A woorke of Joannes Ferrarius Montanus, touchynge the good orderynge of a common weale

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Introductory notes

Johannes Ferrarius Montanus, a Lutheran German theologian, published his De republica bene instituenda in Basel in 1556. It was translated into English by William Bavande in 1559. Ferrarius discussed the responsibilities of magistrates, such as judges, lawyers, notaries, and civic and national government officials, whom he considered the foundation of a reformed and well-governed commonwealth. Bavande’s translation frequently uses the rhetoric of food, drink, famine, and plenty to underline Ferrarius’s key arguments about husbandry, trade, the eradication of poverty, and charity. The selections are from chapters focused on these issues.

Montanus, touchynge the good orderynge of a
common weale: wherein aswell magistra-
tes, as private persones, bee put in re-
membraunce of their dueties, not
as the Philosophers in their
vaine tradicions have de-
vised, but according
to the godlie in-
sounde doctrine of
Englished by William


Imprinted at London, by John
Kingston, for John Wight,
dwellyng in Poules

PUBLISHED BY John Kingston



1.1. The argument of the fift Chapter.
That it is the parte of a wise magistrate convenientlie to provide such thinges as be neadefull for the Citezins to live by, without any wrong done to others.

ALexander surnamed the greate, when he had welnere brought the whole world under his subjection, ledde forthe his armie, and being desierous of immortalitie, purposed to builde a Citie, named after hys [Page 44] owne name, and to furnishe the same with inhabitantes. Whom Dynocrates a cunnyng builder of Macedonia folowing, when he had fashioned the mount Athos after the proporcio[n] of a man, in whose left hande he figured the walles of a large citie, and in the right a cuppe to receive the water issuinge out of all the rivers of that Hill, and so to conduct theim from it into the Sea: Alexander delighted in the fairenes of this purtraiture, by and by enquired, whether there were anye grounde about to furnishe it with store of corne: and findyng that it could not be maintened, but by cariage from beyonde the seas, saied: I do well marke (Dynocrates) the fine drawing forth of the platte, and am delighted therewith, but this do I withall marke, that if a man would plant any companie of menne in suche a place citie wise: the devise will not bee liked. For as a yonge infant can not be nourished wythout his nourses milke: so neither can a citie, be it never so faire, encrease and maintaine any number of people, without groundes liyng thereunto for the bringynge forthe of fruites, yeldyng plenteous provision for the sustinaunce of the inhabitantes. And as I allowe the platteforme, so doe I disallowe the place. And so leaving this worke undone, he folowed the king into Egypt, whiche there perceivynge an haven naturallye fortified, a goodly marte place, the fieldes throughout all Egipte to be of a batfull soyle, and the manifolde commodities of the great river Nilus, he commaunded in Egipt Dynocrates to builde a citie there, named Alexandria after his owne name.

Wherby it is evident, that soche as builded tounes did not onely reste upon the fairenesse of walles, and houses: but provided also, that thei might be set in soch a fertile place, wheras thei should have ple[n]tie of corne, abundaunce of victualle, the benefite of water, and all soche thinges, wherwith a citee should be mainteined. Likewise, who seeth not that his judgement, is to bee [Page] misseliked, who so therefore thinketh a citee to stande well, bicause it is environed with walles and trenche, garnished with goodly buildynges, and situate in soch a place, whereas nothing wanteth, that can appertein unto the health of the people: if it be not also institute, framed and governed by such lawes, such discipline of maners, soche a kinde of rule, and that continuallie, that there maie bee the mutuall pleasuryng of one an other, the societie of life, the use of vertue, and that for whose cause the citie is builded, I meane the atteining of blessednesse, without whiche, you shall doe as thei, whiche doe paint a toumbe, wherewith the lokers on, dooe delight their iyes, whereas within is none other thing, but a stinkyng carcase.

In whiche thing, I appoincted the magistrates office to be, that he tender not onelie, the florishyng state of the whole citee, but also the private welth of every man, and the very whole honor of the common weale, to be committed unto hym, as by whom it ought to be supported and staied. Therefore twoo thinges he shall observe: that whatsoever apperteineth unto the furniture of meate. drinke, and clothe[n], or the[n] necessarie passyng over of life, that maie be easely gotten: Secondly that it be well bestowed, and emploied to the glorie of God. This must be the whole so[m]me and effecte of good governement, forasmoche as the Magistrate must travaile emong the citezeins, none otherwise, then emo[n]g his owne childre[n], as whose wealth he must preferre, before his owne, and declare hymself, to be a father of his countrey. Which name none ever obteined emongest the Romains, unlesse he had marveslously wel deserved of the common weale. For Cicero was so named, and so was Augustus Cesar, whiche is reported to have been so delighted therewith, that when Valerius Messala, by the counsaill and people of Romes commaundement, called hym father of his countrey, wepyng for verie joye, he aunswered: Sens that, [Page 45] my Lordes, I have obteined my desire, what other thing have I to request at Goddes handes, but that I maie deserve, that this your consente maie continue, untill my last ende.

With soche a minde therefore every manne muste take upon him the charge of the common weale, that he doe his endevour, to preferre the publique affaires, before private, & alwaie to have that before his iyes, and to watche alone, when other doe slepe. But more diligently to repeate my former treatise, concernyng thinges privately necessarie, there is no hope that the common weale can have anye prosperous successe, without the supportacion of private thinges, whiche hath as it were, the forme of a grounde whereupon the other must be established. For what kinde of societie should that be, wherein one should be compelled to bee hungrie, and he and his children, as it were, to starve for famine (which is a wonderfull piteous case) either for want of thinges, wherewith the life should be mainteined, or yt bicause of great dearth, thei ca[n]not bee releived: and an other havynge his barnes full, should live at riot, or alone, as one having quicke utteraunce of wares, should sticke upon to moche gaine, oppresse the neadie, and seke his owne commoditie, to the undoyng of other, contrary to the verie course of nature? In soche case is this common weale, as that houshold, which will never thrive, so long as one daily swilleth, and kepeth revell, an other pineth for lack of food: the good man of the house in the meane while either fallen as it were, into a slomber, or negligently looking to his familie. And although the co[m]mon saying bee, that he whiche entreth into an other mannes house, should bee bothe domme and deaffe, yet no honest man could well beare with this inequalitie.

Neither is there one onely waie, to atteine vnto the knowlege how a citee must be furnished with all necessaries, but good aduisement must be vsed in all, according [Page] to the consideracion of the place, the men, the tyme, the yere. Bicause thus there is foresight had, to the citezeins commoditie, neither yet be the sellers endammaged. For no citee can stande, without mutuall trafficque, no companie of men bee mainteined, without prouisio~, without open market for sale of thinges, without the Shambles, and corne market, in whiche poincte, if soche order bee taken, that Marchauntes or Fermours, bee compelled to sell thinges, whiche they bring in, better cheape then reason is, and oftymes for lesse then thei cost them, that is to be eschewed for two causes: Firste, bicause the sellers forsakyng the citee, shall seke an other market, where thei may vtter their wares, to their greater co[m]moditie: Secondly, bicause that when thinges, for the daiely vse of citees, bee not brought in, the citezeins in the meane while, be compelled to stande in neede, wherevpon occasion is oftimes ministered to rebellion. Therefore it were better to ouerbuy thinges, that we must nedes haue, then to be altogether without them. And therfore, for the sale and prices of thinges, soche order and rate must bee vsed, that it maie bee to eche part of the citee profitable, so shall it not harme other, but staie vpon a conscionable dealyng, that in buiyng and selling, there maie be on all sides some equalitie, and vprightnesse. Whiche none but a wiseman, can bothe ordeine, and see put in prartise: and soche a one as in gouerning a citee, onely hath respecte to that, which swarueth not fro[m] the rule of equitie. But that as it is presently profitable, so in continuau~ce, it will not be vnprofitable. For by long experience, soche a man hath tried, that the falling out of thinges (whiche is the scholemaster to fooles) is not to bee looked at: but that thinges must be so foreseen, that although thei be to come, yet by forecast and cou[n]saill, thei maie growe to good effecte.

