Patrick Delaforce & Ken Baldry

'The Delaforce Family History'
Chapter 22 - King Henry VIII's troubleshooter - John

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Chapter 22

'This golden rigol hath divorc'd so many English Kings'
W.H. Shakespeare 1564-1616

King Henry VIII's troubleshooter - John

Chapters 21-25 deal with five people, five generations who descended from Bernard Lord De la Force (chapter 25) who died at the battle of Barnet. His son Sir Bernard (chapter 24), Ambassador for 4 English Kings to 2 Spanish Kings: his grandson Sir Anthony (chapter 23), who was Perkin Warbeck's faithful companion and a Parlementary member in Paris and well-known to Kings Charles VIII and Louis XII: his great grandson John who was King Henry VIII's theological troubleshooter: his great grandson James who was rewarded by two Queens for his services.

John (Anthony's son) was born about 1490, probably in Macon, Burgundy. His father Sir Anthony and Perkin Warbeck (Duke of York) were in Paris in 1496, and in 1498 Anthony received 50 Marcs from the hands of Louis XI. John's grandfather Sir Bernard is shown as Bertrand de Forcez on 14 January 1490 rendering homage to Louis XI, King of France and Navarre "Seigneur s'etait acquitte des memes devoirs feodaux en 1494". In 1491 Sir Bernard had repurchased control of the family town of Fourcès/Forcez in Gascony, and in 1494 rendered homage to King Charles VIII.

John made the news headlines as a student. On 25 Aug. 1503 "Hemon" or "Jehan" de La Fosse went to prison in Paris for defying the Catholic Church. (This was some 40 years before Calvin's disciples had spread the gospel of reform in France & 14 years before Luther nailed up his these - see the Reformation chapter!)

Jehan or John was a college student at La Sainte Chapelle. He described himself as coming from 'Bourgoyne.' His father Sir Anthony was Archdeacon of Macon in Burgundy at the time. But Jean said also that he derived originally from Abbeville. His powerful father rescued him from the Church and the Law. "Gallia Christiana" noted that 'Johannes de Feurs, seu de Fours', son of Anthony in 'Matifconses' (Macon) was made Prior d'Iregny in 1506 when Jean was about 17. (The modern abbey of Igny is west of Reims). His father shortly afterward became Bishop of Paris in addition to being a member of the Paris Parlement, and Jean's advancement followed at the same time.

The first mention of John is in Gallia Christiania Book 12 p.655. "Antoine de Feurs seu de Fours" 1506 Johannis de Feurs in "Matisconsensis temfono et Antoine de Sachins, filius Antonius, protonaturius (a first chief notary) apostolicus, prior d'Iregny, abbas Sancti Leonardi Ferrariensis, praefes (magistrate) camerere inquisitionem in parlemento Parisiensi, major archidiacanus Nannetenus & Lugdenensis decanus (dean), episcopus Nivernosis. mai 1505 in Regestis Vaticani (Vatican Registry). Regi fidem juravit Blefis 8 Feb 150516/7Ecc."

The Journal de Barillon by P. de Vaisseres records "Jean de Feurcy apres la mort d'anthoine de Coupigny, survenue en mai 1520, le Roi Charles Quint.(the Emperor not the King of France) nomma l'office pour Abbe' de Mont-Saint-Ebi (near Arras) et St-Jean-au Mont de Therouenne (near St. Omer)", but also he was made "l'un des maitres de son Conseil"; in effect a junior minister but without nominated responsibility. Jean was also in 1520 a landowner 'Bail a rente de Jean de la Fosse de Sainte-Pierre-du Vauvray' was granted by the Rouen parlement.

