Early Modern Mythological Texts: Troia Britanica XVII (1-50)

Thomas Heywood. Troia Britanica (1609)


Stanzas 1-10 — 11-20 — 21-30 — 31-40 — 41-50 — 51-138

Ed. Yves PEYRÉ



Of all Great Britain’s kings truly descended

From the first Conqueror, next we shall entreat:

How they have sailed, or how their hands extended

Through any foreign realms by conquest great,

How they began, and how their reigns they ended,

Till royal James claims his monarchal seat,

In whom three kingdoms, first by Brute divided,

United are, and by one scepter guided.


Arg. 2

From Norman William a true note collected

Of all the kings and queens that here protected.



William, the Norman duke, is next invested,  

Sixth of that duchy. Ent’ring by stern war,

A troublous reign he lived and seldom rested

From rough, rebellious arms. Yet every bar

His sword removed. Hereford his pride detested

But for his treason was confinèd far.

   Earl Walter too, into that faction led,

   Disclosed the plot, and for it lost his head.



William the Conqueror.





Roger earl of Hereford 5037/1076



Duke Robert, William’s son, by th’instigation

Of the French king, doth Normandy invade,

Against whom William raised the English nation,

and when no prince betwixt them could persuade,

They met and fought, with much loud acclamation.

Robert unhorsed his father, and then stayed

   His warlike hand, whom by his voice he knew,

   And raised him, for which, peace between them grew.






William, invading France, in Caen expired

And there lies buried by his warlike peers,

After he many towers and towns had fired,

Reigning o’er England one and twenty years.

Four sons he left, one daughter much admired:

Robert, and Richard, who ascends the spheres

   Before ripe age; William, who next doth sway;

   Henry called Beauclerc; and fair Adela.






Whilst our great Conqueror lived, the king of Danes,

Canutus, by the English outlaws aided,

Invades the North, but William him restrains.

Henry the Emperor Bavaria invaded.

Malcolm that o’er the troublous Scots then reigns

Pierces Northumberland. At this time vaded

   The Saxons’ glory: Otho them defaced

   After the Thuringians he by arms had chased.








Otho duke of Bavaria



Eudochia, who had seven years worn the crown

Of Greece’s empire, was by marriage tied

Unto Romanus, one of high renown,

Surnamed Diogenes. Gregory denied

Marriage to priests. The Russ’ duke was put down

By prince Demetrius, near to him allied.

   William four castles built his foes to tame,

   At York, at Lincoln and at Nottingham.






Pope Gregory the seventh




Henry then Caesar, for some sin detected,

Did by the Pope stand excommunicate,

And being of his feudal king rejected,

To Gregory submits him and his state.

Now lived the famous Oswald much respected,

Bishop of Sarum. Caesar absolved late,

   The second time condemned, ’gainst Gregory sped,

   Stating Ravenna’s Robert in his stead.






Robert bishop of Ravenna

made Pope by the name of Clement



Vladislaus was the first king made

Of Boheme and of all the countries near.

Ansell, who then Galicia’s scepter swayed,

Did ‘gainst the Saracens in arms appear

And won from them Toledo by the aid

Of Christian princes. Rufus governed here

   Next after Conquering William. Thirteen springs

   He sat invested in our throne of kings.







Will. Rufus 5050/1089



Twice Robert made incursion, but suppressed

By William’s power. The Scots invade again,

But are appeased. The Welshmen Rees invest,

Who in a conflict was by William slain.

Jerusalem by pagan arms oppressed,

Th’assembled Christian kings by force maintain,

   Where died in battle, as the rumour ran,

   The Babylonian Soldan, Soliman.











The Norman Robert, choosed king, by election,

Of Palestine, refused the sacred style,

Which Bulloin Godfrey took to his protection.

Scotch Malcolm with his son ent’ring by guile

Northumber’s marches, came to the dejection

By valiant Robert, who was earl that while—

   Both slain in field. King William, the same year,

   Erected the great hall in Westminster.











Duncan usurps in Scotland; not two years

He governed there but in his bed was slain.

Donald restored, not long the scepter bears

But Edgar, that ambitious was to reign,

By arms suppressed him and the diadem wears.

Rufus being hunting, Tyrrel of his train,

   By glancing of an arrow the king slew.

   Henry next governs, by succession true.









Thirty-five years did Henry Beauclerk guide

Th’helm royal; he for theft strict laws decreed.

Robert returned from Palestine, defied

Henry, who after parley were agreed.

Long their truce lasted not. Beauclerk denied

His brother’s pension. Great dissensions breed.

   After much war, duke Robert they surprise,

   Who, for a prison’s breach, forfeits his eyes. 



