Foxe's Book of Martyrs
God's Providence in Preserving the Lady Elizabeth -- Unprosperousness of Queen Mary's Reign -- Divine Judgments on Persecutors -- Conclusion.
When all hath been said and told touching the admirable working of God's present hand in defending and delivering any one person out of thraldom, never was there since the memory of our father any example wherein the Lord's mighty power hath more admirably and blessedly showed itself than in the miraculous custody and outscape of the lady Elizabeth, in the strait time of queen Mary her sister. The princess Elizabeth was born at Greenwich anno 1533, being the daughter of Henry the eighth and his queen Anne Boleyn. She was baptized in the Grey Friars' church at Greenwich, having to her godfather Thomas Cranmer, archbishop of Canterbury. After that, she was committed to godly tutors and governors, under whom she increased in all manner of virtue and knowledge of learning. One of her schoolmasters reported of her to a friend, that he learned every day more of her than she of him: "I teach her words," quoth he, "and she me things. I think she is best inclined and disposed of any in all Europe." Likewise an Italian, which taught her his tongue, said once, that he found in her two qualities, which are never, lightly, yokefellows in one woman; which were, a singular wit, and a marvellous meek stomach.
When Mary was first queen, before she was crowned, she would go no whither but would have the lady Elizabeth by the hand, and send for her to dinner and supper; but, after she was crowned, she never dined nor supped with her, but kept her aloof from her. After this it happened upon the rising of sir Thomas Wyat, that the lady Elizabeth, at that time lying in queen Mary's house at Ashridge, and the lord Courteney were charged with false suspicion. Whereupon the queen, whether for that surmise, or for what other cause I know not, the next day after sent to her three of her councillors; and howbeit she was then very sick, they willed her to prepare against the next morning, at nine of the clock, to go with them to London. On the next morrow, at the time prescribed, they had her forth as she was, very faint and feeble, and in such case that she was ready to swoon three or four times between them. Proceeding in her journey from Ashridge, all sick in the litter, she came to Redbourn, where she was guarded all night. From thence to St. Alban's, to Ralph Rowlet's house, where she tarried that night, both feeble in body and comfortless in mind. From that place they passed to master Dodde's house at Mimms, where also they remained that night: and so from thence she came to Highgate, where she, being very sick, tarried that night and the next day; during which time there came many pursuivants and messengers from the court, but for what purpose I cannot tell. From that place she was conveyed to the court, where by the way came to meet her many gentlemen, accompanying her highness, which were very sorry to see her in that case. But especially a great multitude of people by the way, flocking about her litter, lamented and bewailed greatly.
Now when she came to the court, her grace was straightways shut up, and kept as close prisoner a fortnight, seeing neither king nor queen, nor lord nor friend, all that time; but only the lord chamberlain, sir John Gage, and the vide-chamberlain, which were attendant unto the doors. The Friday before Palm Sunday, the bishop of Winchester, with nineteen other of the council, came unto her from the queen, and burdened her with Wyat's conspiracy, which she utterly denied, affirming that she was altogether guiltless therein. They, being not contented with this, charged her with business made by sir Peter Carew, and the rest of the gentlemen of the west country: which also she utterly denying, cleared her innocency therein.
In conclusion, after long debating of matters, they declared unto her that it was the queen's will and pleasure that she should go unto the Tower, while the matter was further tried and examined. Whereat she, being aghast, said that she trusted the queen's majesty would be a more gracious lady unto her, and that her highness would not otherwise conceive of her but that she was a true woman: declaring furthermore to the lords, that she was innocent in all those matters wherein they had burdened her, and desired them therefore to be a further mean to the queen her sister, that she might not be committed to so notorious and doleful a place; protesting that she would request no favour at her hand if she should be proved to have consented unto any such kind of matter as they laid unto her charge. Whereunto the lords answered again, that there was no remedy, for that the queen's majesty was fully determined that she should go unto the Tower: wherewith the lords departed with their caps hanging over their eyes.
Within the space of an hour or little more, came the lord treasurer, the bishop of Winchester, the lord steward, and the earl of Sussex, with the guard; who, warding the next chamber to her, secluded all her gentlemen and yeomen, ladies and gentlewoman; saving that for one gentleman-usher, three gentlewomen, and two grooms of her chamber, were appointed, in their rooms three other men of the queen's, and three waiting-women to give attendance upon her, that none should have access unto her grace. Upon Saturday following, the earl of Sussex and one other lord of the council came and certified that forthwith she must go unto the Tower, the barge being prepared for her, and the tide now ready, which tarrieth for nobody. In heavy mood her grace requested the lords that she might tarry another tide, trusting that the next would be better and more comfortable; but one of them replied, that neither time nor tide was to be delayed. And when she requested that she might be suffered to write to the queen's majesty, he answered that he durst not permit that; adding, that in his judgment it would rather hurt than profit her grace in so doing. But the other lord, more courteous and favourable, (who was the earl of Sussex,) kneeling down, told her grace that she should have liberty to write, and, as he was a true man, he would deliver it to the queen's highness, and bring an answer of the same, whatsoever came thereof. Whereupon she wrote: albeit she could in no case be suffered to speak with the queen, to her great discomfort. And thus the time and tide passing away that season, they privily appointed all things ready that she should go the next tide, which fell about midnight; but for fear she should be taken by the way, they durst not. So they stayed till the next day, being Palm Sunday, when about nine of the clock these two returned again, declaring it was time for her grace to depart. She answered, "If there be no remedy, I must be contented;" willing the lords to go on before. Being come forth into the garden, she cast her eyes towards the window, thinking to have seen the queen, which she could not. In the mean time, commandment was given in all London, that every one should keep the church, and carry their palms; while in the mean season she might be conveyed, without all recourse of people, into the Tower.
After this she took her barge, with the two foresaid lords, three of the queen's gentlewomen, and three of her own, her gentleman-usher, and two of her grooms. At landing she first stayed, and denied to land at those stairs where all traitors and offenders customably used to land, neither well could she, unless she should go over her shoes. The lords were gone out of the boat before, and asked why she came not. One of the lords went back again to her, and brought word she would not come. Then said one of the lords, which shall be nameless, that she should not choose: and because it did then rain, he offered to her his cloak, which she, putting it back with her hand with a good dash, refused. So she coming out, having one foot upon the stair, said, "Here landeth as true a subject, being prisoner, as ever landed at these stairs; and before thee, O God! I speak it, having no other friends but thee alone." To whom the same lord answered again, that if it were so, it was the better for her.