In the next six years Gallia Christiana (book 111) showed 'Johannes de Feucy, Henniacensis (Hainault) Monasteni praesul, comes consistorianus & magister libellorum supplicum Caroli V imperatur (Emperor Charles Quint), rejecto Phillipo de Marchenelles, quem elegerat, conventus, declaratur abbas a praefate Carob V qou etiam annente, paulo post Georgium Egmondanum in partem laboris assumsit successorem que designavit', and 'Johannes X de Feucy superioris nepos, adsciscitur concilus Caroli V imperatoris, ac propterea Petrus Bouchier, datur ei coadjutor ab eodum principe: et paulo post nempe anno circitur 1521. Johannes fit abbas Montis Eligiani (Mont Saint Ebi) ubi vide.' (Ecclesiastic. Atrebensis/Artois).

The Emperor Charles V was the most powerful ruler in Europe, but he did not rule France. Nevertheless John had secured a good patron for his ecclesiastical honours on the Flanders-French frontiers.

During the period 1530-35 John Delaforce was employed on the King's behalf to seek theological advice in Germany and Italy from Martin Luther's 'apostles' which might convince the outside world and the Church that there were grounds for divorce from his Queens Catherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn.

King Henry VIII wrote "It will be expedient to hire as many Italian Doctors as possible to defend the King's cause against opponents. As theologians are rare here (in England), who do not live in or profess religion, it would be advisable to gain as many provincials of the orders as possible". In 1530 the King spent 5000 crowns obtaining the opinion of German divines.

The State Papers are the source for these quotations. In the cast are Richard Croke, a minor English humanist teaching at Cambridge, previously at Paris, Louvain, Cologne & Leipzig; and Jerome de Ghinucci, Bishop of Worcester, auditor of the Apostolic Chamber.


2 Mar 1530 Croke to Ghinucci (21 Henry VIII) "De La Fossa meantime is miserably in want and cannot insure the help of those whom he has already obtained for the Kings side: has received nothing although messengers arrived from Bologna on Fr, Sa, Sun, Mon with letters from Bernardino. Mostye to John de la Fossa sends a new Hebrew writing of Mark to Ghinucci".


22 Mar 1530 Croke to Ghinucci "John de la Fossa replied tonight that he would give Croke no more money, and had received orders to that effect from Ghinucci's brother Peter. Complains of this and asks how he has offended him. Has always written well of him to the King. Need 70 crowns .. or will perish of hunger .. spent at Milan that Crucinus might gain his friends .. of which he borrowed 22 from Dominico, nephew of Frances. We have most of the names which he promised and we expect to get from Friar Thomaso the writings of a formidable enemy. Will give a few gold pieces to Hebrews who have promised to write in proof of the following points. That the law in Deuteronomy relates only to inheritance .. that the marriage of Thamar with the sons of Judah was not consummated .. that the Levitical law is of the law of nature

While the Pope, Clement VII and Emperor were at Bologna March 1530 to settle their affairs after the Peace of Cambray, Henry VIII sent ambassadors thither to watch over his interests, including John.

Meanwhile Croke & Ghinucci were hard at work in northern Italy proceeding by stealth at first & pretending to be moved by a merely academic interest in the problems of Leviticus & Deuteronomy. But Croke was a whining, tiresome man who seems to have been able to quarrel with anybody. The Venetian authorities took fright at anything which might annoy Charles V, the Emperor, and King of Spain, and bade the English desist. Perugina and Bologna, both papal cities, were warned by the Vatican in Rome not to meddle in the affair. Queen Catherine's friends hindered the King's agents at every turn.


"John de la Fossa has been for six days without six ducats and unless G(hinucci) sends fresh orders to the merchants, Croke cannot secure the theologians in Milan and elsewhere and will be obliged to leave this place without a single ducat. De la Fossa will not pay without new letters from the Bishop, although Croke wants the money of own messenger arriyed from Bologna".


