Thomas Churchyard

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For the nineteenth-century painter, see Thomas Churchyard (painter). Thomas Churchyard_sentence_0

Thomas Churchyard (c. 1523 – 1604) was an English author and soldier. Thomas Churchyard_sentence_1

He is chiefly remembered for a series of autobiographical or semi-autobiographical verse collections, including Churchyardes Chippes (1575); Churchyard's Choise (1579); Churchyardes Charge (1580); The Worthines of Wales (1587); Churchyard's Challenge (1593); and Churchyards Charitie (1595). Thomas Churchyard_sentence_2

Early life Thomas Churchyard_section_0

Thomas Churchyard was born at Shrewsbury in c. 1523, the son of a farmer. Thomas Churchyard_sentence_3

He received a good education, and, having speedily dissipated at court the money with which his father provided him, he entered the household of Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey. Thomas Churchyard_sentence_4

There he remained for twenty years, learning something of the art of poetry from his patron; some of the poems he contributed later (1555) to Nicholas Grimald's and Richard Tottel's collection, Songes and Sonettes (known more often as Tottel's Miscellany), may well date from this early period. Thomas Churchyard_sentence_5

Career Thomas Churchyard_section_1

In 1541 Churchyard began his career as a soldier of fortune, being, he said, "pressed into the service". Thomas Churchyard_sentence_6

He fought his way through nearly every campaign in Scotland and the Low Countries for thirty years. Thomas Churchyard_sentence_7

He served under the emperor Charles V in Flanders in 1542, returning to England after the Peace of Crépy (1544). Thomas Churchyard_sentence_8

In the Scottish campaign of 1547 he was present at the barren victory of Pinkie, and in the next year was taken prisoner at Saint Monance, but aided by his persuasive tongue he escaped to the English garrison at Lauder, where he was once more besieged, only returning to England on the conclusion of peace in 1550. Thomas Churchyard_sentence_9

In the same year he went to Ireland to serve the lord deputy of Ireland, Sir Anthony St Leger, who had been sent to pacify the country. Thomas Churchyard_sentence_10

Here Churchyard enriched himself, at the expense of the Irish; but in 1552 he was in England again, trying vainly to secure a fortune by marriage with a rich widow. Thomas Churchyard_sentence_11

After this failure he departed once more to the wars to the Siege of Metz (1552), and "trailed a pike" in the emperor's army, until he joined the forces under William Grey, 13th Baron Grey de Wilton, with whom he says he served eight years. Thomas Churchyard_sentence_12

Grey was in charge of the fortress of Guînes, which was besieged by the duke of Guise in 1558. Thomas Churchyard_sentence_13

Churchyard arranged the terms of surrender, and was sent with his chief to Paris as a prisoner. Thomas Churchyard_sentence_14

He was not released at the Peace of Cateau Cambrésis for lack of money to pay his ransom, but he was finally set free on giving his bond for the amount, an engagement which he repudiated as soon as he was safely in England. Thomas Churchyard_sentence_15

He is not to be identified with the "T.C." Thomas Churchyard_sentence_16

who wrote for the Mirror for Magistrates (ed. Thomas Churchyard_sentence_17

1559), "How the Lord Mowbray ... was banished ... and after died miserablie in exile", which is the work of Thomas Chaloner; but "Shore's Wife", his most popular poem, appeared in the 1563 edition of the same work, and to that of 1587 he contributed the "Tragedie of Thomas Wolsey". Thomas Churchyard_sentence_18

These are plain compositions in the seven-lined Chaucerian stanza. Thomas Churchyard_sentence_19

Repeated petitions to the Queen for assistance produced at first fair words, and then no answer at all. Thomas Churchyard_sentence_20

He therefore returned to active service under Lord Grey, who was in command of an English army sent in 1560 to help the Scottish rebels at the Siege of Leith, and in 1564 he served in Ireland under Sir Henry Sidney. Thomas Churchyard_sentence_21

The religious disturbances in the Netherlands attracted him to Antwerp, where, as the agent of William of Orange, he allowed the insurgents to place him at their head, and was able to save much property from destruction. Thomas Churchyard_sentence_22

This action made him so hated by the mob that he had to fly for his life in the disguise of a priest. Thomas Churchyard_sentence_23

In the next year he was sent by the earl of Oxford to serve definitely under the prince of Orange. Thomas Churchyard_sentence_24

After a year's service he obtained leave to return to England, and after many adventures and narrow escapes in a journey through hostile territory he embarked for Guernsey, and thence for England. Thomas Churchyard_sentence_25

His patron, Lord Oxford, disowned him, and the poet, whose health was failing, retired to Bath. Thomas Churchyard_sentence_26

He appears to have made a very unhappy marriage at this time, and returned to the Low Countries. Thomas Churchyard_sentence_27

Falling into the hands of the Spaniards he was recognized as having had a hand in the Antwerp disturbance, and was under sentence to be executed as a spy when he was saved by the intervention of a noble lady. Thomas Churchyard_sentence_28

This experience did not deter him from joining in the defence of Zutphen in 1572, but this was his last campaign, and the troubles of the remaining years of his life were chiefly domestic. Thomas Churchyard_sentence_29

Later life Thomas Churchyard_section_2

Churchyard was employed to devise a pageant for the Queen's reception at Bristol in 1574, and again at Norwich in 1578. Thomas Churchyard_sentence_30

