Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Duke of Northumberland's Speech before Execution

For his leadership of the attempt to have his daughter-in-law, Jane Grey Dudley, reign as Queen of England and Ireland, John Dudley, the Duke of Northumberland was executed on August 22, 1553. He spoke before his beheading and expressed great remorse:

Good people, all you that be here present to see me die. Though my death be odious and horrible to the flesh, yet I pray you judge the best in god's works, for he doth all for the best. And as for me, I am a wretched sinner, & have deserved to die, and most justly am condemned to die by a law. And yet this act Wherefore I die, was not altogether of me (as it is thought) but I was procured and induced thereunto by others. I was I say induced thereunto by others, howbeit, God forbid that I should name any man unto you, I will name no man unto you, & therefore I beseech you look not for it.
I for my part forgive all men, and pray God also to forgive them. And if I have offended any of you here, I pray you and all the World to forgive me: and most chiefly I desire forgiveness of the Queen's highness, whom I have most grievously offended. Amen said the people. And I pray you all to witness with me, that I depart in perfect love and charity with all the world, &  that you will assist me with your prayers at the hour of death.  

And one thing more good people I have to say unto you, which I am chiefly moved to do for discharge of my conscience; that is to warn you and exhort you to beware of these seditious preachers, and teachers of new doctrine, which pretend to preach God's word, but in very deed they preach their own fancies, who were never able to explicate themselves, they know not today what they would have tomorrow, there is no stay in their teaching; doctrine, they open the book, but they cannot shut it again. Take heed how you enter into strange opinions or new doctrine, which hath done no small hurt in this realm, and hath justly procured the ire and wrath of god upon us, as well may appear who so list to call to remembrance the manyfold plagues that this realm hath been touched with all since we dissevered ourselves from the catholic church of Christ, and from the doctrine which hath been received by the holy apostles, martyrs, and all saints, and used through all realms christened since Christ. 

And I verily believe, that all the plagues that have chanced to this realm of late years since afore the death of king Henry the eight, hath justly fallen upon us, for that we have deuvded ourself from the rest of Christendom whereof we be but as a spark in comparison: Have we not had war, famine, pestilence, the death of our king, rebellion, sedition among ourselves, conspiracies? Have we not had sundry erroneous opinions sprung up among us in this realm, since we have forsaken the unity of the catholic Church? and what other plagues be there that we have not felt?

Mary I's government made good use of this speech as propaganda to support her efforts to restore Catholicism, according to Eamon Duffy in Fires of Faith, printing and reprinting pamphlets. John Dudley, the Duke of Northumberland was beheaded on August 22, 1553--and Thomas Percy, the Earl of Northumberland was executed on the same date in 1572, as I've pointed out before.

No comments:

Post a Comment