F. O. Mann's notes on Thomas Deloney's Strange Histories

[ this text is scanned from the 1912 edition of Deloney's Works, edited by F. O. Mann. I have also scanned the text of Strange Histories itself. ]


Date. There is no evidence as to when this little collection of poems was printed. Probably, however, unlike The Garland of Good Will, none of the ballads had been circulated before, as they consist entirely of metrical versions of selected episodes from the English Chronicles, arranged in chronological order, in such a way as to suggest that they were designed to form a complete little volume.

Extant Editions.

[A] STRANGE HISTORIES, Of Kings, Princes, Dukes, Earles, Lords, Ladies, Knights, and Gentlemen.... London, Printed by William Barley, the assigne of I. M. and are to be sold at his shop in Gracious streete, 1602. (Britwell.)

The Dutchesse of Suffolkes Calamitie inserted after Cant. II in this edition has been obviously added to the original matter of an earlier edition, and hence it is not separately enumerated in the Table.

[B] 1607. STRANGE HISTORIES or Songes and Sonets, of Kinges, Princes, Dukes, Lordes, Ladyes, Knights and Gentlemen . . . Inprinted at London for W. Barley. (Bridgewater House.)

[C] 1670 ? . . . Imperfect, wanting title page and end. (Bodleian.)

[D] 1674. The Royal Garland of Love and Delight . . . by T. D. LONDON, printed by E. C. for E. T. (British Museum.)

This is the original Strange Histories, with other miscellaneous poems added, chiefly of a Restoration character.

The edition of 1607 inserts Salomon's Good Huswyfe immediately after Canto I. and adds a number of miscellaneous poems after the prose Speech betweene Certaine Ladyes. Salomon's Good Huswyfe is added to The Table of contents, but the other poems are unindexed as though they were added haphazard by the printer as an afterthought. Most of these are subscribed respectively with the initials T. R., A. C., and R., and with the exception of The Death of Faire Rosamond it is quite evident that Deloney's authentic work does not extend beyond the prose which closes the 1602 edition. But the addition of Faire Rosa- mond gives us the earliest known copy of this ballad, and the version in The Garland of Good Will (1631) has accordingly been collated with it in the notes on that poem.

The present reprint is from the edition of 1602.

Cant. I. The valiant courage and policie of the Kentishmen, &c. (Page 383.)

Source. The story is given in Holinshed's Chronicle.

`After his (William's) coronation . . . vpon obteining of the citie of London, he tooke his iourney toward the castell of Douer, to subdue that and the rest of Kent also; which when the Archbishop Stigand and Egelsin the Abbat of St. Augustines . . . did perceiue . . . they caused all the people of the countie of Kent to assemble at Canterburie, and declared to them the perils and dangers imminent, the miserie that their neighbours were come vnto, the pride and insolencie of the Normans, and the hardnesse and griefe of bondage and seruile estate. Whereupon all the people rather choosing to end their vnfortunate life, then to submit themselues to an vnaccustomed yoke of seruitude and bondage, with a common consent determined to meet duke William, and to fight with him for the lawes of their countrie. Also the foresaid Stigand the Archbishop, and the Abbat Egelsin, choosing rather to die in battell, than to see their nation in so euill an estate . . . became capteins of the armie. And at a daie appointed, all the people met at Swanescombe, and being hidden in the woods, laie priuelie in wait for the comming of the foresaid duke William....

`They agreed beforehand, euerie one of them, as well horsemen as footmen should beare boughs in their hands . . . When the duke was come vnto the field and territories neere vnto Swanescombe and saw all the countrie set and placed about him. as it had beene a stirring and moouing wood . . . with great discomfort of mind he wondered at that sight. And assoone as the capteins of the Kentishmen sawe that duke William was inclosed in the middest of their armie, they caused their trumpets to be sounded, their banners to be displaied, and threw downe their boughes, and with their bowes bent, their swords drawne, and their speares and other kind of weapons stretched foorth, they shewed themselues readie to fight. Duke William and they that were with him stood (as no maruell it was) sore astonied and amazed: so that he which thought he had alreadie all England fast in his fist, did now despaire of his owne life....'

