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Libellus de politica conservatia Maris. Or, The Pollicy of keeping the Sea.


Here beginneth the Prologue of the processe of the Libel of English policie, exhorting all England to keepe the sea, and namely the narrowe sea: shewing what profite commeth thereof, and also what worship and salvation to England, and to all English-men.

THE true processe of English policie
Of utterward to keepe this regne in
Of our England, that no man may deny,
Ner say of sooth but it is one of the best,
Is this, that who seeth South, North, East and West,
Cherish Marchandise, keepe the admiraltie;
That we bee Masters of the narrowe see.
For Sigismond the great Emperour,
Wich yet reigneth, when he was in this land
With king Henry the fift, Prince of honour,
Here much glory, as him thought, he found,
A mightie land which had take in hand
To werre in France, and make mortalitie,
And ever well kept round about the see.
And to the king thus hee sayd: My brother,
(When hee perceived two Townes Caleis and Dover´╝ë
Of all your Townes to chuse of one and other,
To keepe the sea and soone to come over
To werre outwards and your regne to recover:
Keepe these two Townes sure, and your Majestee
As your tweyne eyne: so keepe the narrowe see.
For if this sea bee kept in time of werre,
Who can heere passe without danger and woe?
Who may escape, who may mischiefe differre?
What Marchandie may forby bee agoe?
For needs hem must take trewes every foe:
Flanders and Spaine, and other, trust to mee,
Or ellis hindred all for this Narrow see.
Therefore I cast mee by a little writing
To shewe at eye this conclusion,
For conscience and for mine acquiting
Against God and ageyne abusion,
And cowardise, and to our enemies confusion.
For foure things our Noble sheweth to me,
King, Ship, and Swerd, and power of the see.
Where ben our ships, where ben our swerds become?
Our enemies bed for the ship set a sheepe.
Alas our rule halteth, it is benome.
Who dare well say that lordship should take keepe?
I will assay, though mine heart ginne to weepe,
To doe this werke, if wee will ever thee,
For very shame to keepe about the see.
Shall any Prince, what so be his name,
Which hath Nobles moch leche ours,
Bee Lord of see: and Flemings to our blame,
Stop us, take us, and so make fade the flowers
Of English state, and disteyne our honours?
For cowardise alas it should so bee.
Therefore I ginne to write nowe of the see.


Of the commodities of Spaine and of Flanders. The first Chapter.

KNOWE well all men that profits in certaine
Commodities called comming out of Spaine
And Marchandie, who so will weete what it is,
Bene Figs, Raisins, wine Bastard, and Datis,
And Licoris, Sivill oyle, and graine,
White Pastill Sope, and Waxe is not vayne.
Yron , Wooll, Wadmolle, Gotefell, Kidfell also:
For Poynt-makers full needefull bene they tweyn:
Saffron, Quickesilver, which owne Spaine Marchandy,
Is into Flanders shipped full craftily,
Unto Bruges as to her staple fayre:
The Haven of Scluse hir Haven for her repayre
Which is cleped Swyn tho shippes giding:
Where many vessels and fayre are abiding.
But these Marchandes with their shippes great,
And such chaffare as they bye and get
By the weyes must nede take on hand
By the coasts to passe of our England,
Betwixt Dover and Caleis, this is no doubt.
Who can well els such matter bring about?
And when these sayd Marchants discharged bee
Of Marchandie in Flanders nere the see,
Then they bee charged againe with Marchandy,
That to Flanders bougeth full richly.
Fine cloth of Ypre that named is better than ours,
Cloth of Curtrike, fine cloth of all colours,
Much Fustian, and also Linen cloth.
But Flemings, if yee bee not wroth,
The great substance of your cloth at the full
Yee wot ye make it of our English woll.
Then may it not sinke in mannis brayne,
But that it must this Marchandy of Spaine
Both out and in by our costes passe:
Hee that sayd nay in witte was like an asse.

Wee should have peace with the grounds tweyne
Thus if this see were kept, I dare well sayne.
For Spaine and Flanders is as eche other brother,
And nether may well live without other:
They may not liven to maintaine their degrees,
Without our English commodities:
Wolle and Tynne: for the woolle of England
Susteineth the Commons Flemings I understand.
Then if England would her wolle restraine
From Flanders, this followeth in certaine,
Flanders of nede must with us have peace,
Or els shee is destroyed without lees.
Also if Flanders thus destroyed bee:
Some Marchandy of Spaine will never ythee:
For destroyed it is, and as in cheeffe
The wolle of Spaine it commeth not to preeffe,
But if it be costed and menged well
Amongst the English wolle the greter delle.
For Spanish wooll in Flaunders draped is,
And ever hath bee, that men have minde of this:
And yet Wooll is one of the chiefe Marchandy
That longeth to Spaine: who so will espie,
It is of little value, trust unto mee,
With English wooll but if it menged bee.
Thus if the sea be kept, than herken hether,
If these two lands comen not together:
So that the Fleete of Flanders passe nought
That in the narrowe see it be not brought
Into the Rochelle to fetch the fumose wine,
Ner into Bytonuse Bay for salt so fine,
What is then Spaine? What is Flanders also?
As who sayd, nought, the thrift is agoe.
For the little land of Flanders is
But a staple to other lands ywis:
And all that groweth in Flanders graine and seede
May not a Moneth finde hem meate and brede.
What hath then Flanders, bee Flemings lieffe or loth,
But a little Mader and Flemish Cloth:
By Drapering of our wooll in substance
Liven her commons, this is her governance,
Without wich they may not live at ease.
Thus must hem sterve, or with us must have peace.


Of the commodities of Portugal . The second Chapter.