Henry Beauclerk 5062/1101




Norwich cathedral church is founded new,

Saint Bartholomew’s built by Reior, a musician.

In Belgia great inundations grew,

Being almost drowned. Now, upon good condition

Peace ‘twixt the Emperor and king Henry grew,

Whose daughter was, with much high superstition,

   Made Empress. Maud, the English queen, being dead,

   Henry takes Adelisia in her stead.







Adelisia, daughter

to the Duke of Louvain



The king of England with French Lodwicke tries

Great discords, where the English gain the best.

In their return by sea great tempests rise,

Where all the issue royal most and least

Perished, with many nobles grave and wise,

Where eight score souls at once are sent to rest.

   Of all the ship, one butcher and no more

   Escaped the seas and swam unto the shore.







Geoffrey Plantagenet, the Emperor dead,

Wives Maud the Empress, unto whom she bare

Two sons, Henry and Geoffrey.  Now life fled

From Beauclerc, who to Stephen resigns his chair.

But ere he rests him in his earthy bed,

He is renowned for many buildings rare,

   Dunstable Priory, Reading Abbey, and

   Windsor fair castle, that on high doth stand.








Duke Bohemond in Asia wars maintaining,

Was by the Turks surprised, restored again

By Tancred, who in Puell after reigning,

Infinite Turks were by his valour slain.

Baldwin defies the Soldan, thereby gaining

Two famous towns. Now Alphons’ rules in Spain,

   Lewes the gross in France; in Scotland’s right,

   Malcolm’s first son, that Alexander hight.







Gazim and Damascus



Alexius did the Grecian empire sway,

Henry in Rome; the Popedom Paschal guides.

In Hungary reigned Stephen. About that day,

A blazing star appears and long abides;

Two moons are seen, and in Flaminia

Blood rains. Michael, the duke of Venice, rides

Against the pagans, who were made his prey

   At Joppen. After, in his home return,

   He many of the Emperor’s towns did burn.









Rhodes, Chios, Samos,

Lesbos, Mitelene



Charles, earl of Flanders, in the church was slain

By the proud Bruges provost, which, related,

William the son of Curthose did complain,

and by French Lewes was next earl instated.

Balach the Parthian did proud wars maintain

’Gainst Baldwin, which was by rough steel debated:

   Baldwin surprised, fair Sion’s towers quite razed,

   And fair Jerusalem once more defaced.









Stephen, earl of Bulloin, son to th’earl of Blois

And Adela, next Henry rules as king,

Though Maud the Empress had th’applausive voice

Of many English peers, through which wars spring.

Gloucester and Chester earls, after much choice

Of fields and battles, such an army bring

   That Stephen is took and unto Bristow sent;

   After, released, by London and by Kent. 



King Stephen








These counties raise an army and surprise

Gloucester, for whom the barons change King Stephen.

David of Scotland doth ‘gainst England rise;

After much war then discords are made even.

By th’empress’ meanes his barons him despise.

First, Stephen prevails, the lords their lands bereaven.

   But gathering head, at Wilton they prevail,

   Where the king flies, whom Gloucester doth assail.









Henry, Maud’s son, after King Stephen’s decease,

Is proclaimed king, which soon atones their strife,

By which mild Stephen reigns all his days in peace.

His son the French king’s sister takes to wife.

Gersa, the son of Bela, gan increase

His fame among the Hungars and his life

   Was fearful to the Germans. Lewes swayed France.

   The Turks grim Alaph to their crown advance.




Eustace, son to King Stephen



Earl Roger ruled Sicilia; Almany

Great Barbarossa; Rome’s empery, Conrad.

Adrian of England held the papacy.

In Scotland reigned Malcolm, a beauteous maid.

The English Jews at Easter crucify

A Christian child and life for life they paid.

   Next Stephen, King Henry, second of that name,

   Son to the empress Maud, the peers proclaim.












Thirty five years his prosperous reign doth last,

In which he England’s seigniory augmented,

With Scotland, Ireland, and then further passed

To th’Orcad Isles, whose forces he prevented.

Britain, Poitou and Guyenne he made fast

To th’English crown. Wales, that but late dissented,

   His sword appeased, and after well protected,

   Which done, great Rutland castle he erected.






Two suns at once within our skies appear,

And in the moon a bloody cross was seen.

Lewes of France sent over Margaret here,

His daughter, to be made young Henry’s queen,

By which the discords that both realms did fear

In this alliance quite dispersèd been.

   Once more the king ’gainst Scotland is provoked.

   Pope Adrian, drinking, with a fly was choked.











Vladislaus, for his valour shown

At Milan’s siege, was by the Emperor made

Bohemians’ second king, his arms well known:

A fair red rampant lion. Baldwin laid

On his black hearse, Almalricus is grown

King of Jerusalem, who bravely stayed

   Th’Egyptian power, and in one glorious day

   Won from the Soldan Alexandria. 






