Unfortunate Englysh Princes

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Introductory notes

This extract is marked “From some (undescribed?) edition of ‘The Mirror for Magistrates’” in the British Library copy. A Myrroure for Magistrates, printed by Thomas Marshe in 1559, has the running title A briefe memorial of unfortunate Englysh princes. The extract narrates the story of Owen Glendower, the last native Prince of Wales, who revolted against the English rule of Wales. He is assumed, in this text, to have died from starvation, and is cast as a greedy and violent ruler.

Unfortunate Englysh princes.





WHan master Chaloner had ended thys so eloquent a tragedy and to al Princes a right notable and wurthy instructio[n], we paused having passed through a miserable time ful of piteous tragedies And seing the reyne of Henry the fourth ensued, a man more prosperous although not untrobled with warres both of outforth and inward enemies, we began to serch what Princes were fallen therin, whereof the number was not small: and yet because theyr examples wer not muche to be noted for our purpose, we passed over all the Maskers (of whome King Richardes brother was chiefe) whiche wer all slaine and put to death for their traiterous attempt. And finding Owen Glendour next, one of fortunes owne whelpes, & the Percies his co[n]federates, I thought them unmete to be over passed, and therfore sayde thus to the silent co[m]pany: what my masters is every man at once in a browne studye, hathe no man affecion to any of these stories? you minde so much some other belike, that these do not move you: And to say troth there is no special cause why they should. Howbeit Owen Glendour because he is a man of that countrey whence (as the welchmen beare me in hand) my Petigre is discended, althoughe he be but a slender prince, yet rather then he should be forgotten, I wyll tell his tale for him under the privilege of Martin Hundred: which Owen comming naked out of the wilde mou[n]taynes, like the Image of death in all poyntes (his dart onely excepted) so sore hath famine and hunger consumed him, lamenteth his infortune after this maner.

1.2. Howe Owen Glendour seduced by false prophecies toke upon hym to be prince of Wales, and was by Henry then prince thereof chased to the Mountaynes, where he miserably dyed for lacke of foode.

