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The woorthy enterprise of John Foxe an Englishman in delivering 266. Christians out of the captivitie of the Turkes at Alexandria, the 3. of Januarie 1577.

AMONG our merchants here in England, it is a common voiage to traffike into Spaine: whereunto a ship, being called The three halfe Moones, manned with 38. men, and well fensed with munitions, the better to encounter their enemies withall, and having wind & tide, set from Portsmouth , 1563. and bended her journey toward Sivill a citie in Spaine, intending there to trafique with them. And falling neere the Streights, they perceived themselves to be beset round with eight gallies of the Turkes, in such wise, that there was no way for them to flie or escape away, but that either they must yeeld or else be sunke. Which the owner perceiving, manfully encouraged his company, exhorting them valiantly to shew their manhood, shewing them that God was their God, and not their enemies, requesting them also not to faint in seeing such a heape of their enemies ready to devour them; putting them in mind also, that if it were Gods pleasure to give them into their enemies hands, it was not they yt ought to shew one displeasant looke or countenance thereagainst; but to take it patiently, & not to prescribe a day and time for their deliverance, as the citizens of Bethulia did, but to put themselves under his mercy. And againe, if it were his mind and good will to shew his mighty power by them, if their enemies were ten times so many, they were not able to stand in their hands; putting them likewise in mind of the old and ancient woorthinesse of their countreymen, who in the hardest extremities have always most prevailed and gone away conquerors, yea, and where it hath bene almost impossible. Such (quoth he) hath bene the valiantnesse of our countreymen, and such hath bene the mightie power of our God.

With other like incouragements, exhorting them to behave themselves manfully, they fell all on their knees making their prayers briefly unto God: who being all risen up againe perceived their enemies by their signes and defiances bent to the spoyle, whose mercy was nothing els but crueltie, whereupon every man tooke him to his weapon.

Then stood up one Grove the master, being a comely man, with his sword and target, holding them up in defiance agaynst his enemies. So likewise stood up the Owner, the Masters mate, Boateswaine, Purser, and every man well appointed. Nowe likewise sounded up the drums, trumpets and flutes, which would have encouraged any man, had he never so litle heart or courage in him.

Then taketh him to his charge John Foxe the gunner in the disposing of his pieces in order to the best effect, and sending his bullets towards the Turkes, who likewise bestowed their pieces thrise as fast toward the Christians. But shortly they drew neere, so that the bowmen fel to their charge in sending forth their arrowes so thicke amongst the Gallies, & also in doubling their shot so sore upon the gallies, that there were twise so many of the Turkes slaine, as the number of the Christians were in all. But the Turks discharged twise as fast against the Christians, & so long, that the ship was very sore stricken & bruised under water. Which the Turkes perceiving, made the more haste to come aboord the Shippe: which ere they could doe, many a Turke bought it deerely with the losse of their lives. Yet was all in vaine, and boorded they were, where they found so hote a skirmish, that it had bene better they had not medled with the feast. For the Englishmen shewed themselves men in deed, in working manfully with their browne bils and halbardes: where the owner, master, boateswaine, and their company stoode to it so lustily, that the Turkes were halfe dismaied. But chiefly the boateswaine shewed himself valiant above the rest: for he fared amongst the Turkes like a wood Lion: for there was none of them that either could or durst stand in his face, till at the last there came a shot from the Turkes, which brake his whistle asunder, and smote him on the brest, so that he fell downe, bidding them farewell, & to be of good comfort, encouraging them likewise to winne praise by death, rather then to live captives in misery and shame. Which they hearing, in deed intended to have done, as it appeared by their skirmish: but the prease and store of the Turkes was so great, that they were not able long to endure, but were so overpressed, that they could not wield their weapons: by reason whereof, they must needs be taken, which none of them intended to have bene, but rather to have died: except onely the masters mate, who shrunke from the skirmish, like a notable coward, esteeming neither the valure of his name, nor accounting of the present example of his fellowes, nor having respect to the miseries, whereunto he should be put. But in fine, so it was, that the Turks were victors, whereof they had no great cause to rejoyce, or triumph. Then would it have grieved any hard heart to see these Infidels so violently intreating the Christians, not having any respect of their manhood which they had tasted of, nor yet respecting their owne state, how they might have met with such a bootie, as might have given them the overthrow: but no remorse hereof, or any thing els doth bridle their fierce and tirannous dealing, but that the Christians must needs to the gallies, to serve in new offices: and they were no sooner in them, but their garments were pulled over their eares, and tome from their backes, and they set to the oares.

