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1588 [1588]

K. Edward. 6. The order and maner of the death of the Duke of Somerset.

MarginaliaAn. 1552.the wonderfull order and maner therof, accordyng as it hath faythfully bene suggested to vs vpon the credite of a certeine noble personage, who not onely was there present at the deede doyng, but also in a maner next vnto hym vppon the Scaffold, beholdyng the order of all thynges with hys eyes, and with his penne also reportyng the same in order and maner as here foloweth. 

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This account was in Foxe's hands during his exile. The most likely candidate for an aristocrat likely to have been present at Somerset's death and to have sent an account of it to Foxe or his friends is Francis Russell, the second earl of Bedford.

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MarginaliaAn. 1552.In the yeare of our Lord. 1552. the 22. day of Ianuary, in the sixt yeare of the reigne of kyng Edward the sixt, he being yet vnder age & gouernance of Tutours: the noble Duke of Somerset, vncle to kyng Edward, was brought out of the Tower of London, and according to the maner, deliuered to the Shriffes of the city: and cōpassed round about with a great number of armed men both of the Garde & others, he was brought vnto the Scaffolde on Tower hyll: MarginaliaThe cherefull countenance of the Duke of Somerset at hys death.where as hee nothyng chaungyng neyther voyce nor countenaunce, but in a maner with the same gesture which hee commonly vsed at home, kneelyng downe vppon both his knees & liftyng vp his handes, cōmended him self vnto God. After that he had ended a few short prayers, standyng vp agayn and turnyng him selfe toward the East side of the Scaffold, nothyng at all abashed (as it seemed vnto me standyng about the middest of the Scaffolde and diligently markyng all thynges) neither with the sight of the Axe, neither yet of the hangman, or of present death: but with the like alacrity and cherefulnes of mynde and countenaunce as before tymes he was accustomed to heare þe causes & supplications of other, & specially the poore (towardes whom, as it were with a certaine fatherly loue to his children, he alwaies shewed hym selfe most attentyue) hee vttered these wordes to the people.

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MarginaliaThe wordes of the Duke of Somerset to the people at hys death.Derely beloued frendes, I am brought hether to suffer death, albeit that I neuer offended agaynst þe kyng, neither by word nor deede, & haue ben alwaies as faithfull and true vnto this Realme, as any man hath bene. But for so much as I am by a law condemned to dye, I do acknowledge my selfe as wel as others to be subiect therunto. Wherfore to testifie my obedience which I owe vnto the lawes, I am come hether to suffer death: wherunto I willyngly offer my selfe, with most hartye thanks vnto God that hath giuen me this tyme of repentaunce: who might through suddeine death, haue taken away my life that neither I should haue acknowledged hym nor my selfe.

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Moreouer (dearely beloued friendes) there is yet somwhat that I must put you in minde of as touching Christian religion: which so long as I was in authoritie, I alwayes diligently set forth and furthered to my power. Neyther do I repent me of my doinges, but reioyce therein, MarginaliaThe care of the Duke of Somerset in setting forth true religion.sith that now the state of Christian religion commeth most neare vnto the forme and order of the primatiue church. Which thing I esteme as a great benefite geuen of God, both vnto you and mee: most hartely exhorting you all, that this which is most purely set forth vnto you, you will with like thankfulnes accept and embrace, and set out the same in your liuing. Which thing if ye do not, without doubt, greater myschiefe and calamitie wyll followe.

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MarginaliaA sodein noyse and feare of the people at the death of the Duke of Somerset.When hee had spoken these wordes, sodainly there was a terrible noyse heard: whereupon there came a great feare on all men. This noise was as it had ben þe noyse of some great storme or tēpest, which vnto some seemed to bee heard frō aboue: like as if a great deale of gunpouder being inclosed in an armorye, & hauyng caught fyre, had violently broke out. But vnto some agayne, it seemed as though it had bene a great multitude of horsemen running together, or comming vpon them. 

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John Stow, who was present at Somerset's execution, blamed the noise on the huge size of the crowd (John Stow, The Annales, ed. E. Howes (London, 1615), p. 607). Another contemporary account - independent of Foxe - also compared the noise to gunpowder set on fire (BL, Cotton Charters, IV.17). Henry Machyn, also present, thought that the noise sounded like gunfire or horseman riding in the distance. Machyn also observed that the soldiers on guard panicked at the commotion (Diary of Henry Machyn, ed. J. G. Nichols. Camden Society, original series 42 (1848), p. 14).

