Tudor Books, A Complete History of England Volume 2, A Complete History of England Elizabeth I

A Complete History of England Elizabeth I is in A Complete History of England Volume 2.

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Such was the End of this powerful Man in Ireland, who deriv'd his Pedigree from Maurice Fitz-Gerald of Windsor, an Englishman, and of great Renown amongst the first Conquerors of Ireland in the Year 1170. He had very fait Lands and Possessions, yea whole Provinces, with Kerry a County-Palatine, many Castles, a number of Vassals and Dependents, and of his own Kindred and Surname he had about 500 Gentlemen at his Devotion. Of all which, as well as of his life also, he was bereft within three Years, very few of his Family being left, after he had once fortited his Allegiance to his Prince through the Persuasion of certain Priests. The principal of whom was Nicholas Sanders, an Englishman, who very near the same time was miserably famish'd to death, when forsaken of all, and troubled in mind for the bad success of the Rebellion, he wander'd up and down amongst Woods, Forests and Mountains, and found no Comfort or Relief. In his Pouch were found several Speeches and Letters made and written to confirm the Rebels, stuff'd with large Promises from the Pope and the Spaniard. Thus the Divine Justice (if a Man may judge ) stopt that Mouth with Hunger which had been always open to encourage Rebellions, and to belch forth malicious Lyes and Slanders. For (to omit other things) he was the first Man that broached that abomnable Lye concerning the Birth of Queen Elizaheth's Mother, which no Man in those Days (tho' the Hatred and Malice of the Papists was then fresh againit her, and might remember it) ever knew, England in full forty Years after never heard of the computation of Time doth egregiously convince of Falsehood and Vanity; and he, forgetting himself, (which a Lyar should not do) doth himself plainly confute. Yet are there some ill disposed People who blush not at this Day to beslur their Writings with this so impudent a Lye.

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These were the grounds upon which the canonists advised the process at Rome to be carried on. But first, to amuse or overreach the Spaniard, the king [?] to his ambassador in Spain to silence the noise that was made about it in that court. Whether the king had then resolved on the person that should succeed the queen, when he had obtained 1527 what he desired or not, is much questioned. Some suggest, that from the beginning he was taken with the charms of Anne Boleyn (age 26), and that all this process was moved by the unseen spring of that secret affection. Others will have this amour to have been later in the king's thoughts. How early it came there, at this distance it is not easy to determine. But before I say more of it, she being so considerable a person in the following relation, I shall give some account of her. Sanders has assured the world, "That the king had a liking to her mother (age 47), who was daughter to the duke of Norfolk; and to the end that he might enjoy her with the less disturbance, he sent her husband, sir Thomas Boleyn, to be ambassador in France: and that, after two years absence, his wife being with child, he came over, and sued a divorce against her in the archbishop of Canterbury's court; but the king sent the marquis of Dorset to let him know, that she was with child by him, and that therefore the king desired he would pass the matter over, and be reconciled he would pass the matter over, and be reconciled. Boleyn, though she went under the name of his daughter, yet was of the king's begetting. As he describes her, "she was ill-shaped and ugly, had six fingers, a gag tooth, and a tumour under her chin, with many other unseemly things in her person." "At the fifteenth year of her age," he says, "both her father's butler and chaplain lay with her: afterwards she was sent to France, where she was at first kept privately in the house of a person of quality; then she went to the French court, where she led such a dissolute life, that she was called the English Hackney. That the French king liked her, and, from the freedoms he took with her, she was called the King's Mule. But returning to England, she was admitted to the court, where she quickly perceived how weary the king was of the queen, and what the cardinal was designing; and having gained the king's affection, she governed it so, that by all innocent freedoms she drew him into her toils, and by the appearances of a severe virtue, with which she disguised herself, so increased his affection and esteem, that he resolved to put her in his queen's place, as soon as the divorce was granted." The same author adds That the king had likewise enjoyed her sister, with a great deal more, to the disgrace of this lady and her family.

I know it is not the work of an historian to refute the lies of others, but rather to deliver such a plain account as will be a more effectual confutation than any thing can be that is said by way of argument, which belongs to other writers. And at the end of this king's reign, I intend to set down a collection of the most notorious falsehoods of that writer, together with the evidences of their being so. But all this of Anne Boleyn is so palpable a lie, or rather a complicated heap of lies, and so much depends on it, that presume it will not offend the reader to be detained a few minutes in the refutation of it. For if it were true, very much might be drawn from it, both to disparage king Henry, who pretended conscience to annul his marriage for the nearness of affinity, and yet would after that marry his own daughter.