Moreouer) whiche thing must principally be considered) there is not one kinde onely, nor one trade of liuyng [Page 46] in all citees. For some stand vpo~ the sea coastes, which be moste mainteined, by carriage in Shippes. Some stande vpon freshe riuers, whiche yet be able to beare great vessels, and be famous, by reason of some notable hauen. Some haue some great marte, and be enriched, by reason of merchaundise. Other some bee welthie by corne grou~d, or vineyardes. Besides these, some stande by handy craftes menne, whiche by other meanes prouide theim selues of corne: in this poincte not in very ill ase, bicause their gaine is gotte[n] by sittyng trauaile, whereby thei get money, wherewith al thinges that bee necessarie bee bought, and therewith maie the more easely buye what they will, then if thei should with more toile, plucke it forth of the grounde. Wheras there be sondry kindes of trades, wherby citees bee supported, I haue expressed but a fewe of set purpose, not touchyng the reste, bicause my mynde is onely to declare him to doe verie vnwisely, that shall appoinct one kinde of liuing to all these, whereby thei shall liue all after one sorte: seeyng that thei, neither haue all one kinde of life, neither yet one waie in gettyng their liuynges, but in euery citee, consideracion must be had of the life, condicion, maners, waie of getting, and soche like: and according as euery thing shal require, so must order bee taken, and a ciuill appoinctment established. So Serbidius Sceuola warneth vs, to applie lawes vnto the nature of thinges, not thynges to the Lawes, whiche thyng Plutarche writeth, that Solon obserued in the Atheniane co[m]mon weale.



You see howe a man being but of a private estate, is not excused but must helpe others, and eate bread in the sweate of his face, and bestowe that his talente accordynge to the grace geven unto him, and restore it with gaine. For it is a detestable thinge to bee idle. Ezechiel. Beholde this was the iniquitie of Sodoma thy sister, pride, fulnesse of breade, and aboundaunce, [Page 56] the idlenes of hir selfe and her daughters, they streatched not out their handes to the poore and neady, but they were puffed with pride, and did abhominacion before menne, and I toke them awaie as thou sawest. Let every man therefore in idle times seke for him self an honest kinde of idlenes, and not fitting upon stalles or common benches bestowe good houres unfrutefullye, and be called upon a sodaine to render an accompt for every idle worde: for occasion to dooe well ever offereth it self.

The husbande manne applieth the Tillage of the grounde, and foloweth his plough: if he thanke God for this his doyng, and loke for his blessing, count nothing profitable unlesse it be honeste, deceive no man, help the nedie, and bestow that his sweate to the glory of God, he shall do much better then a religious father, whiche buried in depe contemplacion, is fattened to himself, and seketh out a voide place in the Raleuder wherin is no sainctes daie appointed, that he good happye body maye therein be canonized. The S [...]he in his armarie and shoppe doth his worke, getteth his livyng without anye wronge or detriment to others, suche gaine he seketh as shall not annoy anye others, that is, that neither he maie seeme to have laboured in vaine, nor be driven to sel his worke to his neighbour at an unreasonable price. Let not the marchaunt sette his facultie forth for gain, in suche sort, yt he ever gave onely for commoditie: yea, and that not honest: but so exercise it, that he in consideracion of his travaile, be recompenced with a reasonable gaine and necessarye furniture, with an intent sincerely, and without anye collusion to benefite the common weale, whiche canne not co[n]ueniently be without those marchaundries and wares as be gotten by chapmanshippe and traffieque. The Baulmeseller must so furnishe his shoppe with swete oyles, that there be no disceipt therein. If he be an Apothecarie, or a confectour of soote ointemeates [Page] he shal do nothing worthy of disco[m]me[n]dacion, or co[n]trary to the co[m]mon profit. Likewise ye Shepeherd or swine herd doth good service, which lieth al abrode under the open skye, and kepyng his flocke, beholdeth the firmament, and co[n]sidereth the benefite of God, not onely by this houge frame of the worlde: but also by boughes, grasse, herbes, and other little thinges of that sorte, to the intent he maye glorifie him by whom all thinges were created, for whose praise yet in the meane while he must continue in this his vocation of feading cattel to serve the worlde.

An housekeper must well see to his house, bring up his children and familie in Godlines, and governe the[m] in decent order. He must speake nothing that is filthy, much lesse dooe the same. He must chasten his children at home whom he bringeth up to profite the common weale: whereby they maye furnish them selves of such provision wherewith they shall be able to finde their neadie parentes their livyng. Which thinge the auncient men did not onely holde as a Godlye worke, but as neadefull.

Whereupon the Lacedemonians by lawe ordeined that those parents which neglected the educacion and bringyng up of their children after suche sorte, as they might not have a co[m]petent livyng: should be constrayned to kepe bothe their sonnes and their wives. But it is also a Godlye thinge that children helpe to releve their parentes when they be oppressed with povertie. Certainely Alexis the Poete saieth, that the Athenia[n]s were to be commended, because they had provided by lawe, that children shoulde not be bounde to finde such Parentes as did not provide that they were taughte some honest arte, whereby they might honestlye gette their livinge. But to suffer them to pine for honger it were bothe a wicked and a shamefull dede, and without all doubte after the same measure their children shal measure them, and when thei be pinched with poverty [Page 58] them selves, then shall they utterly forsake the[m], and let them even consume away with famine.

Whereof Isocrates the greate maister of maners dooeth put us in remembraunce, saiyng: dooe thou so use thy parentes, as thou wilt have thy children afterwarde use thee. The good wives of houses also have somthing to do for their partes, which may wel be imputed unto the[m], and benefite the co[m]mon weale: that is, that when thei have brought forth their children, and brought them up wel, thei helpe to replenishe the citie, and to multiplie it with their issue. Therefore if thei referre to Goddes honour (whose will they fulfill) the paynes suffered in the time of Birthe, the criynge of their infantes, the sorow and care which they bestow upon the bringyng up of their children: they shalbe in heaven nothing els, but as frankensence, and a moste pleasaunt odoure. Yea, servauntes also maye profite the common weale, by imploiyng their labour in their maisters service, without whiche, neither house, nor wife, nor children can conveniently be mainteined, in this praise worthy, that they knowe them selves to be at commaundement of their masters. The Apostle saieth. Ye Servauntes, obey in all poynctes suche as be your maisters after the fleshe, not with service shewed outwardly to the eye, as studiyng to please menne, but with simplicitie of harte, fearyng God, and whatsoever ye doe, dooe it from your harte, as to the Lord, not to men: Knowynge that of the Lorde, ye shall receive the rewarde of inheritaunce, for ye serve the Lorde Chaste. And the Apostle Peter saieth. Servauntes, obey your masters in al feare, not onely if thei be good & curteous, but also if they be frowarde. After this sort if we list to search out every particuler estate, and private persone, there shal none be founde which can not bringe something into this Treasurie of the common weale, that shall be profitable not onely privately, but also in common, and to edification, that all malice, all [Page] disceite, al dissimulacion, and al emnitie set aside, one ma[n] may not stick (yea, with the losse of his own gooddes) to dooe that to an other, which he woulde be content shoulde be done to him selfe, that so every man in this politique life may prepare him selfe to the true felicitie, and purchace a blessed life.


