416. THE LADY KATHARINE, DUCHESS OF SUFFOLK.
Stephen Gardiner, bishop of Winchester, surmising the Lady Katharine, baroness of Willoughby and Eresby, and duchess dowager of Suffolk, to be one of his ancient enemies, because he knew he had deserved no better of her, devised, in the holy time of the first Lent in Queen Mary's reign, a holy practice of revenge, first touching her in the person of her husband, Master Richard Berty, esquire, for whom he sent an attachment (having the great seal at his devotion) to the sheriff of Lincolnshire, with a special letter commanding most straitly the same sheriff to attach the said Richard immediately, and without bail to bring him up to London, to his great Lordship. Master Berty her husband, being clear in conscience, and free from offence toward the queen, could not conjecture any cause of this strange process, unless it were some quarrel for religion, which he thought could not be so sore as the process pretended.
The sheriff, notwithstanding the commandment, adventured only to take the bond of Master Berty, with two sureties in a thousand pounds, for his appearance to be made before the bishop on Good Friday following, at which day Master Berty appeared, the bishop then lying at his house by St. Mary Overy's. Of whose presence when the bishop understood by a gentleman of his chamber, in a great rage he came out of his gallery into his dining-chamber, where he found a press of suitors, saying he would not that day hear any, but came forth only to know of Master Berty, how he, being a subject, durst so arrogantly set at light two former processes of the queen.
Master Berty answered, that albeit my Lord's words might seem to the rest somewhat sharp toward him, yet he conceived great comfort of them. For whereas he, before, thought it extremity to be attached, having used no obstinacy or contumacy, now he gathered of those words, that my Lord meant not otherwise but to have used some ordinary process; albeit indeed none came to his hands.
"Yea marry," quoth the bishop, "I have sent you two subpoenas, to appear immediately: and I am sure you received them, for I committed the trust of them to no worse man but to Master Solicitor. And I shall make you an example to all Lincolnshire, for your obstinacy!"
Master Berty, denying the receipt of any, humbly prayed his Lordship to suspend his displeasure and the punishment till he had good trial thereof; and then, if it please him, to double the pain for the fault, if any were.
"Well," quoth the bishop, "I have appointed myself this day (according to the holiness of the same) for devotion, and I will not further trouble me with you: but I enjoin you in a thousand pounds not to depart without leave, and to be here again to-morrow at seven of the clock."
Master Berty well observed the hour, and no jot failed; at which time the bishop had with him Master Sergeant Stampford, to whom he moved certain questions of the said Master Berty, because Master Sergeant was towards the Lord Wriothesley, late earl of Southampton and chancellor of England, with whom the said Master Berty was brought up. Master Sergeant made very friendly report of Master Berty, of his own knowledge, for the time of their conversation together. Whereupon the bishop caused Master Berty to be brought in, and first making a false train (as God would, without fire) before he would descend to the quarrel of religion, he assaulted him in this manner:
"The queen's pleasure is," quoth the bishop, "that you shall make present payment of four thousand pounds, due to her father by Duke Charles, late husband to the duchess your wife, whose executor she was."
"Pleaseth it your Lordship," quoth Master Berty, "that debt is estalled, and is according to that estallment truly answered."
"Tush!" quoth the bishop, "the queen will not be bound to estallments in the time of Kett's government: for so I esteem the late government."
"The estallment," quoth Master Berty, "was appointed by King Henry the Eighth: besides, the same was by special commissioners confirmed in King Edward's time; and the lord treasurer, being an executor also to the Duke Charles, solely and wholly, took upon him, before the said commissioners, to discharge the same."
"If it be true that you say," quoth the bishop, "I will show you favour. But of another thing, Master Berty, I will admonish you, as meaning you well. I hear evil of your religion; yet I hardly can think evil of you, whose mother I know to be as godly and catholic as any within this land; yourself brought up with a master, whose education if I should disallow, I might be charged as author of his error. Besides, partly I know you myself, and understand of my friends enough to make me your friend: wherefore I will not doubt of you. But, I pray you, if I may ask the question of my Lady your wife, is she now as ready to set up the mass, as she was lately to pull it down, when she caused in her progress, a dog in a rochet to be carried, and called by my name? or doth she think her lambs now safe enough, which said to me, when I veiled my bonnet to her out of my chamber-window in the Tower, that it was merry with the lambs, now the wolf was shut up? Another time, my Lord her husband, having invited me and divers ladies to dinner, desired every lady to choose him whom she loved best, and so place themselves. My Lady your wife, taking me by the hand, for that my Lord would not have her to take himself, said, that forasmuch as she could not sit down with my Lord whom she loved best, she had chosen him whom she loved worst."
