H. D. (Henry Duff) Traill.

Social England; a record of the progress of the people in religion, laws, learning, arts, industry, commerce, science, literature and manners, from the earliest times to the present day (Volume 3) online

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Online LibraryH. D. (Henry Duff) TraillSocial England; a record of the progress of the people in religion, laws, learning, arts, industry, commerce, science, literature and manners, from the earliest times to the present day (Volume 3) → online text (page 22 of 68)
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mountebanks (usually foreigners) who abounded in England :
by the statutes of the Guild of Barber-Surgeons of York, a
travelling empiric was allowed live days' grace in the city in
the way of hospitality to a stranger, but after that he had
to get a licence and submit to the same conditions of practice
as the resident profession. While the members of the guilds
were more respectable than the mountebanks, they were likely
to be faster bound to a routine. Perhaps the most recondite
part of their education was to learn the twenty points of the
superficial veins at which blood should be drawn, and the right
vein for each particular disease, together with a highly complex
method of casting from tables of numbers, zodiacal diagrams,
and the like, the day of the moon, and the hour of the day
at which the phlebotomy should be performed (Vol. II., p. 116).
Medical There is every reason to think that practitioners in the

higher walks, both of medicine and surgery, were well paid in
the first Tudor reigns. In 1535 the Venetian ambassador had
an illness which cost him, in all, seven hundred ducats, " and
for so many physicians," and reduced him to his last ducat.
A youth in 1502, whose expenses were paid from the privy
purse of the Queen Elizabeth of York, cost as much (20s.)
for a surgeon to cure him of the French pox as he
cost for his diet and clothes, shoes and linen for a whole
twelvemonth, together with a primer and a psalter. The
same queen paid to- a London surgeon a fee of thirteen
shillings and fourpence (money of the time), for visiting her
at Richmond. Latimer, in a sermon of 1552, said : " But
now, at our time, physic is a remedy prepared only for rich
folks, not for the poor ; for the poor is not able to wage the
physician." One illustration, although it is a few years beyond
the limit of the reign, may be added. When Havre was
occupied by the English in 1563, and besieged by the Catholic
powers, disease broke out among the five thousand English
within the town or in the ships, and turned to plague, which
in the month of July was destroying them at the rate of more
than a hundred in a day. The Earl of Warwick wrote home,

SOCIAL LIFE, 1509-1558. 201

complaining of the lack of surgeons, and was answered by
the Privy Council that the cause of the said lack was, that
surgeons " required greater entertainment than was allowed,"
and that the best way to secure their services was to provide
an allowance for them out of the soldiers' pay. The Earl of
Warwick then made another appeal; he knew of one Colff,
an apothecary in Cornwall, skilled in curing the plague, who
was willing to leave his family and come to Havre for a
hundred pounds. The Privy Council at length ordered sur-
geons to be sent, with a physician to replace one who had
left in ill-health. This physician was Dr. Jeynes, the same who
had startled the College of Physicians in London, only three
years before, by asserting that Galen was in error in a certain
matter, but, being- brought to book, had recanted his heresy,
and been received back into favour. If it cannot be said that
he had the courage of his opinions, he must have had courage
of a sort, for he carried his life in his hand when he crossed
over to plague-stricken Havre, and he had not been many
days there when he died.

A VERY black side of the picture of early Tudor morals might be
painted if it were well to colour it from such examples as the 1509-1558.
deep depravities of Henry YIII.'s maturer years, or the less
familiar story of the amours of Henry's prototype, Brandon, Duke
of Suffolk. Brandon's complicated matrimonial history begins
with his contract to one Anne Brown : he obtained a dispensation,
and then married a widow, and separated from her on three Tudor Morals,
pleas ; first, that stung by conscience he had become satisfied of
the invalidity of the marriage, inasmuch as he and his wife were
in the second and third degrees of affinity ; second, that his wife
and his first betrothed were within the prohibited degrees of con-
sanguinity ; third, that he was first cousin once removed of his
wife's former husband. Released from the widow, he married
Anne Brown. Before she died he committed bigamy by
marrying Mary Tudor, the widow of Louis XII. Margaret of
Savoy and Lady Lisle had already been among his other loves.
On the death of Mary (June, 1533), he married his ward in
September. Such a biography, taken in conjunction with the
letters of the wife of Thomas, third Duke of Norfolk, of the



Howard house, the statement made l>y Surrey's sister that he,
her brother, had proposed to her that she should become tin-
king's mistress, the melancholy history of many unequal or
child marriages, all seem to point to the widespread taint of
the bad example of the court or to the general laxity of morals.
The mischief was largely due to the extraordinary tangle which
the canonists had made of the marriage law. Rules had

Ph.'tn: Walker and Cockerell.