At her landing there was a great multitude of their servants and warders standing in their order. "What needed all this?" said she. "It is the use," said some, "so to be, when any prisoner comes thither." "And if it be," quoth she, "for my cause, I beseech you that they may be dismissed." Whereat the poor men kneeled down, and with one voice desired God to preserve her grace; who the next day were released of their cold coats. After this, passing a little further, she sat down upon a cold stone, and there rested herself. To whom the lieutenant then being said, "Madam, you were best to come out of the rain; for you sit unwholesomely." She then replying, answered again, "It is better sitting here than in a worse place; for God knoweth, I know not whither you will bring me." With that her gentleman-usher wept: she demanding of him what he meant so uncomfortably to use her, seeing she took him to be her comforter, and not to dismay her; especially for that she knew her truth to be such, that no man should have cause to weep for her. But forth she went into the prison. The doors were locked and bolted upon her, which did not a little discomfort and dismay her grace: at what time she called to her gentlewoman for her book, desiring God not to suffer her to build her foundation upon the sands, but upon the rock, whereby all blasts of blustering weather should have no power against her. The doors being thus locked, and she close shut up, the lords had great conference how to keep ward and watch, every man declaring his own opinion in that behalf, agreeing straitly and circumspectly to keep her.
Then one of them, which was the lord of Sussex, swearing said, "My lords, let us take heed, and do no more than our commission will bear us out in, whatsoever shall happen hereafter. And further, let us consider that she was the king our master's daughter: and therefore let us use such dealing, that we may answer it hereafter, if it shall so happen: for just dealing," quoth he, "is always answerable." Whereunto the other lords agreed that it was well said of him, and thereupon departed. Being in the Tower, within two days commandment was, that she should have mass within her house. One master Young was then her chaplain, and because there were none of her men so well learned to help the priest to say mass, the mass stayed for that day.
Within five days after, the bishop of Winchester, Stephen Gardiner with divers others of the council came unto her, and examined her of the talk that was at Ashridge, betwixt her and sir James Croft, concerning her removing from thence to Donnington-castle, requiring her to declare what she meant thereby. At the first she, being so suddenly asked, did not well remember any such house; but within awhile, well advising herself, she said, "Indeed, I do now remember that I have such a place, but I never lay in it in all my life. And as for any that hath moved me thereunto, I do not remember."
Then to force the matter, they brought forth sir James Croft. The bishop of Winchester demanded of her, what she said to that man. She answered, that she had little to say to him, or to the rest that were then prisoners in the Tower. "But my lords," quoth she, "you do examine every mean prisoner of me, wherein, methinks, you do me great injury. If they have done evil, and offended the queen's majesty, let them answer to it accordingly. I beseech you, my lords, join not me, in this sort, with any of these offenders. And as concerning my going unto Donnington-castle, I do remember that master Hobby and mine officers, and you sir James Croft, had such talk; but what is that to the purpose, my lords but that I may go to mine own houses at all times?" The lord of Arundel kneeling down, said, "Your grace saith true, and certainly we are very sorry that we have so troubled you about so vain matters." She then said, "My lords, you do sift me very narrowly: but well I am assured, you shall not do more to me than God hath appointed; and so God forgive you all." At their departure sir James Croft kneeled down, declaring that he was sorry to see the day in which he should be brought as a witness against her grace. "But I assure your grace," said he, "I have been marvellously tossed and examined touching your highness, which (the Lord knoweth) is very strange to me: for, I take God to record before all your honours, I do not know anything of that crime that you have laid to my charge, and will thereupon take my death, if I should be driven to so strict a trial."
After this sort, having lien a whole month there in close prison, and being very evil at ease therewithal, she sent for the lord chamberlain, and the lord Chandos, to come and speak with her; who coming, she requested them that she might have liberty to walk in some place, for that she felt herself not well. To the which they answered, that they were right sorry that they could not satisfy her grace's request: for that they had commandment to the contrary, which they durst not in any wise break. Furthermore, she desired of them, if that could not be granted, that she might walk but into the queen's lodging. No, nor yet that (they answered) could by any means be obtained without a further suit to the queen and her council. "Well," said she, "my lords, if the matter be so hard, that they must be sued unto for so small a thing, and that friendship be so strict, God comfort me." And so they departed, she remaining in her old dungeon still, without any kind of comfort but only God.
The next day after the lord Chandos came again unto her grace, declaring unto her, that he had sued unto the council for further liberty. Some of them consented thereunto, divers others dissented, for that there were so many prisoners in the Tower. But, in conclusion, they did all agree that her grace might walk into those lodgings, so that he and the lord chamberlain, and three of the queen's gentlewomen did accompany her, the windows being shut, and she not suffered to look out at any of them: wherewith she contented herself, and gave him thanks for his good will in that behalf. Afterwards there was liberty granted to her grace to walk in a little garden, the doors and gates being shut up, which notwithstanding was as much discomfort unto her, as the walk in the garden was pleasant and acceptable. At which times of her walking there, the prisoners on that side straitly were commanded not to speak or look out at the windows into the garden, till her grace were gone out again, having, in consideration thereof, their keepers waiting upon them for that time. Thus her grace, with this small liberty, contented herself in God, to whom be praise there-for.
The 5th day of May, the constable of the Tower was discharged of his office of the Tower, and one sir Henry Benifield placed in his room, a man unknown to her grace, and therefore the more feared; which so sudden mutation was unto her no little amaze. He brought with him a hundred soldiers, in blue coats, wherewith she was marvellously discomforted, and demanded of such as were about her, whether the lady Jane's scaffold were taken away or no; fearing, by reason of their coming, lest she should have played her part. To whom answer was made, that the scaffold was taken away, and that her grace needed not to doubt of any such tyranny; for God would not suffer any such treason against her person. Wherewith being contented, but not altogether satisfied, she asked who sir Henry Benifield was; and whether he was of that conscience, or no, that if her murdering were secretly committed to his charge he would see the execution thereof. She was answered, that they were ignorant what manner of man he was. Howbeit they persuaded her that God would not suffer such wickedness to proceed. "Well," quoth she, "God grant it be so. For thou, O God, canst mollify all such tyrannous hearts, and disappoint all such cruel purposes; and I beseech thee to hear me, thy creature, which am thy servant and at thy commandment, trusting by thy grace ever so to remain."