`Thereupon the Kentishmen sent to Duke William and asked that all the people of Kent enioy for euer their ancient liberties, and may for euermore vse the lawes and customes of the countrie....'

`The Duke willingly agreed and thus the ancient liberties of England, and the lawes and customes of the countrie, . . . remaine inuioablie obserued vntill this daie within that countie of Kent.' Holinshed, 587 1587 edition, vol. ii, pp. 1-2.

PAGE 383 (heading). Kentishmen with long tayles. The origin of this saying is difficult. Du Cange says that caudati was originally applied to all Englishmen. An explanation is suggested in Bale's English Votaryes (first edition, p. 30): `For castynge of fyshe tayles atthys Augustyne, Dorsett Shyre men had tales euer after. But Polydorus applyeth yt vnto Kentysh men at Stroude by Rochestre, for cuttynge of Thomas Beckettes horses tayle.'

5-8. `He (William) was crowned King vpon Christmas daie following, by Aldred archbishop of Yorke.' Holinshed's Chronicle (1587), vol. ii, p. I.

17-20. Cf. p. 105, ll. 29-32, and note.

38. See p. 377. l. 62, and note.

Cant. II. How King HENRY the first had his children drowned, &c. (Page 386.)

Another copy in Percy Folio.

Source. Apparently Holinshed's Chronicle.

`Henrie, hauing quieted his businesse in France, returned vnto England, where he was receiued and welcomed home with great ioy and triumph.... This pleasantnesse and mirth was changed into mourning by aduertisement giuen of the death of the king's sons, Wm duke of Normandie, and Richard his brother, who togither with their sister the ladie Marie countesse of Perch, Richard Earle of Chester, with his brother Otwell gouernor to duke William, . . . and diuerse others . . . tooke ship at Harfleur . . . Their ship thorough negligence of the mariners (who had drunke out their wits and reason) were throwne vpon a rocke, and vtterly perished on the coast of England vpon the 25 of Nouember, so that of all the companie none escape but one butcher . . . Duke William might also haue escaped . . . for being gotten into the ship boat, and lanching toward the land, he heard the skreeking of his sister in dredful danger of drowning, crieng out for succour; whereupon he commanded them that rowed the boat to turne back to the ship, and to take hir in. But such was the prease of the companie that stroue to leape in with hir, that it streightwaies sanke, so that all those wh' were alreadie in the boat were cast awaie . . . King Henrie being thus depriued of issue to succeed him, did not a little lament that vnfortunate chance.' Holinshed, 1587 edition, vol. ii, p. 41.

The Dutchesse of Suffolkes Calamatie. (Page 389.)

Other copies. Roxb. Coll. i. 94-5: Pepys, i. 544; Crowne Garland of Golden Roses (1659); Lord Crawford's Collection.

This ballad was assigned to Pavier, Wright, and others, December 14, 1624 (Stationers' Registers).

Source. The story of the Duchess of Suffolk's flight to Germany is f given in Holinshed's Chronicle (1587, vol. ii, pp. 1143-5), `ex Joh: f Foxi Martyrologio', and Deloney might have used this account or drawn directly from the Acts and Monuments. In any case he confuses the order of the incidents and ekes the account out by his own inven- tion or by some garbled traditional version. Fox does not mention the nurse, or the Duchess's begging for alms, and makes the highway robbery occur after the Duke and Duchess had left the town instead of before they reached it, as in Deloney's version. The quarrel with the Sexton, and the part played by the Governor in the poem appear also to be invention.

19-24. `The fifteenth daie of March (1554) . . . the ladie Elizabeth . . . was apprehended . . . on the Sundaie after . . . she was committed to the tower.' Holinshed, 1587 edition, vol. ii, p. 1107.

25-30. `The Duchess and her Husband, dailie more and more by their friends vnderstanding that the bishop (i.e. Gardiner) meant to call hir to an account of hir Faith . . . deuised waies . . . how they might passe the seas.'

35. `She tooke with hir hir daughter, an infant of one yeare.'

37-42. `He (Master Berty) passed the Seas at Douer . . . leauing the duchesse behind, who by agreement and consent betwixt hir and hir husband, followed taking Barge at Lion Keie.' Ibid., p. 1143.

