Liberty may suffer much at the hands of oppressors, but never shall her sacred cause be betrayed by us...
I think the line above is from Holinshed's Chronicles, but it is challenging to interpret the referencing 'system' in use in Revd F. W. Russell's book about the Norfolk rebellion. The book is most definitely worth reading, achieving as it does a synthesis of the work of Nicholas Sotherton and Nevylle, as well as Holinshed's later chronicle, Edward VI's own journal, and Hayward's Life and Raigne. My reproduction copy (one of these scan-and-print jobs that seem to be starting to gain some traction as print-on-demand really starts to work) has the utterly infuriating foible of the 'r's being in a smaller typeface than all the other letters. There is the additional challenge of lengthy passages being quoted directly from the original sources, which at times can be very difficult to decipher. It's not usually the words, but the sentences, those forms that have shifted over four hundred years and now don't quite do what they used to, that cause the problem. And I am not ashamed to confess that a decent proportion of it needs at least a second reading and sometimes a third before it settles in my mind.
In writing about the Norfolk rebellion, I have followed this synthesised account quite closely in terms of the timing of the various events. As is my general strategy, I try to stick as close as possible to the events as they happened, but let my characters do their stuff in their own way. Here, then, in a rare burst of 'historicity', is the exchange between the herald and one of Kett's rebels at the Pockthorpe gate:
“Stand to!” Longshawe has his men arranged in their defensive formation in less than a quarter minute. As they move into their positions, the herald starts to speak.
“Get back to your camp and say to them from the Marquis of Northampton, the governor of the king’s forces, that His Majesty commands and admonishes them now, at length, to repent and put an end to the outrages they are committing. Should they do this, they will be safe and by his clemency be free from peril, and no man might will be charged with those crimes of which he may be guilty.” The herald stands framed by the gate, waiting for the effect of his speech.
The large man at the front of the crowd turns briefly to them, raises an eyebrow sardonically, and gets a ripple of laughter from them. Then, he turns, and paces backwards and forwards as he makes his reply, just as loud and clear as the herald.
“Your Marquis of Northampton is a man of neither courage, counsel or good fortune. I think nothing of him. Indeed, I despise and mortally hate him, infamous, worthless, always standing in need of the help of others, guilty of all disloyalty and treason. We have always been the staunchest defenders of the king’s safety and dignity, and we would be ever ready to spend, for his sake, all our goods and fortunes, even our lives! We have taken arms not against the king, but for those things that we might hope are for his welfare and our own. We are not convicted by our consciences either of wickedness conceived in our hearts, nor of treason against the king. What are we here doing? Is it not defending the king’s name, his dignity, providing for the common safety; defending the rights of law and liberty, preserving ourselves, our wives, our children and our goods. We are here to defend the commonwealth against the detestable pride, lust and cruelty of our enemies!
“We are free from offence. So shall we be free from punishment. The Herald’s offer appears magnanimous, but were we to accept, we would be deprived of our freedom, restrained in our endeavours, and shut out from all defence against the meek and cruel death we should then face. We are innocent, and we are well-armed. We are perfectly secure and so we need no offer of pardon. Our intention is to restore the broken commonwealth, broken by these so-called gentlemen who lead these forces that claim to represent the king. Either we shall, or we shall die in the attempt. Liberty may suffer much at the hands of oppressors, but never shall her sacred cause,” he says, flourishing his arms to a great cheer from the crowd behind him, “be betrayed by us!” The mass of people behind him explodes in shouting, jeering, singing.
Not my ideas, by any stretch of the imagination, but lightly treated to fit the general tone of the piece. Hope you enjoyed it and look out for news on giveaways for Books 1-3 and progress on the publication of book IV right here on this news feed.
When to the sessions of sweet silent thought