Critical Apparatus for this Page
Commentary on the Text
Names and Places on this Page
Unavailable for this Edition
1341 [1340]

K. Edw. 6. The troubles and death of the Duke of Somerset.

MarginaliaAnno. 1552.
The blynde and miserable cruelty of the Portugales against a poore Englishe man.
yea for very madnes they would scarce tarry vntill he were burned, but euery man as then could catch any peece of him halfe burned, threwe it into the sea.

MarginaliaA Popeholy fast for pacefying the wrath of theyr God of the Altar. This Sacrifice thus ended, the Clergie, to pacifie Gods wrath whiche they feared, for the violatyng of their aultar appoynted a solemne fast of certayne dayes, for penaunce to purge that fact, 

Commentary  *  Close

Again Foxe is surprisingly correct. The archbishop of Lisbon had, in the aftermath of Gardiner's sacrilege, ordered that fasting and a penitential procession be held in every church in the diocese and also decreed forty days indulgence to all who confessed their sins at this time (I. da Rosa Pereira, 'O Desacato na Capela Real em 1552 e o processo do calvinista inglês peranto Ordinário de Lisboa', Annais da Academia Portuguesa da Historia 29 (1984), pp. 619-20).

[Back to Top]
whiche fact rather shoulde haue taught them to purge themselues and to put away their filthy Idolatrie, and much rather they should haue fasted & repēted for that their extreme crueltie they had shewed vnto the liuely member of Christ.

[Back to Top]

Albeit this death of William Gardiner seemeth to haue profited very many of them litle or nothyng: yet for al that there are some (as I haue hearde diuers reporte) out of whose myndes the remembraunce of this constant Martyr can neuer be pulled, and is so freshe yet amongest them, as if it were nowe lately done: and finally, albeit it be a good while since he was put to death yet þe memory of his death, as fruiteful seede, hath taken such roote in some, þt euen vnto this present day, he is a liuely and diligent preachyng vnto them, against superstition and Idolatrie vsed in their Churches. Ex testimonio N. Fildi, Pendigrace, & aliorum, qui rei gestæ interfuerunt.

[Back to Top]
The tragical historie of the worthy Lord Edward Duke of Somerset, Lord Protector, with the whole cause of his troubles and handlyng.

Marginalia1552.
The story of the L. Protector Duke of Somerset.
AFter so many troublous matters 

Commentary  *  Close
:Edward Seymour

Foxe's first narrative of Somerset's downfall was in Rerum, pp.210-14. This contained the account of the end of Thomas Seymour and the enigmatic record of Somerset's downfall along with the detailed account of his execution, which were all reprinted in 1563. The Rerum account also contained praise of Somerset's virtues which were elaborated on in subsequent editions. But it concluded with passages that would never be reprinted: a scathing assessment of the duke of Northumberland's career and downfall. Foxe not only blamed Northumberland for Somerset's execution, but he also intimated that Northumberland had poisoned Edward VI . These passages were undoubtedly deleted because of the swift rise in power and favour of Northumberland's sons Ambrose and Robert Dudley in the early years of Elizabeth's reign.

[Back to Top]

Little was added to the 1563 narrative except for an extended comparison of the duke of Somerset with Humphrey duke of Gloucester, the uncle of Henry VI. Both men were regents for under-age monarchs and both were named Lord Protector. Both men were, at least in Foxe's view, upright men undone by the scheming machinations of their clerical opponents. In the 1570 edition, Foxe added a number of documents. Some of these came from a letter book of John Russell, the first earl of Bedford. A proclamation may have been obtained from the printer Richard Grafton. Other sources are harder to identify. Someone supplied Foxe with copies of two letters to the Lord Mayor and Common Council of London, one from Edward VI, the other from members of the Privy Council. This source also supplied Foxe with an account of deliberations in the Common Council in October 1549. And Foxe also obtained one of the many copies of the articles charged against Somerset in 1549.Foxe's account of Somerset helped lay the foundation for the longstanding historiographical tradition of Somerset as the 'good Duke', a man devoted to the reformation of Church and State. So great was Foxe's admiration of Somerset that he had to add a disclaimer to the 1570 edition, denying that he had intended to compare Somerset with Christ. But if Foxe had a hero, most unusually, this account did not have a villain. Even Foxe could not blame Stephen Gardiner for an execution performed by Edward VI's government. Foxe was not about to blame the godly Edward VI for Somerset's death. And, as noted above, Foxe was prevented by the power of the Dudley brothers from blaming their father, the duke of Northumberland, for Somerset's death. As a result, Foxe's contain focuses on Somerset's good death on the scaffold, but says little about how he came to be there.