(Siitiiiiinl I'ui'ti-"!/ linllery.)

been invented which made incest and bigamy words of very

vague meaning.

Yet to judge the whole nation to be morally corrupt because
these things were so, would be wholly misleading. No one can
read the words in which Brewer summed up his view of six-
teenth century morality without feeling that they must be true.
The sixteenth century, he says, "was not a mass of moral
corruption out of which life emerged by some process unknown
to art or nature ; it was not an addled egg cradling a living bird."

The thoughts which did the work of the early sixteenth
century were not the thoughts of men steeped in sensuality.

SOCIAL LIFE, 1509-1558. 203

It was an age, to quote the same pre-eminent authority, Character
"instinct with vast animal life, robust health and muscular Nation,
energy, terrible in its rude and unrefined appetites, its fiery
virtues and fierce passions." The stigma which attaches to
the court and the court families in Henry YIlI.'s time does
not attach to the official class which his father had created.
The same words of characterisation cannot be used to
describe all classes of society. Ambitious, greedy, cruel, un-
scrupulous, the greater number of Henry's officials un-
doubtedly were, but only the humbler tools can be branded
with yet harsher words. Inasmuch as Henry governed through
the official class and not through his courtiers, the nation at large
was saved from the worst results of his example. The number
of capable statesmen in the ranks of the noble families was
indeed so small that Henry had no choice but to seek his
ministers amongst the officials trained in his father's traditions.
Henry fully recognised the wisdom of ruling by means of the
most capable men in his kingdom, especially men who knew
that they must submit to his rough handling as part of the
price of their offices. Of Cromwell it was said :

" The king beknaveth him twice a week, and sometimes knocks him
well about the pate ; and yet, when he hath been well pomelled about the
head and shaken up as it were a dog, he will come out into the great
chamber shaking of the bush (i.e. from the pomelliug), with as merry a
countenance as though he might rule all the roast."

The king treated his ministers much as other householders
treated their domestic servants. Knocks and blows, with jokes
and familiarities, were alike part of the easy domesticity of
Henry's court. It is known that he dandled his two-year-old
baby, Mary, in the presence chamber, when ambassadors were
receiving their audiences.

Henry's buoyant spirits and love of display, which contrasted Tb court,
markedly with his father's severe gravity, led to a great increase
in the number of costly court entertainments, and in the
variety of amusements provided in the early part of the reign.
"It was merry in England before the new learning came up."
The chronicler and lawyer, Edward Hall, has left a record of the
merrymakings in which the king took part, and like the
funeral-provider, Machyn, whose diary is important for the
next period, he seems to have taken a professional interest in



pageants. No detail of spectacular effect escaped him, tor he
knew the name of every fabric, and how each result was pro-
duced. (Quotation gives little idea of the wealth of his de-
scriptions. The joust and ton may, with tilting at the ring, suited

Henry well in his younger years, for
they combined violent exercise with an
opportunity for showing off his splendid
physique and fine clothes. The joust
began with a grand procession, but ended
in a serious contest of strength ; the
king's prowess was matter of common
talk, and gave rise to some anxiety, as
the risk to his life was thought to be
considerable. The king would run a
joust of thirty courses without fatigue.
It was a pretty sight, it is said, to see
the king at such exercises, " his fair skin
glowing through a shirt of the finest
texture." He was indefatigable in
dancing, jumping, wrestling, casting the
bar ; he was a great tennis player, and
no less energetic, at quieter moments, in
playing on the recorders (pipes), flutes,
virginals (spinet), in setting songs to
music, harmonising " goodly masses" for
five part voices, and in making ballads
(p. 14S).