THE Marchandy also of Portugal
By divers lands turne into sale.
Portugalers with us have trouth in hand:
Whose Marchandy commeth much into England.
They ben our friends, with their commodities,
And wee English passen into their countrees.
Her land hath wine, Osey, Ware, and Graine,
Figges, Reysins, Hony and Cordoweyne:
Dates, and Salt, Hides, and such Marchandy:
And if they would to Flanders passe for by,
They should not bee suffred ones ner twyes,
For supporting of our cruell enemies,
That is to say Flemings with her gyle:
For changeable they are in little while.
Then I conclude by reasons many moe,
If we suffred neither friend nor foe,
What so enemies, and so supporting
Passe for by us in time of werring,
Seth our friends will not ben in cause
Of our hindring, if reson lede this clause:
Then nede from Flanders peace bee to us sought,
And other lands should seeke peace, dout nought:
For Flanders is Staple, as men tell mee,
To all nations of Christianitie.


The commodities of pety Britaine, with her Rovers on the sea. The third Chapter.

FURTHERMORE to write I am faine
Somewhat speaking of the little Britayne.
Commoditie thereof there, is and was,
Salt, and wine, crest cloth and canvas.
And the land of Flaunders sickerly
Is the staple of their Marchandy.
Wich Marchandie may not passe away
But by the coast of England, this is no nay.
And of this Britaine, who so trueth lovis,
Are the greatest rovers and the greatest theevis,
That have bene in the sea many one yeere:
That our Marchants have bought full dere.
For they have tooke notable goods of ours,
On this side see, these false pelours
Called of Saincte Malo, and ellis where:
Wich to their Duke none obeysance will bere:
With such colours wee have bee hindred sore.
And fayned peace is called no werre herefore.
Thus they have bene in divers coasts many
Of our England, more then rehearse can I:
In Norfolke coastes, and other places about,
And robbed and brent and slaine by many a rowte:
And they have also ransomed Towne by Towne:
That into the regnes of bost have run her sowne:
Wich hath bin ruth unto this Realme and shame:
They that the sea should keepe are much to blame.
For Britayne is of easie reputation;
And Saincte Malo turneth hem to reprobation.

A storie of Edward the third his ordinance for Britayne.

HERE bring I in a storie to mee lent,
That a good Squire in time of Parliament
Tooke unto mee well written in a scrowe:
That I have commond both with high and lowe,
Of which all men accorden into one,
That it was done not many yeeres agone.
But when noble King Edward the thrid
Reigned in grace, right thus it betyd.
For hee had a maner gelosie
To his Marchants and loved them hartily.
He feld the weyes to rule well the see,
Whereby Marchants might have prosperitee.
That for Harflew Houndflew did he maken;
And great werre that time were undertaken,
betwixt the King and the Duke of Britayne:
At last to fall to peace both were they fayne:
Upon the wich made with convencion
Our Marchants made hem readie bowne
Toward Britayne to loade their Marchandie,
Wening hem friends they went foorth boldly:
But soone anon our Marchants were ytake,
And wee spedde never the better for truce sake.
They lost her good, her navy and spending:
But their complaint came unto the king.
Then wext he wroth, and to the Duke he sent,
And complained that such harme was hent;
By convention and peace made so refused:
Wich Duke sent againe, and him excused,
Rehearsing that the mount of Saincte Michael,
And Sainct Malo would never a dell
Be subject unto his governance,
Nor be under his obeysance:
And so they did withouten him that deede.
But when the king anon had taken heede:
Hee in his herte set a judgement,
Without calling of any Parliament,
Or greate tarry to take long advise
To fortifie anon he did devise
Of English Townes three, that is to say,
Dertmouth, Plymouth , the third it is Fowey :
And gave hem helpe and notable puisance
With insistence set them in governance
Upon pety Bretayne for to werre.
Those good sea men would no more differre,
But bete hem home and made they might not rowte,
Tooke prisoners, and made them for to lowte.
And efte the Duke, an ensample wise,
Wrote to the king as he first did devise,
Him excusing: But our men wood
With great power passed over the floode
And werred foorth into the Dukes londe,
And had ny destroyed free and bond.
But than the Duke knewe that the townes three
Should have lost all his native Countrie,
He undertooke by suretie true not false,
For mount Michael and Saincte Malo als,
And other parties of the litle Brytaine,
Which to obey, as sayd was, were not fayne.
The Duke hymselfe for all did undertake:
With all his herte a full peace did hee make:
So that in all the life time of the king,
Marchants had peace withouten werring:
He made a statute for Lombards in this land,
That they should in noe wise take on hande
Here to inhabite, here to chardge and dischardge
But fortie dayes, no more time had they large.
This good king by witte of such appreiffe
Kept his Marchants and the sea from mischiefe.

Of the commodities of Scotland and draping of hel wolles in Flanders. The fourth Chapiter.

MOREOVER of Scotland the commodities
Are Felles, Hides, and of Wooll the Fleese.
And all these must passe by us away
Into Flanders by England, sooth to say.
And all her woolle was draped for to sell
In the Townes of Poperinge and of Bell;
Which my Lord of Glocester with ire
For her falshed set upon a fire.
And yet they of Bell and Poperinge
Could never drape her wooll for any thing,
But if they had English woll withall.
Our goodly wooll which is so generall
Needefull to them in Spaine and Scotland als,
And other costes, this sentence is not false:
Yee worthy Marchants I doe it upon you,
I have this learned ye wot well where and howe:
Ye wotte the Staple of that Marchandie,
Of this Scotland is Flaunders sekerly.
And the Scots bene charged knowen at the eye,
Out of Flanders with little Mercerie,
And great plentie of Haberdashers Ware,
And halfe her shippes with cart wheeles bare,
And with Barrowes are laden as in substance:
Thus most rude ware are in her chevesance.
So they may not forbeare this Flemish land.
Therefore if wee would manly take in hand,
To keepe this Sea from Flanders and from Spaine,
And from Scotland , like as from pety Britaine,
Wee should right soone have peace for all her bosts,
For they must needes passe by our English costs.


