The principal navigations, voyages, traffiques, and discoveries of the English nation, by Richard Hakluyt

The woorthy enterprise of Iohn Foxe an Englishman in deliuering 266. Christians out of the captiuitie of the Turkes at Alexandria, the 3 of Ianuarie 1577.

Among our Merchants here in England, it is a common voiage to traffike into Spaine: whereunto a ship, being called The three halfe Moones, manned with 38. men, and well fensed with munitions, the better to encounter their enemies withall, and hauing wind and tide, set from Portsmouth, 1563. and bended her iourney toward Siuill a citie in Spaine, intending there to traffique with them. Iohn Foxe taken 1563. And felling neere the Streights, they perceiued themselues to be beset round with eight gallies of the Turkes, in such wise, that there was no way for them to flie or escape away, but that either they must yeeld or els be sunke. Which the owner perceiuing, manfully encouraged his company, exhorting them valiantly to shew their manhood, shewing them that God was their God, and not their enemies, requesting them also not to faint in seeing such a heape of their enemies ready to deuour them; putting them in mind also, that if it were Gods pleasure to giue them into their enemies hands, it was not they that ought to shew one displeasant looke or countenance there against; but to take it patiently, and not to prescribe a day and time for their deliuerance, as the citizens of Bethulia did, but to put themselues vnder his mercy. And againe, if it were his mind and good will to shew his mighty power by them, if their enemies were ten times so many, they were not able to stand in their hands; putting them likewise in mind of the old and ancient woorthinesse of their countreymen, who in the hardest extremities haue alwayes most preuailed and gone away conquerors, yea, and where it hath bene almost impossible. Such (quoth he) hath bene the valiantnesse of our countreymen, and such hath bene the mightie power of our God.

With other like incouragements, exhorting them to behaue themselues manfully, they fell all on their knees making their prayers briefly vnto God: who being all risen vp againe perceiued their enemies by their signes and defiances bent to the spoyle, whose mercy was nothing els but crueltie, whereupon euery man tooke him to his weapon.

Then stood vp one Groue the master, being a comely man, with his sword and target, holding them vp in defiance agaynst his enemies. So likewise stood vp the Owner, the Masters mate, Boateswaine, Purser, and euery man well appointed. Nowe likewise sounded vp the drums, trumpets and flutes, which would haue encouraged any man, had he neuer so litle heart or courage in him.

Then taketh him to his charge Iohn Foxe the gunner in the disposing of his pieces in order to the best effect, and sending his bullets towards the Turkes, who likewise bestowed their pieces thrise as fast toward the Christians. But shortly they drew neere, so that the bowmen fel to their charge in sending forth their arrowes so thicke amongst the Gallies, and also in doubling their shot so sore vpon the gallies, that there was twise so many of the Turkes slaine, as the number of the Christians were in all. But the Turks discharged twise as fast against the Christians, and so long, that the ship was very sore stricken and bruised vnder water. Which the Turkes perceiuing, made the more haste to come aboord the Shippe: which ere they could doe, many a Turke bought it deerely with the losse of their liues. Yet was all in vaine, and boorded they were, where they found so hote a skirmish, that it had bene better they had not medled with the feast. For the Englishmen shewed themselues men in deed, in working manfully with their browne bils and halbardes: where the owner, master, boateswaine, and their company stoode to it so lustily, that the Turkes were halfe dismaied. The valour and death of their Boatswaine. But chiefly the boateswaine shewed himself valiant aboue the rest: for he fared amongst the Turkes like a wood Lion: for there was none of them that either could or durst stand in his face, till at the last there came a shot from the Turkes, which brake his whistle asunder, and smote him on the brest, so that he fell downe, bidding them farewell, and to be of good comfort, encouraging them likewise to winne praise by death, rather then to liue captiues in misery and shame. Which they hearing, in deed intended to haue done, as it appeared by their skirmish: but the prease and store of the Turkes was so great, that they were not able long to endure, but were so ouerpressed, that they could not wield their weapons: by reason whereof, they must needs be taken, which none of them intended to haue bene, but rather to haue died: except onely the masters mate, who shrunke from the skirmish, like a notable coward, esteeming neither the valure of his name, nor accounting of the present example of his fellowes, nor hauing respect to the miseries, whereunto he should be put. But in fine, so it was, that the Turks were victors, whereof they had no great cause to reioyce, or triumph. Then would it haue grieued any hard heart to see these Infidels so violently intreating the Christians, not hauing any respect of their manhood which they had tasted of, nor yet respecting their owne state, how they might haue met with such a bootie, as might haue giuen them the ouerthrow; but no remorse hereof, or any thing els doth bridle their fierce and tirannous dealing, but that the Christians must needs to the gallies, to serue in new offices: and they were no sooner in them, but their garments were pulled ouer their eares, and torne from their backes, and they set to the oares.

