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VOL. CONTINUATION OF BOOK The reign of HENRY VIII. continued.
The Story, Examination, Death, and Martyrdom, of John Frith The Sum of John Frith’s Book of the Sacrament A Letter of John Frith to his Friends, concerning his Troubles, etc The Sentence given against John Frith The Letter of John, Bishopof London, to certify the King of the Condemnation of John Frith and Andrew Hewet Andrew Hewet burned with Master Frith The History of the Persecution and Death of Thomas Benet, burned in Exeter: collected and testified by John Vowel, alias Hoker The Pope’s Curse with Book, Bell, and Candle The Matter between Gregory Basset and Thomas Benet A Table of certain Persons abjured within the Diocese of London, under Bishop Stokesley, with the Articles alleged against them William Tracy, Esquire, of Gloucestershire, with his Testament.
The Table of Abjured Persons continued A Note of Richard Bayfield above mentioned; with the Accusation of Edmund Peerson against him A compendious Discourse, comprehending the whole Sum and Matter concerning the Marriage between King Henry and Queen Anne Bullen; and Queen Katherine divorced The King’s Oration to his Subjects Queen Katherine’s Answer to the Cardinals The King’s Oration to the Legates A Proclamation of the King, that nothing should be purchased from Rome The Oaths of the Clergy to the Pope and to the King The Abolishing of the Pope out of England Certain Acts provided, concerning the Pope’s Laws A Table of Degrees prohibited by God’s Law to marry An old Prophecy of the Fall of the Pope; an Act for the King’s Supremacy, and a Proclamation for abolishing the usurped Power of the Pope The Oaths of Stephen Gardiner, John Stokesley, Edward Lee, and Cuthbert Tonstal to the King A Letter of the University of Cambridge, against the usurped Power of the Bishop of Rome The Book of Gardiner “De Vera Obedientia;” with his Reasons against the Pope’s Supremacy The Preface of Edmund Bonner, Archdeacon of Leicester, prefixed to Gardiner’s Book Notes on Tonstal’s Sermon against the Pope’s Supremacy Testimonies out of the Bishop’s Book against the same Testimonies of Bishops and Doctors of England against the same The True Copy of a Letter of Cuthbert Tonstal, Bishop of Durham, and John Stokesley, Bishop of London, to Cardinal Pole, proving the Bishop of Rome to have no special Superiority over other Bishops The Oration of Sir Ralph Sadler, Ambassador to the Scottish King Message of King Henry VIII. to the French King, by his Ambassador, Dr.
Edward Foxe, in defense of his Proceedings.
Another Message from the same, by his Ambassador Stephen Gardiner The King’s Answer to the French King’s Request The Oration of the King’s Ambassador before the Emperor in defense of his Cause The Life and Story of the True Servant and Martyr of God, William Tyndale; who, for his notable Pains and Travail, may well be called the Apostle of England in this our Later Age The Testimony of John Frith, in his Book of the Sacrament, concerning William Tyndale; with Tyndale’s Supplication to the King, Nobles, and Subjects of England A Letter sent from William Tyndale unto Master Frith, being in the Tower; followed by another under the name of Jacob.
The Death of the Lady Katherine, Princess Dowager; also that of Queen Anne, with her Words at her Death A Protestation in the Name of the King, the Council, and the Clergy of England; why they refused to come to the Pope’s Council, at his call The King’s Answer to the Rebels in Lincolnshire A Letter of Dr. Bonner, the King’s Ambassador in France, sent to the Lord Cromwell, declaring the Order of his Promotions and coming up Another Letter from the same, complaining of Winchester; and also declaring how he was promoted, by the Lord Cromwell, to the Bishopric of Hereford A Letter of Dr. Thirleby to Heyues and Bonner A Declaration from Bonner to the Lord Cromwell; describing to him the evil Behaviour of Stephen Gardiner, with special causes why he misliked him The Oath of Dr, Bonner when he was made Bishop of London, together with Ecclesiastical Matters in 1536, The Contents of a Book of Articles devised by the King The King’s Injunctions, restricting the number of Holy-days: also Injunctions to the Clergy for the Reformation of the Church; with others The Sermon of John Longland, Bishop of Lincoln, on Good Friday, before the King at Greenwich, A.D. 1538; the Theme from Hebrews Friar Forrest executed for rebelling against the King’s Supremacy The History of the Worthy Martyr of God, John Lambert, otherwise named Nicholson; with his Troubles, Examinations, and Answers, as well before Warham, Archbishop of Canterbury, and other Bishops, as also before King Henry, by whom at length he was condemned to Death, and burned in Smithfield, 1538; also Articles laid to Lambert The Answer of John Lambert to the Forty-five Articles A Treatise of John Lambert upon the Sacrament, addressed to the King The Death of Robert Packington, with the Burning of Collins in London, and of Cowbridge at Oxford Putteden and Leiton, Martyrs The Burning of N. Peke, at Ipswich A Letter of King Henry to the Emperor, containing his Reasons for refusing to take part in the Council of Vincenza Certain Injunctions set forth by the authority of the King, against English Books, Sects, and Sacramentaries also; with the putting down the Day of Thomas Becket The variable Changes and Mutations in Religion in King Henry’s Days The Act of the Six Articles; the Penalties upon them, with the Oath of the Commissioners Allegations against the Six Articles: and first of Transubstantiation The Words of Elfric, written to Wulfsine, Bishop of Sherbourne, against Transubstantiation Another Epistle of Elfric, Archbishop of Canterbury, to Wulfstane, Archbishop of York; in Saxon, with the English A Sermon translated out of Latin into the Saxon Tongue, by Elfric, against Transubstantiation, A.D. 996: followed by the English Translation Verses in praise of Berengarius The Words of the Council whereby Transubstantiation was first established The Second Article: of both kinds The Third Article: of Private Masses, Trental Masses, and Dirige Masses The Fourth and Fifth Articles: of Vows and Priests’Marriage The Epistle of Volusianus, Bishop of Carthage, for Priests’Marriage, translated from the Latin; with two Latin Epistles Answer to Anselm’s Reasons against Priests’Marriage The Sixth Article: touching Auricular Confession A Copy of Philip Melancthon’s fruitful Epistle, sent to King Henry, against the cruel Act of the Six Articles A Note out of an old Martyrology of Canterbury; also another.
An Act against Fornication of Priests The History concerning the Life, Acts, and Death of the famous and worthy Councillor, Lord Thomas Cromwell, Earl of Essex The Effect and Contents of the Boston Pardons Cromwell’s Oration to the Bishops assembled in the Convocation House The Archbishop of Canterbury’s Oration to the Bishops, followed by that of Alexander Alesius, and of Foxe, Bishop of Hereford The Answer of the Bishop of London against Alesius The Story of one Frebarn’s Wife longing for a piece of Meat in Lent How the Lord Cromwell helped Cranmer’s Secretary The Lord Cromwell not forgetting his old Friends and Benefactors A notable Story, of the Lord Cromwell and an Italian Lord CromwellWords on the Scaffold; with the Prayer that he said at the Hour of his Death A Booke entitled “The Fantassie of Idolatrie” Of the Bible in English, printed in the Large Volume: also of Edmund Bonner preferred to the Bishopric of London, by means of the Lord Cromwell The King’s Brief for setting up the Bible; with a Letter of Edmund Bonner, for the execution of the King’s Writ The History of Robert Barnes, Thomas Garret, and William Jerome, Divines The Story of Thomas Garret, or Gerrard, and of his Trouble at Oxford; testified and recorded by Anthony Dalaber, who was there present the same time Articles objected against Thomas Garret, some time Parish Priest, Curate of All-Hallows in Honey Lane The Life and Story of William Jerome, Vicar of Stepney, and Martyr of Christ The Story of Barnes, Jerome, and Garret, continued; with the Causes of their Martyrdom Winchester’s Articles against Barnes The Protestation of Dr. Barnes at the Stake The Exhortation of Jerome to the People, and the concluding Protestation of Thomas Garret A Note of Three Papists, Powel, Fetherstone, and Abel, executed at this same time A Note how Bonner sat in the Guildhall in Commission for the Six Articles: also of the Condemning of Mekins Richard Spencer, Ramsey, and Hewet, Martyrs, who suffered at Salisbury A brief Table of the Troubles at London, in the time of the Six Articles; containing the Persons presented, with the Causes of their Persecution Certain Places or Articles gathered out of Alexander Seton’s Sermons by his Adversaries The Story of John Porter, cruelly martyred for reading the Bible in St.
Paul’s A Note of one Thomas Sommers, imprisoned for the Gospel Thomas Bernard and James Morton, Martyrs; also Master Barber who recanted A merry and pleasant Narration, touching a false fearful Imagination of Fire, raised among the Doctors and Masters of Oxford, in St. Mary’s Church, at the Recantation of Master Malary, Master of Arts of Cambridge The King divorced from the Lady Anne of Cleves, and married to the Lady Katherine Howard, his fifth Wife The King’s Letter to Archbishop Cranmer, for the Abolishing of Idolatry; also a Proclamation concerning eating White Meats, etc The Trouble and Persecution of four Windsor Men, Robert Testwood, Henry Filmer, Anthony Peerson, and John Marbeck, for Righteousness’sake, and for the Gospel The Original of Robert Testwood’s Trouble, with other causes of the same The Original of Henry Filmer’s Trouble, followed by that of Anthony Peerson The Examinations of John Marbeck The Suit of Marbeck’s Wife to the Bishop of Winchester, for her Husband Other Examinations of Marbeck The Suit of Filmer’s Wife, to the Bishops who sat in Commission, for her Husband The Martyrdom of Peerson, Testwood, and Filmer; with the manner of their Condemnation, and how they died:—also the sparing of Marbeck after he was sentenced to Death How all the Adversaries’Conspiracies were known An Answer to the Cavilling Adversaries, touching John Marbeck The Persecution in Calais, with the Martyrdom of George Bucker, otherwise called Adam Damlip, and others Part of a Speech delivered by Thomas Brook, in the Lower House, on the Bill of the Six Articles Master Hale, of Gray’s Inn, in Reply to Brook The Story of William Smith, Curate; also the Trouble of John Butler, Commissary; and the Recantation of divers Calais Men A new Commission appointed and sent over to Calais, with the Second Trouble of Thomas Brook, William Stevens, and others The Second Apprehension of Adam Damlip; with his Martyrdom The Story of a Poor laboring Man, and also of one Dodd, a Scotchman, burned at Calais The Story of William Crossbowmaker, bearing a Billet in Calais; followed by an Example of Dr. London’s Despite against the Gospellers, as also the Fidelity of a Matron to her Husband Qualifications of the Act of the Six Articles The Recantation of John Heywood Kerby, and Roger Clarke, of Suffolk, Martyrs The Bill set upon the Town-house Door at Ipswich, the Night before they were condemned The King’s Oration to the Parliament-House, with Notes thereupon The two Examinations of the worthy Servant of God, Mistress Anne Askew, daughter of Sir William Askew, knight, of Lincolnshire: martyred in Smithfield for the constant and faithful Testimony of the Truth The latter Apprehension and Examination of the worthy Martyr of God, Mistress Anne Askew, before the King at Greenwich “The Confession of me Anne Askew, for the Time I was at Newgate” The Sum of her Condemnation, her Letter to the Lord Chancellor, and her Faith; with her Cruel Handling and Racking after her Condemnation Anne Askew’s Answer to John LaceIs, followed by her Purgation, her Confession of Faith, and her Prayer The Martyrdom of John Lacels, John Adams, and Nicholas Belenian; followed by a Letter of Lacels, written out of Prison Verses on Anne Askew; also the Story of one Rogers, Martyr, burned in Smithfield The Story of Queen Katherine Parr, late Queen and Wife to King Henry the Eighth: wherein appearith in what Danger she was for the Gospel, by means of Stephen Gardiner, and others of his Conspiracy; and how gloriously she was preserved by her kind and loving Husband the King A Discourse touching a certain Policy used by Stephen Gardiner, in staying King Henry from redressing certain Abuses in the Church; also a Communication concerning the Reformation of Religion as well in France as in England A brief Narration of the Trouble of Sir George Blage A Proclamation for abolishing English Books, after the Death of Anne Askew; with the Names of the prohibited Books Heresies and Errors collected by the Bishops out of the Book of Tyndale, named “The Wicked Mammon” Other Heresies and Errors from “The Obedience of a Christian Man” · Others also from “The Revelation of Antichrist” Others also from “The Sum of the Scripture” A Private Letter of the King to Bishop Bonner A History touching the Persecution in Scotland, with the Names of those who suffered after the time of Patrick Hamelton; especially concerning Sir John Borthwike, knight, with his Articles and Answers The Story of Thomas Forret, Priest, and his Fellows The Manner of Persecution used by the Cardinal of Scotland, against certain Persons in St. John’s Town, or Perth The Condemnation of Master George Wisehart, Gentleman, who suffered for the Faith of Christ at St. Andrews, in Scotland, A.D. 1546; with his Articles and Answers Brief Account of the Sermon of Dean Winryme, followed by the Examination of Wisehart The just Judgment of God upon Archbishop Beaton, with the Story and Martyrdom of Adam Wallace in Scotland The Schisms that arose in Scotland for the Pater-Noster The Martyrdom of the blessed Servant of God, Walter Mille, with his Articles Persecution in Kent. A Table of certain true Servants of God, and Martyrs, omitted, who were burned in the Diocese of Canterbury, under Archbishop Warham; with the Names of their Persecutors and Accusers The Order and Form of Process used against these Martyrs; and, first, of William Carder, A.D. Three divers sorts of Judgments amongst the Papists, against Heretics as they call them The Martyrdom of Launcelot, John Painter, and Giles Germane: also of one Stile, burned in Smithfield with the Apocalypse The Sentence of Pope Clement against the Divorce of Queen Katherine A Copy of the Bull of Pope Leo X., no less slanderous than barbarous, against Martin Luther and his Doctrine The Answer of Martin Luther to the same The Tenor and Form of the Appeal of Martin Luther from Pope Leo to the next general Council The Death of King Henry VIII. with the manner thereof A Tragical History of certain Friars in France, in the City of Orleans, A.D.
EDWARD VI The Words of Cardanus in commendation of King Edward Certain Ecclesiastical Laws, or General Injunctions given by King Edward to the Church of England; followed by others to Thomas, Bishop of Westminster, as well from the King as also from the King’s Commissioners A Letter of Edmund Bonner to the Bishop of Westminster, concerning the abolishing of Candles, Ashes, and Palms, and other Ceremonies Letter of the Council to the Archbishop of Canterbury, for the abolishing of Images; followed by one from Edmund Bonner Letters Missive from the Council to the Bishops, concerning the Communion to be ministered in both kinds Substance of the Petition of the Lords and Commons, in Parliament assembled, to the King Letters to and from Edmund Bonner, concerning the Abrogating of Private Masses; especially the Apostles’Mass An Admonition of Lord Chancellor Rich to Justices of the Peace A Letter from the Council rebuking Bonner for Negligence in setting out the Service Book; with Bonner’s Letter to the Dean and Chapter Certain Private Injunctions, Admonitions, and Articles given to Bonner by the Council Articles of the Commons of Devonshire and Cornwall to the King; with the King’s Answer Matter concerning Edmund Bonner, Bishop of London, with Declaration of the Acts and Process entered against him in King Edward’s time The King’s Letter to the Commissioners concerning the Recantation and Pardoning of Bonner Matters put to Bonner to redress; with special points to be treated by him, in his Sermon The Denunciation of John Hooper and William Latimer, against Bonner, to the King’s Majesty, for leaving undone the points before mentioned The King’s Commission for the Examination of Bishop Bonner The First Act or Session against Bishop Bonner, by the King’s Commissioners; with the Tenor and Form of his Protestation The Second Appearance of Bonner at Lambeth; with his Answer to the Denunciation of Latimer and Hooper The Third Session against Bishop Bonner The Answer of Bonner to the Articles objected to him by the King’s Commissioners the first time Certain Interrogatories exhibited by Bonner against the Witnesses, upon the Articles above mentioned A certain Declaration of the King, respecting his former Commission, with Licence given to the Commissioners, as well to determine as to hear, in the case of Bonner The Fourth Session in the Hall at Lambeth; with matter exhibited by Bonner why he ought not to be convicted The Information given against William Latimer by Bonner Interrogatories educed and ministered by Bonner against the Witnesses The Fifth Session against Bonner, with his Answers The Recusation of the Judgment of Thomas Smith made by Bishop Bonner The First Appellation intimated by Edmund Bonner The Sixth Session; in the Great Hall at Lambeth The Second Appeal of Bonner, with a Letter to the Lord Mayor The Seventh Session, at Lambeth; with Bishop Bonner’s Declaration to the Commissioners; his Third Appeal, and his Supplication to the Chancellor His Sentence of Deprivation, Supplication, and other Documents\parAPPENDIX to Vol. 5 ACTS AND MONUMENTS VOL. CONTINUATION OF BOOK PERTAINING TO THE LAST THREE HUNDRED YEARS FROM THE LOOSING OUT OF SATAN.
CONTINUING THE HISTORY OF ENGLISH MATTERS APPERTAINING TO BOTH STATES, AS WELL ECCLESIASTICAL, AS CIVIL AND TEMPORAL. THE STORY, EXAMINATION, DEATH, AND MARTYRDOM OF JOHN FRITH.
PICTURE: The Burning of John Frith and Andrew Hewet Amongst all other chances lamentable, there hath been none a long time which seemed unto me more grievous, than the lamentable death and cruel handling of John Frith, so learned and excellent a young man; who had so profited in all kind of learning and knowledge, that there was scarcely his equal amongst all his companions; and who besides, withal, had such a godliness of life joined with his doctrine, that it was hard to judge in which of them he was more commendable, being greatly praiseworthy in them both: but as touching his doctrine, by the grace of Christ we will speak hereafter.
Of the great godliness which was in him, this may serve for experiment sufficient, for that notwithstanding his other manifold and singular gifts and ornaments of the mind, in him most pregnant, wherewithal he might have opened an easy way unto honor and dignity, notwithstanding he rather chose wholly to consecrate himself unto the church of Christ, excellently showing forth, and practising in himself, the precept so highly commended of the philosophers, touching the life of man: which life, they say, is given unto us in such sort, that how much the better the man is, so much the less he should live unto himself, but unto others, serving for the common utility; and that we should think a great part of our birth to be due unto our parents, a greater part unto our country, and the greatest part of all to be bestowed upon the church, if we will be counted good men.
First of all he began his study at Cambridge; in whom nature had planted, being but a child, marvellous instinctions and love unto learning, whereunto he was addicted. He had also a wonderful promptness of wit, and a ready capacity to receive and understand any thing, insomuch that he seemed not only to be sent unto learning, but also born for the same purpose. Neither was there any diligence wanting in him, equal unto that towardness, or worthy of his disposition; whereby it came to pass, that he was not only a lover of learning, but also became an exquisite learned man; in which exercise when he had diligently labored certain years, not without great profit both of Latin and Greek, at last he fell into knowledge and acquaintance with William Tyndale, through whose instructions he first received into his heart the seed of the gospel and sincere godliness.
At that time Thomas Wolsey, cardinal of York, prepared to build a college in Oxford, marvellously sumptuous, which had the name and title of Frideswide, but is now named Christ’s-church, not so much (as it is thought) for the love and zeal that he bare unto learning, as for an ambitious desire of glory and renown, and to leave a perpetual name unto posterity. But that building, he being cut off by the stroke of death (for he was sent for unto the Ling, accused of certain crimes, and in the way, by immoderate purgations, killed himself), was left partly begun, partly half ended and imperfect, and nothing else save only the kitchen was fully finished. Whereupon Rodulph Gualter, a learned man, being then in Oxford, and beholding the college, said these words in Latin: “Egregium opus, cardinalis iste instituit collegium, et absolvit popinam.” How large and ample those buildings should have been, what sumptuous cost should have been bestowed upon the same, may easily be perceived by that which is already builded, as the kitchen, the hall, and certain chambers, where there is such curious graying and workmanship of stonecutters, that all things on every side did glister for the excellency of the workmanship, for the fineness of the matter, with the gilt antics and embossings; insomuch that if all the rest had been finished to that determinate end as it was begun, it might well have excelled not only all colleges of students, but also palaces of princes. This ambitious cardinal gathered together into that college whatsoever excellent thing there was in the whole realm, either vestments, vessels, or other ornaments, beside provision of all kind of precious things. Besides that, he also appointed unto that company all such men as were found to excel in any kind of learning and knowledge; to recite all whose names in order would be too long. The chief of those who were called from Cambridge were these: Master Clerk, master of arts, of thirty-four years of age; Master Frier, afterwards doctor of physic, and after that a strong papist; Master Sumner, master of arts; Master Harman, master of arts, afterwards fellow of Eton college, and after that a papist; Master Bettes, master of arts, a good man and zealous, and so remained; Master Cox, master of arts, who conveyed himself away toward the north, and after was schoolmaster of Eton, and then chaplain to doctor Goodrich, bishop of Ely, and by him preferred to king Henry, and, of late, bishop of Ely; John Frith, bachelor of arts; Bayly, bachelor Of arts; Goodman, who being sick in the prison with the others, was had out, and died in the town; Drumme, who afterwards fell away and forsook the truth; Thomas Lawney, chaplain of the house, prisoner with John Frith.
To these join also Taverner of Boston, the good musician,2 besides many others called also out of other places, most picked young men, of grave judgment and sharp wits; who, conferring together upon the abuses of religion, being at that time crept into the church, were therefore accused of heresy unto the cardinal, and cast into a prison, within a deep cave under the ground of the same college, where their salt fish was laid; so that, through the filthy stench thereof, they were all infected, and certain of them, taking their death in the same prison, shortly upon the same being taken out of the prison into their chambers, there deceased.
The troublers and examiners of these good men, were these: Dr. London; Dr. Higdon, dean of the said college; and Dr. Cottesford, 1 commissary.
Master Bettes, a witty man, having no books found in his chamber, through entreaty and surety got out of prison, and so remaining a space in the college, at last slipped away to Cambridge, and afterwards was chaplain to queen Anne, and in great favor with her.
Taverner, although he was accused and suspected for hiding of Clerk’s books under the boards in his school, yet the cardinal, for his music, excused him, saying that he was but a musician: and so he escaped.
After the death of these men, John Frith with others, by the cardinal’s letter, who sent word that he would not have them so straitly handled, were dismissed out of prison, upon condition not to pass above ten miles out of Oxford; which Frith, after hearing of the examination of Dalaber 3 and Garret, who bare then faggots, went over the sea,2 and after two years he came over for exhibition of the prior of Reading (as is thought), and had the prior over with him. Being at Reading, it happened that he was there taken for a vagabond, and brought to examination; where the simple man, who could not craftily enough color himself, was set in the stocks. After hehad sitten there a long time, and was almost pined with hunger, and would not, for all that, declare what he was, at last he desired that the schoolmaster of the town might be brought to him, who at that time was one Leonard Cox , 4 a man very well learned. As soon as he came unto him, Frith, by and by, began in the Latin tongue to to bewail his captivity.
The schoolmaster, by and by, being overcome with his eloquence, did not only take pity and compassion upon him, but also began to love and embrace such an excellent wit and disposition unlooked for, especially in such a state and misery. Afterwards, conferring more together upon many things, as touching the universities, schools, and tongues, they fell from the Latin into the Greek, wherein Frith did so inflame the love of that schoolmaster towards him, that he brought him into a marvellous admiration, especially when the schoolmaster heard him so promptly by heart rehearse Homer’s verses out of his first book of the Iliad; whereupon the schoolmaster went with all speed unto the magistrates, grievously complaining of the injury which they did show unto so excellent and innocent a young man.
Thus Frith, through the help of the schoolmaster, was freely dismissed out of the stocks, and set at liberty without punishment. Albeit this his safety continued not long, through the great hatred and deadly pursuit of sir Thomas More, who, at that time being chancellor of England, persecuted him both by land and sea, besetting all the ways and havens, yea, and promising great rewards, if any man could bring him any news or tidings of him.
Thus Frith, being on every part beset with troubles, not knowing which way to turn him, seeketh for some place to hide him in. Thus fleeting from one place to another, and often changing both his garments and place, yet could he be in safety in no place; no not long amongst his friends; so that at last, being traitorously taken (as ye shall after hear), he was sent unto the Tower of London, where he had many conflicts with the bishops, but especially in writing with sir Thomas More. The first occasion of his writing was this: 5 Upon a time he had communication with a certain old familiar friend of his, touching the sacrament of the body and blood of Christ; the whole effect of which disputation consisted specially in these four points: 1. First, That the matter of the sacrament is no necessary article of faith under pain of damnation. 2. Secondly, That forasmuch as Christ’s natural body in like condition hath all properties of our body, sin only except, it cannot be, neither is it agreeable unto reason, that he should be in two places or more at once, contrary to the nature of our body. 3. Moreover, thirdly, it shall not seem meet or necessary, that we should in this place understand Christ’s words according to the literal sense, but rather according to the order and phrase of speech, comparing phrase with phrase, according to the analogy of the Scripture. 4. Last of all, how that it ought to be received according to the true and right institution of Christ, albeit that the order which at this time is crept into the church, and is used now-a-days by the priests, do never so much differ from it.
And forasmuch as the treatise of this disputation seemed somewhat long, his friend desired him that such things as he had reasoned upon he would briefly commit unto writing, and give unto him for the help of his memory.
Frith, albeit he was unwilling, and not ignorant how dangerous a thing it was to enter into such a contentious matter, at last, notwithstanding, he, being overcome by the entreaty of his friend, rather followed his will, than looked to his own safeguard.
There was at that time in London a tailor named William Holt, who, feigning a great friendship towards this party, instantly required of him to give him license to read over that same writing of Frith’s; which when he unadvisedly did, the other, by and by, carried it unto More, being then chancellor: which thing, afterwards, was occasion of great trouble, and also of death, unto the said Frith; for More, having not only gotten a copy of his book of this sycophant, but also two other copies, which at the same time, in a manner, were sent him by other promoters, he whetted his wits, and called his spirits together as much as he might, meaning to refute his opinion by a contrary book.
THE SUM OF JOHN FRITH’S BOOK OF THE SACRAMENT.
This in a manner was the whole sum of the reasons of Frith’s book; first, to declare the pope’s belief of the sacrament to be no necessary article of our faith; that is to say, that it is no article of our faith necessary to be believed under pain of damnation, that the sacrament should be the natural body of Christ: which he thus proverb; for many so believe, and yet in so believing the sacrament to be the natural body, are not thereby saved, but receive it to their damnation.
Again, in believing the sacrament to be the natural body, yet that natural presence of his body in the bread, is not that which sayeth us, but his presence in our hearts by faith. And likewise, the not believing of his bodily presence in the sacrament, is not the thing that shall damn us, but the absence of him out of our heart, through unbelief. And if it be objected, that it is necessary to believe God’s word under pain of damnation: to that he answereth that the word taken in the right sense, as Christ meant, maintaineth no such bodily presence as the pope’s church doth teach; but rather a sacramental presence. And that, saith he, may be further confirmed thus:
The first part, saith he, is evident of itself; for how could they believe that which they never heard nor saw?
The second part, saith he, appeareth plainly by St. Augustine, writing to Dardanus, and also by a hundred places more; neither is there any thing that he doth more often inculcate than this, that the same faith that saved our fathers, sayeth us also. And therefore upon the truth of these two parts, thus proved, must the conclusion, saith he, needs follow.
For the probation of the first part, Frith, proceeding in his discourse, declareth as follows:— The ancient fathers, before Christ’s incarnation, did never believe any such point of this gross and carnal eating of Christ’s body; and yet, notwithstanding, they did eat him spiritually, and were saved; as Adam, Abraham, Moses, Aaron, Phinehas, and other godly Israelites besides. All which, saith he, did eat the body of Christ, and did drink his blood as we do. But this eating and drinking of theirs was spiritual, pertaining only to faith, and not to the teeth: ‘For they were all under the cloud, and drank of the rock which followed them; this rock was Christ, (1 Corinthians 10) who was promised them to come into the world. And this promise was first made unto Adam, when it was said unto the serpent, ‘I will put hatred between thee and the woman, between her seed and thy seed, (Genesis 3) etc. And afterwards again unto Abraham: ‘In thy seed shall all people be blessed,’ (Genesis 26) etc.: adding also the sacrament of circumcision, which was called the covenant; not because it was so indeed, but because it was a sign and a token of the covenant made between God and Abraham: admonishing us thereby, how we should judge and think touching the sacrament of his body and blood; to wit, that albeit it be called the body of Christ, yet we should properly understand thereby the fruit of our justification, which plentifully floweth unto all the faithful by his most healthful body and blood. Likewise the same promise was made unto Moses, the most meek and gentle captain of the Israelites, who did not only himself believe upon Christ, who was so often promised, but also did prefigurate him by divers means, both by the manna which came down from heaven, and also by the water which issued out of the rock, for the refreshing of the bodies of his people.
Neither is it to be doubted, but that both manna and this water had a prophetical mystery in them, declaring the very self-same thing then, which the bread and the wine do now declare unto us in the sacrament. For this saith St. Augustine, ‘Whosoever did understand Christ in the manna, did eat the spiritual food that we do. But they, who by that manna sought only to fill their bellies, did eat thereof, and are dead.’ So, likewise, saith he of the drink: ‘For the rock was Christ (1 Corinthians 10) And, by and by after, he inferreth thus: 8 Moses did eat manna, and Phinehas also; and many others also did eat thereof, who pleased God, and are not dead. Why? because they did understand the visible meat spiritually. They did spiritually hunger, and did spiritually taste of it, that they might be spiritually satisfied. ‘They all did eat the same spiritual meat, and all did drink the same spiritual drink: all one spiritual thing, but not all one corporal matter (for they did eat manna, and we another thing), but the self-same spiritual thing that we do; and although they drank the same spiritual drink that we do, yet they drank one thing, and we another: which nevertheless signified all one thing in spiritual effect. How did they drink all one thing? The apostle answereth, ‘Of the spiritual rock which followed them, for the rock was Christ.’ And Bede also, adding these words, saith, ‘Behold the signs are altered, and yet the faith remaineth one.’ Thereby a man may perceive that the manna which came down from heaven, was the same unto them, that our sacrament is unto us; and that by either of them is signified, that the body of Christ came down from heaven; and yet, notwithstanding, never any of them said that manna was the very body of Messias; as our sacramental bread is not indeed the body of Christ, but a mystical representation of the same. For like as the manna which came down from heaven, and the bread which is received in the supper, do nourish the body, even so the body of Christ coming down from heaven, and being given for us, doth quicken up the spirits of the believers unto life everlasting.
Then, if the salvation of both people be alike, and their faith also one, there is no cause why we should add transubstantiation unto our sacrament, more than they believed their manna to be altered and changed. Moreover because they are named sacraments, even by the signification of the name they must needs be signs of things, or else of necessity they can be no sacraments.
But some may here object and say, If only faith, both unto them and also unto us, be sufficient for salvation, what need then any sacraments to be instituted? He answered, that there are three causes why sacraments are instituted. The first St. Augustine declareth in these words, writing against Faustus: 9 ‘Men,’saith he,‘cannot be knit together into one name of religion, be it true or be it false, except they be knit by the society of signs and visible sacraments, the power whereof doth wonderfully prevail, in so much that such as contemn them are wicked: for that is wickedly contemned, without which godliness cannot be made perfect, etc.
Another cause is, that they should be helpers to graft and plant faith in our hearts, and for the confirmation of God’s promises. But this use of sacraments many are yet ignorant of, and more there be who do preposterously judge of the same, taking the signs for the thing itself, and worshipping the same: even by like reason in a manner, as if a man would take the bush that hangeth at the tavern door, and suck it to slake his thirst, and will not go into the tavern where the wine is. Thirdly, they do serve unto this use, to stir up the minds and hearts of the faithful to give thanks unto God for his benefits.
And these in a manner are the principal points of Friths book. When More (as is aforesaid) had gotten a copy of this treatise, he sharpened his pen all that he might, to make answer unto this young man (for so he calleth him throughout his whole book), but in such sort, that when the book was once set forth, and showed unto the world, then he endeavored himself, all that he might, to keep it from printing: peradventure lest that any copy thereof should come unto Frith’s hands. But notwithstanding, when at last Frith had gotten a copy thereof, by means of his friends, he answered him out of the prison, omitting nothing that any man could desire to the perfect and absolute handling of the matter. And as it were a great labor, so do I think it not much necessary to repeat all his reasons and arguments, or the testimonies which he had gathered out of the doctors; especially forasmuch as Cranmer, the archbishop of Canterbury, in his apology against the bishop of Winchester, seemed to have collected them abundantly, gathering the principal and chiefest helps from thence that he leaned unto against the other; and I doubt much whether the archbishop ever gave any more credit unto any author of that doctrine, than unto this aforesaid Frith.
What dexterity of wit was in him, and excellency of doctrine, it may appear not only by his books which he wrote of the sacrament, but also in those which he entitled Of Purgatory. In that quarrel he withstood the violence of three most obstinate enemies; that is to say, of Rochester, More, and Rastal, whereof the one by the help of the doctors, the other by wresting of the Scripture, and the third by the help of natural philosophy, had conspired against him. But he, as a Hercules, fighting not against two only, but even with them all three at once, did so overthrow and confound them, that he converted Rastal to his part.
Besides all these commendations of this young man, there was also in him a friendly and prudent moderation in uttering of the truth, joined with a learned godliness; which virtue hath always so much prevailed in the church of Christ, that, without it, all other good gifts of knowledge, be they ever so great, cannot greatly profit, but oftentimes do very much hurt. And would to God that all things, in all places, were so free from all kind of dissension, that there were no mention made amongst Christians of Zuinglians and Lutherans, when neither Zuinglius nor Luther died for us; but that we might be all one in Christ. Neither do I think that any thing more grievous could happen unto those worthy men, than for their names so to be abused to sects and factions, who so greatly withstood and strove against all factions. Neither do I here discourse which part came nearest unto the truth, nor so rashly intermeddle in this matter, that I will detract any thing from either part, but rather wish of God I might join either part unto the other.
But now, forasmuch as we treat of the story of John Frith, I cannot choose, but must needs earnestly and heartily embrace the prudent and godly moderation which was in that man, who, maintaining his quarrel of the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, no less godly than learnedly (and so as no man in a manner had done it more learnedly and pithily), yet he did it so moderately, without any contention, that he would never seem to strive against the Papists, except he had been driven to it even of necessity. In all other matters, where necessity did not move him to contend, he was ready to grant all things for quietness’sake, as his most modest reason and answers did declare. For when More, disputing in a certain place upon the sacrament, laid against him the authority of doctor Barnes, for the presence of the body and blood in the sacrament, he answered unto More and his companions, that he would promise under this condition, that if the sentence of Luther and Barnes might be holden as ratified, he would never speak more words of it: 4 for in that point they did both agree with him, that the sacrament was not to be worshipped; and that idolatry being taken away, he was content to permit every man to judge of the sacrament, as God should put into their hearts: for then there remained no more poison, that any man ought or might be afraid of. Wherefore, if they did agree in that which was the chief point of the sacrament, they should easily accord and agree in the rest.
Thus much he wrote, in the treatise entitled “The Exile of Barnes, against More;” which words of this most meek martyr of Christ, if they would take place in the seditious divisions and factions of these our days, with great ease and little labor men might be brought to a unity in this controversy; and much more concord and love should be in the Church, and much less offense given abroad than there is. *But 5 I know not what cruel pestiferous fury hath secretly intermeddled herself in these matters, so corrupt in all things, that there is almost no so light a cause or occasion wherein one man can bear with another, if he dissent or disagree from his opinion. And whilest every man doth seek, even by the teeth, to defend his own quarrel, many men would rather seek to give occasion, than, in any case, seek to relent or remit. There are also some, which will seek to assuage the matter, but other some will willingly take the bellows in hand to blow the fire, but few there are that will seek to quench it. But if we had but a few like unto this John Frith, these factions, peradventure, would easily be accorded, or at the least if the opinions could not be agreed, their minds, notwithstanding, might be united and joined. Albeit, I do not think their opinions to be of so great force and effect that they should seem to be worthy of all these tragedies, for so much as they do not of necessity touch neither the damnation nor salvation of souls: and again, they are not so far discrepant amongst themselves, but that they may by reason be reconciled, so that there be some temperature of Frith’s moderation adhibited thereunto, which may something impetrate and obtain on either part.
Those which judge the reason of the sacrament to be spiritually understanded, do think well, and, peradventure, do draw near unto Christ’s mind and institution; but, notwithstanding, they be never a whit better men than they, which, following the letter together with them, do take away the superfluity of the ceremonies. They take away transubstantiation from the sacrament; the like doth other also. They take away the sacrifice of the private mass; the same also do the other. These men put away all false worshipping; the other also do not suffer it, but both parts do affirm the presence of Christ in the mystical supper.
Hitherto they both have agreed in these articles: what cause is there then of discord, when as they both, as I said, do confess the presence of Christ, and disagree only upon the manner of the presence, which the one part doth affirm to be real, and the other spiritual? But how much were it better, in my opinion, if that, by a common consent of either party, they would come to this point; that every man being contented with his own opinion, we should all simply agree upon the presence of Christ, that, as touching the manner of his presence, even as though all manner of disputation should cease for a time, and so, by little and little, all controversies turned to truce and quietness; until that time should breed more love and charity amongst men, or that love and charity should find a remedy for these controversies.
But this shall now suffice for this present, being more than I was determined to speak; and, brought hither by occasion of John Frith, I know not myself by what wind or weather, and peradventure was somewhat too far passed into the German seas. But now, casting the helm about, we will hold our course that we had begun into England, and intreat of the death and examination of Frith.* John Frith, after he had now sufficiently contended in his writings with More, Rochester, and Rastal, More’s son-in-law, was at last carried to Lambeth, first, before the bishop of Canterbury, and afterwards unto Croydon, before the bishop of Winchester, to plead his cause. Last of all, he was called before the bishops, in a common assembly at London, where he constantly defended himself, if he might have been heard.
The order of his judgment, with the manner of his examination and the articles which were objected against him, are comprised and set forth by himself in a letter written and sent unto his friends, whilst he was prisoner in the Tower.
