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1385 [1385]

K. Henry. 8. The storye and life of the Lorde Cromwell. Boston Pardons.

Nowe after these thynges thus discussed as touching the vj. wicked Articles, it foloweth next, in returnyng to the order of our story agayne, to declare those thynges, whiche after the settyng out of these Articles ensued, commyng now to the tyme and story of Lord Cromwell, a man whose worthy fame and deedes are worthy to lyue renowmed in perpetuall memory.

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¶ The hystory concernyng the lyfe, Actes, and death of the famous and worthy Counsaylour Lord Thomas Cromwell 
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Thomas Cromwell

In the Rerum, Foxe has a rather large account of Cromwell consisting of praise of Cromwell, a comparison of Cromwell and Stephen Gardiner (greatly to the detriment of the latter), and a long diatribe on persecution as a hallmark of the Catholic Church (Rerum, pp. 154-8). This was followed by a denciation of the evils of monasticism and further praise of Cromwell for dissolving them (Rerum, pp. 158-9). This was followed by a lengthy extract from Alexander Alesius, Of the Auctoritie of the Word of God, recounting a debate between Alesius and Bishop John Stokesley of London, held in a synod in London in 1537 and of Cromwell's oration to the bishops assembled on this occasion. (Cf. Alexander Alesius, Of the auctoritie of the word of God ['Strausburg', 1548?], STC 292, sigs. A5r-B7v with Rerum, pp. 159-64). The Rerum account of Cromwell ends with a brief statement that Cromwell fell from royal favour because he arranged Henry VIII's marriage to Anne of Cleves and also because of the intrigues of Stephen Gardiner (Rerum, p. 164).

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All of the material was reprinted in the 1563 edition. Some additional material was added in this edition. One item was an account of Cromwell's execution and last words, which was reprinted word-for-word from Hall's chronicle (cf. Edward Hall, The union of the two noble and illustre famelies of Lancastre and Yorke [London, 1560], STC 12723a, fo. 242r-v with 1563, p. 598). Another was a contemporary ballad, 'The Fantasie of Idolatry', which attacked the 'superstition' and 'idolatry' in the monasteries (1563, pp. 590 [recte 599]-598 [recte 600]).

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Except for the material reprinted from Alesius and from Hall, the entire 1563 account of Cromwell was deleted from the 1570 edition. This material was replaced with stories of Cromwell drawn from individual informants. The most important of these was Ralph Morice, formerly Archbishop Cranmer's private secretary, who contributed an account of how Cromwell saved him when he lost an important document. The story of Lord Russell aiding Cromwell may very well have come from Francis Russell, the second earl of Bedford, who had close ties to Foxe. Foxe also derived a story of Cromwell's gratitude to an early benefactor from Matteo Bandello's famous Novelle; this was an account that Foxe had to have translated from Italian. Foxe's zeal in tracking these stories down, is an indication of how deeply he was committed to portraying Cromwell as an exemplar of the godly magistrate constantly prodding his king into further reformation of church and state. Foxe's account of Cromwell as printed in the 1570 edition remain unchanged in subsequent editions.

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Thomas S. Freeman

, Earle of Essex.

MarginaliaThe storye of the Lorde Thom. Cromwell.THomas Cromwell although borne of a simple parentage, and house obscure 

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In the Rerum, Cromwell is described as 'vir obscuro loco natus' (Rerum, p. 154). In the 1563 edition this was rendered as 'a man but of base stock' (1563, p. 598). Apparently this was too depracatory and it was changed to 'borne of a simple parentage and house obscure' (1570, p. 1346).

, through the singulare excellēcie of wisedome and dexteritie of witte wrought in hym by God, coupled with lyke industrie of mynde and desertes of life, rose to high preferment and authoritie, in somuch that by steppes and staires of office and honour, he ascended at length to that, that not onely he was made Earle of Essex, but also most secret & deare Counsellour to kyng Henry, and Vicegerent vnto his person 
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In January 1535, Cromwell was made royal vicegerent (or vicar-general) for spiritual affairs, giving complete supremacy over both provinces of the English Church.

