The memorable deeds of Ualasca a Lady of Bohemia, whoe causing all other Ladies to kill their husbands, Brethren, and sonnes, raigned seuen yeares in Bohemia.
I Read in the Bohemian historie writ∣ten by Pope Pius, that this Valasca of whom I héere meane to intreate, was a woman of great mind, bolde in all attempts, and highlie fauored by Fortune: and to the end you may the better vnderstand hir historie, I will first of all begin with hir cause of hatred. You haue therefore to consider, that Crocus second Duke of Bohemia dieng without issue male, his daughter Libussa (held in those daies in as great account as one of the Sibils) with the fauour of the people, and good liking of the better sort, was placed in hir fathers seate, and gouerned that Prouince manie yeares, with the generall good liking Page [unnumbered] of all men. Finallie, hauing giuen a iust sentence in right of certeine possessions against a mightie man in that coun∣trey, he being there with incensed, prouoked vp the people against hir, saieng that it was an oprobrious & scandalous thing for such a people as they were, and so great a Nobilitie as was resident in that place, to suffer the kingdome & cau∣ses of iustice to be vnder a woman.
Libussa hauing intreated silence at their hands for a time, said vnto them that she knew their new desire, and was not ignorant of their firme determination, disabling her selfe to satisfie their expectations, praieng them to assemble the next daie; which, according as she willed them they perfourmed. The morning began noe sooner to pushe forth his blushinge beawties, but the people repaired to the iudgement seat in great multitudes: and as soone as the pallace was filled e∣uerie waies by them, Libussa began to speake vnto them on this maner: You know (Bohemians) that to this present day I haue beene your peaceable and bountifull Ladie according to womens custome, whoe are audatious in nothing but in offering curtesies. Hitherto haue I not béene offensiue to any of you, either chargeable by reason of Pompe, shewing my selfe rather a mother vnto you, then a mistresse: but in∣gratefullie, vnkind men as you are, requite you my gouern ment. But at these your actions woonder not I at all, be∣cause you accustome your selues to the common fashions of men, who are neuer content, but are more skilfull to desire a iust and mercifull Lord, then hauing him they haue know∣ledge to kéepe him.
As touching mine owne title, I wholie surrender it into your hands: and as you haue desired one who shal gouerne you, and order your lawes as he list; so am I contented you shall haue him. Therefore go ye and take me a white horsse, and bridle him with all his other apparell and ornamentes, and afterwards lead him to such a plaine where he may take that waie which best likes him. Which doone, let him trot as he list, and follow you him by his footsteps: as he turnes, so turne you: and as he returneth, so returne you: finallie, Page [unnumbered] when you shall see him staie before a man that foede•…h at an iron table, then assure your selues he is the man forpointed to be my husband, and your prince. This his speeche pleased them all: so that taking with them the horsie as Libussa had instructed them, they let him freelie goe and followed him. But scarselie had they trauelled ten miles, when as the horse staied at a riuer called Bieli, and arrested himselfe before a countrey fellow called Primislaus: shewing manie signes of humanitie and obseruance toward him.
The Bohemians, as well the nobles as commons, behoul∣ding this, ran with all hast vnto him, and after their saluta∣tions said thus vnto him: Mount vppon this horsse, and goe with vs: Libussa hath chosen thée for his husband, and the Bo∣hemians admit thee for their prince: Primislaus, although he were a poore countrey clowne, not incapeable of the gene∣rall desire of rule which attainteth all men, gaue vnto them a homelie salutation after his manner, and tolde them that he was addressed to doo whatsoeuer pleased them: and vnder standing that he was to goe to Libussa (as if hee had a longe voiage to make, he fastened his bottle to his saddle bow, and grasping his bread and chéese in his hand he rode on féeding like a rusticke king, which was a verie sufficient euidence of that which Libussa before time had declared and told vnto them.
