In the beginnyng of this .xvii. yere, the Commissioners in all shires satte, for the leuie of the sixt parte of euery mannes goodes, but the burden was so greuous, that it was deied, and the commons in euery place were so moued, that it was like to haue growen to a rebellion. When this mischief was shewed to the kyng, he saied that he neuer knewe of that demaunde, and therefore with greate diligence, he sent his letters to the citee of London, and to all other places, in the whiche the kyng gentely wrote, that he would demaunde no sum certain, but suche as his louyng subiectes would graunt to hym of their good mindes, toward the maintenaunce of his warres: wherfore the Cardinal, the twentie & sixe daie of Aprill, sent for the Maior of London, the Aldermen and counsail of the same, with the moste substanciall persones, of the common counsail, and when thei were come to his place at Westminster, he saied: the kyng our souereigne lorde, moste graciously considereth the greate loue, zeale, and obeience, which you beare vnto hym, and where like louyng subiectes, without any grudge or againsaie, of your louyng myndes you haue graunted the sixt parte, of all youre goodes and substaunce, frely to bee paid, accordyng to the firste valuacion, the whiche louyng graunt and good mynde, he so kyndly accepted, that it was maruell to see. But I my self do consider the great losses, and other charges that daily hath, & doth to you grow, and that notwithstandyng, any losse or charge that happeneth to you, yet you neuer withstoode nor againsaisd, any of the kynges demaundes or Commissions, as it appereth now of late, of whiche dooynges, I haue highly the kyng enformed, for the whiche he gaue you hartie thankes. Then I kneled doune to his grace, shewyng hym bothe your good myndes towarde hym, and also the charges, that you continuelly sustein, the whiche at my desire and peticion, was content to call in, and abrogate thesame commission, & where he by reason of your awne grauntes, might haue demaunded thesaied somme as a verie debte, yet he is content to release and pardon thesame, and wil nothyng take of you, but of your beneuolence: wherfore take here with you the kynges letter, and let it be redde to the commons, and I doubt not but you will gladly do, as louyng subiectes should do. Here note, that if the Cardinall had not said, that the kyng had released and pardoned the first demaunde, the citezens would haue answered the Cardinall, that thei neuer made no suche graunt, and for a suretie no more thei did not: and so thei helde their peace, & departed toward London, sore grudgyng at the liyng of the Cardinal, and openly saiyng that he was the verie cause, and occasion of this demaunde, and would plucke the peoples hartes from the kyng.
The .xxviii. daie of Aprill, in the Common counsaill of the citee, was redde the kynges letter, accordyng to the effect aboue rehersed, wherfore the citizens sent foure Aldermen, and .xii. Cominers to Hampton courte to geue thankes to the lorde Cardinall, whiche for busines as was saied could not speake with hym, wherefore thei returned not content. Then euery Alderman assembled his ward, in their places accustomed, & gentely moued them of a beneuolence, to be graunted to the kyng, the which thei openly denied, saiyng: that thei had paied inough before, with many euill wordes.
The .viii. daie of Maie, the Cardinall again sent for the Maior and his brethren, whiche shewed them what thei had doen: then saied the Cardinall, you haue no suche commission to examyn any man, I am youre Commissioner, I will examyne you one by one my self, and then I shall knowe the good wil that you beare to your prince, for I will aske of you a beneuolence in his name. Then was it answered to the Cardinall, by a counsailer of the citee, that by the lawe there might no suche beneuolence be asked, nor men so examined, for it was contrary to the statute made the first yere of kyng Richarde the thirde, also some persones commyng before your grace, maie for feare graunt that, that all daies of their life thei shall repent, and some to wynne your fauor, will graunt more then thei bee able to paie of their awne, and so ronne in other mennes debtes, so that by dredfull gladnes, and fearefull boldnes, men shall not be masters of themselfes, but as menne dismaied, shall graunt that that their wifes and children shall sore rewe. The Cardinall hard this saiyng verie paciently, and answered: Sir I maruell that you speake of Richard the third, whiche was a vsurper and a murtherer of his awne nephewes: then of so euill a man, how can the actes be good, make no suche allegacions, his actes be not honorable. And it please your grace said the counsailer, although he did euill, yet in his tyme wer many good actes made not by hym onely, but by the consent of the body of the whole realme, whiche is the parliament. Then sir Willyam Bayly lorde Maior, kneled doune and besought his grace, that sithe it was enacted, by the common Counsaill of London, that euery Alderman should sit in his awne ward, for a beneuolence to be graunted, whiche he perceiued to be against the lawe, that thesame acte by thesame common counsall, might be reuoked and no otherwise: well saied the Cardinall, I am content. But now will I entre into the kynges Commission: You Maior, and you Master Aldermen, what will you geue? my lorde saied the Maior· I praie you pardon me, for if I should entre into any graunt, it might fortune to cost me my life: your life saied the Cardinall, that is a maruelous worde, for your will toward the kyng, will the citezens put you in ieoperdy of your life, that wre straunge: For if thei would that waie, then must the kyng come with strong power them to oppresse, wherfore speake no more suche wordes, and with that he studied a litle and saied: My lorde Maior, let you & your citezens, if you be greued with any thyng, in this demaunde, humbly and after a good fashion come to me, and I shall so entreate you that you shalbe content, and no displeasure arise, & so I praie pou shewe your neighbors, and so the Maior for that daie departed.