1.3. The argument of the. vj. Chapiter.
That as the trade of Merchaundise is necessarie, so it is a greate cherishemente of filthie lucre.

[Page 95]

DIuers men joigne to this art of travailyng by water, the trade of Merchaundise, which doeth also furnish the life of man with sondrie commodities. For neither ca[n] any companie of men, either be associate together, or be nourished, without buiyng and sellyng of soche thynges as bee nedefull for the maintenaunce of their life: neither yet eche applie his arte and busines, without those thinges, which their trafficque, not onely from nigh, but also farre countries, by passage over the seas, doth minister and make easie to be provided. Although menne of old tyme, thought Merchaundise to be a thyng merveilous nedefull for a common weale, yet thei never held thesame, as a part thereof: bicause that Merchauntes wer in deede, more bent to seke outward goodes, then that thei would bestowe any tyme in followyng vertue, whereby thei might atteigne unto the firste degree of happinesse in this life, whiche consisteth in quietnesse, and wante of trouble, as Aristotle wittily gathereth. But thei whiche dwell in a Citee, dooe not so embrace vertue, that thei can presume upon soche quietnesse: forsomoche as one foloweth the Anuile, an other the Lome, an other, an other trade to get his livyng, so that thei maie not so conveniently attend upon that Philosophicall contemplacion. Yea, moreover the very course of thynnes teacheth us, that no citee can either be builded, or yet mainteined, by onely quiete and conte[m]plative persones. For the wealth whereof, the Merchaunt caried even in the middle of the waves, shall dooe as moche good, as if he tariyng at home, should onely debate with hymself felicities, and conceive in his mynde, a certain kinde of sittyng quietnes. For happie and holy is that labour wherein thou travailest, that it maie helpe thy neighbour, forther the common profite, and redounde to the glory of God: by the fruicte whereof, [Page] bee wee never so busie, yet we shall live in quiete, and become scholers to God, and bee prepared to a blessed life. And this is the meanyng of that saiyng, whereby we be commaunded, to eate our bread in the sweate of our browes, and happely to use the blessyng of that our labour.

Let not the Philosophers therefore, and their conte[m]plative life trouble us, whiche in this worldly estate thei maie well seke, but shall never finde: for so moche as it hath an other marke, whereat we dooe not shote with our fleshlie, but spirituall iyes, whiche are hidde fro[m] the wise of this worlde: So that it maketh no matter, whether he be a Merchaunte at home, or abroade, idle, or busied: So that he beare a good and uprighte minde toward the common weale, whiche without any deceipte, any guile, or unreasonable enhaunsyng the price of thinges, he purposeth sincerely & godlilie to helpe, & by honest meanes to provide for his living.

And as all other occupacions were, so was this use of Merchaundise founde out, for a meane to get thinges necessarie for mannes livyng, whiche by quickenesse of witte gathered force, and so encreased beyond measure: wherein the moste parte of men, rather seke for their owne gaine (the smell whereof is swete, from whence so ever it cometh) then that thei passe uppon the aidyng and relevyng of other mennes necessities. Therefore all Merchauntes bee had in a suspicion, for to moche desire of gain, and chiefly soche as be the least occupiers. For he that occupieth but a small quantitie of wares, must neades thereupon bee mainteined, havyng none other trade to live by: and of that little, muste he neades gather so moche, as will beare hym out, and kepe his whole housholde: Yea, and so moche as he could not get (takyng an indifferente and reasonable gaine) although he should occupie a great deale more. And hereuppon it appereth why. Tullie disproveth base Merchaundrie as vile, bicause it is not satisfied [Page 96] with a meane aduauntage, when he saith: Merchaundrie if it be small, is to be rekened as filthie: but if it be great and wealthie, bringing in moche on everie side, and impartyng to many without liyng, it is not moche to bee blamed. Yea further, if it bee saciate with competent lucre, or rather content, that, as from the maine sea, oftymes it landeth in the haven, so like wise from the haven, it growe to landes and hereditamentes, it seameth by good righte to deserve praise. Neither is that merchaunt comme[n]ded without a cause which forbeareth no maner of travaill, whom no cold, no heate, no daunger of life doeth state, but that by an allowed and commendable meane, he will applie his busines, and enlarge the common profite, and deliver hymself and his, from povertie and famine. Whiche matter. Horace a famous maister, both in Philosophie and maners, declareth in these twoo verses:

The Marchaunt swift to fardest coast
of Inde, for wealth he ronnes:
His povertie by fiers, by rockes,
by seas, by shelves, he shonnes.

And therefore Marcus Cato tearmeth a Marchant active, as one that will not be weried, but watchfull and diligent to worke for wealthe, by these wordes: I take a marchaunt to be verie active in providyng substance, but subject to many daungers, and full of miseries. Whom the Romains reputed so profitable and necessarie a member of their common weale, that if he chaunced to be harmed, they woulde be straight waies armed, and ready to reveng his quarel: whereof Tullie putteth us in minde, saiyng: Your elders ofttimes, if their marchauntes or mariners had bene injuriouslie handled, would have waged warre for their sakes. Howe ought you then to be moved in your mindes, seinge so manie thousande of your Citizens be by the report of one messenger, & at one verie time, so shamefully [Page] slaine? You must not therefore thinke Marchandrye to be as a thinge not necessarie, whiche the former times have estemed so highlye, the trade whereof is more divers, and more politickelye practised, then that it can be certainely knowen or descrived by anye arte. Before the battail of Troye there were exchau[n]ges used, when also thinges were valued at a price, as Sabinus and Cassius doe suppose, leanyng unto Homers aucthoritie whiche writeth, that the Greakes bought theim wine for Brasse, yron, Skinnes, and other exchaunge of thinges.

Thence (saieth Homere) the plumed Greakes sette their vintage, some for Brasse, some for bright steele some for felles, some for oxen, and other some for bondmen But Nerva and Proculus maisters of an other schole (as Paulus the lawier affirmeth) hold this opinion, that the price was made by payment of money, as by covenaunt, whereupo[n] bothe buiyng and sellyng were supported, and that bothe these kindes of contractes were severall. Whiche their opinion they doe grounde uppon certayne verses in the same Iliades, whiche dooe conteine the unequall exchaunge of Armour betwene Diomedes and Glaucus. Here Iupiter Saturnes sonne tooke awaie Glaucus his understandinge, whiche chaunged armour with Diomedes Tideus sonne, golden for brasen, worthe an hundred oxen, for the worth of. ix. oxen. Howbeit I wil tary no longer upon these poinctes, for be it money, or be it money worthe, whereby these matters dooe passe, all is one, so that it be to the co[m]moditie of mans societie.

But herein we ought to be more careful, left where as it shoulde be a profitable kinde of Trafficque, it become a shoppe of iniquitie, and a mar [...]e of coneteonsnesse not onely in the Marchauntes them selves detestable, but also hurtefull unto the common weale. For to what ende thinke you drive these private engrossinges of wares, so disceiptful, and so of [...] forbidden by [Page 97] the Princes constitutions. What meane these unlawfull Haulles begonne for the perpetuall undoynge of their neighbours, but onely privately to fede these ragyng and inordinate desires, and to wipe men of their money. A most craftye practise, whiche is mainteined with the sweate of the neady, and cloketh her disceipt with lies, as with an instrument of truth. Thus much availeth it thee to take all kinde of travaile upon thee, to leave nothing unassaied, and then to lease thy soul: whereunto if ye will joygne everye present daunger, continuall carefulnesse, and disquietnesse of minde, I can not see what thinge can chaunce more unhappye, and more full of calamitie unto manne. Thus saieth Ambrose. Is it not a vaine thinge for a marchaunt to travaile on his journey by night and by daye, to purchase him selfe heapes of Treasure, to gather together wares, to be troubled at the price, for feare he sell better cheape then he bought, to learne how the price goeth in every place, and the[n] by much brute of his great occupiyng, either stirre theves to lie in waite for him, or els for desire of gayne, abidynge no tariaunce, hazarde forthe upon a storme, and so lease shippe and all? Also in an other place. O thou that buiest this world, and winnest hell, why turnest thou the industry of nature into fraude and disceipt? Why doest thou desire the dearth of thinges? Why wisshest thou to the pore, barrennesse, that thou mayest have greate plentye in thine owne house, though it be craftely gotten? for thy gaine is the losse of a great meanye.