"Of the device of the dog," quoth Master Berty, "she was neither the author, nor the allower. The words, though in that season they sounded bitter to your Lordship, yet if it would please you without offence to know the cause, I am sure the one will purge the other. As touching setting up of mass, which she learned not only by strong persuasions of divers excellent learned men, but by universal consent and order whole six years past, inwardly to abhor, if she should outwardly allow, she should both to Christ show herself a false Christian, and to her prince a masking subject. You know, my Lord, one by judgment reformed, is more worth than a thousand transformed temporizers. To force a confession of religion by mouth, contrary to that in the heart, worketh damnation, where salvation is pretended."
"Yea marry," quoth the bishop, "that deliberation would do well, if she were required to come from an old religion to a new. But now, she is to return from a new to an ancient religion: wherein, when she made me her gossip, she was as earnest as any."
"For that, my Lord," said Master Berty, "not long since, she answered a friend of hers, using your Lordship's speech, that religion went not by age, but by truth: and therefore she was to be turned by persuasion, and not by commandment.
"I pray you," quoth the bishop, "think you it possible to persuade her?"
"Yea verily," said Master Berty, "with the truth: for she is reasonable enough."
The bishop thereunto replying, said, "It will be a marvellous grief to the prince of Spain, and to all the nobility that shall come with him, when they shall find but two noble personages of the Spanish race within this land, the queen, and my Lady your wife; and one of them gone from the faith."
Master Berty answered, that he trusted they should find no fruits of infidelity in her.
So the bishop persuaded Master Berty to travail earnestly for the reformation of her opinion; and, offering large friendship, released him of his bond from further appearance.
The duchess and her husband, daily more and more by their friends understanding that the bishop meant to call her to an account of her faith, whereby extremity might follow, devised ways how, by the queen's licence, they might pass the seas. Master Berty had a ready mean; for there rested great sums of money due to the old duke of Suffolk (one of whose executors the duchess was) beyond the seas, the emperor himself being one of those debtors. Master Berty communicated this his purposed suit for licence to pass the seas, and the cause, to the bishop, adding, that he took this time most meet to deal with the emperor, by reason of likelihood of marriage between the queen and his son.
"I like your device well," quoth the bishop; "but I think it better that you tarry the prince's coming, and I will procure you his letters also to his father."
"Nay," quoth Master Berty, "under your Lordship's correction and pardon of so liberal speech, I suppose the time will then be less convenient: for when the marriage is consummate, the emperor hath his desire; but, till then, he will refuse nothing, to win credit with us."
"By St. Mary," quoth the bishop, smilingly, "you guess shrewdly. 'Well, proceed in your suit to the queen, and it shall not lack my helping hand."
Master Berty found so good success, that he in few days obtained the queen's licence, not only to pass the seas, but to pass and repass them so often as to him seemed good, till he had finished all his business and causes beyond the seas. So he passed the seas at Dover about the beginning of June, in the first year of her reign, leaving the duchess behind, who, by agreement and consent betwixt her and her husband, following, taking barge at Lion Quay, very early in the morning, on the first day of January next ensuing, not without some peril.
There were none of those that went with her made privy to her going till the instant, but an old gentleman, called Master Robert Cranwell, whom Master Berty had specially provided for that purpose. She took with her her daughter, (an infant of one year,) and the meanest of her servants, for she doubted the best would not venture that fortune with her. They were in number four men, one a Greek born, which was a rider of horses, another a joiner, the third a brewer, the fourth a fool; one of the kitchen, one gentlewoman, and a laundress.
As she departed her house called the Barbican, betwixt four and five of the clock in the morning, with her company and baggage, one Atkinson a herald, keeper of her house, hearing noise about the house, rose; and came out with a torch in his hands as she was yet issuing out of the gate: wherewith being amazed, she was forced to leave a mail with necessaries for her young daughter, and a milk-pot with milk in the same gatehouse, commanding all her servants to speed them away before, to Lion Quay. And taking with her only the two women and her child, so soon as she was forth of her own house, perceiving the herald to follow, stept in at Charter-house hard by. The herald, coming out of the duchess's house, and seeing nobody stirring, nor assured (thongh by the mail suspecting) that she was departed, returned in; and while he stayed ransacking parcels left in the mail, the duchess issued into the streets, and proceeded in her journey, she knowing the place only by name, where she should take her boat, but not the way thither, nor any with her. Likewise her servants having divided themselves, none but one knew the way to the said quay.
So she apparelled like a mean merchant's wife, and the rest like mean servants, walking in the streets unknown. She took the way that led to Finsbury Field, and the others walked the city streets as they lay open before them, till by chance, more than discretion, they met all suddenly together a little within Moorgate, from whence they passed directly to Lion Quay, and there took barge in a morning so misty, that the steerman was loth to launch out, but that they urged him. So soon as the day permitted, the council was informed of her departure; and some of them came forthwith to her house, to inquire of the manner thereof, and took an inventory of her goods, besides further order devised for search and watch to apprehend and stay her.
