John Fortescue.

The works of Sir John Fortescue, Knight, Chief Justice of England and Lord Chancellor to King Henry the Sixth (Volume 1) online

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and the three eftates of his realm, that the faid King Menry flioul 1 Le, and be really
nominated Regent and Heir ot the kingdom of bVance, and not King of b'rance during the
whole life of King Charles himfelf ; and that after his death the faid King Henry and all the
heirs male of his body fhould be immediately really de jure and de faSlo Kings of the realm of
France for ever ; by virtue whereot the fame King Hein-y afterwards during his life Ityletl
himl'elf and caufed himfelf to be ifyled in all his writings Heir and Regent only, and not
King of France. And in like manner, after his death, the aforefaid fiem-y, his fon, caufed
himfelf to be ftyled heir of France throughout the lite of the aforefaid King Charles, who
was his grandfather, the father, namely, ot the atoreiaid Katherine his mother ; and after
the death of that Charles the fame Henry VI. was, by the title atorefaid, peacefully'anointed
and crowned King of France at Paris, with the aflent and confent of the major part of tlie
princes and lords, as well as of the chief men and commonalty ot all the realm of h'rance.
Again, if the rights of fuch kingdoms defcended to women, the kingdom of Spain \vould
long ago have devolved in right of a woman upon the Dukes of Lancafter and " 'ork,
inafniuch as thofe two Dukes married the two daughters of the King of Spain, and yei that
crown was far from devolving upon them, or either ot them. But after the death ot I'eter,
King of Spain, father of the faid daughters, the chief men and the commons of the faid
kingdom exalted Henry, ball:ard brother of King Peter aforefaid, who had been legitimated

by the Pope, to be their King. .

J. 2 V

514 Tra&s by Sir yoJin Fortefcuc.

It appears, moreover, from the order of Holy Scripture, that God forbad to women
fupreme power over men, by reafon of the tranfgreffion of the firll: woman, when He fays,
" Thoii /halt be under the power of the man, and he fliall bear rule over thee." Where-
fore a law or cuftom which gives to a woman by title of fuccellion the government of a
kingdom, efpecially of fuch a kingdom as hath no fupcrior upon earth in things temporal,
is defervedly called a corruption rather than a law or a cuftom.

i\gain, many duties are incumbent upon Kings of England in virtue of the kingly office
itfelf, which are inconfiftent with the nature of woman, and Kings of England are mfpired
with certain powers by fpecial grace from heaven, wherewith Ouuens in that country are not
infpired. A King of England, for inftance, is held by autliority of the Church to be a
perfona mixta, nnd accordingly, during the vacancy of bifhoprics, the Kings there confer
upon whom they will all vacant prebends of cathedral churches fo vacant, and make thofe
collations by virtue of their royal briefs, by which briefs the faid prebendaries are, in point
of law, fufficiently inftituted and inverted in their prebends, and in the faid cathedral churches
are, by virtue of fuch royal briets aforefaid, incorporated as canons ; and thus in this and iu
divers other cafes which might be ftiown, a King of England may exercife the functions of
a biftiop, which power is not fitting for women, nor ever was granted to a woman
Likewife the Kings of England are, by reafon of the kingly office itfelf, fubjed to m m^
obligations which are oppofed to the nature of women. The Kings of England in t lei ■
very anointing receive from heaven fuch infufion of grace that by touch of their anointed
hands they cleanfe and cure thofe wlio are intci51ed with a certalir difeafe, commonly calle(^
the King's evil, who are faid to be otherwife incurable. Epileptics alfo, and perfons fubje6:
to the falling ficknefs, are cured by means of gold and filver devoutly touched and ofiiret
by the facred anointed hands of the Kings of England upon Eafter day, during di\inL
fervice (according to the annual cuftom of the kings of England) ; even as by means of
rings made of the faid gold or filver, and placed upon tlie fingers of fuch fick perfons, t'le
fame hath been in many parts of the world by frequent trial experienced; which grace j is
not conferred upon queens, inafmuch as they are not anointed on the hands. Moreover,
the queen is anointed on a lower part of the head than the king, in token that flie
hath a fuperior, and is not anointed on the arms like a king, becaufe ftie is not to exercife
power of her own will, nor bear the fword, as the king doth ; and not without caufe, is
faith the Apoftle, feeing it would be againft the rule of nature for a woman to umx iierfelf
up with the bufinefs of a man. Moreover, it might happen that fiich a quet n fiiould,
through heat and raftmefs of love, take for her hufband a man not nobly born, or perhaps
of mean defcent, whofe children would afterward fill the royal throne, and in the lit ; of noble
perfons of the royal name and lineage, would wield the fceptre of the realm, a thing too
lamentable to hear, and far more horrible to lee.