I coulde rehearse a number which most shamefully have converted the gain of marchandise into disceipt, vaine martynge, riote, coveteousnesse, and thabuse of unsaciable desire, so that thereby it hath turned to the disaduauntage of the common weale, for the aduauntage whereof it was firste invented. Whereby it hath come to passe, that althoughe many excellent men, as Thales Milesius, Solon, Hippocrates, as Plutarche [Page] reporteth, and also great Princes have used the trade of Marchaundise: yet certaine vaine menne, whose onelye desire and studie, is to have, whiche force neither of forswearynge, nor true swearynge, to make a man beleve that thing to be the best he can get, which in deede is of no value, to thentent their wares which be little worthe, maye be uttered the dearer, so highlye dooeth he whiche will sell his wares, praise the same, accordynge to the Poetes saiynge: Suche I saye have brought it into suche a contempt, that it is accompted worthy to be despised, filthye, unlawfull, and voide of all honestie, in so much that the Thebanes (as Aristotle witnesseth) decreed, that no marchant should beare any common office, unlesse ten yeres before he had abstained from buiynge and sellynge, and in that tyme pourged him selfe of the suspicion growen of his former livyng. This disceipt, fraude, perjurie, filthines, detestable desire of gaine, unhonest spendynge of the time, and a mannes earnest pinchinge, onelye to seke his owne commoditie, to the great detriment and hinderaunce of others, hath brought the name of Marchaundise into so shamefull an ignominie, that it is a commen saiyng: If a man be not apte to be a catchepole or mace bearer: then he is fitte to be a Marchau[n]t, or a marchantes factour. As though that wer a thing of it selfe evident, and of her owne nature shewed to every man a waye howe to beguile other, and a trade of idle livyng. Which thing may yet be holpen, if the magistrate will be watchefull, and bringe these market runners into an order, and prohibite therin that with such triflynge thinges as they bringe to sale, beinge sometime counterfaite, sometime to deare, they deceive not suche simple Soules, as wyth those their lowde Lyes, othes, and perswasions be allured and driven to beleve them: And that they seke not to spoile pore men of that whiche they have painefully gotten. And the market beinge thus refourmed, the Citezins [Page 98] maye have the reliefe of those thinges, whiche otherwise if they were left free for every craftye marchau[n]t, to use at his pleasure, might throughe negligence of the officers, turne to their great hinderaunce.

[Page 142]

1.4. The argument of the third Chapter.
That sedicion, whiche is the utter decaye of all common weales, ought to be forsene, which hath oft times had her originall cause of ambicion, private gaine, and contempt of discipline and good order.

TVllie writeth that the nature of sedicion is to devide the people, and to cause them to take partes & to cleve unto several factions: which chaunceth sometimes whe[n] the people are severed amonge them selves, sometimes when they dooe make an uprore against their magistrate, with so great mischiefe to the common weale, that nothing can be more pestilent, nothing more pernicious. For it doeth not onely breede greater discorde then any malice co[n]ceaved with in the stomacke throughe inwarde hatred: but for the most part it causeth a pitiful, and most miserable murther of men. Wherof if we had none other ensample, that wer a sufficient testimonie which Germany hath abiden bi the rebellious insurrection of the commons, wherein were slaine an hundred thousande of the base people, and soche as were accused to have beene complices of the tumult moved by them.

Aristotle gathereth many groundes of sedicion, but inespeciall ambicion, and coveteousnes. For if he that coveteth a publike office once suffer a repulse, as he is disquieted in minde, so he dothe his whole endeavour to revenge that injurie, and once to confirme the opinion which he hath conceived for the atchievynge unto [Page] to the chiefe estate of governement. This is certaine, who so once be desirous of empire, glory, and honour, dooe quite forget justice, as Tullie writeth, alledging de off. this saiynge of Ennius:

There is no truste in kinglie state,
Whose porte neglectes an equall mate.

For what thinge so ever is of such nature, that manye can not therein excell, it breedeth lightly so moche contention, that it wil be very harde to kepe an uncorrupted societie. Whiche thinge Caius Cesars rashenesse dothe evidentely declare, whiche overthrewe all the estate of the lawes bothe of God and man, for the atteining unto the Soveraintie, whiche he by a fonde opinion in him selfe had conceived. And therefore it is written that he had alwaies these twoo verses of Euripides in his mouth, taken out of a Tragedie named Phenisse:

If we from right in ought maie swarve,
for empires sake it is:
In other thinges regarde thou right,
and dreade to worke amisse.

This stoute couraged Prince thought that dominion ought to be gotten by force of armes (of which opinion there be manie noble menne in these our dayes) but he did not remember, that nothing that is viole[n]t, is perpetuall, or of anye longe continuance. And that as kingdomes be gotten by armes, so they be loste by armes, by the just judgement of God, whiche woulde have all thinges to bee doen justlie, and that nothing should be forceably attempted.

Furthermore greedy desire of gayne provoketh sedicions throughe two kindes of men, the one Scapethriftes, whiche when thei have mispent, and lewdely wasted their goodes, flese the poore to enriche them selves againe. The other of those that bee oppressed, [Page 143] and care not what they dooe, so that they be set at libertie, and delivered from the heavy yoke of bondage. As the unmeasurable greadinesse of Usurers did not onely shake the citie of Rome, but also all Italie, and caused an uprore, untill that first Menenius Agrippa, then Marcus Sempronius Tribunes of the people, and last of al Julius Cesar the dictator, brideled them with lawes. Likewise, when Tiberius Gracchus returned from Numantia, where he had born the office of Questor, everie where as he went through Italie, had pitifull complaintes, and heavy lamentacions of the pore for the same cause. The women all dismaied, and welnigh deade for honger, mette him in the way, beseching him to relive their miserie, bringing forthe their pore children, whiche they saied that thei would rather had never bene borne, then so to be consumed awaie, and to pearishe with soche a deathe of all other most miserable. The men also shewed their woundes which thei had received for the common weales sake, saiynge, that where as thei had well hoped, that after they hadde taken soche paines, and spente so moche of their bloude in vanquishinge of their enemies, that at the length they should have lived peaceablie and quietly at home. Where as now contrariwise, thei were enforced to fight with extreme honger, an enemie as most cruell, so moste untollerable. And that the breakinge up of the warres whiche was comfortable to others, as an ende of their travailes, was to them the beginning of their calamitie, and that thei had rather have died in the fielde, or uppon those usurers, then to have hearde those rufull complaintes of their wives and children, so perishinge and stervinge for verie famine. Where with Gracchus beinge moved, and havinge compassion of the people, caused a lawe to be ordeined to this effect: That no man should have above fiftie Acres of lande, and if anie man had a sonne enfranchised, that then he might emparte unto him the [Page] one half thereof. As for the division of the residue, that three men shoulde have commission to distribute it amongest the people. Laste of all there was a Proviso made, that no man shoulde sell anie soche porcion, as by the Commissioners was assigned unto them.

