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1396 [1396]

K. Henry. 8. The storye and life of the Lord Thomas Cromwell Earle of Eßex.

The lyke courtesie þe sayd L. Cromwell shewed also to a certaine Italian, who in þe Citie of Florence, had shewed him much kindnes in succouring and relieuing hys necessitie, as in thys storye following may appeare. Which storye set forth and compiled in the Italian tounge by Bandello, and imprinted at Luke by Busdrago, an. 1554. 

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Foxe took this story, as he indicates from Matteo Bandello, Novelle. 4 parts in 3 volumes (Lucca, 1554-73), II, pp. 202-7. This work had not yet been translated into English and the fact that Foxe (and his printer John Day) took the trouble to have the story translated from Italian (a language Foxe did not have) is an indication of the importance that Foxe attached to this tale of Cromwell's virtuous character. Foxe's version of the story is faithful to the original, but eliminates details about Frescobaldi and his business.

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MarginaliaEx historia Italica.I thought here to insert, with the whole order and circumstance therof, as it is reported.

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MarginaliaA notable storye of the Lorde Cromwell and an Italian.Not many yeares past, saith þe author, there was in Florēce a Marchant whose name was Fraūces, descēded frō the noble & aunciēt familie of þe Frescobaldes: thys Gentleman was naturallye indued with a noble and liberall minde, vnto whom also through prosperous successe, and fortunate lucke in hys affayres and doinges, much aboundance of riches increased, so that he grewe in great wealth, hauyng hys cofers replenished with many heapes of much treasure. He according to the custome of Marchanntes, vsed his trade into many countreyes, but chieflye into England, where long tyme he liued soiourning in London, keeping house to hys great commendation and prayse. MarginaliaCromwell asking hys almes of Frescobalde.It happened, that Fraunces Frescobalde being in Florence, there appeared before hym a poore younge mā, asking his almes for Gods sake. Frescobalde, as he earnestly behelde thys ragged stripling, who was not so disguised in hys tottered attyre, but that hys countenaunce gaue signification of much towardnes and vertue in hym, with conformitie of maners agreing to the same, being moued with pitie, demaunded of what countrye hee was, and where hee was borne. I am Syr (quoth hee) of England, and my name is Thomas Cromwell. My father is a poore man, and by hys occupation a clothe sherer 

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As Foxe recounts, Cromwell's father was a 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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. MarginaliaNote that thys cloth sherer was his father in lawe.I am strayed frō my countrey, and am now come into Italie, with þe campe of French men, that were ouerthrowen at Gatilyon, MarginaliaCromwell page to a souldiour. 
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The battle of Garigliano was fought on 27 December 1503. In it the French army was defeated by the Spanish forces.

where I was the page to a footeman, carying after him his pyke and burganet. Frescobalde partlye considering the present state of thys younge mā, and partly for the loue he bare to the Englishe nation, of whom he had receaued in times paste sondry pleasures, receaued him into his house, and with such curtesie intertayned his gest, as at hys departure, when he was in minde to returne to hys countrey, he prouided such necessaries as he any way needed. MarginaliaThe gentlenes of Frescobald shewed to Cromwell.He gaue hym both horse and new apparell, and xvj. Ducates of golde in hys pursse, to bryng hym into hys countrey. Cromwell rendering his hartie thankes, tooke leaue of hys hoste and returned into England. Thys Cromwell was a man of noble courage and heroicall spirite, geuē to enterprise great matters, very liberall, a graue Counsellour, &c 
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The 'etcetera' is revealing. Foxe is eliminating Bandello's praise (if that is the word) that the young Cromwell 'could, when it seemed to his purpose, dissimulate his feelings better than anyone in the world' [quando gli pareua esser à proposito, dissimular le suepassionimeglioche huomo del mondo] (Matteo Bandello, Novelle, 4 parts in 3 volumes [Lucca, 1554-73], II, p. 203). Foxe also skips over Bandello's account of Cromwell's service under Wolsey, his entry into roal service and Cromwell's role in the break with Rome (Bandello, Novelle, pp. 202-4).

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. But to our purpose.

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At what tyme Cromwell was so highly fauoured of hys Prince, and aduaunced ot such dignitie as is aforesayd, Fraunces Frescobalde (as it many tymes happeneth vnto Marchauntes) was by many misfortunes and great losses, caste backe and become very poore. For according to conscience and equitie, he paide whatsoeuer was due to any other frō him self, but such debts as were owing vnto him, he could by no meanes obtayne: yet calling further to remembraunce that in England by certayne Marchauntes there was due to him the summe of xv.M. Ducates, MarginaliaAn Italian Ducate cōmeth to as much as our Englishe crowne.he so purposed with him self, that if he coulde recouer that money, he would well content him selfe, and no longer deale in the trade of Marchauntes, but quietlye passe ouer the rest of his dayes.