I will make no mention of their miseries, being now vnder their enemies raging stripes. I thinke there is no man wil iudge their fare good, or their bodies vnloden of stripes, and not pestered with too much heate, and also with too much cold: but I will goe to my purpose, which is, to shew the ende of those, being in meere miserie, which continually doe call on God with a steadfast hope that he will deliuer them, and with a sure faith that he can doe it.

Nigh to the citie of Alexandria, being a hauen towne, and vnder the dominion of the Turkes, there is a roade, being made very fensible with strong wals, whereinto the Turkes doe customably bring their gallies on shoare euery yeere, in the winter season, and there doe trimme them, and lay them vp against the spring time. In which road there is a prison, wherein the captiues and such prisoners as serue in the gallies, are put for all that time, vntill the seas be calme and passable for the gallies, euery prisoner being most grieuously laden with irons on their legges, to their great paine, and sore disabling of them to any labour taking. The Englishmen carried prisoners vnto an Hauen nere Alexandria. Into which prison were these Christians put, and fast warded all the Winter season. But ere it was long, the Master and the Owner, by meanes of friends, were redeemed: the rest abiding still by the miserie, while that they were all (through reason of their ill vsage and worse fare, miserably starued) sauing one Iohn Fox, who (as some men can abide harder and more miserie, then other some can, so can some likewise make more shift, and worke more deuises to helpe their state and liuing, then other some can doe) being somewhat skilfull in the craft of a Barbour, by reason thereof made great shift in helping his fare now and then with a good meale. Insomuch, til at the last, God sent him fauour in the sight of the keeper of the prison, so that he had leaue to goe in and out to the road, at his pleasure, paying a certaine stipend vnto the keeper, and wearing a locke about his leg: which libertie likewise, sixe more had vpon like sufferance: who by reason of their long imprisonment, not being feared or suspected to start aside, or that they would worke the Turkes any mischiefe, had libertie to go in and out at the sayd road, in such maner, as this Iohn Fox did, with irons on their legs, and to returne againe at night.

In the yeere of our Lord 1577. in the Winter season, the gallies happily comming to their accustomed harborow, and being discharged of all their mastes, sailes, and other such furnitures, as vnto gallies doe appertaine, and all the Masters and mariners of them being then nested in their owne homes: there remained in the prison of the said road two hundred threescore and eight Christian prisoners, who had bene taken by the Turks force, and were of sixteen sundry nations. Among which there were three Englishmen, whereof one was named Iohn Foxe of Woodbridge in Suffolke, the other William Wickney of Portsmouth, in the Countie of Southampton, and the third Robert Moore of Harwich in the Countie of Essex. Which Iohn Fox hauing bene thirteene or fourteene yeres vnder their gentle entreatance, and being too too weary thereof, minding his escape, weighed with himselfe by what meanes it might be brought to passe: and continually pondering with himself thereof, tooke a good heart vnto him, in hope that God would not be alwayes scourging his children, and neuer ceassed to pray him to further his pretended enterprise, if that it should redound to his glory.