I will make no mention of their miseries, being now under their enemies raging stripes. I thinke there is no man wil judge their fare good, or their bodies unloden of stripes, and not pestered with too much heate, and also with too much cold: but I will goe to my purpose, which is, to shew the ende of those, being in meere miserie, which continually doe call on God with a stedfast hope that he will deliver them, and with a sure faith that he can doe it.

Nigh to the citie of Alexandria, being a haven towne, and under the dominion of the Turkes, there is a roade, being made very fensible with strong wals, whereinto the Turkes doe customably bring their gallies on shoare every yeere, in the winter season, and there doe trimme them, and lay them up against the spring time. In which road there is a prison, wherein the captives & such prisoners as serve in the gallies, are put for all that time, untill the seas be calme and passable for the gallies, every prisoner being most grievously laden with irons on their legges, to their great paine, and sore disabling of them to any labour taking. Into which prison were these Christians put, and fast warded all the Winter season. But ere it was long, the Master and the Owner, by meanes of friends, were redeemed: the rest abiding still by the miserie, while that they were all (through reason of their ill usage and worse fare, miserably starved) saving one John Fox, who (as some men can abide harder and more miserie, then other some can, so can some likewise make more shift, and worke more devises to helpe their state and living, then other some can doe) being somewhat skilfull in the craft of a Barbour, by reason thereof made great shift in helping his fare now and then with a good meale. Insomuch, til at the last, God sent him favour in the sight of the keeper of the prison, so that he had leave to goe in and out to the road, at his pleasure, paying a certaine stipend unto the keeper, and wearing a locke about his leg: which libertie likewise, sixe more had upon like sufferance: who by reason of their long imprisonment, not being feared or suspected to start aside, or that they would worke the Turkes any mischiefe, had libertie to go in and out at the sayd road, in such maner, as this John Fox did, with irons on their legs, and to returne againe at night.

In the yeere of our Lord 1577. in the Winter season, the gallies happily comming to their accustomed harborow, and being discharged of all their mastes, sailes, and other such furnitures, as unto gallies doe appertaine, and all the Masters and mariners of them being then nested in their owne homes : there remained in the prison of the said road two hundred threescore and eight Christian prisoners, who had bene taken by the Turks force, and were of sixteen sundry nations. Among which there were three Englishmen, whereof one was named John Foxe of Woodbridge in Suffolke, the other William Wickney of Portsmouth, in the Countie of Southhampton, and the third Robert Moore of Harwich in the Countie of Essex. Which John Fox having bene thirteene or foureteene yeres under their gentle entreatance, and being too too weary thereof, minding his escape, weighed with himselfe by what meanes it might be brought to passe: and continually pondering with himself thereof, tooke a good heart unto him, in hope that God would not be alwayes scourging his children, and never ceassed to pray him to further his pretended enterprise, if that it should redound to his glory.