I Pray the Baldwyn sith thou doest entend
To shewe the falles of suche as clymbe to hie,
Remember me, whose miserable ende
May teach a man hys vicious life to flie:
Oh Fortune, Fortune, out on her I crie,
My body and fame she hathe made leane & slender
For I poore wretch am sterved Owen Glendour.
A Welsh man borne, and of a gentle blud,
But ill brought up, wherby full well I fynd
That neither byrth nor lynage make men good
Though it be true that Cat will after kynde:
Fleshe gendreth fleshe, so doth not soule or mynde,
They gender not, but fowly do degender
When men to vice from vertue them doo render.
Eche thing by nature tendeth to the same
Wherof it came, and is disposed lyke:
Down sinkes ye mould, up mou[n]tes the fiery flame
With horne the hart, with hofe ye horse doth strike
The Wolf doth spoyle, the suttle Fox doth pyke,
And generally no fish, flesh, fowle, or plant
Doth any property that their dame had want.
But as for men, sith severally they have
A mynd whose maners are by lerning made,
Good bringing up alonly doth them save
In vertuous dedes, which wt their parentes fade.
So that true gentry standeth in the trade
Of vertuous life, not in the fleshly line:
For blud is Brute, but Gentry is divine.
Experience doth cause me thus to saye
And that the rather for my contreymen,
Which vaunt and boast them selfes above the daye
If they may strayne their stocke for worthy men:
Which let be true, are they the better then?
Nay farre the wurse if so they be not good,
For why they stayne the bewty of their blood.
Howe would we mock the burdenbearing mule
If he would brag he wer an horses sunne,
To presse his pride (might nothing els him rule)
His boast to prove, no more but byd him runne:
The horse for swiftnes hath his glory wunne,
To which the mule could never the more aspyre
Though he should prove that Pegas wer his sire.
Eche man may crake of that which is his own,
Our parentes vertues theirs are and not oures:
Who therfore will of noble kinde be knowen
Ought shine in vertue like hys auncestors,
Gentry consisteth not in Landes and Towers,
He is a Churle though all the world be his
He Arthurs heyre, if that he live a mys.
For vertuous life doth make a gentilman
Of her possessour, all be he poore as Job,
Yea though no name of Elders shew he can:
For proof take Merlin whose father was an hob.
But who so settes his mind to spoyle and rob,
Although he cum by due discent fro Brute,
He is a Chorle, ungentle, vile and brute.
Well thus dyd I for want of better wyt,
Because my parentes noughtly brought me up:
For gentle men (they said) was nought so fyt
As to attaste by bolde attemptes the cup
Of Conquestes wyne, wherof I thought to sup:
And therfore bent my selfe to rob and ryve,
And whome I could of land and goodes depryve.
For Henry the fourth did the usurpe the crowne,
Despoyled the king, with Mortymer the heyre:
For which his subjectes sought to put him downe.
And I while Fortune offered me so fayre,
Did what I might his honour to appeyre:
And toke on me to be the Prince of Wales,
Entiste therto by many of Merlynes tales.
For which, such Idle as wayte upon the spoyle
From every parte of Wales unto me drew:
For loytryng youth untaught in any torle
Are redy aye all mischefe to ensue.
Through help of these so great my glory grew,
That I defyed my King through lofty hart,
And made sharp warre on all that toke his part.
See lucke, I toke lord Reinold Grey of Rythen,
And him enforst my daughter to espouse:
And so unraunsomed held him still, and sithen
In Wygmore land through battayle rygorous
I caught the right heyre of the crowned house:
The Erle of march syr Edmond Mortymer,
And in a dongeon kept him prysoner.
Than all the marches longing unto Wales
By Syverne west, I did invade and burne:
Destroyed the townes in mountaynes & in vales,
And with rich spoyles did homward safe returne.
Was none so bold durst once agaynst me spurne,
Thus prosperously doth fortune forward call
Those whome she mindes to geve the sorest fall.
Whan fame had brought these tidinges to the king
(Although the Skottes that vexed him right sore)
A mighty army agaynst me he did bring:
Wherof the French King being warned afore,
Who mortal hate agaynst king Henry bore,
To greve our foe, he quicklye to me sent
Twelve thousand Frenchme[n] armed to war & bent
A part of them led by the Erle of Marche
Lord James of Burbon a valiaunt tried knight
Withheld by winds to wales ward furth to march
Toke land at Plymmouth privelye on a night:
And whan he had doen all he durst or might
After that a mayny of his men wer slayne
He stole to shyp and sayled home agayne.
Twelve thousand other in Mylford did arive,
And came to me, than lying at Denbigh
With armed welche men thousandes double five:
With whome we went to Wurcester wel nigh,
And there encampte us on a mounte on high,
To abyde the king, who shortly after came
And pitched his field on a Hill hard by the same.
Ther eyght dayes long or hostes lay face to face,
And neyther durst the others power assayle:
But they so stopt the passages the space
That vitayles coulde not come to our avayle,
Wher through co[n]strained our hartes bego[n] to fayle,
So that the Frenchmen shrancke awey by night,
And I with mine to the mou[n]taines toke our flight,
The king pursued us, greatly to his cost,
From Hilles to wuds, fro wuds to valeyes playne:
And by the way his men and stuf he lost.
And whan he see he gayned nought save payne
He blewe retreat, and got him home agayne:
Then with my power I boldly came abrode
Taken in my cuntrey for a very God.

Appendix A Philogamus

Gyve place ye Poetes fine
bow doune now & encline
For nowe ye Muses nyne
So Sacred and Divine
In Parnase holy Hyll
Have wrought theyr worthy wyll
And by theyr goodly skyll
Uppon that myghty Mountayne
In Hellycons Fountayne
(That alwayes doth remayne
Synce Pegase made it flowe
As by your bokes [...]e
Have washed th [...]one
That slepte [...]
That forkes [...] upon
Who after that anon
As he had sene the Muses
Newe Poetry he uses
And yours he cleane refuses.
This is the full version of the original text


animals, fortune, lack, tragedy, virtue, war

Source text

Title: Unfortunate Englysh Princes

Author: Anon

Publication date: c.16th century

Edition: 2nd Edition

Provenance/location: This text was transcribed from images available at Early English Books Online: http://eebo.chadwyck.com/home Bibliographic name / number: STC (2nd ed.) / 13448.4 Physical description: 1 sheet ([2] p.]. Copy from: British Library Reel position: / A3:2[28]

Digital edition

Original author(s): Anon

Language: English

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