7 April 1530 "From what happened at the trial to which Croke was obliged to summon De la Fossa before he could get his money, thought Ghinucci distrusted him and ordered De La Fossa to pay no more money without giving him warning. Ghinucci had written to Croke that he must be contented with 25 gold pieces a week and De La Fossa had shown a letter from Ghinucci's brother give the same order


Bernardino Mostye wrote to John de la Fossa "to John de la Fossa for the remaining 70 crowns which he refused to pay in consequence of orders from Ghinucci's brother that he should pay the remainder to the Prothonotary. Was very anxious at this as the estimation in which he was held seemed likely to be in danger, and also because he would be suspected of neglect in the Kings business and left to perish of hunger".

Finally Gallia Christiana notes that in 1531 between the two missions for King Henry VIII 'Johannem de Fosse' factus coadjutor Abbot Valassiae'.


8 Aug 1535 Simon Heyes and Christopher Mont wrote to King Henry VIII "A kinsman of Langeus, M. de la Force to bring Melancthion to reason upon certain articles. If they can agree upon them perhaps M. will come to the French King". (Philip Melancthon was an important disciple of Luther, see see the Reformation chapter).


5 Sep 1535 Mont to the King "M(elancthion) and six other learned Lutherans with M. de la Force".


7 Sep 1535 Chr. Mont wrote to Thos Cromwell, Earl of Essex (Mont was a code name for M. Ducroc, one of Cromwell's spy-masters). "Langius/William due Bellay, Sieur de Langeus, has accordingly sent on his kinsman (M. de la Fos was a cousin of De Langes) Monsieur de la Fos to Germany with money to bring (Phillip) Melancthion (Luther's disciple) to France with 5 other learned men. Francis has sent him a safe conduct, a gold chain and money. (Francis I was King of France). All the Lutheran doctors and rabbis have written to Langey that they will accept any terms of agreement not absolutely unjust and impious."

Mont to Cromwell 1535 "Hiac factum est ut langius cognatum suum Monsieur De La Fos ad Germaniam premiserit una cum pecunia, ut Melanthonem una cum alus quinque doctos in Galliam perducat, omnibusuqe necessarus instruat. Litteras quoque fidet publice a Gallorum rege super salvo adventu in Galliam ad Melanthonem pertulit et cathenam quoque auream et aliquam pecunie summan, rex Gallus per hunc de la Fos mississe Melanthoni dicitur, qui Melanthon jam ternis litteris se adventuram in Galliam langio promisit."


In the same year a Vore de la Fosse went to Wittenberg on a private mission to see Philip Melancthon from Paris. Vore is a misprint but it is still difficult to place the name - certainly not Jean or Jehan.


In 1535 Philip Melancthon dedicated his 'Loci Communes' to King Henry VIII and received 200 crowns in reward. Almost certainly Melancthon converted John de la Force to the new form of Protestantism, Lutheranism (or Calvinism later on).

However later Melancthon changed his mind about Henry VIII and wrote 'let us cease to sing praises of the English Nero' after Catherine of Aragon's divorce was granted.

John died in 1537 and left a family including a son John who was a prosperous lawyer in Amiens. His grandson was the famous Jean de la Fosse 'Cure' Ligeur de Paris' who wrote a political diary.

Sieur Jean/John DELAFORCE (1489 - 1537) Sieur de St. Eloy, Abbot, Counseilleur Emperor Charles V. Henry VIII's trouble-shooter = (1506) Louise LE BAILLY

Sieur Jean/John DELAFORCE (1506 - 1572) Wealthy goldsmith, lawyer of Amiens, Protestant = (1524) Catherine de ST. THOUAY

See chapter 20

Pierre DELAFORCE (1508 - ?) = (1528) ?

Marie DELAFORCE (1510 - ?) = (1530) ?

Marguerite DELAFORCE (1511 - ?) = (1530) ?

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Contact: Ken Baldry for more information, 17 Gerrard Road, Islington, London N1 8AY +44(0)20 7359 6294 but best to e-mail him
©1980-2004 Patrick Delaforce. All rights reserved Last revised 18/12/2005