Not farre from the road, and somewhat from thence, at one side of the Citie, there was a certaine victualling house, which one Peter Unticaro had hired, paying also a certaine fee unto the keeper of the road. This Peter Unticaro was a Spaniard borne, and a Christian, and had bene prisoner about thirtie yeeres, and never practised any meanes to escape, but kept himselfe quiet without touch or suspect of any conspiracie: untill that nowe this John Foxe using much thither, they brake one to another their mindes, concerning the restraint of their libertie and imprisonment. So that this John Fox at length opening unto this Unticaro the devise which he would faine put in practise, made privie one more to this their intent. Which three debated of this matter at such times as they could compasse to meete together: insomuch, that at seven weekes ende they had sufficiently concluded how the matter should be, if it pleased God to farther them thereto: who making five more privie to this their devise, whom they thought they might safely trust, determined in three nights after to accomplish their deliberate purpose. Whereupon the same John Fox, and Peter Unticaro, and the other sixe appointed to meete all together in the prison the next day, being the last day of December : where this John Fox certified the rest of the prisoners, what their intent and devise was, and how and when they minded to bring their purpose to passe: who thereunto perswaded them without much a doe to further their devise. Which the same John Fox seeing, delivered unto them a sort of files, which he had gathered together for this purpose, by the meanes of Peter Unticaro, charging them that every man should be readie discharged of his yrons by eight of the clocke on the next day at night.

On the next day at night, this said John Fox, and his sixe other companions, being all come to the house of Peter Unticaro, passing the time away in mirth for feare of suspect, till the night came on, so that it was time for them to put in practise their devise, sent Peter Unticaro to the master of the roade, in the name of one of the Masters of the citie, with whom this keeper was acquainted, and at whose request he also would come at the first: who desired him to take the paines to meete him there, promising him, that he would bring him backe againe. The keeper agreed to goe with him, willing the warders not to barre the gate, saying, that he would not stay long, but would come againe with all speede.

In the meane season, the other seven had provided them of such weapons, as they could get in that house: and John Fox tooke him to an olde rustic sword blade, without either hilt or pomell, which he made to serve his turne, in bending the hand ende of the sword, in steed of a pomell, and the other had got such spits and glaives as they found in the house.

The keeper now being come unto the house, and perceiving no light, nor hearing any noyse, straightway suspected the matter: and returning backward, John Fox standing behind the corner of the house, stepped foorth unto him: who perceiving it to be John Fox, saide, O Fox, what have I deserved of thee, that thou shouldest seeke my death? Thou villaine (quoth Fox) hast bene a bloodsucker of many a Christians blood, and now thou shalt know what thou hast deserved at my handes: wherewith he lift up his bright shining sword of tenne yeeres rust, and stroke him so maine a blowe, as therewithall his head clave a sunder, so that he fell starke dead to the ground. Whereupon Peter Unticaro went in, and certified the rest how the case stood with the keeper: who came presently foorth, and some with their spits ranne him through, and the other with their glaives hewed him in sunder, cut off his head, and mangled him so, that no man should discerne what he was.

Then marched they toward the roade, whereinto they entered softly, where were six warders, whom one of them asked, saying, who was there? quoth Fox & his company, all friendes. Which when they were all within, proved contrary: for, quoth Fox, my masters, here is not to every man a man, wherefore looke you play your parts. Who so behaved themselves in deede, that they had dispatched these sixe quickly. Then John Fox intending not to be barred of his enterprise, and minding to worke surely in that which he went about, barred the gate surely, and planted a Canon against it.

Then entred they into the Gailers lodge, where they found the keyes of the fortresse & prison by his bed side, and there had they all better weapons. In this chamber was a chest, wherein was a rich treasure, and all in duckats, which this Peter Unticaro, & two more, opening, stuffed themselves so full as they could, betweene their shirts and their skinne: which John Fox would not once touch, and sayde, that it was his and their libertie which he sought for, to the honour of his God, & not to make a marte of the wicked treasure of the Infidels. Yet did these words sinke nothing into their stomakes, they did it for a good intent: so did Saul save the fattest Oxen, to offer unto the Lord, and they to serve their owne turne. But neither did Saul scape the wrath of God therefore, neither had these that thing which they desired so, and did thirst after. Such is Gods justice. He that they put their trust in, to deliver them from the tyrannous hands of their enemies, he (I say) could supply their want of necessaries.