A LETTER6 OF JOHN FRITH TO HIS FRIENDS, CONCERNING HIS TROUBLES; WHEREIN, AFTER HE HAD FIRST WITH A BRIEF PREFACE SALUTED THEM, ENTERING THEN INTO THE MATTER, Thus he writeth:— I doubt not, dear brethren, but that it doth some deal vex you, to see the one part to have all the words, and freely to speak what they list, and the others to be put to silence, and not be heard indifferently. But refer your matters unto God, who shortly shall judge after another fashion. In the mean time I have written unto you, as briefly as I may, what articles were objected against me, and what were the principal points of my condemnation, that ye might understand the matter certainly.
The whole matter of this my examination was comprehended in two special articles, that is to say, Of Purgatory, and Of the substance of the Sacrament.
And first of all, as touching purgatory, they inquired of me whether I did believe there was any place to purge the spots and filth of the soul after this life? But I said, that I thought there was no such place: for man, (said I) doth consist and is made only of two parts, that is to say, of the body and the soul, whereof the one is purged here in this world, by the cross of Christ, which he layeth upon every child that he receiveth; as affliction, worldly oppression, persecution, imprisonment, etc. The last of all, the reward of sin, which is death, is laid upon us: but the soul is purged with the word of God, which we receive through faith, to the salvation both of body and soul. Now if ye can show me a third part of man besides the body and the soul, I will also grant unto you the third place, which ye do call purgatory. But because ye cannot do this, I must also of necessity deny unto you the bishop of Rome’s purgatory. Nevertheless I count neither part a necessary article of our faith, to be believed under pain of damnation, whether there be such a purgatory or no.
I answered, that I thought it was both Christ’s body and also our body, as St. Paul teacheth us in 1 Corinthians 10. For in that it is made one bread of many corns, it is called our body, which, being divers and many members, are associated and gathered together into one fellowship or body. Likewise of the wine, which is gathered of many clusters of grapes, and is made into one liquor. But the same bread again, in that it is broken, is the body of Christ; declaring his body to be broken and delivered unto death, to redeem us from our iniquities.
Furthermore, in that the sacrament is distributed, it is Christ’s body, signifying that as verily as the sacrament is distributed unto us, so verily are Christ’s body and the fruit of his passion distributed unto all faithful people.
In that it is received, it is Christ’s body, signifying that as verily as the outward man receiveth the sacrament with his teeth and mouth, so verily doth the inward man, through faith, receive Christ’s body and the fruit of his passion, and is as sure of it as of the bread which he eateth.
Well (said they) dost thou not think that his very natural body, flesh, blood. and bone, is really contained under the sacrament, and there present without all figure or similitude? No (said I), I do not so think: notwithstanding I would not that any should count, that I make my saying (which is the negative) any article of faith. For even as I say, that you ought not to make any necessary article of the faith of your part (which is the affirmative), so I say again, that we make no necessary article of the faith of our part, but leave it indifferent for all men to judge therein, as God shall open their hearts, and no aide to condemn or despise the other, but to nourish in all things brotherly love; and one to hear another’s infirmity.
After this they alleged the place of St. Augustine, where he saith, ‘He was carried in his own hands.’ 9A Whereunto I answered, that St. Augustine was a plain interpreter of himself; for he hath in another place, ‘He was carried as it were in his own hands:’ 8 which is a phrase of speech not of one that doth simply affirm, but only of one expressing a thing by a similitude. And albeit that St. Augustine had not thus expounded himself, yet, writing unto Boniface, he doth plainly admonish all men, that the sacraments do represent and signify those things whereof they are sacraments, and many times even of the similitudes of the things themselves, they do take their names. And therefore, according to this rule, it may be said, he was borne in his own hands, when he bare in his hands the sacrament of his body and blood.
Then they alleged a place of Chrysostome, 10 which, at the first blush, may seem to make much for them, who, in a certain Homily upon the Supper, writeth thus: ‘Dost thou see bread and wine? Do they depart from thee into the draught, as other meats do? No, God forbid! for as in wax, when it cometh to the fire, nothing of the substance remaineth or abideth; so likewise think that the mysteries are consumed by the substance of the body,’etc.
These words I expounded by the words of the same doctor, who, in another Homily, saith on this manner; ‘The inward eyes,’saith he, ‘as soon as they see the bread, they flee over all creatures, and do not think of the bread that is baked by the baker, but of the bread of everlasting life, which is signified by the mystical bread.’
Now confer these places together, and you shall perceive that the last expoundeth the first plainly. For he saith, Dost thou see the bread and wine? I answer by the second, Nay. For the inward eyes, as soon as they see the bread, do pass over all creatures, and do not any longer think upon the bread, but upon him that is signified by the bread. And after this manner he seeth it, and again he seeth it not: for as he seeth it with his outward and carnal eyes, so with his inward eyes he seeth it not; that is to say, regardeth not the bread, or thinketh not upon it, but is otherwise occupied. Even as when we play or do any thing else negligently, we commonly are wont to say, we see not what we do; not that indeed we do not see that which we go about, but because our mind is fixed on some other thing, and doth not attend unto that which the eyes do see.
In like manner may it be answered unto that which followeth; ‘Do they avoid from thee,’saith he, ‘into the draught as other meats do?’I will not so say, for other meats, passing through the bowels, after they have of themselves given nourishment unto the body, be voided into the draught: but this is a spiritual meat, which is received by faith, and nourisheth both body and soul unto everlasting life, neither is it at any time avoided as other meats are.
And as before I said that the external eyes do behold the bread, which the inward eyes, being otherwise occupied, do not behold or think upon, even so our outward man doth digest the bread, and void it into the draught; but the inward man doth neither regard nor think upon it, but thinketh upon the thing itself that is signified, by that bread. And, therefore Chrysostome, 9 a little before the words which they alleged, saith; Lift up your minds and hearts: whereby he admonisheth us to look upon and consider those heavenly things which are represented and signified by the bread and wine, and not to mark the bread and wine itself.
Here they said, that was not Chrysostome’s mind; but that by this example he declareth that there remained no bread nor wine. I answered, that was false: for the example that he taketh tendeth to no other purpose, but to call away our spiritual eyes from the beholding of visible things, and to transport them another way, as if the things which are seen were of no force. Therefore he draweth away our mind from the consideration of these things, and fixeth it upon him who is signified unto us by the same. The very words which follow, sufficiently declare this to be the true meaning of the author, where he commandeth us to consider all things with our inward eyes; that is to say, spiritually.
But whether Chrysostome’s words do tend either to this or that sense, yet do they indifferently make on our part against our adversaries, which way soever we do understand them. For if he thought that the bread and wine do remain, we have no further to travel: but if he meant contrariwise, that they do not remain, but that the natures of the bread and wine are altered, then are the bread and wine falsely named sacraments and mysteries, which can be said in no place to be in the nature of things: for that which is in no place, how can it be a sacrament, or supply the room of a mystery?
Finally, if he speak only of the outward forms and shapes (as we call them), it is most certain that they do continually remain, and that by the substance of the body they are not consumed in any place: wherefore it must necessarily follow that the words of Chrysostome be to be understood in such sense as I have declared.
Here peradventure many would marvel,10 that forasmuch as the matter, touching the substance of the sacrament, is separate from the articles of faith, and bindeth no man of necessity either unto salvation or damnation, whether he believe it or not, but rather may be left indifferently unto all men, freely to judge either on the one part or on the other, according to his own mind, so that neither part do contemn or despise the other, but that all love and charity be still holden and kept in this dissension of opinions: what then is the cause, why I would therefore so willingly suffer death? The cause why I die is this: for that I cannot agree with the divines and other head prelates, that it should be necessarily determined to be an article of faith, and that we should believe, under pain of damnation, the substance of the bread and wine to be changed into the body and blood of our Savior Jesus Christ, the form and shape only not being changed. Which thing if it were most true (as they shall never be able to prove it by any authority of the Scripture or doctors), yet shall they not so bring to pass, that that doctrine, were it ever so true, should be holden for a necessary article of faith. For there are many things, both in the Scriptures and other places, which we are not bound of necessity to believe as an article of faith. So it is true, that I was a prisoner and in bonds when I wrote these things, and yet, for all that, I will not hold it as an article of faith,11 but that you may, without danger of damnation, either believe it, or think the contrary.
But as touching the cause why I cannot affirm the doctrine of transubstantiation, divers reasons do lead me thereunto: first, for that I do plainly see it to be false and vain, and not to be grounded upon any reason, either of the Scriptures, or of approved doctors.
Secondly, for that by my example I would not be an author unto Christians to admit any thing as a matter of faith, more than the necessary points of their creed, wherein the whole sum of our salvation doth consist, especially such things, the belief whereof hath no certain argument of authority or reason. I added moreover, that their church (as they call it) hath no such power and authority, that it either ought or may bind us, under the peril of our souls, to the believing of any such articles. Thirdly, because I will not, for the favor of our divines or priests, be prejudicial in this point unto so many nations, of Germans, Helvetians, and others, which, altogether rejecting the transubstantiation of the bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ, are all of the same opinion that I am, as well those that take Luther’s part, as those that hold with OEcolampadius. Which things standing in this case, I suppose there is no man of any upright conscience, who will not allow the reason of my death, which I am put unto for this only cause, that I do not think transubstantiation, although it were true indeed, to be established for an article of faith.
And thus much hitherto as touching the articles and whole disputation of John Frith, which was done with all moderation and uprightness. But when no reason would prevail against the force and cruelty of these furious foes, on the 20th day of June, A.D. 1588, he was brought before the bishops of London, Winchester, and Lincoln, who, sitting in St. Paul’s, on Friday the 20th day of June, ministered certain interrogatories upon the sacrament of the supper, and purgatory, unto the said Frith, as is above declared; to which when he had answered, and showed his mind in form and effect, as by his own words above doth appear, he afterwards subscribed to his answers with his own hand, in these words: 12 “I Frith, thus do think; and as I think, so have I said, written, taught, and affirmed, and in my books have published.”
But when Frith by no means could be persuaded to recant these articles aforesaid, neither be brought to believe that the sacrament is an article of faith, but said, “Fiat judicium et justitia:” he was condemned by the bishop of London to be burned, and sentence given against him; the tenor whereof here ensueth.
THE SENTENCE GIVEN AGAINST JOHN FRITH.
In the name of God, Amen. We, John, by the permission of God, bishop of London, lawfully and rightly proceeding with all godly favor, by the authority and virtue of our office, against thee, John Frith, of our jurisdiction, before us personally here present, being accused and detected, and notoriously slandered of heresy; having heard, seen, and understood, and with diligent deliberation weighed, discussed, and considered, the merits of the cause, all things being observed which by us in this behalf, by order of law, ought to be observed, sitting in our judgment seat, the name of Christ being first called upon, and having God only before our eyes,13 because by the acts enacted, propounded, and exhibited in this manner, and by thine own confession judicially made before us, we do find, that thou hast taught, holden, and affirmed, and obstinately defended, divers errors and heresies, and damnable opinions, contrary to the doctrine and determination of the holy church, and especially against the reverend sacrament; and albeit that we, following the example of Christ, ‘which would not the death of a sinner, but rather that he should convert and live,’have oftentimes gone about to correct thee, and by all lawful means that we could, and most wholesome admonitions that we did know, to reduce thee again to the true faith, and the unity of the universal catholic church, notwithstanding we have found thee obstinate and stiff-necked, willingly continuing in thy damnable opinions and heresies, and refusing to return again unto the true faith and unity of the holy mother church, and as the child of wickedness and darkness, so to have hardened thy heart, that thou wilt not understand the voice of thy shepherd, who, with a fatherly affection, doth seek after thee, nor wilt be allured with his godly and fatherly admonitions: We therefore, John, the bishop aforesaid, not willing that thou who art wicked, shouldest become more wicked, and infect the Lord’s flock with thy heresy, which we are greatly afraid of, do judge thee, and definitively condemn thee, the said John Frith, thy demerits and faults being aggravated through thy damnable obstinacy, as guilty of most detestable heresies, and as an obstinate impenitent sinner, refusing penitently to return to the lap and unity of the holy mother church; and that thou hast been and art, by law, excommunicated, and do pronounce and declare thee to be an excommunicated person: Also we pronounce and declare thee to be a heretic, to be cast out from the church, and left unto the judgment of the secular power, and now presently so do leave thee unto the secular power, and their judgment; most earnestly requiring them, in the bowels of our Lord Jesus Christ, that this execution and punishment, worthily to be done upon thee, may be so moderated, that the rigor thereof be not too extreme, nor yet the gentleness too much mitigated, but that it may be to the salvation of thy soul, to the extirpation, terror, and conversion of heretics, to the unity of the catholic faith, by this our sentence definitive, or final decree, which we here promulgate in this form aforesaid.
This sentence thus read, the bishop of London directed his letter to sir Stephen Peacock, mayor of London, and the sheriffs of the same city, for the receiving of the aforesaid John Frith into their charge; who, being so delivered over unto them the 4th day of July, in the year aforesaid, was by them carried into Smithfield to be burned. And when he was tied unto the stake, there it sufficiently appeared with what constancy and courage he suffered death; for when the faggots and fire were put unto him, he willingly embraced the same; thereby declaring with what uprightness of mind he suffered his death for Christ’s sake, and the true doctrine, whereof that day he gave, with his blood, a perfect and firm testimony. The wind made his death somewhat the longer, which bare away the flame from him unto his fellow that was tied to his back: but he had established his mind with such patience, God giving him strength, that even as though he had felt no pain in that long torment, he seemed rather to rejoice for his fellow, than to be careful for himself.
The day before the burning of these worthy men of God, the bishop of London certified king Henry VIII. of his worthy, yea, rather wolfish, proceeding against these men: the tenor whereof hereunder ensueth:
THE LETTER OF JOHN, BISHOP OF LONDON, TO CERTIFY THE KING OF THE CONDEMNATION OF JOHN FRITH AND ANDREW HEWET. * Unto 14 the most noble prince and lord in Christ, our lord Henry the eighth, by the grace of God king of England and of France, and lord of Ireland, defender of the faith: John, by the permission of God, bishop of London, with all manner of reverence, honor, and subjection. Whereas we, in a certain business of inquisition of heresy against certain men, John Frith and Andrew Hewet, heretics, have judged and condemned either of them, as obstinate, impenitent, and incorrigible heretics, by our sentence definitive, and have delivered the said John and Andrew unto the honorable man, sir Stephen Peacock, mayor of your city of London, and John Martin, one of your shrives of the same city (being personally present with us in judgment, according to the order of the law); and therefore all and singular the premises so by us done, we notify, and signify unto your highness, by these presents sealed with our seal.
ANDREW HEWET BURNED WITH MASTER FRITH Andrew Hewet, born in Feversham, in the county of Kent, a young man of the age of four and twenty years, was apprentice with one Master Warren, a tailor in Watling-street. And as it happened that he went upon a holyday into Fleet-street, towards St. Dunstan’s, he met with one William Holt, who was foreman with the king’s tailor, at that present called Master Malte; and being suspected by the same Holt, who was a dissembling wretch, to be one that favored the gospel, after a little talk had with him, he went into an honest house about Fleet-bridge, which was a bookseller’s house. Then Holt, thinking he had found good occasion to show forth some fruit of his wickedness, sent for certain officers, and searched the house, and finding the same Andrew, apprehended him, and carried him to the bishop’s house, where he was cast into irons; and being there a good space, by the means of a certain honest man, he had a file conveyed unto him, 1 wherewith he filed off his irons, and when he spied his time, he got out of the gate. But being a man unskilful to hide himself, for lack of good acquaintance, he went into Smithfield, and there met with one Withers, who was a hypocrite, as Holt was. This Withers, understanding how he had escaped, and that he knew not whither to go, pretending a fair countenance unto him, willed him to go with him, promising that he should be provided for; and so kept him in the country where he had to do, from Low-Sunday till Whitsuntide, and then brought him to London, to the house of one John Chapman in Hosier-lane beside Smithfield, and there left him for the space of two days.
Then he came to the said Chapman’s house again, and brought Holt with him. And when they met with the said Andrew, they seemed as though they meant to do him very much good; and Holt, for his part, said that if he should bring any man in trouble (as the voice was that he had done the said Andrew), it were pity but that the earth should open and swallow him up: insomuch that they would needs sup there that night, and prepared meat of their own charges. At night they came, and brought certain guests with them, because they would have the matter to seem as though it had come out by others. When they had supped, they went their way, and Holt took out of his purse two groats, and gave them to the said Andrew, and embraced him in his arms. As they were gone out, there came in one John Tibauld, who was banished from his own house by an injunction, for he had been four times in prison for Christ’s cause. And within an hour after that Holt and Withers were gone, the bishop’s chancellor, and one called sergeant Weaver, came, and brought with them the watch, and searched the house, where they found the said John Chapman and the beforenamed Andrew, and John Tibauld, whom they bound with ropes which sergeant Weaver had brought with him, and so carried them to the bishop’s house: but Andrew Hewet they sent unto the Lollards’tower, and kept Chapman and Tibauld asunder, watched by two priests’servants. The next day bishop Stokesley came from Fulham, and after they were examined with a few threatening words, Chapman was committed to the stocks, with this threat, that he should tell another tale, or else he should sit there till his heels did drop off, etc.: and Tibauld was shut up in a close chamber; but, by God’s provision, he was well delivered out of prison, albeit he could not enjoy his house and land because of the bishop’s injunction, but was fain to sell all that he had in Essex; for the tenor of his injunction was, that he should not come within seven miles of his own house. And the aforesaid Chapman, after five weeks’imprisonment (whereof three weeks he sat in the stocks), by much suit made unto the lord chancellor, who at that time was lord Audley, after many threatenings was delivered: but the said Andrew Hewet, after long and cruel imprisonment, was condemned to death, and burned with John Frith. The examination of Hewet here followeth.
On the 20th day of the month of April, Andrew Hewet was brought before the chancellor of the bishop of London, where was objected against him, that he believed the sacrament of the altar, after the consecration, to be but a signification of the body of Christ, and that the host consecrated was not the very body of Christ. Now, forasmuch as this article seemed heinous unto them, they would do nothing in it without the consent of learned counsel: whereupon the bishop of London, associated with the bishops of Lincoln and Winchester, called him again before them; where, it being demanded of him what he thought as touching the sacrament of the last supper; he answered, “Even as John Frith doth.” Then said one of the bishops unto him, “Dost thou not believe that it is really the body of Christ, born of the Virgin Mary?” “So,” saith he, “do not I believe.” “Why not?” said the bishop. “Because,” said he, “Christ commanded me not to give credit rashly unto all men, who say, ‘Behold, here is Christ, and there is Christ; for many false prophets shall rise up, saith the Lord.’ “ Then certain of the bishops smiled at him; and Stokesley, the bishop of London, said, “Why, Frith is a heretic, and already judged to be burned; and except thou revoke thine opinion, thou shalt be burned also with him.” “Truly,” saith he, “I am content therewithal.” Then the bishop asked him if he would forsake his opinions; whereunto he answered, that he would do as Frith did: whereupon he was sent unto the prison to Frith, and afterwards they were carried together to the fire. The bishops used many persuasions to allure this good man from the truth, to follow them: but he, manfully persisting in the truth, would not recant. Wherefore on the 4th day of July, in the afternoon, he was carried into Smithfield with Frith, and there burned.
When they were at the stake, one doctor Cook , 11 a parson in London, openly admonished all the people, that they should in no wise pray for them, no more than they would do for a dog; at which words Frith, smiling, desired the Lord to forgive him. These words did not a little move the people unto anger, and not without good cause. Thus these two blessed martyrs committed their souls into the hands of God.
THE HISTORY OF THE PERSECUTION AND DEATH OF THOMAS BENET, BURNED IN EXETER:
COLLECTED AND TESTIFIED BY JOHN DOWEL, ALIAS HOKER.
This Thomas Benet was born in Cambridge, and, by order of degree, of the university there made master of arts, and, as some think, was also a priest; a man doubtless very well learned, and of a godly disposition, being of the acquaintance and familiarity of Thomas Bilney, the famous and glorious martyr of Christ. This man, the more he did grow and increase in the knowledge of God and his holy word, the more he did mislike and abhor the corrupt state of religion then used; and therefore, thinking his own country to be no safe place for him to remain in, and being desirous to live in more freedom of conscience, he did forsake the university, and went into Devonshire, A.D. 1524, and first dwelled in a market-town, named Torrington, both town and country being to him altogether unknown, as he was also unknown to all men there; where, for the better maintenance of himself and his wife, he did practice to teach young children, and kept a school for the same purpose. But that town not serving his expectation, after his abode one year there, he came to the city of Exeter; and there, hiring a house in a street called the Butcher-row did exercise the teaching of children, and by that means sustained his wife and family. He was of a quiet behavior, of a godly conversation, and of a very courteous nature, humble to all men, and offensive to nobody. His greatest delight was to be at all sermons and preachings, whereof he was a diligent and attentive hearer. The time which he had to spare from teaching, he gave wholly to his private study in the Scriptures, having no dealings nor conferences with any body, saving with such as he could learn and understand to be favorers of the gospel, and zealous of God’s true religion: of such he would be inquisitive, and most desirous to join himself unto them. And therefore, understanding that one William Strowd, of Newnham, in the county of Devonshire, esquire, was committed to the bishop’s prison in Exeter, upon suspicion of heresy, although he were never before acquainted with him, yet did he send his letters of comfort and consolation, unto him; wherein, to avoid all suspicion which might be conceived of him, he did disclose himself, and utter what he was, and the causes of his being in the country, writing among other things these words: “Because I would not be a whoremonger: or an unclean person, therefore I married a wife, with whom I have hidden myself in Devonshire, from the tyranny of the antichristians, these six years.” But, as every tree and herb hath its due time to bring forth its fruit, so did it appear by this man. For he, daily seeing the glory of God to be so blasphemed, idolatrous religion so embraced and maintained, 2 and that most false usurped power of the bishop of Rome so extolled, was so grieved in conscience, and troubled in spirit, that he could not be quiet till he did utter his mind therein. Wherefore, dealing privately with certain of his friends, he did plainly open and disclose how blasphemously and abominably God was dishonored, his word contemned, and his people, whom he so dearly bought, were, by blind guides, carried headlong to everlasting damnation: and therefore he could no longer endure, but must needs, and would, utter their abominations; and for his own part, for the testimony of his conscience, and for the defense of God’s true religion, would yield himself most patiently (as near as God would give him grace) to die and to shed his blood therein; alleging that his death should be more profitable to the church of God, and for the edifying of his people, than his life should be. To whose persuasions when his friends had yielded, they promised to pray to God for him, that he might be strong in the cause, and continue a faithful soldier to the end: which done, he gave order for the bestowing of such books as he had, and very shortly after, in the month of October, he wrote his mind in certain scrolls of paper, which, in secret manner, he set upon the doors of the cathedral church of the city; in which was written, “The pope is Antichrist; and we ought to worship God only, and no saints.”
These bills being found, there was no small ado, and no little search made for the inquiry of the heretic that should set up these bills: and the mayor and his officers were not so busy to make searches to find this heretic, but the bishop and all his doctors were as hot as coals, and enkindled as though they had been stung with a sort of wasps. Wherefore, to keep the people in their former blindness, order was taken that the doctors should in haste up to the pulpit every day, and confute this heresy. Nevertheless this Thomas Benet, keeping his own doings in secret, went the Sunday following to the cathedral church to the sermon, and by chance sat down by two men, who were the busiest in all the city in seeking and searching for this heretic; and they, beholding this Benet, said the one to the other, “Surely this fellow, by all likelihood, is the heretic that hath set up the bills, and it were good to examine him.” Nevertheless, when they had well beheld them, and saw the quiet and sober behavior of the man, his attentiveness to the preacher, his godliness in the church, being always occupied in his book, which was a Testament in the Latin tongue, they were astonished, and had no power to speak unto him, but departed, and left him reading in his book. As touching this point of Benet’s behavior in the church, I find the reports of some others a little to vary, and yet not much contrary one to the other. For in receiving the letters and writings of a certain minister, who at the same time was present at the doing hereof in Exeter, thus I find moreover added, concerning the behavior of this Thomas Benet in the church. At that time, saith he, as I remember, Dr. Moreman, Crispin, Caseley, with such others, bare the swinge there. Besides these, were also preachers there, one Dr. Bascavild, an unlearned doctor, God knoweth; and one Dr. David, as well learned as he, both grey friars, and Doctor I-know-not-who, a black friar, not much inferior unto them.
Moreover, there was one bachelor of divinity, a grey friar named Gregory Basset, more learned indeed than they all, but as blind and superstitious as he which was most; which Gregory, not long before, was revolted from the way of righteousness, to the way of Belial: for in Bristol, saith the author, he lay in prison long, and was almost famished, for having a book of Martin Luther, called his Questions, which he a long time privily had studied, and for the teaching of youth a certain catechism. To be short, the brains of the canons and priests, the officers and commons of that city, were very earnestly busied, how, or by what means, such an enormous heretic, who had pricked up those bills, might be espied and known: but it was long first. At last, the priests found out a toy to curse him, whatsoever he were, with book, bell, and candle; which curse at that day seemed most fearful and terrible. The manner of the curse was after this sort. One of the priests, apparelled all in white, ascended up into the pulpit. The other rabblement, with certain of the two orders of friars, and certain superstitious monks of St. Nicholas’house standing round about, and the cross (as the custom was) being holden up with holy candles of wax fixed to the same, he began his sermon with this theme of Joshua, “There is blasphemy in the army; 3 and so made a long protestation, but not so long as tedious and superstitious: and so concluded that that foul and abominable heretic who had put up such blasphemous bills, was, for that his blasphemy, damnably accursed; and besought God, our lady, St.
Peter, patron of that church, with all the holy company of martyrs, confessors, and virgins, that it might be known what heretic had put up such blasphemous bills, that God’s people might avoid the vengeance. The manner of the cursing of the said Benet was marvellous to behold, forasmuch as at that time there were few or none, unless a shearman or two, whose houses, I well remember, were searched for bills at that time, and for books, that knew any thing of God’s matters, or how God doth bless their curses in such cases. Then said the prelate thus:
THE POPE’S CURSE, WITH BOOK, BELL, AND CANDLE.
By the authority of God the Father Almighty, and of the blessed Virgin Mary, of Saint Peter and Paul, and of the holy saints, we excommunicate, we utterly curse and ban, commit and deliver to the devil of hell, him or her, whatsoever he or she be, that hath,—in spite of God and of St. Peter, whose church this is, in spite of all holy saints, and in spite of our most holy father the pope, God’s vicar here in earth, and in spite of the reverend father in God, John our diocesan, and the worshipful canons, masters, and priests, and clerks,who serve God daily in this cathedral church,—fixed up with wax such cursed and heretical bills, full of blasphemy, upon the doors of this and other holy churches within this city.
Excommunicated plainly be he or she plenally, or they, and delivered over to the devil, as perpetual malefactors and schismatics. Accursed may they be, 4 and given body and soul to the devil. Cursed be they, he or she, in cities and towns, in fields, in ways, in paths, in houses, out of houses, and in all other places, standing, lying, or rising, walking, running, waking, sleeping, eating, drinking, and whatsoever thing they do besides. We separate them, him or her, from the threshold, and from all the good prayers of the church; from the participation of the holy mass; from all sacraments, chapels, and altars; from holy bread and holy water; from all the merits of God’s priests and religious men, and from all their cloisters; from all their pardons, privileges, grants, and immunities, which all the holy fathers, popes of Rome, have granted to them; and we give them over utterly to the power of the fiend: and let us quench their souls, if they be dead, this night in the pains of hell-fire, as this candle is now quenched and put out (and with that he put out one of the candles): and let us pray to God, if they be alive, that their eyes may be put out, as this candle light is (so he put out the other candle); and let us pray to God and to our lady, and to St. Peter and Paul, and all holy saints, that all the senses of their bodies may fail them, and that they may have no feeling, as now the light of this candle is gone (and so he put out the third candle) except they, he or she, come openly now and confess their blasphemy, and by repentance, as much as in them shall lie, make satisfaction unto God, our lady, St. Peter, and the worshipful company of this cathedral church: and as this holy cross-staff now falleth down, so may they, except they repent and show themselves.
Now this fond foolish fantasy and mockery being done and played, which was to a christian heart a thing ridiculous, Benet could no longer forbear, but fell to great laughter, but within himself, and for a great space could not cease; by which thing the poor man was espied. For those that were next to him, wondering at that great curse, and believing that it could not but light on one or other, asked good Benet, for what cause he should so laugh. “My friends,” said he, “who can forbear, seeing such merry conceits and interludes played by the priests?” Straightway a noise was made, Here is the heretic! here is the heretic! hold him fast, hold him fast! With that, there was a great confusion of voices, and much clapping of hands, and yet they were uncertain whether he were the heretic or no. Some say, that upon the same he was taken and apprehended. Others report, that his enemies, being uncertain of him, departed, and so he went home to his house; where he, being not able to digest the lies there preached, renewed his former bills, and caused his boy, early in the morning following, to set the said bills upon the gates of the churchyard. As the boy was setting one of the said bills upon a gate, called ‘The little Stile,’it chanced that one W.
S., going to the cathedral church to hear a mass, called Barton’s Mass, which was then daily said about five o’clock in the morning, found the boy at the gate, and asking him whose boy he was, did charge him to be the heretic that had set up the bills upon the gates: wherefore, pulling down the bill, he brought the same, together with the boy, before the mayor of the city; and thereupon Benet, being known and taken, was violently committed to ward.
On the morrow began both the canons and the heads of the city joined with them, to fall to examination; with whom, for that day, he had not much communication, but confessed and said to them, “It was even I that put up those bills; and if it were to do, I would yet do it again; for in them I have written nothing but what is very truth.” “Couldst not thou,” said they, “as well have declared thy mind by mouth, as by putting up bills of blasphemy?” “No,” said he, “I put up the bills, that many should read and hear what abominable blasphemers ye are, and that they might the better know your Antichrist, the pope, to be that boar out of the wood, which destroyeth and throweth down the hedges of God’s church; for if I had been heard to speak but one word, I should have been clapped fast in prison, and the matter of God hidden. But now I trust more of your blasphemous doings will thereby be opened and come to light; for God will so have it, and no longer will suffer you.”
The next day after, he was sent unto the bishop, who first committed him to prison, called ‘The Bishop’s Prison,’where he was kept in stocks and strong irons, with as much favor as a dog should find. Then the bishop, associating unto him one Dr. Brewer, his chancelor, and other of his lewd clergy and friars, began to examine him and burden him, that, contrary to the catholic faith, he denied praying to the saints, and also denied the supremacy of the pope. Whereunto he answered in such sober manner, and so learnedly proved and defended his assertions, that he did not only confound and put to silence his adversaries, but also brought them in great admiration of him; the most part having pity and compassion on him. The friars took great pains with him to persuade him from his erroneous opinions, to recant and acknowledge his fault, touching the bills; but they did but dig after day; for God had appointed him to be a blessed witness of his holy name, and to be at defiance with all their false persuasions.
To declare here with what cruelty the officers searched his house for bills and books, how cruelly and shamefully they handled his wife, charging her with divers enormities, it were too long to write. But she, like a good woman, took all things patiently that they did unto her; like as in other things she was contented to bear the cross with him, as to fare hardly with him at home, and to live with coarse meat and drink, that they might be the more able somewhat to help the poor, as they did to the uttermost of their power.
Amongst all other priests and friars, Gregory Basset was most busy with him. This Gregory Basset, as is partly touched before, was learned, and had a pleasant tongue, and not long before was fallen from the truth, for which he was imprisoned in Bristol a long time; at whose examination was ordained a great pan of fire, where his holy brethren (as the report went abroad) menaced him to burn his hands off: whereupon he there before them recanted, and became afterwards a mortal enemy to the truth all his life. This Gregory, as it is said, was fervent with the poor man, to please the canons of that church, and marvellously tormented his brains, how to turn him from his opinions; yea, and he was so diligent and fervent with him, that he would not depart the prison, but lay there night and day, who notwithstanding lost his labor: for good Benet was at a point not to deny Christ before men. So Gregory, as well as the other holy fathers, lost his spurs, insomuch that he said in open audience, that there was never so obstinate a heretic.
THE MATTER BETWEEN GREGORY BASSET AND THOMAS BENET.
The principal point between Basset and Benet was touching the supremacy of the bishop of Rome, whom in his bills he named Antichrist, the Thief, the Mercenary, and the Murderer of Christ’s Flock: and these disputations lasted about eight days, where, at sundry times, repaired to him both the black and grey friars, with priests and monks of that city. They that had some learning persuaded him to believe the church, and showed by what tokens she is known. The others unlearned railed, and said that the devil tempted him, and spat upon him, calling him heretic; who prayed God to give them a better mind, and to forgive them: ‘For,’said he, ‘I will rather die, than worship such a beast, the very whore of Babylon, and a false usurper, as manifestly it doth appear by his doings.’ They asked, What he did, that he had not power and authority to do, being God’s vicar?’He doth, quoth he, ‘sell the sacraments of the church for money, he selleth remission of sins daily for money, and so do you likewise: for there is no day but ye say divers masses for souls in feigned purgatory: yea, and ye spare not to make lying sermons to the people, to maintain your false traditions and foul gains. The whole world doth begin now to note your doings, to your utter confusion and shame.’ ‘The shame,’say they, ‘shall be to thee, and such as thou art, thou foul heretic! Wilt thou allow nothing done in holy church? what a perverse heretic art thou!’‘I am,’said he, ‘no heretic, but a christian man, I thank Christ; and with all my heart will allow all things done and used in the church to the glory of God, and edifying of my soul: but I see nothing in your church, but what maintaineth the devil.’ ‘What is our church?’said they. ‘It is not my church,’quoth Benet, ‘God give me grace to be of a better church, for verily your church is the plain church of Antichrist, the malignant church, the second church, a den of thieves, and an awmbry of poison, and as far wide from the true, universal, and apostolic church, as heaven is distant from the earth.’
Dost not thou think,’said they, ‘that we pertain to the universal, church?’‘Yes,’quoth he, ‘but as dead members, unto whom the church is not beneficial; for your works are the devices of man, and your church a weak foundation: for ye say and preach that the pope’s word is equal with God’s word in every degree.’ ‘Why,’said they, ‘did not Christ say to Peter, To thee I will give the keys of the kingdom of heaven?’‘He said that,’quoth he, ‘to all, as well as to Peter; and Peter had no more authority given to him than they, or else the churches planted in every kingdom by their preaching are no churches. Doth not St. Paul say, Upon the foundations of the apostles and prophets? Therefore I say plainly, that the church that is built upon a man, is the devil’s church or congregation, and not God’s. And as every church this day is appointed to be ruled by a bishop or pastor, ordained by the word of God in preaching and administration of the sacraments under the prince, the supreme governor under God, so, to say that all the churches with their princes and governors be subject unto one bishop, is detestable heresy; and the pope, your god, challenging this power to himself, is the greatest schismatic that ever was in the church, and the most foul whore; of whom John, in the Revelation, speaketh.’ ‘O thou blind and unlearned fool!’said they, ‘is not the confession and consent of all the world, as we confess and consent—That the pope’s holiness is the supreme head and vicar of Christ?’‘That is,’said Benet, ‘because they are blinded and know not the Scriptures: but if God would of his mercy open the eyes of princes to know their office, his false supremacy would soon decay.’ ‘We think,’said they, ‘thou art so malicious, that thou wilt confess no church.’ ‘Look!’said he, ‘where they are that confess the true flame, of Jesus Christ; and where Christ only is the head, and under him the prince of the realm, to order all bishops, ministers, and preachers, and to see them do their duties in setting forth the only glory of God by preaching the word of God; and where it is preached that Christ is our only Advocate, Mediator, and Patron before God his Father, making intercession for us; and where the true faith and confidence in Christ’s death and passion, and his only merits and deservings are extolled, and our own depressed; where the sacrament is duly, without, superstition or idolatry, administered in remembrance of his blessed passion and only sacrifice upon the cross once for all, and where no superstition reigneth:—of that church will I be!’ ‘Doth not the pope,’said they, ‘confess the true gospel? do not we all the same?’‘Yes,’said he, ‘but ye deny the fruits thereof in every point. Ye build upon the sands, not upon the rock.’ ‘And wilt thou not believe indeed,’said they, ‘that the pope is God’s vicar?’‘No,’said he, ‘indeed.’ ‘And why?’said they. ‘Because,’quoth he, ‘he usurpeth a power not given to him by Christ, no more than to other apostles; and also because, by force of that usurped supremacy, he doth blind the whole world, and doth contrary to all that ever Christ ordained or commanded.’ ‘What,’said they, ‘if he do all things after God’s ordinance and commandment: should he then be his vicar?’‘Then,’said he, ‘would I believe him to be a good bishop at Rome over his own diocese, and to have no further power. And if it pleased God, I would every bishop did this in his diocese: then should we live a peaceable life in the church of Christ, and there should be no such seditions therein. If every bishop, would seek no further power than over his own diocese, it were a goodly thing. Now, because all are subject to one, all must do and consent to all wickedness as he doth, or be none of his. This is the cause of great superstition in every, kingdom. And what bishop soever, he be that preacheth, the gospel, and maintaineth the truth, is a true bishop of the church.
And doth not, said they, ‘our holy father the pope maintain the gospel?’‘Yea,’said he, ‘I think he doth read it, and peradventure believe it, and so do you also; but neither he nor you do fix the anchor of your salvation therein. Besides that, ye bear such a good will to it, that ye keep it close, that no man may read it but yourselves. And when you preach, God knoweth how you handle it; insomuch, that the people of Christ know no gospel well-near, but the pope’s gospel; and so the blind lead the blind, and both fall into the pit. In the true gospel of Christ, confidence is none; but only in your popish traditions and fantastical inventions.’
Then said a black friar unto him (God knoweth, a blockhead), ‘Do we not preach the gospel daily?’Yes,’said he, ‘but what preaching of the gospel is that, when therewith ye extol superstitious things, and make us believe that we have redemption through pardons and bulls of Rome, a poena et culpa, as ye term it: and by the merits of your orders ye make many brethren and sisters; ye take yearly money of them, ye bury them in your coats, and in shift ye beguile them; yea, and do a thousand superstitious things more: a man may be weary to speak of them.’ ‘I see,’said the friar, ‘that thou art a damned wretch; I will have no more talk with thee.’
