116. EVENTS IN ENGLAND 1431-1450
During this business among the bishops beyond the sea, in the mean time our bishops here also in England were not unoccupied. Whether it be the nature of the country that so giveth, or whether the great livings and wealthy promotions of the clergy do draw with them a more insensible untowardness in God's religion, hard it is to say; this is manifest to all them which will read and mark our stories from time to time, that in England is more burning and slaying for religion and for all other matters, more bloodshed among us, than in any other land or nation in Christendom besides. After the burning of Richard Hoveden, and Nicholas Canon, and of Thomas Bagley, priest, above recorded, whom the bishops condemned to death, A. D. 1431, not long after, about the year of our Lord 1439, which was the eighteenth of the reign of King Henry the Sixth,they had another poor man by the back, named Richard Wiche, priest, mentioned both in Robert Fabian, and also in another old English Chronicle borrowed of one Perminger. What his opinions were they do not express. This they record, that this Richard Wiche first was degraded, then burned at the Tower-hill for heresy. Some do affirm, that he before his death revolted; but that seemeth by his burning not to be true.
It is also testified of him, that before his death he spake, (as prophesying,) that the postern of the Tower should sink; which also afterward came, as he saith, to pass; wherefore, of many of the people he was counted for a holy man; insomuch that (as it is affirmed) they came to the place where he was burnt, and there made their oblations and prayers, and reared a great heap of stones, and set up a cross there by night; so that by this means a great clamour ran upon the churchmen, and especially upon such as put him to death. Then, to cease the rumour, the king gave commandment to punish such as went thither on pilgrimage. The copy whereof is here to be seen as followeth.
"Rex vicecomitibus London. et Midd. salutem. Albeit Richard Wiche, late clerk, who heretofore long sithence heretically did hold, teach, and publicly preach certain heresies and erroneous opinions in many places within our realm of England, and for the same many years now past being judicially convicted, did before a judge in that behalf sufficiently abjure all heresy generally, and afterward, as a dog returning to his vomit, did presume to maintain, teach, and publicly preach his former errors and heresies, so that he was worthily adjudged a relapse. And again, being impeached for the same before the reverend father in God, Robert, bishop of London, his lawful ordinary, was called forth to judgment, and being before him, did judicially confess his errors and heresies; for the which cause the said reverend father, upon mature deliberation by him the said reverend father first had, with the advice of the learned in the law, his assistants, lawfully proceeding against the said Richard, did by his sentence definitive pronounce and adjudge him to be a relapse, and did degrade him from the order and dignity of priesthood, and took from him all priestly ornaments, and deprived him of all priestly function and privilege, (according to justice,) and last of all turned him over to the secular power as the manner is; and afterwards you, by our princely commandment and warrant, did, according to the law of our realm, for his last punishment, consume the body of the said Richard to ashes, being a relapse convict, and degraded as a notorious traitor, not only against God, but also against us, and our crown and dignity; all which notwithstanding, certain our subjects, (as we have been sundry times informed,) being pricked forward with a diabolical spirit, practising of all likelihood not only sedition, but also idolatry within our realm, are not afraid publicly to affirm, that the said Richard was altogether innocent of heretical pravity. Nay, rather, they do most shamefully with their vain devices, and wickedly conceived imaginations, blaze abroad, that he was, and died, a good, just, and a holy man, and that he doth many miracles (whereas, indeed, no such miracles be done by him). Which disorderly persons we may well, and upon probable causes, repute and deem culpable not only of heretical pravity, but also of high treason, and as rebels to our person, majesty, and violaters of the peace and dignity of our realm, as withal breakers and trespassers against the sacred canons of the church, who dare so presumptuously adventure to worship the said Richard as a saint, whereas it is not lawful to worship any manner of person, be he never so holy, before he be canonized by the authority of the bishop of Rome. We, therefore, being very careful for the good preservation of our peace, and desirous to abolish from out all the coasts of the same all manner of idolatry, do charge and command you, that in certain places within your liberties, where you shall think most convenient, you cause forthwith proclamations to be made on our behalf, straitly charging, that no person from henceforth presume to resort to the place where the said Richard was executed under colour of a pilgrim, or for any other cause of devotion whatsoever, nor send any offering thither, nor worship him hereafter openly or secretly, or adjudge, esteem, repute, name, or talk of him as otherwise justified or innocent, than such as the said reverend father by his definitive sentence hath pronounced him to be, upon pain and penalty to be taken and reputed for a heretic, or a favourer of heretics, and to receive condign punishment provided for heretics. And that you arrest all and every person whom ye shall find to do any thing contrary to this our proclamation, and the same so arrested commit to our prison, there to remain until we shall think good to send countermand for their deliverance. Witness the king at his manor of Easthampsted, the fifteenth day of July, in the eighteenth year of his reign."
Like writs, and to the same effect, were directed to all the sheriffs through all the realm, bearing all one and the same date. By the virtue of which letter, the mayor and sheriffs did use such diligence, that shortly after that concourse and seeking of the people was left off.
