83. he had reviv'd.--_C. G._
94. shield: sword, _Garl. G. W._
102. must refuse.
117. robes and pearls of gold.
QUEEN ELEANOR'S FALL.
_A Collection of Old Ballads_, i. 97.
"I never was more surprised," says the editor of the Collection of 1723, "than at the sight of the following ballad; little expecting to see pride and wickedness laid to the charge of the most affable and most virtuous of women: whose glorious actions are not recorded by _our_ historians only; for no foreign writers, who have touched upon those early times, have in silence passed over this illustrious princess, and every nation rings with the praise of Eleonora Isabella of Castile, King Edward's Queen. Father Le Monie, who (in his _Gallerie des Femmes Fortes_) has searched all Christendom round, from its very infancy to the last age, for five heroines, very partially bestows the first place upon one of his own country-women, but gives the second, with a far superior character, to this queen."
In this absurdly false and ignorant production, the well-beloved Eleonora of Castile is no doubt confounded with her most unpopular mother-in-law, Eleanor of Provence, the wife of Henry the Third, whose luxurious habits, and quarrels with the city of London, might afford some shadow of a basis for the impossible slanders of the ballad-singer. Queenhithe was a quay, the tolls of which formed part of the revenue of the Queen, and Eleanor of Provence rendered herself extremely odious by compelling vessels, for the sake of her fees, to unlade there. Charing-cross was one of thirteen monuments raised by Edward the First at the stages, where his queen's body rested, on its progress from the place of her decease to Westminster. In the connection of both these places with the name of a Queen Eleanor may be found (as Miss Strickland suggests in her _Lives of the Queens_) the germ of the marvellous story of the disappearance at Charing-cross and the resurrection at Queenhithe.
That portion of the story which relates to the cruelty exercised by the queen towards the Lord Mayor's wife is borrowed from the _Gesta Romanorum_. See Madden's _Old English Versions_, &c. p. 226, _Olimpus the Emperour_. Peele's _Chronicle History of Edward the First_ exhibits the same misrepresentations of Eleanor of Castile. See what is said of this play in connection with the ballad of _Queen Eleanor's Confession_, vol. vi. p. 209. The whole title of the ballad is:--
A Warning Piece to England against Pride and Wickedness:
Being the Fall of Queen Eleanor, Wife to Edward the First, King of England; who, for her pride, by God's Judgments, sunk into the Ground at Charing-cross and rose at Queenhithe.
When Edward was in England king, The first of all that name, Proud Ellinor he made his queen, A stately Spanish dame: Whose wicked life, and sinful pride, 5 Thro' England did excel: To dainty dames, and gallant maids, This queen was known full well.
She was the first that did invent In coaches brave to ride; 10 She was the first that brought this land To deadly sin of pride.
No English taylor here could serve To make her rich attire; But sent for taylors into Spain, 15 To feed her vain desire.
They brought in fashions strange and new, With golden garments bright; The farthingale, and mighty ruff, With gowns of rich delight: 20 The London dames, in Spanish pride, Did flourish every where; Our English men, like women then, Did wear long locks of hair.
Both man and child, both maid and wife, 25 Were drown'd in pride of Spain: And thought the Spanish taylors then Our English men did stain: Whereat the queen did much despite, To see our English men 30 In vestures clad, as brave to see As any Spaniard then.
She crav'd the king, that ev'ry man That wore long locks of hair, Might then be cut and polled all, 35 Or shaved very near.
Whereat the king did seem content, And soon thereto agreed; And first commanded, that his own Should then be cut with speed: 40
And after that, to please his queen, Proclaimed thro' the land, That ev'ry man that wore long hair Should poll him out of hand.
But yet this Spaniard, not content, 45 To women bore a spite, And then requested of the king, Against all law and right,
That ev'ry womankind should have Their right breast cut away; 50 And then with burning irons sear'd, The blood to stanch and stay!
King Edward then, perceiving well Her spite to womankind, Devised soon by policy 55 To turn her bloody mind.
He sent for burning irons straight, All sparkling hot to see; And said, "O queen, come on thy way; "I will begin with thee." 60 Which words did much displease the queen, That penance to begin; But ask'd him pardon on her knees; Who gave her grace therein.