Then stepped to him a grey friar, a doctor (God knoweth of small intelligence), and laid before him great and many dangers. ‘I take God to record,’said Benet, ‘my life is not dear to me; I am content to depart from it, for I am weary of it, seeing your detestable doings, to the utter destruction of God’s flock; and, for my part, I can no longer forbear. I had rather, by death (which I know is not far off), depart this life, that I may no longer be partaker of your detestable idolatries and superstitions, or be subject unto antichrist your pope.’ ‘Our pope,’said the friar, ‘is the vicar of God, and our ways are the ways of God.’ ‘I pray you,’said Benet, ‘depart from me, and tell not me of your ways. He is only my way, who saith, I am the way, the truth, and the life. In his way will I walk, his doings shall be my example; not yours, nor your false pope’s. His truth will I embrace; not the lies and falsehood of you and your pope. His everlasting life will I seek, the true reward of all faithful people. Away from me, I pray you. Vex my soul no longer; ye shall not prevail. There is no good example in you, no truth in you, no life to be hoped for at your hands. Ye are all more vain than vanity itself. If I should hear and follow you this day, everlasting death should hang over me, a just reward for all them that love the life of this world. Away from me: your company liketh me not.’
Thus a whole week, night and day, was Benet plied by these and such other hypocrites. It were an infinite matter to declare all things done and said to him in the time of his imprisonment; and the hate of the people that time, by means of ignorance, was hot against him: notwithstanding they could never move his patience; he answered to every matter soberly, and that, more by the aid of God’s Spirit, than by any worldly study. I think he was at least fifty years old. Being in prison, his wife provided sustenance for him; and when she lamented, he comforted her, and gave her many good and godly exhortations, and prayed her to move him nothing to apply unto his adversaries.
Thus when these godly canons and priests, with the monks and friars, had done what they could, and perceived that he would by no means relent, then they, proceeding unto judgment, drew out their bloody sentence against him, condemning him, as the manner is, to be burned. This being done, and the writ which they had procured ‘de comburendo,’being brought from London, they delivered him on the 15th of January, 1581, unto sir Thomas Denis, knight, then sheriff of Devonshire, to be burned.
The mild martyr, rejoicing that his end was approaching so near, as the sheep before the shearer, yielded himself with all humbleness to abide and suffer the cross of persecution. And being brought to his execution, in a place called Livery-dole, without Exeter, he made his most humble confession and prayer unto Almighty God, and requested all the people to do the like for him; whom he exhorted with such gravity and sobriety, and with such a pithy oration, to seek the trite honoring of God, and the true knowledge of him; as also to leave the devices, fantasies, and imaginations of man’s inventions, that all the hearers and beholders of him were astonied and in great admiration; insomuch that the most part of the people, as also the scribe who wrote the sentence of condemnation against him, did pronounce and confess that he was God’s servant, and a good man.
Nevertheless two esquires, namely, Thomas Carew and John Barnehouse, standing at the stake by him, first with fair promises and goodly words, but at length through rough threatenings, willed him to revoke his errors, and to call to Our Lady and the saints, and to say, “Precor sanctam Mariam, et omnes sanctos Dei,” etc. To whom, with all meekness, he answered, saying, “No, no; it is God only upon whose name we must call; and we have no other advocate unto him, but only Jesus Christ, who died for us, and now sitteth at the right hand of his Father, to be an advocate for us; and by him must we offer and make our prayers to God, if we will have them to take place and to be heard.” With this answer the aforesaid Barnehouse was so enkindled, that he took a furze-bush upon a pike, and, having set it on fire, he thrust it unto his face, saying, “Ah! hore-son heretic! pray to our Lady, and say, Sancta Maria, ora pro nobis, or, by God’s wounds, I will make thee do it.” To whom the said Thomas Benet, with an humble and a meek spirit, most patiently answered, “Alas, sir! trouble me not.” And holding up his hands, he said, “Pater! ignosce illis.”
Whereupon the gentlemen caused the wood and furzes to be set on fire, and therewith this godly man lifted up his eyes and hands to heaven, saying, “O Domine! recipe spiritum meum.” And so, continuing in his prayers, he did never stir nor strive, but most patiently abode the cruelty of the fire, until his life was ended, For this the Lord God be praised, and send us his grace and blessing, that at the latter day we may with him enjoy the bliss and joy provided and prepared for the elect children of God.
Hitherto we have run over, good reader, the names, and the acts and doings of those, who have sustained death, and the torment of burning, for Christ’s cause, through the rigorous proclamation above specified, 12 set out, as is said, in the name of king Henry, but indeed procured by the bishops. That proclamation was so straitly looked upon, and executed so to the uttermost in every point, by the said popish prelates, that no good man, “habens spiramentum,” whereof Esdras (4 Esdras 7) speaketh, could peep out with his head ever so little, but he was caught by the back, and brought either to the fire, as were these above mentioned; or else compelled to abjure. Whereof there was a great multitude, as well men as women; whose names, if they were sought out through all registers in England, no doubt it would make too long a discourse. Nevertheless, omitting the rest, it shall content us at this present, briefly, as in a short table, to insinuate the names, with the special articles, of such as, in the diocese of London, under Bishop Stokesley, were molested and vexed, and, at last, compelled to abjure, as here may appear.
A TABLE OF CERTAIN PERSONS, ABJURED WITHIN THE DIOCESE OF LONDON, UNDER BISHOP STOKESLEY, WITH THE ARTICLES ALLEGED AGAINST THEM.
Articles objected against Jeffery Lome, sometime porter to St.
Anthony’s School ; 12a and for which articles he was abjured. 5 A.D.1528.
Imprimis, for having and dispersing abroad sundry books of Martin Luther’s, and others; as also for translating into the English tongue certain chapters of the work of Luther, ‘De Bonis Operibus:’as also, certain chapters of a certain book called ‘Piae Predicationes,’wherein divers works of Luther he comprehended. Item, For affirming and believing that faith only, without good works, will bring a man to heaven. Item, That men be not bound to observe the constitutions made by the Church. Item, That we should pray only to God, and to no saints. Item, That christian men ought to worship God only, and no saints. Item, That pilgrimages be not profitable for man’s soul, and should not be used. Item, That we should not offer to images in the church, nor set no lights before them. Item, That no man is bound to keep any manner of fasting-days, instituted by the church. Item, That pardons granted by the pope or the bishop do not profit a man.
For these articles Jeffery Lome was abjured before the bishops of London, Bath, and Lincoln; no mention being made of any penance enjoined him.
SIGAR NICHOLSON, STATIONER, OF CAMBRIDGE, A.D. 1528.
His articles were like; and moreover for having in his house certain books of Luther, and others prohibited, and not presenting them to the ordinary. The handling of this man was too, too cruel, if the report be true, that he should be hanged up in such a manner as well suffereth not to be named.
JOHN RAIMUND, A DUTCHMAN, 13 A.D. 1528.
PAUL LUTHER, GREY FRIAR, AND WARDEN OF THE HOUSE AT WARE, A.D. 1529.
His articles were for preaching and saying that it is pity that there be so many images suffered in so many places, where indiscreet and unlearned people be; for they make their prayers and oblations so entirely and heartily before the image, that they believe it to be the very self saint in heaven. Item, That if he knew his father and mother were in heaven, he would count them as good as St. Peter and Paul, but for the pain they suffered for Christ’s sake. Item, That there is no need to go on pilgrimage. Item, That if a man were at the point of drowning, or any other danger, he should call only upon God, and no saint; for saints in heaven cannot help us, neither know any more what men do here in this world, than a man in the north country knoweth what is done in the south country.
A BILL READ BY THE PREACHER AT THE SPITAL. ‘If there be any well-disposed person willing to do any cost upon the reparation of the conduit in Fleet-street, let him or them resort unto the administrators of the goods and cattle of one Richard Hun, late merchant tailor of London, which died intestate, or else to me, and they shall have toward the same six pounds thirteen shillings and fourpence, and a better penny, of the goods of the said Richard Hun; upon whose soul, and all christian souls, Jesus have mercy !’
For this bill, both Whaplod and Norfolk were brought and troubled before the bishop; and also Dr. Goderidge, who took a groat for reading the said bill, 6 was suspended for a time from saying mass, and also was forced to revoke the same at Paul’s cross; reading this bill as followeth.
THE REVOCATION OF DR. WILLIAM GODERIDGE, READ AT PAUL’S CROSS.
Masters! so it is, that where in my late sermon at St. Mary Spital, the Tuesday in Easter-week last past, I did pray specially for the soul of Richard Hun, late of London, merchant-tailor, a heretic, by the laws of holy church justly condemned: by reason whereof I greatly offended God and his church, and the laws of the same, for which I have submitted me to my ordinary, and done penance there-for: forasmuch as, peradventure, the audience that was there offended by my said words, might take any occasion thereby to think that I did favor the said heretic, or any other, I desire you, at the instance of Almighty God, to forgive me, and not so to think of me, for I did it unadvisedly. Therefore, here before God and you, I declare myself that I have not favored him or any other heretic, nor hereafter intend to do, but at all times shall defend the Catholic faith of holy church, according to my profession, to the best of my power.
ROBERT WEST, PRIEST, A.D. 1529.
Abjured for books and opinions contrary to the proclamation.
NICHOLAS WHITE OF RYE, A.D. 1529.
His articles:—For speaking against the priests’ saying of matins; against praying for them that be dead: against praying to God for small trifles, as for the cow calving, the hen hatching, etc.: for speaking against the relic of St. Peter’s finger: against oblations to images: against vowing of pilgrimage: against priesthood: against holy bread and holy water, etc.
RICHARD KITCHEN, PRIEST, A.D. 1529.
His articles:—That pardons granted by the pope are naught, and that men should put no trust in them, but only in the passion of Christ: that he, being led by the words of the gospel, Matthew ‘De via lata, et angusta,’ and also by the epistle of the mass, beginning, ‘Vir fortissimus Judas,’ had erred in the way of the pope, and thought, that there were but two ways, and no purgatory: that men ought to worship no images, nor set up lights before them: that pilgrimage doth nothing avail: that the gospel was not truly preached for the space of three hundred years past, etc.
WILLIAM WEGEN, PRIEST AT ST. MARY HILL, A.D. 1529.
His articles:—That he was not bound to say his Matins nor other service, but to sing with the choir till they came to ‘prime;’ and then, saying no more service, thought he might well go to mass: that he had said mass oftentimes, and had not said his matins and his divine service before: that he had gone to mass without confession made to a priest: that it was sufficient for a man, being in deadly sin, to ask only God mercy for his sin, without further confession made to a priest: that he held against pilgrimages, and called images, stocks, stones, and witches. Item, That he being sick, went to the Rood of St. Margaret Patens; and said before him twenty Paternosters; and when he saw himself never the better, then he said, ‘A foul evil take him, and all other images.’ Item, That if a man keep a good tongue in his head, he fasteth well. Item, For commending Luther to be a good man, for preaching twice a day, etc. Item, For saying that the mass was but a ceremony, and made to the intent that men should pray only. Item, For saying, that if a man had a pair of beads or a book in his hand at the church, and were not disposed to pray, it was naught, etc.
WILLIAM HALE, HOLY WATER CLERK OF TOLENHAM, A.D. 1529.
His articles:—That offering of money and candies to images did not avail, since we are justified by the blood of Christ. Item, for speaking against worshipping of saints, and against the pope’s pardons. For saying, that since the sacraments that the priest doth minister, be as good as those which the pope doth minister, he did not see but the priest hath as good authority as the pope. Item, That a man should confess himself to God only, and not to a priest, etc.
WILLIAM BLOMFIELD, MONK OF BURY.
Abjured for the like causes.
JOHN TYNDALE, 15 A.D. 1530.
WILLIAM WORSLEY, PRIEST AND HERMIT, A.D. 1530.
His articles:—For preaching at Halestede, having the curate’s license, but not the bishop’s. Item, For preaching these words, ‘No man riding on pilgrimage, having under him a soft saddle, and an easy horse, should have any merit thereby, but the horse and the saddle,’etc. Item, For saying that hearing of matins and mass, is not the thing that shall save a man’s soul, but only to hear the word of God.
JOHN STACY, TYLER, 16 A.D. 1530.
His articles were against purgatory, which, he said, were but a device of the priests to get money: against fasting days by man’s prescription, and choice of meats: against superfluous holy days: Item, against pilgrimage, etc.
LAWRENCE MAXWELL, TYLER, 17 A.D. 1530.
His articles:—That the sacrament of the altar was not the very body of Christ in flesh and blood; but that he received him by the word of God, and in remembrance of Christ’s passion. Item, That the order of priesthood is no sacrament; that there is no purgatory, etc.
THOMAS CURSON, MONK OF EASTACRE, IN NORFOLK, A.D. 1530.
His articles were these:—For going out of the monastery, and changing his weed, and letting his crown to grow; working abroad for his living, making copes and vestments. Also for having the New Testament of Tyndale’s translation, and another book containing certain books of the Old Testament, translated into English, by certain whom the Papists call Lutherans.
THOMAS CORNEWELL OR AUSTY, A.D. 1530.
His articles:—It was objected, that he, being enjoined afore, by Richard Fitzjames, bishop of London, for his penance to wear a faggot embroidered upon his sleeve under pain of relapse, he kept not the same; and therefore he was condemned to perpetual custody in the house of St. Bartholomew, from whence afterwards he escaped and fled away.
THOMAS PHILIP, A.D. 1580.
Thomas Philip was delivered by sir Thomas More, to bishop Stokesley by indenture. Besides other articles of purgatory, images, the sacrament of the altar, holy-days, keeping of books, and such like, it was objected unto him, that he, being searched in the Tower, had found about him Tracy’s Testament; and in his chamber in the Tower was found cheese and butter in Lent-time. Also, that he had a letter delivered unto him going to the Tower. This letter, with the Testament also of Tracy, because they are both worthy to be seen, we mind (God willing) to annex also unto the story of this Thomas Philip. As he was oftentimes examined before Master More and the bishop, he always stood to his denial, neither could there any thing be proved clearly against him, but only Tracy’s Testament, and his butter in Lent. One Stacy first bare witness against him, but after, in the court, openly he protested that he did it for fear. The bishop then willing him to submit himself, and to swear never to hold any opinion contrary to the determination of holy church, he said ‘he would:’and when the form of his abjuration was given him to read, he read it: but the bishop, not content with that, would have him to read it openly. But that he would not; and said, He would appeal to the king as supreme head of the church, and so did. Still the bishop called upon him to abjure. He answered, That he would be obedient as a christian man should, and that he would swear never to hold any heresy during his life, nor to favor any heretics.
But the bishop, not yet content, would have him to read the abjuration after the form of the church conceived, as it was given him. He answered again, that he would forswear all heresies, and that he would maintain no heresies, nor favor any heretics. The bishop with this would not be answered, but needs would drive him to the abjuration formed after the pope’s church: to whom he said, If it were the same abjuration that he read, he would not read it, but stand to his appeal made to the king, the supreme head of the church under God. Again the bishop asked him, if he would abjure or not. ‘Except, said he, ‘you will show me the cause why I should abjure, I will not say yea nor nay to it, but will stand to my appeal;’and he required the bishop to obey the same. Then the bishop, reading openly the bill of excommunication against him, denounced him for ‘contumax,’and an excommunicated person, charging all men to have no company, and nothing to do with him.
After this excommunication, what became of him, 18 whether he was holpen by his appeal, or whether he was burned, or whether he died in the Tower, or whether he abjured, I find no mention made in the registers.
A LETTER DIRECTED TO THOMAS PHILIP IN THE NAME OF THE BRETHREN,AND GIVEN HIM BY THE WAY GOING TO THE TOWER.
The favor of him that is able to keep you that you fall not, and to confess your name in the kingdom of glory, and to give you strength by his Spirit to confess him before all his adversaries, be with you ever. Amen.
Sir, the brethren think that there be divers false brethren craftily crept in among them, to seek out their freedom in the Lord, that they may accuse them to the Lord’s adversaries, as they suppose they have done you. Wherefore, if so it be, that the Spirit of God move you thereunto, they, as counsellors, desire you above all things to be steadfast in the Lord’s verity, without fear; for he shall and will be your help, according to his promise, so that they shall not minish the least hair of your head without his will; unto which will, submit yourself and rejoice: for the Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptation, and how to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment, to be punished: (2 Peter 2) and therefore cast all your care on him, for he careth for you. (1 Peter 5) And in that you suffer as a christian man, be not ashamed, but rather glorify God on that behalf, ‘Looking upon Christ the author and finisher of our faith, which, for the joy that was set before him, abode the cross and despised the shame.’ (Hebrews 12) Notwithstanding, though we suffer the wrong after the example of our Master Christ, yet we be not bound to suffer the wrong cause, for Christ himself suffered it not, but reproved him that smote him wrongfully. And so likewise saith St. Paul also. (Acts 23) So that we must not suffer the wrong, but boldly reprove them that sit as righteous judges, and do contrary to righteousness. Therefore, according both to God’s law and man’s, ye be not bound to make answer in any cause, till your accusers come before you; which if you require, and thereon do stick, the false brethren shall be known, to the great comfort of those that now stand in doubt whom they may trust; and also it shall be a mean that they shall not craftily, by questions, take you in snares. And that you may this do lawfully, in Acts 20 it is written, ‘It is not the manner of the Romans to deliver any man that he should perish, before that he which is accused have his accusers before him, and have license to answer for himself, as pertaining to the crime whereof he is accused.’ And also Christ willeth that in the mouth of two or three witnesses all things shall stand. (Matthew 18) And in 1 Timothy 5, it is written, ‘Against a senior, receive none accusation, but under two or three witnesses.’
A senior, in this place, is any man that hath a house to govern. And also their own law is agreeable to this. Wherefore, seeing it is agreeable to the word of God, that in accusations such witnesses should be, you may with good conscience require it. And thus the God of grace, which hath called you unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, shall his own self, after a little affliction, make you perfect; shall settle, strengthen, and stablish you, that to him may be glory and praise for ever. Amen.
WILLIAM TRACY ESQUIRE, OF GLOUCESTERSHIRE.
A little before this time, this William Tracy, a worshipful esquire in Gloucestershire, and then dwelling at Toddington, made, in his will, that he would have no funeral pomp at his burying, neither passed he upon mass; and he further said, that he trusted in God only, and hoped by him to be saved, and not by any saint. This gentleman died, and his son, as executor, brought the will to the bishop of Canterbury to prove: which he showed to the convocation, and there most cruelly they judged that he should be taken out of the ground, and be burned as a heretic, A.D. 1532. This commission was sent to Dr. Parker, chancellor of the diocese of Worcester, to execute their wicked sentence; who accomplished the same. The king, hearing his subject to be taken out of the ground and burned, without his knowledge or order of his law, sent for the chancellor, and laid high offense to his charge; who excused himself by the archbishop of Canterbury who was lately dead; but in conclusion it cost him three hundred pounds to have his pardon.
The will and testament of this gentleman, thus condemned by the clergy, was as hereunder followeth:
THE TESTAMENT OF WILLIAM TRACY. In the name of God, Amen. I William Tracy of Toddington in the county of Gloucester, esquire, make my testament and last will as hereafter followeth: First and before all other things, I commit myself to God and to his mercy, believing, without any doubt or mistrust, that by his grace, and the merits of Jesus Christ, and by the virtue of his passion and of his resurrection, I have and shall have remission of all my sins, and resurrection of body and soul, according as it is written, I believe that my Redeemer liveth, and that in the last day I shall rise out of the earth, and in my flesh shall see my Savior: this my hope is laid up in my bosom. (Job 19) And touching the wealth of my soul, the faith that I have taken and rehearsed is sufficient (as I suppose) without any other man’s works or merits. My ground and belief is, that there is but one God and one mediator between God and man, which is Jesus Christ; so that I accept none in heaven or in earth to be mediator between me and God, but only Jesus Christ: all others to be but as petitioners in receiving of grace, but none able to give influence of grace: and therefore will I bestow no part of my goods for that intent that any man should say or do to help my soul; for therein I trust only to the promises of Christ: ‘He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, and he that believeth not shall be damned.’ (Mark 16) As touching the burying of my body, it availeth me not whatsoever be done thereto; for St. Augustine saith, ‘De cura agenda pro mortuis,’ that the funeral pomps are rather the solace of them that live, than the wealth and comfort of them that are dead: and therefore I remit it only to the discretion of mine executors. And touching the distribution of my temporal goods, my purpose is, by the grace of God, to bestow them to be accepted as the fruits of faith; so that I do not suppose that my merit shall be by the good bestowing of them, but my merit is the faith of Jesus Christ only, by whom such works are good, according to the words of our Lord, ‘I was hungry, and thou gavest me to eat,’ etc. And it followeth, ‘That ye have done to the least of my brethren, ye have done it to me,’ etc. And ever we should consider that true saying, that a good work maketh not a good man, but a good man maketh a good work; for faith maketh a man both good and righteous: for a righteous man liveth by faith, and whatsoever springeth not of faith is sin, etc. (Romans 14) And all my temporal goods that I have not given or delivered, or not given by writing of mine own hand, bearing the date of this present writing, I do leave and give to Margaret my wife, and Richard my son, whom I make mine executors. Witness hereof mine own hand the tenth of October, in the twenty-second year of the reign of king Henry the Eighth.
This is the true copy of his will, for which (as you heard before), after he was almost two years dead, they took him up and burned him. THE TABLE CONTINUED. JOHN PERIMAN, SKINNER, A.D 1531.
His articles were much like unto the others before; adding, moreover, that all the preachers then at Paul’s Cross preached nothing but lies and flatterings, and that there was never a true preacher but one; naming Edward Crome.
ROBERT GOLDSTONE, GLAZIER, A.D. 1531.
His articles:—That men should pray to God only, and to no saints: that pilgrimage is not profitable: that men should give no worship to images. Item, for saying, that if he had as much power as any cardinal had, he would destroy all the images that were in all the churches in England.
LAWRENCE STAPLE, SERVING-MAN, A.D. 1531.
B.C. Item, About the burning of Bainham, for saying, ‘I would I were with Bainham, seeing that every man hath forsaken him, that I might drink with him, and he might pray for me.’ Item, That he moved Henry Tomson to learn to read the New Testament, calling it The Blood of Christ. Item, In Lent past, when he had no fish, he did eat eggs, butter, and cheese. Also, about six weeks before Master Bilney was attached, 21 the said Bilney delivered to him at Greenwich four New Testaments of Tyndale translation, which he had in his sleeve, and a budget besides of books, which budget he, shortly after riding to Cambridge, delivered unto Bilney, etc. Item, On Fridays he used to eat eggs, and thought that it was no great offense before God, etc.
HENRY TOMSON, TAILOR, A.D. 1531.
JASPER WETZELL, OF COLOGNE, A.D. 1581.
His articles:—That he cared not for going to the church to hear mass, for he could say mass as well as the priest: That he would not pray to our Lady, for she could do us no good. Item, Being asked if he would go hear mass, he said, he had as lieve go to the gallows, where the thieves were hanged. Item, Being at St. Margaret Patens, and there holding his arms across, he said unto the people, that he could make as good a knave as he is, for he is made but of wood, etc.
ROBERT MAN, SERVING-MAN, A.D. 1531.
His articles:—That there is no purgatory: That the pope hath no more power to grant pardon than another simple priest: That God gave no more authority to St. Peter than to another priest: That the pope was a knave, and his priests knaves all, for suffering his pardons to go abroad to deceive the people: That St. Thomas of Canterbury is no saint: That St. Peter was never pope of Rome. Item, He used commonly to ask of priests where he came, whether a man were accursed, if he handled a chalice, or no? If the priest would say, Yea: then would he reply again thus. If a man have a sheep-skin on his hands, meaning a pair of gloves, ‘he may handle it’. The priests saying, Yea. ‘Well then,’ quoth he, ‘ye will make me believe, that God put more virtue in a sheep skin, than he did in a Christian man’s hand, for whom he died.
HENRY FELDON, A.D. 1531.
His trouble was for having these books in English: A proper Dialogue between a Gentleman and a Husbandman, The Sum of Scripture, The Prologue of Mark, a written book containing the Pater-noster, Ave-Maria, and the Creed, in English; The Ten Commandments, and The Sixteen Conditions of Charity.
THOMAS ROE, A.D. 1531.
WILLIAM WALLAM, A.D. 1531.
GRACE PALMER, A.D. 1581.
Witness was brought against her by her neighbors, John Rouse, Agnes his wife, John Pole, of St. Osithe’s, for saying, ‘Ye use to bear palms on Palm-Sunday: it skilleth not whether you bear any or not, it is but a thing used, and need not.’
Also, “Ye use to go on pilgrimage to our Lady of Grace, of Walsingham, 22 and other places: ye were better tarry at home, and give money to succor me and my children, and others of my poor neighbors, than to go thither; for there you shall find but a piece of timber painted: there is neither God nor our Lady. Item, For repenting that she did ever light candles before images. Item, That the sacrament of the altar is not the body of Christ; it is but bread, which the priest there showeth for a token or remembrance of Christ’s body.
PHILIP BRASIER, OF BOXTED; A.D. 1581.
His articles:—That the sacrament holden up between the priest’s hands is not the body of Christ, but bread, and is done for a signification: That confession to a priest needeth not: That images be but stocks and stones: That pilgrimage is vain: Also for saying, that when there is any miracle done, the priests do anoint the images, and make men believe that the images do sweat in laboring for them; and with the offerings the priests find their harlots.
JOHN FAIRESTEDE, OF COLCHESTER, A.D. 1531.
His articles:—For words spoken against pilgrimage and images.
Also for saying these words, ‘That the day should come that men should say, Cursed be they that make these false gods,’ (meaning images.)
GEORGE BULL, OF MUCH HADHAM, DRAPER, A.D. 1531.
His articles:—That there be three confessions; one principal to God; another to his neighbor whom he had offended; and the third to a priest; and that without the two first confessions, to God and to his neighbor, a man could not be saved. The third confession to a priest, is necessary for counsel to such as be ignorant and unlearned, to learn how to make their confession with a contrite heart unto God, and how to hope for forgiveness; and also in what manner they should ask forgiveness of their neighbor whom they have offended, etc. Item, For saying that Luther was a good man. Item, That he reported, through the credence and report of Master Patmore, parson of Hadham, that where Wycliffee’s bones were burnt, sprang up a well or well-spring.
JOHN HAYMOND, MILLWRIGHT, A.D. 1531.
His articles:—For speaking and holding against pilgrimage and images, and against prescribed fasting-days.
ROBERT LAMBE, A HARPER, A.D. 1531.
JOHN HEWES, DRAPER, A.D. 1531.
His articles, For speaking against purgatory, and Thomas Becket. Item, At the town of Farnham, he, seeing Edward Frensham kneeling in the street to a cross carried before a corse, asked, To whom he kneeled? He said, To his Maker. ‘Thou art a fool,’ said he, ‘it is not thy Maker; it is but a piece of copper or wood,’ etc. Item, For these words, Masters! ye use to go on pilgrimage; it were better first that ye look upon your poor neighbors, who lack succor, etc.
THOMAS PATMORE, DRAPER, 23 A.D. 1531.
This Patmore was accused by divers witnesses, upon these articles:
That he had as lieve pray to yonder hunter (pointing to a man painted there in a stained cloth), for a piece of flesh, as to pray to stocks that stand in walls, (meaning images.) Item, That men should not pray to saints, but to God only: ‘For why should we pray to saints?’said he, ‘they are but blocks and stocks.’ Item, That the truth of Scripture hath been kept from us a long time, and hath not appeared till now. Item, Coming by a tree wherein stood an image, he took away the wax which hanged there offered. Item, That he regarded not the place whether it was hallowed or no, where he should be buried after he was dead.
This Patmore had long hold with the bishop of London. First, he would not swear, ‘Infamia non praecedente.’ Then he would appeal to the king, but all would not serve. He was so wrapt in the bishop’s nets, that he could not get out: but at last he was forced to abjure, and was fined to the king a hundred pounds.
Note in the communication between this Patmore and the priest of St.
Peter’s, that whereas the priest objected against him (as is in the register) that priests have lived unmarried and without wives, these 1500 years in the church; he, and all other such priests therein say falsely, and deceive the people, as by story is proved in these volumes, that priests here in England had wives by law within these five hundred years and less.
SIMON SMITH, MASTER OF ARTS, OF GONVILLE-HALL, CAMBRIDGE, AND JOAN BENNORE HIS WIFE, A.D. 1531.
This Simon Smith, and Bennore his wife, were the parties whom Master Patmore, parson of Hadham, above mentioned, did marry, and was condemned for the same to perpetual prison. For this marriage, both the said Simon, and Bennore his wife, were called to examination before the bishop, and he caused to make the whole discourse of all his doings, how and where he married; then, after his marriage, how long he tarried; whether he went beyond sea; where he was, and with whom; after his return whither he resorted; how he lived; what mercery-ware he occupied; what fairs he frequented; where he left his wife; how he carried her over, and brought her home again, and how she was found, etc. All this they made him confess, and put it in their register. And though they could fasten no other crime of heresy upon him, but only his marriage, yet, calling both him and her (being great with child) to examination, they caused them both to abjure and suffer penance.
THOMAS PATMORE, PARSON OF HADHAM, A.D. 1530.
This Thomas Patmore, being learned and godly, was preferred to the parsonage of Hadham, in Hertfordshire, by Richard Fitz-James, bishop of London, and there continued instructing and teaching his flock during the time of the said Fitz-James, and also of Tonstal his successor, by the space of sixteen years or more; behaving himself in life and conversation without any public blame or reproach, until John Stokesley was preferred unto the said bishopric, who, not very long after his installing, either for malice not greatly liking of the said Patmore, or else desirous to prefer some other unto the benefice (as it is supposed, and alleged by his brethren in sundry, supplications exhibited unto the king, as also unto queen Anne, then Marchioness of Pembroke), caused him to be attached and brought before him; and then, keeping him prisoner in his own palace, a certain time afterwards committed him to Lollards’tower, where he kept him most extremely above two years, without fire or candle, or any other relief, but such as his friends sent him; not suffering any of them, notwithstanding, to come unto him, no not in his sickness. Howbeit sundry times in the mean while he called him judicially, either before himself, or else his vicar-general Foxford, that great persecutor, charging him with these sundry articles, viz. first, whether he had been at Wittenberg; secondly, and had seen or talked with Luther; thirdly, or with any Englishman, abiding there; fourthly, who went with him or attended upon him thither; fifthly, also what books he bought there, either Latin or English; sixthly, and whether he had read or studied any works of Luther, OEcolampadius, Pomerane, or Melancthon.
Besides these, he ministered also other articles unto him, touching the marriage of Master Simon Smith (before mentioned) with one Joan Bennore, charging him that he both knew of, and also consented unto their marriage, the one being a priest and his curate, and the other his maidservant; and that he had persuaded his maidservant to marry with his said curate, alleging unto her, that though it were not lawful in England for priests to marry, yet it was, in other countries beyond seas. And that after their said marriage he (knowing the same) did yet suffer the said Smith to minister in his cure all Easter-time, and fifteen days after; and that at their departure out of England, he supped with them at the Bell in New Fish-street; and again, at their return into England, did meet them at the said Bell, and there lent unto the said Smith a priest’s gown.
He objected, moreover, against him in the said articles, that he had affirmed at Cambridge, first, that he did not set a bottle of hay by the pope’s or bishop’s curse; secondly, and that God bindeth us to impossible things, that he may save us only by his mercy; also thirdly, that though young children be baptized, yet they cannot be saved except they have faith; fourthly and lastly, that it was against God’s law to burn heretics.
Unto these articles, after long imprisonment and great threats of the bishop and his vicar, he at last answered, making first his appeal unto the king, wherein he showed, that forasmuch as the bishop had most unjustly, and contrary to all due order of law, and the equity thereof, proceeded against him, as well in falsely defaming him with the crime of heresy, without having any just proof or public defamation thereof; as also, contrary to all justice, keeping him in most strait prison so long time (both to the great danger of his life, by grievous sickness taken thereby, as especially to his no small grief, that through his absence, his flock, whereof he had charge, were not fed with the word of God and his sacraments as he would); and then, to minister unto him such articles, mingled with interrogatories, as neither touched any heresy nor transgression of any law, but rather showing a mind to pick quarrels against him and other innocent people; he therefore, for the causes alleged, was compelled and did appeal from him and all his officers unto the king’s majesty, whom, under God, he had for his most just and lawful refuge, and defender against all injuries. From which appeal although he minded not at any time to depart, yet because he would not show himself obstinate against the bishop, being his ordinary (although he had most just cause to suspect his unjust proceeding against him), he was nevertheless content to exhibit unto him this his answer: First, that howsoever the bishop was privately informed, yet because he was not ‘publice diffamatus apud bonos et graves,’ according to law, he was not, by the law, bound to answer to any of those articles.
And as touching the first six articles (as whether he was at Wittenberg, and spake with Luther, or any other, or bought or read any of their books, etc.), because none of those things were forbidden him by any law, neither was he publicly accused of them (for that it was permitted to many good men to have them), he was not bound to answer, neither was he to be examined of them. But as touching the marriage of Master Simon Smith with Joan Bennore, he granted that he knew thereof by the declaration of Master Smith; but, that he gave his maid counsel thereunto, he utterly denied. And as concerning the contracting of the marriage between them, he thought it not at all against God’s law, who at the first creation made marriage lawful for all men: neither thought he it unlawful for him, after their marriage, either to keep him as his curate, or else to lend or give him any thing needful (wherein he said he showed more charity than the bishop, who had taken all things from them); and therefore he desired to have it proved by the Scriptures, that priests’marriages were not lawful.
Against whom, Foxford the bishop’s vicar often alleged general councils, and determinations of the church, but no Scriptures, still urging him to abjure his articles; which Patmore longtime refused, and sticking a great while to his former answers, at last was threatened by Foxford, to have the definitive sentence read against him. Whereupon he answered, that he believed the holy church as a christian man ought to do, and because it passed his capacity, he desired to be instructed, and if the Scriptures did teach it, he would believe it; for he knew not the contrary by the Scriptures, but that a priest might marry a wife; howbeit by the laws of the church, he thought that a priest might not marry. But the chancellor still so urged him to show whether a priest might marry without offense to God, that at length he granted that priests might not marry without offense to God, because the church had forbidden it, and therefore a priest could not marry without deadly sin.
Now as touching the four last articles, he denied that he spake them as they were put against him; but he granted that he might perhaps jestingly say, That a bottle of hay were more profitable to him than the pope’s curse, which he thought true. Also to the second, he affirmed that God had set before us, by his precepts and commandments, the way to justice, which way was not in man’s power to go and keep; therefore Paul saith [Galatians 3], ‘Quod lex erat ordinata per angelos;’but yet, to fulfill it, it was ‘in manu (id est, in potestate) intercessoris:’That none that shall be saved shall account their salvation unto their own deeds, or thank their own justice in observing the law; for it was in no man’s power to observe it: but shall give all thanks to the mercies and goodness of God; according to the psalm, ‘Laudate Dominum omnes gentes;’and according to the saying of Paul, ‘Ut qui gloriatur, in Domino glorietur;’who hath sent his Son to do for us that which it was not in our own power to do. For if it had been in our power to fulfill the law, Christ had been sent to us without cause, to do for us that thing which we ourselves could have done. that is to say, fulfill the law. As for the third he spake not, for he did never know that any may be baptized without faith; which faith, inasmuch as it is the gift of God, why may it not be given to infants? To the last he said that if he spake it, he meant it not of those that St. Bernard called heretics, (with more adulterers, thieves, murderers and other open sinners, who blaspheme God by their mouths, calling good evil, and evil good, making light darkness, and darkness light), but he meant it of such as men call heretics according to the testimony of St. Paul [Acts 24], ‘I live after the way’saith he, ‘that men call heresy,’ whom Christ doth foretell that ye shall burn and persecute to death.
After these answers thus made, the bishop, with his persecuting Foxford, dealt so hardly with this good man, partly by strait imprisonment, and partly by threats to proceed against him, that in the end he was fain, through human infirmity, to submit himself, and was abjured and condemned to perpetual prison; with loss, both of his benefice, as also of all his goods. Howbeit one of his brethren 24 afterwards made such suit unto the king (by means of the queen), that after three years’imprisonment, he was both released out of prison, and also obtained of the king a commission unto the lord Audley, being then lord chancellor, and to Cranmer, archbishop of Canterbury, and to Cromwell, then secretary, with others, to inquire or, the injurious and unjust dealings of the bishop and his chancellor against the said Patmore, notwithstanding his appeal unto the king; and to determine thereof according to true equity and justice, and to restore the said Patmore again unto his said benefice. But what was the end and issue of this commission, we find not as yet.
JOHN ROW, BOOK-BINDER, A FRENCHMAN, A.D. 1531.
This man, for binding, buying, and dispersing of books inhibited, was enjoined, besides other penance, to go to Smithfield with his books tied about him, and to cast them into the fire, and there to abide till they were all burned to ashes.
CHRISTOPHER, 25 A DUTCHMAN OF ANTWERP, A.D. 1531.
W. NELSON, PRIEST, A.D. 1531.
His crime was, for having and buying of Periman certain hooks of Luther, Tyndale, Thorp, etc., and for reading and perusing the same, contrary to the king’s proclamation, for which he was abjured. He was priest at Leith.
THOMAS EVE, WEAVER, A.D. 1531.
His articles: That the sacrament of the altar is but a memory of Christ’s passion. That men were fools to go on pilgrimage, or to set any candle before images. Item, It is as good to set up staves before the sepulcher, as to set up tapers of wax. That priests might have wives.
ROBERT HUDSON OF ST. SEPULCHRE’S, A.D. 1531.
Nicholas) 26 a dog for devotion (as he said), and meant no hurt; for he thought to have offered a halfpenny, or else the dog, and thought the dog to be better than a halfpenny, and the dog should raise some profit to the child; and said moreover, that it was the tenth dog, etc. EDWARD HEWET, SERVING-MAN, A.D. 1531.
His crime: That after the king’s proclamation, he had and read the New Testament in English; also the book of John Frith against purgatory, etc.
WALTER KIRY, SERVANT, A.D 1531.
His article: That he, after the king’s proclamation, had and used these books; The Testament in English, The Sum of Scripture, a Primer and Psalter in English, hidden in his bed-straw at Worcester.
MICHAEL LOBLEY, A.D 1531.
His articles: That he, being at Antwerp, bought certain books inhibited, as The Revelation of Antichrist, The Obedience of a Christian man, The wicked Mammon, Frith against Purgatory. Item, For speaking against images and purgatory. Item, For saying, that Bilney was a good man, 27 and died a good man, because of a bill that one did send from Norwich, that specified that he took his death so patiently, and did not forsake to die with a good will.
