The Lamentacion of England

About this text

Introductory notes

This anonymous work reflects mid to late sixteenth-century anxieties about the monarchic succession of England passing to foreign powers. These worries were provoked in the 1550s by the accession of Mary and her marriage to Philip II of Spain. The economic, political, and religious strains of the period were aggravated by a proclamation ordering the expulsion of non-denizen “aliens”, so that Protestant Dutch and French Walloon residents began returning to the Netherlands and Flanders. At the same time, England was afflicted by dearth and famine, which, in the selected extracts, are directly attributed to the introduction of the Catholic Mass. The Lamentacion of England, signed on 30 December 1556, published in 1557 and 1558, also prophesises future dangers from the current political and economic mismanagement in the realm. It predicts that Philip will use the marriage to bring England to war with France, and thus impoverish the English.

The Lame[n]tacion
of England.

Esay lv. chapter.
Seke the lorde while he may be found
and call apon hym while he is nye
lett the ungodly man forsak his own wayse
and the unrightwyse his own ymaginacions
and torn again to the lord our god
so will he be mercifull to us
for he is redy to forgeve.

Joell the second chapter.
Thus sayth the lord
turn you unto me with all your hartes
with fasting
weping and mourning
rent your hartes and not your garments
and turn you to the lord our god for he is gracius
merciful long suffring
and off great compassion
and redy to pardon wickydnes &c.



[Page 1]

THer hath bene here tofore divers godly and weldysposyd persons, that for the preservacyon and welth off ther own contres: have taken great paines to wryte and put fourth divers godly, and notable books for the redressyng oft many abuses usyd in ther comon welthes. Among other serteine Englyshmen, perceivyng the state and comon welth oft England to decaye, being movyd in consciens off a good zeale and trwe hart, that they beare, to this ther naturall contre, have take[n] paynes, to sett forth in prynt, dyvers notable books, which have geven warning to avoyd the great dangers lyke to folowe in the comon welth off this realme, yf spedy remedy were not providyd for.

Fyrst I wyl begyne wyth Johan fyshe, who perceyvyg Johan fysh. the great a busys oft the clergy and sprytualtye, about xxx yeres past, made a lytle treatyse, and namyd it, the supplicacyon oft beggers which God bepraysyd toke some effect: Supplication off begers. wher thorow the great nomber off monks, Chanons, Nunnes, false flateryng fryers, and obstinatlyers, wyth ther develysh disemblyng, and ypocryticall falshode were made manyfest and openly dysclosid, that all men yong and old, dyd perceyve as clere as the day, ther abhominacions, dysemblyng falshod and wyckydnes: for the which accordyng to ther desertes, were by king henry the viii utterly dysclosyd confusyd and came to nawght, as it is manyfest.

Affter that one other booke was made and put forth, under the name off Rodoryck Mors, and namyd a complaynt Roderyke Mors. to the perliament house, declaryng the great nomber off Innormytis and abuses that were usid in the comon welth off this realm the which the more it is to be lamentid, toke litle effect. Besyds many and dyvers other good books made as well in the tyme off K. H. 8. as in the tyme off K. E. 6. which in lyke case toke no effecte.


[Page 10]

More over who seith not playnly now that the prince of spain hath optainid to have the name of the king of Engla[n]d and also is permitid in our english coine to join our english armes with the armes of spain an[d] his fisnamy with the quenes, the croune of Engla[n]d being made over both ther heds in the midest, and yet apo[n] nether of the[m] both, and the supscripcio[n] about the same coines was with the name of philipe and Mary as apperith sens that time, is it not manifest, The king usyth the armes off england in his coin with out the quenes name or fisnamy that he in his own private coine hath usurpid ferther, and joinid his armes with the armes of Engla[n]d, and made his pictur alone, with themperiall crone of Engla[n]d apon his head, leaving out both the quenes picture, and also here name and so usith both the name and armes of England with out the quenes having this supscripcion about his coine Philip R. [...]nglie, francie, neapolis princep. hispaine, by this ye may perceive what he doth intend and purpose, and that he sought not in mariage the quenes person, but the welthy and rich land off England.

Besides this, what practises be inventid daily, to set Engla[n]d at variance with fraunce, it is not unknown, not only by geving out that englishme[n] should go aboute to betray callis to the frenchmen, wherby our new king might have accasio[n] to send in soldiers of his, an[d] so take the town and sortes for him self, but also to cawse some of our Joly luckers, which be soldiers about guines, or ha[m]mes, to pike quarrels with the frenchmen to set us & the[m] together by the eares, that by that meanes the quene might have accasio[n], Practices set us at variance with france. & that it might be thought she should be co[m]pellid, to send out both shippes & soldiers, & so not only co[n]sume the greatist pte of the substa[n]ce an[d] treasure of the realm, with the artillary and navy of the same, but also wilbe accasion off distruction off a great nomber off the noble men gentyllmen & comons off this realm.