In conclusion, on Trinity Sunday, being the 19th day of May, she was removed from the Tower, the lord treasurer being then there, for the lading of her carts, and discharging the place of the same; where sir Henry Benifield (being appointed her jailer) did receive her, with a company of rake-hells to guard her, besides the lord of Derby's band waiting in the country about, for the moonshine in the water. Unto whom at length came my lord of Tame, joined in commission with the said sir Henry, for the safe guiding of her to prison; and they together conveyed her grace to Woodstock, as hereafter followeth. The first day they conducted her to Richmond, where she continued all night, being restrained of her own men, which were lodged in out-chambers, and sir Henry Benifield's soldiers appointed in their rooms to give attendance on her person. Whereat she being marvellously dismayed, thinking verily some secret mischief to be a-working towards her, called her gentleman-usher, and desired him with the rest of his company to pray for her: "For this night," quoth she, "I think to die." Wherewith he being stricken to the heart, said, "God forbid that any such wickedness should be pretended against your grace." So, comforting her as well as he could, at last he burst out into tears, and went from her down into the court, where were walking the lord of Tame, and sir Henry Benifield.
Then he, coming to the lord of Tame, (who had proffered to him much friendship,) desired to speak with him a word or two; unto whom he familiarly said, he would with all his heart. Which when sir Henry, standing by, heard, he asked what the matter was. To whom the gentleman-usher answered, "No great matter, sir," said he, "but to speak with my lord a word or two." Then when the lord of Tame came to him, he spake on this wise: "My lord," quoth he, "you have been always my good lord, and so I beseech you to remain. The cause why I come to you at this time is, to desire your honour unfeignedly to declare unto me, whether any danger is meant towards my mistress this night, or no; that I and my poor fellows may take such part as shall please God to appoint: for certainly we will rather die, than she should secretly and innocently miscarry." "Marry," said the lord of Tame, "God forbid that any such wicked purpose should be wrought; and rather than it should be so, I with my men are ready to die at her foot also." And so (praised be God) they passed that doleful night, with no little heaviness of heart.
Afterwards, passing over the water at Richmond, going towards Windsor, her grace espied certain of her poor servants standing on the other side, which were very desirous to see her. Whom when she beheld, turning to one of her men standing by, she said, "Yonder I see certain of my men: go to them and say these words from me, 'Tanquam ovis;'" that is, Like a sheep to the slaughter. So she passing forward to Windsor, was lodged there that night in the dean of Windsor's house, a place more meet indeed for a priest than a princess. And from thence her grace was guarded and brought the next night to master Dormer's house, where, much people standing by the way, some presented to her one gift, and some another, so that sir Henry was greatly moved therewith, and troubled the poor people very sore, for showing their loving hearts in such a manner, calling them rebels and traitors, with such vile words. Besides, as she passed through the villages, the townsmen rang the bells, as being joyful of her coming, thinking verily it had been otherwise than it was indeed, as the sequel proved after to the said poor men. For immediately the said sir Henry, hearing the same, sent his soldiers thither, who apprehended some of the ringers, setting them in the stocks, and otherwise uncourteously misusing other some, for their good wills.
On the morrow, her grace, passing from master Dormer's, (where was, for the time of abode there, a strait watch kept,) came to the lord of Tame's house, where she lay all the night, being very princely entertained both of knights and ladies, gentlemen and gentlewomen. The next day she took her journey from Ricot to Woodstock, where she was enclosed, as before in the Tower of London, the soldiers guarding and warding both within and without the walls, every day to the number of sixty, and in the night, without the walls, forty, during the time of her imprisonment there. At length she had gardens appointed for her walk, which was very comfortable to her grace. But always, when she did recreate herself therein, the doors were fast locked up, in as strict manner as they were in the Tower, being at the least five or six locks between her lodging and her walks; sir Henry himself keeping the keys, and trusting no man therewith. Whereupon she called him her jailer; and he, kneeling down, desired her grace not to call him so, for he was appointed there to be one of her officers. "From such officers," quoth she, "good Lord deliver me!" Hearing upon a time out of her garden at Woodstock a certain milkmaid singing pleasantly, she said lady Elizabeth wished herself to be a milkmaid as she was; saying, that her case was better, and life more merry than was hers, in that state as she was.
After her grace had been there a time, she made suit to the council that she might be suffered to write to the queen; which at last was permitted. So sir Henry Benifield brought her pen, ink, and paper; and standing by her while she wrote, (which he straitly observed,) always, she being weary, he would carry away her letters, and bring them again when she called for them. In the finishing thereof, he would have been messenger to the queen of the same; whose request her grace denied, saying, one of her own men should carry them; and that she would neither trust him not any of his therein. Then he answered again, saying, "None of them durst be so bold," he trowed, "to carry her letters, being in that case." "Yes," quoth she, "I am assured I have none so dishonest that would deny my request in that behalf, but will be willing to serve me now as before." "Well," said he, "my commission is to the contrary, and I may not so suffer it." Her grace, replying again, said, "You charge me very often with your commission; I pray God, you may justly answer the cruel dealing you use towards me." Then he, kneeling down, desired her grace to think and consider how he was a servant, and put in trust there by the queen to serve her majesty; protesting that if the case was hers, he would as willingly serve her grace, as now he did the queen's highness. For the which his answer her grace thanked him, desiring God that she might never have need of such servants as he was; declaring further to him, that his doings towards her were not good nor answerable; but more than all the friends he had would stand by. To whom sir Henry replied and said, that there was no remedy but his doings must be answered, and so they should, trusting to make good account thereof. The cause which moved her grace so to say, was for that he would not permit her letters to be carried four or five days after the writing thereof. But, in fine, he was content to send for her gentleman from the town of Woodstock, demanding of him whether he durst enterprise the carriage of her grace's letters to the queen, or no: and he answered, "Yea, sir, that I dare; and will with all my heart:" whereupon sir Henry, half against his stomach, took them unto him.
Then about the 8th of June came down Dr. Owen and Dr. Wendy, sent by the queen to her grace, for that she was sickly; who, ministering to her, and letting her blood, tarried there and attended on her grace five or six days. Then she being well amended, they returned again to the court, making their good report to the queen and the council of her grace's behaviour and humbleness towards the queen's highness; which her majesty hearing, took very thankfully: but the bishops thereat repined, looked black in the mouth, and told the queen, they marvelled that she submitted not herself to her majesty's mercy, considering that she had offended her highness.
About this time, her grace was requested by a secret friend, to submit herself to the queen's majesty, which would be very well taken, and to her great quiet and commodity. Unto whom she answered, that she would never submit herself to them, whom she never offended. "For," quoth she, "if I have offended and am guilty, I then crave no mercy, but the law; which I am certain," quoth she, "I should have had ere this, if it could be proved by me. For I know myself (I thank God) to be out of the danger thereof, wishing that I were as clear out the peril of my enemies; and that I am assured I should not be so locked and bolted up within walls and doors as I am. God give them a better mind when it pleaseth him."