Nowe these eight being armed with such weapons as they thought well of, thinking themselves sufficient champions to encounter a stronger enemie, and comming unto the prison, Fox opened the gates and doores thereof, and called forth all the prisoners, whom he set, some to ramming up the gate, some to the dressing up of a certaine gallie, which was the best in all the roade, and was called the captaine of Alexandria, whereinto some caried mastes, sailes, oares, and other such furniture as doth belong unto a gallie.

At the prison were certaine warders, whom John Fox and his companie slewe: in the killing of whom, there were eight more of the Turkes, which perceived them, and got them to the toppe of the prison: unto whom John Fox, and his company, were faine to come by ladders, where they found a hot skirmish. For some of them were there slaine, some wounded, and some but scarred, and not hurt. As John Fox was thrise shot through his apparell, and not hurt, Peter Unticaro, and the other two, that had armed them with the duckats, were slaine, as not able to weild themselves, being so pestered with the weight and uneasie carying of the wicked and prophane treasure: and also diverse Christians were aswell hurt about that skirmish, as Turkes slaine.

Amongst the Turkes was one thrust thorowe, who (let us not say that it was ill fortune) fell off from the toppe of the prison wall, and made such a lowing, that the inhabitants thereabout (as here and there scattering stoode a house or two) came and dawed him, so that they understood the case, how that the prisoners were paying their ransomes: wherewith they raised both Alexandria which lay on the west side of the roade, and a Castle which was at the Cities end, next to the roade, and also an other Fortresse which lay on the Northside of the roade: so that nowe they had no way to escape, but one, which by mans reason (the two holdes lying so upon the mouth of the roade) might seeme impossible to be a way for them. So was the red sea impossible for the Israelites to passe through, the hils and rockes lay so on the one side, and their enemies compassed them on the other. So was it impossible, that the wals of Jericho should fall downe, being neither undermined, nor yet rammed at with engines, nor yet any mans wisedome, pollicie, or helpe set or put thereunto. Such impossibilities can our God make possible. He that helde the Lyons jawes from renting Daniel asunder, yea, or yet from once touching him to his hurt: can not he hold the roring canons of this hellish force? He that kept the fiers rage in the hot burning Oven, from the three children, that praised his name, can not he keepe the fiers flaming blastes from among his elect?

Now is the roade fraught with lustie souldiers, laborers, and mariners, who are faine to stand to their tackling, in setting to every man his hand, some to the carying in of victuals, some munitions, some oares, and some one thing, some another, but most are keeping their enemie from the wall of the road. But to be short, there was no time mispent, no man idle, nor any mans labour ill bestowed, or in vaine. So that in short time, this gaily was ready trimmed up. Whereinto every man leaped in all haste, hoyssing up the sayles lustily, yeelding themselves to his mercie and grace, in whose hands are both winde and weather.

Now is this gally on flote, and out of the safetie of the roade: now have the two Castles full power upon the gally, now is there no remedy but to sinke: how can it be avoided? The canons let flie from both sides, and the gaily is even in the middest, and betweene them both. What man can devise to save it? there is no man, but would thinke it must needes be sunke.

