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109 []

¶ The letter of the Emperour to Phylip the Frenche kyng, concernyng the taking of kyng Rychard.

HEnricus dei gratia Romanorum Imperator, & semper Augustus dilecto & speciali amico suo Philippo illustri frācorum Regi salutem & sinceræ dilectionis affectum. Quoniam Imperatoria celsitudo non dubitat regalem magnificentian tuam lætiorem effici de vniuersis quibus omnipotentia creatoris nostri nos ipsos Rom. imperium honorauerit & exaltauerit, nobilitati tuæ tenore præsentium declarare duximus, quod inimicus imperij nostri et turbator regni tui Rex Angliæ, quum esset in transeūdo mare ad partes suas reuersurus, accidit vt ventus rupta naui sua in qua ipse erat, induceret eam in partes Histriæ ad locum qui estinter Aquileiā & Venetias. Vbi Rex Dei permißione passus naufragium, cū paucis euasit. Quidam itaq́; fidelis noster comes Maynardus de Gooxce & populus regionis illius, audito quod in terra erat, & considerato diligentius qualem nominatus Rex in terra promißionis, proditionem & traditionem, & perditionis suæ cumulū exercuerat, insecuti sunt, intentendes eum captiuare. Ipso autem rege in fugam conuerso, cæperunt de suis octo milites. Postmodū proceßit Rex ad Burgum in Archiepiscopatu Salseburgensi, qui vocatur Frisorum, vbi Fridericus de Betesow, rege cum tribus tantum versus Austriam properante, noctu, sex milites de suis cæpit. Dilectus autē consanguineus noster Limpoldus Dux Austriæ, obseruata strata, sæpe dictum Regem iuxta Denam in villa viciniori in domo despecta captiuauit. Cum itaq́; in nostra nunc habeatur potestate, & ipse semper tuæ molest. & turbationis operam præstiterit, ea quæ præmisimus, nobilitati tuæ insunuare curauimus, scientes ea dilectioni tuæ beneplacita existere, & animo tuo vberrimam importare lætitiam. Datum apud Ritheoūti V. kalendas Ianuar.

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At length the sayd kyng Rychard being raūsomed for an hundreth and fourty thousande markes, from the couetous captiuitie of the Emperour, was restored againe, and came to England, Marginalia1199where at last besieging a certayne castel in Pictauia, toke there his deadly woūd, and fell sicke, to whome as diuers came in to comforte him, so amonge the reste, the stories make mention of one called of some Fulco: some saye he was the Archebyshop of Roane called Gwalter.

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This Fulco beyng then in Englande, and comming to the kynges presence, sayde vnto hym with great courage and boldnes.

MarginaliaThre doughters of the kyng noted.Thou haste O myghtie kyng, three daughters very vitious and of euill disposition: take good hede of them, and betymes prouide for them good husbandes, lest by the not bestowing of the same, thou shalt not onely incurre great hurte and damage, but also thy vtter ruyne and destruction. To whome the kyng in a rage sayde. Thou lying and mockyng hipo-crite, thou knowest not where thou arte, or what thou sayest. I thynke thou art madde or not well in thy wittes. I haue neuer a doughter as all the worlde knoweth, & therfore thou open lyer gette thee out of our presence. To whome Fulco aunswered: no, and lyke youre grace I lye not, but saye truthe: for you haue three doughters, whiche continually frequenteth your court, and wholy possesseth your persone, and suche three whores & noughtie packs as neuer the lyke hath been heard of. I meane mischeuous pryde, gredy couetousnes, and filthie luxurie. And therfore agayne I saye, O king, beware of them, and out of hand prouide mariages for them, lest in not so doyng, u vtterly vndo both thy self & al the whole realme.

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The whiche his wordes the kyng tooke in good part, with correction of him self, and confession of the same. Whereupon incontinently he called his Lordes and Barons before hym, vnto whome he declared the comming and monitiō of Fulco, who had willed him to beware of his three doughters, pryde, auarice, and luxury, with counsell out of hande to mary them, lest further discommoditie should ensue bothe to hym and the whole realme, whose good coūsell (my Lordes) I entend to followe, not doubting of all your consentes therevnto. Wherefore here before you all, I geue my daughter swelling pryde to wyfe, to the proude Templars, my gredy daughter auarice to the couetouse Cicestren monkes, and last of all, the filthie daughter Luxurie, to the riotouse Prelates of the church, whome I thinke to be very mete men for them, and so agreing to their natures that the like matches in this our realme are not to be founde for them. And thus much conerning Fulco.

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Commentary  *  Close
King John

This passage reflects the remarkable English protestant reversal of the accepted historiography of the reign of King John, whom medieval chronicles had, almost without exception, vilified. The process had begun with William Tyndale's The Obedience of a Christian Man (1528), which presented John's reign as that of a good king battling heroically against papal tyranny and it reached its canonical limits with Bale's drama, King Johan (see Caroline Levin, Propaganda in the English Reformation: Heroic and Villainous Images of King John [Lewiston, NY, 1988), esp. pp. 55-104). These reassessments all had, however, the weakness that they were not based on newly-discovered evidence, but a skewed reading of the sources that were already common knowledge. Foxe's account, at the first read, seems to rectify that deficiency, supported a favourable account of John's reign with quiverfuls of new sources: Matthew Paris, Roger of Howden's Chronicle, the life of John by Ralph Niger, Caxton's edition of the Brut, and the fourteenth-century chronicle known as the Eulogium Historiarum. These are carefully enumerated in the marginalia to the 1563 account, which would become a commonplace for English protestant polemicists thereafter.