Of the commodities of Pruce, and High Dutch men, and Easterlings. The fifth Chapitle.

NOWE goe foorth to the commodities,
That commeth from Pruce in two maner degrees.
For two maner people have such use,
That is to say, High Duch men of Pruse,
And Easterlings, which might not be forborne,
Out of Flanders, but it were verely lorne.
For they bring in the substance of the Beere,
That they drinken feele too good chepe, not dere.
Yee have heard that two Flemings togider
Will undertake or they goe any whither,
Or they rise once to drinke a Ferkin full,
Of good Beerekin: so sore they hall and pull.
Under the board they pissen as they sit:
This commeth of covenant of a worthie wit.
Without Caleis in their Butter they cakked
When they fled home, and when they leysure lacked
To holde their siege, they went like as a Doe:
Well was that Fleming that might trusse, and goe.
For feare they turned backe and hyed fast,
My Lord of Glocester made hem so agast
With his comming, and sought hem in her land,
And brent and slowe as he had take on hand:
So that our enemies durst not bide, nor stere,
They fled to mewe, they durst no more appeare,
Rebuked sore for ever so shamefully,
Unto her utter everlasting villanie.
Nowe Beere and Bakon bene fro Pruse ybrought
Into Flanders, as loved and farre ysought;
Osmond, Copper, Bow-staves, Steele, and Wexe,
Peltreware and grey Pitch, Terre, Board, and flexe:
And Colleyne threed, Fustian and Canvas,
Card, Bukeram: of olde time thus it was.
But the Flemings among these things dere,
In common loven best Bakon and Beere.
Also Pruse men maken her adventure
Of Plate of silver of wedges good and sure
In great plentie which they bring and bye,
Out of the lands of Beame and Hungarie:
Which is increase full great unto their land,
And they bene laden, I understand,
With wollen cloth all maner of colours
By dyers crafted full divers, that ben ours.
And they adventure full greatly unto the Bay,
for salt that is needefull withouten nay.
Thus if they would not our friends bee,
We might lightly stoppe hem in the see:
They should not passe our streemes withouten leve,
It would not be, but if we should hem greve.


Of the commodities of the Genuoys and her great Caracks. Chap. 6.

THE Genuois comen in sundry wises
Into this land with divers marchandises
In great Caracks, arrayed withouten lacke
With cloth of gold, silke, and pepper blacke
They bring with them, and of crood great plentee,
Woll Oyle, Woad ashen, by vessel in the see,
Cotton, Rochalum, and good gold of Genne.
And then be charged with wolle againe I wenne,
And wollen cloth of ours of colours all.
And they adventure, as ofte it doth befall,
Into Flanders with such things as they bye,
That is their chefe staple sekerly:
And if they would be our full enemies,
They should not passe our stremes with marchandise.


The commodities and nicetees of the Venetians and Florentines, with their Gallees. Chap. 7.

THE great Galees of Venice and Florence
Be well laden with things of complacence,
All spicery and of grossers ware:
With sweete wines all maner of chaffare,
Apes, and Japes, and marmusets tayled,
Nifles and trifles that little have avayled:
And things with which they fetely blere our eye:
With things not induring that we bye.
For much of this chaffare that is wastable
Might be forborne for dere and deceivable.
And that I wene as for infirmities
In our England are such commodities
Withouten helpe of any other lond
Which by witte and practise both yfound:
That all humors might be voyded sure,
Which that we gleder with our English cure:
That we should have no neede of Scamonie,
Turbit, enforbe, correct Diagredie,
Rubarbe, Sene, and yet they ben to needefull,
But I know things al so speedefull,
That growen here, as those things sayd.
Let of this matter no man be dismayde;
But that a man may voyde infirmitie
Without degrees fet fro beyond the sea.
And yef they should except be any thing
It were but sugre, trust to my saying:
He that trusteth not to my saying and sentence,
Let him better search experience.
In this matter I will not ferther prease,
Who so not beleeveth, let him leave and cease.
Thus these galeys for this licking ware,
And eating ware, bare hence our best chaffare:
Cloth, woll, and tinne, which as I sayd before,
Out of this lond worst might be forbore,
For ech other land of necessitie
Have great neede to buy some of them three:
And we receive of hem into this coste
Ware and chaffare that lightly wilbe loste.
And would Jesus, that our Lordis wold
Consider this well both yong and old:
Namely old that have experience,
That might the yonge exhort to prudence;
What harme, what hurt, and what hinderance
Is done to us, unto our great grievance,
Of such lands, and of such nations:
As experte men know by probations,
By writings as discovered our counsailes,
And false colour alwaies the countertailes
Of our enimies; that doth us hindering
Unto our goods, our Relme, and to the king:
As wise men have shewed well at eye;
And all this is couloured by marchandye.


An example of deceite.

ALSO they bere the gold out of this land,
And sucke the thrift away out of our hand:
As the Waspe souketh honie fro the bee,
So minisheth our commoditee.
Now wol ye here how they in Cotteswold
Were wont to borrow or they shold be sold
Her woll good as for yere and yere.
Of cloth and tinne they did in like manere:
And in her galies ship this marchandie:
Then soone at Venice of them men woll it bye.
Then utterne there the chaffare by the peise,
And lightly als there they make her reise.
And when the goods beene at Venice sold,
Then to carie her change they this money have,
They will it profer, their subtiltie to save,
To English marchants to yeve it out by eschange
To be payed againe they make not strange,
At the receiving and sight of a letter,
Here in England, seeming for the better,
by foure pence lesse in the noble round:
That is twelve pence in the golden pound.
And if wee wol have of payment
A full moneth, than must him needes assent
To eight pence losse, that is shillings twaine
In the English pound; as eft soone againe,
For two moneths twelve pence must he pay.
In the English pound what is that to say,
But shillings three? So that in pound fell
For hurt and harme hard is with hem to dwell.
And when English marchants have content
This eschange in England of assent,
That these sayd Venecians have in woone
And Florentines to bere her gold soone
Over the see into Flanders againe:
And thus they live in Flanders, sooth to saine,
And in London with such chevisance,
That men call usury, to our losse and hinderance.