About this time there was a great consulting among the bishops and gentlemen, touching a marriage for her grace, which some of the Spaniards wished to be with some stranger, that she might go out of the realm with her portion; some saying one thing, and some another. A lord, who shall be here nameless, being there, at last said, that the king should never have any quiet commonwealth in England, unless her head were stricken from the shoulders. Whereunto the Spaniards answered, saying, God forbid that their king and master should have that mind, to consent to such a mischief.
This was the courteous answer of the Spaniards to the Englishmen, speaking after that sort against their own country. From that day the Spaniards never left off their good persuasions to the king, that the like honour he should never obtain, as he should in delivering the lady Elizabeth's grace out of prison; whereby at length she was happily released from the same. Here is a plain and evident example of the good clemency and nature of the king and his councillors toward her grace (praised be God there-for!) who moved their hearts therein. Then hereupon she was sent for, shortly after, to come to Hampton Court.
While the said lady Elizabeth was a prisoner in the Tower, a writ came down, subscribed with certain hands of the council, for her execution; which, if it were certain, as it is reported, Winchester (no doubt) was deviser of that mischievous drift. And, doubtless, the same Ahithophel had brought his impious purpose that day to pass, had not the fatherly providence of Almighty God (who is always stronger than the devil) stirred up master Bridges, lieutenant the same time of the Tower, to come in haste to the queen, to give certificate thereof, and to know further her consent touching her sister's death. Whereupon it followed, that all that device was disappointed, and Winchester's devilish platform, which he said he had cast, through the Lord's great goodness came to no effect.
Now, after these things thus declared, to proceed further there where we left before, sir Henry Benifield and his soldiers, with the lord of Tame, and sir Ralph Chamberline, guarding and waiting upon her, the first night from Woodstock she came to Ricot; in which journey such a mighty wind did blow, that her servants were fain to hold down her clothes about her: insomuch that her hood was twice or thrice blown from her head. Whereupon she, desiring to return to a certain gentleman's house there near, could not be suffered by sir Henry Benifield so to do, but was constrained, under a hedge, to trim her head as well as she could. After this, the next night they journeyed to master Dormer's, and so to Coinbrooke, where she lay all that night at the George; and by the way, coming to Coinbrooke, certain of her grace's gentlemen and yeomen met her, to the number of three-score, much to all their comforts, which had not seen her grace of long season before: notwithstanding they were commanded, in the queen's name, immediately to depart the town, to both their and her grace's no little heaviness, who could not be suffered once to speak with them. So that night all her men were taken from her, saving her gentleman-usher, three gentlewomen, two grooms, and one of her wardrobe, the soldiers watching and warding about the house, and she close shut up within her prison.
The next day following, her grace entered Hampton Court on the back side, into the prince's lodging, the doors being shut to her; and she, guarded with soldiers as before, lay there a fortnight at the least, ere any had recourse unto her. At length came the lord William Haward, who marvellous honourably used her grace. Whereat she took much comfort, and requested him to be a mean that she might speak with some of the council; to whom, not long after, came the bishop of Winchester, the lord of Arundel, the lord of Shrewsbury, and secretary Peter, who, with great humility, humbled themselves to her grace. She again, likewise, saluting them, said, "My lords, I am glad to see you: for methinks I have been kept a great while from you desolately, alone. Wherefore I would desire you to be a mean to the king and queen's majesties, that I may be delivered from prison, wherein I have been kept a long space, as to you, my lords, it is not unknown."
When she had spoken, Stephen Gardiner, the bishop of Winchester, kneeled down, and requested that she would submit herself to the queen's grace; and in so doing he had no doubt but that her majesty would be good to her. She made answer, that rather than she would so do, she would lie in prison all the days of her life; adding, that she craved no mercy at her majesty's hand, but rather desired the law, if ever she did offend her majesty in thought, word, or deed. "And besides this, in yielding," quoth she, "I should speak against myself, and confess myself to be an offender, which I never was, towards her majesty, by occasion whereof the king and the queen might ever hereafter conceive of me an evil opinion. And therefore I say, my lords, it were better for me to lie in prison for the truth, than to be abroad and suspected of my prince." And so they departed, promising to declare her message to the queen.
On the next day the bishop of Winchester came again unto her grace, and kneeling down declared, that the queen marvelled that she would so stoutly use herself, not confessing that she had offended: so that it should seem that the queen's majesty had wrongfully imprisoned her grace. "Nay," quoth the lady Elizabeth, "it may please her to punish me as she thinketh good." "Well," quoth Gardiner, "her majesty willeth me to tell you, that you must tell another tale ere that you be set at liberty." Her grace answered, that she had as lieve be in prison with honesty and truth, as to be abroad suspected of her majesty: "and this that I have said, I will," said she, "stand unto; for I will never belie myself." Winchester again kneeled down, and said, "Then your grace hath the vantage of me, and other the lords, for your wrong and long imprisonment." "What vantage I have," quoth she, "you know: taking God to record, I seek no vantage at your hands for your so dealing with me; but God forgive you and me also!" With that the rest kneeled, desiring her grace that all might be forgotten, and so departed, she being fast locked up again.
A sevennight after, the queen sent for her grace, at ten of the clock in the night, to speak with her: for she had not seen her in two years before. Yet, for all that, she, amazed at the sudden sending for, thinking it had been worse than afterwards it proved, desired her gentlemen and gentlewomen to pray for her; for that she could not tell whether ever she should see them again or no. At which time sir Henry Benifield with mistress Clarencius coming in, her grace was brought into the garden, unto a stair's foot that went into the queen's lodging, her grace's gentlewomen waiting upon her, her gentleman-usher and her grooms going before with torches: where her gentlemen and gentlewomen being commanded to stay all, saving one woman, mistress Clarencius conducted her to the queen's bed-chamber, where her majesty was. At the sight of whom her grace kneeled down, and desired God to preserve her majesty, not mistrusting but that she should try herself as true a subject towards her majesty, as ever did any; and desired her majesty even so to judge of her: and said, that she should not find her to the contrary, whatsoever report otherwise had gone of her. To whom the queen answered, "You will not confess your offence, but stand stoutly to your truth: I pray God it may so fall out." "If it doth not," quoth the lady Elizabeth, "I request neither favour nor pardon at your majesty's hands." "Well," said the queen, "you stiffly still persevere in your truth. Belike you will not confess but that you have been wrongfully punished." "I must not say so, if it please your majesty, to you." "Why then," said the queen, "belike you will to others." "No, if it please your majesty," quoth she, "I have borne the burden, and must bear it. I humbly beseech your majesty to have a good opinion of me, and to think me to be your true subject, not only from the beginning hitherto, but for ever, as long as life lasteth." And so they departed with very few comfortable words of the queen in English: but what she said in Spanish, God knoweth. It is thought that king Philip was there behind a cloth, and that he showed himself a very friend in that matter.