The Maior did wisely not to assent to graunt to any thyng, for although he and the Aldermen had assented, the common counsaill would neuer haue assented. So on the next morowe it was declared to the common counsaill, that their act that was made that euery Alderman should sit for a beneuolence to be graunted, was against a statute lawe: wherevpon thesaid act was anulled: and then was it declared, that euery man should come to the Cardinall, and to graunt priuily what he would, with this saiyng the citezens wer sore greued, then the Maior gentely shewed them, how he durst warrant, that thei should bee entreated gentely, and exhorted theim to go thether when thei were sent for, whiche saiyng nothyng pleased theim: and then in a furie thei would haue had Richarde Gresham, and Ihon Hewster Mercers, and Richarde Gibson Seriant at armes and Merchant Tailor, banished out of the common counsail, and so without answere made, what thei would do, thei departed home.
In the same season through all the realme, this demaunde was utterly denied, so that the Commissioners could bryng nothyng to passe, and yet thei assailed bothe by faire waies and foul: some spake faire and flatered, other spake cruell and threatened, and yet could not bryng their purpose aboute. For in Kent the lorde Cobham was commissioner, and handled men roughly, and by reason one Ihon Scudder, answered hym ... [ and was sent ] to the tower of London: For whiche dooyng the people muttered, and grudged against the lorde Cobham, and saied expressedly that thei would paie no money, and then thei began to reckon the loanes and subsedies graunted, so that thei rekened the kynges Tresure innumerable, for thei reckoned that the kyng had taken of this realme, twentie fiftenes, sithe the .xiiii. yere of his reigne, and in this grudge, thei euill entreated sir Thomas Bullein at Maidestone.
In Essex the people would not assemble before the commissioners in no houses, but in open places: and in Huntyngdon shire, diuerse resisted the commissioners to sit, whiche wer apprehended, and sent to the Flete.
The Duke of Suffolke, sat in Suffolke this season in like commission, and by gentle handlyng, he caused the riche Clothiers to assent, and graunt to geue the sixt parte, and when thei came home to their houses, thei called to them their Spinners, Carders, Fullers, Weuers, & other artificers, whiche were wont to be set a woorke and haue their livings by cloth makyng, and saied, sirs we be not able to set you a woorke, our goodes be taken from vs, wherefore trust to your selfes, and not to vs, for otherwise it wil not be. Then began women to wepe, and young folkes to crie, and men that had no woorke, began to rage, and assemble theimselfes in compaignies. The Duke of Suffolke hearyng of this, commaunded the Constables, that euery mannes armes, should be taken from them, but when that was knowen, then the rumor waxed more greater, and the people railled openly on the Duke of Suffolke, and sir Robert Drurie, and threatened them with death, and the Cardinall also, and so of Lanam, Sudbery, Hadley, and other tounes aboute, there rebelled foure thousande men, and put theimselfes in armes, and rang the belles alarme ... then the duke of Suffolke perceiuyng this, began to raise men, but he could gette but a small nombre, and thei that came to hym saied, that thei would defende hym from all perilles, if he hurte not their neighbors, but against their neighbors thei would not fight: Yet the gentlemen that were with the duke did so muche, that al the bridges wer broken, so that their assemble was some what letted.
The duke of Norffolke, high Threasorer and Admirall of Englande hearyng of this, gathered a greate power in Norffolke, & came towarde the commons, and of his nobleness he sent to the commons, to knowe their intent, which answered: that thei would liue and dye in the kynges causes, and to the kyng to be obedient: When the duke wist that, he came to them, and then al spake at once, so that he wist not what thei meant. Then he asked who was their Capitain, and bad that he should speke: then a well aged manne of fiftie yeres and aboue, asked licence of the Duke to speake, whiche he graunted with good will. My lorde saied this man, whose name was Ihon Grene, since you aske who is our capitain, for soth his name is Pouertie, for he and his cosyn Necessitie, hath brought vs to this dooyng, for all these persones and many mo, whiche I would were not here, liue not of our selfes, but all wee liue by the substanciall occupiers of this countrey, and yet thei geue vs so litle wages, for our workmanship, that scacely we be able to liue, and thus in penurie we passe the tyme, we, our wifes and children, and if thei by whom we liue, be brought in that case, that thei of their litle, cannot helpe vs to earne our liuyng, then must we perishe, and dye miserably. I speke this my lorde, the cloth makers haue put all these people, and a farre greater nomber from worke, the husbande men haue put awaie their seruauntes, and geuen vp houshold, thei say, the kyng asketh so muche, that thei be not able to do as thei haue doen before this tyme, & then of necessitie, must we dye wretchedly: wherfore my lorde, now accordyng to your wisedom, consider our necessitie.