A BOY OF COLCHESTER, A.D 1531.
A boy of Colchester or Norfolk, brought to Richard Bayfield a budget of books, about four days before the said Bayfield was taken; for which the lad was taken, and laid in the Compter by Master More, chancellor, and there died.
WILLIAM SMITH, TAILOR, 28 A.D 1531.
His articles: That he lodged oftentimes in his house Richard Bayfield, and other good men: that he received his books into his house, and used much reading in the New Testament: he had also the Testament of William Tracy: he believed that there was no purgatory.
WILLIAM LINCOLN, PRENTICE, A.D 1532.
His articles: For having and receiving books from beyond the sea, of Tyndale, Frith, Thorp, and others. Item, He doubted, whether there were any purgatory: whether it were well done to set up candles to saints, to go on pilgrimage, etc.
JOHN MEL, OF BOXTED, A.D 1532, His heresy was this: For having and reading the New Testament in English, the Psalter in English, and the book called ‘ABC.’
JOHN MEDWEL, SERVANT TO MASTER CARKET, SCRIVENER.
This Medwel lay in prison twenty-four weeks, till he was almost lame. His heresies were these:—That he doubted whether there was any purgatory. He would not trust in pardons, but rather in the promises of Christ. 6 He doubted, whether the merits of any but only of Christ did help him. He doubted whether pilgrimages and setting up of candles to images, were meritorious or not. He thought he should not put his trust in any saint. Item, he had in his custody, the New Testament in English, the Examination of Thorp, The Wicked Mammon, a book of Matrimony. CHRISTOPHER FULMAN, SERVANT TO A GOLDSMITH, A.D. 1582.
This young man was attached, for receiving certain books at Antwerp of George Constantine, and transporting them over into England, and selling them to sundry persons, being books prohibited by the proclamation. Item, He thought then those books to have been good, and that he had been in error in times past.
MARGARET BOWGAS, A.D. 1532.
Her heretics were these:—Being asked if she would go on pilgrimage, she said; ‘I believe in God, and he can do me more good than our Lady, or any other saint; and as for them, they shall come to me, if they will,’ etc. Then Richard Sharples, parson of Milend, by Colchester, asked her if she said her Ave Maria. ‘I say,’ said she, ‘Hail Mary, but I will say no further.’ Then, said he, if she left not those opinions, she would bear a faggot. ‘If I do, better, then, I shall,’ said she, adding moreover, ‘that she would not go from that, to die there-for:’to whom the priest answered and said, She would be burned. Hereunto Margaret, again replying, asked the priest, ‘Who made martyrs?’‘Tyrants,’ quoth the priest, ‘make martyrs, for they put martyrs to death.’ ‘So they shall, or may, me,’ quoth Margaret. At length, with much ado, and great persuasions, she gave over to Foxford, the chancellor, and submitted herself.
JOHN TYREL, AN IRISHMAN, OF BILLERICA, TAILOR.
His articles were these:—That the sacrament of the altar was not the body of Christ, but only a cake of bread. Furthermore, the occasion being asked, how he fell into that heresy, he answered and said, that about three weeks before Midsummer last past, he heard Master Hugh Latimer preach at St. Mary, Abchurch, that men should leave going on pilgrimage abroad, and do their pilgrimage to their poor neighbors. Also the said Master Latimer in his sermon did set at little the sacrament of the altar.
WILLIAM LANCASTER, TAILOR, A.D. 1532.
The cause laid to this man was, that he had in his keeping the book of Wycliffe’s Wicket. Item, That he believed the sacrament of the altar, after the words of consecration, not to be the body of Christ really, etc. Item, Upon the day of Assumption, he said, that if it were not for the speech of the people, he would not receive the sacrament of the altar.
ROBERT TOPLEY, FRIAR, A.D. 1532.
His articles: He being a Friar Augustine of Clare, forsook his habit, and going in a secular man’s weed ten years, married a wife, called Margaret Nixon, having by her a child; and afterwards, being brought before the bishop, he was by him abjured, and condemned to be imprisoned in his former monastery; but at last he escaped out, and returned to his wife again.
THOMAS TOPLEY, AUGUSTINE FRIAR, AT STOKE-CLARE.
By the occasion of this Robert Topley aforesaid, place is offered to speak something likewise of Thomas Topley, his brother belike, and also a friar of the same order and house of Stoke-clare. This Thomas Topley had been converted before by one Richard Foxe, priest of Bumstead, and Miles Coverdale, insomuch that he, being induced, partly by them, partly by reading certain books, cast off both his order and habit, and went like a secular priest. Whereupon he was espied, and brought to Cuthbert, bishop of London, A.D. 1528, before whom he made this confession as followeth.
THE RECANTATION OF THOMAS TOPLEY. All christian men beware of consenting to Erasmus’s Fables, for by consenting to them, they have caused me to shrink in my faith, that I promised to God at my christening by my witnesses. First, as touching these fables, I read in Colloquium, by the instruction of sir Richard Foxe, of certain pilgrims, who, as the book doth say, made a vow to go to St. James, and as they went, one of them died, and he desired his fellows to salute St. James in his name; and another died homeward, and he desired that they would salute his wife and his children; and the third died at Florence, and his fellow said, he supposed that he was in heaven, and yet he said that he was a great liar. Thus I mused of these opinions so greatly, that my mind was almost withdrawn from devotion to saints. Notwithstanding, I consented that the divine service of them was very good; and is; though I have not had such sweetness in it as I should have had, because of such fables, and also because of other foolish pastimes; as dancing, tennis, and such other, which I think have been great occasions that the goodness of God hath been void in me, and vice in strength.
Moreover, it fortuned thus, about half a year ago, that the said sir Richard went forth, and desired me to serve his cure for him; and as I was in his chamber, I found a certain book called Wycliffe’s Wicket, whereby I felt in my conscience a great wavering for the time that I did read upon it, and afterwards, also, when I remembered it, it wounded my conscience very sore. Nevertheless, I consented not to it, until I had heard him preach, and that was upon St. Anthony’s day. Yet my mind was still much troubled with the said book (which did make the sacrament of Christ’s body, in form of bread, but a remembrance of Christ’s passion), till I heard sir Miles Coverdale preach, and then my mind was sore withdrawn from that blessed sacrament, insomuch that I took it then but for the remembrance of Christ’s body. Thus I have wretchedly wrapped my soul with sin, because I have not been steadfast in that holy order that God hath called me unto by baptism, neither in the holy order that God and St. Augustine have called me to by my religion, etc.
Furthermore, he said and confessed, that in the Lent last past, as he was walking in the field at Bumstead, with sir Miles Coverdale, late friar of the same order, going in the habit of a secular priest, who had preached the fourth Sunday in Lent at Bumstead, they did commune together of Erasmus’s works, and also upon confession.
This sir Miles said, and did hold, that it was sufficient for a man to be contrite for his sins betwixt God and his conscience, without confession made to a priest; which opinion this respondent thought to be true, and did affirm and hold the same at that time. Also he saith, that at the said sermon, made by the said sir Miles Coverdale at Bumstead, he heard him preach against worshipping of images in the church, saying and preaching, that men in no wise should honor or worship them; which likewise he thought to be true, because he had no learning to defend it.
WILLIAM GARDINER, AUGUSTINE FRIAR, OF CLARE.
With this Topley I may also join William Gardiner, one of the same order and house of Clare, who likewise, by the motion of the said Richard Foxe, curate of Bumstead, and by showing him certain books to read, was brought likewise to the like learning and judgment, and was for the same abjured by Cuthbert, bishop, the same year, 1528.
RICHARD JOHNSON, OF BOXTED, AND ALICE HIS WIFE.
This Richard and his wife were favorers of God’s word, and had been troubled for the same of long time. They came from Salisbury to Boxted by reason of persecution, where they continued a good space. At length, by resort of good men, they began to be suspected, and especially for a book of Wycliffe’s Wicket, which was in their house, they were convented before Stokesley, bishop of London, and there abjured.
So great was the trouble of those times, that it would overcharge any story to recite the names of all them that during those bitter days, before the coming of queen Anne, either were driven out of the realm, or were cast out from their goods and houses, or brought to open shame by abjuration. Such decrees and injunctions then were set forth by the bishops, such laws and proclamations were provided, such watch and narrow search was used, such ways were taken by force of oath to make one detect another so subtilly, that scarcely any good man could or did escape their hands, but either his name was known, or else his person was taken. Yet, nevertheless, so mightily the power of God’s gospel did work in the hearts of good men, that the number of them did nothing lessen for all this violence or policy of the adversaries, but rather increased in such sort, as our story almost suffereth not to recite the particular names of all and singular such as then groaned under the same cross of affliction and persecution of those days; of which number were these:
THE ABJURED AT BUMSTEAD Arthur and Gefferey Lome. Edmund Tibauld, and his wife Henry Butcher, and his wife William Butcher, and his wife George Preston, and his wife. Thomas Hempsteed, and his wife Robert Hempsteed, and his wife John Hempsteed; their son.
Robert Faire. William Chatwals.
William Chatwals. John Wiggen.
Nicholas Holden’s wife. Alice Shipwright.
Joan Smith, widow, otherwise called Agnes, widow; also her sons John, Thomas, and Christopher, and her daughters Joan and Alice All these were of the town of Bumstead, who being detected by sir Richard Foxe, their curate, and partly by Tibauld, were brought up to the bishop of London, and all put together in one house, to the number of thirty-five, to be examined and abjured by the said bishop.
Christopher remaineth yet alive, and hath been of a long time a great harborer of many good men and women that were in trouble and distress, and received them to his house, as Thomas Bate, Simon Smith, the priest’s wife, Roger Tanner, with a number more, which ye may see and read in our first edition. Touching this Richard Chapman, this, by the way, is to be noted, that as he was in his coat and shirt enjoined, bare-head, bare-foot, and bare-leg, to go before the procession, and to kneel upon the cold steps in the church all the sermon time, a little lad, seeing him kneel upon the cold stone with his bare knees, and having pity on him, came to him, and having nothing else to give him, brought him his cap to kneel upon; for which the boy was immediately taken into the vestry, and there unmercifully beaten, for his mercy showed to the poor penitent.
Beside these, divers others were about London, Colchester, and other places also, partakers of the same cross and affliction for the like cause of the gospel, in which number come in these who hereafter follow.
John Turke. William Raylond of Colchester.
Henry Raylond, his son. Marion Matthew, or Westden.
Dorothy Long. Thomas Parker. Robert Necton. Katharine Swane.
Mark Cowbridge of Colchester. Widow Denby Robert Hedil of Colchester. John Toy of St. Faith’s, London.
Richard Foster of London. Sebastian Harris, curate of Kensington.
Robert Wigge, William Bull, and George Cooper, of London.
William Wily, another son. Margaret Wily, his wife.
Lucy Wily, and Agnes Wily, two young girls.
Also another time, upon St. Peter’s even, as Katharine Wily did lie in childbed, the other wives, with the two girls, were found eating all together of a broth made with the fore-part of a rack of mutton. Item, The aforesaid John Wily the elder had a primer in English in his house, and other books.
A NOTE OF RICHARD BAYFIELD ABOVE MENTIONED.
Mention was made before 12 of Richard Bayfield, monk of Bury, who, in these perilous days, amongst other good saints of God, suffered death, as ye have heard; but how, and by whom he was detected, hath not been showed; which now, as in searching out of registers we have found, so we thought good here to adjoin the same, with the words and confession of the same Edmund Peerson, who detected him in manner as followeth.
THE ACCUSATION OF EDMUND PEERSON AGAINST RICHARD BAYFIELD.
The thirteenth day of September, at four o’clock in the afternoon, A.D. 1527, sir Richard Bayfield said, that my lord of London’s commissary was a plain pharisee; wherefore he would speak with him, and by his wholesome doctrine, he trusted in God, he should make him a perfect Christian man, and me also, for I was a pharisee as yet, he said.
Also he said he was entreated by his friends, and, in a manner, constrained to abide in the city against his will, to make the chancellor, and many more, perfect christian men; for as yet many were pharisees, and knew not the perfect declaration of the Scripture.
Also he said that he would favor Arthur and Bilney, he knew their living to be so good; for they did wear no shirts of linen cloth, but shirts of hair, and ever were fasting, praying, or doing some other good deeds. And as for one of them, whatsoever he have of money in his purse he will distribute it, for the love of God, to poor people.
Also he said that no man should give land or praise, in any manner of wise, to any creature, or to any saint in heaven, but only to God; Soli Deo honor et gloria; that is, To God alone be all honor and glory. (1 Timothy 1) Also he said, ‘Ah, good sir Edmund!’ye be far from the knowledge and understanding of the Scripture, for as yet ye be a pharisee, with many others of your company: but I trust in God, I shall make you, and many other more, good and perfect christian men, ere I depart from the city; for I purpose to read a common lecture every day at St. Foster’s Church, which lecture shall be to the edifying of your souls that be false pharisees.’
Also he said that Bilney preached nothing at Wilsdon, but what was true.
Also he said that Bilney preached true at Wilsdon, 29 if he said that our Lady’s crown of Wilsdon, her rings and beads that were offered to her, were bestowed amongst harlots, by the ministers of Christ’s church; ‘for that I have seen myself,’ he said, ‘here in London, and that will I abide by.’
Also he said that he would hold Arthur’s and Bilney’s opinions and articles, and abide by them, that they were true opinions, to suffer death there-for; ‘I know them,’ said he, ‘for such noble and excellent men in learning.’
Also he said, If he were before my lord cardinal, he would not let to speak to him, and to tell him, that he hath done haughtily in imprisoning Arthur and Bilney, who were better disposed in their livings to God, than my lord cardinal, or my lord of London, as holy as they make themselves.
Also he said, My lord cardinal is no perfect nor good man to God, for he keepeth not the commandments of God; for Christ (he said) never taught him to follow riches, nor to seek for promotions or dignities of this world, nor did Christ ever teach him to wear shoes of silver and gilt, set with pearl and precious stones; nor had Christ ever two crosses of silver, two axes, or a pillar of silver and gilt.
Also he said that every priest might preach the gospel without license of the pope, my lord cardinal, my lord of London, or any other man; and that he would abide by: and thus he verified it, as it is written, Mark 16, ‘Euntes in mundum universum, praedicate Evangelium omni creaturae.’ Christ commanded every priest to go forth throughout all the world, and preach the word of God by the authority of this gospel; and not to run to the pope, nor to any other man for license: and that he would abide by, he said.
Also he said, ‘Well, Sir Edmund!’say you what you will, and every man. and my lord cardinal also, and yet will I say, and abide by it, my lord cardinal doth punish Arthur and Bilney unjustly, for there be no truer christian men in all the world living, than they two be; and that punishment that my lord cardinal doth to them, he doth it by might and power, as one who would say, This may I do, and this will I do: who shall say nay? but he doth it of no justice.’
Also about the 14th day of October last past, at three o’clock at afternoon, sir Richard Bayfield came to St. Edmund’s in Lombardstreet, where he found me, sir Edmund Peerson, sir James Smith, and sir Miles Garnet, standing at the uttermost gate of the parsonage; and sir Edmund said to sir Richard Bayfield, ‘How many christian men have ye made, since ye came to the city?’Quoth sir Richard Bayfield, ‘I came even now to make thee a christian man, and these two other gentlemen with thee; for well I know ye be all three pharisees as yet.’
By me, Edmund Peerson.
And thus we have, as in a gross sum, compiled together the names and causes, though not of all, yet of a great, and too great a number of good men and good women, who, in those sorrowful days (from the year of our Lord 1527, to this present year 1533, that is, till the coming in of queen Anne)were manifold ways vexed and persecuted under the tyranny of the bishop of Rome. Where again we have to note, that from this present year of our Lord 1533, during the time of the said queen Anne, we read of no great persecution, nor any abjuration to have been in the church of England, save only that the registers of London make mention of certain Dutchmen counted for Anabaptists, 13 of whom ten were put to death in sundry places of the realm, A.D. 1535; other ten repented and were saved.
Now to proceed forth in our matter: After that the bishops and heads of the clergy had thus a long time taken their pleasure, exercising their cruel authority against the poor wasted flock of the Lord, and began, furthermore, to stretch forth their rigor and austerity, to attach and molest also other great persons of the temporalty; so it fell, that in the beginning of the next or second year following, which was A.D. 1532, 30 a parliament was called by the king about the 15th day of January: 14 in the which parliament the commons renewing their old griefs, complained of the cruelty of the prelates and ordinaries, for calling men before them ‘Ex officio.’ For such was then the usage of the ordinaries and their officials, that they would send for men, and lay accusations to them of heresy, only declaring to them that they were accused; and would minister articles to them, but no accuser should be brought forth: whereby the commons were grievously annoyed and oppressed; for the party so ascited must either abjure or do worse: for purgation he might none make.
As these matters were long debating in the common house, at last it was agreed that the temporal men should put their griefs in writing, and deliver them to the king. Whereupon, the 18th day of March, the common speaker, accompanied with certain knights and burgesses of the common house, came to the king’s presence, and there declared how the temporal men of his realm were sore aggrieved with the cruel demeanour of the prelates and ordinaries, who touched their bodies and goods so nearly, that they of necessity were enforced to make their humble suit by their speaker unto his grace, to take such order and redress in the case, as to his high wisdom might seem most convenient, etc.
Unto this request of the commons although the king at that time gave no present grant, but suspended them with a delay, yet notwithstanding, this sufficiently declared the grudging minds of the temporal men against the spiritualty, lacking nothing but God’s helping hand to work in the king’s heart for reformation of such things, which all they did see to be out of frame. Neither did the Lord’s divine providence fail in time of need, but eftsoons ministered a ready remedy in time expedient. He saw the pride and cruelty of the spiritual clergy grown to such a height as was intolerable. He saw again, and heard the groaning hearts, the bitter afflictions, of his oppressed flock; his truth decayed, his religion profaned, the glory of his Son defaced, his church lamentably wasted. Wherefore it was high time for his high majesty to look upon the matter; as he did indeed, by a strange and wondrous means, which was through the king’s divorcement from lady Katharine, dowager, and marrying with lady Anne Bullen, in this present year; which was the first occasion and beginning of all this public reformation which hath followed since in this church of England, to this present day, according as ye shall, hear.
A COMPENDIOUS DISCOURSE, COMPREHENDING THE WHOLE SUM AND MATTER CONCERNING THE MARRIAGE BETWEEN KING HENRY AND QUEEN ANNE BULLEN; AND QUEEN KATHARINE DIVORCED.
In the first entry of this king’s reign ye heard before, how, after the death of prince Arthur, the lady Katharine, princess dowager, and wife to prince Arthur, by the consent both of her father and of his, and also by the advice of the nobles of this realm, to the end her dowry might remain still within the realm, was espoused, after the decease of her husband, to his next brother, which was this king Henry. *Thus 1 then, after the declaration of these things gone before, next cometh to our hands (by the order and process of the time we are now about) to intreat of the marvellous and most gracious work of the holy providence of God, beginning now here to work about this time in England that which neither durst be attempted before of any prince within this realm, nor yet could ever be hoped for of any subject; concerning the abolishing and overthrow of the pope’s supremacy here in the English church: who, through the false pretensed title of his usurped authority, and through the vain fear of his keys and cursed cursings or excommunications, did so deeply sit in the conscience of men; did keep all princes and kings so under him; briefly, did so plant himself in all churches, taking so deep root in the hearts of christen people so long time, that it seemed not only hard, but also impossible, for man’s power to abolish the same. But that which passeth man’s strength God here beginneth to take in hand, to supplant the old tyranny and subtle supremacy of the Romish bishop. The occasion whereof began thus (through the secret providence of God), by a certain unlawful marriage between king Henry VIII. and the lady Katharine, his brother’s wife. Which marriage, being found unlawful, and so concluded by all universities not to be dispensed withal by any man, at length brought forth a verity long hid before; that is, that neither the pope was that he was recounted to be; and that, again, presumptuously he took more upon him than he was able to dispense withal.
These little beginnings being once called into question gave great light to men, and ministered withal great occasion to seek further: insomuch[that] at length the pope was espied, both to usurp that which he could not claim, and to claim that which he ought not to usurp. As touching the first doubt of this unlawful marriage, whether it came of the king himself, or of the cardinal, or of the Spaniards, as the chronicles ,themselves do not fully express, so I cannot assuredly affirm. This is certain, that it was not without the singular providence of God ,(whereby to bring greater things to pass), that the king’s conscience herein seemed to be so troubled, according as the words of his own oration, had unto his commons, do declare; whose oration here[after] followeth, to give testimony of the same.* This marriage seemed very strange and hard, for one brother to marry the wife of another. But what can be in this earth so hard or difficult, wherewith the pope, the omnipotent vicar of Christ, cannot by favor dispense, if it please him? The pope which then ruled at Rome was pope Julius II., by whose dispensation this marriage, which neither sense of nature would admit, nor God’s law would bear, was concluded, approved, and ratified; and so continued as lawful, without any doubt or scruple, the space near of twenty years, till about the time that a certain doubt began first to be moved by the Spaniards themselves, of the emperor’s council, A.D. 1522; at what time Charles the emperor, being here in England, promised to marry the lady Mary, daughter to the king of England; with the which promise the Spaniards themselves were not well contented, objecting this, among many other causes, that the, said lady Mary was begotten of the king of England by his brotherwife.
Whereupon the emperor, forsaking that marriage, did couple himself with lady Isabel, daughter to king Emanuel of Portugal: which marriage was done A.D. 1526. After this marriage of the emperor, the next year following, king Henry, being disappointed thus of the emperor, entered talk, or rather was labored to by the French ambassadors, for the said lady Mary to be married to the French king’s son, duke of Orleans; upon the talk whereof, after long debating, at length the matter was put off by a certain doubt of the president of Paris, casting the like objection as the Spaniards had done before; that was, Whether the marriage between the king and the mother of this lady Mary, who had been his brother’s wife before, were good or no?
The king, upon the occasion hereof casting many things in his mind, began to consider the cause more deeply, first, with himself, after, with certain of his nearest council; wherein two things there were which chiefly pricked his mind, whereof the one touched his conscience, the other concerned the state of his realm. For if that marriage with his brother’s wife stood unlawful by the law of God, then neither was his conscience clear in retaining the mother, nor yet the state of the realm firm by succession of the daughter. It happened the same time that the cardinal, who was then nearest about the king, had fallen out with the emperor, for not helping him to the papacy, as ye before have heard; for the which cause he helped to set the matter forward by all practice he might. Thus the king, perplexed in his conscience, and careful for the commonwealth, and partly also incited by the cardinal, could not so rest; but inquired further to feel what the word of God, and learning, would say unto it. Neither was the case so hard, after it began once to come in public question, but that by the word of God, and the judgments of the best learned clerks, and also by the censure of the chief universities of all Christendom, to the number of ten and more, it was soon discussed to be unlawful.
All these censures, books, and writings, of so many doctors, clerks, and universities, sent from all quarters 2 of Christendom to the king, 31 albeit they might suffice to have fully resolved, and did indeed resolve, the king’s conscience touching this scruple of his marriage; yet would he not straightway use that advantage which learning did give him, unless he had withal the assent as well of the pope, as also the emperor; wherein he perceived no little difficulty. For the pope, he thought, seeing the marriage was authorized before by the dispensation of his predecessor, would hardly turn his keys about to undo that which the pope before him had locked; and much less would he suffer those keys to be foiled, or to come in any doubt; which was like to come, if that marriage were proved undispensable by God’s word, which his predecessor, through his plenary power, had licensed before. Again, the emperor, he thought, would be no less hard for his part, on the other side, forasmuch as the said Lady Katharine was the emperor’s near aunt, and a Spaniard born. Yet, nevertheless, his purpose was to prove and feel what they both would say unto it; and therefore he sent Stephen Gardiner 32 to Rome, to weigh with pope Clement. To the emperor was sent sir Nicholas Harvey, knight, embassador in the court of Gaunt. First, pope Clement, not weighing belike the full importance and sequel of the matter, sent cardinal Campeius (as is said) into England, joined with the cardinal of York. 33 At the coming of these legates, the king, first opening unto them the grief of his conscience, seemed with great reasons and persuasions sufficiently to have drawn the good will of those two legates to his side; who also, of their own accord, pretended no less but to show a willing inclination to further the king’s cause. But yet the mouths of the common people, and in especial of women, and such others as favored the queen, and talked their pleasure, were not stopped. Wherefore, to satisfy the blind surmises and foolish communication of these also, who, seeing the coming of the cardinals, cast out such lewd words, as that the king would, ‘for his own pleasure,’ have another wife, with like unbeseeming talk; he therefore, willing that all men should know the truth of his proceedings, caused all his nobility, judges, and counsellors, with divers other persons, to resort to his palace of Bridewell, the 8th day of November, A.D. 1528, where he, openly speaking in his great chamber, and these words in effect, as followeth.
THE KING’S ORATION TO HIS SUBJECTS.
Our trusty and well-beloved subjects, both you of the nobility, and you of the meaner sort: it is not unknown to you, how that we, both by God’s provision, and true and lawful inheritance, have reigned over this realm of England almost the term of twenty years; during which time, we have so ordered us (thanked be God!) that no outward enemy hath oppressed you, nor taken any thing from us, nor we have invaded no realm, but we have had victory and honor, so that we think that you nor none of your predecessors ever lived more quietly, more wealthily, nor in more estimation, under any of our noble progenitors. But when we remember our mortality, and that we must die, then we think that all our doings in our lifetime are clearly defaced, and worthy of no memory, if we leave you in trouble at the time of our death; for if our true heir be not known at the time of our death, see what mischief and trouble shall succeed to you and to your children. The experience thereof some of you have seen after the death of our noble grandfather, king Edward the Fourth; and some have heard what mischief and manslaughter continued in this realm between the houses of York and Lancaster, by the which dissension this realm was like to have been clearly destroyed.
And although it hath pleased Almighty God to send us a fair daughter, of a noble woman and of me begotten, to our great comfort and joy, yet it hath been told us by divers great clerks, that neither she is our lawful daughter, nor her mother our lawful wife, but that we live together abominably and detestably in open adultery; insomuch that when our ambassade was last in France, and motion was made that the duke of Orleans should marry our said daughter, one of the chiefcounsellors to the French king said, It were well done, to know whether she be the king of England’s lawful daughter or not; for well known it is, that he begot her on his brother’s wife, which is directly against God’s law and his precept.
Think you, my lords, that these words touch not my body and soul? Think you that these doings do not daily and hourly trouble my conscience, and vex my spirits? Yes, we doubt not, and if it were your cause every man would seek remedy, when the peril of your soul, and the loss of your inheritance is openly laid to you.
For this only cause I protest before God, and on the word of a prince, I have asked counsel of the greatest clerks in Christendom; and for this cause I have sent for this legate, as a man indifferent, only to know the truth, and so to settle my conscience, and for none other cause, as God can judge. And as touching the queen, if it be adjudged by the law of God that she is my lawful wife, there was never thing more pleasant nor more acceptable to me in my life, both for the discharge and clearing of my conscience, and also for the good qualities and conditions which I know to be in her. For I assure you all, that beside her noble parentage of the which she is descended (as you well know), she is a woman of most gentleness, of most humility and buxomness, yea, and in all good qualities appertaining to nobility she is without comparison, as I, these twenty years almost, 34 have had the true experiment; so that if I were to marry again, if the marriage might be good, I would surely choose her above all other women. But if it be determined by judgment, that our marriage was against God’s law, and clearly void, then I shall not only sorrow the departing from so good a lady and loving companion, but much more lament and bewail my unfortunate chance, that I have so long lived in adultery, to God’s great displeasure, and have no true heir of my body to inherit this realm. These be the sores that vex my mind, these be the pangs that trouble my conscience, and for these griefs I seek a remedy.
Therefore I require of you all, as our trust and confidence is in you, to declare to our subjects our mind and intent, according to our true meaning; and desire them to pray with us that the very truth may be known, for the discharge of our conscience and saving of our soul: and for the declaration hereof I have assembled you together, and now you may depart.
Shortly after this oration of the king, wherewith he stirred the hearts of a number, then the two legates, being requested of the king, for discharge of his conscience, to judge and determine upon the cause, went to the queen lying then in the palace of Bridewell, and declared to her, how they were deputed judges indifferent, between the king and her, to hear and determine, whether the marriage between them stood with God’s law or not.
When she understood the cause of their coming, being thereat something astonied at the first, after a little pausing with herself, thus she began, answering for herself. 3 QUEEN KATHARINE’S ANSWER TO THE CARDINALS.
Alas, my lords (said she), is it now a question whether I be the king’s lawful wife or no, when I have been married to him almost twenty years, and in the mean season never question was made before? Divers prelates yet being alive, and lords also, and privy councillors with the king at that time, then adjudged our marriage lawful and honest; and now to say it is detestable and abominable, I think it great marvel: and, in especial, when I consider what a wise prince the king’s father was, and also the love and natural affection that king Ferdinand, my father, bare unto me, I think in myself, that neither of our fathers were so uncircumspect, so unwise, and of so small imagination, but they foresaw what might follow of our marriage; and in especial, the king my father sent to the court of Rome, and there, after long suit, with great cost and charge, obtained a license and dispensation, that I, being the one brother’s wife, and peradventure carnally known, might, without scruple of conscience, marry with the other brother lawfully, which license, under lead, I have yet to show: which things make me to say, and surely believe, that our marriage was both lawful, good, and godly.
For, because I have wondered at your high pride and vain glory, and abhorred your voluptuous life and abominable lechery, and little regarded your presumptuous power and tyranny, therefore, of malice you have kindled this fire, and set this matter abroach; and, in especial, for the great malice that you bear to my nephew the emperor, whom, I perfectly know you hate worse than a scorpion, because he would not satisfy your ambition, and make you pope by force: and therefore you have said more than once, that you would trouble him and his friends; and you have kept him true promise; for of all his wars and vexations he only may thank you. And as for me, his poor aunt and kinswoman, what trouble you have put me to by this new found doubt, God knoweth; to whom I commit my cause, according to the truth.
The cardinal of York excused himself, saying, that he was not the beginner nor the mover of the doubt, and that it was sore against his will that ever the marriage should come in question; but he said that by his superior, the bishop of Rome, he was deputed as a judge to hear the cause; which he sware on his profession to hear indifferently. But whatsoever was said, she believed him not; and so the legates took their leave of her, and departed.
These words were spoken in French, and written by cardinal Campeius’s secretary, who was present; and afterward, by Edward Hall translated into English. *By 4 these premises it is sufficient to judge and understand what the whole occasion was, that brought this marriage first into doubt, so that there needeth not any further declaration in words upon this matter. But this one thing will I say, if I might be bold to speak what I think: other men may think what they list. This I suppose, that the stay of this marriage was taken in good time, and not without the singular favor of God’s providence. For if that one child, coming of this foresaid marriage, did so greatly endanger this whole realm of England to be entangled with the Spanish nation, that if God’s mighty hand had not been betwixt, God knoweth what misery might have ensued: what peril then should thereby have followed, if, in the continuance of this marriage, more issue had sprung thereof!
But to return again to our matter concerning the whole process and discourse of this divorcement, briefly to comprehend in few words, that which might be collected out of many: after this answer was given of the queen, and her appeal made to the pope, the king, to try out the matter by Scriptures and by learning, sent first to the pope, 35 then to most part of all universities, to have it decised to the uttermost,* as shall be hereafter fully declared . In the next year ensuing, A.D. 1529, on the 31st day of May, at the Black Friars’of London was prepared a solemn place for the two legates: who, coming with their crosses, pillars, axes, and all other Romish ceremonies accordingly, were set in two chairs covered with cloth of gold, and cushions of the same. When all things were ready, then the king and the queen were ascited *personally to appear or by their proctors* 37 before the said legates the 18th day of June; where (the commission of the cardinals first being read, wherein it was appointed by the court of Rome, that they should be the hearers and judges in the cause between them both) the king was called by name, who appeared by two proctors. Then the queen was called, who being accompanied with four bishops,5 and other of her counsel, and a great company of ladies, came personally herself before the legates; who there, after her obeisance, with a sad gravity of countenance, having not many words with them, appealed from the legates, as judges not competent, to the court of Rome, and so departed.
Notwithstanding this appeal, the cardinals sat weekly, and every day arguments on both sides were brought, but nothing definitively was determined.
As the time passed on, the 2lst day of June the king, being desirous to see an end of the controversy and hear the determination of the matter, came to the court, and the queen came also, 38 where he, standing under his cloth of estate, uttered these or like words, *which 6 can best declare his own mind; which here I thought to notify, that they which have not the chronicles present, may here read his mind, and the better understand the matter.* THE KING’S ORATION TO THE LEGATES.
My lords, legates of the see apostolic, who be deputed judges in this great and weighty matter, I most heartily beseech you to ponder my mind and intent, which only is to have a final end for the discharge of my conscience—for every good christian man knoweth what pain and what unquietness he suffereth, who hath his conscience grieved; for I assure you, on my honor, that this matter hath so vexed my mind, and troubled my spirits, that I can scantly study anything which should be profitable for my realm and people; and for to have a quietness in body and soul is my desire and request—and not for any grudge that I bear to her that I have married; for I dare say, that for her womanhood, wisdom, nobility, and gentleness, never prince had such another; and therefore, if I would willingly change, I were not wise. Wherefore my suit is to you my lords at this time, to have a speedy end according to right, for the quietness of my mind and conscience only, and for no other cause, as God knoweth.
When the king had said, the queen departed without any thing saying. *The 7 queen again, of the other partye (who had before appealed to the pope), assisted with her councillors and doctors, who were four bishops, that is Warham of Canterbury, West of Ely, Fisher of Rochester, Standish of St. Asse, 8 with other learned men whom the king had licensed her to choose unto her,* was called to know whether she would abide by her appeal, or answer there before the legates. Her proctor answered, that she would abide by her appeal. That notwithstanding, the councillors on both sides every day almost met, and debated this matter substantially, so that at the last the divines were all of opinion that the marriage was against the law of God, if she were carnally known by the first brother, which thing she clearly denied. But to that was answered, that prince Arthur her husband confessed the act done, by certain words spoken; which, being recorded in other chronicles, I had rather should there be read, than by me here uttered. Furthermore, at the time of the death of prince Arthur, she thought and judged that she was with child, and for that cause the king was deferred from the title and creation of the prince of Wales almost half a year: which thing could not have been judged, if she had not been carnally known.
Also she herself caused a bull to be purchased, in the which were these words, ‘vel forsan cognitam,’ which is as much to say as, ‘peradventure carnally known;’which words were not in the first bull granted by Julius, 39 at her second marriage to the king. Which second bull, with that clause, was only purchased to dispense with the second matrimony, although there were carnal copulation before: which bull needed not to have been purchased, if there had been no carnal copulation, for then the first bull had been sufficient.
Moreover, for the more clear evidence of this matter, that prince Arthur had carnal knowledge of the said lady Katharine his wife, it appeareth in a certain book of records which we have to show touching this marriage, that the same time when prince Arthur was first married with this lady Katharine, daughter to king Ferdinand, certain ambassadors of Ferdinand’s council were then sent hither into England for the said purpose, to see and to testify concerning the full consummation of the said matrimonial conjunction; which councillors here resident, being solemnly sworn, not only did affirm to both their parents, that the matrimony was consummate by that act, but also did send over into Spain, to her father, such demonstrations of their mutual conjunction as here I will not name, sparing the reverence of chaste ears. Which demonstrations otherwise, in those records being named and testified, do sufficiently put the matter out of all doubt and question. Besides that in the same records appeareth, that both he and she not only were of such years as were meet and able to explete the consummation hereof, but also they were and did lie together both here and in Wales, by the space of three quarters of a year. Thus, when the divines on her side were beaten from that ground, then they fell to persuasions of natural reasons, how this should not be undone for three causes, *of 10 policy, of charity, and of time.* One was, because, if it should be broken, the only child of the king should be a bastard, which were a great mischief to the realm. Secondly, the separation should be cause of great unkindness between her kindred and this realm. And the third cause was, that the continuance of so long space had made the marriage honest. These persuasions, with many other, were set forth by the queen’s council, and in especial by the bishop of Rochester, who stood stiff in her cause. But yet God’s precept was not answered; wherefore they left that ground, and fell to pleading, that the court of Rome had dispensed with that marriage. To this some lawyers said, that no earthly person is able to dispense with the positive law of God. *And 10 truly, forsomuch as no reasons, be they never so wise and politic, have any force against the manifest and express word of God, whereunto all things must give place; it had not been hard for the legates speedily to have defined this matter, if they had had the word of God before their eyes, more than the respect of man.* When the *subtil 10 * legates heard the opinions of the divines, and saw whereunto the end of this question would tend, forasmuch as men began so to dispute of the authority of the court of Rome, *under-standing another thing lying in this matter, 11 what derogation might ensue hereby to the court of Rome and to the blemish of their dignity if the pope’s dispensation should not be maintained as forceable in that or any other case;* and especially because the cardinal of York perceived the king to cast favor to the lady Anne, whom he knew to be a Lutheran; they thought best to wind themselves out of that brake betimes, and so *with 12 crafty delays dissimuled the matter, and tracted the time, and drave off the king with many fair words, but performing nothing, notwithstanding the king’s earnest suit and request made to them to make a speedy end, and to give some judgment for the quieting of his conscience: whatsoever it were, he would accept it. Yet they, neither following the cause, nor tendering the king, but only respecting their own gain and glory, from week to week protracted the matter till towards the end of July. 41 Whereupon the king, taking it not well, so to be used at their hand, especially in such a matter, being so full of disquietness in itself, sent the duke of Norfolk and the duke of Suffolk to the court where the legates were, requiring them to hasten to the final end of the matter (what end soever it were), and to defer it no longer.