[Back to Top]

Thomas S. Freeman

in this historie aforepassed, cōmyng now to the lamentable and tragicall narration of the Lord Edward Duke of Someset, the kings Vncle, & Protector of his person & of his Realme, I coulde not wel enter into the story of hym, without some premonition first to al noble personages, of what honor or callyng so euer within this realme, by way of history briefly to admonish them, no man to plant any trust or assurance vpon the brickle pillors of worldly prosperitie, how high so euer it seemeth, considering that there is no state so high but it hath his ruine, no wisedome so circumspect, but it may be circūuented, no vertue so perfect, but it may be enuyed, neyther any mans trade so simple, but it may be begiled. MarginaliaWorldly prosperitie not to be trusted vnto. And therfore seeing the condition of mortal things is so, that no man can alwayes stand in this so ruinous a worlde: the surest way is euery man to chuse his standing so, that his fall may be the easier. But because my purpose is (as I haue sayde in the stories before) to abridge and make short, I wyl here stay, referring to the secrete consideration of that which remayneth further by me in this matter to be vttered: 
Commentary  *  Close

This is an interesting (and rare) admission from Foxe that he knows more than he is saying. As has been previously noted, the standing of the duke of Northumberland (apart from other circumstances) would have induced Foxe to caution. In addition, however, Foxe had the reputation of William Cecil, who left Somerset's 'sinking ship' to become Northumberland's secretary, to consider, besides that of Edward VI, whom he extolled as a model of mercy and piety.

[Back to Top]
and so falling into the story of the Lord Protectour Duke of Somerset, we wyl (the Lord willyng) declare in order the original and whole occasion of his trouble and decay, euē frō the beginnyng.

[Back to Top]

Kyng Edward, after that both his father and mother were dead, had three vncles leaft hym by his mothers side, Edward, Thomas, and Henry Semer, of the whiche two first, one was made Protectour of the Realme, and the other high admiral of the same. MarginaliaConcorde maketh brethren strong. These two brethren, so long as they were knyt and ioyned together in amitie & concord, preserued both them selues, the king their nephew, and the whole cōmon wealth from the violence and feare of al danger. But the subtil old serpent 

Commentary  *  Close

I.e., Satan. See Genesis 3.

alwayes enuying mans felicitie, through sclaunderous tounges sought to sowe matter, first of discorde betwene them, then of suspition, and last of al, extreme hatred: in so much that the Protectour suffered his brother being accused (whether truely or falsely the Lord knoweth) to be condemned, & to loose his head. Wherby it came to passe (whether by the correction of Gods iudgement vpon hym 
Commentary  *  Close

This suggestion that Somerset's death was a providential punishment for the execution of his brother, Thomas Seymour, was added in the 1570 edition (p.1545).

or whether that he after the death of his brother, and the king being yet but yong and tender of age, was the lesse able to shift for hym selfe) that not long after he was ouermatched and ouerthrowen of his enemies, and so cast into the Tower, and at last lost his head also to the great lamentation of many good men, as in the sequele of this historie foloweth to be declared.