After the burning of this man, which was about the month of June, in the same year, about November, a convocation was called by Hemy, archbishop of Canterbury, wherein was propounded among the clergy, to consult with themselves what way were best to be taken for the removing away the law of Præmuniri facias; for so were the hearts then of the temporally set against the ecclesiastical sort, that where any advantage might be given them by the law, they did nothing spare; by reason whereof the churchmen at that time were greatly molested by the said law of Præmuniri, and by the king's writs, and other indictments, to their no small annoyance. By long consultation and good advisement, at last this way was taken, that a petition or supplication should be drawn and presented to the king, for the abolishing of the aforesaid law of Præmuniri facias, and also for the restraining of other briefs, writs, and indictments, which seemed then to lie heavy upon the clergy. This bill or supplication being contrived and exhibited, by the archbishop of Canterbury and of York, unto the king standing in need the same time of a subsidy to be collected of the clergy; this answer was given to their supplication on the king's behalf: That forasmuch as the time of Christmas then drew near, whereby he had as yet no sufficient leisure to advise upon the matter, he would take therein a further pause. In the mean time, as one tendering their quiet, he would send to all his officers and ministers within his realm, that no such brief of Præmuniri should pass against them, or any of them, from the said time of Christmas, till the next parliament, A. D. 1439.
In my former edition of Acts and Monuments, so hastily rashed up at that present, in such shortness of time, as in the said book thou mayest see (gentle reader) declared and signified; among many other matters therein contained, there is a short note made of one Eleanor Cobham, duchess of Gloucester, and of Sir Roger Onley, knight, (priest, it should have been printed,) which two persons, about the year of our Lord 1440, or the next year following, were condemned, the one to death, the other to perpetual prison. Of this little short matter, Master Cope, the pope's scout, lying in privy wait to spy faults in all men's works wheresoever any may appear, taketh pepper in the nose, and falleth again unto this old barking against me, for placing these fore-said persons in my Book of Martyrs; but especially he thinketh to have great advantage against me, for that in the same story I do join withal one Margaret Jourdeman, the witch of Eye, condemned also with them the same time, and burned for practising the king's death by an image of wax, &c. To answer hereunto, first, I say (as I before said) that I profess no such title to write of martyrs, but in general to write of acts and monuments passed in the church and realm of England. Wherein, why should I be restrained from the free walk of a story writer, more than other that have gone before me?
Secondly, touching my commendation of Sir Roger Onley and the Lady Eleanor, if Master Alane he therewith offended, I answer, that I commended them for savouring and favouring of the truth of Christ's doctrine; for the fact, if any such were in them, I do not commend them. And although I did commend them, yet neither did I it with any long tarrying upon it, nor yet altogether upon mine own head, without some sufficient warrant of authority. For why may not I as well believe John Bale, as Master Alane believe Master Fabian? Especially seeing I do know, and was privy, that the said John, in recognising his centuries, followed altogether the history of Leland de Catalogo Virorum Illustrium; which book, being borrowed of Master Cheeke, I myself did see in the hands of the aforesaid John Bale, what time we were both together, dwelling in the house of the noble lady, duchess of Richmond. Wherefore if he think me so lewd to speak without without mine authors, he is deceived. And if he think mine authors not to be believed, then let this jolly dictator come forth and prescribe us a law, what authors he would have us to take, and what to refuse. For else why is it not as free for me to credit John Bale and Leland, as for him to credit Robert Fabian and Edward Hall; especially seeing they had seen his books and works left behind him, whereupon they might better judge, and so did never these?
Thirdly, for the name of Roger Onley, if Cope deny that there was any such name in stories mentioned, but that there was one called Roger Bolingbroke, &c., hereby it may appear, that either his prompter out of England deceived him, or else that he, going no further but to Fabian and Hall, lacketh no good will in him, but only a little matter to make a perfect sycophant. And admit the said name of Onley could not be found in those writers, yet were it not impossible for a man to have two names, especially if he were a religious man, to bear the name of the town where he was born, beside his own proper surname. But now what if I, Master Cope, can avouch and bring forth to you the name of Roger Onley out of sufficient record, which you seem not to have yet read? Have ye not then done well and properly, think you, so bitterly to fly in my face, and to bark so eagerly all this while at moon-shine in the water, having no more cause almost against me, than against the man in the moon? And now, lest you should think me so unprovided of unjust authority for my defence, as I see you unprovided of modesty and patience; write you toyour prompter or suborner, wheresoever he lurketh here in England, to send you over unto Louvain the book of John Harding, a chronicler, more ancient than either Fabian or Hall, printed in the house of Richard Grafton, A. D. 1513, where turn to the fol. 223. fac. b. lin. 19, and there shall you find and read these words:
"Again, the church and the king cursedly,
By help of one Master Roger Onley," &c.
By the which words ye must necessarily confess Roger Onley to be the name of the man, or else must ye needs deny the author. For otherwise, that Master Roger Bolingbroke was the only helper to the duchess in that fact, by no wise it can stand with the story of these authors, which say, that four other besides him were condemned for the same crime, &c. And moreover, though the said Sir Roger Onley was no knight, (as I have said in my former edition,) yet this ye cannot deny, by the testimony of them that have seen his works, but that he was a priest, which you will grant to be a knight's fellow. And thus much for the name and condition of Master Roger Onley.
