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1182 [1181]

K. Henry. 8. The storye and life of the L. Tho. Cromwel Earle of Essex.

were not for thy maisters sake. I would set thee fast by the feete, to teach such malapert knaues to meddle with Counsellers matters. Had not money bene well bestowed vppon such a good felow as this is, that knoweth not a Councellers man from a Coblers mā? And with those wordes the Lord Cromwell went vp into the kynges chamber of presence and the Archbishops Secretary with hym, where he found in the chamber the Lord of Caunterbury. To whō he said, MarginaliaThe wordes of the L. Cromwell to the Archb. Cranmer. My Lorde I haue found here good stuffe for you (shewyng to hym the paper booke that he had in his hand) redy to bring both you and this good felow your man to the halter, namely if the knaue Beareward now in the Hall, might haue well compassed it. At these wordes the Archbishop smiled and sayd, he that lost that booke is lyke to haue the worse bargayne, for besides that he was well washed in the Thames, he must write the booke faire agayne: and at those wordes the Lord Cromwell cast the booke vnto the Secretary saying, I pray thee Morice go in hand therwith by & by with all expedition, for it must serue a turne. Surely my Lord, it somwhat reioyseth me, quoth the L. Cromwell, that that verlet might haue had of your man xx. s. for the boke, and now I haue discharged that matter with neuer a peny. And shaking hym wel vp for his ouermuch malipertnes, I know the felow well enough (quoth he) there is not, a rancker Papist within this realme, then he is, most vnworthy to be seruaunt vnto so noble a Princesse. And so after humble thankes geuen to the Lord Cromwell, þe said Morice departed with hys booke, which when he agayne had fayre written, was deliuered to the kyngs Maiesty by the sayd lord Cromwell, within 4. dayes after.

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The Lord Cromwell not forgettyng his olde frendes and benefactours.

MarginaliaThe gentle behauiour of the L. Cromwell, in remembring his old frendes. IT is commonly sene, that men aduaunced once from base degree, to ample dignities doe ryse also with fortune into such insolencie and exaltation of mynd, that not only they forget themselues what they were, and frō whence they came but also cast out of remembraunce all their old frendes and former acquaintance, which haue bene to them before beneficiall. From which sort of men, how farre the curteous cōdition of this christen Erle did differre, by diuers examples it may appeare. As by a certayn poore woman keping some tyme a vitailing house about Hownsloe, to whom the sayd Lord Cromwell remayned in debt for certeine olde reckonings, to the summe of xl.s. It happened that the L. Cromwel with Cranmer Archbishop of Canterbury riding through Chepeside towarde the Court, in turnyng his eye ouer the way, and there espyng this poore woman, brought now in nede and misery, eftsones caused her to be called vnto hym. Who being come, after certayne questions asked of her if she were not such a woman, and dwellyng in such a place At last he demaunded, if he were not behynd for a certayne payment of mony betwene hym and her. To whō she with reuerent obeysance, confessed that he ought her money for a certaine olde reckonyng which was yet vnpayd, wherof she stoode now in great necessitie, but neuer durst call vpō him nor could come at him for to require her right. MarginaliaExample of a gratefull debter. Then the L. Cromwell sendyng the poore woman home to hys house, and one of his seruantes withall, that the Porter should let her in, after hys returne from the Court, not onely discharged the debte which he ought, but also gaue her a yearely pension of foure poundes, and a liuery euery yeare while she lyued.

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The like curtesie the sayd L. Cromwell shewed also to a certayne Italian, who in the city of Florence, had shewed hym much kyndnes in succouring and relieuing his necessitie, as in this story followyng may appeare. Which story set forth and compiled in the Italian tonge by Bandello, & 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 story of the L. Cromwell and an Italian. Not many yeares past, saith the authour, there was in Florence a merchant whose name was Fraunces, descended from the noble and auncient family of the Frescobaldes: this Gentleman was naturally indued with a noble and liberall mynde, vnto whome also thorough prosperous successe and fortunate lucke in his affayres and doynges, much aboundance of riches increased, so that he grewe in great welth, hauyng his cofers replenished with many heapes of much treasure. He according to the custome of Merchants, vsed hys trade into many countreys, but chiefly into England, where long tyme he liued soiournyng in London, keepyng house to his great commendation and prayse.

