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1346 [1345]

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

MarginaliaAn. 1552. vnto whō hitherto I haue alwayes shewed my selfe a most faithfull and true subiect I haue alwayes bene most diligēt about his maiestie in his affayres both at home and abroad, and no lesse diligent in seeking the common cōmoditie of the whole Realme. MarginaliaTestimony of the people with the Duke of Somerset. At which wordes al the people cryed out, and said, it was most true.

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Then the Duke proceeding, said: vnto whose maiesty I wish continuall health, with al felicitie & al prosperous successe. Whereunto the people agayne cryed out, Amen.

Moreouer, I doo wish vnto all hys Counsaylours the grace and fauour of God whereby they may rule in al thinges vprightly with iustice. Vnto whom I exhort you all in the Lorde, to shew your selues obedient, as it is your bounden duety vnder the payne of condemnation, and also most profitable for the preseruation & safegard of the kings maiestie.

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MarginaliaThe confession of the Duke of Somerset. Moreouer, for so much as heretofore I haue had oftentimes affayres with diuers men, & hard it is to please euery man, therfore if there be any that hath ben offended & iniuried by me, I most humbly require and aske hym forgeuenesse: but especially almighty God, whom throughout all my life I haue most greeuously offended: and all other, whatsoeuer they be that haue offended me, I doo with my whole hart forgeue them. Nowe I once againe require you, dearly beloued in the Lord, that you wyl keepe your selues quiete and styll, least through your tumult you might trouble me. For albeit the spirite be willyng and ready, the fleshe is fraile and waueryng: and through your quietnesse I shal be muche more quieter. MarginaliaThe Duke of Somerset dyeth in the fayth of Iesu Christ. Moreouer, I desire you all to beare me witnes, that I dye here in the fayth of Iesus Christ: desiring you to helpe me with your praiers, that I may perseuer constant in the same vnto my lyues ende.

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After this, he turnyng hym selfe againe about like a meeke lambe, kneeled downe vpon his knees. Then doctor Coxe, MarginaliaD. Coxe his ghostly father. whiche was there present to counsell and aduertise hym, deliuered a certaine scroll in to his hand, wherein was conteyned a briefe confession vnto God. Which being read, he stoode vp againe vpon his feete, without any trouble of mynd (as it appeared) and first bad the Sheriffes fare wel, then the Lieutenant of the Tower and other taking them all by the handes which were vpon the scaffold with hym. Then he gaue the Hangman certaine money. Which done, he put of his gowne, & kneeling downe againe in the straw, vntied his shyrt stringes. After that the Hangman cōming vnto him, turned downe his coller round about his necke, & al other thinges which dyd let or hynder hym. Then lifting vp his eyes to heauen, where his only hope remayned, and couering his face with his owne handkercher, he layd hym selfe downe along, shewing no maner of token of trouble or feare, neyther dyd his countenance chaunge, but that before his eyes were couered, there began to appeare a red colour in the middest of his cheekes.

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Thus this most meeke and gentle Duke lying along, and looking for the stroke, because his doublet couered his necke, he was commaunded to rise vp and put it of: MarginaliaThe godly end of the Duke of Somerset. and thē laying hym selfe downe againe vpon the blocke, and calling thrise vpon the name of Iesus saying: Lord Iesu saue me, as he was the thyrd tyme repeating the same, euen as the name of Iesu was in vttering, in a moment he was bereft both of head & life, and slept in the Lord Iesus, being taken away frō al the dangers & euils of this life, and resting now in the peace of God: in the preferment of whose truth and Gospel he alwayes shewed hym selfe an excellent instrumēt and member, and therfore hath receyued the rewarde of his labours. Thus gentle reader, thou hast the true historie of this worthy and noble Duke, & if any man report it otherwise, let it be counted as a lye.

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As touchyng the maners, disposition, life, and conuersation of the said Duke and the kings vncle, what shal we neede to speake, when as he can not be sufficiently commēded, according to the dignitie of his vertues? MarginaliaThe vertues of the Duke of Somerset declared. There was alwayes in hym great humanitie, and such meekenes and gentlenes, as is rare to be found in so high estate. He was prone and ready to geue eare vnto the complaints and supplications of the poore, & no lesse attentiue vnto the affayres of the cōmon wealth. Which if he had lyued together with king Edward, was like to do much good in reformyng many misorders within this realme. He was vtterly ignorant of al craft and deceit and as farre voyd of all pride and ambicion, as he was from doing of iniury, being in deede vtterly voyd of both. He was of a gentle disposition: not coueting to be reuenged: more apt and ready to be deceyued, then to deceiue. His auncient loue and zeale of the Gospel & of religion he brought with hym to the state of this his dignitye. MarginaliaThe zealous standing of the Duke of Somerset in defēce of the truth against the Byshops at Winsore. The proofe whereof sufficiently was seene in his constant standing to Gods truth and zealous defence therof, agaynst the Bishops of Chichester, Norwich, Lincolne, London, and others moe, in the consultation had at Windsore, the first yeare of the kinges raigne.