And for so muche as the sharpe speare wherewith these money mongers and wealthie muckerers pearced the poore mens hartes, was by this lawe wrested furth of their handes, they also beganne to make an out crie and an hurly burlye, and to stirre up a great tumulte, alledging that they had great wronge not onelye to bee so depryved of theyr Landes, but also to lease their manours, houses, and trees builded and planted to their great charge and expences: Some lamented the buriyng places, and their elders monumentes whereof they by this law should be dryven to lacke the benefite. Other which had geve[n] their landes to their children, or turned their wives douries or other pawnes into hereditamentes and lordships, sorowyd for that thus their wives were deprived of their dowries, their children of their fathers liberalitie, and they themselves of theyr pawnes and gages. Some laboured verie earnestlie to holde still suche enheritaunce as of auncient livelyhode fell unto theim by discent of bloud. Whereupon there ensewed much dissension, for that hereby the citie was as it were devided into two factions. So that in conclusion it bothe cost Gracchus his life, and the lawe was abrogate by the practises which the ritche devised.

Moreover contempte, feare of punishment, power, excessive wealth and prosperitie, and every suche lyke thing as passeth an honest mediocritie, giveth occasion to seditione: for that mans nature is such that nether it can moderate it self, ne yet wel beare with anothers weldoyng. Tirauntes also have moved manye to rebellion: whiche were alwaye so much hated with all men, that in some cities rewardes were appointed for [Page 144] those that slew tirantes, whose children the Greekes thought not good to be lefte alive. Whereof we have a notable ensample of two daughters of Aristotimus whiche was sometime a tyraunt of Elis: when their father was slayne and they led to death, at the mediation of Megislona wife unto Tunoleon, they were brought backe into their chamber and permitted to chewse their death as them best liked: Then the elder sister untied her girdle and made a loope, wherewith she might strangle her selfe: but the younger requested her sister that she might have the first proffe of this ende: which graunted, she covered her sisters bodie beyng dead as womanlie as she could, and after turning her selfe unto Megistona Timoleons wife, she besought her that after her death she woulde not suffer her to lie naked dishonestlie. This sayd, she ended her life even as her sister had done before. These maydens saw that they mighte not continew after their father suche a tiraunte: and therfore they purposed rather honestlie to die, then contrarie to womanhode to have been murthered in the executionours handes.



All menne ought to forbeare rebellions attemptes, were it for nothinge els, but for the very extremitie of the present punishment. For they arise agaynst the magistrate, and against thordinaunce of God. Besides that, thei dooe breake the publike peace and tranquilitie. And in very dede thei that have stirred soche rebellion, were their pretence never so apparant juste, yet thei ever have borne awaie the smart. For upon what occasion so ever thou doest rebell, thy attempt is haynous and wicked. Furthermore, who so ever being un harmed is maliciously bent to sedicio[n], worketh a thing very detestable, odious in the sight of God, and to bee abhorred of all good men. But who so is either edged by other, or upon some perturbacion of minde moved so to do, he can not thereby be excused, because he breaketh the peace; and seketh revengement, whiche doth not appertain unto hym. Who so therefore taketh the sworde, is worthy to dye with the sworde, and abide just punishment for his desire of revengement.

All men knowe what befell at Munster a towne in Westphalia, upon a sedicious rebellion moved by certayne yll disposed persons: were not as well the innocentes [Page 146] as the offendours after extreme famine, either slayne with the sworde, or brought to extreme miserie and calamitie? It were neadelesse to rehearse any moe Cities, as Venice, Paris, Gaunte, Liege, Hertfurt, Prage, Vienna in Austriche, and many other whiche have bene evidente Spectacles of rebellions to all the worlde, as by their Cronicles it dooeth appeare. Yet one there is whiche for the horrible vengeau[n]ce theron taken, I maie not leave untouched. When as Chorah an Hebrue borne, a ma[n] of great nobilitie and wealth, Likewise Dathan & Abiron, conspired against Moses and Aaron, as though thei did more justly deserve that honour, then the other whiche were not comparable unto them, neither in wealth ne yet bloud and parentage, and cried out that they had brought the people forthe of Egypt, where was plentie of milke and hony, to destroy them in the wildernes with famine and honger: GOD minding to represse this sedicion at the first breaking out, sente downe fire foorthe of heaven, which so burnt up Chorah with an hundred and fiftie men that toke his parte, that their bodies were never sene after. Moreover the earth gapynge so devoured Dathan, Abiron, & their adherentes, with their tents and all their substaunce, that they pearished from among the midst of the people, and covered with earth, so went quicke into helle.

[Page 149]

1.6. The argument of the fifte Chapiter.
Diligent heede must be taken that their be no beggers maynteined that goe from doore to doore, but that our needie neighbours maye be releived it home.

THen there be two sortes of beggers: one of them whiche haunt all martes, merkettes, all solempne assemblies, yea welnigh all the coastes of the worlde, using a pitifull kynde of mone to gather and heape up gubbes of money: devising moreover a language of their owne, whiche no man understandeth but they themselves, and so mocke and deceyve men whiche pitie their case as forrennours and straungers: or els do preatilie delude, yea somtime betraie the hearers by theyr cou[n]terfayte speache. These doth Plato cal dorres, not flienge dorres, which spoile the bees, but walking dorres, without stinges, lurking thieves, robbers by the hyghe waye, sacrilegers and autours of all mischiefe, whiche ought therefore every where to be banished, for that they be common pykers of mens purses, usinge delusion at home and [Page] abroad by subtill meanes unpunished.

I will not here make relacion how many treasons, how many sackynges and burninges of townes have bene committed under the pretence of Beggerie, for that the verie Fortes and stronge Holdes them selves have been opened to beggers, and the treason so moch the lesse suspected, the more miserable the persons doe appere whiche commit thesame. But yet for all this, when straungers come unto us and stand in nede, we ought not to sende them awaye without ayde and reliefe, for that should be contrarie to all humanitie, and entercourse of mutual hospitalitie. For we our selves be here but straungers, and have no certaine nor permanente restinge place, whiche therefore ought to admonishe us, more gentlelie and liberally to entertayn straungers. So saieth the holie lawemaker Moyses: Thou shalt not make the Straunger sadde or heavy, for ye your selves were straungers in the lande of Egipt. And Esate saieth: Straungers shall cleane unto them, and get them to the house of Jacob.

Neither be all they that walke like straungers, in like riche, but the most part require helpe and succour at other mennes handes, whiche not to bestowe upon them, were as moche as to make them heavye, and in dede welnighe to kill them, which is as moche contrarie to all humanitie, as any thinge can be.

The second kinde of beggers be those that are our owne contrey men, and dooe not come out of anye other quarter, which nevertheles be not all of one sort, but are severed into two partes. For either idlely thei begge their almes from doore to doore, or els by sickenesse or some other infirmitie of body are unfitte to laboure for their livyng, and so they are driven to soche extreme povertie, that without other mens succour, thei be not able to kepe their children. Such as be loytering & will take no paines for their living, but trouble every manne with their begging, must needes bee [Page 150] banished, and cast out as Dorres that profite nothing, that for so moche as they will not travaylle for their own sustenaunce, they may not unworthely consume other mens laboure. Whose life is therefore the more detestable, because they be a president of idlenesse and sluggardie, and be therefore unworthye to enter into either citie, house, or other companie of menne, but either they shoulde be put to the Ploughe and carte, or els whipped oute of the countrey, that so they maye learne not so rashelie, perverslie, and unprofitablie, to consume soche necessarie furniture of victualles, as thei them selves dispised to put to their helping hands to provide.