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MarginaliaCromwell asking his almes of Frescobald. It happened that Fraunces Frescobalde beyng in Florence, there appeared before hym a poore yong man, askyng his almes for Gods sake. Frescobald as he earnestly beheld this ragged striplyng, who was not so disguised in his tot tered attire, but that hys countenaunce gaue signification of much towardnes and vertue in hym, with conformitie of maners agreyng to the same, beyng mooued with pity, demaunded of what Countrey he was, and where he was borne. I am Sir (quoth he) of England and my name is Thomas Cromwell. My father is a poore man, and by his occupation a cloth 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 this cloth sherer was his father in lawe. I am strayed from my countrey, and am now come into Italy with the campe of Frenchemen, 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 pike and burganet. Frescobald partly consideryng the present state of this yong man, and partly for the loue he bare to the english nation, of whō he had receiued in tymes past sondry pleasures receiued hym into his house, and with such curtesie intertayned his gest, as at his departure when he was in mynde to returne to his coūtrey, he prouided such necessaries as he any way neded. MarginaliaThe gentlenes of Frescobald shewed to Cromwell. He gaue him both horse and new apparell, and 16. Ducates of golde in hys purse, to bryng hym into his country. Cromwell rendering hys harty thankes, tooke leaue of his hoste and returned into England. This Cromwell was a man of noble courage and heroicall spirit, geuen to enterprise great matters, very liberall, a graue Counsailour. &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 his prince, and adnanced ot such dignitie as is aforesayd, Frāces Frescobald (as it many tymes happeneth vnto Merchantes) was by many misfortunes and great losses, caste backe and become very poore. For according to conscience and equitie, he payd whatsoeuer was due to any other from himself, but such debts as were owyng vnto him, he coulde by no meanes obtaine: yet calling further to remembraunce that in England by certain merchantes there was due to him the summe of 15000. ducates, MarginaliaAn Italian Ducate commeth to as much as our Englishe crowne. he so purposed with him self, that if he could recouer that mony, he would well content himselfe, and no longer deale in the trade of merchants but quietly passe ouer the rest of his dayes.

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All thinges prepared for his iourney, he setting forward towards Englād, at last arriued at Lōdon, hauing vtterly forgotten what curtesie long before he had shewed to Crōwell: which is the property alwayes of a good nature, for a mā to forget what benefits he hath shewed to other, but to keepe in mynde continually what he hath receiued of other. Frescobald thus being now arriued at Lōdō, & there trauelyng earnestly about his busines, it chaunced him by þe way to meete with this noble man, as he was ryding towards þe Court. Whom as soone as the sayd Lord Cromwell had espied, & had earnestly beheld, he bethought with himself þt he should be the man of Florence, at whose handes in times past he had receiued so gentle intertainment, and thereupon sodenly alighting (to the great admiration of those that wer with hym) in his armes he gently embraced the straunger, and with a broken voyce scarce able to refraine teares, hee demaunded, if he were not Fraunces Frescobalde the Florentine. Yea sir (he aunswered) and your humble seruaunt. MarginaliaThe wordes of the Lord Cromwell to the Italiā Marchaunt. My seruaunt (quoth Cromwell?) no, as you haue not ben my seruaunt in tymes past, so will I not now accompte you otherwayes then my great and especiall frend, assuring you that I haue iust reason to be sory, that you knowing what I am (or at the least what I should be) will not let me vnderstand of your ariuyng in this land, which knowen vnto me, truely I should haue payd part of that debte which I confesse to owe you: MarginaliaOld frendship remembred. but thanked be God I haue yet tyme. Well sir, in conclusion, you are hartely welcome. But hauyng now waighty affaires in my princes cause, you must hold me excused, that I can no longer tary with you. Therfore at this tyme I take my leaue, desiring you with the faythfull mynd of a frend, that you forget not to come this day to my house to dinner, and then in remounting on his horse, he passed to the Court. Frescobald greatly marueling with himselfe who this Lord should be, at last after some pause, his remembraunce better called home, he knew hym to be the same, whome long before (as you haue heard) he had relieued in Florence, and thereat not a litle ioyed, especially considering how that by his meanes he should þe better recouer his duety.

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The hower of dinner drawing nere, he repaired to the house of this honorable Counsellour, where walkyng a while in hys base Court, he attended his commyng. The Lord shortly returned from the Court, and no sooner dismounted, MarginaliaThe curtesie of the Lord Cromwell in retayning his old host. but he agayne embraced this Gentleman, with so friendly 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 meruaile therat.

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Which thing when the Lord Cromwell perceiued, he turnyng towardes them and holding Frescobalde fast by the hand: do ye not maruaile my Lordes (quoth he) that I seeme so glad of this man? This is he by whose meanes I haue atchieued the degree of this my present calling: and

because
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