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Such a noyse was then in the eares of all men, albeit they saw nothing. Whereby it happened, that all the people being amased without any euident cause, without any violence or stroke stricken, or any man seene, they ran away, some into þe ditches and puddels,and some into the houses thereabout: other some being afrayde with the horrour and noyse, fell downe grouelyng vnto the grounde with their Pollaxes and Halbardes, and most parte of them cryed out: Iesus saue vs, Iesus saue vs. Those which taryed stil in their places, for feare knew not where they were. And I my selfe which was there present among the rest, beyng also afrayd in this hurley burley, stoode still altogether amased, looking whē any man would knocke me in the head. MarginaliaThe lyke story you shall read of Caius Marius, in Valerius Maximus the 2. boke and 6. chapter.It happened here, as the Euangelistes write it did vnto Christ, when as the officers of þe high priestes and Phariseis comming with weapons to take hym, being astonyed ranne backwardes & fell to the ground. 
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This passage appeared in the Rerum and 1563. In the 1570 edition, Foxe introduced this caveat: 'this is not to be expounded as though I compared in any part the Duke of Somerset with Christ' (the last page of the prelims in the 1570 edition, 1576, p. 2008 and 1583, p. 2149).

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In the meane time, whilest these thinges were thus in doing, the people by chaunce spyed on Syr Anthony Browne riding vnto the Scaffold: which was the occasion of a newe noyse. For when they sawe hym comming, they coniectured that which was not true, but notwithstanding which they all wyshed for, that the king by that messenger had sent his Vncle pardon: and therefore with great reioysing and casting vppe their cappes, they cryed out, pardon, pardon is come: God saue the Kyng. MarginaliaThe great fauour of the people to the Duke of Somerset.Thus thys good Duke, although he was destitute of all mans helpe, yet hee sawe before hys departure, in how great loue and fauour he was with all men. And truly I do not thinke that in so great slaughter of Dukes as hath ben in England within these few yeares, there was so many weeping eyes at one tyme: and not without cause. For all men dyd see in the decay of this Duke, the publicke ruine of all England, excepte such as in deede dyd perceiue nothing. But now to returne from whence we haue strayed, the Duke in the meane time stāding still in the same place modestly & with graue countenaunce made a signe to the people with hys hand, that they would keepe themselues quiet. Which thing being done, and silence obtained, he spake vnto them in thys maner.

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MarginaliaThe wordes of the Duke agayn to the people.Dearely beloued frendes, there is no such matter here in hand, as you vaynly hope or beleue. It semeth thus good vnto almighty God, whose ordinaunce it is meete & necessary that we all be obedient vnto. Wherfore I pray you all be quiet, & to be cōtented with my death, which I am most willing to suffer: & let vs now ioyne in prayer vnto the Lorde, for the preseruation of the kinges Maiestie: vnto whom hitherto I haue alwayes shewed my selfe a most faythfull and true subiect: I haue alwayes bene most diligent about his maiestye in hys affaires both at home and abroad, and no lesse diligent in seeking the common commoditie of the whole realme. MarginaliaTestimony of the people with the Duke of Somerset.At which wordes al the people cryed out and sayd, it was most true.

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Then the Duke proceeding, sayd: vnto whose Maiestye I wysh continuall health, with all felicitie and al prosperous successe. Whereunto the people agayne cryed out, Amen.

Moreouer, I do wysh vnto all his Counsailours, the grace and fauour of God, whereby they may rule in all thinges vprightly wyth Iustice. Vnto whom I exhort you all in the Lord, to shew your selues obedient, as it is your bounden dutye vnder the payne of condemnation, and also most profitable for the preseruation and safegard of the kinges Maiestye. MarginaliaThe confessiō of the Duke of Somerset.Moreouer, forsomuch as heretofore I haue had oftētimes affayres with diuers mē, and hard it is to please euery man, therefore if there be any that hath bene offended & iniuried by me, I most humbly requyre and aske him forgeuenes: but especially almightye God, whom throughout all my life I haue most grieuously offended: and all other, whatsoeuer they be that haue offended me, I do wyth my whole hart forgeue them. Nowe I once agayne requyre you, dearely beloued in the Lord, that you wyll keepe your selues quiet and stil, lest through your tumulte, you might trouble me. For albeit the spirite be willing and ready, the flesh is fraile

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