Now Thomas Becket, who before had fled

To Rome and there complained him of the king,

Was to his see restored, after struck dead

In Canterbury church, a piteous thing.

Him Rome canonized for a saint, which bred

Much superstition. Saladine doth bring

   A puissant host; his conquests he began

   And by the sword Egypt and Syria won.











Henry, King Henry’s son, was twice instated

And crowned in England in his father’s days,

by which much uproar was by war debated;

The sons against the father tumults raise.

The Pope ’gainst th’Emperor Frederick animated;

Frederick submits, and at his foot he lays

   His princely head, whilst with a lordly check,

   The Pope his foot set on the Emperor’s neck.












Andronicus, having his master slain

—The child Alexius left to his tuition—

Three years the Grecian empire doth maintain.

Baldwin the fifth, a child of fair condition,

Is crowned in Sion. Saladin again

’Gainst Palestine doth make new expedition,

   Subdues Jerusalem, and since his days,

   The infidel the holy kingdom sways.











Henry the son before the father dies,

Whose wars his brother Richard takes in hand

And by hostility the king defies.

Unable ‘gainst his puissant son to stand,

Sickness and grief of thoughts the king surprise,

Who, dying, to prince Richard leaves the land.

   Richard in arms a bold, reputed knight,

   Who, for his stout heart, Cordelion hight.








Richard Cordelion



Eleven full years, nine months and twenty days

He sat enthroned. Now, bailiffs first began

In London. Many Christian princes raise

Fresh powers to gain Jerusalem late won,

Almaine, France, England, Burgoine, whom most praise;

To this, Sicilia, Venice, Pisa run

   And quell the pagans. Richard Cyprus took

   And Acre, where the French king him forsook.











Frederick, the emperor, having late subdued

The less Armenia, where his fame was sowned,

through greatest part of Asia ‘gan intrude

And to that tri-part world was sovereign crowned.

But by misfortune or by rashness rude,

Was after in the flood Selephius drowned.

   Richard exchanged with Guy of Lessingham

   The crown of Cyprus for Jerusalem.








Graced with the title of the holy king,

Returning with a small and slender train

Toward England, where his brother John, usurping,

Took to himself a short, rebellious reign,

The Austrich duke, King Richard envying,

Surprised him first, then gave him to be slain

   To a fierce lion, whom, unarmed, he beat,

   And from his bulk his warm heart tore and eat.









There ransomed, after war, prince John submits,

Whilst Saphandinus Egypt’s empire swayed.

In Spain’s tribunal the eighth Alphons sits;

Emericus Hungary’s king is made.

To Innocent the third th’emperor submits,

Who eighteen years the papal crozier stayed.

   He first devised auricular confession,

   Which since his time, the popes keep by succession.











Richard, besieging Gailerd long with steel,

was with an arrow from the castle wounded,

Shot by the hand of one Peter Bazeele.

He slain, retreat the valiant English sounded.

His want the clergy, peers and commons feel,

In whom religion, power and state abound.

   Next him King John succeeds by the land’s doom,

   Who, whilst he reigned, despised the threats of Rome.








King John



Reigned seventeen years. Him Philip, king of France

Invades in Arthur duke of Britain’s name,

Whose powers the English John surprised by chance,

Imprisoning Arthur, whence these garboils came.

The Persians David to the throne advance,

Who, with his Indian troops, marched with much fame,

   Of Parthia and Armenia conqueror,

   And of Tartaria the first emperor.  







Five moons were all at once in Yorkshire seen,

After which portent many storms ensued.

Prince John having incurred the Pope’s full spleen,

Stands with his land accursed, which some allude

To bishop Langton, who at Rome had been,

And sought in Canterbury to intrude.

   In Suffolk was a strange fish took, that bore

   The shape of man and six months lived ashore.










The mayor and sh’riffs in London were first made.

Wales twice rebelling, was by war appeased.

Th’English at Scluse the navy of France invade,

A thousand twenty sail at once they seized.

Pope Innocent great Caesar’s pomp allayed,

Making such laws as scarce the Empire pleased:

   Only such princes should as emperors stand

   As should receive their crowns at the pope’s hand,












Of whom the Saxon duke Otto was first.

Venice subdues Corcyra and the isles

Adjacent. Otto, by the emperor accurst

For taking to himself the empire’s styles,

Against him menace war pope Innocent durst,

And trained into these broils by prayers and smiles

   Frederick the second, who the diadem wears

   After duke Otto, three and twenty years.












John for a yearly tribute to Rome payed

Of twice five hundred marks, absolves his land.