There was not one of them that feared the shotte, which went thundring round about their eares, nor yet were once scarred or touched, with five & forty shot, which came from the Castles. Here did God hold foorth his buckler, he shieldeth now this gally, and hath tried their faith to the uttermost. Now commeth his speciall helpe: yea, even when man thinks them past all helpe, then commeth he himselfe downe from heaven with his mightie power, then is his present remedie most readie prest. For they saile away, being not once touched with the glaunce of a shot, and are quickly out of the Turkish canons reach. Then might they see them comming downe by heapes to the water side, in companies like unto swarmes of bees, making shew to come after them with gallies, in bustling themselves to dresse up the gallies, which would be a swift peece of worke for them to doe, for that they had neither oares, mastes, sailes, gables, nor any thing else ready in any gally. But yet they are carying them into them, some into one gaily, and some into another, so that, being such a confusion amongst them, without any certaine guide, it were a thing impossible to overtake them: beside that, there was no man that would take charge of a gally, the weather was so rough, and there was such an amasednes amongst them. And verely I thinke their God was amased thereat: it could not be but he must blush for shame, he can speake never a word for dulnes, much lesse can he helpe them in such an extremitie. Well, howsoever it is, he is very much to blame, to suffer them to receive such a gibe. But howsoever their God behaved himselfe, our God shewed himselfe a God indeed, and that he was the onely living God: for the seas were swift under his faithfull, which made the enemies agast to behold them, a skilfuller Pilot leades them, and their mariners bestirre them lustily: but the Turkes had neither mariners, Pilot, nor any skilfull Master, that was in a readinesse at this pinch.

When the Christians were safe out of the enemies coast, John Fox called to them all, willing them to be thankfull unto almighty God for their deliverie, and most humbly to fall downe upon their knees, beseeching him to aide them unto their friends land, and not to bring them into an other daunger, sith hee had most mightily delivered them from so great a thraldome and bondage.

Thus when every man had made his petition, they fell straight way to their labour with the oares, in helping one another, when they were wearied, and with great labour striving to come to some Christian land, as neere as they could gesse by the starres. But the windes were so divers, one while driving them this way, another while that way, that they were now in a new maze, thinking that God had forsaken them, and left them to a greater danger. And forasmuch as there were no victuals now left in the gally, it might have beene a cause to them (if they had beene the Israelites) to have murmured against their God: but they knew how that their God, who had delivered them out of Ægypt, was such a loving and mercifull God, as that hee would not suffer them to be confounded, in whom he had wrought so great a wonder: but what calamitie soever they sustained, they knew it was but for their further triall, and also (in putting them in mind of their farther miserie) to cause them not to triumph and glory in themselves therefore. Having (I say) no victuals in the gaily, it might seeme that one miserie continually fel upon an others neck: but to be briefe, the famine grew to be so great, that in 28 dayes, wherein they were on the sea, there died eight persons, to the astonishment of all the rest.

So it fell out, that upon the 29 day, after they set from Alexandria, they fell on the Isle of Candie, and landed at Gallipoli , where they were made much of by the Abbot and Monks there, who caused them to stay there, while they were well refreshed and eased. They kept there the sworde, wherewith John Fox had killed the keeper, esteeming it as a most precious jewell, and hung it up for a monument.

When they thought good, having leave to depart from thence, they sayled along the coast, till they arrived at Tarento , where they solde their gallie, and devided it, every man having a part thereof. The Turkes receiving so shamefull a foile at their hand, pursued the Christians, and scoured the seas, where they could imagine that they had bent their course. And the Christians had departed from thence on the one day in the morning, and seven gallies of the Turkes came thither that night, as it was certified by those who followed Fox, and his companie, fearing least they should have bene met with. And then they came a foote to Naples , where they departed a sunder, every man taking him to his next way home. From whence John Fox tooke his journey unto Rome, where he was well entertayned of an Englishman, who presented his worthy deede unto the Pope, who rewarded him liberally, and gave him his letters unto the king of Spaine, where he was very well entertained of him there, who for this his most worthy enterprise gave him in fee twentie pence a day. From whence, being desirous to come into his owne countrie, he came thither at such time as he conveniently could, which was in the yeere of our Lorde God, 1579. Who being come into England, went unto the Court, and shewed all his travell unto the Councell: who considering of the state of this man, in that hee had spent and lost a great part of his youth in thraldome and bondage, extended to him their liberalitie, to helpe to maintaine him now in age, to their right honour, and to the incouragement of all true hearted Christians.

The copie of the certificate for John Fox, and his companie, made by the Prior, and the brethren of Gallipoli , where they first landed.