Not farre from the road, and somewhat from thence, at one side of the Citie, there was a certaine victualling house, which one Peter Vnticaro had hired, paying also a certaine fee vnto the keeper of the road. This Peter Vnticaro was a Spaniard borne, and a Christian, and had bene prisoner about thirtie yeeres, and neuer practised any meanes to escape, but kept himselfe quiet without touch or suspect of any conspiracie: vntill that nowe this John Foxe vsing much thither, they brake one to another their mindes, concerning the restraint of their libertie and imprisonment. So that this Iohn Fox at length opening vnto this Vnticaro the deuise which he would faine put in practise, made priuie one more to this their intent. Which three debated of this matter at such times as they could compasse to meete together: insomuch, that at seuen weekes ende they had sufficiently concluded how the matter should be, if it pleased God to farther them thereto: who making fiue more priuie to this their deuise, whom they thought they might safely trust, determined in three nights after to accomplish their deliberate purpose. Whereupon the same Iohn Fox, and Peter Vnticaro, and the other sixe appointed to meete all together in the prison the next day, being the last day of December: where this Iohn Fox certified the rest of the prisoners, what their intent and deuise was, and how and when they minded to bring their purpose to passe: who thereunto perswaded them without much a doe to further their deuise. Which the same Iohn Fox seeing, deliuered vnto them a sort of files, which he had gathered together for this purpose, by the meanes of Peter Vnticaro, charging them that euery man should be readie discharged of his yrons by eight of the clocke on the the next day at night.

Januarie. On the next day at night, this said Iohn Fox, and his sixe other companions, being all come to the house of Peter Vnticaro, passing the time away in mirth for feare of suspect, till the night came on, so that it was time for them to put in practise their deuise, sent Peter Vnticaro to the master of the roade, in the name of one of the Masters of the citie, with whom this keeper was acquainted, and at whose request he also would come at the first: who desired him to take the paines to meete him there, promising him, that he would bring him backe againe. The keeper agreed to goe with him, willing the warders not to barre the gate, saying, that he would not stay long, but would come againe with all speede.

In the meane season, the other seuen had prouided them of such weapons, as they could get in that house: and Iohn Fox tooke him to an olde rustie sword blade, without either hilt or pomell, which he made to serue his turne, in bending the hand ende of the sword, in steed of a pomell, and the other had got such spits and glaiues as they found in the house.

The keeper now being come vnto the house, and perceiuing no light, nor hearing any noyse, straight way suspected the matter: and returning backward, Iohn Fox standing behind the corner of the house, stepped foorth vnto him: who perceiuing it to be Iohn Fox, saide, O Fox, what haue I deserued of thee, that thou shouldest seeke my death? Thou villaine (quoth Fox) hast bene a bloodsucker of many a Christians blood, and now thou shalt know what thou hast deserued at my handes: wherewith he lift vp his bright shining sword of tenne yeeres rust, and stroke him so maine a blowe, as therewithall his head claue a sunder, so that he fell starke dead to the ground. Whereupon Peter Vnticaro went in, and certified the rest how the case stood with the keeper: who came presently foorth, and some with their spits ranne him through, and the other with their glaiues hewed him in sunder, cut off his head, and mangled him so, that no man should discerne what he was.

Then marched they toward the roade, whereinto they entered softly, where were six warders, whom one of them asked, saying, who was there? quoth Fox and his company, all friendes. Which when they were all within, proued contrary: for, quoth Fox, my masters, here is not to euery man a man, wherefore looke you play your parts. Who so behaued themselues in deede, that they had dispatched these sixe quickly. Then Iohn Fox intending not to be barred of his enterprise, and minding to worke surely in that which he went about, barred the gate surely, and planted a Canon against it.

Then entred they into the Gailers lodge, where they found the keyes of the fortresse and prison by his bed side, and there had they all better weapons. In this chamber was a chest, wherein was a rich treasure, and all in duckats, which this Peter Vnticaro, and two more, opening, staffed themselues so full as they could, betweene their shirts and their skinne: which Iohn Fox would not once touch, and sayde, that it was his and their libertie which he sought for, to the honour of his God, and not to make a marte of the wicked treasure of the Infidels. Yet did these words sinke nothing into their stomakes, they did it for a good intent: so did Saul saue the fattest Oxen, to offer vnto the Lord, and they to serue their owne turnes. But neither did Saul scape the wrath of God therefore, neither had these that thing which they desired so, and did thirst after. Such is Gods iustice. He that they put their trust in, to deliuer them from the tyrannous hands of their enemies, he (I say) could supply their want of necessaries.