Thus her grace departing, went to her lodging again, and that day sevennight was released of sir Henry Benifield, (her jailer as she termed him,) and his soldiers. And so her grace being set at liberty from imprisonment, went into the country, and had appointed to go with her sir Thomas Pope, one of queen Mary's councillors, and one of her gentlemen-ushers, master Gage; and thus straitly was she looked to, all queen Mary's time. And this is the discourse of her highness's imprisonment.
After so great afflictions falling upon this realm from the first beginning of queen Mary's reign, we are come at length (the Lord be praised!) to the 17th day of November, which day as it brought to the persecuted members of Christ rest from their mourning, so it easeth me somewhat likewise of my labourious writing, by the death, I mean, of queen Mary; who, being long sick before, upon the said 17th day of November, 1558, about three or four o'clock in the morning yielded life to nature, and her kingdom to queen Elizabeth her sister. As touching the manner of her death, some say that she died of a tympany, some (by her much sighing before her death) supposed she died of thought and sorrow. Whereupon her council, seeing her sighing, and desirous to know the cause that they might minister the more ready consolation, feared, as they said, that she took that thought for the king's majesty her husband, which was gone from her. To whom she said, "Indeed that may be one cause, but that is not the greatest wound that pierceth my oppressed mind:" but what that was she would not express to them. Albeit, afterward, she opened the matter more plainly to master Rise and mistress Clarencius (if it be true that they told me, which heard it of master Rise himself;) who being familiar with her and most bold about her, said also that they feared she took thought for king Philip's departing from her. "Not that only," said she; "but when I am dead and opened, you shall find Calais lying in my heart."
Now forasmuch as queen Mary, during all the time of her reign, was such a vehement adversary and persecutor against the sincere professors of Christ Jesus and his gospel: for the which there be many which do highly magnify and approve her doings therein, reputing her religion to be sound and catholic, and her proceedings to be most acceptable and blessed to Almighty God: to the intent therefore that all men may understand how the blessing of God did not only not proceed with her proceedings, but contrariwise how his manifest displeasure ever wrought against her, in plaguing both her and her realm, and in subverting all her counsels and attempts, whatsoever she took in hand, we will bestow a little time therein.
Gamaliel, speaking his mind in the council of the Pharisees, concerning Christ's religion, gave this reason: that if it were of God it should continue, whosoever said nay; if it were not, it could not stand. So may it be said of queen Mary and her Romish religion; that if it were so perfect and catholic as they pretend, and the contrary faith of the gospellers so detestable and heretical as they make it, how cometh it then, that this so catholic a queen, such a necessary pillar of his spouse the church, continued no longer, till she had utterly rooted out of the land this heretical generation? yea, how chanced it rather, that Almighty God, to spare these poor heretics, rooted out queen Mary so soon from her throne, after she had reigned but only five years and five months?
Now furthermore, how God blessed her ways and endeavours in the mean time, until she thus persecuted the true servants of God, remaineth to be discussed; where this is first to be noted, that when she first began to stand for the title of the crown, and yet had wrought no resistance against Christ and his gospel, but had promised her faith to the Suffolk-men, to maintain the religion left by king Edward her brother, so long God went with her, advanced her, and, by the means of the gospellers, brought her to the possession of the realm. But after that she, breaking her promise with God and man, began to take part with Stephen Gardiner, and had given over her supremacy unto the pope, by-and-by God's blessing left her, neither did anything well thrive with her afterward, during the whole time of her regiment.
For first, incontinently, the fairest and greatest ship she had, called Great Harry, was burnt; such a vessel as in all these parts of Europe was not to be matched. Then would she needs bring in king Philip, and by her strange marriage with him, to make the whole realm of England subject unto a stranger. And all that notwithstanding, (that she either did, or was able to do,) she could not bring to pass to set the crown of England upon his head. With king Philip also came in the pope and his popish mass; with whom also her purpose was to restore again the monks and nuns unto their places; neither lacked there all kind of attempts to the uttermost of her ability; and yet therein also God stopped her of her will, that it came not forward. After this, what a dearth happened in her time here in her land! the like whereof hath not lightly in England been seen, insomuch that in sundry places her poor subjects were fain to feed off acorns, for want of corn. Furthermore, where other kings are wont to be renowned by some worthy victory and prowess by them achieved, let us now see what valiant victory was gotten in this queen Mary's days. Kind Edward the sixth, her blessed brother, how many rebellions did he suppress in Devonshire, in Norfolk, in Oxfordshire, and elsewhere! What a famous victory in his time was gotten in Scotland, by the singular working (no doubt) of God's blessed hand, rather than by any expectation of man! King Edward the third, (which was the eleventh king from the conquest,) by princely puissance purchased Calais unto England, which had been kept English ever since, till at length came queen Mary, the eleventh likewise from the said king Edward, which lost Calais from England again; so that the winnings of this queen were very small--what the losses were let other men judge.
Hitherto the affairs of queen Mary have had no great success, as you have heard. But never worse success had any woman, than had she in her child-birth. For seeing one of these two must needs be granted, that either she was with child or not with child: if she were with child and did travail, why was it not seen? if she were not, how was all the realm deluded! And in the meanwhile, where were all the prayers, the solemn processions, the devout masses of the catholic clergy? why did they not prevail with God, if their religion were so godly as they pretend? If their masses, "ex opere operato," be able to fetch Christ from heaven, and to reach down to purgatory, how chanced then they could not reach to the queen's chamber, to help her in her travail, if she had been with child indeed? if not, how then came it to pass, that all the catholic church of England did so err, and was so deeply deceived?