The amusements in which the ladies
of the court had most share were the
interludes, mummeries, devices, and
" trick - waggons," words the precise
meaning of which is now almost lost.
The descriptions of the " device,"
"pageant," ''triumph" and "trick- waggon"
bring before the eye something between
Amusements, a pantomime transformation scene and a circus procession. A
grand gilt waggon brought on the " device," a scene of wood-
land or mountain, cut out of silk and stuff and coloured paper.
On various tiers of the Avaggon were people standing who
represented allegorical or classical characters. When the car


(Tower of J

SOCIAL LIFE, 1509-155S.


had been wheeled into the centre of the hall, the actors, male
and female, climbed down and danced, acted, sang, or did feats
of skill. There are records extant showing the nature and cost
of all the fabrics used, how much vermilion went to paint the


(Tower of London. )

mouths of the beasts, how many ells of cloth to make the beasts'
bodies, what number of the properties had been spoilt or might
serve for another occasion. The common herd was allowed
extraordinary licence on the occasion of court festivities, and
scenes of the utmost disorder occurred. The king and nobles


would distribute portions of their finery to the crowd, and in
the press and excitement, ladies, and even the king himself,
were stripl against their will. But after a "banket," Hall savs,
" all these hurts were turned to laughing and game, and it was
thought that all that was taken away was but for honour and
largess." It remained for the royal accountant to record the precise
damage. A forest or pageant "after its usage at Westminster
Hall, by the king's guard and other gentlemen," was rent,
broken and by force carried away, and " the poor men that were
set to keep it had, two of them, their heads broken, and the
remnant was put therefrom by force, so that none thereof but
the bare timber came to the king's use or store."

Complaints against excessive "carding" continue to take a
prominent place in the satires on the misdeeds of the wealthy,

The clergy

" Can skill of post l and gleek, 2
Also a pair of dice to troll."

Hall observes that very early in his reign Henry " was
much enticed to play at tennis and at dice, which appetite
certain crafty persons about him perceiving, brought in French-
men and Lombards to make wagers with him, so that he lost much
money; but when he perceived their craft, he eschewed their
company and let them go." Henry ordered the commons
likewise to eschew the tempting games which had long been
illegal. An order went out in 1520 that all tables (back-
gammon-boards), dice, cards and bowls should be taken and
burnt, and the people murmured against the Cardinal (Wolsey)
saying, " he grudged at every man's pleasure saving his own."
Mystery j n manv o f the provincial towns the mystery plays were a

principal source of amusement at holiday seasons. At Chester
each trade undertook to furnish a given scene, generally chosen
with some idea of its suitability for the occupation in question.
Thus the water-bearers provided the scene representing the
Flood ; the butchers, Christ's Temptation ; the bakers, the
Last Supper ; the bowyers, fletchers and stringers, the scene
of the Scourging of Christ; the ironmongers and ropers, the
Crucifixion, the cooks, tapsters and innkeepers provided " The
Harrowing of Hell." Besides these old shows, which by con-

1 The stakes at cards or dice. 2 A <>-ame of cards for three players.

1, 2, 3, recorders, treble, tenor, and bass ; 4, pipe and tabor ; 5, hornpipe ; 6, shawm ;

S, 9, crom horns ; 10, 11, 12, cornets.


(By permission of the Rev. F. W. Hn.ljiin.)







stant repetition had perhaps become somewhat tedious, there
were, in London at all events, plays of a more modern type.
Playwrights had already begun to sec in political stirs a
means of increasing the interest of their works. In 1528 the
King and ^hieen saw a Latin play acted by children, which
opened by showing the Pope in captivity and the Church
crushed under foot. By St. Peter's authority the Cardinal brings
the Pope to liberty, and sets up the Church again, and fives
the French king's children from the emperor who kept them
as hostages. " At this play wise men smiled, and thought that
it sounded more arlorious to the Cardinal than true to the matter


indeed." But the time was not far distant when it would be
necessary to forbid the commons to play in English, openly or
secretly, any kind of interlude, play, dialogue, or other matter
set forth in form of play. It was a source of distress to the
Government that the " precious jewel, God's Word," should be
disputed, rhymed, sung and jangled in every alehouse and
tavern, but it was beyond the power of proclamations to stop
the tavern-talk over themes which the Government had made
of the closest personal interest.

Englishmen were satisfied then as now that they alone were
free while other men were bond. 1 They believed their burden
of taxation to be light as compared with the Frenchman's, and
Londoners, at least knew that there were certain limits t<>
their endurance which might not be passed. Hall's account of
the Londoners' overthrow of the hedges and ditches set up in the
common fields of the growing villages of Islington, Hoxton
and Shoreditch, gives a good example of a successful London
rising. The enclosures made it impossible for the young men
of the city to shoot, and for " ancient persons " to walk for
their pleasure in the fields. It was coming to this, that no
Londoner was able to go out of the City but in the highways.
This saying sorely grieved the Londoners, and suddenly a great
number of the citizens assembled themselves, and a turner in a
fool's coat came crying through the City, " Shovels and Spades,"
and so many people followed that it was wonder : and within
a short space all the hedges about the towns (i.e. villages) were
cast down, and the ditches filled and everything made plain, {'or
the workmen were diligent The King's Council, hearing of this.

