Title: Marillac to Francis I [Ill health of Henry VIII]
3 March. 1541 589. Marillac to Francis I.
(Almost the whole text.)
Mentioned in his last that this King talked of visiting his places and castles on the coast towards France, to have the ramparts which had fallen remade, particularly the port of Dover.
This was prevented by an illness which happened to him at Hampton Court, in the form of a slight tertian fever, which should rather have profited than hurt him, for he is very stout (bien fort replet), but one of his legs, formerly opened and kept open to maintain his health, suddenly closed, to his great alarm, for, five or six years ago, in like case, he thought to have died.
This time prompt remedy was applied, and he is now well and the fever gone. Besides the bodily malady he had a mal d'esprit which is to be considered, viz., that, hearing that his subjects in divers places murmured at the charges which, contrary to their ancient liberties, are imposed upon them, and at their illtreatment for religious opinions, and having conceived a sinister opinion of some of his chief men, in his illness, he said he had an unhappy people to govern whom he would shortly make so poor that they would not have the boldness nor the power to oppose him, and that most of his Privy Council, under pretence of serving him, were only temporising for their own profit, but he knew the good servants from the flatterers, and if God lent him health, he would take care that their projects should not succeed.
Upon this impression he spent Shrovetide without recreation, even of music, in which he used to take as much pleasure as any prince in Christendom, and stayed in Hampton Court with so little company that his Court resembled more a private family than a king's train.
Strangers who went thither were asked their business and dispatched or sent back, as if to hide their mien and the King's indisposition. If God disposed otherwise, no kingdom would be more afflicted with divisions than England.
Writes this to show that the English are not prepared to invade others, but only aim at fortifying themselves within this island.
While this King was ill there was no talk of anything else, except the finishing of the bulwarks at Calais and Guisnes, for which some pioneers have been sent. Warned M. du Biez of it that he might hasten the work at Ardre.
The duke of Norfolk expects to return from the North at Mid-Lent. Headed: London, 3 March 1541.