Navigate the 1563 Edition
PrefaceBook 1Book 2Book 3Book 4Book 5
Critical Apparatus for this Page
Commentary on the Text
Names and Places on this Page
Unavailable for this Edition
936 [936]

Actes and Monumentes of the churche
The tragicall History of the moste noble and famous Lorde, Edwarde Duke of Somerset, Protector of kyng Edward, and of hys Realme.



The Duke of Somerset

NOwe to reduce oure story agayn into Englande, (as it were returning into an order) we wyll prosecute suche thinges as here happened at home in oure owne countrey. This yeare was not so terryble abroade, as also troubleous and pernicious at home, 
Commentary  *  Close
:Edward Seymour

Foxe's first narrative of Somerset's downfall was in Rerum, pp.210-14. This contained the account of the end of Thomas Seymour and the enigmatic record of Somerset's downfall along with the detailed account of his execution, which were all reprinted in 1563. The Rerum account also contained praise of Somerset's virtues which were elaborated on in subsequent editions. But it concluded with passages that would never be reprinted: a scathing assessment of the duke of Northumberland's career and downfall. Foxe not only blamed Northumberland for Somerset's execution, but he also intimated that Northumberland had poisoned Edward VI . These passages were undoubtedly deleted because of the swift rise in power and favour of Northumberland's sons Ambrose and Robert Dudley in the early years of Elizabeth's reign.

[Back to Top]

Little was added to the 1563 narrative except for an extended comparison of the duke of Somerset with Humphrey duke of Gloucester, the uncle of Henry VI. Both men were regents for under-age monarchs and both were named Lord Protector. Both men were, at least in Foxe's view, upright men undone by the scheming machinations of their clerical opponents. In the 1570 edition, Foxe added a number of documents. Some of these came from a letter book of John Russell, the first earl of Bedford. A proclamation may have been obtained from the printer Richard Grafton. Other sources are harder to identify. Someone supplied Foxe with copies of two letters to the Lord Mayor and Common Council of London, one from Edward VI, the other from members of the Privy Council. This source also supplied Foxe with an account of deliberations in the Common Council in October 1549. And Foxe also obtained one of the many copies of the articles charged against Somerset in 1549.Foxe's account of Somerset helped lay the foundation for the longstanding historiographical tradition of Somerset as the 'good Duke', a man devoted to the reformation of Church and State. So great was Foxe's admiration of Somerset that he had to add a disclaimer to the 1570 edition, denying that he had intended to compare Somerset with Christ. But if Foxe had a hero, most unusually, this account did not have a villain. Even Foxe could not blame Stephen Gardiner for an execution performed by Edward VI's government. Foxe was not about to blame the godly Edward VI for Somerset's death. And, as noted above, Foxe was prevented by the power of the Dudley brothers from blaming their father, the duke of Northumberland, for Somerset's death. As a result, Foxe's contain focuses on Somerset's good death on the scaffold, but says little about how he came to be there.

[Back to Top]

Thomas S. Freeman

whiche brought the ende of the good. L. Protectour, king Edwardes Vncle, and afterwarde the kyng himselfe not liuing, there followed vpon the same great persecution and trouble by heapes in the realme of Englande: but before we will enter into the narration of this persecution, considering this story, we wyll declare in order the originall, and whole occasion of this trouble, euen from the begynning.

[Back to Top]

King Edwarde, after bothe his father and mother were dead, had thre Vncles lefte hym by his mothers syde, Edwarde, Thomas, and Henry Semer, of the whiche two first, one was made Protectour of the Realme, and the other high Admirall of the same. These two brethrē, so longe as they were knit and ioyned together in amity and concorde, preserued bothe themselues, the king theyr Nephew, and the whole common wealth, from the violence and feare of al daunger. But thold subtil serpent 

Commentary  *  Close

I.e., Satan. See Genesis 3.

alwaies enuying mannes felicity, through slaunderous tongues, sought to sow matter, fyrst of discord betwene them, then of suspition, and last of all, extreme hatred: Insomuche, that the Protector suffred his brother being falslye accused wtoute any manifest offense, and (as it was afterward proued) giltles, to be beheaded, wherby came to passe, that he, being not of so subtile and crafty wit, and the king, beyng yet but yong and tender of age, were the more weaker, and the sooner ouercome of his enemies, who (by what means and for what crimes laid to his charge, god knoweth) caused him to be cast in þe Tower, to the great grief and sorrow of al good christian men. Not withstanding through the lords mercifull prouidence, was again deliuered out of the Tower. After which deliueraunce, he cōtinued the space of two yeares and two dayes at libertie. 
Commentary  *  Close

Once again, Foxe's chronology is inaccurate. Somerset was released from the Tower on 6 February 1550; he was rearrested on 16 October 1551.