Wherefore it hath never been feen or heard of, that in any kingdom, and above all, in

Defcnfw Jin' is Do inns La?icaJ}?^{ce. 515

England, a woman, however near in degree, fhould, while male heirs of the royal line
furvive, take the crown of the realm, or convey it by any title of hers to her fucceffors.
Neverthelefs, it is fit and proper that upon ceflation of ifiue male the foii of a woman
neareft in the royal line, fo as he be fprung from a father of noble birth, and by his own
charafter be worthy of the honour, fliould, upon fuch a cafe arifing, be raifed by the Lords
and Commons of the realm to the fupreme dignity of king, before all other more remote
defendants of the royal blood.


ERE followeth the third anfvver, corroborated by law of Holy Church

King Henry V., and after him his fon King Henry VI. yet furvi zing, fuc-
cellively anointed and crowned kings of the kingdom of England, reigned bond fide in peace;
without contradidion or reclamation of any, by common content and aflent of all the realm,
for fixty-three years and more continuoufly, a period of time which includes the longeft pre-
fcription and more, prefcription againft the Roman Church only excepted. Since, therefore,
fuch a title by prefcription is, by the law of the Church, fufficient to acquire dominion, i;
follows that King Henry VI. is, by the law of the Church, iufficiently entitled to the king
dom of England.


)FTER the death of Henry V., the moft Chriftian Prince, Henry VL, his foi
and heir, by jull: and rightful title of his parents, fucceeded to the rights of the
crown and kingdom of England ; and while of tendereft age was, without a dif- 1
fentient voice, yea rather with unanimous applaufe, anointed and crowned king of that realm.
To him alfo, while ftill at his mother's breaft, and not yet crowned, the aforefaid Edmund, !
Earl of March, of his own accord did liege homage with all humility as to the heir of the
faid Henry V., and his fovereign king and lord, and with all joy and all polTible fpeed I
haflened to perform the lame. Afterwards, however, when the faid Earl Edmund had been
taken away from this life without heirs of his body, Richard late Duke of York father of
that Edward, and nephew of that Edmund — that is to fay, fon of his filler Anna, as his
neareft heir, in the Chancery of the fame King Henry VI., according to the manner of that
Court, fought and obtained from the king, as from his fovereign lord, that pofiellion of the
faid Earldom fhould be adjudged to him as the neareft heir of Edmund himfelf. -vnd for
fame he did liege homage as to his king and fovereign lord ; and afterwards, under his
Indentures, figned with his feal of arms and fign manual, bound himfelf to his faid King
Henry VI. tor the faithful conducing and bearing himlelt in the office of his Lieutenant in


5i6 TraFis by Sir John Fortefcac.

France, which office alfo he long performed ; in which writings he called the fame Henry
his lovereign lord, and King of England and I"" ranee. And afterwards having from the parts
of P'rance returned to England, under like written indentures, figned with his feal of arms and
fign manual, he bound and pledged himfelf, in every poffible mode, way, and form known
to the law, to ferve faithfully his fime fovereign lord in the office of his Lieutenant in Ireland,
until it fhould be the king's pleafure to recall him ; and the fame King Henry VI., in thofe
his writings, he always acknowledged and named as his fovereign lord, and King of England
and France.