He had published in 1575 The Firste parte of Churchyarde's Chippes, the modest title which he gives to his works. Thomas Churchyard_sentence_31

No second part appeared, but there was a much enlarged edition in 1578. Thomas Churchyard_sentence_32

A passage in Churchyarde's Choise (1579) gave offence to Elizabeth, and the author fled to Scotland, where he remained for three years. Thomas Churchyard_sentence_33

He was only restored to favour about 1584, and in 1593 he received a small pension from the Queen. Thomas Churchyard_sentence_34

On Good Friday, 8 April 1580, Churchyard (then aged nearly 60) published a short account of the earthquake which had struck London and much of England only two days earlier. Thomas Churchyard_sentence_35

The pamphlet, A Warning to the Wyse, a Feare to the Fond, a Bridle to the Lewde, and a Glasse to the Good; written of the late Earthquake chanced in London and other places, 6 April 1580, for the Glory of God and benefit of men, that warely can walk, and wisely judge. Thomas Churchyard_sentence_36

Set forth in verse and prose, by Thomas Churchyard, gentleman provides the earliest accounts of the 1580 Dover Straits earthquake. Thomas Churchyard_sentence_37

Dispute with Thomas Camel Thomas Churchyard_section_3

In Churchyards Challenge (1593) the author refers to his broadside ballad, Davie Dicars dreame (c. 1551–1552), which he says was written against by one Thomas Camel whom Churchyard then "openly confuted". Thomas Churchyard_sentence_38

Their argument came to involve not only Churchyard and Camel but also William Waterman, Geoffrey Chappell, and Richard Beard. Thomas Churchyard_sentence_39

All their various contributions were collected and reprinted in The Contention bettwyxte Churchyeard and Camell, upon David Dycers Dreame in 1560. Thomas Churchyard_sentence_40

A short and seemingly alliterative poem in the manner of Piers Plowman, Davie Dicar brought Churchyard into trouble with the privy council, but he was supported by Edward Seymour, 1st Duke of Somerset and dismissed with a reprimand. Thomas Churchyard_sentence_41

Carried out in broadside ballads, the Churchyard-Camel debate was concerned with the relative merit of the plain style in native English literary tradition and the proper literary use of the English language itself. Thomas Churchyard_sentence_42

In a verse dedication to John Stow's Pithy Pleasaunt and Profitable Workes (1568), Churchyard defended the native tradition, grounding it in "Peers plowman . Thomas Churchyard_sentence_43

. Thomas Churchyard_sentence_44

. Thomas Churchyard_sentence_45

full plaine" and Chaucer. Thomas Churchyard_sentence_46

Churchyard mocked Camel's classical, Latinate sophistication, and Camel attacked Churchyard's churlish words and "uncouth speeche". Thomas Churchyard_sentence_47

This public controversy resembled the old medieval practice of flyting—a staged, collaborative battle of the wits that was also, in this case, an occasion for the public discussion of moral issues, education, religion, and politics. Thomas Churchyard_sentence_48

It was also a means of commercial self-promotion on the part of writers and printers. Thomas Churchyard_sentence_49

Perhaps inspired by Robert Crowley's 1550 publication of Piers Plowman, Davy Dycar (i.e., Davy the ditcher or digger) is a character drawn from a line at the end of Passus 6 in the B-text and the end of Passus 9 in the C-text where it is prophesied that "Dawe the dyker" will die of starvation because of the corruption of landlords and clergy. Thomas Churchyard_sentence_50

("Dawe", written or printed as "Davve", could be read as "Davy" or "Davie".) Thomas Churchyard_sentence_51

This is the concluding event in a list of disasters caused by corrupt elites, a part of Piers Plowman that was appreciated by some English Protestants in the mid-sixteenth century. Thomas Churchyard_sentence_52

(Notably, the Davy Digger lines were copied into a manuscript of political prophecies compiled around 1553–1554.) Thomas Churchyard_sentence_53

Churchyard turns Davy into a Piers-like truth-teller and prophet of a millennial kingdom of justice: Thomas Churchyard_sentence_54

William Waterman added to the debate with his Westerne Wyll, calling explicit attention to Davy's roots: Thomas Churchyard_sentence_55

Reputation Thomas Churchyard_section_4

The affectionate esteem with which Churchyard was regarded by the younger Elizabethan writers is expressed by Thomas Nashe, who says (Foure Letters Confuted) that Churchyard's aged muse might well be "grandmother to our grandiloquentest poets at this present". Thomas Churchyard_sentence_56

Francis Meres (Palladis Tamia, 1598) mentions him in conjunction with many great names among "the most passionate, among us, to bewail and bemoan the perplexities of love". Thomas Churchyard_sentence_57

Spenser, in "Colin Clout's Come Home Again", calls him with a spice of raillery "old Palaemon" who "sung so long until quite hoarse he grew". Thomas Churchyard_sentence_58

His writings, with the exception of his contributions to the Mirror for Magistrates, are chiefly autobiographical in character or deal with the wars in which he had a share. Thomas Churchyard_sentence_59

They are very rare and have never been completely reprinted. Thomas Churchyard_sentence_60

Churchyard lived right through Elizabeth's reign, and was buried in St. Thomas Churchyard_sentence_61 Margaret's, Westminster, on 4 April 1604. Thomas Churchyard_sentence_62

It was said he was taken ill in the presence of Anne of Denmark's ladies in waiting and carried away in a faint a fortnight before his death. Thomas Churchyard_sentence_63


Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas Churchyard.