Another example of deceite.

Now lesten well how they made us a valeys
When they borrowed at the town of Caleis
As they were wont, their woll that was hem lent,
For yere and yere they should make payment.
And sometime als two yere and two yeare.
This was fayre love: but yet will ye heare,
How they to Bruges would her woll carie,
And for hem take payment withouten tarie,
And sell it fast for ready money in hand.
For fifty pounds of money of losse they wold not wond
In a thousand pound, and live thereby
Till the day of payment easily,
Come againe in exchange: making
Full like usury, as men make undertaking.
Than whan this payment of a thousand pound
Was well content, they should have chaffare sound
If they wold fro the Staple full,
Receive againe three thousand pound in woll.
In Cotteswold also they ride about,
And all England, and buy withouten doubte
What them list with freedome and franchise,
More then we English may gitten many wise.
But would God that without lenger delayes
These galees were unfraught in fortie dayes,
And in fortie dayes charged againe,
And that they might be put to certaine
To goe to oste, as we there with hem doe.
It were expedient that they did right soe,
As we doe there. If the king would it:
Ah what worship wold fall to English wit?
What profite also to our marchandie
Which wold of nede be cherished hertilie?
For I would witte, why now our navie fayleth,
When manie a foe us at our doore assayleth.
Now in these dayes, that if there come a nede,
What navie should we have it is to drede.
In Denmarke were full noble conquerours
In time past, full worthy warriours:
Which when they had their marchants destroyed,
To poverty they fell, thus were they noyed:
And so they stand at mischiefe at this day.
This learned I late well writon, this no nay.
Therefore beware, I can no better will,
If grace it woll, of other mennis perill.
For if marchants were cherished to her speede,
We were not likely to fayle in any neede.
If they be rich, then in prosperitee
Shalbe our londe, lords, and commontee,
And in worship. Now thinke I on the sonne
Of marchandy Richard of Whitingdon;
That load sterre, and chiefe chosen floure:
What hath by him our England of honour,
And what profite hath bin of his riches,
And yet lasteth dayly in worthines?
That pen and paper may not me suffice
Him to describe: so high he was of price
Above marchants, that set him one of the best:
I can no more, but God have him in rest.


Now the principal matter.

WHAT reason is it that we should goe to oste
In their countries, & in this English coste
They should not so? but have more liberty
Then we our selves now also motte I thee.
I would to gifts men should take no heede
That letteth our thing publicke for to speede.
For this we see well every day at eye,
Gifts and fests stopen our policie.
Now see that fooles ben either they or wee:
But ever we have the worse in this countree.
Therefore let hem unto oste go here,
Or be we free with hem in like manere
In their countrees: and if it will not bee,
Compell them unto oste, and yee shall see
Moch avantage, and moch profite arise,
Moch more then I can write in any wise.


Of our charge and discharge at her marts.

CONCEIVE wel here, that Englishmen at martes
Be discharged, for all her craftes and artes,
In Brabant of her marchandy
In fourteene dayes, and ageine hastily
In the same dayes fourteene acharged eft.
And if they bide lenger all is bereft,
Anon they should forfeit her goods all,
Or marchandy: it should no better fall.
And we to martis in Brabant charged beene
With English cloth full good and fayre to seene:
We ben againe charged with mercerie,
Haburdasher ware, and with grosserie:
To which marts, that English men call fayres,
Ech nation oft maketh her repayres:
English, and French, Lombards, Jennoyes,
Catalones, thedre they take her wayes:
Scots, Spaniards, Irishmen there abides,
With great plenty bringing of sale hides.
And I here say that we in Brabant bye,
Flanders and Zeland more of marchandy
In common use then done all other nations:
This have I heard of marchants relations:
And if the English ben not in the marts
They ben feeble, and as nought bene her parts.
For they byemore, and fro purse put out
More marchandie then all the other rowte.
Kept then the see, shippes should not bring ne fetch,
And then the carreys wold not thidre stretch:
And so those marts wold full evill thee,
If we manly kept about the see.


Of the commodities of Brabant and Zeland and Henauld and marchandy carried by land to the martes. Cap. 8.

YET marchandy of Brabant and Zeland
The Madre and Woad, that dyers take on hand
To dyen with, Garlike and Onions,
And saltfishe als for husband and commons.
But they of Holland at Caleis byen our felles,
And wolles our, that Englishmen hem selles.
And the chaffare that Englishmen doe byen
In the marts, that noe man may denien,
Is not made in Brabant that cuntree:
It commeth from out of Henauld, not by see,
But al by land, by carts, and from France,
Bourgoyne, Colein, Cameret in substance,
Therefore at marts if there be a restraint,
Men seyne plainely that list no fables paynt,
If Englishmen be withdrawen away,
Is great rebuke and losse to her affray:
As though we sent into the land of France
Ten thousand people, men of good puissance,
To werre unto her hindring multifarie,
So ben our English marchants necessarie.
If it be thus assay, and we shall witten
Of men experte, by whom I have this written.
For sayd is that this carted marchandy
Draweth in value as much verily,
As all the goods that come in shippes thider,
Which Englishmen bye most and bring it hither.
For her marts ben febel, shame to say,
But Englishmen thider dresse her way.