Now here appeared the false crafty packing of these carnal merchants. It is the manner and custom of Rome about the beginning of August, during the space of the dog-days, to have a solemn Vacation, as they call it, in which time neither schools be used, nor any term kept. Campeius the cardinal therefore, pretending the order of the court of Rome, whereof he was as a member, answered, that he neither would nor could go against the ordinance of the court, whereunto he was bound; so that before October he would proceed no further in the cause. The dukes, hearing the cardinals’words, and perceiving their pretensed excuses, seeing by no ways they would be entreated, brast out in manner of open defiance, as no great marvel was. Insomuch that Charles, duke of Suffolk, 42 clapping his hand upon the table, and swearing by the mass, said in these words, That yet there came never legate nor cardinal from Rome that ever did good in England. And so with him all the temporal lords in an anger departed from the cardinals, leaving them one to look upon other. The king notwithstanding, yet for quietness of his troubled mind abiding the cardinals’leisure, was content to wait their assigned month of October. But before October came, Campeius the cardinal was called home by letters from the pope, whereby the matter was left undiscussed, or rather deluded, to verify the duke of Suffolk’s saying, That no cardinal came yet from Rome, that ever did good in England. The king, seeing himself so deluded, or rather abused,* by the cardinals, took it to no little grief; whereupon the fall of the cardinal of York followed not long after: for *the 13 king, taking more heart unto him, partly encouraged by the treatise afore mentioned, called “The Supplication of Beggars,” which he had diligently read and perused, and partly provoked through the pride and stoutness of the clergy, brake off with the cardinal, caused him to be attainted in the Praemunire, and after also to be apprehended.* This was A.D. 1529. 43 Shortly after it happened, the same year, that the king by his embassadors was advertized, that the emperor and the pope were both together at Bologna. 44 14 Wherefore, *although 12 justly provoked, yet patiently forbearing, he ceased not his suit, but* directed sir Thomas Bullen, late created earl of Wiltshire, and Dr. Stokesley, afterwards bishop of London, and Dr. Lee, afterwards bishop of York, with his message to the pope’s court, where also the emperor was, *desiring 12 to have an answer of his case according to the right and justice. * Pope Clement, understanding the king’s case and request, and fearing what might follow after; if learning and Scripture here should take place against the authority of their dispensations, and moreover doubting the emperor’s displeasure, bare himself strange off from the matter, answering the embassadors with this delay, that he presently would not define in the case, but would hear the full matter disputed when he came to Rome, and according to right he would do justice, *and 15 send an answer agreeing to right and equity.
This done, the king sendeth incontinent to all most famous universities abroad, to hear a resolute answer touching the state and condition of his marriage, whether it could stand by God’s word or no. To this the universities, to the number of twelve, agreeing in uniform consent, make answer again in due form of writing to the king, affirming plainly his marriage, in case as it standeth, both to be unlawful, and repugnant to the express word of God; and that no man is able to dispense with the same.* Although the king ought no such service to the pope, to stand to his arbitrement either in this case, or in any other, having both the Scripture to lead him, and his law in his own hands to warrant him, yet, for quietness’sake, and for that he would not rashly break order (which rather was a disorder indeed), he bare so long as conveniently he might. At length, after long delays and much dissembling, when he saw no hope of redress, he began somewhat to quicken and to look about him, what was best both for his own conscience and the stablishment of his realm to do.
No man here doubteth, but that all this was wrought not by man’s device, but by the secret purpose of the Lord himself, to bring to pass further things, as afterwards followed, which his divine providence was disposed to work. For else, as touching the king’s intent and purpose, he never meant nor minded any such thing as to seek the ruin of the pope, but rather sought all means contrary, how both to stablish the see of Rome, and also to obtain the good will of the same see and court of Rome, if it might have been gotten. And therefore, intending to sue his divorce from Rome, at the first beginning his device was, by Stephen Gardiner his ambassador at Rome to exalt the cardinal of York, as is before showed, to be made pope and universal bishop, to the end that, he ruling that apostolic see, the matter of his unlawful marriage which so troubled his conscience might come to a quiet conclusion, without any further rumor of the world: which purpose of his, if it had taken effect as he had devised it, and the English cardinal had once been made pope, no doubt but the authority of that see had never been exterminate out of England. But God, being more merciful unto us, took a better way than so; for both without and contrary to the king’s expectation, he so brought to pass, that neither the cardinal of York was pope (which should have been an infinite cost to the king), and yet nevertheless the king sped of his purpose too, and that much better than he looked for. For he was rid, by lawful divorcement, not only from that unlawful marriage which clogged his conscience, but also from the miserable yoke of the pope’s usurped dominion, which clogged the whole realm; and all at one time.
Thus God’s holy providence ruling the matter, as I said, when the king could get no favorable grant of the pope touching his cause, being so good and honest, he was forced to take the redress of his right into his own hands, and seeing this Gordian knot 16 would not be loosed at Rome, he was driven against his will, as God would, to play the noble Alexander himself, and with the sword of his princely authority knapped the knot at one stroke clean asunder, loosing, as it were, with one solution infinite questions. For where the doctors and canonists had long disputed, and yet could never thoroughly discuss, the largeness and fullness of the pope’s two swords, both temporal and spiritual, the king with one sword did so cut off both his swords that he dispatched them both clean out of England, as ye shall see more anon. But first the king, like a prudent prince, before he would come to the head of the sore, thought best to pare away such rank flesh and putrefied places as were about it; and therefore, following his own proverb,17 like as one going about to cast down an old rotten wall will not begin with the foundation first, but with the stones that lie at the top, so he, to prepare his way better unto the pope, first began with the cardinal, casting him by the law of ‘Praemunire’out of his goods and possessions: and so at length, by poisoning himself, he procured his own death, which was A.D. 1530. *In 18 the month of September in the same year,* the king, to provide betimes against mischiefs that might come from Rome, gave forth eftsoons this proclamation touching the abolishing of the pope and the establishing of the king’s supremacy: the tenor whereof here followeth.
A PROCLAMATION OF THE KING, THAT NOTHING SHOULD BE PURCHASED FROM ROME. The king’s highness straitly chargeth and commandeth, that no manner of person, what estate, degree, or condition soever he or they be of, do purchase, or attempt to purchase, from the court of Rome, or elsewhere, nor use and put in execution, divulge or publish any thing, heretofore within this year past purchased, or to be purchased hereafter, containing matter prejudicial to the high authority, jurisdiction, and prerogative royal of this his said realm, or to the let, hinderance, or impeachment of his grace’s noble and virtuous intended purposes in the premises, upon pain of incurring his highness’indignation, and imprisonment, and further punishment of their bodies for their so doing, at his grace’s pleasure, to the dreadful example of all other. [September 16th.] *In 18 the mean time nothing yet is heard from Rome. Wherefore the king, assembling his parliament the next year following, which was 1531, in the month of March, sent into the common house the lord chancellor, and divers lords of the spiritualty and temporalty to the number of twelve, whereas the lord chancellor, speaking unto the whole house, had these words in effect as followeth:— ‘You of this worshipful house, I am sure, be not so ignorant, but you know well that the king, our sovereign lord, hath married his brother’s wife: for she was both wedded and bedded with his brother prince Arthur; and therefore you may surely say that he hath married his brother’s wife: if this marriage be good or no, many clerks do doubt. Wherefore the king, like a virtuous prince, willing to be satisfied in his conscience, and also for the surety of his realm, hath with great deliberation consulted with great clerks, and hath sent my lord of London, here present, to the chief universities of all christendom, to know their opinion and judgment in that behalf; and although the universities of Cambridge and Oxford had been sufficient to discuss,the cause, yet because they be in his realm and to avoid all suspicion of partiality, he hath sent into the realm of France, Italy, the pope’s dominions, and Venetians, to know their judgment in that behalf, which have concluded, written, and sealed their determinations, according as you shall hear read.’
Then sir Bryan Tuke took out of a box twelve writings sealed, 46 with the determinations of these universities; that is, The determination of the university of Orleans; of the facultie of decrees of Paris; of the civilians and canonists of Angers; of the faculty of the divines of Paris; of the university of Bourges in Berry; 47 of the university of Bologna; of the faculty of divines of Padua; of the university of Toulouse: besides other universities as well of Germany, as of Oxford and Cambridge. What the tenor and effect of these determinations were, because they are all ready sufficiently expressed in the chronicles, and we have many things else in this book to be comprehended, it shall be sufficient in this behalf to send the reader to the chronicle of Hall, where they are fully to be seen, whoso list to read them.* After this was done, the king then, proceeding further, caused the rest of the spiritual lords to be called by process into the king’s bench to make their appearance, forsomuch as the whole clergy of England, in supporting and maintaining the power legantine of the cardinal, by the reason thereof were all entangled likewise in the Praemunire, and therefore were called into the king’s bench to answer. But before the day of their appearance, the prelates together in their convocation concluded among themselves an humble submission in writing, and offered the king for a subsidy or contribution, that he would be their good lord and release them of the Praemunire by act of parliament, first to be gathered in the province of Canterbury a hundred thousand pounds; and in the province of York eighteen thousand eight hundred and forty pounds and ten pence: 19 which offer with much labor was accepted, and their pardon promised. In this submission the clergy called the king supreme head of the church of England, which thing they never confessed before; whereupon many things followed, as after (God willing) ye shall hear.
But first, forsomuch as we are in hand now with the matter, we will borrow by the way a few words of the reader, to speak of this clergymoney, of one hundred and eighteen thousand eight hundred and forty pounds and ten pence, to be levied to the king, as is above touched. For the levying of which sum an order was taken among the prelates, that every bishop in his diocese should call before him all the priests, parsons, and vicars; among whom Dr. Stokesley, bishop of London, a man then counted to be of some wit and learning, but of little discretion and humanity (which caused him to be out of the favor of the common people), called before him all the priests within the city of London, whether they were curates or stipendiaries, the first day of September, being Friday, 48 20 in the chapter-house of St. Paul; at which day the priests appeared, and the bishop’s policy was to have only six or eight priests together, and by persuasions to have caused them to grant some portion towards the payment of the aforesaid hundred thousand pound. But the number of the priests was so great (for they were six hundred at least, and with them came many temporal men to hear the matter), that the bishop was disappointed of his purpose; for when the bishop’s officers called in certain priests by name into the chapter-house, with that a great number entered, for they put the bishop’s officers that kept the door aside.
After this the officers got the door shut again. Then the priests without said, “We will not be kept without, and our fellows be within: we know not what the bishop will do with them.” The temporal men, being present, comforted and encouraged the priests to enter, so that by force they opened the door, and one struck the bishop’s officer over the face, and entered the chapter-house, and many temporal men with them; and long it was ere any silence could be made. At last, when they were appeased, the bishop stood up and said,— ‘Brethren! I marvel not a little why you be so heady, and know not what shall be said to you; therefore I pray you to keep silence, and to hear me patiently. My friends all, you know well that we be men frail of condition, and no angels; and by frailty and lack of wisdom we have misdemeaned ourselves towards the king our sovereign lord and his laws, so that all we of the clergy were in the Praemunire; by reason whereof, all our promotions, lands, goods and chattels, were to him forfeit, and our bodies ready to be imprisoned: yet his grace, moved with pity and compassion, demanded of us what we could say, why he should not extend his laws upon us. Then the fathers of the clergy humbly besought his grace of mercy: to whom he answered, that he was ever inclined to mercy. Then, for all our great offenses we had little penance; for where he might, by the rigor of his law, have taken all our livelihood, goods, and chattels, he was contented with one hundred thousand pounds, to be paid in five years. And although this sum be more than we may easily bear, yet by the rigor of his laws we should have borne the whole burden. Wherefore, my brethren! I charitably exhort you to bear your parts of your livelihood and salary, toward the payment of this sum granted.’
Then it was shortly said to the bishop, ‘My Lord! twenty nobles a year is but bare living for a priest; for now victuals and every thing are so dear, that poverty in a manner enforceth us to say nay. Besides that, my lord, we never offended in the Praemunire: for we never meddled with the cardinal’s faculties: let the bishops and abbots who have offended pay.’
Then the bishop’s officers gave to the priests high words, which caused them to be the more obstinate. Also divers temporal men who were present comforted the priests, and bade them agree to no payment. In this rumor divers of the bishop’s servants were buffeted and stricken, so that the bishop began to be afraid, and with fair words appeased the noise; and for all things which were done or said there he pardoned them, and gave to them his blessing, and prayed them to depart in charity. Then they departed, thinking to hear no more of the matter, but they were deceived; for the bishop went to sir Thomas More, being lord chancellor (who greatly favored the bishop and the clergy), and to him made a grievous complaint, and declared the fact very grievously. Whereupon commandment was sent to sir Thomas Pargitor, mayor of the city, 49 to attach certain priests and temporal men: and so fifteen priests, and five temporal men were arrested; of the which some were sent to the Tower, some to the Fleet and other prisons, where they remained long after.
The next year, 50 which was A.D. 1532, a parliament was assembled on the 15th day of January, as was mentioned a little before. During the time of this parliament, before the marriage of queen Anne, there was one Temse in the common-house, who moved the commons to sue to the king to take the queen again into his company; declaring certain great mischiefs like to ensue thereof, as in bastarding the lady Mary, the king’s only child, and divers other inconveniences. Which being reported to the king’s ears, he sent immediately to sir Thomas Audley, speaker then of the parliament, expressing unto him, amongst other matters, that he marvelled much why one of the parliament did so openly speak of the absence of the queen from him; which matter was not to be determined there, for it touched (said he) his soul; and he wished the matrimony were good, for then had he never been so vexed in conscience. But the doctors of universities (said he) have determined the marriage to be void, and detestable before God; which grudge of conscience (he said) caused him to abstain from her company, and no foolish nor wanton appetite. “For I am,” said he, “forty-one years old, at which age the lust of man is not so quick as it is in youth. And, saving in Spain and Portugal, it hath not been seen, that one man hath married two sisters, the one being carnally known before: but the brother to marry the brother’s wife, was so abhorred amongst all nations, that I never heard it, that any Christian so did, but myself. Wherefore ye see my conscience troubled, and so I pray you report.” And so the speaker, departing, declared to the commons the king’s saying. *It 22 was touched, a little before, how that the pope had lost great part of his authority and jurisdiction in this realm of England; now it followeth to infer, how and by what occasion his whole power and authority began utterly to be abolished, by the reason and occasion of the most virtuous and noble lady, Anne Bullen, who was not as yet married to the king, howbeit in great favor: by whose godly means and most virtuous counsel the king’s mind was daily inclined better and better.* Insomuch that, not long after, the king, belike perceiving the minds of the clergy not much favoring his cause, sent for the speaker again, and twelve of the commonhouse, having with him eight lords, and said to them, “Well-beloved subjects! we had thought the clergy of our realm had been our subjects wholly, but now we have well perceived that they be but half our subjects, yea and scarce our subjects. For all the prelates at their consecration make an oath to the pope, clean contrary to the oath that they make unto us, so that they seem to be his subjects, and not ours.” And so the king, delivering to them the copy of both the oaths, required them to invent some order that he might not thus be deluded of his spiritual subjects. The speaker thus departed, and caused the oaths to be read in the commonhouse, the very tenor whereof here ensueth.
THE OATH OF THE CLERGY TO THE POPE I John, bishop or abbot of A., from this hour forward shall be faithful and obedient to St. Peter, and to the holy church of Rome, and to my lord the pope and his successors canonically entering. I shall not be of counsel nor consent, that they shall lose either life or member, or shall be taken, or suffer any violence or any wrong by any means. Their counsel to me credited by them, their messengers, or letters, I shall not willingly discover to any person. The papacy of Rome, the rules of the holy fathers, and regalities of St. Peter, I shall help, and retain, and defend against all men. The legate of the see apostolic, going and coming, I shall honorably entreat. The rights, honors, privileges, and authorities of the church of Rome, and of the pope and his successors, I shall cause to be conserved, defended, augmented, and promoted; I shall not be in counsel, treaty, or any act, in the which any thing shall be imagined against him or the church of Rome, their rights, states, honors, or powers: and if I know any such to be moved or compassed, I shall resist it to my power; and as soon as I can, I shall advertise him, or such as may give him knowledge. The rules of the holy fathers, the decrees, ordinances, sentences, dispositions, reservations, provisions, and commandments apostolic, to my power I shall keep and cause to be kept of other. Heretics, schismatics, and rebels to our holy father and his successors, I shall resist and persecute to my power.
I shall come to the synod when I am called, except I be letted by a canonical impediment. The dorsels 23 of the apostles I shall visit personally, or by my deputy. I shall not aliene or sell my possessions without the pope’s counsel. So God me help, and the holy evangelists.
This oath of the clergymen, which they were wont to make to the bishop of Rome (now pope Quondam), was abolished and made void by statute, and a new oath ministered and confirmed for the same, wherein they acknowledged the king to be the supreme head, under Christ, in this church of England, as by tenor thereof may appear hereunder ensuing.
THE OATH OF THE CLERGY TO THE KING I John, B. of A., utterly renounce, and clearly forsake, all such clauses, words, sentences, and grants, which I have or shall have hereafter of the pope’s holiness, of and for the bishopric of A., that in anywise have been, are, or hereafter may be, hurtful or prejudicial to your highness, your heirs, successors, dignity, privilege or estate royal: and also I do swear that I shall be faithful and true, and faith and truth I shall bear, to you my sovereign lord, and to your heirs kings of the same, of life and limb and earthly worship above all creatures, for to live and die with you and yours against all people: and diligently I shall be attendant to all your needs and business, after my wit and power; and your counsel I shall keep and hold, knowledging myself to hold my bishopric of you only, beseeching you of restitution of the temporalties of the same; promising (as before) that I shall be a faithful, true, and obedient subject unto your said highness, heirs, and successors during my life: and the services and other things due to your highness, for the restitution of the temporalties of the same bishopric, I shall truly do and obediently perform. So God me help and all saints.
These oaths thus being recited and opened to the people, were the occasion that the pope lost all his interest and jurisdiction here in England within short while after. Upon the occasion and reason whereof, the matter falling out more and more against the pope, sir Thomas More, of whom mention is made before, being a great maintainer of the pope and a heavy troubler of Christ’s people, and now not liking well of this oath, by God’s good work was enforced to resign up his chancellorship, 53 and to deliver up the great seal of England into the king’s hands. After whom succeeded sir Thomas Audley, keeper of the great seal, a man in eloquence and gifts of tongue no less incomparable, than also for his godly-disposed mind, and for his favorable inclination to Christ’s religion, worthy of much commendation.
These things being done in the parliament, A.D. 1532, it followeth moreover the same year, 54 that divers preachings were in the realm, one contrary to another, concerning the king’s marriage; and in especial one Thomas Abel, clerk, who was the queen’s chaplain, to please her withal, both preached, and also wrote a book, in defense of the said marriage; whereby divers simple men were persuaded. Wherefore the king caused to be compiled and reduced into a book the determination of the universities, with the judgments of great clerks; which book, being printed and set abroad, did again satisfy all indifferent and reasonable persons, who were not too much wedded to their wills.
This being done, the king within short time after proceeded to the marriage of the aforesaid lady Anne Bullen, 55 24 mother to our most noble queen now, who, without all controversy, was a special comforter and aider of all the professors of Christ’s gospel, as well of the learned as the unlearned; her life being also directed according to the same, as her weekly alms did manifestly declare; who, besides the ordinary of a hundred crowns, and other apparel that she gave weekly, a year before she was crowned, both to men and women, gave also wonderful much privy alms to widows and other poor householders, continually, till she was apprehended; and she ever gave three or four pound at a time to the poor people to buy them kine withal, and sent her subalmoner to the towns about where she lay that the parishioners should make a bill of all the poor householders in their parish; and some towns received seven, eight, or ten pounds to buy kine withal, according as the number of the poor in the towns were. She also maintained many learned men in Cambridge.
Likewise did the earl of Wiltshire her father, and the lord Rochford her brother, and by them these men were brought in favor with the king; of whom some are yet alive, and can testify the same; who would to God that they were now as great professors of the gospel of Christ, as then they appeared to be; who were Dr. Heath and Dr. Thirlby; with whom was joined the lord Paget, who, at that present, was an earnest protestant, and gave unto one Rayhold West Luther’s books, and other books of the Germans, as Francis Lambert ‘De Sectis; ’56 and at that time he read Melancthon’s Rhetoric openly in Trinity-hall, in Cambridge, and was, with his Master Gardiner, a maintainer of Dr. Barnes and all the protestants that were then in Cambridge, and holpe many religious persons out of their cowls.
It hath been reported unto us by divers credible persons who were about this queen, and daily acquainted with her doings, concerning her liberal and bountiful distribution to the poor, how her grace carried ever about her a certain little purse, out of which she was wont daily to scatter abroad some alms to the needy, thinking no day well spent wherein some man had not fared the better by some benefit at her hands. And this I write by the relation of certain noble personages who were the chief and principal of her waiting maids about her, specially the duchess of Richmond by name.
Also concerning the order of her ladies and gentlewomen about her, one that was her silkwoman, a gentlewoman 25 not now alive, but of great credit, and also of fame for her worthy doings, did credibly report, that in all her time she never saw better order amongst the ladies and gentlewomen of the court, than was in this good queen’s days, who kept her maids and such as were about her so occupied in sewing and working of shirts and smocks for the poor, that neither was there seen any idleness then among them, nor any leisure to follow such pastimes as daily are seen now-a-days to reign in princes’courts.
Thus the king, being divorced from the lady dowager his brother’s wife, married this gracious lady, making a prosperous and happy change for us, being divorced from the aforesaid princess, and also from the pope, both at one time. Notwithstanding, as good and godly purposes are never without some incommodity or trouble following, so it happened in this divorcement, that the said princess, procuring from Rome the pope’s curse, caused both the king and the realm to be interdicted, whereof more is hereafter to be spoken.
About the same time died William Warham, 57 archbishop of Canterbury; in whose room succeeded Thomas Cranmer, who was the king’s chaplain, and a great disputer against the unlawful marriage of lady Katharine, princess dowager; being after so called by act of parliament. In the mean time queen Anne, shortly after her marriage being great with child, the next year following, which was 1583, after the divorcement first publicly proclaimed, was crowned with high solemnity at Westminster; and not long after her coronation, the seventh day of September, 59 26 she was brought to bed and delivered of a fair lady; for whose good deliverance ‘Te Deum’was sung in all places, and great preparation made for the christening.
The mayor and his brethren, with forty of the chief citizens, were commanded to be present, with all the nobles and gentlemen. The king’s palace, and all the walls between that and the Friars, were hanged with arras, and the Friars’church. Also the font was of silver, and stood in the midst of the church, three steps high, which was covered with a fine cloth, and divers gentlemen, with aprons and towels about their necks, gave attendance about it. Over the font hung a fair canopy of crimson satin, fringed with gold. About it was a rail covered with say. 27 Between the quire and the body of the church was a close place with a pan of fire to make the child ready in. These things thus ordered, the child was brought into the hall, and then every man set forward. First the citizens, two and two: then the gentlemen, esquires, and chaplains: next after followed the aldermen, and the mayor alone. Next the mayor followed the king’s council: then the king’s chappel: 28 then barons, bishops, and earls. Then came the earl of Essex, bearing the covered basons gilt. After him the marquis of Exeter, with the taper of virgin-wax. Next him the marquis of Dorset, bearing the salt. Behind him the lady Mary of Norfolk, bearing the chrism, which was very rich of pearl and stone. The old duchess of Norfolk bare the child in a mantle of purple velvet, with a long train furred with ermine. The duke of Norfolk, with his marshal-rod, went on the right hand of the said duchess, and the duke of Suffolk on the left hand. Before them went the officers of arms. The countess of Kent bare the long train of the child’s mantle. Between the countess and the child went the earl of Wiltshire on the right hand, and the earl of Derby on the left hand, supporting the said train. In the midst, over the child, was borne a canopy by the lord Rochford, the lord Hussey, the lord William Howard, and the lord Thomas Howard the elder. In this order they came unto the church door, where the bishop of London met it, with divers abbots and bishops, and began the observances of the sacrament. The archbishop of Canterbury was godfather, and the old duchess of Norfolk, and the old marchioness of Dorset, widows, were godmothers, and the child was named Elizabeth.
After all things were done at the church door, the child was brought to the font, and christened. This done, Garter, the chief king-at-arms, cried aloud, “God, of his infinite goodness, send prosperous life and long to the high and mighty princess of England,ELIZABETH.” Then the trumpets blew, and the child was brought up to the altar, and immediately confirmed by the archbishop, the marchioness of Exeter being godmother. Then the archbishop of Canterbury gave to the princess a standing cup of gold: the duchess of Norfolk gave to her a standing cup of gold, fretted with pearl: the marchioness of Dorset three gilt bowls, pounced, with a cover: the marchioness of Exeter, three standing bowls, gilt and graven, with a cover.
And so, after a solemn banquet, ended with hypocras, wafers, and such like, in great plenty, they returned in like order again unto the court with the princess; and so departed.
At the marriage of this noble lady, as there was no small joy unto all good and godly men, and no less hope of prosperous success to God’s true religion, so in like manner, on the contrary part, the papists wanted not their malicious and secret attempts; as by the false hypocrisy and reigned holiness of a false reigned hypocrite, this year being espied and found out, may sufficiently appear what their devilish devices and purposes were.
For certain monks, friars, and other evil-disposed persons, of a devilish intent, had put into the heads of many of the king’s subjects, that they had revelation of God and his saints, that he was highly displeased with king Henry for the divorcement of the lady Katharine; and surmised, amongst other things, that God had revealed to a nun, named Elizabeth Barton, whom they called the holy maid of Kent, that in case the king proceeded in the said divorce, he should not be king of this realm one month after, and in the reputation of God not one day nor hour. This Elizabeth Barton, by false dissimulation, practiced and showed to the people marvellous alteration of her visage and other parts of her body, as if she had been rapt, or in a trance; and in those reigned trances, by false hypocrisy (as though she had been inspired of God), she spake many words in rebuking of sin, and reproving the gospel, which she called heresy; and among them uttered divers things to the great reproach of the king and queen, and to the establishing of idolatry, pilgrimage, and the derogation of God’s glory: which her naughtiness being espied out by the great labor and diligence of the archbishop of Canterbury, the lord Cromwel, and Master Hugh Latimer, she was condemned and put to death, with certain of her affinity and counsel, in the month of April, A.D. 1534. The names of which conspirators with her were these: Edward Bocking, monk of Canterbury; Richard Master, parson of Aldington; John Dering, monk of Canterbury; Hugh Rich, friar, warden of the grey friars of Canterbury; Richard Risby; Henry Gold, bachelor of divinity, and parson of Aldermary; Fisher, bishop of Rochester; John Adeson, priest, his chaplain; Thomas Laurence, the bishop’s registrar of Canterbury; Edward Thwaits; Thomas Abel: of the which persons, the said Elizabeth Barton, Henry Gold, Richard Master, Edward Booking, John Dering, Hugh Rich, Richard Risby, were attainted of treason by act of parliament, and put to execution.
The residue, as Fisher bishop of Rochester, Thomas Gold, Thomas Laurence, Edward Thwaits, John Adeson, Thomas Abel, being convicted and attainted of misprision, were condemned to prison, and forfeited their goods and possessions to the king. Edward Hall, a writer of our English stories, making mention of this Elizabeth Barton aforesaid, adjoineth next in his book the narration of one Pavier, or Pavy, a notorious enemy, no doubt, to God’s truth. This Pavier, being the town-clerk of the city of London, was a man (saith he) that in no case could abide to hear that the gospel should be in English: insomuch that the said Hall himself heard him once say unto him and to others, by swearing a great oath, that if he thought the king’s highness would set forth the Scripture in English, and let it be read of the people by his authority, rather than he would so long live, he would cut his own throat. But he broke promise, saith Hall; for he did not cut his throat with a knife, but with a halter did hang himself. Of what mind and intent he so did, God judge. My information further addeth this, touching the said Pavier or Pavy, that he was a bitter enemy, very busy at the burning of Bainham above mentioned; 30 who, hearing the said Bainham at the stake speaking against purgatory and transubstantiation, “Set fire,” said he, “to this heretic, and burn him.” And as the train of gunpowder came toward the martyr, he lifted up his eyes and hands to heaven, saying to Pavier, “God forgive thee, and show thee more mercy than thou dost to me. The Lord forgive sir Thomas More, and pray for me, all good people;” and so continued he praying, till the fire took his bowels and his head, etc.
After whose martyrdom, the next year following, this Pavier, the townclerk of the city, went and bought ropes. Which done, he went up to a high garret in his house to pray, as he was wont to do, to a rood which he had there, before which he bitterly wept: and as his own maid, coming up, found him so doing, he bade her take the rusty sword, and go make it clean, and trouble him no more; and immediately he tied up the rope, and hung himself. The maid’s heart still throbbed, and so came up, and found him but newly hanged. Then she, having no power to help him, ran crying to the church to her mistress to fetch her home. His servants and clerks he had sent out before to Finsbury, and to Master Edney, serjeant to the lord mayor, dwelling over Bishop’s-gate, to tarry for him at Finsbury-court till he came: but he had dispatched himself before, so that they might long look for him before he could come. This was A.D. 1533.
To this story of Pavier may also be added the like terrible example of doctor Foxford, chancellor to the bishop of London, a cruel persecutor, and a common butcher of the good saints of God; who was the condemner of all those afore named, who were put to death, troubled, or abjured under bishop Stokesley, through all the diocese of London. This Foxford died about this present year and time; of whose terrible end it was then certainly reported and affirmed by such as were of right good credit, unto certain persons of whom some be yet alive, that he died suddenly sitting in his chair, his belly being burst, and his entrails falling out before him.
Ye heard before, 31 how the queen, after called princess dowager, had appealed to the court of Rome; it was doubted whether that appeal was good or not. This question was well handled in the parliament house, but much better in the convocation house; and yet in both houses it was alleged, yea, and by books showed, that in the councils of Chalcedon, Africa, Toledo, and divers other famous councils in the primitive church, yea, in the time of St. Augustine, it was affirmed, declared, and determined, that a cause arising in one province should be determined in the same, and that neither the patriarch of Constantinople should meddle in causes moved into the jurisdiction of the patriarch of Antioch, nor any bishop should intermeddle within another’s province or country. Which things were so clerkly opened, and so cunningly set forth to all intents, that every man that had wit, and was determined to follow the truth, and not wilfully wedded to his own mind, might plainly see, that all appeals made to Rome were clearly void, and of none effect: which doctrines and counsels were showed to the lady Katharine, princess dowager; but she (as women love to lose no dignity) ever continued in her old song, trusting more to the pope’s partiality, than to the determination of Christ’s verity.
Whereupon the archbishop of Canterbury, Cranmer above named, accompanied with the bishops of London, Winchester, Bath, Lincoln, and divers other great clerks in a great number, rode to Dunstable, which is six miles from Ampthill, where the princess dowager lay; and there, by a doctor, called Dr. Lee, she was ascited to appear before the said archbishop in cause of matrimony, in the said town of Dunstable. And at the day of appearance she would not appear, but made default, and so was called peremptorily, every day, fifteen days together; and at last, for lack of appearance, and for contumacy, by the assent of all the learned men there being present, she was divorced from the king, and their marriage declared to be void and of none effect; which sentence given, the archbishop and all the others returned back again.
Here note, that although this divorce following after the new marriage 61 needed not at all to be made, the first marriage being no marriage at all before God, yet, to satisfy the voice of the people, more than for any necessity, the king was contented, through the persuasions of some, so to do. For else, as touching God and conscience, what great need was there of any divorce, where before God no marriage was to be accounted, but rather an incestuous and detestable adultery, as the act of parliament doth term it? But to our matter again.
After the dissolution of this first marriage made between the king and the lady princess dowager, she nevertheless, bearing a stout mind, would not yet relent, neither to the determination of the universities, nor to the censure of the clergy, nor of the whole realm: but, following the counsel rather of a few Spaniards, to molest the king and the realm by suit and means made to the pope, procured certain writings, first of monition and aggravation, then of excommunication and interdiction, to be sent down from Rome, wherein the pope had interdicted both the king and the whole realm. But the pope’s curser being not the hardiest man, belike, that ever showed his head, thought it much more sure for him to discharge his popish carriage without the king’s reach; and so, keeping himself aloof off (like a pretty man), set up his writings in the town of Dunkirk in Flanders: in which town first, upon the north door of the church was set up a monition, that the king of England should surcease the suit of divorce; which John Butler, clerk, then commissary of Calais, by commandment took down in the night.
After that, before Whitsun-week, there was set up in the same place an excommunication, aggravation, re-gravation, and interdiction; for the which also the said Butler by commandment was sent to Dunkirk, to take it down. And because the council of Calais would be certified of his diligence therein, they sent a servant of the lord Lisle, then deputy of Calais, whose name was Cranvel; and upon Wednesday in Whitsun-week, at seven o’clock in the morning, he took it down whole, and brought it with him, and delivered the same to the lord deputy aforesaid: which was about the year 1533.
This being known and certified unto the king, he was motioned by his council, that such as were about her, and moved her thereunto, should be put from her. And therefore the duke of Suffolk was sent to Bugden, beside Huntingdon, where the said lady Katharine lay; who, perceiving her stomach to continue froward still, in answering him with high words, and suddenly so in a fury to part from him into her privy chamber and shut the door, brake up the order of her court, and discharged a great sort of her household servants; and yet left her a convenient number to serve her like a princess. They that remained still, were sworn to serve her as princess only, and not as queen; of whom some said, they were once sworn to serve her as queen, and otherwise would not serve; and so were dismissed. The other, who were sworn to serve her as princess, she utterly refused for her servants, and so she remained with the fewer, living after this about the space of two years. *And 32 thus much hast thou, good reader, touching the king’s divorcement; by occasion whereof it pleased God so to work, through his secret and unsearchable wisdom, that the pope, who so long had played ‘rex’in England, lost his whole jurisdiction and supremacy.* THE ABOLISHING OF THE POPE OUT OF ENGLAND.
These things thus finished and dispatched concerning the marriage of queen Anne, and divorce of lady Katharine, dowager, next followeth the year 1534; in the which was assembled the high court of parliament again, after many prorogations, upon the fifteenth day of January.
Mention was made 62 a little before 32a of a parliament begun the 15th day of January, A.D. 1532, in the which parliament the commons had put up a supplication, complaining of the strait dealing of the clergy in their proceeding “ex officio.” This complaint, although at the first it seemed not greatly to be tendered of the king, yet in prorogation of the parliament the time so wrought withal, that the king, having now more clear understanding of the abuses and enormities of the clergy, and, in especial, of the corrupt authority of the see of Rome, provided certain acts against the same. 32b CERTAIN ACTS PROVIDED CONCERNING THE POPE’S LAWS. 32C First, as concerning the laws, decrees, ordinances and constitutions made and stablished by the pretensed authority of the bishops of Rome, to the advancement of their worldly glory, that whoso did or spake any thing either against their usurped power, or against the said laws, decrees, or constitutions of theirs, not approved nor grounded upon holy Scripture, or else being repugnant to the king’s prerogative royal, should therefore stand in no danger, nor be impeachable of heresy. And likewise touching such constitutions, ordinances, and canons provincial or synodal, which were made in this realm in the convocation of bishops, being either prejudicial to the king’s prerogative, or not ratified before by the king’s assent, or being otherwise onerous to the king and his subjects, or in any wise repugnant to the laws and statutes of this realm, they were committed to the examination and judgment of thirty-two persons, chosen by the king out of the higher and lower house, to be determined either to stand in strength, or to be abrogated, at their discretions: and further, that all the clergy of this realm, submitting themselves to the king, should and did promise ‘in verbo sacerdotii,’ never hereafter to presume to assemble in their convocations without the king’s writ, nor to enact or execute such constitutions without his royal assent, etc.
Further, in the same parliament was enacted and decreed, that in causes and matters happening in contention, no person should appeal, provoke, or sue out of the king’s dominions to the court of Rome, 32d under pain of provisors, provision, or praemunire. Item, In the same parliament was defined and concluded, that all exportation of annates and first-fruits of archbishoprics and bishoprics out of this realm to the see of Rome, for any bulls, breves or palls, or expedition of any such thing, should utterly cease.
Also, for the investing of archbishops, bishops, or other of any ecclesiastical dignity, such order in the said parliament was taken that the king should send a license under the great seal, with a letter missive to the prior and convent, or to the dean and chapter of those cathedral churches where the see was vacant, by the virtue of which license or letters missive, they, within twelve days, should choose the said person nominated by the king, and none other; and that election to stand effectual to all intents: which election being done, then the party elect to make first his oath and fealty to the king, if it were a bishop that was elected; then the king by his letters patent to signify the said election to the archbishop of that province, and two other bishops, or else to four bishops within this realm to be assigned to that office, without any other suing, procuring, or obtaining any bulls, breves, or other things from the see of Rome.
Moreover, against all other whatsoever intolerable exactions and great sums of money used to be paid out of this realm to the bishop of Rome, in pensions, censures, Peter-pence, procurations, fruits, suits for provisions, and expeditions of bulls for archbishops and bishops, for delegacies and rescripts in causes of contentions and appeals, jurisdictions legative; also for dispensations, licenses, faculties, grants, relaxations, writs called ‘perinde valere,’ rehabilitations, abolitions, canonizations, and other infinite sorts of bulls, breves, and instruments of sundry natures, the number whereof were tedious particularly to be recited: in the said parliament it was ordained, that all such uncharitable usurpations, exactions, pensions, censures, portions, and Peter-pence, wont to be paid to the see of Rome, should utterly surcease, and never more be levied: so that the king, with his honorable council, should have power and authority from time to time, for the ordering, redress, and reformation of all manner of indulgences, privileges, etc., within this realm.
Where is to be noted by the way, as touching these Peter-pence aforesaid, that the same were first brought in and imposed by king Ina, about A.D. 720, which Ina, king of the West-Saxons, caused through all his dominion, in every house having a chimney, a penny to be collected and paid to the bishop of Rome in the name of St.
Peter; and thereof were they called Peter-pence. 33 The same likewise did Offa king of Mercians after him, about A.D. 794. 34 And these Peter-pence ever since, or for the most part, have used of a long custom to be gathered and summoned by the pope’s collectors here in England, from the time of Ina aforesaid to this present parliament, A.D. 1534.
Finally, by the authority of the parliament it was consulted and considered concerning the legality of the lawful succession unto the crown, in ratifying and inhabling the heirs of the king’s body and queen Anne. In the which parliament, moreover, the degrees of marriage plainly and clearly were explained and set forth, such as be expressly prohibited by God’s laws, as in this table may appear.
A TABLE OF DEGREES, PROHIBITED BY GOD’S LAW TO MARRY. The son not to marry the mother, nor step-mother.
The brother not to marry the sister.
The son not to marry his father’s daughter, gotten by his step-mother.
The son not to marry his aunt, being either his father’s or his mother’s sister.
The son not to marry his uncle’s wife.