Again, when King Elenry was attacked by illnefs, fo fevere as to be incapable of
attending perfonally to the government of the realm, the fiid Richard, Duke of York, in
writings marked with his feal of arms and fign-manual, of his own free will ftyled the king
his fovereign lord, and King of England and In-ance ; and in open Parliament during the
continuance of that ficknefs took upon himfelf by authority of the laid Parliament, the
office of Proteftor and Defender of England, the whole body of the realm being reprefenred
in that Parliament, according to the laws of England ; and in full Court of Parliament called
(as is of record) the fiid moll: Chriftian prince Henry VI., King of England, and his own
fovereign lord, and that at a time when the king himfelf, by reafon of the infirmity aforefa:d,
could not have compelled him out of fear to do the fiune. Alfo, the fame Richard repeateilly
fwore upon the facred Body of Chrift, facramentally fecn, that he would ever be a faithful
fubjeft and liegeman to the fame his King Henry VI., and to the belt of his power
would defend and affift him, and would adl with all Lis ftrength for the prefervation and
increafe of his royal ftate, and for the confirmation of this oath he received the Body of
Chrift; with the which oath he bound more clofely and flronglv than with any eartl ly
bonds, not his body only, but his loul and his honour. 'J'his Edward alfo his fon novv
ufurper of the kingdom, folemnly fwore in like manner upon the Crofs of Canterbury, iji
prefence of all the clergy of the whole province of Canterbury, then convoked in the churc i
of St. Paul in London, that he would ever honour his fovereign lord, King Henry VI. an'l
would take him for King of England and his fovereign lord, and would humlily obey him
as his king all the days of his lite ; and afterwards in open Parliament repeated and renewe.'i
in like manner this his oath. From which premifes it is clear to all who view the matter in a
true light, that, if the progenitors of this Edv/ard now ufm-ping the throne had had from the
beginning (as they never have had) any right to the crown and realm of England, yet from
that right, by promifes and affirmations confirmed under their ieals and figns-m; nual, by
voluntary renunciations, both expreded and implied, affirmed betore the higheft at tho'-ities,
namely, in Parliament and in the convocation of the clergy, and by folemn oaths voluntarily
made, they have fully and abfolutely withdrawn. And fo it they had had the right, as they
had not, yet hath every way of feeking it been, by their own proper ad, doled againll them,
and the laid right in law ftands annihilated and extinguiflied.


Out of S'. John Fortefcites defence of the title of the hoiije of LaHcaJler, as fullovjcth }

;r-r^'sj(-^^OR the iiiore declaration of the truth it is to be had in mind that Kdvvard
^^^'^tXh ^^'"^s occupying the croune of Englandc by a pretended title, faying that he

\^%^f)^rV '^ defcended thereunto by the right ot a woman called Ladie Phillip,
f<^3Jt-/'j£^ daughter, as he faieth, to Sir Lioiicll of Anwerp, elder brother to Sir lohn
•^^^^S^S^^Ss^^ of Gaunt, of whom is lineally defcended thereunto the verie true Chriftian
Kinge Henrie the fixt. The which Edwarde hathe no right to the fiide Crownc by the
above faid Phillip ; I'or it is playnely founde in the Cronicles ot bVaunce that the faide
Dame Phillip was conceaved in adultry, and gotten upon the wife ot the above '"aide
Lionell by on Sir Jamis Audeley Knight, '.t'hich was fteward ot the houfcholde ot the above
faid wite of Sir Lionell ; the which Sir Lionell being ablent by the ipace ot a yeare and a
halfe from his wife, before the birth of the iaide Dame Philip. Which Sir James afterwarde
tor that offence was beheaded, and Sir Lionell Duke ot Clarence divorced by the Lawe
from the f^iide Philip his Wife, and afterwarde wedded the daughter of tlie Duke of Millaine,
and within that Country dyed, and in peax is buried not far trom Millaine ; and fiiw never
his tirft wife Dame Phillip after with his evne. And alfo llie was exiled into Irelande with
her faid daughter Philip ; which Philip had never foot ot lande ot the Duchy ot Clarence,
nor bare the amies of Englande, ne non that difcended trom her, as by there right tin y
fliold have done if fhe had bene the daughter of the faide Lionell. Which Sir Lionell whc n
he was dead, and the write called diern claiifit cxtremiim weare fente out to all the lliires ot;
Englande, they weare all returned tliat the faide Sir Lionell died without ifilie of his boil)e
lawfully begotten. Therfore Kinge Edwarde the thirde toke all the lande of Sir Lionell

