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Document signed (initialled "HR" at head), appointing John Mewtas as investigator of ecclesiastical corruption in the Midlands.

Calais: 16 November 1492 Stock Code: 116939
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Rooting out fraud in the religious houses

Writing from Calais and styling himself "king of ffraunce and of England and lord of Ireland", Henry shows a characteristically keen concern with money. Henry had been in Calais since October, besieging Boulogne and on 3 November at Étaples obtaining peace with the French king Charles VIII on reasonable terms - a generous annual payment in compensation for his expenses in the Breton war, a French promise to expel Perkin Warbeck and his supporters, and French pensions for eight of his councillors. But financial matters in England were still preoccupying Henry.

The king lays charges of fraud and what we would call creative accounting against "diverse abbeyes priouris collegies parish churches chapelles Gildes and Chauntries Within our counties of Warwik Northampton and Worcester diverse of the said landes rentes and Tenementes bee put in feoffement for the Use and behove of the said places and the ministres of the same BY COLOURABLE WAYES OF AMORTISEMENT Without oure special auctorite or licence therupon obteigned in defraude and abusion of Us "

Because "We ne Wol ner may suffre to bee soo Usurpantly touched", Henry authorises John Meautis Mewtas, "our Secretary for the frenshe tong", and John Wylde and Benet Medley, clerks of the signet, to investigate the matter and seize lands in the king's name. "For theffectuel execucion of the premisses as for the faithful services doon Unto Us by our servantes beforenamed in our great Voiage into the parties of fraunce", Henry informs the sheriffs, escheators, bailiffs, constables, and other officers to whom the letter is generally addressed that he has granted 20 a year to Meautis, Wylde, and Medley out of the receipts of their work.

John Mewtas, a native of Normandy, had come to England with Henry in 1484. He served as French secretary to both Henry VII and Henry VIII between 1491 and 1522. His grandson Sir Peter Mewtas (d. 1562) was one of the English dignitaries greeting Anne of Cleves at Calais in 1540; he served as an emissary to Henry VIII, Edward VI, and Elizabeth I.

The king's gift to his loyal French secretary cannily combined a personal reward for Mewtas's services on campaign with a relentless drive to maximize royal income.

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Oblong folio, 1pp, vellum leaf, initialled at head "HR", greater part of Royal Signet seal, two small holes. Mounted on a red velvet ground, glazed, and framed.


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