King Alexander is the Scotch king made,

After deceased William, to command;

He twenty and four years the kingdom staid.

Against king John the English barons stand,

   And to their faction the French Lewis bring,

   Whom in John’s stead they seek t’elect as king.












Amidst these tumults John by fate expires,

As some suppose, by poison; whom succeeds

Henry his son. Him more the land desires

Than Lewes, hated for some bloody deeds.

For him the people make triumphant fires,

A general joy his high instalment breeds.

   At nineteen years, the kingdom he attained,

   And fifty-six years o’er his subjects reigned.




Henry the 3rd








Our Lady’s church in Westminster he reared.

Now Hoccota, the second puissant king

Of great Tartaria, was renowned and feared;

He first the title of great Khan did win.

The drooping Scotch king was by Henry cheered,

To whom he gave his sister next of kin,

   Fair Joan. Robert Greece’s empire swayed,

   Who to his empress took a beauteous maid.










She was before betrothed to a great peer

Of Burgoin. He, the emperor’s pomp despising,

Entered his armed palace without fear.

The damsel in the emperor’s arms surprising,

He first cut off her nose—revenge severe—

And from that place himself disguising,

   To her ’fore bribèd mother posting fast,

   Th’inconstant dame into the sea he cast.








The Scots at Caithness their proud bishop burn

Because he cursed such as their tithes denied.

Wards were first granted. Frederick doth return

Towards Asia, and the Soldan puffed with pride

Vanquished in field. And now no longer mourn

Those Christians that in Palestine abide.

   England with France makes war, and after, peace.

   Tumults in Wales arise but soon surcease.









Frederick King Henry’s sister takes to wife,

Called Isabel. Henry takes Eleanor,

Daughter to th’earl of Provence, ending strife

’Twixt them before begun. About that hour

His spousals were solemnised and joys rife,

In th’element appeared a warlike power

   Of men in arms of divers wings compacted.

   The Merton statute now was first enacted.











This year the famous faction first began

Of Guelfes and Gibelines. Tartarian Khan

Invades the Hungars and their kingdom won,

Where their king Bela was in battle slain.

The mother eats her child and sire the son

So great was hunger ‘mongst the Hungars then.

   Now London aldermen were first elected

   And Frederick once more by the pope rejected.











Pope Innocent the fourth from th’emperor flying

To Lyons, to the cardinals first gave

Red hats. A Jew in Spain, Christ’s faith denying,

Pierced a huge rock, there found a hollow cave,

In it a marble stone, which, with steel trying,

He finds a book enclosed, with precepts grave,

   Which spoke of Christ, by which the story sayth

   The stiff-necked Jew was turned to Christian faith.







Henry, with London city late displeased

For sentence ‘gainst one Margaret Viell passed,

Into his power the city’s charters seized,

Which by submission they regained at last.

Young Alexander’s father long deceased

Expired in Scotland, the young prince, in haste,

   At nine years crowned, to whom Henry affied

   His daughter Mary, whom he took to bride.











In Italy, blood issued out of bread

As out of wounds. French Lewis was surprised

By the great Souldan. Mango Khan’s made head

Of the rude Tartars, who being well advised,

Received the Christian faith, and after sped

Against the Turks, in crosses red disguised.

   Alphons of Spain bestows his daughter fair

   On young prince Edward, Henry’s hopeful heir.











Richard of Cornwall, brother to the king,

At Aquisgrane was emperor elected,

And Alphons of Castile, the state affecting,

Was by the Electors from the state rejected.

Albertus Magnus flourished in his spring,

And Michael Paleologus, respected

   For his great wars in Greece, who Baldwin slew,

   And thirty five years in the empire grew.











At Oxford the mad parliament began;

King Henry with his barons doth contend.

They fought near Lewes; many a valiant man

Of noble blood came to a timeless end.

The king against his peers, the best he can,

Strives by the sword, his barons to offend,

   Who, maugre all his force, the battle won,

   Surprised the king, his brother, and his son.







Richard of Cornwall, brother to the king, and emperor



Prince Edward entered Asia and there fought

Against the Turks, where he achieved much fame.

At length his life was by a Saracen sought,

Who, with a knife, to his pavilion came,

Empoisoned, and his death had almost wrought,

For in his princely arm he fixed the same.

   Richard, king Henry’s brother and Rome’s king

   First dies, and after Henry, the same spring.










Back to Canto XVI

Notes to Canto XVII

On to Canto XVII (51-138)


How to cite

Yves Peyré, ed., 2019.  Troia Britanica Canto XVII (1609).  In A Dictionary of Shakespeare's Classical Mythology: A Textual Companion, ed. Yves Peyré (2009-2019).


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