your Grace, it hath pleased his Divine providence to constitute your Highness to be our Deborah, to be the governess and head of the body of this realm, to have the charge and cure thereof, it is requisite above all things, as well for his glory and honour, as for your discharge, quietness, and safety, to labour that the same body now at the first be cleansed, made whole, and then kept in good order. For as, if the body of man be corrupted and diseased, he is not able to manage his things at home, much less to do any thing abroad; so, if the body of a realm be corrupt and out of order, it shall neither be able to do any thing abroad, if necessity should require, nor yet prosper in itself. But this may not be done with piecing and patching, cobbling and botching, as was used in time past, whilst your most noble father and brother reigned. For as if a man cut off one head of the serpent Hydra, and destroy not the whole body, many will grow instead of that one; and as in a corrupt body that hath many diseases, if the physician should labour to heal one part, and not the whole, it will in short time break out afresh: so, unless the body of a realm or commonwealth be clean purged from corruption, all the particular laws and statutes that can be devised, shall not profit it. We need no foreign examples to prove it: look upon this realm itself, it will plainly declare it. And as it is not enough to cleanse the body from its corruption, but there must be also preservatives ministered to keep it from putrefaction; for naturally of itself it is disposed to putrefy; so, after the body of a realm is purged, unless there be godly ordinances for the preservation thereof ordained and duly ministered, it will return to the old state. For this body, which is the people, is universally, naturally, disposed to evil, and without compulsion will hardly do that is its duty.

            "Thus must your Grace do, if ye mind the advancement of God's glory, your own quietness and safety, and the wealth of this your body politic. And they be not hard to bring to pass, where goodwill will vouchsafe to take to her a little pain. The realm will soon be purged, if vice and self-love be utterly condemned. It will be in good state preserved, if these three things -- God's word truly taught and preached, youth well brought up in godly and honest exercises, and justice rightly ministered -- may be perfectly constituted. And without this foundation, let men imagine what it pleaseth them, the spiritual house of God shall never be well-framed nor builded, nor the public state of your realm well-ordered. For in what body God's word lacketh, the unity and charity that ought to be among the members thereof, and which knitteth them together, is soon extinguished. Where the youth are neglected, there can no good success be hoped, no more than the husbandman can look for a good crop where he sowed no good seed. And where justice is not truly and rightly ministered, there the more laws and statutes be heaped together, the more they be contemned. And surely if this thing could not without exceeding charges be compassed, as God forbid that charges should be weighed, be they never so great, where God's glory and the wealth of the realm may be furthered; yet ought it not to be neglected. What charges did King David the father, and King Solomon his son, employ to build the stony house of God! How much more charges should a Christian employ to build and set up the lively house of God! But verily, I am fully persuaded that it shall not be chargeable to do this. No, a great deal of superfluous charges, which otherwise your Grace shall be forced to sustain, shall be thus clean cut away, and so your revenues by a mean most profitable, and to no good person hurtful, increased.

            "Wherefore, for God's sake, noble queen, let not the opportunity, now by God offered, be by your Grace omitted. A physician can in nothing so much declare his good will and cunning, nor purchase himself so great estimation, as when he findeth his patient throughly sick and weakened, and doth restore him to his perfect health and perfection. Likewise, if a prince should desire of God a thing whereby he might declare the zeal that he beareth to God, or whereby he might win fame and glory, he could desire nothing so much, as to come into a state corrupted, as this realm of England at this present is; not to destroy it, as did Caesar, but to make it, as did Romulus.

            "If your Grace can bring this to pass, as I am out of all doubt ye may quickly, ye shall do more than any of your progenitors did before you. All men shall confess, that you are not only for proximity of blood preferred, but rather of God specially sent and ordained. And as the queen of Sheba came from far off, to see the glory of King Solomon, a woman to a man, even so shall the princes of our time come, men to a woman, and kings marvel at the virtue of Queen Elizabeth. Thus shall we your subjects be most bound to praise God, and to think ourselves most happy, that coming so suddenly from the worse, be forthwith preferred to the best, rid from extremest calamity, and brought to the greatest felicity; and it shall be besides an example for all evil princes, to leave their persecution of Christ and his members, to cease from their tyranny, wherewith they continually oppress their poor subjects. And so all people, not only we of this your realm, but of all other nations, shall have just cause to pray for your Grace's health, and increase of honour."

 

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