A conclusion of this depending of keeping of the sea.

THAN I conclude, if never so much by land
Were by carres brought unto their hand,
If well the sea were kept in governance
They should by sea have no deliverance.
Wee should hem stop, and we should hem destroy,
As prisoners we should hem bring to annoy.
And so we should of our cruell enimies
Make our friends for feare of marchandies,

If they were not suffered for to passe
Into Flanders. But we be frayle as glasse
And also brittle, not thought never abiding;
But when grace shineth soone are we sliding;
We will it not receive in any wise:
That maken lust, envie, and covetise:
Expone me this; and yee shall sooth it find,
Bere it away, and keepe it in your mind.
Then shuld worship unto our Noble bee
In feate and forme to lord and Majestie:
Liche as the seale the greatest of this land
On the one side hath, as I understand,
A prince riding with his swerd ydraw,
In the other side sitting, soth it is in saw,
Betokening good rule and punishing
In very deede of England by the king.
And it is so, God blessed mought he bee.
So in likewise I would were on the see
By the Noble, that swerde should have power,
And the ships on the sea about us here.
What needeth a garland which is made of Ivie
Shewe a taverne winelesse, also thrive I?
If men were wise, the Frenchmen and Fleming
Shuld bere no state in sea by werring.
Then Hankin lyons shuld not be so bold
To stoppe wine, and shippes for to hold
Unto our shame. He had be beten thence.
Alas, alas, why did we this offence,
Fully to shend the old English fames;
And the profits of England, and their names:
Why is this power called of covetise;
With false colours cast beforn our eyes?
That if good men called werriours
Would take in hand for the commons succours,
To purge the sea unto our great avayle,
And winne hem goods, and have up the sayle,
And on our enimies their lives to impart,
So that they might their prises well departe,
As reson wold, justice and equitie;
To make this land have lordship of the sea.
Then shall Lombards and other fained friends
Make their chalenges by colour false offends,
And say their chaffare in the shippes is,
And chalenge al. Looke if this be amisse.
For thus may al that men have bought to sore,
Ben soone excused, and saved by false colour.
Beware ye men that bere the great in hand
That they destroy the policie of this land,
By gifte and good, and the fine golden clothis,
And silke, and other: say yee not this soth is?
But if we had very experience
That they take meede with privie violence,
Carpets, and things of price and pleasance,
Whereby stopped should be good governance:
And if it were as yee say to mee,
Than wold I say, alas cupiditie,
That they that have her lives put in drede,
Shalbe soone out of winning, all for meed,
And lose her costes, and brought to poverty,
That they shall never have lust to goe to sea.


An exhortation to make an ordinance against colour of maintainers and excusers of folkes goods.

FOR this colour that must be sayd alofte
And be declared of the great full ofte,
That our seamen wol by many wise
Spoile our friends in steede of our enimies:
For which colour and Lombards maintenance,
The king it needes to make an ordinance
With his Counsayle that may not fayle, I trowe,
That friends should from enimies be knowe,
Our enimies taken and our friends spared:
The remedy of hem must be declared.
Thus may the sea be kept in no sell,
For if ought be spoken, wot yee well,
We have the strokes, and enemies have the winning:
But mayntainers are parteners of the finning.
We live in lust and bide in covetise:
This is our rule to maintaine marchandise,
And policie that wee have on the sea.
And, but God helpe, it will no other bee.


Of the commodities of Ireland , and policie and keeping thereof, and conquering of wild Irish: with an incident of Wales. Chap. 9.