After that was throwne into the Tower agayn, and within a short whyle after was condemned, and put to death: after whose death within a few moneths space, dyed Kyng Edward. Vpon occasion wherof ensued great sorrowes and troubles in the realme, and especially in the churche of Englande. But as touching those troubles whiche followed, we wyl speake more herafter by the grace of god. Now we will declare the lamentable deathe of thysforesaide noble Duke of Somerset, & his whole fatall tragedy, forsomuche as it seemeth not to want a singular working of God, and not vnworthye to be noted. According as I haue receiued it by the description of a certayn noble mā, whiche was not onely present at the dede dooing, but also in a maner nexte vnto him vppon the Scaffolde, beholding the order of al things with his eyes, and with his pen also reportyng the same in order and maner as here followeth. 
Commentary  *  Close

This account was in Foxe's hands during his exile. The most likely candidate for an aristocrat likely to have been present at Somerset's death and to have sent an account of it to Foxe or his friends is Francis Russell, the second earl of Bedford.

[Back to Top]

In the yeare of our Lorde, 1552. the. 22. daye of Ianuary, in the sixt yere of the reign of king Edward the sixte, he being yet vnder age, and gouerned with Tutours, the noble Duke of Somerset, vncle to king Edward, was broght out of the Tower of London, and according to the maner, deliuered to the Sheriffes of the citie: and being compassed in round about with a great number of armed men, both of þe garde & others, he was in this maner brought vnto þe Scaffold, where as he shoulde suffer, where as this meke manne, nothing chaunging neyther voyce nor countenaunce, but in a maner with þe same gesture which he partly vsed at home, kneling down vpō both his knees, & lifting vp hys hands, erected himself vnto God. After that he had ended a few short prayers, standing vp again, turning himself toward the East syde of the Scaffold, nothing at al abashed, (as it seamed vnto me, stāding ouer against the middest of the Scaffold & diligētly marking al things) nether wt the sight of þe axe, neither yet of þe hāgman, or of presēt death, but wt the like alacrity, & cherefulnesse of minde & countenance, as before times he had accustomed to here þe causes & supplications of the poore, towards whome, as it wer with a certain fatherly loue toward his children, he alwaies shewed himselfe moste attentiue, he vttered these wordes to the people.

[Back to Top]

Derely beloued maisters and frendes, I am brought hither to suffer, albeit that I neuer offended against the kyng, neither by worde nor dede, & haue bene alwaies as faithfull and true vnto this Realme, as any man hath bene. But for somuch as I am by a law condemned to die, I doe acknowledge my selfe as well as others to be subiect thereunto. Wherefore to expresse and testify my obedience whiche I owe vnto þe lawes, I am come hither to suffer death. Whervnto I willingly offer my selfe, geuyng moste hearty thankes vnto the diuine goodnes, as yf I hadde receiued a moste ample and greate reward. But thus it is thought good in the sight of the most mercifull father, now to graunt me this tyme and space of repentaunce, and to acknowledge my selfe, who mighte through soddayne death haue stopped my breathe, that I should neyther acknowledge hym, nor my self: in whiche behalfe, I worthely with my whole hart, render thankes vnto hym.

[Back to Top]
Go To Modern Page No:  
Click on this link to switch between the Modern pagination for this edition and Foxe's original pagination when searching for a page number. Note that the pagination displayed in the transcription is the modern pagination with Foxe's original pagination in square brackets.
Type a keyword and then restrict it to a particular edition using the dropdown menu. You can search for single words or phrases. When searching for single words, the search engine automatically imposes a wildcard at the end of the keyword in order to retrieve both whole and part words. For example, a search for "queen" will retrieve "queen", "queene" and "queenes" etc.
Humanities Research Institute  *  HRI Online  *  Feedback
Version 2.0 © 2011 The University of Sheffield