No man to marry his wife’s daughter.
No man to marry his wife’s son’s daughter.
No man to marry his wife’s daughter’s daughter.
No man to marry his wife’s sister.
All these degrees be prohibited by the Scripture.
All these things thus being defined and determined in this aforesaid parliament, and it also being in the same parliament concluded, that no man, of what estate, degree, or condition soever, hath any power to dispense with God’s laws, it was therefore by the authority aforesaid, agreeing with the authority of God’s word, assented that the marriage aforetime solemnized between the king and the lady Katharine, being before wife to prince Arthur the king’s brother, and carnally known by him (as is above proved), should be absolutely deemed and adjudged to be unlawful and against the law of God, and also reputed and taken to be of no value nor effect; and that the separation thereof by Thomas Cranmer, archbishop of Canterbury, should stand good and effectual to all intents; and also that the lawful matrimony between the king and the lady Anne his wife, should be established, approved, and ratified for good and consonant to the laws of Almighty God. And further, also, for the establishing of this king’s lawful succession, it was fully by the said parliament adjudged, that the inheritance of the crown should remain to the heirs of their two bodies, that, is, of the king and queen Anne his wife. 64 36 Whereupon was made an Act of succession, 37 for the more surety of the crown, to the which every person being of lawful age should be sworn. During this parliament time, every Sunday preached at Paul’s cross a bishop, who declared the pope not to be head of the church.
After this, commissions were sent over all England, to take the oath of all men and women to the act of succession; 38 at which few repined, except Dr. John Fisher, bishop of Rochester; sir Thomas More, late lord chancellor; and Dr. Nicholas Wilson, parson of St. Thomas Apostle’s in London. Wherefore these three persons, after long exhortation to them made by the bishop of Canterbury at Lambeth refusing to be sworn, were sent to the Tower, where they remained, and were oftentimes motioned to be sworn. But the bishop and sir Thomas More excused them by their writings, in which they said that they had written before the said lady Katharine to be queen, and therefore could not well go from that which they had written. Likewise the doctor excused, that he in preaching had called her queen, and therefore now could not withsay it again. Howbeit, at length, he was well contented to dissemble the matter, and so escaped: but the other two stood against all the realm in their opinion. From the month of March this parliament furthermore was prorogued to the third day of November abovesaid; at what time, amongst divers other statutes, most graciously and by the blessed will of God it was enacted, that the pope, and all his college of cardinals, with his pardons and indulgences, which so long had clogged this realm of England, to the miserable slaughter of so many good men, and which never could be removed away before, were now abolished, eradicated and exploded out of this land, and sent home again to their own country of Rome, from whence they came. God be everlastingly praised therefore. Amen! *AN OLD PROPHECY OF THE FALL OF THE POPE. Papa cito moritur, Caesar regnabit ubique, Et subito vani cessabunt gaudia 40 cleri.* An Act 65 concerning the King’s Highness to be the supreme head of the Church of England, and to have authority to reform and redress all Errors, Heresies, and Abuses, in the same. Cap. 1.
Albeit the king’s majesty justly and rightly is and ought to be the supreme. head of the church of England, and so is recognised by the clergy of this realm in their convocations; yet nevertheless, for corroboration and confirmation thereof, and for increase of virtue in Christ’s religion within this realm of England, and to repress and extirp all errors, heresies, and other enormities and abuses heretofore used in the same: be it enacted by authority of this present parliament, that the king our sovereign lord, his heirs and successors, kings of this realm, shall be taken, accepted, and reputed the only supreme head in earth of the church of England, called ‘Anglicana Ecclesia,’ and shall have and enjoy, annexed and united to the imperial crown of this realm, as well the title and style thereof, as all honors, dignities, pre-eminences, jurisdictions, privileges, authorities, immunities, profits and commodities to the said dignity of supreme head of the same church belonging and appertaining. And that our said sovereign lord, his heirs and successors, kings of this realm, shall have full power and authority from time to time, to visit, repress, redress, reform, order, correct, restrain, and amend all such errors, abuses, offenses, contempts, and enormities, whatsoever they be, which by any manner of spiritual authority or jurisdiction ought or may lawfully be reformed, repressed, ordered, redressed, corrected, restrained, or amended, most to the pleasure of Almighty God, the increase of virtue in Christ’s religion, and for the conservation of the peace, unity, and tranquillity of this realm: any usage, custom, foreign laws, foreign authority, prescription, or any thing or things to the contrary hereof, notwithstanding.
THE KING’S PROCLAMATION FOR THE ABOLISHING OF THE USURPED POWER OF THE POPE.
Trusty and well-beloved! we greet you well. And whereas not only upon good, and just, and virtuous grounds and respects, edified upon the laws of holy Scripture, by due consultation, deliberation, advisement, and consent, as well of all other our nobles and commons temporal, as also spiritual, assembled in our high court of parliament, and by authority of the same, we have, by good and wholesome laws and statutes made for this purpose, extirped, abolished, separated, and secluded out of this our realm, the abuses of the bishop of Rome, his authority and jurisdiction of long time usurped as well upon us and our realm, as upon all other kings and princes and their realms (like as they themselves have confessed and affirmed), but also, forasmuch as our said nobles and commons, both spiritual and temporal, assembled in our high court of parliament, have, upon good, lawful, and virtuous grounds, and for the public weal of this our realm, by one whole assent, granted, annexed, knit, and united to the crown imperial of the same, the title, dignity, and style of supreme head or governor in earth, immediately under God, of the church of England, as we be, and undoubtedly have hitherto been: which title and style, both the bishops and clergy of this our realm have not only, in convocation assembled, consented, recognised, and approved lawfully and justly to appertain unto us, but also, by word, oath, profession, and writing under their signs and seals, have confessed, ratified, corroborated and confirmed the same, utterly renouncing all other oaths and obedience to any other foreign potentates, and all foreign jurisdictions and powers, as well of the said bishop of Rome, as of all others whatsoever they be, as by their said professions and writings corroborated with the subscription of their names, and appension of their seals more plainly appeareth: we let you to wit, that calling to our remembrance the power, charge, and commission given unto us of Almighty God, and upon a vehement love and affection toward our loving and faithful subjects, perceiving right well what great rest, quietness, and tranquility of conscience, and manifold other commodities might insurge and arise unto them, if the said bishops and others of the clergy of this our realm should set forth, declare, and preach to them, the true and sincere word of God; and without all manner of color, dissimulation, and hypocrisy, manifest and publish the great and innumerable enormities and abuses which the said bishop of Rome, as well in the title and style, as also in authority and jurisdiction, of long time unlawfully and unjustly hath usurped upon us and our progenitors, and also other christian princes; have therefore addressed, our letters unto the bishop of the diocese, straightly charging and commanding him in the same, that not only he, in his own proper person, shall declare, teach, and preach unto the people, forthwith upon the receipt of our said letters unto him directed, every Sunday and other high feasts through the year, the true, mere, and sincere word of God; and that the same title, style, and jurisdiction of supreme head appertaineth only to our crown and dignity royal; likewise, as the said bishop and all other the bishops of our realm have by oath affirmed, and confirmed by subscription of their names, and setting-to their seals, but also have given warning, monition, and charge, to all manner of abbots, priors, deans, archdeacons, provosts, parsons, vicars, curates, and all other ecclesiastical persons, within his said diocese, as well to teach, preach, publish, and declare, in all manner of churches, our aforesaid just title, style, and jurisdiction, every Sunday and high feast through the year: and further to admonish and command all other schoolmasters within his said diocese, to instruct and teach the same unto the children committed unto them; as also to cause all manner of prayers, orisons, rubrics, canons of mass-books, and all other books in the churches, wherein the said bishop of Rome is named, or his presumptuous and proud pomp and authority preferred, utterly to be abolished, eradicated and rased out, and his name and memory to be never more (except to his contumely and reproach) remembered, but perptually suppressed, and obscured; and finally, to desist and leave out all such articles as be in the general sentence which is usually accustomed to be read four times in the year, 66 and do tend to the glory and advancement of the bishop of Rome, his name, title, and jurisdiction.
Whereupon we, seeing, esteeming, and reputing you to be of such singular and vehement zeal and affection towards the glory of Almighty God, and of so faithful, loving, and obedient heart towards us, as you will not only do and accomplish, with all power, wisdom, diligence, and labor, whatsoever should or might be to the preferment and setting forward of God’s word, but also practice, study, and endeavor yourself, with all your policy, wit, power, and good-will, to amplify, defend, and maintain all such interest, right, title, style, jurisdiction, and authority, as is in any wise appertaining unto us, our dignity and prerogative, and the crown imperial of this our realm, have thought good and expedient, not only to signify unto you, by these our letters, the particulars of the charge, monition, and commandment given by us unto the said bishop, as before is specified; but also to require, and straightly charge and command you, upon pain of your allegiance, and as ye shall avoid our high indignation and displeasure, at your uttermost peril, laying apart all vain affections, respects, or other carnal considerations, and setting only before your eyes the mirror of truth, the glory of God, the dignity of your sovereign lord and king, and the great concord and unity, and inestimable profit and utility, that shall, by the due execution of the premises, ensue to yourself and all other faithful and loving subjects, ye make or cause to be made diligent search and wait, 41 and especially in every place of your shirewick, whether the said bishop do truly, and sincerely, and without all manner of cloak, color, or dissimulation, execute and accomplish our will and commandment, as is afore said. And in case ye shall hear, perceive, and approvably understand and know, that the said bishop, or any other ecclesiastical person within his diocese, doth omit and leave undone any part or parcel of the premises; or else, in the execution and setting forth of the same, do coldly and feignedly use any manner of sinister addition, wrong interpretation, or painted color: then we straightly charge and command you, that forthwith upon any such default, negligence, or dissimulation of the said bishop, or any other ecclesiastical person of his diocese, contrary to the true tenor, meaning, and effect of the said charge by us to him appointed aforesaid, ye do make indelayedly, and with all speed and diligence, declaration and advertisement to us and our council, of the said default, and of the behavior, manner, and fashion of the same.
And forasmuch as we, upon singular trust and assured confidence which we have in you, and for the special love and zeal we suppose and think ye bear toward us, and the public and common wealth, unity and tranquillity of this our realm, have specially elected and chosen you among so many, for this purpose; and have reputed you such men as unto whose wisdom, discretion, truth, and fidelity, we might commit a matter of such great weight, moment, and importance, as whereupon the unity and tranquillity of our realm do consist if ye should, contrary to our expectation and trust which we have in you, and against your duty and allegiance towards us, neglect or omit to do, with all your diligence and wisdom, whatsoever shall be in your power for the due performance of our mind and pleasure to you before declared in this behalf, or halt or stumble at any part or specialty of the same, be ye assured that we, like a prince of justice, will so extremely punish you for the same, that all the world besides shall take by you example, and beware, contrary to their allegiance, to disobey the lawful commandment of their sovereign lord and prince in such things, as, by the faithful execution thereof, ye shall not only advance the honor of Almighty God, and set forth the majesty and imperial dignity of your sovereign lord, but also bring an inestimable weal, profit, and commodity, unity and tranquillity to all the common state of this our realm, whereunto, both by the laws of God, nature, and man, ye be utterly bound.
Given under our signet, at our palace at Westminster, the 9th day of June, A.D. 1535.
Furthermore, that no man shall cavil or surmise this fatal fall and ruin of the pope to have come rashly upon the king’s own partial affection, or by any sensual temerity of a few, and not by the grave and advised judgment, approbation, and consent, generally and publicly, as well of the nobles and commons temporal, as also upon substantial grounds, and the very strength of truth, by the discussion and consultation of the spiritual and most learned persons in this realm: it shall be requisite, moreover, to these premises to adjoin the words and testimonies also of the bishops’own oaths and profession made to the king, yielding and rendering unto him only, the style of supreme head, next unto Christ, of the church of England; all other service, subjection, and obedience to be given to any other foreign potentate, which should be prejudicial to the king’s highness in this behalf, being excluded; and that both frankly and freely, of their own voluntary motion, and also upon the faith and fidelity of their priesthood, as by their own words and hand-writing may appear, in form as hereunder followeth, THE OATH OF STEPHEN GARDINER TO THE KING67 I Stephen, bishop of Winchester, do purely, of mine own voluntary accord, and absolutely, on the word of a bishop, profess and promise to your princely majesty, my singular and chief lord and patron, Henry the eighth, by the grace of God king of England and of France, defender of the faith, lord of Ireland, and in earth of the church of England supreme head immediately under Christ, that from this day forward I shall swear, promise, give, or cause to be given to no foreign potentate, emperor, king, prince, or prelate, nor yet to the bishop of Rome, whom they call pope, any oath or fealty, directly or indirectly, either by word or writing; but at all times, and in every case and condition I shall observe, hold, and maintain, to all effects and intents, the quarrel and cause of your royal majesty and your successors; and to the uttermost of my power shall defend the same against all manner of persons, whomsoever I shall know or suspect to be adversaries to your majesty, or to your successors; and shall give my faith, truth, and obedience, sincerely, and with my very heart, only to your royal majesty, as to my supreme prince. I profess the papacy of Rome not to be ordained of God by holy Scripture, but constantly do affirm, and openly declare, and shall declare it, to be set up only by man, and shall cause diligently other men likewise to publish the same. Neither shall I enter any treaty with any person or persons either privily or apertly, or shall consent thereto, that the bishop of Rome shall have or exercise here any authority or jurisdiction, or is to be restored to any jurisdiction hereafter.
Furthermore, that the said bishop of Rome now being, or any that shall succeed him hereafter in the said see, is not to be called pope, nor supreme bishop or universal bishop, nor most holy lord; but only ought to be called bishop of Rome, and fellow brother (as the old manner of the most ancient bishops hath been): this I shall to my power openly maintain and defend.
And I shall firmly observe and cause to be observed by others, to the uttermost of my cunning, wit, and power, all such laws and acts of this realm, how and whatsoever, as have been enacted and established for the extirpation and suppression of the papacy, and of the authority and jurisdiction of the said bishop of Rome.
Neither shall I appeal hereafter to the said bishop of Rome, nor ever consent to any person that shall appeal to him; neither shall I attempt, prosecute, nor follow any suit in the court of Rome, for any cause of right or justice to be had, or shall make answer to any plea or action, nor shall take upon me the person and office either of the plaintiff or defendant in the said, court. And if the said bishop, by his messenger or by his letters, shall make any means or signification unto me of any matter, whatsoever it be, I shall, with all speed and diligence, make declaration and advertisement thereof, or cause the same to be signified either to your princely majesty, or to some of your secret council, or to your successors, or any of their privy council. Neither shall I send, or cause to be sent, at any time any writing or messenger to the said bishop or to his court, without the knowledge and consent of your majesty or your successors willing me to send writing or messenger unto him.
Neither shall I procure, or give counsel to any person to procure, bulls, briefs, or rescripts whatsoever, either for me or any other, from the said bishop of Rome or his court. And if any such shall be procured against my will and knowledge, either in general or in special, or else howsoever they shall be granted unto them, I shall utter and disclose the same, and not consent thereunto, nor use them in any case, and shall cause them to be brought to your majesty, or your successors.
Furthermore, for the confirmation hereof I give my faith and truth by firm promise, and in the faith of a bishop, that against this my aforesaid profession and promise made, I shall defend myself by no dispensation, exception, nor by any remedy or cautel of law or example, during this my natural life. And if heretofore I have done or made any protestation in prejudice of this my profession and promise here made, the same I do revoke at this present, and for ever hereafter, and here utterly do renounce, by these presents.
THE LIKE OATH OF JOHN STOKESLY, BISHOP OF LONDON.
I John, bishop of London, do purely, and of mine own voluntary accord, and absolutely on the word of a bishop, profess and promise to your princely majesty, my singular and chief lord and patron, Henry the Eighth, by the grace of God, king of England and of France, defender of the faith, lord of Ireland, and in earth of the church of England supreme head immediately under Christ, etc. [Like to the oath before.] Johan. London.
THE LIKE OATH AND HANDWRITING OF EDWARD LEE, ARCHBISHOP OF YORK.
I Edward, by the permission of God, archbishop of York, do purely, of my own voluntary accord, and absolutely, on the word of a bishop, profess and promise to your royal majesty, my singular and chief lord and patron, etc. [like form to the oath before.] Edwardus Eborac.
THE LIKE OATH AND HAND-WRITING OF CUTHBERT TONSTAL, BISHOP OF DURHAM.
I Cuthbert, by the permission of God, bishop of Durham, do purely, of mine own voluntary accord, and absolutely, on the word of a bishop, profess and promise to your royal majesty, my singular and chief lord and patron, etc. [As before.] Per me Cuthbertum Dunelm.
And so likewise all the other bishops, after the same order and form of oath, were obliged and bound to the king, as to the supreme head of the church of England immediately under Christ; renouncing and abjuring utterly and voluntarily the pope’s too long usurped jurisdiction in this realm; testifying, moreover, the same both with their own hand, and also with their seal.
Besides these confirmations and testimonials of the bishops aforesaid, ye shall hear yet moreover the decree and public sentence of the university of Cambridge, written likewise and subscribed, and signed with the public seal of their university; the tenor of which their letter here followeth.
A LETTER OF THE UNIVERSITY OF CAMBRIDGE AGAINST THE USURPED POWER OF THE BISHOP OF ROME. To all and singular children of the holy mother church, to whose hands these presents shall come, the whole society of regents and non-regents of the university of Cambridge, sendeth greeting in our Saviour Jesus Christ.
Whereas now of late it hath risen up in question among us, concerning the power of the bishop of Rome, which he doth both claim to himself by the holy Scripture over all provinces and nations in Christendom, and hath now of long time exercised in this realm of England; and forasmuch as our censure concerning the cause is required, to wit, Whether the bishop of Rome hath any power or authority in this kingdom of England, allotted to him by God in the Scripture, more than any other foreign bishop, or no: we thought it therefore good reason, and our duty for the searching out of the verity of the said question, that we should employ therein our whole endeavor and study, whereby we might render and publish to the world, what our reason and censure is, touching the premises. For therefore we suppose, that universities were first provided and instituted of princes, to the end that both the people of Christ might, in the law of God, be instructed; and also that false errors, if any did rise, might, through the vigilant care and industry of learned divines, be discussed, extinguished, and utterly rooted out. For which cause we, in our assemblies and convocations (after our accustomed manner), resorting and conferring together upon the question aforesaid, and studiously debating and deliberating with ourselves how and by what order we might best proceed for the finding out of the truth of the matter; and at length choosing out certain of the best learned doctors and bachelors of divinity, and other masters, have committed to them in charge, studiously to insearch and peruse the places of holy Scripture, by the viewing and conferring of which places together, they might certify us what is to be said to the question propounded.
Forasmuch therefore as we, having heated, and well advised, and thoroughly discussed in open disputations, what may be said on both parts of the aforesaid question, those reasons and arguments do appear to us more probable, stronger, truer, and more certain, and sounding much more near to the pure and native sense of Scriptures, which do deny the bishop of Rome to have any such power given him of God in the Scripture. By reason and force of which arguments we being persuaded, and conjoining together in one opinion, have with ourselves thus decreed to answer unto the question aforesaid; and in these writings thus resolutely do answer in the name of the whole university, and for a conclusion undoubted do affirm, approve, and pronounce, that the bishop of Rome hath no more state, authority, and jurisdiction given him of God in the Scriptures over this realm of England, than any other extern bishop hath. And in testimony and credence of this our answer and affirmation, we have caused our common seal to be put to these our aforesaid letters accordingly.
At Cambridge, in our Regent House, A.D. 1534.
THE BOOK OF GARDINER, 44 BISHOP OF WINCHESTER, “DE VERA OBEDIENTIA.”
You have heard before of Stephen Gardiner, of Lee, of Tonstal, and of Stokesley, how of their voluntary mind they made their profession unto the king, every one severally taking and accepting a corporal oath, utterly and for ever to renounce and reject the usurped superiority of the bishop of Rome. Now, for a further testimony and declaration of their judgments and opinions which then they were of, following the force both of truth and of time then present, ye shall hear, over and besides their oaths, what the aforesaid bishops, in their own books, prologues, and sermons, do write, and publish abroad in print, touching the said cause of the pope’s supremacy.
And first, God willing, to begin with Stephen Gardiner’s book ‘De vera obedientia,’ we will briefly note out a few of his own words, wherein, with great scriptures and good deliberation, he not only confuteth the pope’s usurped authority, but also proveth the marriage beween the king and queen Katharine his brother’s wife not to be good nor lawful, in these words. ‘Of which moral precepts in the old law, to speak of some (for to rehearse all it needs not), the Levitical precepts touching forbidden and incestuous marriages, as far as they concern chaste and pure wedlock, wherein the original of man’s increase consisteth, are always to be reputed of such sort that although they were first given to the Jews, yet because they appertain to the law of nature, and expound the same more plainly to us, therefore they belong as well to all manner of people of the whole world for evermore. In which doubtless both the voice of nature and God’s commandment agreeing in one, have forbidden that which is contrary and diverse from the one and from the other. And amongst these, since there is commandment that a man shall not marry his brother’s wife, what could the king’s excellent majesty do, otherwise than he did, by the whole consent of the people, and judgment of his church; that is, to be divorced from unlawful marriage, and use lawful and permitted copulation? and obeying (as meet it was) conformably unto the commandment, cast off her, whom neither law nor right permitted him to retain, and take him to chaste and lawful marriage? Wherein although the sentence of God’s word (whereunto all things ought to stoop) might have sufficed, yet his majesty was content to have the assisting consents of the most notable grave men, and the censures of the most famous universities of the whole world; and all to the intent that men should see he did both what he might do, and ought to do uprightly; seeing the best learned and most worthy men have subscribed unto it; showing therein such obedience as God’s word requireth of every good and godly man; so as it may be said, that both he obeyed God, and obeyed him truly: of which obedience, forasmuch as I am purposed to speak, I could not pass this thing over with silence, whereof occasion so commodiously was offered me to speak.
Moreover, the said Gardiner, in the beforenamed book “De vera Obedientia,” what constancy he pretendeth, what arguments he inferreth, how earnestly and pithily he disputeth on the king’s side, against the usurped state of the bishop of Rome’s authority, by the words of his book it may appear: whereof a brief collection here followeth.
REASONS OF GARDINER, BISHOP OF WINCHESTER, AGAINST THE POPE’S SUPREMACY.
In the process of his aforesaid book, he, alleging the old distinction of the papists, wherein they give to the prince the regiment of things temporal, and to the church that of things spiritual, comparing the one to the greater light, the other to the lesser light, he confuteth and derideth the same distinction, declaring the sword of the church to extend no further than to teaching and excommunication, and referreth all pre-eminence to the sword of the prince; alleging for this the second Psalm: ‘And now you kings be wise, and be learned ye that judge the earth,’ (Psalm 2) etc.
Also the example of Solomon, who, being a king according to his father’s appointment, ordained the offices of the priests in their ministries, and Levites in their order, that they might give thanks, and minister before the priests, after the order of every day, and porters in their divisions, gate by gate. (2 Kings 28) And speaking more of the said Solomon, he saith: ‘For so commanded the man of God; neither did the priests nor Levites omit any thing of all that he had commanded,’ etc. (Exodus 32) Beside this, he allegeth also the example of king Hezekiah. (1 Kings 22) He allegeth moreover the example and fact of Justinian, who made laws touching the faith, bishops, clerks, heretics, and such others.
Alexander the king, in the Maccabees, writeth thus to Jonathan: ‘Now we have made thee this day the high-priest of thy people,’ (1 Maccabees 10) etc. So did Demetrius to Simon. (1 Maccabees 14) Then, coming to the words of Christ spoken to Peter, ‘Thou art Peter,’ (Matthew 16) etc. upon which words the pope pretendeth to build all his authority: To this he answereth, that if Christ, by those words, had limited to Peter any such special state or preeminency above all princes, then were it not true that is written, Coepit Jesus docere et facere; forasmuch as the words of Christ should then be contrary to his own facts and example, who, in all his life, never either usurped to himself any such domination above princes (showing himself rather subject unto princes), nor yet did ever permit in his apostles any such example of ambition to be seen; but rather rebuked them for seeking any manner of majority amongst them.
And where he reasoneth of the king’s style and title, being called king of England and of France, defender of the faith, lord of Ireland, and supreme head in earth of the church of England immediately under Christ, etc., thus he addeth his mind and censure, saying, that he seeth no cause in this title, why any man should be offended, that the king is called head of the church of England, rather than of the realm of England; and addeth his reason thereunto saying, ‘If the prince and king of England be the head of his kingdom, that is, of all Englishmen that be his subjects, is there any cause why the same English subjects should not be subject to the same head likewise in this respect, because they are christians; that is to say, for the title of godliness? as though that God, who is the cause of all obedience, should now be the cause of rebellion?’
And further, adding further for example the subjection of the servant and wife: ‘If the servant,’ saith he, ‘be subject to his master, or wife to her husband, being infidels, doth their conversion afterwards, or the name of Christians, make them less subjects than they were before? As religion therefore doth not alter the authority of the master over the servant, nor of the husband over the wife; ‘no more,’ saith he, ‘doth it between the prince and subject.’ ‘Paul, making no exception or distinction of subjection, save only of that which belongeth to God, willeth all men to obey their princes; and what princes? Those princes who bear the sword. And although we are bound by the Scripture to obey our bishops and spiritual pastors of the church, yet that obedience diminisheth nothing the chief and head authority that ought to be given to the prince, no more than the obedience of the servant to his master, or of the wife to her husband, exempteth them from subjection due to their superior powers.’
Again, whereas the bishop of Rome, under the name of Peter, doth appropriate to himself the highest place in the church, for that he is the successor of Peter; thereunto he answereth in one word, but in that one word he answereth enough, and to the full: ‘I would,’ saith he, ‘he were; for so in very deed he might well exceed and pass all kings and princes, if not in pre-eminency of dignity, yet in admiration and excellency of virtue: in which kind of superiority the Lord Christ would his apostles and ministers to go before all kings and emperors in the whole world.’
After this, in prosecuting the argument 45 of Peter’s confession, he argueth thus and saith, that as flesh and blood did not reveal to Peter that confession, so neither was that prerogative given to the flesh and blood of Peter, but to the better part, that is, to the spirit of Peter; which is to mean in respect of the spiritual confession of Peter, and not in respect of any carnal place or person, etc. Item, If the scholar ought not to be above the master, how then could either Peter take that upon him, which Christ his master so constantly did refuse; or how can the bishop of Rome now claim that by succession, whereof no example is to be found either in the head, or his predecessor before him? for so we read in Eusebius, both of Peter, James, and John, that they did arrogate no such primacy unto them, but were content that James, surnamed Justus, should be the bishop of the apostles. And as for the name and signification of the word ‘primatus,’ i.e. primacy, if it be taken for the first nomination, or the first place given, so he granteth that Peter had the preferment of the first name and place in the order of the apostles. But it followeth not, that with this primacy he had also a kingdom given. And though he were bid of the Lord to confirm his brethren, yet was ne not bid to exercise an empery upon his brethren: for so were they not his brethren, but his subjects.
That Peter was ‘primus,’ that is, first or chief in the number of those who confessed Christ, it is not to be denied; for first he confessed, first he taught the Jews, first he stood in defense of the verity, and was the first and chief prolocutor among them. But yet that maketh not, that he should therefore vindicate a general primacy and rule over all other states, and potestates of the world, no more than Apelles, because he is noted the first and chief of all painters, therefore ought to bear rule over all painters; or because the university of Paris is nominated for the first and chief of other universities, shall therefore the French king, and all other princes in their public administration, wherein they are set of God, become subjects and underlings to that university?
Thus, after many other reasons and persuasions contained in the said book De Obedientia (for I do but superficially skim over the top only of his probations and arguments), finally, in the end of his peroration, he concludeth the whole sum of his mind in this effect; first, denying that the bishop of Rome ‘had ever any such extern jurisdiction assigned to him absolutely from God, to reign over kings and princed: for the probation whereof he hath alleged sufficiently, as he saith, the examples and doings of Christ himself, which ought to be to us all a sufficient document.
And as concerning the term of ‘Primacy,’ albeit it be used sometimes by the fathers, yet the matter, being well considered and rightly expounded, maketh nothing for the large dominion of the bishop of Rome, which now he doth usurp.
Also as for the prerogatives granted unto Peter, by the which prerogatives our Savior would crown his own gifts given unto him, crowning not the flesh and blood of Peter, but the marvellous testimony of his confession, all this maketh nothing for the pope’s purpose.
Likewise as concerning the local succession of Peter, the pope hath nothing thereby to claim. If he will be successor of Peter, he must succeed him in faith, doctrine, and conditions; and in so doing, he neither will seek, nor yet shall need to seek, for honor, but shall be honored of all good men, according as a good man should be; and that much more than he being a good man would require.
And thus Stephen Winchester, taking his leave, and bidding the pope farewell, endeth with a friendly exhortation, willing him to be wise and circumspect, and not to strive stubbornly against the truth. ‘The light of the gospel,’ saith he,’ so spreadeth his beams in all men’s eyes, that the works of the gospel be known, the mysteries of Christ’s doctrine are opened; both learned and unlearned, men and women, being Englishmen born, do see and perceive, that they have nothing to do with Rome, or with the bishop of Rome, but that every prince, in his own dominion, is to be taken and accepted as a vicar of God, and vicegerent of Christ in his own bounds. And therefore, seeing this order is taken of God, and one in the church should bear the office of teaching, another should bear the office of ruling (which office is only limited to princes), he exhorteth him to consider the truth, and to follow the same, wherein consisteth our true and special obedience, etc.
To this book of Stephen Winchester, De Obedientia, we will adjoin, for good fellowship, the Preface also of Edmund Bonner, archdeacon then of Leicester, prefixed before the same; to the intent that the reader, seeing the judgments of these men as they were then, and again the sudden mutation afterwards of the said parties to the contrary opinion, may learn thereby what vain glory and pomp of this world can work in the frail nature of man, where God’s grace lacketh to sustain. The preface of Bonner, before the said book of Winchester, De Obedientia, proceedeth thus in effect, as followeth:
THE PREFACE OF EDMUND BONNER, ARCHDEACON OF LEICESTER, PREFIXED BEFORE STEPHEN GARDINER’S BOOK, DE VERA OBEDIENTIA.
Forasmuch as some there be, no doubt (as the judgments of men be always variable), who think the controversy which is between the king’s royal majesty and the bishop of Rome consisteth in this point, for that his majesty hath taken the most excellent and most virtuous lady Anne to wife, which in very deed is far otherwise, and nothing so: to the intent, therefore, that all true hearty favorers of the gospel of Christ, who hate not but love the truth, may the more fully understand the chief point of the controversy, and because they shall not be ignorant what is the whole voice and resolute determination of the best and greatest learned bishops, with all the nobles and commons of England, not only in that cause of matrimony, but also in defending the doctrine of the gospel: here shall be published the oration of the bishop of Winchester (a man excellently learned in all kind of learning), entitled ‘De vera Obedientia’; that is, Concerning True Obedience. But as touching this bishop’s worthy praises, there shall be nothing spoken of me at this time, not only because they are infinite, 46 but because they are far better known to all Christendom, than becometh me here to make rehearsal. And as for the oration itself (which as it is most learned, so is it most elegant), to what purpose should I make any words of it, seeing it praiseth itself enough, and seeing good wine needeth no tavern-bush to utter it. But yet in this oration, whosoever thou art, most gentle reader! thou shalt, besides other matters, see it notably and learnedly handled, of what importance, and how invincible the power and excellency of God’s truth is, which as it may now and then be pressed of the enemies, so it cannot possibly be oppressed and darkened after such sort but it showeth itself again at length more glorious and more welcome.
Thou shalt see also touching obedience, that it is subject to truth, and what is to be judged true obedience. Besides this, of men’s traditions, which for the most part be most repugnant against the truth of God’s law. And there, by the way, he speaketh of the king said highness’marriage, which, by the ripe judgment, authority, and privilege of the most and principal universities of the world, and then with the consent of the whole church of England, he contracted with the most excellent and most noble lady, queen Anne. After that, touching the king’s majesty’s title, as pertaining to the supreme head of the church of England. Last of all, of the false pretensed supremacy of the bishop of Rome in the realm of England most justly abrogated: and how all other bishops, being fellow-like to him in their function, yea and in some points above him within their own provinces, were beforetime bound to the king by their oath.
But be thou most surely persuaded of this, good reader! that the bishop of Rome, if there were no cause else but only this marriage, would easily content himself, especially having some good morsel or other given him to chew upon. 47 But when he seeth so mighty a king, being a right virtuous and a great learned prince, so sincerely and so heartily favor the gospel of Christ, and perceiveth the yearly and great prey (yea so large a prey, that it came to as much almost as all the king’s revenues) snapped out of his hands, and that he can no longer exercise his tyranny in the king’s majesty’s realm (alas, heretofore too cruel and bitter 48 ), nor make laws, as he hath done many, to the contumely and reproach of the majesty of God, which is evident that he hath done in time past, under the title of the Catholic church, and the authority of Peter and Paul (when not-withstanding he was a very ravening wolf, dressed in sheep’s clothing, calling himself the servant of servants), to the great damage of the christian common-wealth in here, here began all the mischief; hereof rose these discords, these deadly malices, and so great and terrible bustling: for if it were not thus, could any man believe that this Jupiter of Olympus (who falsely hath arrogated unto himself an absolute power without controlment) would have wrought so diligently, by all means possible, to stir up all other kings and princes so traitorously against this so good and godly, and so true a gospel-like prince, as he done? Neither let it move thee, gentle reader! that Winchester did not before now apply to this opinion: for he himself, in this oration, showeth the cause why he did it not. And if he had said never a word, yet thou knowest well what a witty part it is for a man to suspend his judgment, and not to be too rash in giving of sentence. It is an old-said saw; ‘Mary Magdalen profited us less in her quick belief that Christ was risen, than Thomas that was longer in doubt.’ A man may rightly call him Fabius, that with his advised taking of leisure restored the matter. Albeit I speak not this as though Winchester had not bolted out this matter secretly with himself beforehand (for he without doubt tried it out long ago); but that running fair and softly, he would first, with his painful study, pluck the matter out of the dark (although of itself it was clear enough, but by reason of sundry opinions it was lapped up in darkness), and then did he debate it wittily to and fro; and so, at last, after long and great deliberation had in the matter, because there is no better counsellor than leisure and time, he would resolutely, with his learned and consummate judgment, confirm it.
Thou shouldest, gentle reader, esteem his censure and authority to be of more weighty credence, inasmuch as the matter was not rashly, and at all adventures, but with judgment (as thou seest), and with wisdom examined and discussed. And this is no new example, to be against the tyranny of the bishop of Rome, seeing that not only this man, but many men oftentimes, yea and right great learned men afore now, have done the same even in writing; whereby they both painted him out in his right colors, and made his sleights, falsehood, frauds, and deceitful wiles, openly known to the world. Therefore, if thou at any time heretofore have doubted either of true obedience, or of the king’s majesty’s marriage or title, or else of the bishop of Rome’s false pretended supremacy, as, if thou hadst a good smelling nose, and a sound judgment, I think thou didst not: yet, having read this oration (which, if thou favor the truth, and hate the tyranny of the bishop of Rome, and his satanical fraudulent falsehood, shall doubtless wonderfully content thee), forsake thine error, and acknowledge the truth now freely offered thee at length, considering with thyself that it is better late so to do, than never to repent.
Fare thou heartily well, most gentle reader; and not only love this most valiant king of England and of France, who undoubtedly was by the providence of God born to defend the gospel, but also honor him and serve him most obediently. As for this Winchester, who was long ago, without doubt, reputed among the greatest learned men, give him thy good word, with highest commendation.
The end of bishop Bonner’s prologue.
What man reading and advising this book of Winchester, De Vera Obedientia, with Bonner’s preface before the same, would ever have thought any alteration could so work in man’s heart, to make these men thus to turn the cat in the pan, as they say, and to start so suddenly from the truth so manifestly known, so pithily proved, so vehemently defended, and (as it seemed) so faithfully subscribed? If they dissembled all this that they wrote, subscribed, and sware unto, what perjury most execrable was it before God and man! If they meant good faith, and spake then as they thought, what pestilent blindness is this so suddenly fallen upon them, to make that false now, which was true before; or that to be now true, which before was false! Thus to say and unsay, and then to say again, to do and undo, and, as a man would say, to play fast or loose with truth; truly a man may say is not the doing of a man who is in any case to be trusted, whatsoever he doth or saith. But here a man may see what man is of himself, when God’s good humble Spirit lacketh to be his guide.
Furthermore, to add unto them the judgment also and arguments of Tonstal, bishop of Durham, let us see how he agreeth with them, or rather much exceedeth them, in his sermon made before king Henry upon Palm- Sunday, remaining yet in print; in which sermon, disputing against the wrongful supremacy of the bishop of Rome, he proveth by manifest grounds most effectuously, both out of the Scripture, ancient doctors, and of councils; not only that the bishop of Rome hath no such authority by the word of God committed to him, as he doth challenge; but also, in requiring and challenging the same, he reproveth and condemneth him with great zeal and ardent spirit, to be a proud Lucifer; disobedient to the ordinary powers of God set over him; contrary to Christ and Peter: and finally, in raising up war against us for the same, he therefore rebuketh and defieth him, as a most detestable sower of discord, and a murderer of Christian men.
NOTES ON TONSTAL’S SERMON AGAINST THE POPE’S SUPREMACY.
First, by the Scripture, he reasoneth thus, and proveth, that all good men ought to obey the potestates and governors of the world, as emperors, kings, and princes of all sorts, what name soever the said supreme powers do bear or use for their countries in which they be; for so St. Peter doth plainly teach us, saying, ‘Be ye subject to every human creature for God’s cause, whether it be king, as chief head, or dukes or governors,’ etc. (1 Peter 2) So that St. Peter, in his epistle, commandeth all worldly princes in their office to be obeyed as the ministers of God, by all Christian men: and according unto the same, St. Paul saith, ‘Let every living man be subject to the high powers; for the high powers be of God, and whosoever resisteth the high powers, resisteth the ordinance of God, and purchaseth thereby to himself damnation.’ (Romans 13) And in the same place of Tonstal it followeth: and lest men should forget their duty of obedience to their princes, it is thrice repeated, that they be ‘the ministers of God,’ whose place in their governance they represent: so that unto them all men must obey, apostles, patriarchs, primates, archbishops, bishops, priests, and all of the clergy, etc. ‘And therefore,’ saith he, ‘the bishop of Rome oweth to his sovereign and superior like subjection by the word of God, taught.unto us by Peter and Paul, as other bishops do to their princes, under whom they be,’ etc.