49-54. Fox says the winds were contrary, but 'so soone as the duchesse had landed in Brabant, she and hir women were apparelled like the women of Netherland with hukes; and so she and hir husband tooke their iournie toward Cleveland '.

57. `The Lantgraves capteines . . . set vpon them in the highwaie with his horssemen.'

73-4. `There fell a mightie rain of continuance, whereby a long frost and ise before congealed, was thawed.'

79-84. `In the mene time master Berty was forced to carrie the child, and the duches his cloke and rapier.'

89-96. `At last . . . they came to Wesell, and repairing to their innes for lodging . . . found hard interteinment: for going from inne to inne offering large monie for small lodging, they were refused of all the inholders . . . The child for cold and sustenance cried pittifullie.'

105-44. Fox tells the story differently: 'Master Bertie...going towards the church porch, he heard two striplings talking Latine . . . By these boies . . . he chanced at the first vpon the house where Master Perusell supped that night, who had procured them the protection of the magistrates of that towne.' Ibid., p. 1144.

150. `The dutchesse invited to Poleland by the kings letters.' Gloss., Ibid., p. 1145. Casimir IV of Poland reigned 1447-1492.

152-3. So Holinshed (vol. ii, p. 1348). `Peregrine Bartie, Lord Willobie.'

157-62. `In the earledome of the said King of the Poles . . . continued both in great quietnesse and honor, till the death of Queene Marie. Whose troublesome time . . . being expired, and the peaceable reigne of gratious queene Elizabeth established the said dutchesse and hir husband returned vnto England.' Ibid., p. 1145.

From the metre and general sense of the first three verses it is evident that Deloney has in mind The Register (of the Martyrs), written by Brice in 1559. Cf., for example, the opening verses of the Register:

When raging reign of tyrants stout
Causeless, did cruelly conspire
To rend and root the Simple out
With furious force of sword and fire;
When man and wife were put to death:
We wished for our Elizabeth.

When Rogers ruefully was burnt;
When Saunders did the like sustain;
When faithful Farrar forth was sent
His life to lose, with grievous pain;
When constant Hooper died the death:
We wished for our Elizabeth.

When Rowland Taylor, that Divine,
At Hadley left this loathsome light;
When simple Lawrence they did pine
With Hunter, Higby, Pigot and Knight;
When Causun, constantly, died the death:
We wished for our Elizabeth.

Pollard's Tudor Tracts, p. 270.

20. danger. See p. 274, l. 40, and note.

41. Grauesend Barge. See p. 146, l. 41, and note.

Cant. III. How King HENRY the second, crowning his Sonne king of ENGLAND, in his owne lifetime, was by him most grieuously vexed with warres &c. (Page 394.)

Source. Apparently Holinshed's Chronicle.

9-32. `He (Henry) called togither a parlement of the lords both spiritual and temporal . . . and . . . proclaimed his said sonne Henrie fellow with him in the kingdome . . . Vpon the daie of coronation, the king Henrie the father serued his sonne at the table as sewer wherupon . . . the young man conceiuing a pride in his heart, beheld the standers-by with a more statly countenance than he had been wont.' Holinshed, 1587 edition, vol. ii, p. 76.

49-72. `Now perceiuing himselfe in danger of death . . . he sent to his father . . . confessing his trespasse committed against him, and required of all fatherlie loue to come and see him once before he died. But for that the father thought not good to commit himself into the hands of such vngratious persons as were about his sonne, he sent his ring vnto him in token of his blessing and as it were a pledge to signifie that he had forgiuen him his vnnatural doings against him. The son receiuing it with great humilitie, kissed it . . .' Ibid., pp. 106-7.

73-108. `After this, he caused his fine clothes to be taken from him and therewith a heaue cloth to be put vpon him, and after tieng a cord about his necke, he said vnto the bishops and other that stood by him I deliuer myselfe an vnworthie and greeuous sinner vnto you the ministers of God by this cord, beseeching the Lord Jesus Christ, which pardoned the theefe . . . that through your praiers . . . it may please him to be mercifull vnto my soule . . . Draw me out of bed with this cord, and laie me on that bed strawed with ashes . . . and as he commanded so they did . . .'