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Briefly, consideryng the nature and vertues of this Duke, I may (as seemeth) not vnaptly compare and resemble hym vnto Duke Humfrey, the good Duke of Glocester. Who likewise being vncle vnto kimg Henry the sixt, and Protectour of the Realme (as this was also to kyng Edward the sixt,) yet he wanted not his MarginaliaA comparison betwene Duke Humfrey Vncle to K. Henry. 6. & the Duke of Somerset Vncle to K. Edw. 6. enemies and priuye enuiers, especially Henry Beauford Cardinal, Byshop of Winchester, and Lord Chauncelour of Englande: 

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The account of the rivalry between Cardinal Beaufort and Humphrey , duke of Gloucester, is taken from Edward Hall, The union of the two noble and illustre families of Lancastre and York [London, 1550], STC 12723a, fo. 94r.

who at that tyme disdainyng and enuying the rule and authority of this Duke, procured much trouble agaynst hym, & great diuision in the whole realme, in so much that al the Shops within the Citie of London were shutte in, for feare of the fauourers of these two great personages: For ech parte had assembled no small number of people.

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For pacifying wherof the Archbishop of Canterbury, and the Duke of Quimber, called the Prince of Portugale, rode eyght tymes in one day betweene the two aduersaries. MarginaliaTouching this trouble of the Duke of Glocester, read before pag. 679. Such were then the troubles of this tumultuous diuision within the Realme, betweene these two: as is before expressed, pag. 679. not much vnlike to the troublesome discord betwixt parties in this Protectours dayes. And as in their afflictions and troubles, these two Dukes seemed not much vnlike, so in matters of Religion, and in discernyng truth from falsehoode, their zeale seemed not much discrepant. Although the light of the Gospel dyd not so fully then shine out, as in the tyme of this latter Duke (the Lord be praysed therfore) yet the wisedome and towardnes of the other Duke also touching the same, was not vtterly vnworthy of his commendation. For the more manifest declaration whereof, amongest many other his godly doynges, MarginaliaA false miracle detected by Duke Humfrey of Glocester we may take for example the prudent and and famous acte of that noble Duke, in discernyng and trying out the false lying myracle and popish hypocrisie of the blind begger at S. Albons mentioned in his storye before, pag. 679. 

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See 1563, p. 883, 1570, p. 834, 1576, pp. 679-80 and 1583, p. 704.

For the which cause, and for his diligent study in reforming that and such other blynd abuses of fayned Religion, he was the more hated of the Spiritualitie, and suche as Winchester then was.

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Finally, as this Lord Protectour Duke of Somerset the kynges vncle, by certaine of the Counsaile was then accused, arraigned and cōdemned for the trespasse (as it was geuen forth) of felonie (although I neuer heard he murdered or robbed any) so the other vncle of king Henry the sixt was made away. Of whose decease thus writeth Master W. Tindal in his Practise of Prelates: MarginaliaThe testimonye of M. W. Tyndall of good Duke Humfrey. At þe last they foūd the meanes to cōtriue a drift to bring their matters to passe and made a Parlament farre from the citizens of London, where was slaine the said good Duke, and the only wealth of the realme, and the mighty shield which so long had kept it from sorowe, which shortly after his death fel vpon them by heapes. But the Chronicles (saith he) can not tel wherfore he dyed, nor by what meanes. Neuertheles, this they testifie, that he was a vertuous man, godly and good to the common wealth. 

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Tyndale, Expositions and Notes…with the Practice of Prelates, ed. Henry Walter. Parker Society (Cambridge, 1849), p. 297.

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But to leaue Duke Humfrey, and to returne to the maners and vertues of the Duke of Somerset, which before we were about to describe: MarginaliaThe happy successe of the Duke of Somerset in his victories. as he was a gentle and courteous Duke at home, so was he no lesse fortunate a Captayne in warfare abroad. Vnder whose gouernment & guidyng, not onely diuers rebellious cōmotions were happyly suppressed here at home, but also abroad in the expedition of Scotlande such a victorie was giuen hym of God, that with the losse scarse of sixe hundred of his owne men, there were of the enemies as good, or litle less then. x. thousand slayn and put to flight, and euen the very same day and tyme in þe which all the Idolatrous Images wer here burnt at Lōdon. 

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Foxe is repeating his earlier account of the battle of Musselborough (1570, p. 1499; 1576, p. 1271; 1583, p. 1406). Foxe claimed that the victory occurred at exactly the same time as Ridley began purging the images from the London churches.

And yet al these warres notwithstāding, wherunto he was against his wyll compelled, he was a man of nature singularly geuē to peace, as may be seene by þe sweet and peaceable exhortation by hym set forth in print before, & sent to the Realme of Scotland.

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But as there is nothing in this world so perfecte in all respectes, which is not blotted or darkened with some spot of vice adioyned withal: so amongest the manyfold cōmendations of this duke, one thing there was or two, which both desteyned his honour and estimation muche, and also more empayred and hyndered his owne lyfe and safetie: whiche was, that he in condescendyng to the death of his brother, followed too rashely the perswasion of certayne, who soeuer they were: for that matter lacked not perchaunce some singular fetche and policie of some, more craftily then godly disposed persons, as many good men haue supposed. MarginaliaGods chastisement vpon the Duke of Somerset.

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But what so euer of that matter is to be deemed, credible it is, that the sayd Duke in suffryng or procuring this death of his brother, not onely endamaged hym selfe, & weakened his own power, but also prouoked þe chastisement of Gods scourge and rod, which yd so light vpon him.

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