Nowe these eight being armed with such weapons as they thought well of, thinking themselues sufficient champions to encounter a stronger enemie, and coming vnto the prison, Fox opened the gates and doores thereof, and called forth all the prisoners, whom he set, some to ramming vp the gate, some to the dressing vp of a certaine gallie, which was the best in all the roade, and was called the captaine of Alexandria, whereinto some caried mastes, sailes, oares, and other such furniture as doth belong vnto a gallie.

At the prison were certaine warders, whom Iohn Fox and his companie slewe: in the killing of whom, there were eight more of the Turkes, which perceiued them, and got them to the toppe of the prison: vnto whom Iohn Fox, and his company, were faine to come by ladders, where they found a hot skirmish. For some of them were there slaine, some wounded, and some but scarred, and not hurt. As Iohn Fox was thrise shot through his apparell, and not hurt. Peter Vnticaro, and the other two, that had armed them with the duckats, were slaine, as not able to weild themselues, being so pestered with the weight and vneasie carying of the wicked and prophane treasure: and also diuerse Christians were aswell hurt about that skirmish, as Turkes slaine.

Amongst the Turkes was one thrust thorowe, who (let vs not say that it was ill fortune) fell off from the toppe of the prison wall, and made such a lowing, that the inhabitants thereabout (as here and there scattering stoode a house or two) came and dawed* him, so that they vnderstood the case, how that the prisoners were paying their ransomes: wherewith they raised both Alexandria which lay on the west side of the roade, and a Castle which was at the Cities end, next to the roade, and also an other Fortresse which lay on the Northside of the roade: so that nowe they had no way to escape, but one, which by mans reason (the two holdes lying so vpon the mouth of the roade) might seeme impossible to be a way for them. So was the red sea impossible for the Israelites to passe through, the hils and rockes lay so on the one side, and their enemies compassed on the other. So was it impossible, that the wals of Iericho should fall downe, being neither vndermined, nor yet rammed at with engines, nor yet any mans wisedome, pollicie, or helpe set or put thereunto. Such impossibilities can our God make possible. He that helde the Lyons iawes from renting Daniel asunder, yea, or yet from once touching him to his hurt: can not he hold the roring cannons of this hellish force? He that kept the fiers rage in the hot burning Ouen, from the three children, that praised his name, can not he keepe the fiers flaming blastes from among his elect?

* To awaken: here to bring back to his senses. I know of no other instance where it bears just this meaning. “The other side from whence the morning daws.” (Polyolbion X.)

Now is the road fraught with lustie souldiers, laborers, and mariners, who are faine to stand to their tackling, in setting to euery man his hand, some to the carying in of victuals, some munitions, some oares, and some one thing, some another, but most are keeping their enemie from the wall of the road. But to be short, there was no time mispent, no man idle, nor any mans labour ill bestowed, or in vaine. So that in short time, this gally was ready trimmed vp. Whereinto euery man leaped in all haste, hoyssing vp the sayles lustily, yeelding themselues to his mercie and grace, in whose hands are both winde and weather.

Now is this gally on flote, and out of the safetie of the roade: now haue the two Castles full power vpon the gally, now is there no remedy but to sinke: how can it be auoided? The canons let flie from both sides, and the gally is euen in the middest, and betweene them both. What man can deuise to saue it? there is no man, but would thinke it must needes be sunke.