Also, another express commandment we have of Christ, who, upon the occasion of his disciples striving for superiority, discusseth the matter, saying on this wise, ‘The kings of the people and nations have dominion over them, and those that have power over them be called gracious lords; but so it shall not be amongst you: but whosoever amongst you is the greater, shall be as the younger; and whosoever amongst you shall be chief, shall be as a servant and a minister,’ (Luke 22) etc.
And again, Christ speaking to Pilate of his kingdom, declareth that his kingdom is not of this world. (John 18) and ‘therefore,’ saith Tonstal, ‘those that go about to makeof Christ’s spiritual kingdom a worldly kingdom, do fall into the error of some heretics, that look that Christ, after the day of judgment, shall reign with all his saints here in the earth carnally in Jerusalem; as the Jews do believe that Messias is yet to come, and when he shall come, he shall reign worldly in Jerusalem.’
By these and such other places it may well appear, that Christ, neither before his incarnation (as Tonstal saith), nor after his incarnation, did ever alter the authority of worldly kings and princes, but by his own word commanded them still to be obeyed by their subjects, as they had been in the ancient time before, etc.
And for example of the same he allegeth first the example of Christ himself, who, being asked of the Jews, whether they should give tribute to Caesar, or no, he bade them give to Caesar those things that be his, and to God those things that be his; signifying, that tribute was due to Caesar, and that their souls were due to God, (Matthew 22) etc.
Also in the seventeenth of Matthew, it appeareth that Christ bade Peter pay tribute for him and his disciples, when it was demanded of him. And why? Because he would not change the order of obeisance to worldly princes due by their subjects, etc.
Another example of Christ he citeth out of John 6, where, after Christ had fed five thousand and more, with a few loaves, and fewer fishes, and that the Jews would have taken him, and made him their king, he fled from them, and would not consent unto them: ‘For the kingdom,’ saith he, ‘that he came to set in earth, was not a worldly and temporal kingdom, but a heavenly and spiritual kingdom;’that is, to reign spiritually, by grace and faith, in the hearts of all christian and faithful people, of what degree, or of what nation soever they he, and to turn all people and nations, which at his coming were carnal and lived after the lusts of the flesh, to be spiritual, and to live after the lusts of the Spirit, that Christ, with his Father of heaven, might reign in the hearts of all men, etc. And here, in these examples of Christ’s humility further is to be noted, how Christ the Son of God did submit himself not only to the rulers and powers of this world, but also dejected himself, and in a manner became servant to his own apostles: so far off was he from all ambitious and pompous seeking of worldly honor. For so it appeared in him, not only by washing the feet of his apostles, but also the same time, a little before his passion, when the apostles fell at contention among themselves, who among them should be superior, he, setting before them the example of his own subjection, asketh this question: ‘Who is superior; he that sitteth at the table, or he that serveth at the table? Is not he superior that sitteth? but I am amongst you, as he that ministereth and serveth,’ etc. (Luke 22) The like examples Tonstal also inferreth of Peter’s humility. For where we read in the Acts, how the centurion, a nobleman of great age, did prostrate himself upon the ground at the feet of Peter; then Peter, not suffering that, eftsoons took him up, and bade hnn rise, saying, ‘I am also a man as thou art,’ etc. (Acts 10) So likewise did the angel, to whom when John would have fallen down to have adored him who showed him those visions, the angel said unto him, ‘See thou do not so; for I am the servant of God, as thou artr,’ etc. (Revelation 19,22) Again, in the aforesaid Peter, what an example of reverent humility is to be seen in this, that notwithstanding he, with other apostles, had his commission to go over all the world, yet nevertheless he, being at Joppa, and sent for by Cornelius, durst not go unto him without the vision of a sheet let down from heaven; by which vision he was admonished not to refuse the Gentiles: or else he knew in himself no such primacy over all people and places given unto him, nor any such commission so large above the others, etc.
But here, saith Tonstal, steppeth in the bishop of Rome, and saith that Peter had authority given him above all the residue of the apostles, and allegeth the words of Christ spoken to him, ‘Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth, shall be bound in heaven.’ (Matthew 16) ‘This said Christ,’ saith the pope, ‘and St. Peter is buried at Rome, whose successor I am, and oughtto rule the church, as Peter did. and to be porter of heaven gates, as Peter was,’ etc. ‘And Christ said also to Peter, after his resurrection, Feed my sheep; (John 21) which he spake to him only, so that thereby he had authority over all that be of Christ’s flock; and I, as his successor, have the same.
And therefore whoso will not obey me, king or prince, I will curse him, and deprive him of his kingdom or seigniory: for all power is given to me that Christ hath, and I am his vicar-general, as Peter was here in earth over all, and none but I, as Christ is in heaven.’
This ambitious and pompous objection (saith Tonstal) of the pope and his adherents, hath of late years much troubled the world, and made dissension, debate, and open war in all parts of Christendom, and all by a wrong interpretation of the Scripture; who, if he would take those places after the right sense of them, as both the apostles themselves taught us, and all the ancient best learned interpreters do expound them, the matter were soon at a point. But otherwise, since they pervert the Scriptures, and preach another gospel in that point to us, than ever the apostles preached, we have therein a general rule to follow: That though an angel came from heaven, and would tell us such new exposition of those places as are now made, to turn the words which were spoken for spiritual authority of preaching the word of God, and ministering of the sacraments, to a worldly authority, we ought to reject him: as St. Paul willeth us in Galatians 1.
To open therefore the true sense of the Scripture in the places aforesaid, and first to begin with Matthew 16, here is to be observed, that the question being put in general of Christ to all his apostles, what they thought or judged of him, Peter, answering for them all (as he was always ready to answer), said, ‘Thou art Christ the Son of the living God.’ To whom Jesus answered again, ‘Blessed be thou, Simon the son of Jonah, for flesh and blood hath not revealed this unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven: and I say unto thee, thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.’ That is to say, Upon this rock of thy confession of me to be the Son of God, I will build my church; for this faith containeth the whole summary of our faith and salvation, as it is written in Romans 10. ‘The word of faith that we do preach is at hand, in thy mouth and in thine heart. For if thou confess with thy mouth our Lord Jesus Christ, and with thy heart do believe that God raised him from death to life, thou shalt be saved,’ etc. And this confession being first uttered by the mouth of Peter, upon the same confession of his, and not upon the person of Peter, Christ buildeth his church, as Chrysostome expoundeth that place in the twenty-sixth sermon, of the feast of Pentecost, saying, ‘Not upon the person of Peter, but upon the faith, Christ hath builded his church. And what is the faith? This: Thou art Christ the Son of the living God. What is to say, Upon this rock? That is, Upon this confession of Peter,’ etc.
And with this saying of Chrysostome all ancient expositors (saith Tonstal) treating of that place, do agree; for if we should expound that place, that the church is builded upon the person of Peter, we should put another foundation of the church than Christ; which is directly against St. Paul, saying, ‘No man may put any other foundation, but that which is put already, which is Christ Jesus,’ etc. (1 Corinthians 3) And because Peter was the first of all the apostles that confessed this, That Christ is the Son of God, by the which faith all men must be saved; thereof cometh the primacy; that is, the first place or standing of Peter in the number of all the apostles.
And as Peter was the first of them that confessed Christ to be the Son of God, so was he most ardent in his faith, most bold and hardy in Christ, as appeared by his coming out of the ship in the great tempest; and also most vehement in his master’s cause, as appeared by drawing out his sword; and afterwards the Lord’s resurrection is declared in the Acts, (Acts 2,3,4) where the Jews, withstanding the apostles preaching the faith of Christ, Peter, as most ardent in faith, was ever most ready to defend the faith against the impugners thereof, speaking for them all unto the people, etc.; and therefore hath these honorable names given him by the ancient interpreters, that sometimes he is called ‘the mouth of the apostles;’ ‘the chief of the apostles;’ sometimes ‘the prince of the apostles’, sometimes ‘the president of the whole church,’ and sometimes hath the name of primacy or priority attributed unto him. And yet that the said Peter, notwithstanding these honorable names given to him, should not have a rule, or a judicial power, above all the other apostles, it is plain by St. Paul and many others.
First, St. Paul (Galatians 2) plainly declareth the same, saying, that as the apostleship of the circumcision, that is, of the Jews, was given by Christ to Peter; so was the apostleship of the Gentiles given to me among the Gentiles. Hereby it appeareth that Paul knew no primacy of Peter concerning people and places, but among the Jews. And thereof St. Ambrose, expounding that place, saith thus: ‘The primacy of the Jews was given chiefly to Peter, albeit James and John were joined with him; as the primacy of the Gentiles was given to Paul, albeit Barnabas was joined with him: so that Peter had no rule over all.
Also in Acts 10, when Peter was sent for to Cornelius, a Gentile, he durst not go to him without a special vision given him from heaven by the Lord. Item, That all the apostles had like dignity and authority, it appeareth by St. Paul, where he saith, ‘Now ye are not strangers, nor foreigners, but ye he citizens with the saints, and of the household of Almighty God, builded,’ saith he, ‘upon the foundations of the apostles and the prophets, Christ being the corner-stone; upon whom every edifice being builded, groweth up to an holy temple in our Lord,’ etc. (Ephesians 2) Here he saith that they be builded not upon the foundation of Peter only, but upon the foundation of the apostles: so that all they be in the foundation set upon Christ the very rock, whereupon standeth the whole church.
In the Apocalypse also, (Revelation 21) the new city, and the heavenly Jerusalem of Almighty God, is described by the Holy Ghost, not with one foundation only of Peter, but with twelve foundations, after the number of the apostles.
St. Cyprian 49 giveth record likewise to the same, that the apostles had equal power and dignity given to them by Christ; and because all should preach one thing, therefore the beginning thereof first came by one, who was Peter, who confessed for them all, that Christ was the Son of the living God. Saying further, that in the church there is one office of all the bishops, whereof every man hath a part allowed wholly unto him. Now, if the bishop of Rome may meddle over all, where he will, then every man hath not wholly his part, for the bishop of Rome may also meddle in his part jointly with him; so that now he hath it not wholly: which is against Cyprian.
St. Augustine 50 likewise, expounding the gospel of John, in the fiftieth Treatise, speaketh there of the keys of Peter, which he saith were given of Christ to Peter, not for himself alone, but for the whole church.
Cyril, expounding the last chapter of John, and there speaking of the words of Christ spoken unto Peter, ‘Feed my sheep,’ etc. thus understandeth the same: That because Peter had thrice denied Christ, whereby, he thought himself he had lost his apostleship, Christ, to comfort him again, and to restore him to his office that he had lost, asked him thrice whether he loved him; and so restored him again to his office, which else he durst not have presumed unto; saying unto him, ‘Feed my sheep,’ etc.; with which exposition the ancient holy expositors of that place do likewise agree. So that by these words of feeding Christ’s sheep, the bishop of Rome can take no advantage to maintain his universal pastoralty over all christian dominions.
Again, whereas the bishop of Rome saith that Peter, by these words of Christ spoken to him, hath a pre-eminency above the others, St. Paul (Acts 20) proveth the contrary, where he, speaking to the bishops assembled at Miletus, saith to them, ‘Take heed to yourselves, and to all your flock, in which the Holy Ghost, hath put you to govern,’ etc.
So that by these scriptures conferred together, it may appear, that neither Matthew 16, nor John 21, do prove that Peter had power, authority, or dignity given him of Christ over all the others, that they should be under him. And yet, notwithstanding his primacy, in that he, first of all the apostles, confessed Christ to be the Son of the living God (with which confession all the other apostles did consent, and also preached the same), standeth still; which, confession first by Peter made, all others that will be saved must follow also, and be taught to confess the same. And thus the bishop of Rome’s power over all, which he would prove by those places wrongfully alleged for his purpose, utterly quaileth, and is not proved. And thus much for the Scriptures and doctors.
NOW, FURTHER PROCEEDING IN THIS MATTER, THE SAID TONSTAL COMETH TO COUNCILS, AND EXAMPLES OF THE PRIMITIVE CHURCH, AS FOLLOWETH:
Faustinus, legate to the bishop of Rome, in the sixth council of Carthage, alleged that the bishop of Rome ought to have the ordering of all great matters, in all places, by his supreme authority, bringing no scripture for him (for at that time no scripture was thought to make for it); but alleged for him, and that untruly, that the first council of Nice made for his purpose. After this, when the book was brought forth, and no such article found in it, but the contrary, yet the council at that time sent to Constantinople, Alexandria, and Antioch, where the patriarchal sees were, to have the true copy of the council of Nice, which was sent unto them.
And another copy also was sent from Rome, whither also they sent for the same purpose.
After that the copy was brought to them, and no such article found in it, but in the fifth chapter thereof the contrary, that all causes ecclesiastical should either be determined within the diocese, or else, if any were aggrieved, then to appeal to the council provincial, and there the matter to take full end, so that for no such causes men should go out of their provinces; the whole council of Carthage wrote to Celestine, at that time being bishop of Rome,69 that since the council of Nice had no such article in it, as was untruly alleged by Faustinus, but the contrary, they desired him to abstain hereafter to make any more such demand; denouncing unto him, that they would not suffer any cause, great or small, to be brought by appeal out of their country; and thereupon made a law, that no man should appeal out of the country of Africa, upon pain to be denounced accursed. Wherewith the bishop of Rome ever after held him content, and made no more business with them, seeing he had nought to say for himself to the contrary. And at this council St.
Augustine was present, and subscribed his hand. Read more hereof before.
It was determined also, in the sixth article of the said council of Nice, that in the Orient the bishop of Antioch should be chief; in Egypt the bishop of Alexandria; about Rome the bishop of Rome; and likewise in other countries the metropolitans should have their pre-eminence: so that the bishop of Rome never had meddling in those countries. And in the next article following, the bishop of Jerusalem (which city before had been destroyed, and almost desolate) was restored to his old prerogative, to be the chief in Palestine and in the country of Jewry.
By this ye see how the patriarch of Rome, during all this time of the primitive church, had no such primacy pre-eminent above other patriarchs, much less over kings and emperors, as may appear by Agatho, bishop of Rome, long after that, in whose time was the sixth council general; which Agatho, after his election, sent to the emperor, then being at Constantinople, to have his election allowed, before he would be consecrated, after the old custom at the time used.
Thus, after that bishop Tonstal, playing the earnest Lutheran, both by Scriptures and ancient doctors, also by examples sufficient of the primitive church, hath proved and declared, how the bishops of Rome ought to submit themselves to the higher powers whom God hath appointed every creature in this world to obey; now let us likewise see how the said bishop Tonstal describeth unto us the bishop of Rome’s disobedience intolerable, his pride incomparable, and his malignant malice most execrable.
And first, speaking of the disobedience of Adam and Eve, then of the pride of Nebuchadnezzar, and of Lucifer, at length he compareth the bishops of Rome to them all; who first, for disobedience, refuse to obey God’s commandment, and contrary to his word, will be above their governors, in refusing to obey them.
Secondly, Besides this rebellious disobedience in these bishops of Rome, not sufferable, their pride moreover so far exceedeth all measure, that they will have their princes, to whom they owe subjection, prostrate upon the ground, to adore them by godly honor upon the earth; and to kiss their feet, as if they were God, whereas they be but wretched men; and yet they look that their princes should do it unto them, and also that all other christian men, owing them no subjection, should do the same.
And who be these, I pray you, that men may know them? Surely (saith he) the bishops of Rome be those whom I do mean, who, following the pride of Lucifer their father, make themselves fellows to God, and do exalt their seat above the stars of God, and do ascend above the clouds, and will be like to Almighty God. By stars of God be meant the angels of heaven; for as stars do show unto us in part the light of heaven, so do angels, sent unto men, show the heavenly light of the grace of God to those to whom they be sent. And the clouds signified in the Old Testament the prophets, and in the New do signify the apostles and preachers of the word of God; for as the clouds do conceive and gather in the sky moisture, which they after pour down upon the ground, to make it thereby more fruitful, so the prophets in the Old Testament, and the apostles and preachers in the New, do pour into our ears the moisture of their heavenly doctrine of the word of God, to make therewith, by grace, our souls, being sear and dry, to bring forth fruit of the Spirit. Thus do all ancient expositors, and amongst them St. Augustine, interpret to be meant in Scripture stars and clouds, in the exposition of Psalm 147.
But St. John the evangelist writeth in the 19th chapter of the Apocalypse, and in the 22d also, that when he would have fallen down at the angel’s foot, that did show him those visions there written, to have adored him with godly worship, the angel said unto him: ‘See thou do not so, for I am the servant of God, as thou art: give adoration and godly worship to God, and not to me.’ Here it appeareth that the bishops of Rome, suffering all men prostrate before them to kiss their feet (yea the same princes, to whom they owe subjection), do climb up above the stars and angels too, offering their feet to be kissed, with shoes and all. For so I saw myself, being present four and thirty years ago, when Julius, then bishop of Rome, stood on his feet, and one of his chamberlains held up his skirt, because it stood not (as he thought) with his dignity that he should do it himself, that his shoe might appear, whilst a nobleman of great age did prostrate himself upon the ground, and kissed his shoe; which he stately suffered to be done, as of duty.
Where methinks I saw Cornelius the centurion, captain of the Italian band, spoken of in Acts 10, submitting himself to Peter, and much honoring him; but I saw not Peter there to take him up, and to bid him rise, saying, I am a man as thou art, as St. Peter did say to Cornelius: so that the bishops of Rome, admitting such adoration due unto God, do climb above the heavenly clouds; that is to say, above the apostles sent into the world by Christ, to water the earthly and carnal hearts of men, by their heavenly doctrine of the word of God.
Thus Bishop Tonstal, having described the passing pride of the pope, surmounting like Lucifer above bishops, apostles, angels, and stars of heaven, proceeding then further to the latter end of his sermon, cometh to speak of his rage and malice most furious and pestilent, in that he, being justly put from his kingdom here to wreak his spiteful malice, stirreth up war against us, and bloweth the horn of mischief in giving our land for a spoil and prey to all, whosoever, at his setting on, will come and invade us.
But let us hear his own words preaching to the king and all Englishmen, touching both the pope’s malice, and the treason of cardinal Pole. ‘Now,’ saith he, ‘because he can no longer in this realm wrongfully use his usurped power in all things, as he was wont to do, and suck out of this realm, by avarice insatiable, innumerable sums of money yearly, to the great exhausting of the same; he therefore, moved and replete with furious ire and pestilent malice, goeth about to stir all christian nations that will give ears to his devilish enchantments, to move war against this realm of England, giving it in prey to all those that by his instigation will invade it.’
And here, expounding these aforesaid words, “To give in prey,” he declareth what great mischief they contain, and willeth every true Englishman well to mark the same. ‘First, to make this realm,’ saith he, ‘a prey to all adventurers, all spoilers, all snaphaunses, 51 all forlorn hopes, all cormorants, all raveners of the world, that will invade this realm, is to say, Thou possessioner of any lands of this realm, of what degree soever thou be, from the highest to the lowest, shalt be slain and destroyed, and thy lands taken from thee by those that will have all for themselves; and thou mayest be sure to be slain, for they will not suffer thee, nor any of thy progeny, to live to make any claim afterwards, or to be revenged; for that were their unsurety. Thy wife shall be abused before thy face; thy daughter likewise deflowered before thee; thy children slain before thine eyes; thy house spoiled; thy cattle driven away, and sold before thy visage; thy plate, thy money, by force taken from thee; all thy goods, wherein thou hast any delight, or hast gathered for thy children, ravened, broken, and distributed in thy presence, that every ravener may have his share. Thou merchant art sure to be slain, for thou hast either money or ware, or both, which they search for. Thou bishop or priest, whatsoever thou be, shalt never escape, because thou wouldst not take the bishop of Rome’s part, and rebel against God and thy prince, as he doth. If thou shalt flee and escape for a season, whatsoever thou be, thou shalt see and hear of so much misery and abomination, that thou shalt judge them happy that be dead before; for sure it is thou shalt not finally escape: for, to take the whole realm in prey, is to kill the whole people, and to take the place for themselves, as they will do if they can. ‘And the bishop of Rome now of late, to set forth his pestilent malice the more, hath allured to his purpose a subject of this realm, Reginald Pole, coming of a noble blood, and thereby the more errant traitor, to go about from prince to prince, and from country to country, to stir them to war against this realm, and to destroy the same, being his native country; whose pestilent purpose the princes that he breaketh it unto have in much abomination, both for that the bishop of Rome (who, being a bishop, should procure peace) is a stirrer of war, and because this most errant and unkind traitor is his minister to so devilish a purpose, to destroy the country that he was born in; which any heathen man would abhor to do.’
And so continuing in his discourse against cardinal Pole and the bishop of Rome, for stirring the people to war and mischief, he further saith, and saith truly, thus: ‘For these many years past, little war hath been in these parts of Christendom, but the bishop of Rome either hath been a stirrer of it, or a nourisher of it, and seldom any compounder of it, unless it were for his ambition or profit. Wherefore since, as St. Paul saith, that God is not the God of dissension, but of peace, (1 Corinthians 14) who commandeth, by his word, peace alway to be kept, we are sure that all those that go about to break peace between realms, and to bring them to war, are the children of the devil, what holy names soever they may pretend to cloak their pestilent malice withal; which cloaking under hypocrisy is double devilishness, and of Christ most detested, because under his blessed name they do play the devil’s part.’
And in the latter end of his sermon, concluding with Ezekiel 39, where the prophet speaketh against Gog and Magog going about to destroy the people of God, and prophesieth against them, that the people of God shall vanquish and overthrow them on the mountains of Israel, that none of them shall escape, but their carcases shall there be devoured of kites and crows, and birds of the air; so likewise saith he of these our enemies, wishing, that if they shall persist in their pestilent malice to make invasion into this realm, then their great captain Gog (the bishop of Rome he meaneth) may come with them, to drink with them of the same cup which he maliciously goeth about to prepare for us, that the people of God might after live quietly in peace.
We have heard hitherto the oaths, censures, and judgments of certain particular bishops, of York, of Winchester, of London, of Durham, and also of Edmund Bonner, archdeacon then of Leicester, against the pope’s unlawful usurpation. Now, for the more fortification of the matter, and satisfying of the reader, it shall not be much out of purpose, besides the consent and approbation of these aforesaid, to infer also the public and general agreement of the whole clergy of England, as in a total sum together, confirmed and ratified in their own public book, made and set forth by them about the same time, called then ‘The Bishops’ Book;’ in which book, although many things were very slender and imperfect, yet, as touching this cause of the bishop of Rome’s regality, we will hear (God willing) what their whole opinion and provincial determination did conclude, according as by their own words in the same book is to be seen word for word, as followeth, subscribed also with their own names; the catalogue of whom, under their own confession, shall appear.
TESTIMONIES OUT OF ‘THE BISHOPS’ BOOK,’ AGAINST THE POPE’S SUPREMACY.
We think it convenient, that all bishops and preachers shall instruct and teach the people committed unto their spiritual charge, that whereas certain men do imagine and affirm, that Christ should give unto the bishop of Rome power and authority, not only to be head and governor of all priests and bishops in Christ’s church, but also to have and occupy the whole monarchy of the world in his hands, and that he may thereby lawfully depose kings and princes from their realms, dominions, and seigniories, and so transfer and give the same to such persons as him liketh, that is utterly false and untrue; for Christ never gave unto St. Peter, or unto any of the apostles or their successors, any such authority. And the apostles, St. Peter and St. Paul, do teach and command, that all christian people, as well priests and bishops, as others, should be obedient and subject unto the princes and potentates of the world, although they were infidels.
And as for the bishop of Rome, it was many hundred years after Christ, before he could acquire or get any primacy or governance above any other bishops, out of his province in Italy; since which time he hath ever usurped more and more. And though some part of his power was given to him by the consent of the emperors, kings, and princes, and by the consent also of the clergy in general councils assembled; yet surely he attained the most part thereof by marvellous subtlety and craft, and especially by colluding with great kings and princes, sometimes training them into his devotion by pretense and color of holiness and sanctimony, and sometimes constraining them by force and tyranny. Whereby the said bishops of Rome aspired and rose at length unto such greatness in strength and authority, that they presumed and took upon them to be heads, and to put laws by their own authority, not only unto all other bishops within Christendom, but also unto the emperors, kings, and other the princes and lords of the world; and that, under the pretense of the authority committed unto them by the gospel. Wherein the said bishops of Rome do not only abuse and pervert the true sense and meaning of Christ’s word, but they do also clean contrary to the use and custom of the primitive church; and so do manifestly violate, as well the holy canons made in the church immediately after the time of the apostles, as also the decrees and constitutions made in that behalf by the holy fathers of the catholic church, assembled in the first general councils. 53 And finally, they do transgress their own profession, made in their creation. For all the bishops of Rome always, when they be consecrated and made bishops of that see, do make a solemn profession and vow, that they shall inviolably observe and keep all the ordinances made in the eight first general councils; among which it is specially provided and enacted, that all causes shall be finished and determined within the province where the same began, and that by the bishops of the same province; and that no bishop shall exercise any jurisdiction out of his own diocese or province; and divers such other canons were then made and confirmed by the said councils, to repress and take away out of the church all such primacy and jurisdiction over kings and bishops, as the bishops of Rome pretend now to have over the same. 54 And we find that divers good fathers, bishops of Rome, did greatly reprove, yea and abhor (as a thing clean contrary to the gospel, and the decrees of the church) that, any bishop at Rome or elsewhere, should presume, usurp, or take upon him the title and name of the universal bishop, or of the head of all priests, or of the highest priest, or any such like title. For confirmation whereof, it is out of all doubt, that there is no mention made, either in Scripture, or in the writings of any authentical doctor or author of the church, being within the time of the apostles, that Christ did ever make or institute any distinction or difference to be in the preeminence of power, order, or jurisdiction, between the apostles themselves, or between the bishops the selves, but that they were all equal in power, order, authority, and jurisdiction. And in that there is now, and since the time of the apostles, any such diversity or difference among the bishops, it was devised by the ancient fathers of the primitive church for the conservation of good order and the unity of the catholic church; and that, either by the consent and authority, or else at least by the permission and sufferance, of the princes and civil powers for the time ruling, etc; And shortly after followeth this:
And for the better confirmation of this part, we think it also convenient, that all bishops and preachers shall instruct and teach the people committed unto their spiritual charge, that Christ did by express words prohibit, that none of his apostles, nor any of their successors should, under the pretense of the authority given unto them by Christ, take upon them the authority of the sword; that is to say, the authority of kings, or of any civil power in this world, yea, or any authority to make laws or ordinances in causes appertaining unto civil powers. Truth it is, the priests and bishops may execute all such temporal power and jurisdiction as is committed unto them by the ordinance and authority of kings, or other civil powers, and by the consent of the people (as officers and ministers under the said kings and powers), so long as it shall please the said kings and people to permit and suffer them so to use and execute the same. Notwithstanding, if any bishop, of what estate or dignity soever he be (be he bishop of Rome, or of any other city, province, or diocese), do presume to take upon him authority or jurisdiction in causes or matters which appertain unto kings, and the civil powers and their courts, and will maintain or think that he may so do by the authority of Christ and his gospel, although the kings and princes would not permit and suffer him so to do; no doubt, that bishop is not worthy to be called a bishop, but rather a tyrant, and a usurper of other men’s rights, contrary to the laws of God; and is worthy to be reputed none otherwise than he that goeth about to subvert the kingdom of Christ. For the kingdom of Christ in his church is a spiritual, and not a carnal kingdom of the world; that is to say, the very kingdom that Christ, by himself, or by his apostles and disciples, sought here in this world, was to bring all nations from the carnal kingdom of the prince of darkness unto the light of his spiritual kingdom; and so himself to reign in the hearts of the people, by grace, faith, hope, and charity. And therefore, since Christ did never seek nor exercise any worldly kingdom or dominion in this world, but rather, refusing and flying from the same, did leave the said worldly governance of kingdoms, realms, and nations, to be governed by princes and potentates (in like manner as he did find them), and commanded also his apostles and disciples to do the semblable, as it was said before; whatsoever priest, or bishop will arrogate or presume to take upon him any such authority, and will pretend the authority of the gospel for his defense therein, he doth nothing else but (in a manner as you would say) crowneth Christ again with a crown of thorn, and traduceth and bringeth him forth again with his mantle of purple upon his back, to be mocked and scorned of the world, as the Jews did to their own damnation.
TESTIMONIES OF BISHOPS AND DOCTORS OF ENGLAND AGAINST THE POPE.
BISHOPS AND DOCTORS Thomas Cantuariensis Edovardus Eboracensis Johannes Londinensis Cuthbertus Dunelmensis Stephanus Wintoniensis Robertus Carliolensis Johannes Exoniensis Johannes Lincolniensis Johannes Bathoniensis Rolandus Coventr. et Lichfield Thomas Eliensis Nicolaus Saris Johannes Bangor Edovardus Herefordiensis Hugo Wigorniensis Johannes Roffensis Gulielmus Norwicensis Guilelmus Menevensis Robertus Assavensis Robertus Landavensis Richardus Wolman Archidiacon.
Sudbur Gulielmus Knight, Archidiacon.
Richmond Johannes Bel, Archidiacon.
Glocester Edmundus Bonner, Archidiacon.
Leicester Gulielmus Skippe, Archidiacon.
Dorset Nicolaus Heth, Archidiacon.
Stafford Cuthbertus Marshal, Archidiac.
Nottingham Richardus Curren, Archidiacon.
Oxon Gulielmus Cliffe Galfridus Dounes Robertus Oking Radulphus Bradford Richardus Smith Simon Mathew Johannes Prin Gulielmus Buckmaster Gulielmus May Nicolaus Wotton Nicolaus Wotton Johannes Edmunds Thomas Barret Johannes Baker Johannes Tyson Thomas Robertson Johannes Hase These were doctors of divinity, and of both laws.
Judge now thyself, loving reader, ‘per confessata et allegata;’ that is, by these things heretofore confessed, alleged, allowed, proved, and confirmed; by pen set forth, by words defended, and by oath subscribed by these bishops and doctors, if either Martin Luther himself, or any Lutheran else, could or did ever say more against the proud usurpation of the bishop of Rome, than these men have done. If they dissembled otherwise than they meant; who could ever dissemble so deeply, speaking so pithily? If they meant as they spake, who could ever turn head to tail so suddenly and so shortly as these men did? But because these things we write for edification of others, rather than for commendation of them, let us mark therefore their reasons, and let the persons go.
And although the said proofs and arguments, heretofore alleged, might suffice to the full discussion of this matter against the pope’s usurped primacy; yet because many do yet remain, who will not be satisfied, to refel therefore and confute this popish article of the pope’s vain and proud primacy with as much matter and furniture of reasons and allegations as the writings and testimonies of these bishops and others do minister unto us; we mind (the Lord willing) to annex to these former confirmations of the bishops aforesaid, another supplement also of a certain epistle sent by bishop Tonstel, and by John Stokesley, bishop of London, to cardinal Pole, for a more ample confutation of the usurped power. Concerning the argument of that epistle, here is first to be understood, that about this time, or not much after, cardinal Pole, brother to the lord Montague, was attainted of high treason, and fled away unto Rome, where, within a short time after, he was made cardinal of St. Mary Cosmedin; of whom more is to be spoken hereafter, the Lord so permitting, when we come to the time of queen Mary. In the mean time, he remaining at Rome, there was directed unto him a certain epistle exhortatory by Stokesley, bishop of London, and Tonstal, bishop of Durham, persuading him to relinquish and abandon the supremacy of the pope, and to conform himself to the religion of his king. The copy of which his epistle, for the reasons and arguments therein contained, about the same matter, we thought here not unworthy to be put in, or unprofitable to be read. The tenor thereof here followeth.
THE TRUE COPY OF A CERTAIN LETTER WRITTEN BY CUTHBERT TONSTAL, BISHOP OF DURHAM, AND JOHN STOKESLEY, BISHOP OF LONDON, TO CARDINAL POLE, PROVING THE BISHOP OF ROME TO HAVE NO SPECIAL SUPERIORITY ABOVE OTHER BISHOPS. For the good will that we have borne unto you in times past, as long as you continued the king’s true subject, we cannot a little lament and mourn, that you, neither regarding the inestimable kindness of the king’s highness heretofore showed unto you in your bringing up, nor the honor of the house that you be come of, nor the wealth of the country that you were born in, should so decline from your duty to your prince, that you should be seduced by fair words and vain promises of the bishop of Rome, to wind with him, going about, by all means to him possible, to pull down and put under foot your natural prince and master, 56 to the destruction of the country that hath brought you up, and for a vain glory of a red hat, to make yourself an instrument to set forth his malice, who hath stirred, by all means that he could, all such christian princes as would give ears unto him, to depose the king’s highness from his kingdom, and to offer it as a prey for them that should execute his malice; and to stir, if he could, his subjects against him, in stirring and nourishing rebellions in his realm, where the office and duty of all good christian men, and namely of us that be priests, should be to bring all commotion to tranquillity, all trouble to quietness, all discord to concord; and in doing contrary, we do show ourselves to be but the ministers of Satan, and not of Christ, who ordained all us that be priests to use, in all places, the legation of peace, and not of discord. But since that cannot be undone that is done, secondly it is to make amends, and to follow the doing of the prodigal son spoken of in the gospel, (Luke 15) who returned home to his father, and was well accepted; as no doubt you might be, if you would say as he said, in acknowledging your folly, and do as he did, in returning home again from your wandering abroad in service of him, who little careth, what cometh of you, so that his purpose by you be served.
And if you be moved by your conscience, that you cannot take the king your master as supreme head of the church of England, because the bishop of Rome hath heretofore many years usurped that name universally over all the church, under pretense of the gospel of St. Matthew, saying, ‘Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church:’ surely that text many of the most holy and ancient expositors wholly do take to be meant of the faith, then first confessed by the mouth of Peter; upon which faith, confessing Christ to be the Son of God, the church is builded, Christ being the very lowest foundation stone, whereupon both the apostles themselves, and also the whole faith of the church of Christ, by them preached through the world, is founded and builded; and other foundation none can be, but that only, as St. Paul saith, ‘No other foundation can any man lay besides that which is laid, which is Christ Jesus.’ (1 Corinthians 3) And where you think that the gospel of Luke proveth the same authority of the bishop of Rome, saying, ‘Peter, I have prayed for thee, that thy faith should not fail; and thou being once converted, confirm thy brethren:’ surely that speaketh only of the fall of Peter, known to Christ by his godly prescience, whereof he gave an inkling, that after the time of his fall he should not despair, but return again, and confirm his brethren, as he, being ever most fervent of them, was wont to do. The place doth plainly open itself that it cannot be otherwise taken, but this to be the very meaning of it, and not to be spoken but to Peter: for else his successors must first fail in the faith, and then convert, and so confirm their brethren. And whereas you think that this place of the gospel of John, ‘Feed my sheep,’ was spoken only to Peter, and that those words make him shepherd over all, and above all, St. Peter (1 Peter 5) himself testifieth the contrary in his canonical epistle, where he saith to all priests, ‘Feed the flock of Christ which is among you;’ which he bade them do by the authority that Christ had put them in, as followeth: ‘And when the chief shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive the incorruptible crown of eternal glory.’
The same likewise St. Paul, in the Acts, (Acts 20) testifieth, saying, ‘Give heed to yourselves, and to the whole flock, wherein the Holy Ghost hath set you to govern the church of God; where, in the original text, the word signifying ‘regere,’ to govern, poimai>nein is the same that was spoken to Peter, ‘pasce,’ feed, for it signifieth both in the Scripture. And that by these words he was not constituted a shepherd over all, it is very plain by the fact of St. Peter, who durst not enterprise much conversation among the Gentiles, but eschewed it as a thing unlawful, and much rather prohibited than commanded by God’s law, until he was admonished by the revelation of the sheet full of divers viands, mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles: whereas, if Christ, by these words, ‘Feed my sheep,’ had given such a universal governance to Peter, then Peter, being more fervent than others of the apostles to execute Christ’s commandment, would of his own courage have gone, without any such new admonition, to Cornelius: (Acts 12) except peradventure you would say, that Peter did not understand the said words of Christ, for lack of the light which the later men have obtained to perceive, and thereby understand the words of Christ to Peter, better than Peter himself did. And strange also it were to condemn Peter as a high traitor to his Master after his ascension; as he indeed were worthy, if his Master had signified unto him that the bishops of Rome, by his dying there, should be heads of all the church; and he, knowing the same by these words, ‘Feed my sheep,’ yet, notwithstanding his Master’s high legacy and commandment, would flee 72 as he did from Rome, until his Master, encountering him by the way, with terrible words caused him to return.
And because this history, peradventure, cannot weigh against an obstinate mind to the contrary; what shall we say to the words of St. Ambrose, declaring and affirming that as great and as ample primacy was given to Paul, as to Peter? Upon these words of Paul, ‘He that wrought by Peter,’ etc., thus he writeth: 58 ‘He nameth Peter only, and compareth him to himself, because he received a primacy to build a church; and that he, in like sort, was chosen himself to have a primacy in building the churches of the Gentiles.’
And shortly after it followeth: ‘Of those [that is to say of the apostles] that were the chiefest, his gift,’ he saith, ‘was allowed, which he had received of God; so that he was found worthy to have the primacy in preaching to the Gentiles, as Peter had in preaching to the Jews. And as he assigned to Peter, for his companions, those who were of the chiefest men amongst the apostles, even so also did he take to himself Barnabas, who was joined unto him by God’s judgment; and yet did he challenge to himself alone the prerogative or primacy which God had given him, as to Peter alone it was granted among the other apostles. So that the apostles of the circumcision gave their hands to the apostles of the Gentiles, to declare their concord in fellowship, that either of them should know that they had received the perfection of the Spirit in the preaching of the gospel, and so should not need either the other in any matter.’ And shortly after saith St. Ambrose, Who durst resist Peter the chief apostle, but another such a one? who, by the confidence of his election, might know himself to be no less, and so might reprove boldly that thing which he inconsiderately had done.’
