Queen Eleanor’s Confession

No: 156; variant: 156A

  1. QUEEN ELENOR was a sick woman, And afraid that she should dye; Then she sent for two fryars of France, For to speak with them speedily.
  2. The King calld down his nobles all, By one, by two, and by three, And sent away for Earl Martial, For to speak with him speedily.
  3. When that he came before the King, He fell on his bended knee; A boon, a boon! our gracious king, That you sent so hastily.’
  4. ‘I’ll pawn my living and my lands, My septer and my crown, That whatever Queen Elenor says, I will not write it down.
  5. ‘Do you put on one fryar’s coat, And I’ll put on another, And we will to Queen Elenor go, one fryar like another.’
  6. Thus both attired then they go; When they came to Whitehall, The bells they did ring, and the quiristers sing, And the torches did light them all.
  7. When that they came before the Queen, They fell on their bended knee: ‘A boon, a boon! our gracious queen, That you sent so hastily.’
  8. ‘Are you two fryars of France?’ she said, ‘Which I suppose you be; But if you are two English fryars, Then hanged you shall be.’
  9. ‘We are two fryars of France,’ they said, ‘As you suppose we be; We have not been at any mass Since we came from the sea.’
  10. ‘The first vile thing that ere I did I will to you unfold; Earl Martial had my maidenhead, Underneath this cloath of gold.’
  11. ‘That is a vile sin,’ then said the king, ‘God may forgive it thee!’ ‘Amen! Amen!’ quoth Earl Martial, With a heavy heart then spoke he.
  12. ‘The next vile thing that ere I did To you I’ll not deny; I made a box of poyson strong, To poyson King Henry.’
  13. ‘That is a vile sin,’ then said the King, ‘God may forgive it thee!’ ‘Amen! Amen!’ quoth Earl Martial, ‘And I wish it so may be.’
  14. ‘The next vile thing that ere I did To you I will discover; I poysoned Fair Rosamond, All in fair Woodstock bower.’
  15. ‘That is a vile sin,’ then said the King, ‘God may forgive it thee!’ ‘Amen! Amen!’ quoth Earl Martial, ‘And I wish it so may be.’
  16. ‘Do you see yonders little boy, A tossing of that ball? That is Earl Martial[’s] eldest son, And I love him the best of all.
  17. ‘Do you see yonders little boy, A catching of the ball? That is King Henry’s son,’ she said, ‘And I love him the worst of all.
  18. ‘His head is like unto a bull, His nose is like a boar;’ ‘No matter for that,’ King Henry said, ‘I love him the better therefore.’
  19. The King pulld of his fryar’s coat, And appeard all in red; She shriekd and she cry’d, she wrong her hands, And said she was betrayd.
  20. The King lookd over his left shoulder, And a grim look looked he, And said,Earl Martial, but for my oath, Then hanged shouldst thou be.