The Duke was sory to heare their complaint, and well he knewe that it was true: then he saied, neighbors, sever your selfes asonder, let euery man depart to his home, and chose furthe foure, that shall answer for the remnant, and on my honor I will send to the kyng, and make humble intercession for your pardon, whiche I truste to obtein, so that you will depart, then al thei answered thei would, and so thei departed home.
After this, the twoo dukes came to London, and brought with theim the chief capitaines of the rebellion, whiche wer put in the Flete, and then the kyng came to Westminster to the Cardinals place: Wherupon this matter, he assembled a great counsaill, and openly he said, that his mynd was neuer, to aske any thyng of his commons, whiche might sounde to his dishonor, or to the breche of his lawes, wherfore he would knowe ... who demaunded the sixt parte of euery mannes substaunce: the Cardinall excused hymself & saied, that when it was moued in counsaill, how to make the kyng rich, the Kynges Counsaill, and especially the Iudges saied, he might lawfully demaunde any sum by Commission, and that by the assent of the whole counsaill it was dooen, and toke God to witnes, that he neuer maligned nor desired, the hynderance of the Commons, but like a true counsailer, deuised to enriche the kyng: And the spirituall men saie, that it standeth with Goddes lawe, for Ioseph caused the kyng of Egipte, to take the fifth parte of euery mannes goodes, but because euery manne laieth the burden from hym, I am content to take it on me, and to endure the same and noises of the people, for my good wil toward the kyng, and comfort of you my lordes, and other the kynges counsailers, but the eternall God knoweth all. Well said the kyng, some haue enformed me that my realme was neuer so riche, and that there should neuer trouble haue risen of that demaunde, and that men would pay at the first request, but now I finde all contrary, then euery man helde his peace.
The kyng was sore moued, that his subiectes were so stirred, and also he was enformed of the deniall, that the spirituall men had made and of their saiynges, wherefore he thought it touched his honoure that his counsaill should attempt, suche a doubtfull matter in his name and to bee denied bothe of the spiritualtie and temporaltie, for although some graunted for feare, before the commissioners, yet when thei wer departed, thei denied it again. Then the kyng saied, I will no more of this trouble: Let letters bee sent to all shires, that this matter maie no more bee spoken of, I will pardon all theim, that haue denied the demaunde, openly or secretly: Then all the lordes kneeled doune, and hartely thanked the kyng. Then letters were sent to all commissioners to cease, with instruccions how to declare the kynges pardon. In whiche declaracion, was shewed, that the Cardinal neuer assented, to the first demaunde, and in the instruccions was comprehended, that the lordes and the Iudges, and other of the kynges counsaill, divised thesame demaunde, and that the Cardinall folowed the mynd of the whole counsaill, these two poyntes were contrary one to another, whiche were well marked. And farther the instruccions were, that at the humble peticion, and supplicacion of the Cardinall, thesaied greate sommes, whiche were demaunded, by the kynges auchoritie royall, wer clerely pardoned and remitted, wherefore the Commissioners willed the people to praie for the Cardinall: but the people toke all this for a mocke, and saied God saue the Kyng, for the Cardinall is knowen well inough, the commons would heare no praise spoken of the Cardinall, thei hated hym so muche.
The .xxix. daie of Maie the lordes sat in the Starre chamber, and the ther wer brought one Deuereux, a gentleman of Huntyngdon shire (whiche would not suffre the commissioners to sit, as you haue hard) & Ihon Scudder of Kent, these twoo wer brought from the Tower, bare footed in their shirtes through London, to the Starre Chamber, and there the Cardinall shewed theim their offences, with terrible woordes: and after that he shewed the kynges mercie, extended to them and declared their pardon and so thei wer deliuered.
The morowe after beyng the .xxx. daie, wer the chief of the rebelles of Suffolke, brought to the Starre chamber barre, and there the Kynges counsaill learned, laied sore to theim their offence, but the Cardinall declared for them the kynges pardon: then the kynges Attorney, asked suertie for their good aberyng, thei answered that thei could finde none, then saied the Cardinall I will be one, because you be my countrey men, and my lorde of Norffolke will bee another, and so thei were discharged, and had money to bryng them home: Now here is an ende of this commission, but not an ende of inward grudge and hatered, that the commons bare to the Cardinall, and to all gentlemen, whiche vehemently set furth that Commission and demaunde.
Edward Hall, The Union of the two noble and illustre families of Lancastre and Yorke (London, 1550) sig. A1v-A4v.