Fourthly, as concerning Margaret Jourdeman, whom ye call the witch of Eye, ye offer me herein great wrong, to say, that I make here a martyr which was a witch; whereas I here profess, confess, and ascertain both you and all Englishmen, both present, and all posterity hereafter to come, that this Margaret Jourdeman I never spake of, never thought of, never dreamed of, nor did ever hear of, before you named her in your book yourself. So far is it off, that I, either with my will, or against my will, made any martyr of her.
Furthermore, I profess and denounce in like manner, that neither have you any just or congruous occasion in my book so to judge, much less to rail on me. For where, in express words, I do speak of the mother of the Lady Young, what occasion have you thereby to slander me and my book with Margaret Jourdeman? Which Margaret, whether she was a witch or not, I leave her to the Lord. As for me, neither did I know of her then, nor did I mean of her now. But because I couple her in the same story, you say. To this I say, Because she was the mother of a lady, I thought to join her with another lady in the same story, as in one pew together, although in one cause I will not say. And yet, notwithstanding, I do so couple the said mother with the duchess, in such distinct difference of years, that you, Master Cope, might easily have understood, or beside you no man else would have thought the contrary, but that Margaret Jourdeman was neither here in my book, nor yet in my memento. For the words of my story are plain, where the condemnation of the Lady Eleanor, and of the mother of Lady Young, being referred to the year of our Lord 1441, I do also, in the same story, (through the occasion of that lady,) infer mention of the mother of the Lady Young, declaring in express words, that she followed certain years after, and in the end of that chapter do name also the year of her burning to be 1490, which was fifty years after the death of Onley, and Margaret Jourdeman; by the computation of which years, it is plain, that no other woman could be noted in that place, but only the Lady Young's mother.
But Master Cope, continuing still in his wrangling mood, objecteth again, for that in my calendar the said Lady Young's mother hath the next day in the catalogue next after the death of Roger Onley, which day pertaineth properly to Margaret Jourdeman, which was burned the same day in Smithfield, and not to the lady's mother, &c.
What order was taken in placing the names and days, what is that to me? If he which had the disposing of the catalogue, did place them so in months, as he saw them joined in chapters, not perusing, peradventure, nor advising the chapters, that doth nothing prejudice the truth of my story, which sufficiently doth clear itself in distinguishing them rightly in names and also in years, as is before declared.
Fifthly and lastly, having thus sufficiently answered to your circumstances of persons, names, and times, Master Cope, I will now enter to encounter with you concerning the fact and crime objected to the lady duchess, and to the rest; with this protestation before premised unto the reader, that if the fact be true, and so done as is reported in the histories of Fabian, Hall, and Harding, I desire the reader then so to take me, as though I did not deal here withal, nor speak of the matter, but utterly to have pretermitted, and dispunged the same. But, forasmuch as the deed and offence laid and given forth against these parties, may be a matter made, and of evil will compacted, rather than true indeed; therefore I do but only move a question by way of history, not as defending, nor commending, nor commemorating the thing, if it be true, but only moving the question, whether it is to be judged true, or suspected rather to be false and forged; and so having briefly propounded certain conjectural suspicions or supposals concerning that matter, I will pass it over, neither meddling on the one side nor on the other.
The first conjecture, why it may be possible that this act of treason, laid to the charge of the duchess and Roger Onley, against the king, may be untrue,is this; That the said Onley (otherwise named Bolingbroke) took it upon his death, that they never intended any such thing as they were condemned for.
The second conjecture; For that the Lady Eleanor and Onley seemed then to favour and savour of that religion set forth by Wickliff; and therefore it is like enough that they were hated of the clergy. Furthermore, what hatred and practices of papists can do, it is not unknown.
The third conjecture; For that the said Master Roger Onley, falsely noted and accused of necromancy, wrote a book in purgation of himself, entitled, De Innocentia Sua. Also another book, entitled, Contra Vulgi Superstitiones. Whereupon it is not credible, that he which wrote professedly against the superstitions of the people, was overtaken with that filth of necromancy himself.
The fourth conjecture; Because this accusation against the duchess of Gloucester, Duke Humphrey's wife, began not before, but after the grudge kindled between the cardinal of Winchester and Duke Humphrey her husband.
Another conjecture may be hereof, For that if the duchess had intended any such heinous treason against the king's life, as by burning of a wax candle to consume him, it is not like (neither was there any such need) that she would have made so many privy to such a pernicious counsel, as the witch of Eye, Master Roger Bolingbroke, Master Thomas Southwell, and John Hume.
Sixthly, It is not to be supposed, if any such high treason had been wrought or pretended against the king's person by these, that either the duchess should so escape with bearing a taper and banishment; or that John Hume should be pardoned his life; the fact being so heinous, that neither any durst ask this pardon, nor if it had been asked, had it been like to be granted.
To these we may also add another supposal, rising upon the words and form of their accusation, as it standeth in Harding, Polychronicon, and other more, wherein they were accused for working sorcery and enchantments against the church and the king. Now what sorcery can be wrought against the church, that is, the whole multitude of Christians, let the reader judge; and by the truth of this, consider also the truth of the other, which was against the king. Furthermore, if by this church is meant the cardinal of Winchester, as like it is; then it may be conjectured, that all this matter rose of that cardinal, who was then a mortal enemy to the house of Gloucester, &c.
