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Queen Eleanor’s Confession

No: 156; variant: 156[G]

  1. The queen of England she is seek, And seek and like to dee; She has sent for friers out of France, To bespeek hir speed[i]ly.
  2. The king has cald on his merrymen, By thirtys and by threes; Earl Marshall should have been the formest man, But the very last man was he.
  3. ‘The queen of England s[h]e is seek, And seek and like to dee, And she has sent for friers out of France, To bespeek hir speedyly.
  4. ‘But I will put on a frier’s weeg, And ye’l put on another, And we’ll away to Quenn Helen gaits, Like friers both together.’
  5. ‘O no, no,’ says Earl Marshall, ‘For this it must not be; For if the queen get word of that, High hanged I will be.’
  6. ‘But I will swear by my septer and crown, And by the seas so free, I will swear by my septer and crown, Earl Marshall, thow’s no dee.’
  7. So he has put on a frier’s wig, And the king has put on another, And they are away to Queen Helen gaits, Like friers both together.
  8. When they came to Queen Helen gaits, They tirled at the pin; There was non so ready as the queene herself To open and let them in.
  9. ‘O are you two Scottish dogs?– And hanged you shall be– Or are [you] friers come out of France, To bespeek me speedily?’
  10. ‘We are not two Scottish dogs, Nor hanged we shall be; For we have not spoken a wrong word Since we came over the sea.’
  11. ‘Well then, the very first that ever I sind I freely confess to thee; Earl Marshall took my maidenhead Below yon greenwood tree.’
  12. ‘That is a sin, and very great sin, But the Pope will pardon thee;’ ‘Amene, Amene,’ says Earl Marshall, But a feert, feert heart had he.
  13. ‘The very next sin that ever I sind I freely confess to thee; I had [poisen] seven years in my breast To poisen King Hendry.’
  14. ‘That is a sin, and very great sin, But the Pope forgiveth thee;’ ‘Amene, Amene,’ says Earl Marshall, But a feert, feert heart had he.
  15. ‘The very next sin that ever I sind I freely confess to thee; I poisened one of my court’s ladies, Was far more fairer than me.’
  16. ‘That is a sin, and a very great sin, But the Pope forgiveth thee;’ ‘Amene, Amene,’ says Earl Marshall, But a feert, feert heart had he.
  17. ‘Do you see yon bony boys, Playing at the baw? The oldest of them is Earl Marshall’s, And I like him best of all.’
  18. ‘That is a sin, and very great sin, But the Pope forgiveth thee;’ ‘Amene, Amene,’ says Earl Marshall, But a feert, feert heart had he.
  19. ‘Do ye see two bony [boys], Playing at the baw? The youngest of them is King Hendry’s, And I like him worst of all.
  20. ‘Because he is headed like a bull, And his nose is like a boar;’ ‘What is the matter?’ says King Henry, ‘For he shall be my heir.’
  21. Now he put off his frier’s wig, And drest himself [in] red; She wrung hir hands, and tore hir hair, And s[w]ore she was betraid.
  22. ‘Had I not sworn by my septer and crown, And by the seas so free, Had I not sworn by my septer and crown, Earl Marshall, thowst have died.’