But afterwards she chanc'd to pass 65 Along brave London streets, Whereas the mayor of London's wife In stately sort she meets; With music, mirth, and melody, Unto the church they went, 70 To give God thanks, that to th' lord mayor A noble son had sent.
It grieved much this spiteful queen, To see that any one Should so exceed in mirth and joy, 75 Except herself alone: For which, she after did devise Within her bloody mind, And practis'd still more secretly, To kill this lady kind. 80
Unto the mayor of London then She sent her letters straight, To send his lady to the court, Upon her grace to wait.
But when the London lady came 85 Before proud El'nor's face, She stript her from her rich array, And kept her vile and base.
She sent her into Wales with speed, And kept her secret there, 90 And us'd her still more cruelly Than ever man did hear.
She made her wash, she made her starch, She made her drudge alway; She made her nurse up children small, 95 And labour night and day.
But this contented not the queen, But shew'd her most despite; She bound this lady to a post, At twelve a clock at night; 100 And as, poor lady, she stood bound, The queen, in angry mood, Bid set two snakes unto her breast, That suck'd away her blood.
Thus died the mayor of London's wife, 105 Most grievous for to hear; Which made the Spaniard grow more proud, As after shall appear.
The wheat that daily made her bread Was bolted twenty times; 110 The food that fed this stately dame, Was boil'd in costly wines.
The water that did spring from ground, She would not touch at all; But wash'd her hands with the dew of heav'n, 115 That on sweet roses fall.
She bath'd her body many a time In fountains fill'd with milk; And ev'ry day did change attire, In costly Median silk. 120
But coming then to London back, Within her coach of gold, A tempest strange within the skies This queen did there behold: Out of which storm she could not go, 125 But there remain'd a space; Four horses could not stir the coach A foot out of the place.
A judgment lately sent from heav'n, For shedding guiltless blood, 130 Upon this sinful queen, that slew The London lady good!
King Edward then, as wisdom will'd, Accus'd her of that deed; But she denied, and wish'd that God 135 Would send his wrath with speed,--
If that upon so vile a thing Her heart did ever think, She wish'd the ground might open wide, And she therein might sink! 140 With that, at Charing-cross she sunk Into the ground alive, And after rose with life again, In London, at Queenhithe.
When, after that, she languish'd sore 145 Full twenty days in pain, At last confess'd the lady's blood Her guilty hand had slain: And likewise, how that by a fryar She had a base-born child; 150 Whose sinful lusts and wickedness Her marriage bed defil'd.
Thus have you heard the fall of pride, A just reward of sin; For those who will forswear themselves, 155 God's vengeance daily win.
Beware of pride, ye courtly dames, Both wives and maidens all; Bear this imprinted on your mind, That pride must have a fall. 160
THE DUCHESS OF SUFFOLK'S CALAMITY.
From _Strange Histories_, p. 17 (Percy Society, vol. iii). Other copies, with variations, are in _The Crown-Garland of Golden Roses_, Part II. p. 20 (Percy Society, vol. xv.), and _A Collection of Old Ballads_, iii. 91. The editor of _Strange Histories_ informs us that a play on the same subject as the ballad was written by Thomas Drew, or Drue, early in the reign of James I., and printed in 1631, under the title of _The Duchess of Suffolk, her Life_. He remarks further that both play and ballad was founded upon the narrative of Fox, anno 1558 [_Acts and Monuments_, iii. 926, ed. 1641]; but the differences between Fox's account and the story which follows are altogether too great for this supposition to be true.
Katharine, daughter of Lord Willoughby of Eresby, was first married to Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk, and after his death to Richard Bertie, Esq., with whom she was forced to fly from persecution in 1553, taking refuge first in the Low Countries, and afterwards in Poland.
When God had taken for our sinne That prudent prince, King Edward, away, Then bloudy Bonner did begin His raging mallice to bewray; All those that did the Gospell professe 5 He persecuted more or lesse.
Thus, when the Lord on us did lower, Many in pryson did he throw, Tormenting them in Lollards tower,[L9]
Whereby they might the trueth forgoe: 10 Then Cranmer, Ridley, and the rest, Were burnt in fire, that Christ profest.