I CAST to speake of Ireland but a litle:
Commodities of it I will entitle,
Hides, and fish, Salmon, Hake, Herringe,
Irish wooll, and linen cloth, faldinge,
And marterns goode ben her marchandie,
Hertes Hides, and other of Venerie.
Skinnes of Otter, Squirell and Irish hare,
Of sheepe, lambe, and Foxe, is her chaffare,
Felles of Kiddes, and Conies great plentie.
So that if Ireland helpe us to keepe the sea,
Because the King cleped is Rex Angliae,
And is Dominus also Hyberniae,
Old possessed by Progenitours:
The Irish men have cause like to ours
Our land and hers together to defend,
That no enemie should hurt ne offend,
Ireland ne us: but as one commontie
Should helpe well to keepe about the sea:
For they have havens great, and goodly bayes,
Sure, wyde and deepe, of good assayes,
At Waterford, and costes many one.
And as men sayne in England be there none
Better havens, ships in to ride,
No more sure for enemies to abide.
Why speake I thus so much of Ireland ?
For all so much as I can understand,
It is fertile for things that there doe growe
And multiplien, loke who lust to knowe,
So large, so good, and so commodious,
That to declare is strange and marvailous.
For of silver and golde there is the oore,
Among the wilde Irish though they be poore.
For they are rude and can thereon no skill:
So that if we had their peace and good will
To myne and fine, and metal for to pure,
In wilde Irish might we finde the cure,
As in London saith a Juellere,
Which brought from thence golde oore to us here,
Whereof was fyned mettal goode and clene,
As they touch, no better could be seene.
Nowe here beware and heartily take intent,
As yee will answere at last judgement,
That for slought and for racheshede
Yee remember with all your might to hede
To keepe Ireland that it be not lost.
For it is a boterasse and a post,
Under England, and Wales another:
God forbid, but ech were others brothers
Of one ligeance due unto the king.
But I have pittie in good faith of this thing
That I shall say with avisement:
I am aferde that Ireland will be shent:
It must awey, it wol bee lost from us,
But if thou helpe, thou Jesu gracious,
And give us grace al slought to leve beside.
For much thing in my herte is hide,
Which in another treatise I caste to write
Made al onely for that soile and site,
Of fertile Ireland , wich might not be forborne,
But if England were nigh as goode as gone.
God forbid that a wild Irish wirlinge
Should be chosen for to bee their kinge,
After her conqueste for our last puissance,
And hinder us by other lands alliance.
Wise men seyn, wich felin not, ne douten,
That wild Irish so much of ground have gotten
There upon us, as likenesse may be
Like as England to sheeris two or three
Of this our land is made comparable:
So wild Irish have wonne on us unable
Yet to defend, and of none power,
That our ground is there a litle corner,
To all Ireland in true comparison.
It needeth no more this matter to expon.
Which if it bee lost, as Christ Jesu forbed,
Farewel Wales, then England commeth to dred,
For aliance of Scotland and of Spaine,
And other moe, as the pety Bretaine,
And so have enemies environ round about.
I beseech God, that some prayers devout
Mutt let the said apparance probable
Thus disposed without feyned fable.
But all onely for perill that I see
Thus imminent, it's likely for to bee.
And well I wotte, that from hence to Rome,
And, as men say, in all Christendome,
Is no ground ne land to Ireland liche,
So large, so good, so plenteous, so riche,
That to this worde Dominus doe long.
Then mee semeth that right were and no wrong,
To get the lande: and it were piteous
To us to lese this high name Dominus.
And all this word Dominus of name
Shuld have the ground obeysant wilde and tame.
That name and people togidre might accord
Al the ground subject to the Lord.
And that it is possible to bee subject,
Unto the king wel shal it bee detect,
In the litle booke that I of spake.
I trowe reson al this wol undertake.
And I knowe wel howe it stante,
Alas fortune beginneth so to scant,
Or ellis grace, that deade is governance.
For so minisheth parties of our puissance,
In that land that wee lese every yere,
More ground and more, as well as yee may here.
I herd a man speake to mee full late.
Which was a lord of full great estate;
Than expense of one yere done in France
Werred on men well willed of puissance
This said ground of Ireland to conquere.
And yet because England might not forbere
These said expenses gadred in one yeere,
But in three yeeres or foure gadred up here,
Might winne Ireland to a finall conqueste,
In one sole yeere to set us all at reste.
And how soone wolde this be paied ageyne:
Which were it worth yerely, if wee not feyne:
I wol declare, who so luste to looke,
I trowe full plainely in my litle booke.
But covetise, and singularitie
Of owne profite, envie, crueltie,
Hath doon us harme, and doe us every day,
And musters made that shame is to say:
Our money spent al to litle availe,
And our enimies so greatly doone prevaile,
That what harme may fall and overthwerte
I may unneth write more for sore of herte.


An exhortation to the keeping of Wales.

BEWARE of Wales, Christ Jesu mutt us keepe,
That it make not our childers childe to weepe,
Ne us also, so if it goe his way,
By unwarenes: seth that many a day
Men have bee ferde of her rebellion,
By great tokens and ostentation:
Seche the meanes with a discrete avise,
And helpe that they rudely not arise
For to rebell, that Christ it forbede.
Looke wel aboute, for God wote yee have neede,
Unfainingly, unfeyning and unfeynt,
That conscience for slought you not atteynt:
Kepe well that grounde, for harme that may ben used,
Or afore God mutte yee ben accused.


Of the commodious Stockfish of Island, and keeping of the Sea, namely the Narrow sea, with an incident of the keeping of Caleis. Chap. 10.

OF Island to write is litle nede,
Save of Stock-fish: Yet forsooth in deed
Out of Bristowe, and costes many one,
Men have practised by nedle and by stone
Thider wardes within a litle while,
Within twelve yere, and without perill
Gon and come, as men were wont of old
Of Scarborough unto the costes cold.
And nowe so fele shippes this yeere there ware,
That moch losse for unfreyght they bare:
Island might not make hem to bee fraught
Unto the Hawys: thus much harme they caught.
Then here I ende of the commoditees
For which neede is well to kepe the seas:
Este and Weste, South and North they bee.
And chiefly kepe the sharpe narrow see,
Betweene Dover and Caleis: and as thus
that foes passe none without good will of us:
And they abide our danger in the length,
What for our costis and Caleis in our strength.


An exhortation for the sure keeping of Caleis.

AND for the love of God, and of his blisse
Cherish yee Caleis better then it is.
See well thereto, and heare the grete complaint
That true men tellen, that woll no lies paint,
And as yee know that writing commeth from thence:
Doe not to England for slought so great offence,
But that redressed it bee for any thing:
Leste a song of sorrow that wee sing.
For litle wenith the foole who so might chese
What harme it were good Caleis for to lese:
What wo it were for all this English ground.
Which wel conceived the Emperour Sigismound,
That of all joyes made it one of the moste,
That Caleis was subject unto English coste.
Him thought it was a jewel most of all,
And so the same in Latine did it call.
And if yee wol more of Caleis heare and knowe,
I cast to write within a litle scrowe,
Like as I have done before by and by
In other parteis of our policie.
Loke how hard it was at the first to get;
And by my counsell lightly doe not it let.
For if wee lese it with shame of face
Wilfully, it is for lacke of grace.
Howe was Harflew cried upon, and Rone ,
That they were likely for shought to be gone;
Howe was it warned and cried on in England,
I make record with this pen in my hand.
It was warened plainely in Normandie ,
And in England, and I thereon did crie.
The world was defrauded, it betyde right so.
Farewell Harflew: lewdly it was a go.
Nowe ware Caleis, I can say no better:
My soule discharge I by this present letter.


After the Chapitles of commodities of divers lands, sheweth the conclusion of keeping of the sea environ, by a storie of King Edgar and two incidents of King Edward the third, and King Henrie the fifth. Chap. 11.