, which office hath not commonly ben supplyed, at least not so fruitfully discharged within this realme. First as touching his byrth, he was borne at Putney or therabout, beyng a Smithes sonne, whose mother maried after vnto a shyremā 
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Cromwell was the son of an upwardly mobile blacksmith, who moved into fulling, then became a cloth merchant and ended up owning a hostel and brewery. Cromwell's mother may have re-married a shearman, but this is probably Foxe getting his details confused, he was probably confused by Bandello's anecdote about Cromwell. Cromwell's father-in-law, Henry Wykys, was a shearman of Putney.

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. MarginaliaThe base degree of the L. Cromwell recompensed with noble ornamentes.In þe simple estate 
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Note Foxe's defensiveness about Cromwell's relatively humble background.

& rude beginninges of this man (as of diuers other before him) we may see and learne that the excellencie of noble vertues and heroicall proweses, which aduaunce to fame and honour, stande not onely vpon byrth and bloud, as priuileges onely intayled appropriat to noble houses: but are disposed indifferently and procede of the gift of God, who raiseth vp the poore abiecte many tymes out of the donghill, & matcheth hym in throne with Peeres and Princes 
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This is a reference to Psalm 113: 7-8.

. Psal. 113.

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MarginaliaCommendatiō of the Lord Cromwell.As touchyng the order & maner of hys cōmyng vp, it would be superfluous to discourse what may be sayd at large: only by way of story it may suffice to giue a touch of certeine particulars, and so to procede. Although the humble cōdition & pouertie of this mā was at þe beginnyng (as it is to many other) a great let & hynderance for vertue to shew her self, yet such was þe actiuitie and forward rypnes of nature in hym, so pregnant in witte & so ready he was, in iudgemēt discrete, in tongue eloquēt, in seruice faythful, in stomacke couragious, in his pēne actiue, that beyng conuersant in þe sight of men, he could not long bee vnespied, nor yet vnprouided of fauour and helpe of frendes to set hym forward in place & office. Neither was any place or office put vnto him, wherunto he was not apt & fitte. Nothing was so hard, whiche with wytte and industrie hee could not cōpasse. Neither was hys capacitie so good, but hys memory was as great in reteining whatsoeuer he had atteined. MarginaliaTh. Cromwell learned the new Testament in Latin without boke.Which well appeared in canning 

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I.e., commiting to memory.

the text of the whole new Testamēt of Erasmus translation without booke, in hys iourney going & comming from Rome: wherof ye shall heare anone.

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Thus in his growing yeres, as he shotte vp in age, & rypenes, a great delite came in hys mynd to stray into foreine countreys 

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Why Cromwell journeyed abroad is unknown and so are his movements. He may have served as a soldier in the French army and serving in Italy. This would help account for his presence in Florence (The battle of Garigliano was fought on 27 December 1503. In it the French army was defeated by the Spanish forces).

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, to see þe world abroad, and to learne experience: wherby he learned such tongues and languages, as might better serue for his vse hereafter. And thus passyng ouer hys youth, beyng at Antwerpe he was there reteined of the Englishe Marchauntes to be their Clerke or Secretary 
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Cromwell certainly visited Antwerp, where he appears to have been a cloth merchant. He was not however the chief clerk to the English merchants there.

, or in some such lyke condition placed perteynyng to their affayres.

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MarginaliaThe towne of Boston.It happened the same tyme 

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Cromwell journeyed to Rome in 1517-18 to secure the renewal of the of the papal indulgences granted to the Lady Guild of Boston. The basic details (at least) of the episode can be verified: a payment, to Cromwell, of £47 in expenses for the trip is recorded in the guild's account book (BL, Egerton 2886. fo. 181r-v). Magnus Williamson has plausibly suggested that Ralph Morrice, whose father had extensive connections with the town, was Foxe's source. (See Magnus Williamson, 'Evangelicalism at Boston, Oxford and Windsor under Henry VIII: Foxe's Narratives Recontextualised' in John Foxe at Home and Abroad, ed. David Loades [Aldershot, 2004], p. 39).