It is not long sens that we had warres with fraunce, which was for the[m]prours pleasur, but what folowid ther of, it is not unknown dyd it not all most begger the hole realm, The frutes off warres. besids the losse & distructio[n] of a great no[m]ber of worthy gentilme[n] and como[n]s. Therfore I wold desire the states of the realm, that they [Page 11] wilbe circu[m]spect an[d] well advisid; how they attempt, to breake wyth fraunce, for the pleasure of any other princes, least they be the occasio[n] of the distruction and beggery of the hole realm.

More over it is to be considred when king henri the 8. bega[n] warres with fraunce, how that before he had bene at rest and quiet 30. yeres with out any warres, what we have susteynid by the last warres with france. in the which time, he had gatherid divers waies, great great substance and treasure wherby it was supposid he to have had sufficient, to have maintainid his said warres with all: but for all that, was he not fain to gather off his nobilite, clergy, and comons, divers great subsides, benivolencis, lones or lending off mony, besides also our fine coines off gold and silver, was turnid in to copper and brasse as it is manifest at this day, which was a great dacay to our como[n] welth, as it cannot be denied. wherfore yf the quene should now begin warres with france, for her husbonds pleasure, The quene hath no provision a fore hand. and have not the like provicion aforehand in comparison off her said noble father (as it is to be supposid that she hath not) by raison she hath geven away so mich to the b. off Rome and his adherents, and beggerid her nobles and como[n]s to set up her spitfull spritualty (so that the old proverb is now fulfyllyd, S. Nicolas is on horse bake and S. George is on fote) wher apon it is to be thought that she hath nothing the like provision, that her said noble father had, when he began to have warres with fraunce. And therfore I will leve it to the counsell and states off the realm, to consider what will folowe, yf we should at this present, have warres with france for as I do understond, by other, The mass is the occasion off the great dearth in England. England is in as great misery and penuri at this day, as hit hath bene in many yeres before, the dearth of corne, and all maner of vitall be so exceding dere, although at the first coming in off the quene to here raygne, it was reportid, that that shamfully ydoll, (the blessid masse as they call it) had brought with it, all things plenty, which being contrary now plainly apperith, to be the occasion off the great vengeance off god apon this realm, for so shamfully receiving again, that wickid and abhominable pop stome, with all ther wickid ceremonies, expressly against god and the death of his sone Christ.

This have I writton, considring it to be my dwty in waring my native contre, to avoid the great plages and dangers, that be now coming apo[n] them, and knowing it also to be the dwty of every christean & trwe hartid englishman, and that man that perceivith this his native contre like to come in to ruyn and distruction, and doth not indevore hym selff by all the me [...]s he can devise, for the deliverance ther of, the same is not [Page 12] worthy to be countid a trwe hartid englishman, but a traitoure to his contre, Miles hogerd & his felows. what shall then every trwe hartid englishma[n], Judge of Miles hogerd and his felow helpers, who more like swinherds have made, a shamfull, railing, folishe, and blasphemus boke, against god and his pour persecutid members, and afflictid, congregacion now dispersid abrode in divers conties for his names sake, who by ther flathering bocks, extollith the King above the mone, Themistocles saieng. in ther books the saieng off Themistocles, to the Athenians by thes words why mak eye thes tumultes and rumors, against them, off whom by manifold wais, ye have receivid so many comodites what shall all men judge off this shamelese flaterers. I pray you what commodites hath England receivid, of the king: Except it be, that they bestowid an hundrid thousand ponds, for his charges, to bring him, and his navy off spainierds in to england, which mony, thenglishe merchants latly have paid at Andwerp as it is manifest and cannot be denied. Besids that what discomodites and [...] England is like to receive by hym, I pray god thy may bewarnid to take hede in time. And as touching the kings persone, I know non to find any faute with it, exceapt the quene her selff do, The spaniords respect of the quene. for lake off his company so long, the which as it is reportid he litle regardith, for as his spanierds have blasid abrode in other contres saieng what shall the king do with such an old bich, also affirming that she may be his mother, a yonger is more meter for him, with modispitfull words spoken off them, the which yff an englishma[n] should report, should be taken for to odius. And as for England with a great nomber off the states of other contres: could have bene very well content, that he had p[ro]cedid with his former mariage, The dowghter off portyngal. with the dowghter off portyngall, which had bene more feter and quieter for him, both by the Judgment of his own spanyerds, & also of many other. And as for the nobles and comons off England, they could have bene very well pleasiid, that the quene had also maried withi[n] the realm as with the lord Courteney earl off devenshir borne of a noble house, Lord courtney poisonid or with some other noble man. And so had the said lord Courtney not bene compellid for the save gard off his liff, to have travelid beiond the sees in to strange co[n]tres, wheras it is supposid he was poisonid, for fear off putting the prince off spaine besid his protensid enterprise.