Queen Mary, after these manifold plagues and corrections, which might sufficiently admonish her of God's disfavour provoked against her, would not yet cease her persecution, but still continued more and more to revenge her catholic zeal upon the Lord's faithful people, setting fire to their poor bodies by half dozens and dozens together. Whereupon, God's wrathful indignation increasing more and more against her, ceased not to touch her more near with private misfortunes and calamities. For after that he had taken from her the fruit of children, (which chiefly and above all things she desired,) then he bereft her of that, which of all earthly things should have been her chief stay of honour, and staff of comfort, that is, withdrew from her the affection and company even of her own husband, by whose marriage she had promised before to herself whole heaps of such joy and felicity. But now the omnipotent Governor of all things so turned the wheel of her own spinning against her, that her high buildings of such joys and felicities came all to a castle-come-down; her hopes being confounded, her purposes disappointed, and she now brought to desolation; who seemed neither to have the favour of God, nor the hearts of her subjects, nor yet the love of her husband; who neither had fruit by him while she had him, neither could now enjoy him whom she had married, neither yet was at liberty to marry any other whom she might enjoy. Mark here, Christian reader, the woeful adversity of this queen, and learn withal what the Lord can do, when man's wilfulness will needs resist him, and will not be ruled.
At last, when all these fair admonitions would take no place with the queen, nor move her to revoke her bloody laws, nor to stay the tyranny of her priests, nor yet to spare her own subjects, but that the poor servants of God were drawn daily by heaps most pitifully as sheep to the slaughter, it so pleased the heavenly majesty of Almighty God, when no other remedy would serve, by death to cut her off; which in her life so little regarded the life of others, giving her throne, which she abused to the destruction of Christ's church and people, to another, who more temperately and quietly could guide the same, after she had reigned here the space of five years and five months. The shortness of which years and reign, scarce we find in any other story of king or queen since the conquest or before, (being come to their own government,) save only in king Richard III.
And thus much here, as in the closing up of this story, I thought to insinuate, touching the unlucky and rueful reign of queen Mary: not for any detraction to her place and state royal, whereunto she was called of the Lord, but to this only intent and effect: that forsomuch as she would needs set herself so confidently to work and strive against the Lord and his proceedings, all readers and rulers may not only see how the Lord did work against her there-for, but also by her may be advertised and learn what a perilous thing it is for men and women in authority, upon blind zeal and opinion, to stir up persecution in Christ's church, to the effusion of Christian blood, lest it prove in the end with them, (as it did here,) that while they think to persecute heretics, they stumble at the same stone as did the Jews, in persecuting Christ and his true members to death, to their own confusion and destruction.
Leaving now queen Mary, being dead and gone, I come to them which under her were the chief ministers and doers of this persecution, the bishops and priests to whom the queen gave all the execution of her power, as did queen Alexandra to the Pharisees after the time of the Maccabees, of whom Josephus says: "She only retained to herself the name and title of the kingdom, but all her power she gave to the Pharisees to possess." Touching which prelates and priests here is to be noted in like sort the wonderful and miraculous providence of Almighty God, which as he abridged the reign of their queen, so he suffered them not to escape unvisited. First beginning with Stephen Gardiner, the arch-persecutor of Christ's church, whom he took away about the midst of the queen's reign, of whom sufficient hath been touched before. After him dropped others away also, some before the death of queen Mary, and some after; as Morgan, bishop of St. David's, who sitting upon the condemnation of bishop Farrar, unjustly usurping his room, not long after was stricken by God's hand after such a strange sort, that his meat would not go down, but rise and pick up again, sometimes at his mouth, sometimes blown out at his nose, most horrible to behold; and so he continued till his death. This foresaid bishop Morgan bringeth me also in remembrance of justice Morgan, who sat upon the death of the lady Jane, and not long after fell mad, and was bereft of his wits; and so died, having ever in his mouth, "Lady Jane, lady Jane!"
Before the death of queen Mary died Dr. Dunning, the wretched chancellor of Norwich, who after he had most rigorously condemned and murdered so many simple and faithful saints of the Lord, died in Lincolnshire, being suddenly taken, as some say, sitting in his chair. The like sudden death fell also upon Berry, commissary in Norwich, as is before showed in the story of Thomas Hudson. Bishop Thornton, suffragan of Dover, after he had exercised his cruel tyranny upon so many godly men at Canterbury, coming upon a Saturday from the chapter-house at Canterbury to Bourne, and there, upon the Sunday following, looking upon his men playing at the bowls, fell suddenly in a palsy, and so had to bed, was willed to remember God: "Yea, so I do," said he, "and my lord cardinal too." After him succeeded another bishop, ordained by the foresaid cardinal, who brake his neck falling down a pair of stairs in the cardinal's chamber at Greenwich, as he had received the cardinal's blessing.
To these examples may be added the terrible judgment of God upon the parson at Crundale in Kent, of which read before. Not long before the death of queen Mary, died Dr. Capon, bishop of Salisbury; and about the same time followed the unprepared death of Dr. Jeffrey, chancellor of Salisbury, who in the midst of his buildings, suddenly being taken by the mighty hand of God, yielded his life, which had so little pity of other men's lives before. Here is to be noted that the foresaid chancellor departing upon a Saturday, the next day before the same he had appointed to call before him ninety persons, and not so few, to examine them by inquisition; had not the goodness of the Lord prevented him with death, providing for his poor servants in time. Such is the merciful dealing of the Almighty with his people, whom after he scourged a little, in his displeasure, at length he burned the rod.
And now to come from priests to laymen, we find in them also no less terrible demonstration of God's heavy judgment upon such as have been vexers and persecutors of his people. In the story of master Bradford, mention was made of master Woodroofe the sheriff, who used much to rejoice at the death of the poor saints in Christ; and so hard he was in his office, that when master Rogers was in the cart going toward Smithfield, and in the way his children were brought unto him, the people making a lane for them to come, master Woodroofe bade the carman's head should be broken, for staying his cart. But what happened? He was not come out of his office the space of a week, but he was stricken by the sudden hand of God, the one half of his body; in such sort, that he lay benumbed and bedridden, not able to move himself but as he was lifted of others; and so continued in that infirmity the space of seven or eight years, till his dying day. Likewise touching Ralph Lardin, the betrayer of George Eagles, it is thought of some, that the said Ralph afterward was attached himself, arraigned, and hanged; who, being at the bar, had these words before the judges there, and a great multitude of people: "This is most justly fallen upon me," saith he, "for that I have betrayed the innocent blood of a good and just man, George Eagles, who was here condemned in the time of queen Mary's reign, through my procurement, who sold his blood for a little money." Not much unlike stroke of these severally was showed upon William Swallow of Chelmsford, and his wife; also upon Richard Potto, and justice Brown, cruel persecutors of the said George Eagles, concerning whose story read before.
Alexander the keeper of Newgate, a cruel enemy to those that lay there for religion, died very miserably, being so swollen that he was more like a monster than a man, and so rotten within, that no man could abide the smell of him. This cruel wretch, to hasten the poor lambs to the slaughter, would go to Bonner, Storey, Cholmley, and others, crying out, "Rid my prison; rid my prison! I am too much pestered with these heretics."