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, that the towne of Boston thought good to send vp to Rome, for renuyng of their ij. pardons, one called the greater pardon, the other þe lesser pardon. Which thyng although it should stand them in great expenses of money MarginaliaThe Popes marchaundise deare ware. (for the Popes Marchaundise is alwayes deare ware) yet notwithstandyng such sweetnes they had felt therof and such gayn to come to their town by that Romish Marchaūdise MarginaliaSuperstition commonly is gainfull.(as all superstition is commonly gaynefull) that they lyke good Catholicke Marchauntes & the Popes MarginaliaThe popes leases of pardons.good customers, thought to spare for no coste, to haue their leases agayne of their pardons renewed, what so euer they payd for the fine. And yet was all this good religion then: such was the lamentable blyndnes of that tyme. This then beyng so determined and decreed amongest my countreymen of Boston, to haue their pardons nedes repayred and renewed from Rome, one Geffray Chambers with an other companiō was sent for the messengers, with writynges & money, no small quātitie, well furnished and with all other thynges appointed, necessary for so chargeable and costly expolyet. Who cōming in his iourney to Antwerpe, & misdoubtyng hym self to be to weake for þe compassyng of such a weyghtie peece of worke, cōferred & perswaded with Tho. Cromwell to associate hym in that legacie, and to assiste him in þe contriuyng therof. Cromwell although perceauyng the enterprise to be of no small difficultie, to trauerse the Popes Courte, for the vnreasonable expēses amongest those gredy cormorantes, yet hauing some skill of the Italian tongue 
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Records of the English Hospital in Rome also show that Cromwell stayed there in June 1514.

, and as yet not grounded in iudgement of Religion in those hys youthfull dayes, was at length obteyned and content to gyue the aduenture, MarginaliaCromwell goeth to Rome.and so tooke hys iourney toward Rome. Cromwell loth to spend much tyme, and more loth to spend hys money: and agayne perceyuing that the Popes gredye humor must nedes be serued with some present or other (for without rewardes there is no doyng at Rome) began to cast with him selfe, what thyng best to deuise, wherein he might best serue the Popes deuotion. At length hauyng knowledge how þe popes holy touth greatly delited in new fangled straunge delicates and daynty dishes, MarginaliaCromwells presentes to the pope.it came in hys mynde to prepare certeine fine dishes of gelly, after the best fashion, made after our coūtrey maner here in England, which to them of Rome was not knowen nor seene before. This done, Cromwell obseruyng hys tyme accordingly, as the Pope was newly come from hūtyng into his pauillion, he with his companions approched with his Englishe presentes brought in with a threemans song (as we call it) in the Englishe tongue, and all after the Englishe fashion. The Pope sodenly meruelyng at the straungnes of the songe, and vnderstandyng that they were Englishe mē, and that they came not emptie handed, willed them to be called in. Cromwell there shewyng his obedience, and offryng his iolye iunkets, such as kynges and princes onely (sayd hee) in the Realme of England vse to feede vpō, desired the same to be accepted in beneuolēt part, MarginaliaCromwell a suter for Boston pardons.whiche he and his companiōs as poore suters vnto hys holynes, had there brought, and presented as nouelties meete for hys recreatiō. &c. Pope Iulius 
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The pope would have been Leo X, not Julius II.

seyng the straungenes of the dishes, commaunded by and by hys Cardinall to take the assay. Who in tasting therof, lyked it so well, and so likewise the Pope after hym, that knowyng of them what their sutes were, & requiryng them to make knowen þe making of that meate, MarginaliaBoston pardons obtayned at Rome.hee incontinent without any more adoe, stamped both their pardons, as well the greater as the lesser.

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And thus was the iolye pardons of þe towne of Boston obteyned as you haue heard, for the maintenance of their decayed port. The Copie of whiche pardons (which I haue in my handes) briefly cōprehended, cōmeth to this effect 

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Foxe - as he details of the document and a marginal citation make clear - is quoting, or paraphrasing, the renewal of the indulgences granted by Pope Clement VII in 1527, not the indulgences obtained by Cromwell.

: MarginaliaThe effecte and contentes of Boston pardons.That all the brethren and sisters of the gylde of our Lady in S. Botulphes Church at Boston, should haue free licence to chuse for their cōfessor or ghostly father, whom they would, either seculare Priest, or religious person, to assoyle them plenately from all their sinnes, excepte onely in cases reserued to the Pope:

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Also should haue lycence to cary about with them an altar stone wherby they might haue a Priest to say thē masse, or other diuine seruice, where they would, without preiudice of any other church or chappel, though it were also before the day, yea & at iij. of the clocke after mydnight in the Sommer tyme.

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