what shall men Judge also off the quene, The lady fransis doughter off to the french quene that now suffrith the aspergement off her blude, and suffrith the hieres apparant off the crone to many so basely and vilre, to bring therby the succession, out off estimacion, that people may the lesse [Page 13] care yf the croune, go to a stranger, which is contrary to the lawes and statuts of this realm, which wold not have bene suffrid in the time of King Henry the 8. nor in any other king or princes time, that had set by the honour of the realme who lerth not the practisys that is usid daily, and all for pour England. The conclusions off peace with the french king, so mich redounding to ther dishonours becawse they might the more quietly, worke, and make ther practis for Engla[n]d, with out sett or interupcion off any other forain princes.

And becawse they have failid off ther purpose at two perliaments and cannot have ther desire, The spanierds [...] off England. to enter apon the realm with pour and force, and so to ca [...]e the prins off spayn to make a conqueste off thys noble Realme (yff he cann) and therby to desinheret all the noble blude and comons off England, and to plant in ther places the vyle spanyerds contrary to the rightfull laws and customs off this realm. The quene [...] And dyd not the quene when she was crownid, take a [...] to mayntain and defend the old and ancyent [...] customs on this realm, and how she kepith them [...] judge.

Moreover what a grevounse plag is it, perceyving the great dearth and scante off corn [...]ail &c to be in all england at this present which hath not bene seen many yeres before, Note how [...] wherby the comon People be in great poverty and misery: that ther is gatheryd such great subsidies off them, besids, lones or lending off mony, as is now, only to kepe them low, and in misery, that the prince off spayne may the lones eprain to come to his [...]aid pretensid enterpryse.

At the quenes first coming to here rayng, she forgave the subsidye, that was grauntid to King Edward the 6. wherby it is to be supposid she had no great nede off mony, or ells it was to make the people more willing to consent, that she should mary with the prince off spayne.

Is it not also manifest, that sens she came to her state and dignite, that she hath had no warres, wherby here treasure should be consumyd, but contrary wyse hath gotten great possessyons and substaunce off those noble men and gentyllmen, that have suffrid most cruell death, besids great [...] that she toke an[d] doth take of many noble men and other [Page 14] sens she came to her raygne as it is manyfest. what the quen meanith by gathering off mony. But all her gathering is to help the King her husbond, and to enrich him and to make him strong, that he may the more easely com in and conquere this noble realm.

Also is it not manyfest how many thousand pounds is dayly payd, by Thenglish merchants and staplers at Andwerp, by the quenes comaundement, and daily more and more is paid by them, and therfore Thenglish merchants, ar comaundid, to make over but two shyppyngs a yere, to the utter undoing off a great sort off yong merchant men who ar not able to abide ther merkets so long, and wherfore do they cawse this ordinance to be made. wha the english merchants must pay at andwerp for the quene. but only that at such tymes, many clothes and wolles may be shyppyd over the sees to gether: off the which clothes and wolles the sayd merchants must lend to the quene, a serteygne some off mony off every cloth, &. serpler off wole, that they so shyppe, that it may amount to .xxx. or xl. thousand pounds at a tyme to thentent that it may serve the king to maynteyne hym and his mynyons out off the realm, becawse he hath no great hast Home to the quene, being now more then xv monythes from Here, wherby it is manyfest and playnly apperyth as clere as the sone, that in mariage he sought not the quenes persone but only the rich and welthy realm of England.

And by cawse I know my name shalbe abusyd, for wryting thus playnly my mynd, for the dwtye and good wyll that I bear to my natyve contre, The authors request. I do desyre the therfore gentyll reader, what so ever thou be, that thou wyle consyder, how many worthy men off the Romayns, dyd not passe to venter ther lives, and gave themselves to the death, for the delyverance off ther contre, Mucius Sevola. Marcus Curcius. as Caius Mucius Sevola, Marcus Curcius, and many other (as plainly apperith in Titus Livius, the Romayns story) for the deliveverance of ther Cyte, co[n]tres and comon welth from the hands of strangers ther henemyes, like as I do at this tyme, and ther fore I do desyre them to Judge the best off me consydryng I do but my dwtye, which likewise is the parte and dwry off every trwe hartid Englishe man.