Eighthly, And that all this was done and wrought by the said cardinal of Winchester, the witch of Eye maketh the matter the more suspicious, seeing that town of Eye, as Fabian witnesseth, was near beside Winchester, and see of that bishop.
Moreover, forasmuch as Polydore Virgil, among other story authors, being a man, as may be supposed, rather favouring the cardinal's part than the duke's, made no mention at all touching this treason, his silence therefore may minister matter not only to muse, but also to conjecture, that he had found something which made him to mistrust the matter. Otherwise it is unlike that he would have so mewed up the matter, and passed it over without some mention.
Finally, and briefly, The frequent practices and examples of other times may make this also more doubtful, considering how many subtle pretences after the like sort have been sought, and wrongful accusations brought against many innocent persons. For (not to repeat the like forgeries against the Lord Cobham, and Sir Roger Acton, &c.) why may not this accusation of the duchess and Onley be as false, as that, in the time of King Edward the Fifth, which was laid to the charge of the queen and Shore's wife by the protector, for enchanting and bewitching of his withered arm? Which to be false, all the world doth know, and but a quarrel made only to oppress the life of the Lord Hastings, and the Lord Stanley, &c.
Although these, with many more conjectures, may be alleged in some part of defence of this duchess, and of her chaplains and priests, yet because it may not be impossible, again, the matter laid against them to be true, I leave it therefore at large as I find it, saying as I said before, that if it be true which the stories say in this matter, think, I beseech thee, gentle reader, that I have said nothing hereof. Only, because the matter may be disputable, and not impossible to be false, I have but moved thereof a question, and brought my conjectures, leaving the determination and judgment hereof to thy indifferent and free arbitrement. And if Master Cope be so highly offended with me, because in my first edition of Acts and Monuments I durst name the Lady Eleanor Cobham, and Roger Onley; let him take this for a short answer, because my leisure serveth not to make long brawls with him, that if I had thought no imperfections to have passed in my former edition before, I would never have taken in hand the recognition thereof now the second time, whereby to sponge away such motes as I thought would seem great stumbling-blocks in such men's walks, which walk with no charity to edify, but with malice to carp and reprehend, neither admonishing what they see amiss in others, neither tarrying while other men reform themselves, and finally, finding quarrels where no great cause is justly given. And here an end with Master Cope for this time.
Forasmuch as in the process before, mention was touched concerning the grudge between the cardinal, called the rich cardinal of Winchester, and the good Duke Humphrey, duke of Gloucester, the king's uncle and protector of the realm, order of story now requireth to open some part of that matter more at large. Wherein this first is to be understood, that long before great flames of grudge and discord did burst out between these two. For as the noble heart of the duke could not abide the proud doings of the cardinal, so much again the cardinal in like manner sore envied and disdained at the rule of the duke of Gloucester. Notwithstanding that, by the means of the duke of Bedford, the bursting out between them was before appeased and cured; yet not so, but that under imperfect amity, privy hatred, as sparkles under the embers, did still remain; so that the cardinal, joining with the archbishop of York, attempted many things of their own presumption, contrary to the consent, not only of the king, (being then under age,) but also of the protector and governor of the realm. Wherewith the duke (like a true-hearted prince) being not without just cause offended, declared in writing to the king, certain complaints contained in twenty-one articles, wherein the cardinal and archbishop had transgressed both against the king and his laws. The tenor whereof more at large is in other stories expressed, the brief abstract thereof followeth in a short summary here to be seen.
Illustration -- Winchester
"1. Complained to his sovereign prince his right redoubted lord Duke Humphrey, his uncle and protector of the realm, that the bishop of Winchester, in the days of his father, King Henry the Fifth, took upon him the state of a cardinal, being denied by the king, saying, that he had as lief set his own crown beside him, as to see him wear a cardinal's hat; and that in parliaments, he, not being contented with the place of a bishop among the spiritual persons, presumed above his order; which the said duke desired to be redressed.
"2. Item, Whereas he, being made a cardinal, was voided of his bishopric of Winchester, he procured from Rome the pope's bull, unknowing to the king, whereby he took again his bishopric, contrary to the common law of this realm, incurring thereby the case of provision, and forfeiting all his goods to the king, by the law of Præmuniri facias.
"3. Item, He complained, that the said cardinal, with the archbishop of York, intruded themselves to have the governance of the king, and the doing under the king of temporal matters, excluding the king's uncle, and other temporal lords of the king's kin, from having knowledge of any great matter.
"4. Item, Whereas the king had borrowed of the cardinal four thousand pounds, upon certain jewels, and afterward had his money ready at the day to quit his jewels; the cardinal caused the treasurer to convert that money to the payment of another army, to keep the jewels still to his own use and gain.
"5. Item, He being then bishop of Winchester, and chancellor of England, delivered the king of Scots upon his own authority, contrary to the act of parliament, wedding his niece afterward to the said king. Also, where the said king of Scots should have paid to the king forty thousand pounds, the cardinal procured ten thousand marks thereof to be remitted, and yet the rest very slenderly paid.