1 Hall's Chronicle, p. (J'.iti.

SOCIAL LIFE, 1-W9-1558.


came to the Grey Friars, and sent for the Mayor and Council
of the City to know the cause. The Mayor explained that the
citizens had good cause for complaint, though he wished that the
community and young persons " which were dampniried by the
noysaunce " had not plucked up and remedied the same with quite


so much independence. The Council of the king saw that they
must yield, "and so after, the fields were never hedged."

But there were other occasions on which Londoners proved Tne
,11. f i i- Feeling

themselves as impotent to control the final issue or events as in against

the matter of paths and commons they had been powerful.
Apprentices, journeymen, and native merchants were satisfied
that an expulsion of alien merchants would lead to an immediate
improvement in their own position. Every writer on the social


grievances of his time dwelt on the necessity of chocking the
foreigner's commercial activity in England. Either he should be
forhidden to trade, or Englishmen should refuse to buy the
worthless goods he sold. The arguments on the other side were
never put, but the natural laws that regulate the progress of
societies worked relentlessly on, and required no pen to defend
them. A general rising of Londoners took place, but was power-
less to hinder the course of events. The rumour was spread that
Evil May on May Day of 1517 all foreigners would be massacred. A popular
preacher preached on the text, " The heaven is the Lord's,
and the fulness thereof; but the earth He has given to the
children of men," arguing ingeniously therefrom that it was the

o o */

duty of Englishmen to defend themselves against aliens : his
audience Avas excited, and at the first scuttle a cry of " Clubs !
'Prentices ! " Avas raised, and the riot began. It ended in fiasco,
because of Wolsey's readiness and foresight. The ringleaders
Avere treated Avith severity, and the rioters were thoroughly
frightened. The Lombard, Florentine, Lucchese, and Genoese
merchants, the Flemings, Picards, Spanish and Scotch, held
their oAvn, and the English mercers, grocers, drapers, gold-
smiths, skinners, haberdashers, tailors, leather sellers, pursers,
points-makers, gloves, pouch-makers, saddlers, cutlers, peAvterers,
coopers, girdlers, founders, cordAvainers, 2 vintners, spurriers,
joiners and all other chapmen, could only resort to petitions to
the Council. The lists of goods made by foreigners, on Avhicli
it Avas desired that restrictions should be put, included " any
Protec- manner of girdles, or harness Avrought for girdles, points, laces
of leather, purses, pouches, pins, gloves ; knives, hangers, 3
tailor's shears scissors, andirons, cupboards, tongs, fire-forks,
gridirons, locks, keys, hinges, and spurs ; painted papers, painted
chests, painted images, painted cloths (tapestry) ; any beaten
gold or beaten silver Avrought in papers for painters ; saddles
and harness, brass nails Avith iron shanks ; standing candlesticks,
hanging candlesticks, holy Avater stoops, chafing-dishes, hanging
lavers, curtain-rings, cards (combs) for AVOO! (except bone cards, or

1 Laces which served instead of braces, and which were also used orna
mentally. It would seem that they were liable to break when used as braces.
A wife sends her husband "a pair of hosen and six dozen points" when he
is travelling. '-' Shoemaker*.

3 The ornamented strap from which the knife or dagger hung.

SOCIAL LIFE, 1509-1558.