[Page 23]

But it is also mych to be lamentyd that the quene hath such a hate agaist honest men, that professe the gospell off our saveyour Jesus christ, and be not off her wickid relygyon, that she had rather, that the hole realme, should go to wrake, then that any honest men should be maintainid by here, for she wyll not onli geve the[m] any thyng that myght tourne to the comodite and savegard off the realme. But contrary wyse most sha[m]fully and wrongfully with holdith such pencyo[n]s, as here noble father and brother gave to them by patent, during ther lyves, for reco[m]pence of ther good and faithfull service and paines they toke to serve them in ther daies.

Iff the quene had folowid here noble fathers [...], and bene rulyd by his wise prudent and sage cou[n]selers, who had the knowledge and experie[n]ce how the affayres of the realme stoode this realm, had not come to such mysery and begery as it is at this day but those wyse and worthy men, whom her father tenderly lovid hath she cawsyd to be cruely murtherid, as is aforsaid. And hath sett up counselors of her own, which have no knowledge in the affayres off the realme, but those who will say [...] she saith, and affirme her wickid will and devises to be good and to be a [...]. Like to be co[m]parid, to Roboha[n] the sone off king Salomon, whe[n] the children off Israell came to him saie[n]g, thy fathers yoke was grevouse unto us [...] thou it lighter (he doi[n]g as the quene now doth) folowid such counsele [...] had bene brougt up with hym. And wold not folow the counsell of the [...] and wyse men, that were off his father ki[n]g Salamo[n]s counsell, wher fore, x. of the xii trybes off the chylderne off Israell fell from him, as the story declarith at large, in the third booke off the kings the xii. chapter. But the text saith it was the lords doing.

Oh what substa[n]ce and treasure hath the quene spe[n]t apo[n] the prince of spaine, sence the begyn[n]ing off her mariage, and what unreasonable great subsydes and lones hath she gatheryd, wherby she hath in poverished the subjectes of this realme, for to aid him, wher off the xxii. parte wold have kept Callis with ham[m]es and gwines, &c. that they shold not have bene in the french mens hands at this day, but what carith she, so that she have here own cursyd will, although the hole realme go to dystruccyon, and beggery. what think you wold her noble father. K. H. 8. have done to his sayd dowghter yff he had know, that she wold so wyckidly have rulyd and abusid her state as she hath done, fyrst by marieng with a stranger, (and bringing in the usurpyd autorite off the B of Rome) co[n]trary to her sayd fathers mind, for her sayd noble father by his testament and last will gave her themperiall crown of this realme, but only apon co[n]dycio[n] as plainli apperith by thacte, off p[er]liame[n]t, made for the sucsessyon off the crou[n]e ano, 35. H. 8. so that she wold be rulid by the cou[n]sel, as well in mariage, as in other affayres, as in the same her fathers last wyll establysshyd by act of p[er]liame[n]t plainly apperith. And whether she have obied and folowyd, her sayd fathers last wyll, lett all men Judge.


Oh pray pray pray pray. That god wyll take our wyckid rulers away.
Soli Deo honor & gloria. 1558.

This is a selection from the original text


danger, dearth, fasting, plague, scanty, war

Source text

Title: The Lamentacion of England

Author: Anon

Publication date: 1558

Edition: 2nd Edition

Place of publication: Germany

Provenance/location: This text was transcribed from images available at Early English Books Online: Bibliographic name / number: STC (2nd ed.) / 10015 Physical description: [1], 19, [4] p. Copy from: British Library Reel position: STC / 566:06

Digital edition

Original author(s): Anon

Language: English

Selection used:

  • 1 ) tp, pages: 1, 10-14, 23


Texts collected by: Ayesha Mukherjee, Amlan Das Gupta, Azarmi Dukht Safavi

Texts transcribed by: Muhammad Irshad Alam, Bonisha Bhattacharya, Arshdeep Singh Brar, Muhammad Ehteshamuddin, Kahkashan Khalil, Sarbajit Mitra

Texts encoded by: Bonisha Bhattacharya, Shreya Bose, Lucy Corley, Kinshuk Das, Bedbyas Datta, Arshdeep Singh Brar, Sarbajit Mitra, Josh Monk, Reesoom Pal

Encoding checking by: Hannah Petrie, Gary Stringer, Charlotte Tupman

Genre: Britain > pamphlets

For more information about the project, contact Dr Ayesha Mukherjee at the University of Exeter.