"6. Item, The said cardinal, for lending notable sums to the king, had the profit of the port of Hampton, where he, setting his servants to be the customers, wool and other merchandise was, under that cloak, exported, not so much to his singular advantage, being the chief merchant, as to the great prejudice of the king, and detriment to his subjects.
"7. Item, The cardinal, in lending out great sums to the king, yet so deferred and delayed the loan thereof, that coming out of season the same did the king little pleasure, but rather hinclerance.
"8. Item, Where jewels and plate were prized at eleven thousand pounds in weight of the said cardinal forfeited to the king, the cardinal, for loan of a little piece, gat him a restorement thereof, to the king's great damage, who better might have spared the commons, if the sum had remained to him clear.
"9. Item, Where the king's father had given Elizabeth Beauchampe three hundred marks of livelihood, with this condition, if she wedded within a year; the cardinal, notwithstanding she was married two or three years after, yet gave her the same, to the king's great hurt, and diminishing of his inheritance.
"10. Item, The cardinal, having no authority nor interest in the crown, presumed, notwithstanding, to call before him like a king, to the king's high derogation.
"11. Item, That the cardinal sued a pardon from Rome, to be freed from all dismes due to the king, by the church of Winchester, giving thereby example to the clergy, to withdraw their dismes likewise, and lay all the charge only upon the temporalty and poor commons.
"12, 13. Item, By the procuring of the said cardinal and archbishop of York, great goods of the king's were lost and dispended upon needless embassies, first to Arras, then to Calais.
"14. Item, It was laid to the charge of the said cardinal and archbishop, that by their means, going to Calais, the two enemies of the king, the duke of Orleans and duke of Burgundy, were deduced together in accord and alliance; who, being at war before between themselves, and now confederated together again, joined both together against the king's towns and countries over the sea, to the great danger of Normandy and destruction of the king's people.
"15. Item, by the archbishop of York, and the cardinal, persuasions were moved openly in the king's presence, with allurements and inducements, that the king should leave his right, his title, and honour of his crown, in nominating him king of France, during certain years, and that he should utterly abstain, and be content only in writing with Rex Angliæ, to the great note and infamy of the king, and all his progenitors.
"16, 17. Item, Through the sleight and subtlety of the said cardinal and his mate, a new convention was intended between the king and certain adversaries of France; also the deliverance of the duke of Orleans was appointed in such sort, as thereby great dishonour and inconvenience was like to fall, rather of the king's side, than of the other.
"18. Item, That the cardinal had purchased great lands and livelihoods of the king, the duke being on the other side the sea, occupied in wars, which redounded little to the worship and profit of the king, and moreover he had the king bound to make him as sure estate of all those lands by Easter next, as could be devised by any learned counsel, or else the said cardinal to have and enjoy to him and his heirs for ever, the lands of the duchy of Lancaster in Norfolk to the value of seven or eight hundred marks by the year.
"19. Item, Where the duke, the king's uncle, had often offered his service for the defence of the realm of France, and the duchy of Normandy, the cardinal ever laboured to the contrary, in preferring other, after his singular affection, whereby a great part of Normandy hath been lost.
"20. Item, Seeing the cardinal was risen to such riches and treasure, which could grow to him, neither by his church, nor by inheritance, which he then had, it was of necessity to be thought, that it came by his great deceits, in deceiving both the king and his subjects, in selling offices, preferments, livelihoods, captainships, both here and in the realm of France, and in Normandy; so that what hath been there lost, he hath been the greatest causer thereof.
"21. Furthermore, when the said cardinal had forfeited all his goods by the statute of provision, he having the rule of the king, and of other matters of the realm, purchased from the pope a charter of pardon, not only to the defeating of the laws of the realm, but also to the defrauding of the king, who otherwise might and should have had wherewith to sustain his wars, without any tallage of his poor people," &c.
When the king heard these accusations, he committed the hearing thereof to his council, whereof the most part were spiritual persons. So, what for fear, and what for favour, the matter was winked at, and dallied out, and nothing said thereunto, and a fair countenance was made to the duke, as though no displeasure had been taken, nor malice borne in these spiritual stomachs. But shortly after, the smoke hereof, not able to keep in any longer within the spiritual breasts of these charitable churchmen, burst out in flames of mischief. For upon the neck of this matter, as witnesseth Fabian, Polychronicon, and Hall, which followeth Polychronicon, first ensued the condemnation of Lady Eleanor, the duchess, and her chaplains, as ye have heard before. Whereby it may appear, the said duchess, more of malice than of any just cause, thus to have been troubled. Also within six years after followed the lamentable destruction of the duke himself, as hereafter more is to be declared.
About which time, or not long after, A. D. 1443, the steeple of Paul's was set on fire by lightning, and at last by diligent labour of helpers the fire was quenched.
And after the condemnation of Lady Eleanor, the duchess aforesaid, within few years, A. D. 1445, followed the death of Henry Chichesley, archbishop of Canterbury, by whom she was condemned in St. Stephen's chapel at Westminster, for penance, to bear a taper through Cheapside three sundry times, and afterward outlawed to the Isle of Man, under the custody of Sir John Stanley, knight. This Henry Chichesley builded in his time two colleges in the university of Oxford, the one called All-souls' College, the other named Barnard College.