As soone as his guttes were full and his bottle emptied, he mended his pace, and they conducted him with great pomp and honnour into the cittie, where he tooke Libussa to wife, and during all his life time was wholie ruled and gouerned by hir counsels and perswasions. But after she had submit∣ted hir selfe to the destinies, the gouernment remained who∣lie in Primislaus hands, and the authoritie of Ladies ceased, which euen vnto that hower was both maintained and aug∣mented by Libussa. After this, Valasca (which whilst Libussa liued was hir secretarie) being a Ladie of great valour and no lesse resolution then an Amazon, not induring or abiding that the authoritie of women should be thus annihilated, as∣sembling one daie in a priuie place all those that were of her Page [unnumbered] faction, she said thus vnto them:
My sisters, we haue lost our good Ladie, who alwaies de∣fended vs from the outrages of men, neither could she euer endure that we should be ouer borne by them, so that she her selfe h•…ld the Emperie, and we wish hir were in respect held and accounted for Queenes. You see now, how inforced we indure a hard and miserable seruitude, liuing vnder the go∣uernment of our husbands after the maner of slaues, except of our selues we shall gather head and courage to recouer our former liberties. Wherefore, if your thoughtes be as mine is, let vs ioine like heroick Ladies, and we will easily recouer our estates. I (as you know) was secretarie vnto Libussa, of whom I learned that which she knew: I am skil∣full in inchantments, and the nature of hearbes is not vn∣knowne vntome: if therfore you haue any meaning or will to followe me, assure your selues, that you shall be once a∣gaine lords ouer men.
Upon these words, the whole assemblie of women condis∣cended to Valascas words, and mutuallie conspired against men. During this time, Primislaus dreamed one night, that a virgine gaue him bloud to drinke: for which cause he being a notable soothsaier, and willing to preuent a mischiefe which (as he imagined) might verie easilie be impugned, hee con∣uocated all the chiefe nobles of his Prouince, vnder intenti∣on to prohibit the ouer-great licence and libertie which wo∣men had in the common weale: namelie, the women were accustomed to ride and run the race on horssebacke, to tour∣nay, shoote, and followe the chace, and brieflie to exercise themselues in all warlike discipline, which (as he thought) were matters manageable by men, and vnfit tasks for wo∣men. But the Barons scoffed at him when he told them ther of, and said, that they rather deserued loue and reuerence for their agilitie and hardines, then reproofe and dishonor.
Valasca meane while desisied not neither daie nor night to exhort hir confederates, and often with drinks & inchat∣ments turned away their affections from the loue of men, and daie by daie drewe more and more into this her League Page [unnumbered] of conspiracie. Finallie, when she perceiued that she hadde gathered a sufficient power both of married wiues & maids, in one night she caused euerie one of hir faction to kill their fathers, husbands, brethren, and sonnes in their beddes, and afterwards taking armes, with great expedition, they all of them marched togither to a place appointed them by Ve∣lasca, not farre distant from Prage, and subduing some that had them in chace, they made a roade to Vissigrade whereas Primislaus aboad, intending there to surprise him: but séeing they could not take the fortresse, they retired themselues into a mountaine, a place naturallie impregnable, and there building a castle, they called it Deiuizo that is, the place of virgines, bicause that in their toonge a virgine is called Deiuize.
This action of theirs seemed abhominable to all the inha∣bitants of the countrey, as wel in respect of the great slaugh ter they had made, as also because they had a great suspition of further mischéefe, for which cause they generallie gaue Pri∣mislaus to vnderstand, that they were addrest to bidde these new Amazons battell, and that, if it pleased him to marche forward with his hoast, they also were in a readinesse to fol∣low him. The K. certified them, that at that present he could not come, by reason that the Gods had admonished him, that all those who were addicted to indemnifie the virgines, were to die; certifieng them that it was behouefull to go another time. But they, who set light by his counsell, leuieng by them selues a great armie, marched toward Deiuizo and striking battell with Valasco, were ignominiouslie ouerthrowne and put to flight with the slaughter of the greater part of the ar∣mie: and whereas in this seruice Malada, Nodea, Sua•…acia, Vorasta, Ragda, Zastana and Tristana, had behaued themselues valiantlie; in rewarde of their seruice they had co•…ars and chaines of golde giuen them: and amidst that vnmeasurea∣ble pray which they had, euerie one was rewarded acording to their desart.