The fame of her departure reached to Leigh, a town at the Land's End, before her approaching thither. By Leigh dwelt one Gosling, a merchant of London, an old acquaintance of Cranwell's, whither the said Cranwell brought the duchess, naming her Mistress White, the daughter of Master Gosling; for such a daughter he had, which never was in that country. There she reposed her, and made new garments for her daughter, having lost her own in the mail at Barbican.
When the time came that she should take ship, being constrained that night to lie at an inn in Leigh, (where she was again almost bewrayed,) yet, notwithstanding, by God's good working she escaped that hazard. At length, as the tide and wind did serve, they went aboard, and being carried twice into the seas, almost into the coast of Zealand, by contrary wind were driven to the place from whence they came; and, at the last recoil, certain persons came to the shore, suspecting she was within that ship; yet having examined one of her company that was a-land, and finding, by the simplicity of his tale, only the appearance of a mean merchant's wife to be a-shipboard, he ceased any further search.
To be short, so soon as the duchess had landed in Brabant, she and her women were apparelled like the women of the Netherlands with hooks; and so she and her husband took their journey towards Cleveland, and being arrived at a town therein called Santon, took a house there, until they might further devise of some sure place, where to settle themselves.
About five miles from Santon, is a free town called Wesell, under the said duke of Cleve's dominion, and one of the Hans towns, privileged with the company of the Steelyard in London, whither divers Walloons were fled for religion, and had for their minister one Francis Perusell, then called Francis de Rivers, who had received some courtesy in England at the duchess's hands. Master Berty, being yet at Santon, practised with him to obtain a protection from the magistrates for his abode and his wife's at Wesell; which was the sooner procured, because the state of the duchess was not discovered, but only to the chief magistrate, earnestly bent to show them pleasure, while this protection was in seeking.
In the mean while, at the town of Santon was a muttering that the duchess and her husband were greater personages than they gave themselves forth; and the magistrates not very well inclined to religion, the bishop of Arras also being dean of the great minster, order was. taken, that the duchess and her husband should be examined of their condition and religion upon the sudden. Which practice discovered by a gentleman of that country to Master Berty, he without delay, taking no more than the duchess, her daughter, and two others with them, as though he meant no more but to take the air, about three of the clock in the afternoon in February, on foot, without hiring of horse or waggon for fear of disclosing his purpose, meant to get privily that night to Wesell, leaving his other family still at Santon.
After the duchess and he were one English mile from the town, there fell a mighty rain of continuance, whereby a long frost and ice, before congealed, was thawed, which doubled more the weariness of those new lacqueys. But, being now on the way, and overtaken with the night, they sent their two servants (which only went with them) to villages as they passed, to hire some car for their ease, but none could be hired. In the mean time Master Berty was forced to carry the child, and the duchess his cloak and rapier. At last, betwixt six and seven of the clock in the dark night, they came to Wesell, and repairing to the inns for lodging, and some repose after such a painful journey, found hard entertainment; for going from inn to inn offering large money for small lodging, they were refused of all the innholders, suspecting Master Berty to be a lance-knight, and the duchess to be his woman. The child for cold and sustenance cried pitifully; the mother wept as fast; the heavens rained as fast as the clouds could pour.
Master Berty, destitute of all other succour of hospitality, resolved to bring the duchess to the porch of the great church in the town, and so to buy coals, victuals, and straw for their miserable repose there that night, or at least till by God's help he might provide her better lodging. Master Berty at that time understood not much Dutch, and by reason of evil weather and late season of the night, he could not happen upon any that could speak English, French, Italian, or Latin; till at last going towards the church-porch, he heard two striplings talking Latin, to whom he approached, and offered them two stivers to bring him to some Walloon's house.
By these boys, and God's good conduct, he chanced at the first upon the house where Master Perusell supped that night, who had procured them the protection of the magistrates of that town. At the first knock, the good man of the house himself came to the door, and opening it, asked Master Berty what he was. Master Berty said, "An Englishman, that sought for one Master Perusell's house." The Walloon willed Master Berty to stay a while, who went back, and told Master Perusell, that the same English gentleman, of whom they had talked the same supper, had sent by likelihood his servant to speak with him. Whereupon Master Perusell came to the door, and beholding Master Berty, the duchess, and their child, their faces, apparels, and bodies so far from their old form, deformed with dirt, weather, and heaviness, could not speak to them, nor they to him, for tears. At length recovering themselves, they saluted one another, and so together entered the house, God knoweth full joyfully; Master Berty changing his apparel with the good man, the duchess with the good wife, and their child with the child of the house.