[Back to Top]

MarginaliaSyr Thomas Semar L. Admirall. For the better introduction of whiche historie, first to begyn with the foresaide brother of the Lorde Protectour, namely Sir Thomas Semer, high Admiral of England, and the kinges Vncle, here is to be vnderstande that he had maryed Queene Katherine late wife to kyng Henry the eight of whom ye hearde before pag. 1422. MarginaliaDispleasure betwene the Queene and the Duches of Somerset. Nowe it happened (vpon what occasion I knowe not) that there fell a displeasure betwixt the saide Queene and the Duches of Somerset, MarginaliaDiscorde betwene the L. Protectour and the Lord Admiral hys brother. and therupon also in the behalfe of their wiues, displeasure and grudge began betwene the brethren. Which albeit thorough perswasion of frendes it was for a tyme appeased betwene them: yet in short space after (perchaunce not without the priuie setting forward of some which wer backfriendes to the Gospell) it brake out againe, both to the trouble of the Realme, and especially to the confusion of them both, as after it proued 

Commentary  *  Close

Foxe blamed the falling out between the Seymour brothers as being due to ill-feeling between their wives. It is disingenuous to the point of mendacity. Thomas Seymour had already defied the King and the Privy Council by marrying Henry VIII's widow. He had been involved in a sexual scandal with Princess Elizabeth and he had been plotting an (admittedly ill-conceived) coup. But it is easy to see why Foxe preferred not to air this 'dirty laundry' in public.

[Back to Top]
. First to the Lorde Admiralles charge it was layde, that he purposed to destroye the young kyng, and translate the Crowne vnto hymselfe, Marginalia[illegible text] and for the same beyng attaynted and condemned, dyd suffer at Tower hyl the. xx. of March, an 1549. As many there were which reported that the Duches of Somerset had wrought his death: so many moe there were, who misdoubtyng the long standyng of the Lord Protectour in his state and dignitie, thought and affirmed no lesse, Marginalia[illegible text] but that the fall of the one brother would be the ruine of the other: the experiment wherof as it hath often bene proued, so in these also eftsoones it ensued.

[Back to Top]

It was not long after the beheadyng of the Lorde Admyrall, but insurrections began to kindle the same yeare in diuers quarters of the realme, as is aboue storied. By the occasion wherof the Lord Russel, [illegible text] to the west partes, and the lord Dudley [illegible text] Marginalia[illegible text] was sent with an army into Northfolke: where both he him selfe and a great nūber of Gentlemen that were with him, meetyng with the Rebels were in great daunger: notwithstanding in the end the ouerthrow was geuen [illegible text] which was about the beginnyng of September. 1549. After this victorie achieued, in the next moneth folowing, which was October. how the matter fel out betwene the lord Protectour and certaine other lords, I know not, MarginaliaDiscorde betwene the Earle of Warwicke and the L. Protector. but at the returne of the Earle of Warwike aforesaid, great working & consultation there was among the Lordes, assembling thē selues in the house of maister Yorke, and at Bainards Castle, and in the Lord Maiors house at London, against the Lord Protector remaynyng then with the kyng at Hampton Court. Of the which busines and trouble, thus the Lord Protectour writeth in his letters to the Lord Russell in the West countrey, as foloweth. 

Commentary  *  Close

By 1570, Foxe had in his possession a letter book which had belonged to John Russell, the first earl of Bedford. (This was almost certainly given to Foxe by Francis Russell, the second earl, a zealous Protestant with close ties to some of Foxe's closest friends). The papers in the letter book survive among the Petyt MSS in the Inner Temple Library (Petyt MS 538/46, fos. 431r-470r) and cover the period June to October 1549. During this time Russell was campaigning in the southwest against the Prayer Book rebels and then summoned back home (with his soldiers) to support Somerset against the other nobles. (In the event, Russell sided with Northumberland - then only the earl of Warwick - against Somerset, a fact which Foxe discreetly does not mention). In fact, Foxe's use of Russell's letters is highly selective. He not only prints only the ones dealing with Somerset's fall, but he edits them in such a way as to place both Somerset and Russell in the best possible light.