The son of the said Alexander called James, having felt unto him by his father great substance, within three years wasted all to nought: and when some marvelled how he spent those goods so fast, "Oh!" said he, "evil gotten, evil spent." And shortly after, as he went in Newgate-market, he fell down suddenly, and there wretchedly died. John Peter, son-in-law to this Alexander, and a horrible blasphemer of God, and no less cruel to the said prisoners, rotted away, and so most miserably died; who commonly when he would affirm anything, were it true or false, used to say, "If it be not true, I pray God I rot ere I die."--Witness the printer hereof, with divers others.
And thus much concerning those persecutors, as well of the clergy-sort as of the laity, which were stricken, and died before the death of queen Mary. With whom also are to be numbered in the race of persecuting bishops, which died before queen Mary, these bishops following: Cotes, bishop of Chester; Parfew, bishop of Hereford; Glyn, bishop of Bangor; Brookes, bishop of Gloucester; King, bishop of Tame; Petow, elect of Salisbury; Day, bishop of Chichester; Holyman, bishop of Bristol.
Now, after the queen, immediately following, or rather waited upon her, the death of cardinal Pole, who the next day departed: of what disease, although it be uncertain to many, yet by some it is suspected, that he took some Italian physic, which did him no good. Then followed these bishops in order: John Christopherson, bishop of Chichester; Hopton, bishop of Norwich; Morgan, bishop of St. David's; John White, bishop of Winchester; Ralph Bayne, bishop of Lichfield and Coventry; Owen Oglethorpe, bishop of Carlisle; Cuthbert Tonstall, bishop of Durhan; Thomas Reynolds, elect of Hereford, after his deprivation died in prison. Besides these bishops, first died at the same time, Dr. Weston, dean of Westminster, afterwards dean of Windsor; chief disputer against Cranmer, Ridley, and Latimer. Master Slethurst, master of Trinity college in Oxford, who died in the Tower. Seth Holland, dean of Worcester, and warden of All Souls' college in Oxford. William Cobinger, monk of Westminster, who bare the great seal before Stephen Gardiner, after the death of the said Gardiner made himself monk in the house of Westminster; and shortly after fell mad, and died in the Tower. Dr. Steward, dean of Winchester.
To behold the working of God's judgments, it is wondrous. In the first year of queen Mary, when the clergy were assembled in the Convocation-house, and also afterward, when the disputation was in Oxford against Drs. Cranmer and Ridley, and master Larimer, he that had seen then Dr. Weston the prolocutor in his ruff, how highly he took upon him in the schools, and how stoutly he stood in the pope's quarrel against simple and naked truth, full little would have thought, and less did he think himself, I dare say, that his glory and lofty looks should have been brought down so soon, especially by them of his own religion, whose part he so doughtily defended.
But such is the reward and end commonly of them who presumptuously oppose themselves to strive against the Lord, as by the example of this doctorly prolocutor right well may appear. For not long after the disputation above mentioned against bishop Cranmer and his fellows, God so wrought against the said Dr. Weston, that he fell in great displeasure with cardinal Pole and other bishops, because he was unwilling to give up his deanery, and house of Westminster, unto the monks and religious men, whom indeed he favoured not, although in other things he maintained the church of Rome: who notwithstanding, at last, through importunate suit, gave up Westminster, and was dean of Windsor; where, not long after, he was apprehended in adultery, and for the same was by the cardinal put from all his spiritual livings. Wherefore he appealed to Rome, and purposed to have fled out of the realm, but was taken by the way, and committed to the Tower of London; and there remained until queen Elizabeth was proclaimed queen, at which time he being delivered, fell sick and died. The common talk was, that if he had not so suddenly ended his life, he would have opened and revealed the purpose of the chief of the clergy, (meaning the cardinal,) which was to have taken up king Henry's body at Windsor, and to have burned it. And thus much of Dr. Weston. The residue that remained of the persecuting clergy, and escaped the stroke of death, were deprived, and committed to prisons.
Concerning Dr. Chedsey here is to be noted, that in the beginning of king Edward's reign, he recanted, and subscribed to thirty-four articles, wherein he then fully consented and agreed, with his own handwriting, to the whole form of doctrine approved and allowed then in the church, as well concerning justification by faith only, as also the doctrine of the two sacraments then received; denying as well the pope's supremacy, transubstantiation, purgatory, invocation of saints, elevation and adoration of the sacrament, the sacrifice and veneration of the mass, as also all other like excrements of popish superstition, according to the king's book then set forth.
Wherefore the more marvel it is, that he, being counted such a famous and learned clerk, would show himself so fickle and unstable in his assertions, so double in his doings, to alter his religion according to time, and to maintain for truth, not what he thought best, but what he might most safely defend. So long as the state of the lord protector and of his brother stood upright, what was then the conformity of this Dr. Chedsey, his own articles in Latin, written and subscribed with his own hand, do declare, which I have to show, if he will deny them. But after the decay of the king's uncles, the fortune of them turned not so fast, but his religion turned withal; and eftsoons he took upon him to dispute against Peter Martyr, in upholding transubstantiation at Oxford, which, a little before, with his own handwriting he had overthrown. After this ensued the time of queen Mary, wherein Dr. Chedsey, to show his double diligence, was so eager in his commission to sit in judgment, and to bring poor men to their death, that in the last year of queen Mary, when the lord chancellor, sir Thomas Cornwallis, lord Clinton, and divers others of the council had sent for him, by a special letter, to repair unto London out of Essex, he, writing again to the bishop of London, sought means not to come at the council's bidding, but to continue still in his persecuting progress. The copy of whose letter I have also in my hands, if need were, to bring forth.
To these add also the stinking death of Edmund Bonner, commonly named the bloody bishop of London; who, not many years ago, in the time and reign of queen Elizabeth, after he had long feasted and banqueted in durance at the Marshalsea, as he wretchedly died in his blind popery, so as strikingly and blindly, at midnight, was he brought out and buried in the outside of all the city, amongst thieves and murderers, a place right convenient for such a murderer; with confusion and derision both of men and children, who, trampling upon his grave, well declared how he was hated both of God and man. What else be all these, I say, but plain visible arguments, testimonies, and demonstrations even from heaven, against the pope, his murdering religion, and his bloody doctrine? For who can deny their doings not to be good, whose end is so evil? If Christ bid us to know men by their fruits, and especially seeing by the end all things are to be tried, how can the profession of that doctrine please God, which endeth so ungodly? Esaias, prophesying of the end of God's enemies, which would needs walk in the light of their own setting up, and not in the light of the Lord's kindling, threateneth to them this final malediction, "In doloribus," saith he, "dormietis;" i.e. "In sorrow shall ye sleep." Innumerable examples more to the same effect might be added, but these may suffice, which I here notify unto the children of the murdering mother church of Rome, (of whom it may well be said, "Your hands be full of blood,") to the intent that they by the example of their fellows may be admonished to follow the prophet's counsel, "Be you washed, and make yourselves clean," etc; and not to presume too far upon their own security, not think themselves the further off from God's hand, because man's hand forbeareth them.