Within few days after, by Master Perusell's means, they hired a very fair house in the town, and did not let to show themselves what they were, in such good sort as their present condition permitted. It was by this time through the whole town what discourtesy the innholders had showed unto them at their entry, insomuch as on the Sunday following, a preacher in the pulpit openly, in sharp terms, rebuked that great incivility toward strangers, by allegation of sundry places out of Holy Scriptures, discoursing how not only princes sometimes are received in the image of private persons, but angels in the shape of men; and that God of his justice would make them strangers one day in another land, to have more sense of the afflicted heart of a stranger.
The time thus passing forth, as they thought themselves thus happily settled, suddenly a watchword came from Sir John Mason, then Queen Mary's ambassador in the Netherlands, that my Lord Paget had feigned an errand to the baths that way: and whereas the duke of Brunswick was shortly with ten ensigns to pass by Wesell, for the service of the house of Austria against the French king, the said duchess and her husband should be with the same charge and company intercepted. Wherefore, to prevent the cruelty of these enemies, Master Berty with his wife and child departed to a place called Windsheim, in high Dutchland, under the Palsgrave's dominion; where, under his protection, they continued till their necessaries began to fail them, and they, almost fainting under so heavy a burden, began to fail of hope.
At that time, in the midst of their despair, there came suddenly letters to them from the palatine of Wilna, and the king of Poland, (being instructed of their hard estate by a baron, named John Alasco, that was sometime in England,) offering them large courtesy. This provision unlooked for, greatly revived their heavy spirits; yet, considering they should remove from many their countrymen and acquaintance, to a place so far distant, a country not haunted with the English, and perhaps upon their arrival not finding as they looked for, the end of their journey should be worse than the beginning; they devised thereupon with one Master Barlow, late bishop of Chichester, that if he would vouchsafe to take some pains therein, they would make him a fellow of that journey. So, finding him prone, they sent with him letters of great thanks to the king and palatine; and also with a few principal jewels, (which only they had left of many,) to solicit for them, that the king would vouchsafe under his seal, to assure them of the thing which he so honourably by letters offered.
That suit, by the forwardness of the palatine, was as soon granted as uttered; upon which assurance the said duchess and her husband, with their family, entered the journey in April, 1557, from the castle of Windsheim, where they before lay, towards Frankfort: in the which their journey, it were long here to describe what dangers fell by the way upon them and their whole company, by reason of their landgrave's captain, who, under a quarrel pretended for a spaniel of Master Berty's, set upon them in the highway with his horsemen, thrusting their boar-spears through the waggon where the children and women were, Master Berty having but four horsemen with him. In the which brabble it happened the captain's horse to be slain under him.
Illustration -- Master Berty Defending Himself
Whereupon a rumour was sparsed immediately through towns and villages about, that the land-grave's captain should be slain by certain Walloons, which incensed the ire of the countrymen there more fiercely against Master Berty, as afterward it proved. For as he was motioned by his wife to save himself by the swiftness of his horse, and to recover some town thereby for his rescue, he, so doing, was in worse case than before; for the townsmen and the captain's brother, supposing no less but that the captain had been slain, pressed so eagerly upon him, that he had been there taken and murdered among them, had not he, (as God would,) spying a ladder leaning to a window, by the same got up into the house, and so gone up into a garret in the top of the house, where he with his dagger and rapier defended himself for a space; but at length, the burgomaster coming thither with another magistrate which could speak Latin, he was counselled to submit himself to the order of the law. Master Berty, knowing himself clear, and the captain to be alive, was the more bold to submit himself to the judgment of the law, upon condition that the magistrate would receive him under safe-conduct, and defend him from the rage of the multitude. Which being promised, Master Berty putteth himself and his weapon into the magistrate's hand, and so was committed to safe custody, while the truth of his cause should be tried.
Then Master Berty, writing his letters to the landgrave, and to the earl of Erpach, the next day early in the morning the earl of Erpach, dwelling within eight miles, came to the town whither the duchess was brought with her waggon, Master Berty also being in the same town, under custody.
The earl, who had some intelligence of the duchess before, after he was come and had showed such courtesy as he thought to her estate was seemly, the townsmen perceiving the earl to behave himself so humbly unto her, began to consider more of the matter; and further, understanding the captain to be alive, both they, and especially the authors of the stir, shrank away, and made all the friends they could to Master Berty and his wife, not to report their doings after the worst sort.
And thus Master Berty and his wife, escaping that danger, proceeded in their journey toward Poland, where in conclusion they were quietly entertained of the king, and placed honourably in the earldom of the said king of Poland, in Sanogelia, called Crozan, where Master Berty with the duchess, having the king's absolute power of government over the said earldom, continued both in great quietness and honour, till the death of Queen Mary.