Proceeding now to the year, wherein suffered Humphrey that good duke of Gloucester, which was the year of our Lord 1447, first we will begin in few words to treat of his life and conversation; then of the manner and cause of his death. As touching the offspring and descent of this duke, first, he was the son of Henry the Fourth, brother to King Henry the Fifth, and uncle to King Henry the Sixth, assigned to be the governor and protector of his person. Of manners he seemed meek and gentle, loving the commonwealth, a supporter of the poor commons, of wit and wisdom discreet and studious, well affected to religion, and a friend to verity, and no less enemy to pride and ambition, especially in haughty prelates, which was his undoing in this present evil world. And, which is seldom and rare in such princes of that calling, he was both learned himself, and no less given to study, and also a singular favourer and patron to them which were studious and learned.
Furthermore, as the learning of this prince was rare and memorable, so was the discreet wisdom and singular prudence in him no less to be considered; as for the more manifest proof thereof I thought here good, amongst many other .his godly doings, to recite one example, reported as well by the pen of Sir Thomas Moore, as also by Master William Tindall, the true apostle of these our latter days, to the intent to see and note, not only the crafty working of false miracles in the clergy, but also that the prudent discretion of this high and mighty prince, the aforesaid Duke Humphrey, may give us the better to understand what man he was. The story lieth thus:
In the young days of this King Henry the Sixth, being yet under the governance of this Duke Humphrey his protector, there came to St. Alban's a certain beggar with his wife, and there was walking about the town begging, five or six days before the king's coming thither, saying, that he was born blind, and never saw in his life, and was warned in his dream, that he should come out of Berwick, where he said he had ever dwelled, to seek St. Alban, and that he had been at his shrine, and had not been holpen, and therefore he would go and seek him at some other place; for he had heard some say, since he came, that St. Alban's body should be at Cologne, and indeed such a contention hath there been. But of truth, as I am surely informed, he lieth here, at St. Alban's, saving some relics of him which they there show shrined. But to tell you forth my tale, when the king was come, and the town full, suddenly this blind man at St. Alban's shrine had his sight again, and a miracle solemnly rung, and Te Deum sung, so that nothing was talked of in all the town, but this miracle. So happened it then, that Duke Humphrey of Gloucester, a man also no less wise than well learned, having great joy to see such a miracle, called the poor man unto him; and first showing himself joyous of God's glory so showed in the getting of his sight, and exhorting him to meekness, and to no ascribing of any part of the worship to himself, nor to be proud of the people's praise, which would call him a good and godly man thereby; at last, he looked well upon his eyes, and asked whether he could see nothing at all in all his life before. And when as well his wife as himself affirmed falsely, No, then he looked advisedly upon his eyes again, and said, I believe you very well, for methinketh ye cannot see well yet. Yea, sir, quoth he, I thank God and his holy martyr, I can see now as well as any man. You can, quoth the duke, what colour is my gown? Then anon the beggar told him. What colour, quoth he, is this man's gown? He told him also, and so forth, without any sticking, he told him the names of all the colours that could be showed him. And when the duke saw that, he bade him walk traitor, and made him to be set openly in the stocks; for though he could have seen suddenly by miracle the difference between divers colours, yet could he not by the sight so suddenly tell the names of all these colours, except he had known them before, no more than the names of all the men that he should suddenly see.
By this may it be seen how Duke Humphrey had not only a head to discern and dissever truth from forged and feigned hypocrisy, but study also and diligence likewise was in him to reform that which was amiss.
And thus much hitherto for the noble prowess and virtues, joined with the like ornaments of knowledge and literature, shining in this princely duke; for the which as he was both loved of the poor commons, and well spoken of of all men, and no less deserving the same, being called the good duke of Gloucester; so neither yet wanted he his enemies and privy enviers, whether it was through the fatal and unfortunate luck of the name of that house, which is but a vain and frivolous observation of Polydore and Hall which followeth him, bringing in the examples of Hugh Spenser, of Thomas of Woodstock, son of King Edward the Third, of this Duke Humphrey, and after of King Richard the Third, duke likewise of Gloucester; or whether it was that the nature of true virtue commonly is such, that as the flame ever beareth his smoke, and the body his shadow, so the brightness of virtue never blazeth, but hath some disdain or envy waiting upon it; or else, whether it was rather for some divorcement from his wife, or for some other vice or trespass done, as seemeth most like truth, which God as well in dukes' houses correcteth, as in other inferior persons, especially where he loveth. But howsoever the cause is to us unknown, this good duke of Gloucester, albeit being both the king's sole uncle, and having so many well-willers through the whole realm, yet lacked not his Satan, lacked not his secret maligners. Of whom specially was Henry Beaufort, cardinal, bishop of Winchester, and chancellor of England; who, of long time disdaining and envying the rule and authority of this duke, first had disposed and appointed himself to remove the king's person from Eltham unto Windsor, out of the duke's hands, and there to put in such governors as him listed. After that, intending the duke's death, he set men of arms and archers at the end of London bridge, and fore-barring the highway with a draw-chain, set men in chambers, cellars, and windows with bows and arrows, and other weapons, to the purposed destruction both of the duke and his retinue, if God had not so disposed to turn his journey another way. Besides other manifold injuries and molestations, the ambitious cardinal, seeking by all means to be pope, procured such trouble against him, that great division was thereby 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 part had assembled no small number of people. For the pacifying whereof, the archbishop of Canterbury, and the duke of Quember, called the prince of Portugal, rode seven times in one day between those two adversaries. Such were then the troubles of this tumultuous division within the realm, and all by the excitation of this unquiet cardinal.