There was not one of them that feared the shotte, which went thundring round about their eares, nor yet were once scarred or touched, with fiue and forty shot, which came from the Castles. Here did God hold foorth his buckler, he shieldeth now this gally, and hath tried their faith to the vttermost. Now commeth his speciall helpe: yea, euen when man thinks them past all helpe then commeth he himselfe downe from heauen with his mightie power, then is his present remedie most readie prest. For they saile away, being not once touched with the glaunce of a shot, and are quickly out of the Turkish canons reach. Then might they see them comming downe by heapes to the water side, in companies like vnto swarmes of bees, making shew to come after them with gallies, in bustling themselues to dresse vp the gallies, which would be a swift peece of worke for them to doe, for that they had neither oares, mastes, sailes, gables, nor any thing else ready in any gally. But yet they are carrying them into them, some into one gally, and some into another, so that, being such a confusion amongst them, without any certaine guide, it were a thing impossible to ouertake them: beside that, there was no man that would take charge of a gally, the weather was so rough, and there was such an amasednes amongst them. And verely I thinke their God was amased thereat: it could not be but he must blush for shame, he can speake neuer a word for dulnes, much lease can he helpe them in such an extremitie. Well, howsoeuer it is, he is very much to blame, to suffer them to receiue such a gibe. But howsoeuer their God behaued himselfe, our God shewed himselfe a God indeede, and that he was the onely liuing God: for the seas were swift vnder his faithfull, which made the enemies agast to behold them, a skilfuller Pilot leades them, and their mariners bestirre them lustily: but the Turkes had neither mariners, Pilot, nor any skilfull Master, that was in a readinesse at this pinch.

When the Christians were safe out of the enemies coast, Iohn Fox called to them all, willing them to be thankfull vnto almighty God for their deliuerie, and most humbly to fall downe vpon their knees, beseeching him to aide them vnto their friends land, and not to bring them into an other daunger, sith hee had most mightily deliuered them from so great a thraldome and bondage.

Thus when euery man had made his petition, they fell straight way to their labour with the oares, in helping one another, when they were wearied, and with great labour striuing to come to some Christian land, as neere as they could gesse by the starres. But the windes were so diuers, one while driuing them this way, that they were now in a newe maze, thinking that God had forsaken them, and left them to a greater danger. And forasmuch as there were no victuals now left in the gally, it might haue beene a cause to them (if they had beene the Israelites) to haue murmured against their God: but they knew how that their God, who had deliuered them out of Ægypt, was such a louing and mercifull God, as that hee would not suffer them to be confounded, in whom he had wrought so great a wonder: but what calamitie soeuer they sustained, they knew it was but for their further triall, and also (in putting them in mind of their farther miserie) to cause them not to triumph and glory in themselues therefore. Extremity of famine. Hauing (I say) no victuals in the galley, it might seeme that one miserie continually fel vpon an others neck: but to be briefe, the famine grew to be so great, that in 28 dayes, wherein they were on the sea, there died eight persons, to the astonishment of all the rest.

So it fell out, that vpon the 29 day, after they set from Alexandria, they fell on the Isle of Candie, and landed at Gallipoli, where they were made much of by the Abbot and Monks there, who caused them to stay there, while they were well refreshed and eased. John Fox his sword kept as a monument in Gallipoli. They kept there the sworde, wherewith Iohn Fox had killed the keeper, esteeming it as a most precious iewell, and hung it vp for a monument.

When they thought good, hauing leaue to depart from thence, they sayled along the coast, till they arriued at Tarento, where they solde their gallie, and deuided it, euery man hauing a part thereof. The Turkes receiuing so shamefull a foile at their hand, pursued the Christians, and scoured the seas, where they could imagine that they had bent their course. And the Christians had departed from thence on the one day in the morning, and seuen gallies of the Turkes came thither that night, as it was certified by those who followed Fox, and his companie, fearing least they should haue bene met with. And then they came a foote to Naples, where they departed a sunder, euery man taking him to his next way home. From whence Iohn Fox tooke his iourney vnto Rome, where he was well entertayned of an Englishman, who presented his worthy deede vnto the Pope, who rewarded him liberally, and gaue him his letters vnto the king of Spaine, where he was very well entertained of him there, who for this his most worthy enterprise gaue him in fee twenty pence a day. From whence, being desirous to come into his owne countrie, he came thither at such time as he conueniently could, which was in the yeere of our Lorde God, 1579. Who being come into England, went vnto the Court, and shewed all his trauell vnto the Councell: who considering of the state of this man, in that hee had spent and lost a great part of his youth in thraldome and bondage, extended to him their liberalitie, to helpe to maintaine him now in age, to their right honour, and to the incouragement of all true hearted Christians.

Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 11:55