Andreas, Bernard (DNB00)

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search

ANDREAS, or ANDRÉ, BERNARD (fl. 1500), poet and historian, was a Frenchman by birth, being a native of Toulouse, but came to England together with, or shortly before, Henry VII, whose poet laureate and historiographer he became. Nothing is known of his family, though he is described by a contemporary as of distinguished birth; nor can we even guess the date at which he was born, except vaguely from the fact that in 1521 he describes himself as having attained extreme old age. He was probably introduced to the notice of Henry VII by Fox, afterwards bishop of Winchester, whom he calls his Mæcenas. He received his appointment as poet laureate and a pension from the crown soon after Henry came to the throne. He is repeatedly called ‘the blind poet’ in the accounts of the king's payments, and allusions to this privation occur throughout his writings. Nevertheless, for his ripe scholarship he was appointed tutor to the king's eldest son, Prince Arthur, and probably had no small share in the education of his brother also, the future Henry VIII. He had doubtless taken priest's orders long before, and it seems that he had also been tutor at Oxford. He was, moreover, a friar of the Augustinian order. In 1486 he received a pension of ten marks from the king, and in 1498 the Bishop of Lincoln conferred on him the hospital of St. Leonard, Bedford, which he resigned the following year. In 1500 he was presented by the king to the parish church of Guisnes near Calais; and in 1501 the Abbot of Glastonbury conferred on him the benefice of Higham, which he resigned in 1505 on a pension of 24l. paid to him by his successor.

In the year 1500 he began to write a life of Henry VII, most of which, though very short, must have been written at least two years later, and which he ultimately left incomplete with gaps in various places. The narrative is continued to the suppression of the Cornish revolt in 1497. Afterwards he proposed to present the king with some literary composition every year, and two such treatises are still extant, each containing an account of the principal occurrences of the year in which it was written. Two others also exist, addressed to Henry VIII; but these are not of an historical character, and have no claim to attention otherwise. In truth, it is impossible to attach any value to this author's compositions, except as one of the very few sources of contemporary information in a particularly obscure period. His contemporary Erasmus, who, being of the same order, lodged with him at the Austin Friars in London, is severe on his literary demerits, and accuses him besides of having prejudiced Henry VII against Linacre (Er. Ep. xiv. lib. xxvi.). His writings are for the most part in Latin; but we have two short poems in French, and a longer one entitled ‘Les Douze Triomphes de Henry VII,’ of which he was probably the author. His Life of Henry VII is printed in Gairdner's ‘Memorials of Henry VII,’ in the preface to which work will be found a biographical sketch of the author, with references to the sources of information.

The last notice we have of André is that he resigned the living of Guisnes in November 1521, and he probably died not long after (Calendar of State Papers, Henry VIII, vol. iii. No. 1818).

J. G.