Sometimes while doing research you will come across a little treasure that you never knew existed. This has happened to me quite often but this time what I found truly caught me by surprise, made me blush and left me wondering what the event or events were that provoked this letter.
I can figure out the rough year of this letter by the mention of the marriage of the Duke of Orleans and the niece of the Pope, which references the future Henri II of France and Catherine de Medici, who were married 28 October 1533. That was the same year that Arthur Plantagenet became Lord Deputy of Calais.
As you will notice while reading said letter I have given you notes after certain words to help explain better what is being said – sometimes it can be confusing if you’re not familiar with the way they wrote.
Sir Francis Bryan to Lord Lisle (Arthur Plantagenet)
My good lord, after my hearty recommendation, this shall be to advertise you that I have received your letter, by the which I do not only perceive that ye would be glad of my return but also my Lady, your bedfellow, whom I do heartily thank. Sir, whereas in your last letter I perceive that in Calais ye have sufficient courtezans (A woman prostitute, especially one whose clients are members of a royal court or men of high social standing) to furnish and accomplish my desires, I do thank you of your good provision, but this shall be to advertise you that since my coming hither (referring to Marseille) I have called to my remembrance the misliving that ye and such other hath brought me to; for the which, being repented, have had absolution of the Pope. (What did Lisle and someone else do?) And because ye be my friend, I would advertise you in likewise to be sorry of that ye have done, and ask my lady, your wife forgiveness, and that forgiveness obtained, to come in all diligence hither to be absolved of the Pope, who I think will not tarry here much longer than Hallowmas, ere (before) which time shall be married the Duke of Orleans (future Henri II of France)to the Pope’s niece (Catherine de Medici), who arrived yesterday in this town, accompanies with fourteen or fifteen gentlewomen, which gentlewomen nor mistress be not as fair as was Lucrece (Lucretia). And thus heartily fare ye well, my good lord. From Merseles (Marseille), the 24th day of October.
I beseech you this letter many commend me to mr. porter (Sir Thomas Palmer) & my Lady his wife.
Your loving brother of world, Francis (he spelled ffranssys) Bryan
The question I have after reading this letter was this: Was Sir Thomas Palmer the person mentioned in this statement?:
“I have called to my remembrance the misliving that ye and such other hath brought me to; for the which, being repented, have had absolution of the Pope…”
What kind of incident happened that Sir Francis Bryan felt he had to get absolution from the Pope?
If we look at it from the other side, what type of sin would cause someone to seek absolution from the Pope? Absolution refers to forgiveness of mortal sins, especially grave sins to be forgiven. The Ten Commandments are examples of mortal/grave sins that would require absolution. If you are unfamiliar, here is an example of the Ten Commandments:
- I, the Lord, am your God. You shall not have other gods besides me.
- You shall not take the name of the Lord God in vain
- Remember to keep holy the Lord’s Day (Sabbath)
- Honor your father and your mother
- You shall not kill
- You shall not commit adultery
- You shall not steal
- You shall not bear false witness
- You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife
- You shall not covet your neighbor’s goods
So, one can only imagine what happened for Sir Francis Bryan to seek absolution. Until I can find out more, we’ll have to use our imaginations. What do you think happened?
Lisle Letters, Edited by Muriel St. Clare Byrne; page 22 section, #3
Catholic Bible 101 (Ten Commandments)
Sir Thomas Palmer – Wikipedia (confirming he was knight-porter)
Henri II of France – Wikipedia (referencing title Duke of Orleans)
Catherine de Medici – Wikipedia (confirming she was niece to the Pope)