Queen Eleanor’s Confession

No: 156; variant: 156F

  1. QUEENE ELEANOR was a sick woman, And sick just like to die, And she has sent for two fryars of France, To come to her speedilie. And she has sent, etc.
  2. The King called downe his nobles all, By one, by two, by three: ‘Earl Marshall, I’ll go shrive the Queene, And thou shalt wend with mee.’
  3. ‘A boone, a boone!’ quoth Earl Marshall, And fell on his bended knee, ‘That whatsoever the Queene may say, No harm thereof may bee.’
  4. ‘O you’ll put on a gray-friar’s gowne, And I’ll put on another, And we will away to fair London town, Like friars both together.’
  5. ‘O no, O no, my liege, my king, Such things can never bee; For if the Queene hears word of this, Hanged she’ll cause me to bee.’
  6. ‘I swear by the sun, I swear by the moon, And by the stars so hie, And by my sceptre and my crowne, The Earl Marshall shall not die.’
  7. The King’s put on a gray-friar’s gowne, The Earl Marshall’s put on another, And they are away to fair London towne, Like fryars both together.
  8. When that they came to fair London towne, And came into Whitehall, The bells did ring, and the quiristers sing, And the torches did light them all.
  9. And when they came before the Queene, They kneeled down on their knee: ‘What matter, what matter, our gracious queene, You’ve sent so speedilie?’
  10. ‘O, if you are two fryars of France, It’s you that I wished to see; But if you are two English lords, You shall hang on the gallowes-tree.’
  11. ‘O we are not two English lords, But two fryars of France we bee, And we sang the Song of Solomon, As we came over the sea.’
  12. ‘Oh, the first vile sin I did commit Tell it I will to thee; I fell in love with the Earl Marshall, As he brought me over the sea.’
  13. ‘Oh, that was a great sin,’ quoth the King, ‘But pardond it must bee;’ ‘Amen! Amen!’ said the Earl Marshall, With a heavie heart spake hee.
  14. ‘Oh, the next sin that I did commit I will to you unfolde; Earl Marshall had my virgin dower, Beneath this cloth of golde.’
  15. ‘Oh, that was a vile sin,’ said the King, ‘May God forgive it thee!’ ‘Amen! Amen!’ groaned the Earl Marshall, And a very frightened man was hee.
  16. ‘Oh, the next sin that I did commit Tell it I will to thee; I poisoned a lady of noble blood, For the sake of King Henrie.’
  17. ‘Oh, that was a great sin,’ said the King, ‘But pardoned it shall bee;’ ‘Amen! Amen!’ said the Earl Marshall, And still a frightened man was he.
  18. ‘Oh, the next sin that ever I did Tell it I will to thee; I have kept strong poison this seven long years, To poison King Henrie.’
  19. ‘Oh, that was a great sin,’ said the King, ‘But pardoned it must bee;’ ‘Amen! Amen!’ said the Earl Marshall, And still a frightened man was hee.
  20. ‘O don’t you see two little boys, Playing at the football? O yonder is the Earl Marshall’s son, And I like him best of all.
  21. ‘O don’t you see yon other little boy, Playing at the football? O that one is King Henrie’s son, And I like him worst of all.
  22. ‘His head is like a black bull’s head, His feet are like a bear;’ ‘What matter! what matter!’ cried the King, ‘He’s my son, and my only heir.’
  23. The King plucked off his fryar’s gowne, And stood in his scarlet so red; The Queen she turned herself in bed, And cryed that she was betrayde.
  24. The King lookt oer his left shoulder, And a grim look looked he; ‘Earl Marshall,’ he said, ‘But for my oath, Thou hadst swung on the gallowes-tree.’