' From Sir Thomab l'll)lll|llJ^■b MSS., No. 13,783.

5i8 Tj^a&s by Sir Jo/i?i Fortefcue.

into his ovvne handes, and at a parleineiite not long after, declared the caufc above faid to ?.U
his people. In the vvhicli p.uleniente, by the advice of the LorJes and Comons of
Knglande, he entailed the Croune to the heires males. And for a [.erpetnal witnes that hii
daughters vveare agreed unto the fanie, they can: all unto the open parliament in there
mantels of eihite embroldred with the amies ot Englande and there openly difclaimed and
renounced from them all the right and title they had or might of pollibility have to the
crounes of Englande and France. \w record wherof they let fall there mantels there, and
departed oute of the parlement in there gites.' So this is a fufficient declaratidn that the
above named Kinge Edwarde that now occupiethe the Croune, hathe no right therunto.

Gite, a gown.







-:r^f)H\S refutation by Sir John I'ortefcue of his own arguments, to which he
j, I'Af&hJ^'^ was compelled by Edwarci IV. as a condition of the reverfal of his
^C??^^ attainder, is now printed for the firft time.

((:';■ /)',A It was written after his pardon and reftoration to the Privy Council

-^^"'^C';". - ?.' i:-^^ '1 October 1471, and before the reverfal of his attainder, which bears
date in the fame month of 147J. He here ityles himfclf " The King's I.iege Man and of
his Councell," and in his petition refers to this piece as " the large and clear writing " by
which he had dilproved all the arguments a^ainft the King's title.

We have ken moft of thofe arguments in the foregoing pages of this volume, either
in " the Latin book," which now forms or is included in the fecond part of his long
treatife, " De Naturil Legis Natura"," or in the fragments of the loll Trafts.

The manufcript copies of the Declaracion with which I am acquainted are as follows,
the firil three being in the Britifh Mufeum —

I. Harleian MSS., 1757, folio, on paper of the clofe of the fixteenth century.
■2. Harleian N'ISS., 537, fmall 4to., on paper of the feventeenth century. This MS.
breaks oiT abruptly before the middle.

J. Royal MSS., 17. d. xv., thick 4to., on paper of the feventeenth century.

4. Lambeth MSS., 262, f. 129.

5. Holkham MS., in the pofleiiion of the Earl of Leicefter.

Their variations are but Jliglit. I have in general followed the Royal MS., as copied by
Mr. Richard Sims, and cdllated with the two other Mufeum MSS., but have fupplied many
illegible words and omilfions from a tranfcript of the Lambeth MS., made for this work
by the Rev. J. O. Payne. For a collation of the Royal MS. with that at Holkham, 1 am
indebted to the Rev. Canon Collyer, and to the permiHIon of Lord Leicefter.

3 X

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The ii>tro-

duiftit > of
th • m itier.