Over and beside this cardinal aforementioned, another capital enemy to the said duke was William de la Pole, first earl, then marquis, at last duke, of Suffolk, a man very ill reported of in stories, to be not only the organ and instrument of this good man's death, but also to be the annoyance of the commonwealth, and ruin of the realm. For by him, and his only device, was first concluded the unprofitable and unhonourable marriage between the king and Lady Margaret, daughter of the duke of Anjou; whereas the king had concluded and contracted a marriage before with the daughter of the earl of Arminik, upon conditions so much more profitable and honourable, as more convenient it is for a prince to marry a wife with riches and friends, than to take a maid with nothing, and disinherit himself and his realm of old rights and ancient inheritance; which so came to pass. And all this the good duke did well foresee, and declared no less; but his counsel would not be taken. Whereupon followed, first the giving away the duchy of Anjou, and the city of Maine, with the whole country of Maine, to Reiner duke of Anjou and father of the damsel, called then king of Sicily and of Jerusalem, having thereof no penny profit, but only a vain name to play withal.
Another sore enemy and mortal plague to this duke was the queen herself, lately before married to the king. Who being of haughty stomach, and all set upon glory, of wit and wiliness lacking nothing, and perceiving her husband to be simple of wit, and easy to be ruled, took upon her to rule and govern both the king and kingdom. And because the advice and counsel of Humphrey, duke of Gloucester, was somewhat a stay, that her authority and regiment could not so fully proceed, and partly because the said duke before did disagree from that marriage, this manly woman and courageous queen ceased not by all imaginations and practices possible to set forward his destruction, having also for her helper herein the duke of Buckingham, &c.
These being his principal enemies and mortal foes, fearing lest some commotion might arise, if such a prince, so near the king's blood, and so dear to the people, and of all men so beloved, should be openly executed and put to death, they devised how to trap him, and circumvent him unknowing and unprovided. For the more speedy furtherance whereof a parliament was summoned to be kept at Bury, A. D. 1447, far from the citizens of London, as William Tindall in his Book of Practice writeth, where resorted all the peers of the realm, and amongst them the duke of Gloucester, thinking no harm to any man, and less to himself. Who on the second day of the session was by the Lord Beaumond, high constable then of England, accompanied with the duke of Buckingham and other, arrested, apprehended, and put inward, and upon the same, all his servants discharged and put from him, of whom thirty-two of the principal, being also under arrest, were dispersed into divers prisons, to the great murmuring and grievance of the people. After this arrest thus done, and the duke put into ward, the night after, saith Hall, (six nights after, saith Fabian and Polychron.) he was found dead in his bed, the twenty-fourth of February, and his body showed to the lords and commons, as though he had been taken naturally with some sudden disease. And although no wound in his body could be seen, yet to all indifferent persons it might well be judged that he died of no natural pang, but of some violent hand. Some suspected him to be strangled; some, that a whole spit was privily forced into his body; some affirm that he was stifled between two featherbeds. After the death of this duke, and his body being interred at St. Alban's, after he had politicly by the space of twenty-five years governed this realm, five of his household, to wit, one knight, three esquires, and a yeoman, were arraigned, and convicted to be hanged, drawn, and quartered. Who being hanged and cut down half alive, the marquis of Suffolk there present showed the charter of the king's pardon, and so they were delivered. Notwithstanding, all this could not appease the grudge of the people, saying, that the saving of the servants was no amends for the murdering of the master.
Illustration -- Duke Humphrey's Body
In this cruel fact of these persons, which did so conspire and consent to the death of this nobleman, and which thought thereby to work their own safety, the marvellous work of God's judgment appeareth herein to be noted, who, as in all other like cruel policies of man, so in this also turned all their policies clean contrary. So that where the queen thought most to preserve her husband in honour, and herself in state, thereby both she lost her husband, her husband lost his realm, the realm lost Anjou, Normandy, the duchy of Aquitaine, with all her parts beyond the sea, Calais only except, as in the sequel of the matter, whoso will read the stories, shall right well understand.
The next year following it followed also that the cardinal, who was the principal artificer and ringleader of all this mischief, was suffered of God no longer to live. Of whose wicked conditions, being more largely set forth in Edward Hall, I omit here to speak. What he himself spake on his death-bed for example to other, I thought not less to pretermit. Who hearing that he should die, and that there was no remedy, murmured and grudged, wherefore he should die, having so much riches, saying, that if the whole realm would save his life, he was able either by policy to get it, or by riches to buy it; adding and saying, moreover, "Fie," quoth he, "will not death be hired? will money do nothing? When my nephew of Bedford died, I thought myself half up the wheel, but when I saw mine other nephew of Gloucester deceased, then I thought myself able to be equal with kings, and so thought to increase my treasure, in hope to have worn the triple crown," &c. And thus is the rich bishop of Winchester, with all his pomp and riches, gone; with the which riches he was able not only to build schools, colleges, and universities, but also was able to sustain the king's armies in war, (as is specified in stories,) without any taxing of the commons.