They be moche more to be borne withall, whiche upon some disease, weakenes of bodie, or extreme povertie are constrayned to begge, unlesse they woulde starve for honger, whiche is the miserablest death of al others. Whose estate is therefore the more tollerable, because that not upon anie delite of idlenesse, neither for slouthfulnesse of bodie, they withdrawe theim selves from laboure, but when the occupacion whereby they woulde gette their livyng, faileth theim, then thei are constraigned to make necessitie their vertue, and to begge their bread from dore to dore. Soche one was Lazarus, whose sores the dogges did licke before the riche mannes gate, but he coulde not be releaved with the crummes that fell from his Table. And the blinde man also whiche fate by the high way side beggyng and cried: Jesus thou sonne of David have mercie upon me, to whom he saied, loke up, thy faith hath saved thee: and incontinent he loked up, and folowed him glorifiyng God. Manie soche ensamples there be to put us in minde to stretche forthe our handes upon the poore and neadie, wherein we can pretende no excuse, as thoughe we knewe not where they be, whom we must helpe, for thei mete us, thei stande before us, thei lie in our waie, requiringe helpe and succoure at [Page] our handes, so that if thei want, we stand in daunger of impietie, because we withdrawe our goodes from them, upon whom we shoulde bestowe them, and profiteth privately, altogether against the common commoditie, as a laie them up to unlawful uses, that is, riotte, vanitie, and choise of treasure, which the mothes and mise gnaw, and at length the devil shal devour bothe the treasure and treasurer, and drowne theim bothe in Hell, and shall in all this wealthe make theim verie beggers. But who so shall cherelie stretche forthe his hande upon the pore, shal receive the blessing of God, and shal have so good successe in all his doinges, that all men shall understande that he is worthye to be wealthye, whiche dothe acknowledge him selfe to be as a Stuarde, and not one in whose possession worldly goddes shoulde alwaie continue. Of whom the wise manne saieth: And retche thine hand to the pore, that thy propiciacion and blessinge maye be perfited. Also: who so geveth to the pore, shall not stande in nede, he that despiseth the Praier of the pore, shall sustaine povertie. You see howe livelie bothe the persones are discribed, the gever never to want, the withdrawer to be in necessitie, bothe of earthlie and heavenly thinges.

Yet it were more convenient that order were taken that pore menne might not go begginge from dore to dore, or in the stretes, and that for divers consideracions. Firste for that it is a poinct of a Godly zeale to be carefull over the pore, and to relieve them with some porcion of our goodes, whereby we may purchase treasure in heaven, as the riche man in. S. Marke is commaunded to sell all that he hathe, and to provide him selfe treasure in heaven. And Tobias: Because almes delivereth fro[m] deathe, and [...]he it is that purgeth sinne, and causeth men to find everlasting life. But this [...]ur liberalitie ought to come of it selfe, and to procede of a free hart, as the Apostle admonisheth us, saiyng thus: He that liberally soweth, shall also liberallie reape, everie man accordynge to his hartes desire, not in sorowe, [Page 151] ne yet in necessitie, for God loveth him that geveth cherily. Also, he that dealeth almes merely. This free harte and liberall minde will not suffer us to tary untill soche time as the pore come forthe to mete us in the waie, or to lie at our fete criyng out for helpe, and then deale halfepenie doale in the sight of the worlde, rather to bee praised of others, then for any good will or pitiful hart that he beareth to the impote[n]t. Whereas contrarilie, we be commau[n]ded to geve our almes so darkelye, that the right hande maye not knowe what the lift dothe, that thereby the heavenly father which seeth thee in the darke, maie requite thee in the light. We ought further to relieve the pore at home in their houses, or in spittelles and cotages, or in other places appoincted for theim to lie in, as common hospitalles. So that hereby thou maiest understande, that where there be the moe common Beggers, and the more criynge out for almes, in that citie there is so moche lesse true Godlinesse.

The seconde cause whye it were good to restraine this begging from dore to dore is, for that thei that use it be so enured with idlenes, yea, that if they have any busines at home to dooe, they passe not of it: and they dooe not onely encumber their neighboure, but also take a delight to raunge abroade, and doe teache their wives, children, and whole familie to be beggers, and to live idlelie. Whereby upon other mennes travaile at the last be nourished Bawdes, harlottes, ruffians, thieves, houseburners, & notorious robbers. It were therefore better that soche pore men were by common charge sene to and kept in hospitals, then to go about a beggyng, specially consideringe the commaundeme[n]t of God so biddeth, by these expresse wordes: And there shall not be one neady or begger among you, that the Lorde thy God maye blesse thee in the lande which he geneth thee in possession. Also, there shall not wante pore men in the lande of thine habitacion. Therefore [Page] I commaunde thee that thou open thy hande to thy pore and neadye brother whiche is with thee in the lande.

But for so muche as severallie in so[n]drie places everie poore bodie could not so convenientlie he provided for, our predecessours erected hospitalles for straungers, for sicke and diseased persons, for orphans, and for beggers: which were common houses wherin traveilours, and poore and feble folkes, were received, & fatherlesse children brought up: whiche houses wer so endowed of good mennes charitie, that by their owne rentes and revenewes thei mainteyned theim selves: priviledged also by emperours with the liberties and fraunchises of the churche, and that with reason: for the churche goodes in olde time were also the goodes of the poore. Therfore in division thauncient canonicall decrees give the fourth parte therof to the poore. Relligious houses also where men were exercised in contemplation, and Monasteries, were ordeyned for the common co[m]moditie, so endowed by good men that thei were able to live of them selves: which Eusebius Cesariensis calleth sometymes places of reverence, sometymes repaires of honest men: whence younge men were called sometyme to the governement of the common weale, sometime to be ministers of the Churche.

But bicause there is not alwayes substaunce and wealth ynough to erecte such hospitalles for the sicke, poore, straungers, and other miserable persons, it were good they were provided for within dores privelie, and not permitted to begge abrode openly. But if such convenient order cannot be take[n] either bicause of lacke of pitie and mercie in men, or elles bicause the number of the poore be so great that they can not so commodiouslie be provided for, necessitie then muste take place, and that whiche cannot be amended, must be borne withall. For better it were to suffer the neadie [Page 152] to begge, then to drive the[m] to the extremitie either to starve for hunger, or to hange themselves: for the belly must be served, tho the gallowes hang over thee table, as the proverbe saith.

Nowe there muste be heede taken that everie one be not permitted to begge so openlie and to followe that loytring kynde of lyfe. Which through neglige[n]ce of magistrates is ill over seen in manie places, not without a perniciouse example to others. For youthe of bothe kindes assone as thei once creape out of their cradles bee so enured with idle loytring, that they wil not be brought to anie honest arte, facultie, occupacio[n] or trade, wherby they maye mayntayne their old age: but craftelye pretendinge feblenes of health or bodie, they idlely consume that whiche other men get with sweat of theyr browes, and so spend the greatest parte of the daye in ravenyng, revelling, tippling, and such like goodlie exercises. Therfore some certayne notice would be had that those might be knowen, whiche do herdlie live in sickenes, povertie, or other necessitie, and be co[n]streyned even to fight with famine: lest those unprofitable dorres which be unworthie to lyve, take awaie good mens almes, or elles hinder those whiche have neade in deede. For it is as good to see that an almes be given where neade is, as it is to bestowe it. Moreover he that geveth almes, muste marke to who[m] he geveth it, lest while he thinketh to do a good deede, he fede idle bellies, norishing serpentes in his bosome, which afterward also will worke muche harme in the common weale.

1.7. The argumente of the sixte Chapter.
Concerning the governours or maysters of Hospitalles for straungers, the poore, and orphans, and how they ought to be ordered.