Valasca slue with hir owne hand seuen of hir enimies, and after that time was held and estéemed for a goddesse, so that Page [unnumbered] neuer a•…ter that time the Bohemians had the courage to tro∣ble or molest them: But they euerie daie ranged about the confines, spoiling, robbing, and burning, and daie by day in∣forced greater dread and feare in the harts of their enimies: and being now Ladies and soueraignes of the better part of Bohemia, they were constrained to haue the companie of men, by reason that other wise by course of time and warres they were likelie to be reduced and brought to nothing: for which cause, marrieng themselues they made a lawe, that those maidens who were borne by them should with all dilli∣gence bee tenderlie and carefullie brought vppe: as for the males, they commanded that their right eies should be pul∣led out, and their middle fingers cut off, to the ende, that ha∣uing attained Mans estate they should be disabled to shoote in the bowe, or to handle warlike weapons.
Finallie, Velasca hauing afflicted Bohemia for the space of seuen yeares, and made them altogither tributarie, was deceiued by Primislaus, whoe wrote hir a letter that the Ba∣rons against his will had attempted hir with war, and that he was greatlie pleased that they had •…ceiued condigne pu∣nishment for their in solence: assuring hir, that he hadde al∣waies held hir in place of his daughter, not onlie for that she had béene secretarie to his wife, and well thought of by her, but for that she knew so well to gouerne so great a state as Bohemia was for the space of seuen yeares. And moreouer, that now since he felt himselfe olde and vnable to gouerne his subiects; on the other side, his sonne too yoong in yeares for so waightie a credit, that his will was to render into her hands the fortresses, so that by this meanes at one time he would yéeld all Bohemia into hir hands, referring the estate of his sonne and heire, to hir kindnesse and curtesie, conten∣ting himselfe to returne vnto his first estate, and liue satisfi∣ed in the towne from whence perforce they had taken him, and afterward vnwillinglie crowned him. And him séemed as he wrote, that it should so be, that as from a ladies hands he receiued the thre•…e, so to a ladies hands he might return the title. Page [unnumbered] This letter written and sent vnto hir, wonne such credit with hir, that presentlie she sent before hir a squadron of hir best Amazons to receiue the fortresses, whoe were brought into the lande with great solemnitie, and entertained in the Dukes owne pallace: but whilst thee were at the table, they were all slaine by a troope of armed men, whoe were hidden for that purpose. They hauing flaine these, ran to Deiuizo with a great armie, & Valasca hauing notice of the strange accident, issued hir selfe smallie vnattended and cloased in glittering armes, and mounted vppon a verie braue and lu∣stie courser, that lightened fire from his nostrils, shee was followed by some few a farre off, whilst hir selfe solie incoun∣tred the whole hoast that came against hir, and without anie word speaking she laied about hir like a Lionesse or a Libian Tygre in his great furie. Finallie, failing in the midst and thickest of hir enimies, she died valiantlie.
Hir companions a farre of as soone as they vnderstood of the death of their princesse, not vnder anie hope to con∣quer, but stimulated to worke reuenge, fell to armes: be∣twixt whom and the Bohemians was a most bloudie and des∣perate fight: but the Ladies at last hauing the worst, were inforced to flie, whom the Vissegradians following, entered togither with them into their Castle, and hauing caused the gates to be shut, and being Lordes of the fortresse, they cut all the poore women to peeces. And thus was Bohemia de∣liuered from the tyrannie and thraldome of women: And Velasca, being worthie to be eternized amongst the Ladies of most famous memorie, laie vnburied, and serued for a prey for birds and beasts to féed vpon.