110. `King Henrie commanded that the corps of his sonne . . . should be deliuered vnto them at Rouen . . . and so it was taken vp and conueied to Rouen where it was eftsoones buried.' Ibid., p. 107.

Cant. IIII. The imprisonment of Queene ELENOR, &c. (Page397.)

Source. The historical groundwork is probably taken from Holinshed's Chronicle. Cf. ll. 31-2 and ll. 53-66 with the following:

`At length king Richard remembring himselfe of his mother queene Elianor, who had beene separated from the bed of hir husband for the space of sixteene yeares and was as yet deteined in prison in England, wrote his letters vnto the rulers of the realme, commanding them to set hir againe at libertie, and withall appointed hir by his letters patent, to take vpon hir the whole gouernment of the kingdome in his absence .. . but speciallie remembring by hir late experience and tast thereof what an irksome and most greeuous thing imprisonment was, she caused the gailes to be opened, and foorth with set no small number of prisoners at libertie.' Holinshed, 1587 edition, vol. ii, p. 117.

43. Rosamond. Cf. Deloney's ballad on p. 297.

Cant. V. The lamentable death of King JOHN, &c. (Page 399).

Source. The story is given in Holinshed's Chronicle (1587 edition, vol. ii, p. 194), but the direct source is probably Fox's Acts and Monuments. The spirit and language of Fox's account resembles that of Deloney's poem. Fox, however, gives two stories: (1) how John was given poison in wine: (2) how he was poisoned by means of pears. From the second story Deloney takes the detail of the sweating precious stones.

13-20. `The monke . . . went secretly into a garden . . . and finding there a most venemous Toad, he so pricked hym, and pressed him with his penknife: that he made him vomit all the poyson that was wythin hym. This done, he conueyed it into a cuppe of wine, and with a smiling and flattering countenance, he sayde thus to the King: If it shall like your Princely maiestie, here is such a cuppe of wine as you neuer dronke a better before in all your life time. I trust this wassal shal make al England glad. And with that he dranke a great draught thereof, the King pledging him.' Acts and Monuments (1583), vol. i, p. 256.

21-32. `In Gisburn, I finde otherwise, who dissenting from other, sayeth: that he was poysoned with a dish of Peares . . . At the bringing in whereof, saith the said story, the pretious stones about the king began to swete. Insomuch that the king misdoubting some poyson, demanded of the monke, what he had brought. He said: of his frute, and that very good.' Ibid., p. 257.

41-52. `The Monke anone after went to the farmerye, and there died (his guts gushing out of his belly). I would ye did marke well the wholesome proceedings of these holy votaries, how vertuously they obey their kings, whome God hath appoynted . . . The king within a short space after (feeling great griefe in his body) asked for Symon the monke: and aunswere was made, that he was departed this life.'

69-76. `His hired souldiours both English-men and strangers were still about him, and folowed his corpes triumphantly in their armour, till they came to the Cathedrall Church of worcester, and there honourably was he buried.- Ibid., p. 256.

5. oppose. The word was properly used of the mediaeval disputations. Here I suppose used in the affirmative sense.

12. shadowed. Cf. p. 86, l. 14, and note thereon.

Cant. VI. Of the Inprisonment of King EDWARD the second.

(Page 402.)

Source. Holinshed's Chronicle.

21-70. `It was concluded and fullie agreed by all the states . . . that for diuerse articles which were put vp against the King, he was not worthie longer to reigne, and withall they willed to haue his sonne Edward duke of Aquitaine to reigne in his place . . . But the duke of Aquitaine, when he perceiued that his mother tooke the matter heauilie in appearance, for that hir husband should be thus depriued of the crowne, he protested that he would neuer take it on him, without his fathers consent, and so there vpon it was concluded that certeine solemne messengers should go to Killing worth to moue the King to make resignation of his crowne and title of the kingdome vnto his sonne . . . They (the messengers) sought to frame his mind, so as he might be contented to resigne the crowne to his sonne, bearing him in hand, that if he refused so to doo, the people in respect of the euill will which they had conceiued against him, would not faile but proceed to the election of some other that should happilie not touch him in linage. . . . Notwithstanding his outward countenance discouered how much it inwardlie grieued him- yet after he was come to him selfe, he answered that he knew that he was fallen vnto this miserie through his own offenses, and therefore he was contented patientlie to suffer it

. . . he gaue the lords most heartie thanks, that they had so forgotten their receiued injuries.' Holinshed, 1587 edition, vol. ii, pp. 340 I.

