|May Games. Evil Mayday. ||253
fetch in Maypoles, with divers Warlike Shews, with good Archers, Morice Dancers,
and other Devices for Pastime all the Day long; and towards the Evening they had
Plays, and Bonefires in the Streets.
Of these Mayings, we read in the Reign of Henry the Sixth, that the Aldermen and
Sheriffs of London, being on May Day at the Bishop of London's Wood in the
of Stebunheath, and having there a worshipful Dinner for themselves and other
Comers, Lydgate the Poet that was a Monk of Bury, sent to them by a Pursuivant a
joyful Commendation of that Season, containing Sixteen Staves in Metre Royal,
Bishops Hall by Bethenhall Green.
Mighty Flora, Goddess of fresh Flowers,
Which cloathed hath the Soil in lusty green,
Made Buds spring, with her sweet Showers,
By influence of the Sunshine,
To do pleasance of intent full clean,
Unto the States which now sit here,
Hath Ver down sent her own Daughter dear,
The pleasant Month of May commended.
Making the Vertue, that dured in the Root,
Called of Clerks, the Vertue vegetable,
For to ascend, most wholesome and most soote,
Into the Top, this Season so agreeable:
The Bawmy Liquor is so commendable,
That it rejoiceth with his fresh Moisture,
Man, Beast, and Fowl, and every Creature, &c.
About the Ninth Year of the Reign of King Henry the Eighth, a great
malicious Grudge grew amonst the Englishmen of the City of London against
Strangers; and namely, the Artificers found themselves much agrieved, because
Number of Strangers were permitted to resort hither with their Wares, and to
Handicrafts, to the great hindrance and impoverishing of the King's Liege
Which Malice grew to such a Point, that one John Lincolne a Broker, busied
far in the Matter, that about Palm Sunday, or the Fifth of April, he came to one
Henry Standish with these Words;
"Sir, I understand, that you shall preach at
Spittal on Monday in Easter Week; and so it is, that Englishmen, both Merchants
others are undone by Strangers, who have more liberty in this Land than they;
against Reason, and also against the Commonweal of this Realm: I beseech you
therefore, to declare this in your Sermon, and in so doing you shall deserve
Thanks of my Lord Maior, and of all his Brethren."
And herewith he offered
the said Doctor a Bill, containing the Matter more at large. But Doctor
considering, that there might more Inconvenience arise thereof than he would
he should deal in such a Sort, both refused the Bill, and told Lincoln plainly,
meant not to meddle with any such Matter in his Sermon.
The Number of Strangers in London misliked.
John Lincolne, a Broker, Beginner of the Insurrection.
A Bill offered by Lincolne to Doctor Standish.
Whereupon the said Lincolne went unto one Doctor Bell, a Canon of the foresaid
Spittal, that was appointed likewise to preach upon Tuesday in Easter Week at
Spittal, whom he perswaded to read his said Bill in the Pulpit. Which Bill
effect) the Griefs that many found with Strangers, for taking the Livings away
Artificers, and the Intercourse from Merchants, the redress whereof must come
the Commons knit in one. For as the Hurt touched all Men so must all set to
helping Hands. Which Letter he read, or the chiefest Part thereof,
much seditious Matter. And then he began with this Sentence; Calum cœli
Domino, terram autem dedit filiis hominum. i.e.
"The Heaven to the Lord of
Heaven, but the Earth he hath given to the Children of Men."
on this Text he intreated, how this Land was given to Englishmen, and as Birds
their Nests, so ought Englishmen to cherish and maintain themselves, and to hurt
grieve Aliens for respect of their Commonwealth. And on this Text, Pugna pro
"Fight for your Country"
, he brought in, how (by God's Law) it was
to fight for their Country; and thus he subtilly moved the People to rebel
Strangers. By this Sermon, many a light headed Person took Courage, and openly
spake against Strangers. And by divers mishaps, there had been divers evil
late plaid by Strangers, in and about the City of London; which kindled the
Rancor the more furiously against them.
Doctor Bell undertook to read Lincoln's Bill in the Pulpit.
The Bill contained much seditious Matter.
The Twenty Eighth Day of April, divers young Men of the City picked Quarrels
certain Strangers, as they passed along the Streets; some they smote and
some they threw in the Channel; for which the Lord Maior sent some of the
to Prison; as Stephen Studley, Skinner, Stevenson, Bets, and others.
Quarrels urged to Strangers as they were in the Streets.
Then suddenly rose a secret Rumour, and no Man could tell how it began, that on
Mayday next following the City would slay all the Aliens; insomuch that divers
Strangers fled out of the City.
This Rumour came to the Knowledge of the King's Council; whereupon the Lord
Cardinal sent for the Maior, and other of the Council of the City, giving them
understand what he had heard.
The Lord Maior (as one ignorant of the Matter) told the Cardinal, that he
doubted not so
to govern the City, but that Peace should be observed.
The Cardinal willed him so to do, and to take good heed, that if any riotous
were intended he should by good Policy prevent it.
The Maior coming from the Cardinal's House, about Four of the Clock in the
Afternoon on May Eve, sent for his Brethren to the Guildhall, yet was it almost
of the Clock before the Assembly was set. Upon Conference had of the Matter,
thought it necessary, that a substantial Watch should be set of honest Citizens,
might withstand the evil Doers, if they went about any Misrule. Other were of
Opinion, as rather thinking it best, that every Man should be commanded to shut
Doors, and to keep his Servants within. Before Eight of the Clock, Master
was sent to the Cardinal with these Opinions, who hearing the same allowed the
And then the Recorder, and Sir Thomas More, late Under Sheriff of London, and
of the King's Council, came back again to the Guildhall, half and Hour before
the Clock, and there shewed the Pleasure of the King's Council; whereupon every
Alderman sent to his Ward, that no Man (after Nine of the Clock) should stir out
House, but keep his Doors shut, and his Servants within, until Nine of the Clock
A Meeting of the Lord Maior and his Brethren at Guildhall.
The Recorder, and Sir Thomas More sent to the Cardinal.
After this Commandment was given in the Evening, as Sir John Mundy, Alderman,
came from his Ward, he found two young Men in Cheap playing at the Bucklers, and
great many of young Men looking on them; for the Command seemed to be scarcely
published, he commanded them to leave off. And because one of them asked him
Why, he would have him sent to the Counter. But the Prentices resisted the
taking the Young Man from him, and cryed, Prentices, Prentices, Clubs, Clubs;
out at every Door came Clubs and other Weapons, so that the Alderman was forced
flight. Then more People arose out of every Quarter, and forth came Servingmen,
Watermen, Courtiers, and others. So that by Eleven of the Clock there were in
An Alderman resisted,and put to flight.
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