It leaves also a foul and lasting stain both on the book memory of Anne Boleyn and of her incomparable daughter queen Elizabeth. It also derogates so much from the first reformers who had some kind of dependance on queen Anne Boleyn, that it seems to be of great importance, for directing the reader in the judgment he is to make of persons and things, to lay open the falsehood of this account. It were sufficient for blasting it, that there is no proof pretended to be brought for any part of it, but a book of one Rastal, a judge, that was never seen by any other person than that writer. The title of the book is, The Life of Sir Thomas More. There is great reason to think that Rastal never writ any such book; for it is most common for the lives of great authors to be prefixed to their works. Now this Rastal published all More's works in queen Mary's reign, to which, if he had written his life, it is likely he would have prefixed it. No evidence therefore being given for his relation, either from records, letters, or the testimony of any person who was privy to the matter, the whole is to be looked upon as a black forgery, devised on purpose to defame queen Elizabeth. For upon her mother's deaths who can doubt but that some, either to flatter the king, or to defame her, would have published these things, which, if they had been true, could be no secrets? For a lady of her mother's condition to bear a child two years after her husband was sent out of England on such a public employment, and a process thereupon to be entered in the archbishop's courts, are things that are not so soon to be forgotten. And that she herself was under so ill a reputation, both in her father's family, and in France, for Common lewdness, and for being the king's concubine are things that could not be hid. And yet, when the books of the archbishop's courts (which are now burnt) were extant, it was published to the world, and satisfaction offered to every one that would take the pains to inform themselves, that there was no such thing on record. Nor did any of the writers of that time, either of the imperial or papal side, once mention these things, notwithstanding their great occasion to do it. But eighty years after, this fable was invented, or at least it was then first published, when it was safer to lie, because none who had lived in the time could disprove it.

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[29 Jan 1536.] This was the last public good act of this unfortunate queen (age 35); who, the nearer she drew to her end, grew more full of good works. She had distributed in the last nine months of her life between fourteen and fifteen thousand pounds to the poor, and was designing great and public good things. And by all appearance, if she had lived, the money that was raised by the suppression of religious houses had been better employed than it was. In January, she brought forth a dead son. This was thought to have made ill impressions on the king; and that, as he concluded from the death of his sons by the former queen, that the marriage was displeasing to God; so he might, upon this misfortune, begin to make the like judgment of this marriage. Sure enough the popish party were earnestly set against the queen, looking on her as a great supporter of heresy. And at that time Fox (age 40), then bishop of Hereford, was in Germany, at Smalcald, treating a league with the protestant princes, who [?]sisted much, on the Ausburg Confession. There were many conferences between Fox and doctor [?]arnes, and some others, with the Lutheran divines, for accommodating the differences between them; and the thing was in a good forwardness: all which was imputed to the queen. Gardiner was then ambassador in France, and wrote earnestly to the king, to dissuade him from entering into any religious league with these princes; for that would alienate all the world from him, and dispose his own subjects to rebel. The king thought the German princes and divines should have submitted all things to his judgment; and had such an opinion of his own learning, and was so puffed up with the flattering raises that he daily heard, that he grew impatient of any opposition, and thought that his dictates should pass for oracles. And because the Germans would not receive them so, his mind was alienated from them.

But the duke of Norfolk at court, and Gardiner beyond sea, thought there might easily be found a mean to accommodate the king, both with the emperor and the pope, if the queen were once out of the way; for then he might freely marry any one whom he pleased, and that marriage, with the male issue of it, could not be disputed: whereas, as long as the queen lived, her marriage, as being judged all from the beginning, could never be allowed by the court of Rome, or any of that party. With less reasons of state, others of affection concurred. The queen had been his wife three years: but at this time he entertained a secret love for Jane Seimour (age 27), who had all the charms both of beauty and youth in her person; and her humour was tempered between the severe gravity of queen Katharine, and the gay pleasantness of queen Anne. The queen, perceiving this alienation of the king's heart, used all possible arts to recover that affection, of whose decay she was sadly sensible. But the success was quite contrary to what she designed: for the king saw her no more with those eyes, which she had formerly captivated; but grew jealous, and ascribed these caresses to some other criminal affections, of which he began to suspect her. This being one of the most memorable passages of this reign, I was at more than ordinary pains to learn all I could concerning it; and have not only seen a great many letters that were writ by those that were set about the queen, and catched every thing that fell from her, and sent it to court, but have also seen an account of it, which the learned Spelman, who was a judge at that time, writ with his own hand in his common-place book; and another account of it, writ by one Anthony Anthony, a surveyor of the ordnance of the Tower. From all which I shall give a just and faithful relation of it, without concealing the least circumstance, that may either seem favourable or unfavourable to her.