In whose seat next succeeded William Wanflet, preferred to the bishopric of Winchester, who, though he had less substance, yet having a mind more godly disposed, did found and erect the college of Mary Magdalene in Oxford. For the which foundation as there have been and be yet many students bound to yield grateful thanks unto God, so I must needs confess myself to be one, except I will be unkind.
Among the other mischievous adversaries which sought and wrought the death of Humphrey, duke of Gloucester, next to the cardinal of Winchester, (who, as is said, died the next year following,) was William de la Pole, marquis of Suffolk, who also lived not long after, nor long escaped unpunished. For although he was highly exalted, by the means of the queen, (whose marriage he only procured,) unto the favour of the king, and was made duke of Suffolk, and magnified of the people, and bare the whole sway in the realm, whose acts and facts his vain-glorious head caused also by the assent of the commons to be recorded, and substantially to be registered in the rolls of the parliament, for a perpetual renown to him and all his posterity for ever; yet, notwithstanding, the hand of God's judgment still hanging over him, he enjoyed not long this his triumphant victory. For within three years after the death and ruin of the cardinal, the voices of the whole commons of England were utterly turned against him, accusing him in the parliament at the Black Friars for delivery of the duchy of Anjou, and the earldom of Maine; also for the death of the noble Prince Humphrey, duke of Gloucester. They imputed moreover to him the loss of all Normandy, laying unto him that he was a swallower up and consumer of the king's treasure, the expeller of all good and virtuous counsellors from the king, and advancer of vicious persons, apparent adversaries to the public wealth; so that he was called in every man's mouth a traitor, a murderer, and a robber of the king's treasure.
The queen, albeit she tenderly loved the duke, yet to appease the exclamation of the commons, was forced to commit him to the Tower, where he, with as much pleasure and liberty as could be, remained for a month, which being expired he was delivered and restored again unto his old place and former favour with the king, whereat the people more grudged than before. It happened by the occasion of a commotion then beginning amongst the rude people, by one whom they called Bluebeard, that the parliament was for that time adjourned to Leicester, the queen thinking by force and rigour of law to repress there the malice and evil will conceived against the duke. But at that place few of the nobility would appear. Wherefore it was again re-adjourned unto London, and kept at Westminster, where was a whole company, and a full appearance with the king and queen, and with them the duke of Suffolk, as chief counsellor. The commons, not forgetting the old grudge, renewed again their former articles and accusations against the said duke, against the bishop of Salisbury and Sir James Finies, Lord Say, and others. When the king perceived that no glossing nor dissimulation would serve to appease the continual clamour of the importunate commons, to make some quiet pacification, first he sequestered from him the Lord Say, treasurer of England, and other the duke's adherents, from their offices. Then he put in exile the duke of Suffolk for the term of five years, supposing by that space the furious rage of the people would assuage. But the hand of God would not suffer the guiltless blood of Humphrey, duke of Gloucester, to be unrevenged, or the flagitious person further to continue. For when he was shipped in Suffolk, intending to he transported into France, he was encountered with a ship of war belonging to the Tower; whereby he was taken, and brought into Dovcr road, and there, on the side of a ship boat, one struck off his head; which was about the year of our Lord 1450.
And thus have ye heard the full story and discourse of Duke Humphrey, and of all his adversaries; also of God's condign punishment upon them for their bloody cruelty. But before I remove from the said story of the aforesaid duke, and of the proud cardinal his enemy, I will here by the way annex a certain instrument, by the king and advice of his council made against the said cardinal, taking upon him to enter into this realm as legate from the pope, contrary to the old laws and customs of this realm, as by the words of the said instrument here in Latin may well appear.
The sum and effect whereof in English is this, "That in the year of our Lord 1428, as the king with Duke Humphrey, lord protector, and the rest of the council, were in the duke's house in the parish of St. Benet's by Paul's wharf, one Richard Candray, procurator, in the king's name and behalf, did protest and denounce by this public instrument, that whereas the king and all his progenitors, kings before him of this realm of England, have been heretofore possessed, time out of mind, with special privilege and custom used and observed in this realm from time to time, that no legate from the apostolic see should enter into this land or any of the king's dominions, without the calling, petition, request, invitement, or desire of the king; and forasmuch as Henry, bishop of Winchester, and cardinal of St. Eusebius, hath presumed so to enter as legate from the pope, being neither called, sent for, required, or desired by the king; therefore the said Richard Candray, in the king's name doth protest by this instrument, that it standeth not with the king's mind or intent, by the advice of his council, to admit, approve, or ratify the coming of the said legate in any wise, in derogation of the right, customs, and laws of this his realm; or to recognise or assent to any exercise of this his authority legatine, or to any acts, attempts, or hereafter by him to be attempted in this respect, contrary to the aforesaid laws, rights, customs, and liberties of this realm, by these presents," &c.
And thus much as an appendix, annexed to the story of Duke Humphrey, and the cardinal of Winchester, extract out of an old written volume, remaining in the hands of Master William Bowyer.