LERNID man in the lawe of this lande come late to the fame Sir John
Eortefcu, iayinge in this wife, Sir, while ye were in Scotelande with
Henry fomtynie king of this lande in dede, though he wer not fo in
righte, there ware made there many wrytinges, and fent hedyre, by
which was fowen amongs the peple matier of grete noyfe and infamye to
the tytle whiche the Kinge oure (oueraigne lorde Edward the fourth hath, and thoo hadde
to reigne vpon us. And truly lyr the conceyvinge and endytynge of thoo wrytings haue be
afcribed to you in theopynioun ot the people, conliderynge that ye were the chief Courceller
to the fiid late Kyng. Eor whiche caufe hit is thought to many right wyfe men, and alfo
to me and othere ot youre trendis, that it is nowe youre dutee, and alfo ye beth bounde in
conicience to declare youre (elte herein, and alfo the qualities and effcil-les of all fuch
wrytinges as ye were thoo pryve unto, in fuch wyfe as thay turne not hereafter to the
Kmges harme. And that ye doo this by wrytings fuch as may come to the knowlache of
the people alfo clerely as dyde the fayd wrytinges (ent oute ol Scotelande ; of whiche many
vete remaynen in the handes ot hdl evyll dyfpofed people that pryvely' rowne and reden
thaym to the Kynges dyfhonour, and difclaimdre of his faid title. Whervnto I'"ortefcu fiyd
in the forme that foloith

My verray good and tru frende, I thanke you hertcly of your fadde and faithl.ill Fortefcu
councell, which 1 fhall folow alfo ferre as ilialbe poflyble to me ; for I knowe vndoutet ly
that it ys reafon I do as ye move me. But yit it is io that there wore many fuch wrytinges
made in Scotelande, of which fum were made by other men than by me, wherunto I was
never pryve. But yet the bryngers of tham into this lande faid they were of my makyng.

illi him
to ni.ike fuch
as is del'yrcd.

' To rowne, is to whifper. To rede, is to fpread abroad.


■ M

I ; vf



The Declaracion

f. 312.

This article

Henry iii. ac-
ceflit, 1216.
Edward ift,
2nd, 3rd,
Richard ii.
Henry 4th,
5th, 6th, Ed-
ward iv.,

r. 312 b.

The anlwer
to the fbrl'ayd

hopynge tharby that thay fb.ulde have been the more favoured. There were alfo other
wrytings made ther by the faid late Kyngs Coiincell, and fent hedyr, to whiche I was not
well willynge, hut yet thay paded by the more partie of that Counceill. And over this
there were made wrytinges there, fonie by myne aiTente, and fom by my felfe. In all fuch
wrytinges it (hall nede that my declaracions were dyuers according to my merites in makinge
of them. NevcrthelelTe I wollde fayne in all thoo wrytinges declare the effedtes of thayme
after my reafon and larnynge, yf I myght have the copyes and doubles of thayme, which I
have not, nor have i^i^iw any minute of them, fythen I come into Englande. And therefore
I pray you hertely to gete me fome of the fayd wrytings or copies of theym yf ye can do
fo ; and els that ye woll declare to me fuche of the matiers as ye can now remembre.
Wherunto the laid lernyd man tlien faid in this wyfe.

Tlie Lerned ALni.
Syr, I haue none of the faid wrytinges nor yet any fayd copy of theym ; but yit I
remembre me well of dyuers maters wryten in lome ot thayme; ot whiche oone macer is
this. Kynge Henry the thirde hadd two fonnes, of which the elder, as the wryting fai h,
was called Edmunde, and ye yonger Edwarde. And becaufe that Edmunde hadde a ^ri te
difformyte in his bake, he was called Edmimde Crochehak. And by that caufe the K\'n ^e
wold not that he fhulde be Kynge o\ Englande after h)Mn ; but wolde tharfore that I is
yonger fjnne fhulde fuccede hym in his Realme; and by that caufe made the faid Edmunde
Erie of Lancaftre, Leycelfre, and Derby, and caufed his fonne called Thomas of Lancallie,
to be Erie of Lyncoln by maryage, and gaffe to him the Erledome of Ilountyngdon, aid
many other gret lordfliippes ; and made the Countee of Lancaft re to be a countee Pal ity 1,
to thentent that his faid elder fonne ihuld be the IclTe in the daunger of his yonger biodcr
Vv-hen he were Kynge. Off whiche Edmunde was afterwarde defcended Bhiunche, doughter
to Kynge Henry, the fyrlle Duk of Lancailre, fonne to Henry, fcconde fonne to the laid
Edmunde. Eor the torfaid Thomas dyed with oute iffue. Whiche Blaunche was after-
warde wedded to John the thirde fonne to Kynge Edwarde the thirde ; which John and
Blaunche hadde ilTue Henry afterwarde Kynge of England, called Kynge Heni-y the fotnyh ;
which hadd iffue Kyng Henry the fyfte ; and he had iffue Kynge Henry the fixt, which by
this meane was nexte heire to Kynge Henry the thyrde. Syr was this your wrytinge.