combs), clasp:-; for gloves, buckles for shoes, brooches, bells
(except bells for hawks), spoons of tin and lead, wire chains,
grates, hares (caps) and lantern-horns. The wonder is that
such a list should ever end, or that any exceptions should be
allowed. The foreigners, it is clear, had a large share of the
iron, leather, and timber trades, and pre-eminence in artistic
productions. Their wainscots, wood work, furniture, and
all their small iron work are included in other lists. In the
" Discourse of the Common Weal of England," written about
1549, the doctor, whose share in the dialogue is believed
to represent the views of Latimer, deals with the same question.
His list of necessary imports is : wines, silks, spices, iron, salt.
Of exports he names only wool,
cloth, leather, tallow, beer, butter,
cheese and pewter vessels. The
imports which excited his con-
demnation were " glasses, as well
looking as drinking," glass-win-
dows, dials, backgammon-boards :
cards, tennis-balls, rattles, puppets
(dolls), pen - horns, inkhorns,
toothpicks, perfumed gloves, aglets
(ornamental tags to laces), buttons
of silk and silver, earthen pots,
brown and white paper. He tells
with great satisfaction a story
of a Welsh port, into which
came a vessel loaded with a cargo of apples. The inhabitants
refused to buy rubbish, that would be wasted in a week, in
exchange for the best wares they had in the country, such as
friezes, broadcloths and wool ; " bring us corn and malt as you
were wont to do, and you shall be welcome at all times and
have free sale in our port." The learned doctor wishes that
all the great English ports would treat in the same fashion
the ships that come laden with pippins, oranges or cherries.
They might be allowed to take back a cargo of damsons,
plums or strawberries, but nothing durable should be sold
in exchange for perishable goods.

The period was one of change and transition, and it is clear
from the above lists that English tradesmen were slow to adapt

(Lewes Museum.)


themselves to the new needs and luxuries of the upper classes.
In the fifteenth century England had been more than normally
insular, but Henry VITI.'s interest in the doings of the French
Court, and his intercourse with his fellow-sovereigns, led
to an influx of foreign fashions with which, even at the
end of the reign, the English shopkeepers could scarcely
keep pace. The doctor in the Discourse complains that no
man can be contented with any other gloves than are made
in France and Spain, no kersey but it must be of Flanders
dye, no brooch nor aglet but of Venice-making, or from
Milan, no dagger, sword, girdle or knife but of Spanish
making, no, not so much as a spur, but it must be " fetched
at the milliner's (Milanese) hand." Although at Bristol
the " chiefest mystery ' that was exercised in that town
was the point-maker's, yet foreign points to trim up hose
and decorate doublets were more highly esteemed, and, for
similar reasons, the Coventry blue-thread trade was com-
pletely gone.

In W 7 nk y n cle Worde's "Galaunt," 1520, the introduc-
tume. tion of French fashion is bemoaned at length to the refrain,
"England may wail that ever it came here." The principal
features of the new style in men's dress were the close-
cut hair, which Henry had enforced peremptorily at Court
in imitation of Continental sovereigns ; the cap and under-
cap, the "guarded'' and " purfled " cloaks of a new shape,
trimmed, edged, or lined with furs as of old : the open
shirt or French " chemay " : the open doublet and " petti-
coat," or small coat worn underneath the doublet; the
falling collar, embroidered in black : lace ruffles falling over
the Jiands ; the short " bolstered " and slashed breeches, the
" upper-stocks " of the long hose, which were made of thicker
stuffs than the " nether-stocks," but generally of the same
colour as, for example, crimson velvet upper-stock and crimson
silk nether-stock ; the slashed shoes, showing pleats of the bright
coloured hose in the slashings ; the light " dancing-sword,"
rapier, or white rod, which excited ridicule or some alarm for
the future of the nation in those Avho remembered the heavy
swords of an earlier time. It was noticed by a Venetian
that the king wore a beard, contrary to the usual English
fashion, 1527. In his reign beards were prohibited at the

Pliota : ir. Fpootirr if: Co., Strand, II'.C'.
(From the picture attributed to Stretes at Hampton Court Palace.)




(Juhn IJti/n-iiud's Four I'l'., <. ].",4.j.)

Lincoln's Inn high
table under pain ot
paving double com-
inoiis. In all the
accessories of men's
dress there was great
variety, in the "pas-
semyn-" or " parch-
ment-' 1 lace, in the
" pi 11 chin g " or
pleating of the
partlet or habit-
shirt, the quilting
of the doublet, the
lacing of the " cut
and underlaid" portions with gold -''points" and aglets, the
embroidery of the shirt and vast hanging-sleeves. Men were
wearing a great many garments, and for ease and in order
to show them, it was fashionable to wear everything open
in front, Fitzhcrbert complains that men have so many
pleats upon their breasts and such puffed sleeves that they

Online LibraryH. D. (Henry Duff) TraillSocial England; a record of the progress of the people in religion, laws, learning, arts, industry, commerce, science, literature and manners, from the earliest times to the present day (Volume 3) → online text (page 22 of 68)