NOWE see we well then that this round see
To our Noble by pariformitee
Under the ship shewed there the sayle,
And our king with royal apparayle,
With swerd drawen bright and extent
For to chastise enimies violent;
Should be lord of the sea about,
To keepe enimies from within and without;
To behold through Christianitee
Master and lord environ of the see:
All living men such a prince to dreed,
Of such a regne to bee aferd indeed.
Thus prove I well that it was thus of old;
Which by a Chronicle anon shalbe told,
Right curious: but I will interprete
It into English, as I did it gete:
Of king Edgar: O most marvellous
Prince living, wittie, and chevalerous:
So good that none of his predecessours
Was to him liche in prudence and honours.
Hee was fortunate and more gracious
Then other before, and more glorious:
He was beneth no man in holines:
Hee passed all in vertuous sweetnes.
Of English kings was none so commendable:
To English men no lesse memorable,
Then Cyrus was to Perse by puissance,
And as great Charles was to them of France,
And as to the Romanes was great Romulus,
So was to England this worthy Edgarus.
I may not write more of his worthines
For lacke of time, ne of his holines:
But to my matter I him exemplifie,
Of conditions tweyne and of his policie:
Within his land was one, this is no doubt,
And another in the see without;
That in time of Winter and of werre,
When boystrous windes put see men into fere;
Within his land about by all provinces
Hee passed through, perceiving his princes,
Lords, and others of the commontee,
Who was oppressour, and who to povertee
Was drawen and brought, and who was clene in life,
And was by mischiefe and by strife
With over leding and extortion:
And good and badde of eche condition
Hee aspied: and his ministers als,
Who did trought, and which of hem was fals:
Howe the right and lawes of the land
Were execute, and who durst take in hand
To disobey his statutes and decrees,
If they were well kept in all countrees:
Of these he made subtile investigation
Of his owne espie, and other mens relation.
Among other was his great busines,
Well to ben ware, that great men of riches,
And men of might in citie nor in towne
Should to the poore doe non oppression.
Thus was hee wont in this Winter tide
On such enforchise busily to abide.
This was his labour for the publike thing,
Thus was hee occupied: a passing holy King.
Nowe to purpose, in the Sommer faire
Of lusty season, whan clered was the aire,
He had redie shippes made before
Great and huge, not fewe but many a store:
Full three thousand and sixe hundred also
Stately inough on our sea to goe.
The Chronicles say, these shippes were full boysteous:
Such things long to kings victorious.
In Sommer tide would hee have in wonne
And in custome to be ful redie soone,
With multitude of men of good array
And instruments of werre of best assay.
Who could hem well in any wise descrive?
It were not light for eny man alive.
Thus he and his would enter shippes great
Habiliments having and the fleete
Of See werres, that joyfull was to see
Such a navie and Lord of Majestee,
There present in person hem among
To saile and rowe environ all along,
So regal liche about the English isle;
To all strangers terrours and perile.
Whose fame went about in all the world stout,
Unto great fere of all that be without,
And exercise to Knights and his meynee
To him longing of his natall cuntree.
For courage of nede must have exercise,
Thus occupied for esshewin of vice.
This knew the king that policie espied;
Winter and Somer he was thus occupied.
Thus conclude I by authoritee
Of Chronike, that environ the see
Should bene our subjects unto the King,
And hee bee Lord thereof for eny thing:
For great worship and for profite also
To defend his land fro every foo.
That worthy king I leve, Edgar by name,
And all the Chronike of his worthy fame:
Saffe onely this I may not passe away,
A worde of mighty strength till that I say,
That graunted him God such worship here,
For his merites, hee was without pere,
That sometime at his great festivitee
Kings, and Erles of many a countree,
And princes fele were there present,
And many Lords came thider by assent,
To his worship: but in a certaine day
Hee bad shippes to bee redie of aray:
For to visit Saint Johns Church hee list
Rowing unto the good holie Baptist,
Hee assigned to Erles, Lords, and knights
Many ships right godly to sights:
And for himselfe and eight kings moo
Subject to him hee made kepe one of thoo,
A good shippe, and entrede into it
With eight kings, and downe did they sit;
And eche of them an ore tooke in hand,
At ore hales, as I understand,
And he himselfe at the shippe behinde
As steris man it became of kinde.
Such another rowing I dare well say,
Was not seene of Princes many a day.
Lo than how hee in waters got the price,
In lande, in see, that I may not suffice
To tell, 0 right, 0 magnanimitee,
That king Edgar had upon the see.


An incident of the Lord of the sea King Edward the third.

OF king Edward I passe and his prowes
On lande, on sea yee knowe his worthines:
The siege of Caleis, ye know well all the matter
Round about by land, and by the water,
Howe it lasted not yeeres many agoe,
After the battell of Crecye was ydoe:
Howe it was closed environ about,
Olde men sawe it, which liven, this is no doubt.
Old Knights say that the Duke of Burgoyn,
Late rebuked for all his golden coyne;
Of ship on see made no besieging there,
For want of shippes that durst not come for feare.
It was nothing besieged by the see:
Thus call they it no siege for honestee.
Gonnes assailed, but assault was there none,
No siege, but fuge: well was he that might be gone:
This maner carping have knights ferre in age,
Expert through age of this maner language.
But king Edward made a siege royall,
And wanne the towne: and in especiall
The sea was kept, and thereof he was Lord.
Thus made he Nobles coyned of record;
In whose time was no navie on the see
That might withstand his majestie.
Battell of Scluse yee may rede every day,
Howe it was done I leve and goe my way:
It was so late done that yee it knowe,
In comparison within a litle throwe:
For which to God give we honour and glorie;
For Lord of see the king was with victorie.


Another incident of keeping of the see, in the time of the marveilous werriour and victorious Prince, King Henrie the fifth, and of his great shippes.