She was of a very cheerful temper, which was not always limited within the bounds of exact decency and discretion. She [Queen Anne Boleyn of England (age 35)] had rallied some of the king's servants more than became her. Her brother, the lord Rochford (age 33), was her friend, as well as brother; but his spiteful wife (age 31) was jealous of him and, being a woman of no sort of virtue, (as will appear afterwards by her serving queen Katharine Howard in her beastly practices, for which she was attainted and executed,) she carried many stories to the king, or some about him, to persuade, that there was a familiarity between the queen and her brother, beyond what, so near a relation could justify. All that could be said for it was only this; that he was once been leaning upon her bed, which bred great suspicion. Henry Norris, that was groom of the stole; Weston and Brereton, that were the king's privy chamber; and one Mark Smeton, a musician; were all observed to have much of her favour. And their seal in serving her was thought too warm and diligent to flow from a less active principle than love. Many circumstances were brought to the king, which, working upon his aversion to the queen, together with his affection to mistress Seimour (age 27), made him conclude her guilty.

01 May 1536. Yet somewhat which himself observed, or fancied, at a tilting at Greenwich, is believed to have given the crisis to her ruin. It is said, that he spied her let her handkerchief fall to one of her gallants to wipe his face, being hot after a course. Whether she dropped it carelessly, or of design; or whether there be any truth in that story, the letters concerning her fall making no mention of it, I cannot deterimine; for Spelman makes no mention of it, and gives a very different account of the discovery in these words: As for the evidence this matter it was discovered by the lady Wingfield, who had been a servant to the queen, and, becoming on a sudden infirm some time before her death, did swear the matter to one of her.... and here unluckily the rest of the page is torn off. By this it seems, there was no legal evidence against the queen, and that it was but a witness at second-hand, who deposed what they heard the lady Wingfield swear. Who this person was, we know not, nor in what temper of mind the lady Wingfield might be, when she swore it. The safest sort of forgery, to one whose conscience can swallow it, is, to a thing on a dead person's name, where there is no fear of discovery before the great day. And who it was understood that the queen had lost the king's heart, many, either out of their zeal to popeiy, or design to make their fortune, might be easily induced to carry a story of this nature. And this, it seems, was that which was brought to the king at Greenwich; who did thereupon immediately return to Whitehall, it being the first of May.

The queen was immediately restrained to her chamber; the other five were also seized on. But none of them would confess any thing but Mark Smeton, as to any actual things so Cromwel writ. Upon this they were carried to the Tower. The poor queen was in a sad condition; she must not only fall under the king's displeasure, but be both defamed and destroyed at once. At first she smiled, and carried it cheerfully; and said, she believed the king did it only to prove her. But when she saw it was in eanest, she desired to have the sacrament in her closed and expressed great devotion, and seemed to be prepared for death.

The surprise and confusion she was in raised fits of the mother, which those about her did not seem to understand: but three or four letters, which were writ by sir William Kingston to secretary Cromwell concerning her, to court, say, that she was at some times very devout, and cried much; and of a sudden would burst out in laughter: which are evident signs of vapours. When she heard that those, who were accused with her, were sent to the Tower, she then concluded herself lost; and said, she should be sent thither next; and talked idly, saying, "that if her bishops were about the king, they would all speak for her." She also said, "that she would be a saint in heaven, for she had done many good deeds; and that there should be no rain, but heavy judgments on the land, for what they were now doing to her." Her enemies had now gone too far not to destroy her. Next day she was carried to the Tower, and some lords, that met her on the river, declared to her what her offences were. Upon which she made deep protestations of her innocence, and begged leave to see the king; but that was not to be expected. When she was carried into the Tower, "she fell down on her knees, and prayed God to help her, as she was not guilty of the thing for which she was accused." That same day the king wrote to Cranmer to come to Lambeth; but ordered him not to come into his presence: which was procured by the queen's enemies, who took care, that one who had such credit with the king should not come at him till they had fully persuaded him that she was guilty. Her uncle's lady, the lady Boleyn, was appointed to lie in the chamber with her, which she took very ill; for, upon what reason I know not, she had been in very ill terms with her. She engaged her into much discourse, and studied to draw confessions from her. Whatsoever she laid was presently sent to the court: and a woman full of vapours was like enough to tell every thing that was true, with a great deal more; for persons in that condition not only have no command of themselves, but are apt to say any thing that comes in their fancy.