WE the Prior, and Fathers of the Covent of the Amerciates, of the city of Gallipoli , of the order of Preachers doe testifie, that upon the 29 of January last past, 1577, there came in to the said citie a certaine gally from Alexandria, taken from the Turkes, with two hundreth fiftie and eight Christians, whereof was principal Master John Fox, an Englishman, a gunner, and one of the chiefest that did accomplish that great worke, whereby so many Christians have recovered their liberties. In token and remembrance whereof, upon our earnest request to the same John Fox, he hath left here an olde sworde, wherewith he slewe the keeper of the prison: which sword we doe as a monument and memoriall of so worthy a deede, hang up in the chiefe place of our Covent house. And for because all things aforesaid, are such as we will testifie to be true, as they are orderly passed, and have therefore good credite, that so much as is above expressed is true, and for the more faith thereof, we the Prior, and Fathers aforesaide, have ratified and subscribed these presents. Geven in Gallipoly, the third of Februarie 1577.

I Frier Vincent Barba, Prior of the same place, confirme the premisses, as they are above written.

I Frier Albert Damaro, of Gallipoly, Subprior, confirme as much.

I Frier Anthony Celleler of Gallipoly, confirme as aforesaid.

I Frier Bartlemew of Gallipoly, confirme as above said.

I Frier Francis of Gallipoly, confirme as much.

The Bishop of Rome his letters in the behalfe of John Fox.

BE it knowen unto all men, to whom this writing shall come, that the bringer hereof John Fox Englishman, a Gunner, after he had served captive in the Turkes gallies, by the space of fourteene yeeres, at length, thorough God his helpe, taking good oportunitie, the third of Januarie last past, slew the keeper of the prison, (whom he first stroke on the face) together with foure and twentie other Turkes, by the assistance of his fellow prisoners: and with 266. Christians (of whose libertie he was the author) launched from Alexandria, and from thence arrived first at Gallipoly in Candie, and afterwardes at Tarento in Apulia : the written testimony and credite of which things, as also of others, the same John Fox hath in publike tables from Naples .

Upon Easter eve he came to Rome, and is now determined to take his journey to the Spanish Court, hoping there to obtaine some reliefe toward his living: wherefore the poore distressed man humbly beseecheth, and we in his behalfe do in the bowels of Christ, desire you, that taking compassion of his former captivitie, and present penurie, you doe not onely suffer him freely to passe throughout all your cities and townes, but also succour him with your charitable almes, the reward whereof you shall hereafter most assuredly receive, which we hope you will afford to him, whom with tender affection of pitie wee commende unto you. At Rome, the 20 of Aprill 1577.

Thomas Grolos Englishman Bishop of Astraphen.

Richard Silleum Prior Angliae.

Andreas Ludovicus Register to our Soveraigne Lord the Pope, which for the greater credit of the premises, have set my seale to these presents. At Rome, the day and yeere above written.

Mauricius Clement the governour and keeper of the English Hospitall in the citie.

The King of Spaine his letters to the Lieutenant, for the placing of John Fox in the office of a Gunner.

To the illustrious Prince, Vespasian Gonsaga Colonna, our Lieutenant and Captaine Generall of our Realme of Valentia. Having consideration, that John Fox Englishman hath served us, and was one of the most principall, which tooke away from the Turkes a certaine gallie, which they have brought to Tarento , wherein were two hundred, fiftie, and eight Christian captives: we licence him to practise, and give him the office of a Gunner, and have ordained, that he goe to our said Realme, there to serve in the said office in the Gallies, which by our commandement are lately made. And we doe commaund, that you cause to be payed to him eight ducats pay a moneth, for the time that he shall serve in the saide Gallies as a Gunner, or till we can otherwise provide for him, the saide eight duckats monethly of the money which is already of our provision, present and to come, and to have regarde of those which come with him. From Escuriall the tenth of August, 1577.

I the King.
Juan del Gado. And under that a confirmation of the Councell.

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