I know and grant, that man hath no further power upon any than God from above doth give. And what the laws of this realm could make against them, as against open murderers, I will not here discuss, because they shall not say that we desire their blood to be spilt, but rather to be spared; but yet this I say, and wish them well to understand, that the sparing of their lives which have been murderers of so many is not for want of power in magistrates, nor for lack of any just law against them, whereby they might justly have been condemned; but because Almighty God peradventure in his secret purpose, having something to do with these persecutors, hath spared them hitherto; not that they should escape unpunished, but that he will take his own cause into his own hand, either by death to take them away, (as he did by Bonner and others,) or else to make them persecute themselves; or stir up their consciences to their own confusion, in such sort as the church shall have no need to lay any hands upon them. Wherefore with this short admonition to close up the matter, I wish all whom God's lenity suffereth yet to live wisely to ponder with themselves, that as their cruel persecution hurteth not the saints of God, whom they have put to death, so the patience of Christ's church suffering them to live doth not profit them, but rather heapeth the greater judgment of God upon them in the day of wrath, unless they repent in time, which I pray God they may.
And now to re-enter again to the time of queen Elizabeth. It cannot sufficiently be expressed what felicity and blessed happiness this realm hath received in receiving her at the Lord's almighty and gracious hand; whose coming in was not only so calm, so joyful, and so peaceable, without shedding any blood, but also her reign, during the first twenty-four years and more, so quiet, that all that time her sword was spotted and polluted with no drop of blood. In commendation of her clemency also, here might be added how mildly her grace forgave the foresaid sir Henry Benifield, suffering him to enjoy goods, life, lands, and liberty.
Towards the end of March, 1559, a conference was held by command of the queen's most excellent majesty at Westminster, between the papists and the protestants; eight persons, that is to say, four bishops and four doctors, being appointed on either side. The matter of the conference was comprehended in these three propositions: 1. It is against the word of God, and the custom of the ancient church, to use a tongue unknown to the people, in common prayers, and the administration of the sacraments. 2. Every church hath authority to appoint, take away, and change ceremonies and ecclesiastical rites, so the same be to edification. 3. It cannot be proved by the word of God, that there is, in the mass, offered up a sacrifice propitiatory for the quick and the dead.
About this time also was a parliament summoned at Westminster, wherein was much debating about matters touching religion; and although some diversity there was of judgment and opinion between parties, yet, notwithstanding, through the merciful goodness of the Lord, the true cause of the gospel had the upper hand, the papists' hope was frustrate, and their rage abated, the order and proceedings of king Edward's time concerning religion were revived again, the supremacy of the pope abolished, the articles and bloody statutes of queen Mary repealed; briefly, the furious firebrands of cruel persecution, which had consumed so many poor men's bodies, were now extinct and quenched.
Finally, the old bishops were deposed, for that they refused the oath in renouncing the pope, and not subscribing to the queen's just and lawful title: in whose rooms and places, first for cardinal Pole succeeded Dr. Matthew Parker, archbishop of Canterbury. In the place of Heath succeeded Dr. Young. Instead of Bonner, Edmund Grindall was bishop of London. For Hopton, Thirlby, Tonstall, Pates, Christopherson, Petow, Cotes, Morgan, Voysey, White, Oglethorpe, etc., were placed Dr. John Parkhurst in Norwich, Dr. Coxe in Ely, Jewell in Salisbury, Pilkinton in Durham, Dr. Sands in Worcester, master Downham in West-Chester, Bentham in Coventry and Lichfield, Davies in St. David's, Alley in Exeter, Horne in Winchester, Scory in Hereford, Best in Carlisle, Bullingham in Lincoln, Scambler in Peterborough, Barkley in Bath, Guest in Rochester, Barlow in Chichester, etc.
And now to conclude, good Christian reader, this present tractation, not for lack of matter, but to shorten rather the matter for largeness of the volume, I here stay for this present time, without further addition of more discourse, either to overweary thee with longer tediousness, or overcharge the book with longer prolixity; having hitherto set forth the acts and proceedings of the whole church of Christ, namely, of the church of England, although not in such particular perfection, that nothing hath overpassed us; yet in such general sufficiency, that I trust not very much hath escaped us, necessary to be known, touching the principal affairs, doings, and proceedings of the church and churchmen. Wherein may be see the whole state, order, descent, course, and continuance of the same, the increase and decrease of true religion, the creeping in of superstition, the horrible troubles of persecution, the wonderful assistance of the Almighty in maintaining his truth, the glorious constancy of Christ's martyrs, the rage of the enemies, the alteration of times, the travails and troubles of the church, from the first primitive age of Christ's gospel, to the end of queen Mary, and the beginning of this our gracious queen Elizabeth. During the time of her happy reign, which hath hitherto continued (through the gracious protection of the Lord) the space now of twenty-four years, as my wish is, so I would be glad the good will of the Lord were so, that no more matter of such lamentable stories may ever be offered hereafter to write upon. But so it is, I cannot tell how, the elder the world waxeth, the longer it continueth, the nearer it hasteneth to its end, the more Satan rageth; giving still new matter of writing books and volumes: insomuch that if all were recorded and committed to history, that within the said compass of this queen's reign hitherto hath happened, in Scotland, Flanders, France, Spain, Germany, besides this our own country of England and Ireland, with other countries more, I verily suppose one Eusebius, or Polyhistor, which Pliny writeth of, would not suffice thereunto.
But of these incidents and occurrents hereafter more, as it shall please the Lord to give grace and space. In the mean time, the grace of the Lord Jesus work with thee, gentle reader, in all thy studious readings. And while thou hast space, so employ thyself to read, that by reading thou mayest learn daily to know that which may profit thy soul, may teach thee experience, may arm thee with patience, and instruct thee in all spiritual knowledge more and more to thy perpetual comfort and salvation in Christ Jesus our Lord; to whom be glory in secula seculorum. Amen.