IT is not ynoughe to institute a thing well unlesse there be some to kepe it in due order, & faithfullie to eversee the same: as it is an unprofitable thing to have a good lawe, unlesse there bee some to see it put in dew execution. And therfore the magistrate is wel called a living lawe. When houses therfore and hospitalles, for the poore people and travaylers be erected, & with riches accordingly endowed: there must overseers & governours be chosen, whiche must have charge over them as Ioticus had, (whome Leo the emperour bi his rescripte first deputed to that rowme in the citie of Constantinople) an office of as great profite and necessitie, as to be a pastour or mynister in the churche: as a thinge whose chiefe charge was wonte to be committed to Busshops or superintendentes, as the latine terme is, that is such, to who[m], widowes, orphans, and poore people wer committed. wherupon Jerome saieth: it is the glorie of a bushop to provide for the releife of the poore. Ambrose also: The church hath no gold to keepe, but to laie out, and to helpe at a neade. This also appeareth by S. Paule which so oft willeth a Bushop to kepe hospitalitie, to the intent that in bou[n]tifulnes and liberalitie he maie surmount all others. Christen princes also when thei establishe the aucthoritie of Bushops, preistes, other churche men, and also holy churches, and privileges: they oftimes mention the hospitalles and the maisters thereof, as thinges not muche unlike which the Busshops be usually charged with all.

Surelie in the primitive churche the goodes of the faythfull were common. For so manie of them as had possessions of landes and tenementes solde them and brought the price therof, and laied them before the Apostels feete: wherof porcions were distributed amo[n]g them & that by the Apostles themselves, so that there [Page 153] was not one neadie among them, but when the number of the disciples was encreased, the twelve thought it not good to leave the preachyng of the word and to minister at tables: and therefore they did chose seven men of an approved honestie, which bicause thei were deputed to this kinde of ministerie, wer named Deacons and Ministers: for that under the name of the Apostles they saw to the poore, yea to al the multitude, they attended upon tables, and by greate equitie and holines of life, provided that there was no neade amongst them. But in our common weales it were a kynde of tyrannie to use anye soche communitie of thinges: but everie man ought to have his owne, and to give parte thereof to hospitalles and other uses, for relievyng of the poore: whose governours oughte to be circumspecte and holie, and to execute their dewtie godlylie and without reprehension. Whose office must be not onely over the thinges, but also over the persons: bicause they be gods stewardes whose will is that those goodes be converted to thuse of the poore, I meane suche as be thankefull and do unfaynedlie acknowledge their owne necessitie: whiche bicause it ought not to be done rashelie, all the house must by order of discipline be framed to vertue and godlines, that eche man take his bread with thanksgevyng and glorifie God in his giftes. For the bread of the chyldren would not be hurled to the dogges, ne yet preciouse stones caste out to the swine, nether muste you thinke that these seven on whome the Apostles layde their handes did onely serve at tables: but they were men full of the holie ghost and wisdome, which exhorted the people with dailie preaching, to vertue, and not so muche instructing them in woordes as in godlines of life: besides that thei served them in necessaries for their livyng.

They therfore which be officers must marke whether those that be appoynted to be releaved in suche [Page] hospitalles, be of an honest towardenes and like to be Godlie and good men, that they do not feede unprofitable membres and serpentes which afterward maye do much mischief. Wherfore they ought not to be received which have spent awaye their goodes, at vice, hoorehuntyng, glotonie, dronkennesse, and soche vicious meanes, whiche although thei have not left their olde accustomed vices, yet either the remorse of conscience or weaknesse of bodie, dooeth not suffer theim so muche afterward to offende: so that the sinne whiche thei cannot nowin deede practise yet boileth in their breastes, and kepeth still her conceived malice, whiche oftimes being uttered folishly in wordes, bewraieth it self: not remembring that we must render an accompt for every idle woorde: for as it is a pleasaunt thing to remember evilles paste: so dissolute persons (al shamefastnesse set apart) holde it a gaie thyng before honest maidens and good men, to declare their former wickednes. But why doest thou bragge of thine evil, considering thou haste no vertue nor honestie, wherwith thou maiest recompence and countervaile the same.

And bicause thei be Stewardes over the poore, thei maie do well throughly to examine all those that pretend povertie,lest they do admit some unworthie persons that have no neede. Which thinge maie be prevented either by some open certificate and denomination, or els by some testimoniall, wherby they that are receyved maye be knowne. For diligent heede muste be had that where all povertie cannot be releavid in such publycke hospitalles, then open begging must be permitted, to such as have licence given the[m] to begge: best lest children enure themselves therunto, and be so corrupted: or els be hardlie withdrawen from that trade through the provocation of suche lewde loyterers as cannot live without it: or at the least if they be suffered to begge, shall be never a deale further from miserie.

[Page 154]

Here is to be noted that suche thinges as he geven to the reliefe of the pore, be to none other use converted. Then ought thei not to the endammagyng of the neadie, to be let oute to usurie: yet manye thinke this lawfull, and holde it a poincte of a Godlie policie so to enriche hospitalles. And in deede upon this consideracion in manie Cities of Italie, a great summe of money is let forthe upon certaine pledges and interest to be repaied at a certaine daie for the behofe of the pore. and this thei cal, the mount of pitie. But for so moche as that money is lente not for hope to receive nothing againe accordinge unto the precept of our Savioure Christe, but for interest monethlye, besides that, it is saied that marchauntes oftentimes have it to make a good markette, and possessioners to buie landes, the pore in the meane while cleane contemned: Let theim consider howe holie an hill this is, which usurers may so oft climbe and undermine. Further, who so either begileth the poore of their money, or tourneth it to some unlawfull use, he is the mooste detestable of all thieves and robbers.

Therefore those that be covetous, riotous, usurers, ungodlie, and suche as studie for their owne gayne, maie not in anie case be made overseers of suche hospitalles and governement or provision for the poore: but men of approved honestie, whiche have wel ruled their owne houses, executinge their duetie not onelye with diligent superintendence, but also in holinesse of life, and sinceritie of doctrine, which will not regarde usurie, ne yet anie unlawfull gaine used by those wicked usurers and greadie Moneymongers, whiche wil not thinke it well done by naughtie waies to enriche the pore, but like Godlie stewardes uprightlie to execute the charge committed unto them, which standeth not upon usurie, neither robberie, ne yet thinges unjustlie and wickedlie gotten. For this is holilie to travaile in that holie vocacion, & rather to adourne those [Page] reverent assembles and resortes of honest men to the succour of a great number, and to the glorie of God, then shamefullie by yll gotten goodes to make theim houses of maintenaunce of iniquitie.


Then fraied he fledde, and when he founde,
the silence of the fielde,
Bewailyng aye in vaine he seekes,
with tongue his plainte to yelde.
For yre he waxeth then so woode,
that nought may him asswage.
His frothing mouthefrettes on the fome,
and gathereth in the rage.
With thirst of slaughter yet amonge
the beastes, he workes despite.
And as then tyraunt, nowe a woulfe
in bloudshed do the delite.

The Poetes also sain that Vultures in belle do eats up Titius the great Giauntes his hart, bicause he despised the goddes, and ravished honest Matrones. So thei faine that Ta[n]talus is punished for his covetousnes, & that he is in perpetual thirst and hu[n]ger having water up to his chinne, & apples hangyng doune even to his upper lippe: but whe[n] he laboureth either to take water or appels, thei flee from him: wherby we learne that the covetouse menne even in the middest of their plentie, be pinched with povertie. So Ixion, bicause he did vaunte hymself that he had to doe with Juno, is whirled upon a wheele continually, for our learning, that no man ought to glorie in his evil doyng. So Sisiphus, bicause he was a robber and desirous of honour, is fained to rowle a stone to the very higheste parte of an hille, whiche when it commeth there, and falleth doune to the bottome, he must still fetch it up again: wherby we maye se that thambitious, although they dooe not atteyne to honour, yet theyr in ordinate desire is no deale the more aswaged. Of whome Ouide after he had descrived the terrible tormentes and fearfull passage downe to Hell, wryteth on this wise.