Vov fothe fyr, nay, nor I was neuer afcentynge to the wryting thereof' And yit I was

' The following- pafl;ige, included in James's '• Excerpta et Fortelcue," is part of the writing which he here
denies to have been his. The evidently Seotcli fpelling can hardly have come from an iMiglilh pen : —

•• King Henry the thyrde h,\d ilTew Edmonde that was called curvus, .ind ICdwarde ; which Edmonde ior his
deformitie was put fra his ryght, and the faid Edwarde made King, and callit Edwarde the lirlle • wilh the long
fchankis.' And fbr peife the feide Edmunde gaif over to hym the Erledome of Lancaflir,wiiich is called the thyrde
foot of the Croune."

iipo/i Certayn U'ryti/io^cs. 525

gretely defyred by my felowys in ScotelandCj to haue made this wrytinge or othyer lyke therto, 1 •

but I wolde not do it, be caufe I knew veryly that it was vntrue ; as it apperith vndoutedly

by a Cronycle, called " the Cronicle of Saynt Albanes," in the which the vvryter, as me

thought, kept an ordre and a rule infallible. For he wrote every moneth, what the Kinge

didd in every grete mater in that moneth ; and what AmbalTatours or other newthinge come

vnto him ; fo as by lyklinefle, he might not erre in his Cronicling. By whiche Cronicle hit ' ,

apperith in what day and monith luiwarde fonne to Kynge Hem-y the thyrde, was borne ;

and howe in the next yere after that, at a day and place fpecyfieJ in the lame Cronicle, tlie

Quene was delyvered of a doughter ; and in an other yere after that ot an other doughter ; f. 313.

and tellith there names ; and how aftei* the byrth of tho twoo doughters, ihe was delyvered

of the faid Edmunde. By which Cronicle hit is clerly Ihewyd that the laid Edward was Edward

four or five yere elder than his forfayd broder Edmunde. And in the Cronicl ; called J^J|,^^J|,J"

" Flores Cronicarum," which is holde of a greater auftorite than eny other Cronicle wiyten

in this lande, the fame Edwarde is ofte tymes callyd Eikvardiis Priinog,;)iitus Regis Anglia.

Wherthorough, and by many reafoiis whiche I now leve for the fchortenelTe, 1 was in- 1

dubitably lerned that the fiid Edwarde was the elder brother. Whertore 1 wolde not alTcnt

to that wrytinge made in Scotelande, nor fe hit ; but I faid to thaynt that moved it that it

was untrue.

'The Lerned Man.
Truly fyr, than faid this lernid maime, I am righte glade that I haue harde you lay thus, The Knied


for by this declaracion the Kings title fhalbe more clere in the oppynion and knowledge ot

the people in that matier, than it (hulde haue bene vi"' the faid vntrue wrvtinQ;e had! neuer ''" '■"d de-

ben made; and thertor I now delyre to haue communycaclon with you upon inch other

maters as I remembre were alfo wryten oute of Scotlaiide ; Trullynge that alter your

declaracion made in theym thay Ihalle alfo turne vnto the Kinges good ; how be it tha)' i

were not made to that entent. I

Item. The Lerned Alan.

Syr, ye wrote in Scotland, that the prefent kynge our foverayne lord ctaymeth this

Roialme by difcent from two women ; which Roialme is not enherytable by any woman as

ye faid. And in proffe of vour entent ve wrote howe Edmunde Irenfyde elder brother to ■' "i)'''

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