Henry VIII, the Reign
Letters & Papers: Volume 15
23 June . 804. Marillac to Montmorency.
[London], 23 June:—Had their posts made as good speed as the English courier, Montmorency should have known of the taking of Cromwell as soon as Wallop did. Nothing else is spoken of here, and in a week at latest the said prisoner is expected to be executed and treated as be deserves, as appears by the presages and arguments here following.
To commence with the day of his taking in the Council Chamber of the King's house at Westminster:—As soon as the Captain of the Guard declared his charge to make him prisoner, Cromwell in a rage cast his bonnet on the ground, saying to the duke of Norfolk and others of the Privy Council assembled there that this was the reward of his services, and that he appealed to their consciences as to whether he was a traitor; but since he was treated thus he renounced all pardon, as he had never thought to have offended, and only asked the King not to make him languish long. Thereupon some said he was a traitor, others that he should be judged according to the laws he had made, which were so sanguinary that often words spoken inadvertently with good intention had been constituted high treason. The duke of Norfolk having reproached him with some “villennyes” done by him, snatched off the order of St. George which he bore on his neck, and the Admiral, to show himself as great an enemy in adversity as he had been thought a friend in prosperity, untied the Garter. Then, by a door which opens upon the water, he was put in a boat and taken to the Tower without the people of this town suspecting it until they saw all the King's archers under Mr. Cheyney at the door of the prisoner's house, where they made an inventory of his goods, which were not of such value as people thought, although too much for a “compaignon de telle estoffe.” The money was 7,000l. st., equal to 28,000 crs., and the silver plate, including crosses, chalices, and other spoils of the Church might be as much more. These movables were before night taken to the King's treasury—a sign that they will not be restored.
Next day were found several letters he wrote to or received from the Lutheran lords of Germany. Cannot learn what they contained except that this King was thereby so exasperated against him that he would no longer hear him spoken of, but rather desired to abolish all memory of him as the greatest wretch ever born in England. To commence, this King distributed all his offices and proclaimed that none should call him lord Privy Seal or by any other title of estate, but only Thomas Cromwell, shearman (tondeur de draps), depriving him of all his privileges and prerogatives, and distributing his less valuable moveables among his (Cromwell's) servants, who were enjoined no longer to wear their master's livery. From this it is inferred that he will not be judged with the solemnity accustomed to be used to the lords of this country, nor beheaded; but will be dragged up as an ignoble person, and afterwards hanged and quartered. A few days will show; especially as they have determined to empty the Tower at this Parliament, which finishes with this month.
As to the other prisoners, people know not yet what to say except that there is good hope as regards the Deputy of Calais, of whom the King has said he could not think the said Deputy erred through malice but rather through ignorance.
It remains to name those who have succeeded to Cromwell's estates. Will not depict those whom Montmorency knows already. The Admiral is made lord Privy Seal, and lord Russell Admiral; the bp. of Durham is first secretary; of the office of vicar as to the spiritualty, no decision has yet been come to, but people say that if one is made it will be the bp. of Winchester, who, since the imprisonment of his great adversary, has been called to the Privy Council, which, before, he was not accustomed to enter. For affairs of justice they have deputed the Chancellor, who, among other virtues, can neither speak French nor Latin, and has the reputation of being a good seller of justice whenever he can find a buyer. They have given him for colleague a new chancellor, of the Augmentations, the most wretched person in England, who was first inventor of the overthrow of abbeys, and of all innovations in the Church—in fact, he invented and Cromwell authorised —and he had the title of the Augmentations for having increased the King's revenue, but might be called, from another point of view, Chancellor of the Diminutions, for having diminished the wealth of the Church and his reputation as a learned and wise man. “Mais il a faict preuve de son sçavoir en toute malheureté.”
Would have presented the letters of credence from the King (received with Montmorency's letters on the 15th) sooner, but was confined to his chamber by a fever. However, as Norfolk, to whom, as instructed, he had communicated everything, desired him to address this King in the form which had been written to him, Marillac ventured out the sooner both on account of Norfolk's request, and also to hear news from this King, especially of the end of him who was the commencement of so many evils in England. Has reported the conversation to the King almost as it was spoken; and certes it has been redoubled by his ministers, who now promise marvels, as the obstacle which was always in the way has been taken from their midst, meaning Cromwell.
Omitted to mention that lord Leonard de Clidas has been lately taken to the Tower accused of intelligence with the Irish opponents of this King. It is he who took his cousins and nephews in Ireland and brought them here, where they were executed.