AND if I should conclude all by the King
Henrie the fift, what was his purposing,
Whan at Hampton he made the great dromons,
Which passed other great ships of all the commons;
The Trinitie, the Grace de Dieu, the holy Ghost,
And other moe, which as nowe bee lost.
What hope ye was the kings great intent
Of thoo shippes, and what in minde hee meant?
It was not ellis, but that hee cast to bee
Lorde round about environ of the see.
And when Harflew had her siege about,
There came caracks horrible great and stoute
In the narrow see willing to abide,
To stoppe us there with multitude of pride.
My Lord of Bedford came on and had the cure,
Destroyed they were by that discomfiture.
This was after the king Harflew had wonne,
Whan our enemies to siege had begonne;
That all was slaine or take, by true relation,
To his worshippe, and of his English nation.
There was present the kings chamberlaine
At both battailes; which knoweth this in certaine;
He can it tell otherwise then I:
Aske him, and witte; I passe foorth hastily.
What had this king of his magnificence,
Of great courage, of wisedome, and prudence?
Provision, forewitte, audacitee,
Of fortitude, justice, and agilitee,
Discretion, subtile avisednesse,
Attemperance, Noblesse, and worthinesse:
Science, prowesse, devotion, equitie,
Of most estate, with his magnanimitie
Liche to Edgar, and the saide Edward,
As much of both liche hem as in regard.
Where was on live a man more victorious,
And in so short time prince so marveilous?
By land and sea, so well he him acquitte,
To speake of him I stony in my witte.
Thus here I leave the king with his noblesse,
Henry the fift, with whom all my processe
Of this true booke of pure policie
Of sea keeping, entending victorie
I leave endly: for about in the see
No Prince was of better strenuitee.
And if he had to this time lived here,
He had bene Prince named withouten pere:
His great ships should have ben put in preefe,
Unto the ende that he ment of in cheefe,
For doubt it not but that he would have bee
Lord and master about the round see:
And kept it sure to stoppe our enemies hence,
And wonne us good, and wisely brought it thence:
That no passage should be without danger,
And his licence on see to move and sterre.


Of unitie, shewing of our keeping of the see: with an endly or finall processe of peace by authoritie. Chap. 12.

Now than for love of Christ, and of his joy,
Bring it England out of trouble and noy:
Take heart and witte, and set a governance,
Set many wits withouten variance,
To one accord and unanimitee.
Put to good will for to keepe the see,
First for worship and profite also,
And to rebuke of eche evill willed foe.
Thus shall worship and riches to us long.
Than to the Noble shall we doe no wrong,
To beare that coyne in figure and in deede,
To our courage, and to our enemies dreede:
For which they must dresse hem to peace in haste,
Or ellis their thrift to standen, and to waste.
As this processe hath proved by and by
All by reason and expert policy;
And by stories which proved well this parte:
Or ellis I will my life put in jeoparte,
But many londs would seche her peace for nede,
The see wel kept: it must bee doo for drede.
Thus must Flanders for nede have unitee
And peace with us: it will non other bee,
Within short while: and ambassadours
Would bene here soone to treate for their succours.
This unitee is to God pleasance:
And peace after the werres variance.
The ende of battaile is peace sikerly,
And power causeth peace finally.
Kept than the sea about in speciall,
Which of England is the towne wall.
As though England were likened to a citie,
And the wall environ were the see.
Kepe then the sea that is the wall of England:
And than is England kept by Goddes hande;
That as for any thing that is without,
England were at ease withouten doubt,
And thus should every lond one with another
Entercommon, as brother with his brother,
And live togither werrelesse in unitie,
Without rancour in very charitie,
In rest and peace, to Christes great pleasance,
Without strife, debate and variance.
Which peace men should enserche with businesse,
And knit it saddely holding in holinesse.
The Apostle seith, if ye list to see,
Bee yee busie for to keepe unitee
Of the spirit in the bond of peace.
Which is nedeful to all withouten lese.
The Prophet biddeth us peace for to enquire
To pursue it, this is holy desire.
Our Lord Jesu saith, Blessed motte they bee
That maken peace; that is tranquillitee.
For peace makers, as Matthew writeth aright,
Should be called the sonnes of God almight.
God give us grace, the weyes for to keepe

Of his precepts, and slugly not to sleepe

In shame of sinne: that our verry foo

Might be to us convers, and turned so.

For in the Proverbs is a text to this purpose

Plaine inough without any glose:

When mens weyes please unto our Lord,

It shall convert and bring to accord

Mans enemies unto peace verray,

In unitie, to live to Goddis pay,

With unitie, peace, rest and charitie.

Hee that was here cladde in humanitie,

That came from heaven, and styed up with our nature,

Or hee ascended, he yave to us cure,

And left with us peace, ageyne striffe and debate,

Mote give us peace, so well irradicate

Here in this world: that after all this feste

Wee may have peace in the land of beheste,

Jerusalem, which of peace is the sight,

With his brightnes of eternall light,

There glorified in rest with his tuition,

The Deitie to see with full fruition:

Hee second person in divinenesse is,

Who us assume, and bring us to the blis. Amen.


Here endeth the true processe of the Libel of English policie, exhorting all England to keepe the sea environ: shewing what profit and salvation, with worship commeth thereof to the reigne of England.

GOE furth Libelle, and meekely shew thy face;
Appearing ever with humble countenance:
And pray my Lords to take in grace,
In opposaile and cherishing the advance.
To hardines if that not variance
Thou hast fro trought by full experience
Authors and reasons: if ought faile in substance
Remit to hem that yafe thee this science;
That seth it is soth in verry fayth,
That the wise Lord Baron of Hungerford
Hath thee overseene, and verely he saith
That thou art true, and thus hee doeth record,
Next the Gospel: God wotte it was his worde,
When hee thee redde all over in a night.
Goe forth trew booke, and Christ defend thy right.

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