Historia of Polydore Vergil
Vergil (1470-1555) was an Italian priest who arrived in Britain in the
year 1502 and was commissioned by King Henry VII to write a history of
Britain. He began his History in the year 1506.
twenty-three years and seven months. He lived for fifty-two years. By
his wife Elizabeth he was the father of eight children, four boys and
as many girls. He left three surviving children, an only son Henry prince
of Wales, and two daughters, Margaret married to James king of Scotland,
and Mary betrothed to Charles prince of Castile. His
body was slender but well built and strong; his height above
the average. His appearance was remarkably attractive and his face was
cheerful, especially when speaking; his eyes were small and blue, his
teeth few, poor and blackish ; his hair was thin and white; his complexion
sallow. His spirit was distinguished, wise and prudent; his mind was
brave and resolute and never, even at moments of the greatest danger,
deserted him. He had a most pertinacious memory. Withal he was not devoid
of scholarship. In government he was shrewd and prudent, so that no
one dared to get the better of him through deceit or guile. He was gracious
and kind and was as attentive to his visitors as he was easy of access.
His hospitality was splendidly generous; he was fond of having foreigners
at his court and he freely conferred favours on them. But those of his
subjects who were indebted to him and who did not pay him due honour
or who were generous only with promises, he treated with harsh severity.
He well knew how to maintain his royal majesty and all which appertains
to kingship at every time and in every place. He was most fortunate
in war, although he was constitutionally more inclined to peace than
to war. He cherished justice above all things; as a result he vigorously
punished violence, manslaughter and every other kind of wickedness whatsoever.
Consequently he was
greatly regretted on that account by all his subjects, who had been
able to conduct their lives peaceably, far removed from the assaults
and evil doing of scoundrels. He was the most ardent supporter of our
faith, and daily participated with great piety in religious services.
To those whom he considered to be worthy priests, he often secretly
gave alms so that they should pray for his salvation. He
was particularly fond of those Franciscan friars whom they call Observants,
for whom he founded many convents, so that with his help their rule
should continually flourish in his kingdom. But all these virtues
were obscured latterly only by avarice, from which (as we showed above)
he suffered. This avarice is surely a bad enough vice in a private individual,
whom it forever torments ; in a monarch indeed it may be considered
the worst vice, since it is harmful to everyone, and distorts those
qualities of trustfulness, justice and integrity by which the state
must be governed" (Anglica Historia, pp.143-147).
Vergil on John Cabot's Discovery of the New World
Vergil devoted just a few lines
to the greatest Discovery in the history of the world!!
talk at about this time that some sailors on a voyage had discovered
lands lying in the British ocean, hitherto unknown. This was believed
as true and given credence, since the Spanish monarchs in our century
have discovered many islands hitherto unknown. As a result of the rumour
about the unknown lands, King Henry at the request of one John Cabot,
a Venetian by birth and a most skilful mariner, ordered to be prepared
one ship, complete with crew and weapons; this he handed over to the
same John to go and search for those unknown islands. John set out in
this same year and sailed first to Ireland. Then he set sail towards
the west. In the event he is believed
to have found the new lands nowhere but on the very bottom of the ocean,
to which he is thought to have descended together with his boat, the
victim himself of that self-same ocean; since after that voyage he was
never seen again anywhere" (Anglica
Polydore Vergil on the "Wild Irish"
there remained nothing for the king to do but to stamp out in Ireland
those seeds of the new faction which the year before had been sown among
the barbarians there by Peter Warbeck. Therefore Henry at once sent
to the island Henry Dean prior of Llantony and bishop of Bangor, whom
he appointed chancellor of the island, and Sir Edward Poynings with
four battalions of soldiers; they were to traverse those parts of the
island in which Peter had stayed, and to pursue and punish those whom
they found tainted with the crime of treason. They arrived promptly
in the island, aided by a favourable wind, and called a meeting of the
nobles. When these were gathered together, Henry and Edward first urged
them to remain loyal, and then ordered them to take up arms and follow
them against the rebels, who shortly before had (either mistakenly or
maliciously) taken sides with the most base-born Peter Warbeck who lied
about his birth. All undertook to provide assistance, which few afterwards
performed, since they obey the English unwillingly. Then it was announced
that Edward Poynings had come to hunt down all who supported Peter.
Those who were aware of their guilt hid themselves in the forests, where
they concerted plans (in the tradition of their land) as to the places
from which they should make sallies against the English, and where,
if necessity arose, they would be prepared to give battle. In all Ireland
there are only two sorts of men, as we have described elsewhere in the
life of Henry II, of which one is gentle and cultured. To these wealthier
and more civilised inhabitants many of the merchants of neighbouring
peoples come on business ; and the English in particular often journeying
there, these Irish easily acquire their manner of life and the greater
part understand the language as a result of this constant commerce.
Such Irish all obey the English king. The other type of islander is
savage, rude and uncouth. From their indifference to all refinement
and their primitive habits they are known as 'wild men of the woods';
but for all that they are good Christians. They have various rulers
to whom they are subjected and who constantly fight among themselves.
It is for this reason that these Irishmen excel the others in ferocity,
and—being more eager for revolutions—are found readier to
support any type of upheaval. To these Irish 'wild men of the woods'
Peter had in the main addressed himself and he had easily persuaded
them to believe everything which he falsely said concerning himself"
(Anglica Historia, pp. 79-80.)
NOBODY was more
avaricious than Pope Borgia who sent Vergil to England!!
What a change in
Hibernia (Ireland) from the days of the Island of Saints and Scholars
before the Pope's army invaded the country!!
Polydore, The Anglica Historia of Polydore Vergil, A.D. 1485-1537
(translated by Denys Hay), Office of the Royal Historical Society, Camden
Series, London, 1950.