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The account of John's reign is surprisingly detailed and circumstantial. It begins with Arthur, John's nephew, challenging his uncle's rights to the crown, supported by Philip Augustus, King of France. It alludes to Philip's conquest of Normandy before concentrating at length on the dispute over the election of the archbishop of Canterbury and Pope Innocent III's rejection of the royal candidate and installation of his own nominee, Stephen Langton. The consequences (the papal interdict, the royal confiscation of ecclesiastical lands and revenues, the failures of mediation and the excommunication of John) are all given substantial coverage. Following a digression to describe (and denounce) the Fourth Lateran Council, Foxe's narrative picks up the continued scheming of the clergy against the king, the Dauphin Louis' invasion, John's reconciliation with some of the rebellious nobles (Magna Carta goes unmentioned) and the king's death (by poisoning). The account was the first, thorough 'post-medieval' narrative of John's reign to be based on such a wide range of sources.

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Yet, as this project has argued in extensor elsewhere (Tom Freeman, 'John Bales' Book of Martyrs?: The Account of King John in Acts and Monuments', Reformation 3 (1998), 175-223) this section was very unlikely to have been written by Foxe, and that it was very probably an account of the reign, prepared by John Bale after his return to England in 1559, as part of a long-projected continuation of his Acts of the English Votaries, originally published in its first two parts in 1551, and which had ended with the reign of Richard I. We surmised that, when Bale realised that his final illness would prevent his completing the work, he sent the account of King John to Foxe, who readily incorporated it into the first book of the Acts and Monuments, itself evidently (the tell-tale signs are its irregular pagination and the awkward transition to the next book) a late addition to the work. This circumstantial reassignation of authorship is advanced on the basis of a detailed discussion of the sources used for the narrative, and the way in which they are handled. The account relies, directly or indirectly, on the following:-a) Roger of Howden's chronicleb) Roger of Wendover's Flores Historiarumc) Matthew Paris' Cronica Majorad) Matthew Paris' Historia Anglorume) The Barnwell Chroniclef) The Eulogium Historiarum, also quoted in William Caxton's The chronicles of England (London, 1482)g) Ranulph Higden's Polychroniconh) The chronicle sometimes known as the 'Annals of Winchester'The article, cited above, examines these borrowings, and the ways in which the sources were more available to Bale than to Foxe in 1563. It also demonstrates how the ways in which they were used are much more consistent with Bale's handling of historical sources than Foxe's. Whilst Foxe was capable of the heavily partisan and selective citation of his sources to construct his narrative, he was generally not disposed to inventive elaboration of them, such as occurs in this passage.

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One element of this account of King John's reign became the target for Foxe's critics after 1563. It concerned the final account of a monk poisoning the king. In 1565, the Catholic apologist Thomas Harding (in A Counterblast to M. Hornes vayne blast [Louvain, 1567], fols 312B-314A) attacked the credibility of Foxe's narrative by enumerating those sources which unambiguously attributed John's death to natural causes. Two years later, Thomas Stapleton questioned the credibility of the Eulogium Historiarum in the version edited and printed by Caxton. Foxe's response in the 1570 edition did not specifically refer to Stapleton's criticism, but responded indirectly in two ways: firstly, by the addition of another account of John's poisoning, taken from Walter of Guisborough's chronicle, in which the monks murder John with a poisoned dish of pears (see Freeman, 'John Bales' Book of Martyrs', p. 207; and p. 223). His second response was the late addition to the 1570 text of two texts, the first on the 'Primacy of the Popes' and the second entitled 'The Image of Antichrist'. Foxe's other changes in 1570 were minor (thus indicating that, even if he had not composed the narrative himself, he certainly was in accord with its views), and reflect the tensions and fears of catholic conspiracy prevalent in 1569-70. He inserted 'another chronicle' account of John's inconclusive conference with two papal legates in 1211 (taken from the Eulogium) and designed to emphasise that the Pope sought to humiliate the English king. He also expanded on a passage in 1563 in which Pope Innocent III announced that any soldiers invading England were entitled to war the livery of Crusaders. The revised passage read that the Pope promised the French king and his soldiers remission of sins if they invaded England. Foxe probably had the rebellion of the Northern Earls of 1569 in mind when he wrote that John submitted to the Pope from fear of foreign invasion and 'his own people, especially his lords and barons being rebelliouslye incited against him, as by the popes curses and interdictions against such as tooke hys part' (1570, p. 331). The passage did not change in the editions following 1570.

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Mark Greengrass
University of Sheffield

The kyng not long after departed without isshewe. Wherfore Iohn his brother reigned after hym, in whome although some vices may worthely be reprehended, especially for his incontinent and to much licentious lyfe, yet was he farre from that deseruing, for the whiche he hath ben so ill reported of diuers wryters, who being led more with affection of Popery, then with true iudgement and due consideration, depraued his doynges more then the sincere truthe of the historie wyll beare them. Concerning whiche historie after so manye wryters we thought also to bestowe a lytle laboure, although in this matter we can not be so longe as I would, and as the matter requyreth.

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¶ Kyng Iohn.
MarginaliaKing Iohn

AAter the death of kyng Rychard called Cor de Lyon, reigned his brother Iohn Erle of Moreton. And afterwarde the Archbishop put the crowne on his head, and sware him to defende the churche, and to main-

teyne