[Back to Top]

[Back to Top]
¶ A letter of the Lord Protector to the Lorde Russell Lord priuie Seale, concerning troubles working against him.

MarginaliaA letter of the L. Protectour to the L. priuie Seale. A Fter our right 

Commentary  *  Close

This is an accurate reprinting of Inner Temple Library, Petyt MS 538/46, fo. 467r-v except that Foxe omits a postscript in which Somerset denied rumours that he was committed to the Tower and that the Mass was to be restored.

harty commendations to your good lordship, here hath of late risen suche a conspiracie agaynst the kings Maiestie & vs, as neuer hath bene seene, the which they can not mainteyn, but with such vaine letters and false tales surmised, as was neuer ment nor entended on vs. They pretēd and say, that we haue sold Bulloigne to the French, and that we do withholde wages from the souldiers: and other such tales and letters they do spread abroad (of the which, if any one thing were true, we woulde not wish to liue) the matter now being brought to a marueilous extremitie, such as we would neuer haue thought it could haue come vnto, especially of those mē towards the kings maiestie and vs, of whō we haue deserued no such thing, but rather much fauour & loue. But the case being as it is, this is to require and pray you to hasten you hyther, to the defence of the kinges maiestie, in such force and power as you may, to shewe the parte of a true Gentleman, and of a very frende: the which thing we trust God shal reward and the kinges maiestie in tyme to come, and we shal neuer be vnmindfull of it too. We are sure you shal haue other letters from thē, but as ye tender your duetie to the kinges maiestie, we require you to make no staye, but immediately repaire with such force as ye haue, to his highnes Castle of Windsore, & cause the rest of such force as ye may make, to folowe you. And so we bid you right hartyly farewel. From Hampton Court, the sixt of Octob.

[Back to Top]

Your Lordships assured louing frend,
Edward Somerset.

An answeare to the L. Protectors letter.

MarginaliaThe effecte of the L. [illegible text] to the L. Protectour. To this letter of the Lord Protectour sent the sixt of Octob. the Lord Russell returnyng answere again vpon the eight of the said moneth 

Commentary  *  Close

What follows is loosely based on Inner Temple Library Petyt MS 538/46, fos. 467v-468v. Foxe adds passages emphasising Russell's desire to avoid bloodshed and his concern for the safety of the realm, and for that of Edward VI. The original letter is much more non-committal and much less high-minded.

[Back to Top]
, first lamenteth the heauie dissension fallen betwene the nobilitie and hym, which he taketh for suche a plague, as a greater could not be sent of almighty God vpon this Realme, being the next way (saith he) to make vs of conquerous, slaues, & like to induce vpō the whole Realme an vniuersall calamitie and thraldome, vnlesse the mercyful goodnes of the Lord do helpe, & some wise order be taken in staying these great extremities. And as touching the Dukes request in his letters, for as much as he heard before of this broyle of the Lordes, & feared least some conspiracie had bene meant agaynst the kings person, he hasted forward with such comapny as he could make for the suretie of the king as to hym appertayned. Nowe perceiuyng by the Lordes letters sent vnto hym the same sixt day of Octob. these tumults to rise vpon priuate causes betweene him and them, he therfore thought it expedient that

[Back to Top]
a con-
FFFf.i.
Go To Modern Page No:  
Click on this link to switch between the Modern pagination for this edition and Foxe's original pagination when searching for a page number. Note that the pagination displayed in the transcription is the modern pagination with Foxe's original pagination in square brackets.
Find:
Type a keyword and then restrict it to a particular edition using the dropdown menu. You can search for single words or phrases. When searching for single words, the search engine automatically imposes a wildcard at the end of the keyword in order to retrieve both whole and part words. For example, a search for "queen" will retrieve "queen", "queene" and "queenes" etc.
in:  
Humanities Research Institute  *  HRI Online  *  Feedback
Version 2.0 © 2011 The University of Sheffield