71-90. `Diuerse of the nobilitie (of whome the earle of Kent was cheefe) began to deuise means by secret conference had togither, how they might restore him to libertie, discommending greatlie both queene Isabell, and such other as were appointed gouernours to the yong king, for his fathers streict imprisonment . . . And hereupon the queene and the bishop of Hereford wrote sharpe letters vnto his Keepers, blaming them greatlie for that they dealt so gentlie with him . . . and withall the bishop of Hereford vnder a sophisticall forme of words signified to them by his letters, that they should dispatch him out of the waie, the tenor whereof wrapped in obscuritie ran thus:

Edwardum occidere nolite timere bonum est.
To kill Edward will not to feare it is good.' Ibid., p. 341.

Cant. VII. Of King Edward the second, being poysoned. (Page 405.)

Source. Holinshed's Chronicle.

`They lodged the miserable prisoner in a chamber ouer a foule filthie dungeon, full of dead carrion, trusting so to make an end of him, with the abominable stinch thereof: but he bearing it out stronglie, as a man of tough nature, continued still in life, so as it seemed he was verie like to escape that danger, as he had by purging either vp or downe, auoided the force of such poison as had been ministred to him sundrie times before, of purpose to rid him.

`Whereupon when they sawe that such practises would not serue their turne, they came suddenlie one night into the chamber where he laie in bed fast asleepe, and with heauie feather beds or a table (as some write) being cast vpon him, they kept him down and withall put into his fundament an horne, and through the same they thrust vp into his bodie an hot spit, or (as others haue) through the pipe of a trumpet a plumbers instrument of iron made verie hot, the which, passing vp into his entrailes, and being rolled to and fro, burnt the same, but so as no appearance of any wound or hurt outwardlie might be once perceiued. His crie did mooue manie within the castell and towne of Berkeley to compassion, plainelie hearing him vtter a waileful noise, as the tormentors were about to murther him, so, that diuerse being awakened therewith (as they themselues confessed) praied heartilie to God to receiue his soul, when they vnderstood by his crie what the matter ment.' Holinshed, 1587 edition, vol. ii, p. 341.

Cant. VIII. Of the Lord MATREUERS and Sir THOMAS GURNEY, &c. (Page 408.)

Source. Holinshed's Chronicle.

`The queene, the bishop, and others that their tyrannie might be hid, outlawed and banished the Lord Matreuers and Thomas Gurney, who flieng vnto Marcels, three yeares after being knowne, taken and brought toward England was beheaded on the sea, least he should accuse the chiefe dooers, as the Bishop and other. John Matreuers, repenting himselfe, laie long hidden in Germanie, and in the end died penitentlie.' Holinshed, 1587 edition, vol. ii, pp. 341-2.

11. Cf. p. 404, ll. 89-90, and Note on Source of Cant. vi.

Cant. IX. Of the winning of the Yle of MAN &c. (Page 411.)

Source. Probably derived from the entry in Holinshed for the year 1344.

`This yeare also, W. Montacute, Earle of Salisburie conquered the Ile of Man, out of the hands of the Scots, which Ile the king gaue vnto the said earle, and caused him to be intituled, and crowned king of Man . . .'

`Moreouer about the beginning of this eighteenth yeare of his reigne, king Edward . . . deuised the order of the garter.' Holinshed, 1587 edition, vol. ii, p. 366.

Cant. X. How WAT TILER and IACKE STRAW rebelled against king RICHARD the second. (Page 413.)

Source. Holinshed's Chronicle (1587), pp. 429-32.

1-10. Holinshed names Iacke Strawe, Wat Tiler, Iacke Shephearde, Tom Milner, and Hob Carter, as the leaders. (1587 edition, vol. ii, P. 429.)

12-13. `Their number still increased, so that when the Essex men, and other of the hithir side the Thames, were passed ouer and ioined with the Kentishmen, those that were assembled on that side the riuer vpon Blackheath; they were esteemed to be an hundred thousand.'