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All thynges prepared for hys iourney, he setting forward towardes England, at last ariued at London, hauing vtterly forgotten what curtesie long before he had shewed to Cromwell: which is the propertie alwaies of a good nature, for a man to forgette what benefites he hath shewed to other, but to keepe in minde continually what he hath receaued of other. Frescobalde thus being now ariued at London, and there traueling earnestly about hys busines, it chaunced hym by the way to meete with thys noble man, as hee was ryding towardes the Court. Whom as soone as the sayd Lorde Cromwell had espyed, & had earnestly behelde, he bethought with hym self that he should be the mā of Florence, at whose handes in tymes paste he had receaued so gentle intertainment, and therupon sodeinlye alighting (to the great admiratiō of those that were with hym) in hys armes he gently imbraced the straunger, and with a broken voyce scarse able to refrayne teares, he demaunded, if he were not Fraunces Frescobalde the Florentine. Yea syr (he aunswered) and your humble seruaūt. MarginaliaThe wordes of the Lorde Cromwell to the Italian Marchaunt.My seruaūt (quoth Cromwell?) no, as you haue not bene my seruaunt in tymes paste, so will I not now accompt you otherwayes then my great and especiall frend, assuring you, that I haue iust reason to bee sorye, that you knowing what I am (or at the least what I should be) will not let me vnderstand of your ariuing in thys land, which knowen vnto me, truely I should haue payde parte of that debt which I confesse to owe you: MarginaliaOld frendship remembred.but thanked be God I haue yet tyme. Well syr, in conclusion, you are hartely welcome. But hauyng now waightie affayres in my Princes cause, you muste holde me excused that I can no longer tarie with you. Therfore at this tyme I take my leaue, desiring you, with the faythfull minde of a frend, that you forget not to come thys day to my house to dinner, and then in remounting on hys horse, he passed to the Court. Frescobalde greatly marueling with hym selfe who thys Lord should be, at laste after some pause, hys remembraunce better called home, he knew hym to bee the same, whom longe before (as you haue heard) he had relieued in Florence, and therat not a litle ioyed, especially cōsidering how that by his meanes he should the better recouer hys duetie.

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The houre of dyner drawyng neare, he repayred to the house of this honorable Counsellour, where walkyng a while in his base Court, he attended his comming. The Lord shortly returned from the Court, and no sooner dismounted, MarginaliaThe courtesie of the Lorde Cromwell in retayning hys old hoste.but hee agayne imbraced this Gentleman, with so frendly a countenaunce, that both the Lord Admirall and all the other noble men of the Court beyng then in hys company, did not a litle maruell thereat. Whiche thing when the Lord Cromwell perceyued, hee turnyng towardes them and holdyng Frescobald fast by the hand: do ye not maruayle my Lordes (quoth hee) that I seeme so glad of this man? This is hee by whose meanes I haue atcheued the degree of this my present callyng: and because ye shall not be ignoraunt of his curtesie when I greatly neded, I shall tell it you: and so there declared vnto them euery thing in order, according as before hath bene recited vnto you. Hys tale finished, holdyng hym still by the hand, hee entred his house, and commyng into the chamber where hys dynner was prepared, he sat hym downe to the table, placyng his best welcomed geste next vnto him.

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The dinner ended, & the Lordes departed, he would know what occasion had brought Frescobald to London. Fraunces in few wordes opened his cause, truly tellyng that from great wealth, he was fallen into pouertie, and that his onely portion to maintayne the rest of his lyfe was xv. thousand Ducates whiche were owyng him in England, and ij. thousand in Spayne. Wherunto the Lord Cromwell aunsweryng agayne, sayd, touchyng the thynges M. Frescobald, that bee already past, although it cā not now be vndone by mans power, nor by policie called agayne, whiche hath happened vnto you by the vnstable condition and mutabilitie of this world alteryng too and fro: yet is not your sorrow so peculiar to your selfe alone, but that by the bonde of mutuall loue, I must also bewaile with you this your state and condition: which state and conditiō of yours, thoughe it may worke in you matter of iuste heuynes, yet notwithstandyng, to the intent you may receiue in this your heauy distresse, some consolation,

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