[Page 161]
With gripyng gripes is Titius torne,
and rent his bowels be,
And Tantale in thy burnyng thirst,
thy river slippes fro thee.
Thou vexed arte with famine eke,
and starust fast by thy meate,
The fruitefull tree doth shrinke awaye,
when thou shouldst thereof eate.
Thou Sisiphus oppressed arte,
with laboures manie one,
While up thou throwest and takst againe
at fall, thy rollinge stone.
Ixion eke whom up and downe,
the whirling whele doth wrest,
Both fleeth and foloweth still himselfe,
and knoweth no houre of rest.



Nether is it so that God alwaie stirreth up cruell men and tirantes to revenge mans wickednes, that one mischief shulde be expelled with another: but somtimes therein he useth his owne au[n]gels, somtimes he worketh by men of sincere living, sometimes he sendeth floudes & aboundance of waters, as we doe reade in the scripture: so likewise for the malice of man he plagueth us with famine, pestilence, and warre. As the Lord in one night smote al the first borne in Egipt and where bloud was founde on the upper threshold, he suffred not the smiter to enter and to hurt the houses of the children of Israell: And in one night thaungell of the Lord came and smote in the Assirian campe an hundred fourescore and five thousande. Josue also smote all the Hillie and southe countrey beyond Jordane not leaving one a live therein, but slewe every thing that had breath as the Lorde had commaunded him, from Cades of Barna unto Gazan. Saule also was commaunded to smite king Amaleck, and to destroie all that was his, so that he should not spare him but kill man and woman, infaunte and suckling, ore [Page 179] and shepe, camell, and asse, nether desire any portion of his goodes.

God likewise useth the elementes oftimes for the reve[n]gment of mans iniquitie. For seyng the malice of man to be great in the earth, it repented him that he had made man, & be said to Noe: Behold I will bring the waters of the floude upon the earth, and I will destroye all fleshe wherein there is any spirite of life under Heaven, and all thinges that be on the Earth shalbe consumed.

There be many soche ensamples which daily come in ure, with great terrour, to warne us that for our sinnes we be sore plagued: and that unles we amend our lives, the axe is laid to the roote of the tree, and the vengeaunce of God hangeth over our heades.

To returne unto the wicked Magistrate, it is most certaine that he is sent unto us for our vicious living sake, to anoye and vexe us, and to make us remember our Creatour. Therefore we muste take him in good parte, whether we be good (for that is grace when a man contrarie to his desert suffereth miserie) or evill: understanding this to be our remedie in time to bewaile our misdoynges, and therby to be put in minde to amende. So we be commaunded to be obedient to everye ordinaunce of man, to the King as excellyng the reste, to his heade rulers as officers sent from him for the punishment of the evil doers, but for the praise of them that do well. For that is the will of God, nether is there any difference put, be he good Magistrate or evill: seyng servantes be commaunded to obeye their Maisters, not onelie if thei be gentle and good, but also if they be froward and evill, accordyng unto saincte Peters doctrine.



And what co[m]mon weale is there at this daie wherin good and civill ordinaunces be not dispised, and in their place, murther, usurie, covetousnes, deceit, injurie, robbery, fraud, unjust dealyng, aduoutrie, blasphemie, drunkennesse, contempt of Lawes, and all wickednes, do reigne? wherby their can litle civilitie be founde in mans life. But admit there be some good (as there is no assembly so develishe wherein are not some whiche favour vertue) soche horrible iniquitie beareth swaie, that what vertue so ever be mixed ther with, it lieth shadowed as a rose among brambles: so that it maketh a shewe onely of vice, and of no vertue. Hereupon come these miseries, heruppon good men complaine, that there is no justice nor equitie amo[n]gst men. But that all thinges bend to decaye and ruine, which as accessaries & handmaides of iniquitie, these mischieves incontinent followe: pestilence, famine, warre, robberyes, slaughter, wast of all thinges, and all kinde of plagues that we se fall upon us.

Which calamitie as it cometh by the peoples sinne, so by amendement of life and earnest calling uppon God, it may be turned from them. A magistrate therfore muste be vigilaunt in his office, and doe his endevour all that he can to suppresse the wicked, for which cause he beareth the swerde. The good men whiche staie upon vertue, muste call upon God, and procure the preservacion of the hole, for so muche as oftymes hole Cities for one or two good mens sakes, have ben saved from destruction. Let the magistrate follow the advise of expert Phisicians, which when thei see that any rotten member cannot be healed, then they cut of and seare up that parte, to the ende it may not enfecte the rest, and at length destroie the hole body. For he is an evill and an uprofitable membre, which first by ill [Page 200] ensample offendeth his neighbour, and after expressely despiseth the good order of the co[m]mon weale. This is the perfect office of good governeme[n]t, which god requireth of him whome he would have to go before his people: this is the maner of rule conteined in the boke of the lawe, whiche ought not to depart from the governours mouthe.

Nether let us sticke in this print, bicause the evill may well be suppressed, but not rooted out: whiche no man requireth, considering that the corruptnes of nature, and the number of the wicked be greatter, then that thei can quite be dispatched and bannished. For when Hercules himselfe cut of one of Hidras heades, an hundred sprange up in place of that one. Yet a magistrate must not cease, but watche, that assone as he seeth this fire beginne to flame, he have in redines his axes, ladders, buckettes & soch other necessaries, wher by he may turne away this present daunger, that his Citie be not burned up. Let him do like a good housbandman, which perceaving that al the cockle cannot be plukt up with out losse & decaye also of his wheate, among which it groweth: co[m]mandeth onely so moche to be weeded out as shal let the wheat from growing, and so letteth the reste alone untill harvest: so he that will be called a faithfull favourer and father of his countrey, as he is wise, vigilaunt, and uncorrupte, so he must thinke this commission to be given him, that he kepe the common weale uncorrupted, prevent inconveniences that may growe, so rule his subjectes, that it be honestly, and uprightly done without any offence to others. So will eche man behave himselfe towardes other, as he woulde other shoulde behave themselves towardes him: so shall the hole body become godly, and desirous to fulfill gods will: that this common weale may be called not onely a convention of men united & knit by lawes, but also the true rule of vertue, and a perfect leader to a better lyfe.

This is a selection from the original text


corruption, danger, health, necessity, provision, trade, victuals, war, wealth

Source text

Title: A WOORKE OF JOANNES FERRARIVS Montanus, touchynge the good orderynge of a common weale: wherein as well magistrates, as private persones, bee put in remembraunce of their dueties, not as the Philosophers in their vaine tradicions have devised, but according to the godlie institutions and sounde doctrine of christianitie.

Author: Johannes Ferrarius

Publisher: John Kingston

Publication date: 1559

Edition: 2nd Edition

Place of publication: London

Provenance/location: This text was transcribed from images available at Early English Books Online: http://eebo.chadwyck.com/home Bib name / number: STC (2nd ed.) / 10831 Physical description: [4], 212, [4] leaves Copy from: Henry E. Huntington Library and Art Gallery

Digital edition

Original author(s): Johannes Ferrarius

Language: English

Selection used:

  • 1 ) title page
  • 2 ) images 48-50
  • 3 ) images 60-61
  • 4 ) images 99-102
  • 5 ) images 146-8
  • 6 ) image 150
  • 7 ) images 153-9
  • 8 ) image 165
  • 9 ) image 183
  • 10 ) image 204


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Genre: Britain > non-fiction prose > politics and governance

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