15. `They had the messengers returne, and declare to the king that there was no remedie but he must needs come and speake with them.'

19-24. `After the commons vnderstood that the king would not come to them ... they were maruellouslie moued.... They spoiled the borough of Southwarke, brake vp the prisons of the Marshalsea, and the kings bench, set the prisoners at libertie.'

27-32. `The duke of Lancaster . . . they hated aboue all other persons. And hereupon agreeing in one mind, after diuerse others of their owtragious doings, they ran the same day to the said duke's house of the Sauoie . .. which . . . they set on fire. . . .'

33-40. `They went to the temple and burnt the men of lawes lodgings, with their bookes, writings and all that they might lay hand vpon. Also the house of Saint Iohns by Smithfield they set on fire, so that it burned for the space of seuen daies together....'

41-50. `The third companie kept vpon the tower hill . .. where the king at that time was lodged, and was put in such feare by those rude people, that he suffered them to enter into the tower, where they sought so narowlie for the lord chancelor, that finding him in the chappell, they drew him foorth togither with the lord treasuror, and on the tower hill without reuerence of their estates and degrees, with great noise and fell cries, they stroke off their heads.'

51-4. `Neither had they any regard to sacred places, for breaking into the Church of the Augustine friers, they drew foorth thirteene Flemings, and beheaded them....'

55-64. `They also brake vp the prisons of newgate, and of both the Counters, destroied the books, and set prisoners at libertie....'

67-70. `Finallie, when they had eased their stomachs, with the spoiling, burning and defacing of sundrie places, they became more quiet, and the king . . . offered to them pardon, and his peace, with condition that they should cease from burning and ruinating of houses, from killing and murthering of men, and depart euerie man to his home.... Hereupon . . . Wat Tiler . . . said, that peace indeed he wished, but yet so as the conditions might be indited to his purpose....'

75-90. 'And when he (Wat Tyler) was come neere to the place in Smithfield where the king then was, . . . sir Iohn Newton was sent to him againe, to vnderstand what he meant And bicause the knight came to him on horssebacke and did not alight from his horsse, Wat Tiler was offended . . . and forthwith made towards the knight to run vpon him.... The maior of London William Walworth ... foorthwith rode to him and arrested him, in reaching him such a blow on the head, that he sore astonied him therewith: and streightwaies other that were about the king . . . thrust him through in diuerse parts of his bodie.'

A Speeche betweene certaine Ladies &c. (Page 415.)

Source. Holinshed's Chronicle, as before, but Deloney finishes the account by a conversation put into the mouth of 'Ladies, being shepheards on Salisburie plaine' - presumably in the reign of Henry VII since the `speeche' ends with references to the Cornish Rebellion of 1497

PAGE 416. 5-11. `The king . . . for some part of recompense of their faithful assistance in that dangerous season, made the said William Walworth knight, with fiue other aldermen.... Moreouer the king granted that there should be a dagger added to the armes of the citie of London, in the right quarter of the shield, for an augmentation of the same armes.' Holinshed, 1587 edition, vol. ii, p. 436.

18-24. `I haue thought good to declare the confession of Iacke Strawe . . . when he came to be executed in London.'

`We would haue killed the king and all men of possessions, with bishops, monks, chanons and parsons of churches . . . Moreouer . . . we were determined . . . to haue set fire in foure corners of the citie, and so to haue diuided amongst vs the spoil of the cheefist riches.' Ibid., p. 438.

28. desperate Traytors, i.e. the Cornish rebels of 1497.

30-2. `From Welles they went to Salisburie and from thence to Winchester, and so to Kent....'

37-8. `The capteines of the rebels . . . brought their people to Blackeheath .... Without long fighting, the Cornishmen were ouercome.'

38-44. `The Lord Audeleie was drawne from Newgate to the Tower Hill in a coate of his owne armes, painted vpon paper reuersed and all to torne and there was beheaded the foure and twentith of June. Thomas Flammocke and Michael Joseph were hanged, drawne and quartered after the maner of traitors.' Holinshed, 1587 edition, vol. ii, p. 782.

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