This equality of dignity which St. Ambrose affirmeth by Scripture to be equally given to Peter and Paul, St. Cyprian and St. Jerome do extend to all the apostles; Cyprian saying thus: 59 ‘All the rest of the apostles were the same that Peter was, being endued with like equality of honor and power.’ And St. Jerome thus: 60 ‘All the apostles received the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and upon them, as indifferently and equally, is the strength of the church grounded and established.’ The same St. Jerome also, as well in his Commentaries upon the Epistle to Titus, as in his Epistle to Euagrius, showeth that these primacies, long after Christ’s ascension, were made by the device of men; whereas before, by the common agreement and consent of the clergy, every of the churches were governed, yea, the patriarchal churches.
The words of St. Jerome 61 be these: ‘Let the bishops understand, that they be greater than other priests, rather by custom, than by virtue and verity of the Lord’s ordinance.’ And in his said epistle to Euagrius he hath the like sentence, and addeth thereunto, 62 ‘Wheresoever a bishop he, either at Rome, or at Eugubium, or at Constantinople, he is of all one worthiness, and of all one priesthood.’ And that one was elected who should be preferred before others, it was devised for the redress of schisms, lest any one, challenging too much to himself, should rend the church of Christ. These words only of St. Jerome be sufficient to prove that Christ by none of these three texts (which be all that you and others do allege for your opinion) gave to Peter any such superiority as the bishop of Rome by them usurpeth; and that neither Peter, nor any others of the chief apostles, did vindicate such primacy or superiority, but utterly refused it, and therefore gave pre-eminence above themselves to one, that though he be sometimes called an apostle, yet he was none of the twelve, as Eusebius, in the beginning of his second book, called ‘Historia Ecclesiastica,’ doth testify, alleging for him the great and ancient clerk Clemens Alexandrinus, saying thus, 63 ‘Peter, James, and John, after Christ’s ascension into heaven, although they were by him preferred almost before all others, yet they challenged not that glory to themselves, but decreed that James, who was called Justus, should be chief bishop of the apostles.’ By these words, it is clear that James was the bishop of the apostles, not because, as some men do gloss, he was elected by the apostles, but because he had thereby the primacy and honor of a bishop in Jerusalem, above the rest of the apostles.
And one thing is especially to be noted, and also marvelled at, that the bishops of Rome do challenge this primacy only by Peter, and yet St. Paul, who was his equal, or rather superior by Scripture, in his apostleship amongst the Gentiles, whereof Rome was the principal, suffered at Rome where Peter did, and is commonly, in all the Roman church, joined with Peter in all appellations and titles of pre-eminence, and both be called ‘principes Apostolorum,’ ‘the chief of the apostles.’ Upon both is equally founded the church of Rome. The accounting of the bishops of Rome many years agreeth thereunto. For Eusebius 64 saith, that Clement was the third bishop after St. Paul and Peter, reckoning them both as bishops of Rome, and yet therein preferring St. Paul; with like words, saying of Alexander bishop of Rome, that 65 Alexander ‘obtained the governance of the people by succession, the fifth bishop after Peter and Paul.’ Irenaeus also saith, as Eusebius reciteth, that 66 after the church was once founded and builded, the holy apostles charged Linus with the bishopric; whereby appeareth, that they both jointly constituted him bishop of Rome, and received only their apostleship enjoined to them by Christ. And therefore, if the bishops of Rome challenge any pre-eminence of authority by Peter, they should as well, or rather, challenge the same by Paul, because they both founded it, and both there preached, and both there suffered, resigning first that bishopric to Linus, and all at once.
Paul and his successors in Ephesus should have like primacy, because he founded first that church, though St. John, after that, did build it, as witnesseth Eusebius, saying 67 The church which is at Ephesus, was founded by Paul, but it was built by St. John. And so Peter should have no other primacy in Rome, but as Paul had in Ephesus, that is to say, to be counted as the first preacher and converter of the people there to the faith of Christ. And as well might all the bishops of Ephesus challenge primacy of all nations, both Gentiles and Jews, by St. Paul, the apostle of the Gentiles, their founder, as the bishop of Rome, by St. Peter, the apostle only of the circumcision, in case he were the first founder, challenging primacy over all. But undoubtedly, this primacy over all, that the bishops of Rome of late do challenge, was not allowed, nor yet known or heard of amongst the ancient fathers, though they had their church of Rome in high estimation, as well for the notable virtuous deeds that the clergy did there show and exercise abundantly to their neighhors (as witnesseth the said Eusebius, alleging there the epistle that Dionysius Alexandrinus wrote to Soter, bishop of Rome, testifying the same), as for that the city of Rome was the most ample and chief city of the world, witnessing St. Cyprian, saying, 69 ‘Certainly, because that Rome ought, for the greatness thereof, to excel Carthage, there Novatus committed the greater and more grievous offenses.’
This St. Cyprian also, when he had ordained and appointed certain decrees and statutes unto the bishop of Rome, did not submit them to his reformation or judgment, but only signified his own sentence to like him also; and yet adding thereunto, that if any bishops (meaning as well of Rome as others) who were of the contrary opinions to him, would otherwise think or do, he would not then that his sentence should be to them prejudicial, neither would he thereby compel them to any thing, but would that they should follow their own minds and customs; partly, for that every one of the bishops hath liberty of his own will, and partly, for that every governor shall make an account to God of his own deed, as it appeareth plainly in his epistle to Stephen and Julian. And in the third epistle to Cornelius, towards the end, speaking of the appeal that one Felicissimus, a Novarian, after his condemnation in Africa, made to Rome, he impugneth such appeals, saying, 70 ‘Forasmuch as every pastor hath his own flock committed unto him, which every one ought to rule and govern, and must give account to the Lord of his administration, it is decreed by us all, and we think it both meet and just, that every man’s cause and plea should there be heard, where the crime is committed.’ This holy and excellent clerk and martyr, St. Cyprian, would never have either impugned their appeal to Rome from their own primacies, or so earnestly have maintained his determinations in the councils of Africa, contrary to the opinion of the bishops of Rome and to their customs, without any submission by word or writing, if the primacy over all, which the bishops of Rome do challenge and usurp, had been grounded upon the plain Scriptures, as you with some others do think: and it is to be supposed also, that he would in all his epistles have called them ‘Patres,’ or ‘Dominos,’ fathers or lords, as superiors; and not always ‘Fratres’ and ‘Collegas,’ brothers and fellows in office, as but only his equals.
This thing yet more plainly doth appear by the acts of the councils of Africa in St. Augustine’s time: by which it is evident, that though the faith of Christ was by the Romans first brought into Africa (as St. Augustine doth confess) 71 , yet it was not read, nor known, that the bishops of Rome used or challenged any sovereignty in Africa unto this time. And yet then he did not challenge it by the right of God’s word, but by the pretence of a certain canon 72 supposed to be in the council of Nice; which article could never be found, though it were then very diligently sought for through all the principal churches of the east and south; but only was alleged by Julius, bishop of Rome, out of his own library.
And you may be well assured, that if the Scriptures had made for it, neither the bishop of Rome would have left that certain proof by Scriptures, and trusted only to the testimony of an article of that council, being in doubt and unlikely to be found; nor yet St.
Augustine, with his holy and learned company, would have resisted this demand, if it had been either grounded upon Scriptures, or determined in that or other councils, or yet had stood with equity, good order, or reason, 73 Howbeit the largeness and magnificence of the buildings of that city, and the ancient excellency and superiority of the same in temporal dominions, was the only cause that in the councils (where the patriarchal sees were set in order) the bishop of Rome was allotted to the first place, and not by any such constitution made by Christ; as appeareth well by this, that Constantinople, being, at the same time of this ordering of the patriarchal sees, most amply enlarged by the emperors, being before a small town, and of no renown, and by them most magnificently builded and advanced with all worldly titles, prerogatives, and privileges temporal, like unto Rome, and therefore called ‘Nova Roma,’ ‘New Rome,’ was therefore advanced also to the second see and place:—Antioch in the East (where St. Peter first took the chair before he came to Rome, and where christian men had first their name given them); yea, and Jerusalem (which was the first mother city of our faith, and where Christ himself first founded the faith), and also Alexandria, being rejected to the third, fourth, and fifth places; because at that time they were not in so high estimation in the world, though in the faith of Christ all they were ancients, and some of them mothers to Rome.
Truth it is, that the bishops of the Orient, for debates in matters of the faith amongst themselves, made suits to the bishop of Rome; but that was not for the superiority of jurisdiction over them, but because they were greatly divided, and those countries, as well bishops as others, much infected with the heresies of the Arians, whereof the west was in a manner clear: and among them of the orient, none were counted indifferent to decide those matters, but were all suspected of affection for one cause or other. Wherefore they desired the opinions of the bishops of the west, as indifferent, and not entangled with affections of any of those parts, neither corrupted with any of the Arians, as appeareth by the epistles of St. Basil, written in all their names for the said purpose; in which also it is especially to be noted, that their suit was not made to the bishop of Rome singularly, or by name, but (as the titles do show) to the whole congregation of the bishops of Italy and France, or of the whole west, and sometimes preferring the French and Italian bishops, saying, ‘Gallis et Italis,’ and never naming the Romans.
And for a clear proof that the ancient fathers knew not this primacy of one above all, we need no other testimony but their determination in the council of Nice, that Alexandria, and Antioch, and universally all other primates, should have the whole governance of their confine countries, like as the bishop of Rome had of those that inhabited within his suburbs. And this determination proveth, also, that your three Scriptures meant nothing less than this primacy over all: for God forbid that we should suspect that council as ignorant of those plain Scriptures, to which, since that time, all Christendom hath leaned, as the anchor of our faith. And if you like to read the ancient ecclesiastical histories, there you may see, that Athanasius, and other patriarchs, did execute that primacy, as in making, consecrating, and ordering of churches, bishops and clerks, in their countries east and south, as the bishops of Rome in that time did, in the west and north.
And if you would yet any thing object against any of these witnesses, then, to eschew contention, and for a final conclusion, let the bishop of Rome stand to his own confession made many years past by his predecessor Agatho, to the emperors, Constantine, Heraclius, and Tiberius, in his epistle written to them in his name, and in the name of all the synod which he thought to be under the see apostolic; wherein, soon after the beginning of the epistle, he comprehendeth them all under the name of the bishops dwelling in the north and west parts of their empire: so that there, in his own epistle, he confesseth all his subjects and obedienciaries to be only of the north and west. And so it appeareth evidently, by his own confession, that neither by God’s law, nor by man’s law, he had to do with any person of the east or south; and this his high sovereignty over all, challenged (as you and others say) by Scripture, is brought, as by his own confession doth appear, into a little and straight angle. And this Agatho was not a man unlearned, as appeareth by the acts of the sixth synod of Constantinople, in the fourth act, wherein is written at large and expressed the said epistle and confession. And the primacy of Peter, which ancient doctors speak of, which was only in preaching and teaching the faith of Christ, which he, first among all the apostles, and first of all mortal men, did express with his mouth, did afterwards so adhere to his own person, that it was never delivered either to any successor, or to any other apostle, but chiefly to himself; for all others, afterwards professing the same, spake it according unto him who had professed it before. Moreover, all the apostles (as St.
John saith (Revelation 21)) be foundations in the heavenly Jerusalem, and not Peter only. Also Cyprian affirmeth (as is afore said) that all the apostles were of equal dignity and power; which all ancient authors likewise do affirm. For Christ gave the apostles like power in the gospel, saying; Go, and teach all nations, baptizing them, (Matthew 21) etc. And St. Paul (as is said before) knew no other primacy given to Peter to preach in any place but among the Jews, as he himself had amongst the Gentiles, as he wenteth to the Galatians; whereupon St. Ambrose writing (as is afore said), affirmeth the same. And that the mother of all churches is Jerusalem (as is afore said), and not Rome, the Scripture is plain, in the prophet Isaiah; (Isaiah 2) ‘Out of Sion shall the law proceed, and the word of the Lord out of Jerusalem:’ upon which place St.
Jerome saith, 74 ‘Out of the church, being first founded in Jerusalem, sprang all other churches of the whole world;’ and also in the gospel which Christ, before his ascension, commanded his apostles to ‘preach throughout all the world, beginning first at Jerusalem;’ so that the bishop of Rome’s universal power, by him claimed over all, cannot by any scripture be justified; as, if you have read the ancient fathers’expositions of the said scriptures (as we suppose you have, since your letters sent hither concerning this matter), and would give more credence to their humble and plain speaking, than to the later contentious and ambitious writers of that high, and above-the-ideas-of-Plato’s subtlety (which passeth, as you write, the lawyer’s learning and capacity), we doubt not but that you perceive and think the same.
And where you think that the king cannot be taken as supreme head of the church, because he cannot exercise the chief office of the church in preaching and ministering of the sacraments; it is not requisite, in every body natural, that the head should exercise either all manner of offices of the body, or the chief office of the same.
For albeit the head is the highest and chief member of the natural body, yet the distribution of life to all the members of the body, as well to the head as to other members, cometh from the heart, and it is the minister of life to the whole body, as the chief act of the body.
Neither yet hath this similitude its full place in a mystical body, that a king should have the chief office of administration in the same: and yet notwithstanding, the Scripture speaking of king Saul, saith, ‘I made thee head amongst the tribes of Israel.’ (1 Kings 15) And if a king amongst the Jews were the head of the tribes of Israel in the time of the law, much more is a christian king head of the tribes of spiritual Israel, that is, of such as by true faith see Christ, who is the end of the law. The office deputed to the bishops in the mystical body, is to be as eyes to the whole body, as Almighty God saith to the prophet Ezekiel; ‘I have made thee an overseer over the house of Israel.’ (Ezekiel 3) And what bishop soever refuseth to use the office of an eye in the mystical body, to show unto the body the right way of believing and living, which appertaineth to the spiritual eye to do, shall show himself to be a blind eye; and if he shall take any other office in hand than appertaineth to the right eye, he shall make a confusion in the body, taking upon him another office than is given him of God.
Wherefore, if the eye will not take upon him the office of the whole head, it may be answered, it cannot so do, for it lacketh brain. And examples show likewise that it is not necessary always that the head should have the faculty or chief office of administration, as you may see in a navy by sea; where the admiral, who is a captain over all, doth not meddle with steering or governing of every ship, but every particular master must direct the ship to pass the sea in breaking the waves by his steering and governance, which the admiral, the head of all, doth not himself, nor yet hath the faculty to do, but commandeth the masters of the ships to do it. And likewise many a captain of great armies, who is not able, nor ever could peradventure shoot, or break a spear by his own strength, yet, by his wisdom and commandment only, achieveth the wars, and attaineth the victory.
And whereas you think that unity standeth not only in the agreeing in one faith and doctrine of the church, but also in agreeing in one head; if you mean the very and only head over all the church, our Savior Christ, whom the Father hath set over all the church, which is his body, whereto all good christian men do agree, therein you say truth. But, if you mean for any one mortal man to be the head over all the church, and that head to be the bishop of Rome, we do not agree with you. For you do there err in the true understanding of the Scripture; or else you must say that the said council of Nice, and others most ancient did err, which divided the administration of churches, the orient from the occident, and the south from the north, as is before expressed. And that Christ, the universal head, is present in every church, the gospel showeth; ‘Where two or three be gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them;’ (Matthew 18) and in another place, ‘Behold, I am with you until the end of the world:’ (Matthew 28) by which it may oppear that Christ, the universal head, is everywhere with his mystical body the church; who, by his Spirit, worketh in all places (how far soever they be distant) the unity and concord, of the same. And as for any other universal head to be over all, than Christ himself, Scripture proverb not, as it is showed before.
And yet for a further proof, to take away the scruples that peradventure do, to your appearance, rise of certain words, in some ancient authors, and especially in St. Cyprian’s epistles, as that the unity of the church stood in the unit with the bishop of Rome, though they never call him supreme head; if you will weigh and confer all their sayings together, you shall perceive that they neither spake nor meant otherwise; but when the bishop of Rome was once lawfully ejected and enthroned, if then any other would, by faction, might, force, or otherwise (the other living and doing his office), enterprise to put him down, and usurp the same bishopric, or exercise the other’s office himself (as Novarian did attempt in the time of Cornelius), then the said fathers reckoned them catholics that did communicate with him that was so lawfully elected: and the custom was, for one primacy to have to do with another by congratulatory letters, soon after the certainty of their election was known, to keep the unity of the church; and all they that did take part with, or maintain the usurper, to be schismatics, because that usurper was a schismatic; 75 ‘Because it was not lawful for two bishops to be at once together in one church, neither the former bishop, being lawful, to be deposed without his fault were proved’. And this is not a prerogative of the church of Rome, more than of any other cathedral, special, patriarchal, or metropolitical church, as appeareth in the third epistle of the first book, and in the eighth of the second, and in the fourth book of St. Cyprian to Cornelius; whose words and reasons, although peradventure they might seem to include the unity of the church in the unity of the bishop of Rome, because they were all written to him in; his own case, may as well be written unto any other bishop lawfully chosen, who percase should be likewise disturbed, as the bishops of Rome then were, by any factions of ambitious heretics.
And whereas you think the name of supreme head under Christ, given and attributed to the king’s majesty, maketh an innovation in the church, and perturbation of the order of the same; it cannot be any innovation or trouble to the church to use the room that God hath called him to, which good christian princes did use in the beginning, when faith was most pure, as St. Augustine, 76 Ad Glorium et Eleusium, saith; ‘One there is, who saith, that a bishop ought not to have been put to his purgation before the judgment seat of the deputy, as though he himself procured it, and not rather the emperor himself caused this inquiry to be made; to whose jurisdiction (for which he must answer to God) that cause did specially pertain.’ Chrysostome writeth of that imperial authority thus: 77 ‘He is offended that hath no peer at all upon the earth, for he is the highest potentate, and the head of all men upon earth.’
And Tertullian saith, 78 ‘We honor and reverence the emperor in such wise as is lawful to us, and expedient to him; that is to say, as a man next and second to God, from whom he hath received all the power he hath, and also inferior to God alone, whose pleasure it is so to have it: for thus he is greater than all men, whilst he is inferior but to God alone.
And the said Tertullian, in his book apologetical, speaking of emperors, saith, 79 ‘They know who hath given to them their government; they know that God is he alone, under whose only power they be; and take themselves as second to God, after whom they be chief above all others.’ Theophylact also, on this place in Romans, ‘Let every soul be subject to the higher powers,’ 80 saith, ‘The apostle there teacheth every man, 81 that whether he be a priest, or a monk, or an apostle, he should subject himself to princes:’ that is, although thou be an apostle, an evangelist, a prophet, or whatsoever thou art, be subject. For, saith he, this subjection overthrows not godliness: 82 and the apostle saith not only, ‘Let him obey,’ but saith, ‘Let him be subject.’
It is written also in the Chronicles (1 Chronicles 28) David said to Solomon, Behold the priests and Levites divided in companies, to do all manner of service that pertaineth to the house of God. Also David did appoint chiefly to thank the Lord, Asaph and his brethren, (2 Chonicles 16) etc. And Jehoshaphat the king did constitute Levites and priests, and the ancient families of Israel, for the judgment and cause of the Lord towards all the inhabitants of the earth; and he charged them saying, ‘Thus shall ye do in the fear of the Lord, faithfully and in a perfect heart.’ (2 Chronicles 19) Furthermore Hezekiah appointed the priests and the Levites in their order, to wait by course, every man according to his office.
And it followeth, ‘Hezekiah gave commandment to the people dwelling in Jerusalem, that they should give their portions unto their priests and the Levites, that they might attend on the law of the Lord.’ (2 Chronicles 31) Where it followeth also, that by the precept of Hezekiah the king, and of Azarias the bishop of the house of the Lord, all things were done, to whom pertained all the dispensation of the house of the Lord. And in the end it is said, Hezekiah did these things in all Jewry; he wrought that which was good, right, and true, before his Lord God, in all the furniture of the ministry of the house of the Lord, according to the law and ceremomes, desirous to seek his Lord God with all his heart, as he did, and prospered therein. Josias also did ordain priests in their offices, and commanded many things. (2 Chronicles 34) By all which it may appear, that christian kings be sovereigns over the priests, as over all other their subjects, and may command the priests to do their offices, as well as they do others; and ought by their supreme office to see that all men of all degrees do the duties, whereunto they be called either by God or by the king; and those kings that so do, chiefly do execute well their office. So that the king’s highness, taking upon him, as supreme head of the church of England, to see that as well spiritual men as temporal do their duties, doth neither make innovation in the church, nor yet trouble the order thereof; but doth, as the chief and best of the kings of Israel did, and as all good christian kings ought to do. Which office good christian emperors always took upon them, in calling the universal councils of all countries in one place and at one time to assemble together, to the intent that all heresies troubling the church might there be extirped; calling and commanding as well the bishop of Rome, as other patriarchs and all primates, as well of the east as of the west, of the south as of the north, to come to the said councils. As Martian the emperor did, in calling the great council of Chalcedon, one of the four chief and first general councils, commanding Leo, then bishop of Rome, to come unto the same.
And albeit Leo neither liked the time, which he would for a season should have been deferred; nor yet the place, for he would have had it in Italy, whereas the emperor, by his own commandment, had called it to Chalcedon in Asia, yet he answered the emperor, that he would gladly obey his commandment, and sent thither his agents to appear there for him, as doth appear in the epistles of Leo to Martian then emperor, forty-first, forty-seventh, forty-eighth, and in the forty-ninth epistle to Pulcheria the empress. And Leo likewise desireth Theodosius the emperor to command a council of bishops to be called in Italy, for taking away such contentions and troubles as at that time troubled the quietness of the churches. And in many more epistles of the same Leo it doth manifestly appear, that the emperors always assembled general councils by their commandments: and in the sixth general council it appeareth very plainly, that at that time the bishops of Rome made no claim, nor used any title, to call themselves heads universal over all the catholic church, as it doth appear in the superscription or salutation of the aforesaid synodical preamble, which is this, word for word: ‘To the most godly lords and most noble victors and conquerors, the well-beloved children of God and our Lord Jesus Christ, Constantine the great emperor, and Heraclius and Tiberius, Caesars: bishop Agatho, the servant of the servants of God, with all the convocations subject to the council of the see apostolic, sendeth greeting.’ And he expresseth what countries he reckoned and comprehended in that superscription or salutation; for it followeth, that those were under his assembly which were in the north and east parts; so that at that time the bishop of Rome made no such pretense to be over and above all, as he now doth by usurpation, vindicating to himself the spiritual kingdom of Christ by which he reigneth in the hearts of all faithful people, and then changeth it to a temporal kingdom over and above all kings, to depose them for his pleasure, preaching thereby the flesh for the spirit, and an earthly kingdom for a heavenly, to his own damnation, if he repent not: whereas he ought to obey his prince by the doctrine of St. Peter in his first epistle, (1 Peter 2) saying, ‘Be ye subject to every ordinance of man, for the Lord’s sake; whether it be to the king as to the chief, or unto governors, as sent of him to the punishment of the evil doers, and to the praise of the good.’ Again, St. Paul; ‘Let every soul be subject to the higher powers:’ (Romans 13) with other things before alleged. So that this his pretensed usurpation to be above all kings is directly against the Scriptures given to the church by the apostles, whose doctrine whosoever overturneth, can be neither the head, nor yet the least member, of the church.
Wherefore, albeit ye have hitherto stuck to the said wrongfully usurped power, moved thereto, as ye write, by your conscience, yet, since now ye see further, if ye list to regard the mere truth and such ancient authors as have been written to you of in times past, we would exhort you, for the weal of your soul, to surrender into the bishop of Rome’s hands your red hat, by which he seduced you, trusting so to make you, being come of a noble blood, an instrument to advance his vain glory; whereof by the said hat he made you participant, to allure you thereby the more to his purpose.
In which doing ye shall return to the truth from which ye have erred, do your duty to your sovereign lord from whom ye have declined, and please thereby Almighty God, whose laws ye have transgressed: and in not so doing, ye shall remain in error, offending both Almighty God and your natural sovereign lord, whom chiefly ye ought to seek to please: which filing, for the good mind that we heretofore have borne you, we pray Almighty God of his infinite mercy that you do not. Amen.
When all other the king’s subjects, and the learned of the realm had taken and accepted the oath of the king’s supremacy, only Fisher, the bishop of Rochester, and sir Thomas More refused (as is afore said) to be sworn; who therefore falling into the danger of the law were committed to the Tower , 74 and executed for the same, A.D. 1585. This John Fisher aforesaid had written before against Oecolampadius, whose book is yet extant, and afterwards against Luther.
Also, amongst other his acts, he had been a great enemy and persecutor of John Frith, the godly and learned martyr of Jesus Christ, whom he and sir Thomas More caused to be burned a year and a half before: and, shortly after, the said Fisher, to his confusion, was charged with Elizabeth Barton (called the holy maid of Kent), and found guilty by act of parliament, as is above recorded. For his learning and other virtues of life this bishop was well reputed and reported of by many, and also much lamented by some.
But whatsoever his learning was, pity it was that he, being endued with that knowledge, should be so far drowned in such superstition; more pity that he was so obstinate in his ignorance; but most pity of all, that he so abused the learning he had, to such cruelty as he did. But this commonly we see come to pass, as the Lord saith, that “whoso striketh with the sword shall perish with the sword,” and they that stain their hands with blood, seldom do bring their bodies dry to the grave; as commonly appeareth by the end of bloody tyrants, and especially such as be persecutors of Christ’s poor members; 75 in the number of whom were this bishop and sir Thomas More, by whom good John Frith, Tewkesbury, Thomas Hitten, Bayfield, with divers other good saints of God, were brought to their death. It was said that the pope, to recompense bishop Fisher for his faithful service, had elected him cardinal, and sent him a cardinal’s hat as far as Calais; but the head that it should stand upon, was as high as London bridge ere ever the pope’s hat could come to him.
Thus bishop Fisher and sir Thomas More, who a little before had put John Frith to death for heresy against the pope, were themselves executed and beheaded for treason against the king, the one the 22d of June, the other the 6th of July, A.D. 1585.
Of sir Thomas More something hath been touched before, who was also accounted a man both witty and learned: but whatsoever he was besides, a bitter persecutor he was of good men, and a wretched enemy against the truth of the gospel, as by his books left behind him may appear; wherein most slanderously and contumeliously he writeth against Luther, Zwingli, Tyndale, Frith, Barnes, Bayfield, Bainham, Tewkesbury; falsely belying their articles and doctrine, as (God granting me life) I have sufficient matter to prove against him.
Briefly, as he was a sore persecutor of them that stood in defense of the gospel, so again, on the other side, such a blind devotion he bare to the pope-holy see of Rome, and so wilfully stood in the pope’s quarrel against his own prince, that he would not give over till he had brought the scaffold of the Tower-hill, with the axe and all, upon his own neck.
Edward Hall in his Chronicle, 83 writing of the death and manners of this sir Thomas More, seems to stand in doubt whether to call him a foolish wise man, or a wise foolish man: for, as by nature he was endued with a great wit, so the same again was so mingled (saith he) with taunting and mocking, that it seemed to them that best knew him, that he thought nothing to be well spoken, except he had ministered some mock in the communication; insomuch that, at his coming to the Tower, one of the officers demanding his upper garment for his fee, meaning his gown, he answered that he should have it, and took him his cap, saying it was the uppermost garment that he had. Likewise, even going to his death, at the Tower gate, a poor woman called unto him, and besought him to declare that he had certain evidences of hers in the time that he was in office (which, after he was apprehended, she could not come by), and that he would entreat that she might have them again, or else she was undone. He answered; “Good woman, have patience a little while, for the king is so good unto me, that even within this half hour he will discharge me of all businesses, and help thee himself.” Also, when he went up the stair of the scaffold, he desired one of the sheriff’s officers to give him his hand to help him up, and said, “When I come down again, let me shift for myself as well as I can.” Also the hangman kneeled down to him, asking him forgiveness of his death, as the manner is; to whom he answered, “I forgive thee; but I promise thee that thou shalt never have honesty 84 of the striking off my head, my neck is so short. Also, even when he should lay down his neck on the block, he, having a great grey beard, stroked out his beard, and said to the hangman, “I pray you let me lay my beard over the block, lest you should cut it;” thus with a mock he ended his life.
There is no doubt but that the pope’s holiness hath hallowed and dignified these two persons long since for catholic martyrs: neither is it to be doubted, but after a hundred years expired, they shall be also shrined and porthosed, dying as they did in the quarrel of the church of Rome, that is, in taking the bishop of Rome’s part, against their own ordinary and natural prince. Whereunto (because the matter asketh a long discourse, and a peculiar tractation) I have not in this place much to contend with Cope, my friend. This briefly for a ‘Memorandum’ may suffice; that if the causes of true martyrdom ought to be pondered, and not to be numbered, and if the end of martyrs is to be weighed by judgment, and not by affection; then the cause and quarrel of these men standing as it doth, and being tried by God’s word, perhaps in the pope’s kingdom they may go for martyrs, in whose cause they died; but certes in Christ’s kingdom their cause will not stand, howsoever they stand themselves.
The like also is to be said of the three monks of the Charter-house, Exmew, Middlemore, and Neudigate, who the same year, in the month of June, were likewise attached and arraigned at Westminster, for speaking certain traitorous words against the king’s crown and dignity; for which they were hanged, drawn, and quartered at Tyburn: whom also, because Cope, my good friend, doth repute and accept in the number of holy catholic martyrs, here would be asked of him a question: What martyrs be they, who, standing before the judge, deny their own words and sayings, and plead not guilty, so as these Carthusians did? Whereby it appeareth, that they would neither have stood nor have died in that cause, as they did, if they might otherwise have escaped by denying. Wherefore, if my friend Cope had been so well advised in setting out his martyrs as God might have made him, he would first have seen the true records, and been sure of the ground of such matters, whereupon he so confidently pronounceth, and so censoriously controlleth others.
In the same cause and quarrel of treason also, the same year, a little before these aforesaid, in the month of May, were executed with the like punishment John Houghton, prior of the charter-house in London; Robert Laurence, prior of the charter-house of Belvail; Austin Webster, prior of the charter-house of Exham. Besides and with these priors suffered likewise at the same time, two other priests, one called Reginald, brother of Sion, the other named John Haile, vicar of Thistleworth. Divers other Charter-house monks also of London were then put in prison, to the number of nine or ten, and in the same prison died; for whom we will, the Lord willing, reserve another place, hereafter to treat of them more at large.
In the mean time, forasmuch as the aforesaid Cope, in his doughty dialogues, 86 speaking of these nine worthies, doth commend them so highly, and especially the three priors above recited, here by the way I would desire Master Cope simply and directly to answer me to a thing or two that I would put to him; and first of this John Houghton, that angelical prior of the Charterhouse, his old companion and acquaintance, of whom thus he writeth; “Atqui cum Johannem illum Houghtonum cogito, non tam hominem quam angelum in humana forma intueri mihi videor, cujus eminentes virtutes, divinas dotes, et heroicam animi magnitudinem, nemo unquam poterit satis pro dignitate explicare,” 87 etc. By these his own words it must needs be confessed, that the author of these dialogues, whosoever he was, had well seen and considered the form and personable stature, proportion and shape, of his excellent body, with such admiration of his personage, that, as he saith, as oft as he calleth the said John Houghton to mind, it seemeth to him even as though he saw an angel in the shape and form of a man: whose eminent virtues, moreover, whose divine gifts and heroical celsitude of mind, no man, saith he, may sufficiently express, etc. And how old was this Master Cope then, would I know, when he saw and discerned all this? for, as I understand, Master Cope, being yet at this present scarce come to the age of forty years, he could not then be above nine years old (the other suffering A.D. 1585); at which age, in my mind, Master Cope had small discretion to judge either of any such angelical proportion of this man’s personage, or of his divine qualities and heroical celsitude of his mind; and yet he remembereth him in his dialogues: which thing, among many other probabilities, maketh me vehemently to suspect that these dialogues, printed in Antwerp, A.D. 1566, were brought over by Master Cope there to be printed, but were penned and framed by another Pseudo-Copus, whatsoever, or in what fleet soever he was, unless my marks do greatly fail me. But as the case is of no great weight, so I let it pass, returning to other matters of more importance.
Shortly after the overthrow of the pope, consequently began by little and little to follow the ruin of abbeys and religious houses in England, in a right order and method by God’s divine providence. For neither could the fall of monasteries have followed after, unless that suppression of the pope had gone before; neither could any true reformation of the church have been attempted, unless the subversion of those superstitious houses had been joined withal.
Whereupon, the same year, in the month of October, the king, having then Thomas Cromwell of his council, sent Dr. Lee to visit the abbeys, priories, and nunneries in all England, and to set at liberty all such religious persons as desired to be free, and all others that were under the age of four and twenty years; providing withal, that such monks, canons, and friars as were dismissed, should have given them by the abbot or prior, instead of their habit, a secular priest’s gown, and forty shillings of money, and likewise the nuns to have such apparel as secular women did then commonly use, and be suffered to go where they would; at which time also, from the said abbeys and monasteries were taken their chief jewels and relics.
When the king had thus established his supremacy, and all things were well quieted within the realm, he, like a wise prince, and having wise counsel about him, forecasting with himself what foreign dangers might fall unto him by other countries about, which were all as yet in subjection to the bishop of Rome, save only a few German princes, and misdoubting the malice of the pope, to provide therefore betimes for perils that might ensue, thought good to keep in, by all means possible, with other princes.
And first, to entertain the favor of the French king, who had been sick a little before, and now was lately recovered to health, in signification of public joy and friendship, the king commanded a solemn and famous procession to be ordained through the city of London, with the waits, and children of the grammar schools, with the masters and ushers in their array: then followed the orders of the friars and canons, and the priors with their pomp of copes, crosses, candlesticks, and vergers before them. After these followed the next pageant of clerks and priests of London, all in copes likewise. Then the monks of Westminster and other abbeys, with their glorious gardeviance 76 of crosses, candlesticks, and vergers before them, in like sort. Last of all, came the choir of Paul’s, with their residentiaries; the bishop of London and the abbots following after in their pontificalibus.
After these courses of the clergy went the companies of the city, with the lord mayor and aldermen in their best apparel, after their degrees. And lest it might be thought this process ran of the church of London to make but a small or beggarly show, the furniture of the gay copes there worn was counted to the number of seven hundred and fourteen. Moreover, to fill up the joy of this procession, and for the more high service to Almighty God, besides the singing choirs, and chanting of the priests, there lacked no minstrels withal, to pipe at the processions. Briefly, here lacked nothing else but only the ordnance to shoot off also. But because that is used in the processions at Rome, therefore, for difference’ sake, the same is reserved only for the pope’s own processions, and for none other, in the month of October.
Over and besides this, the king, to nourish and retain amity with kings and princes (lest the pope, being exiled now out of England, should incite them to war against him), directed sundry ambassadors and messengers with letters and instructions. To the emperor was sent sir Thomas Wyat, to the French king sir Francis Bryan, and Dr. Edward Foxe, who was also sent to the princes of Germany; to the Scottish king was sent sir Ralph Sadler, gentleman of the king’s privy-chamber.
In Scotland at the same time were cast abroad divers railing ballets and slanderous rhymes against the king of England, for casting off the lady dowager, and for abolishing the pope; for which cause the aforesaid sir Ralph Sadler, being sent into Scotland with lessons and instructions how to address himself accordingly, after he had obtained access unto the king, and audience to be heard, first declareth the affectuous and hearty commendations from the king’s majesty, his grace’s uncle, and withal delivered his letters of credence: which done, after a few words of courtly entertainment, as occasion served him to speak, the said sir Ralph Sadler, obtaining audience, thus began in the king his master’s behalf to declare, as followeth.
THE ORATION OF SIR RALPH SADLER, AMBASSADOR TO THE SCOTTISH KING.
Whereas there is nothing, after the glory of Almighty God, in this world so much to be tendered by kings, princes, or any honest persons, or so highly to be regarded and defended, as their honor, estimation, good fame, and name, which whosoever neglecteth is to be esteemed unnatural: and unless a man labor to avoid and extinguish the false reports, slanders, and defamations made of him by malicious persons, he may well be suspected in conscience to condemn himself: the king your uncle, considering the same, and hearing of sundry ballets, criminations, and infamous libels made and untruly forged and devised in Scotland against his grace, by your grace’s subjects, not only upon trust to find with your grace such natural affection, friendship, and amity, as the nearness of blood between uncle and nephew, necessitude of reverence, proximity both of kin and dominions together doth require; but also upon assurance that your grace and wisdom will consider how these slanders and defamations, although they were but against a private person, whatsoever he were, most commonly redound and are imputed to the whole degree and estate; as the defamation of kings toucheth kings, and so of other degrees and dignities: doth send at this time to your grace his nephew (others he might have sent more worthy; but me at this time, for lack of a better, hath he sent), to desire, pray, and require your grace, according as the nearness of blood, connection of estate, and other things before expressed, of right and justice do require: beseeching your grace gently to weigh and balance, and well to ponder, the malice of these the said slanderers, and to call in again all the said defamatory ballets, libels, and other writings, punishing the authors and setters forth thereof according to their demerits. And furthermore, to cause open proclamations to be made through your realm, that none of the inhabitants there, shall, in any manner of wise, so misuse himself hereafter, upon such great pain and punishment as to your grace and your council shall be thought convenient for the transgression thereof: so that others, by their correction, and by the fearful example of the penalty, may beware how to commit the like offense in time coming.
The example of such slanders is very pernicious to all kings; for, by such slanders of other princes, the slanderers take boldness so to deal afterwards with their own king, as they have done with others, and the next step from such slanderous words is to attempt deeds, and so to fall to sedition: of the importance and danger whereof no man is ignorant.
Wherefore your grace, at the contemplation of your dear uncle, in tendering his proceedings, shall do well to follow therein the loving steps of his good brother and ally the French king, who hath already at Rouen, and sundry places else, caused certain slanderous preachers to be sore punished; and further directed commissions through his realm for repressing the same. As also other princes shall be ready (his majesty trusteth) to do the like in their dominions, if like occasion shall be given to require the same of them. In which, in so doing, your grace may be assured, in this your gentle dealing in that part, to win your uncle’s most sincere and kind heart, to the increase of your amity and alliance, which as to you shall be most honorable, so shall it be no less profitable unto him.
And thus to conclude with the first part of my narration, concerning the slanderous and defamatory libels, lest I should seem with prolixity of matter more than needs to abuse your grace’s silence, I will now descend to the other point of that which I have to utter unto your grace, as touching the pope’s nuncio, or messenger; of whose late arrival the king’s majesty your uncle having partly intelligence, but not certainly knowing the special cause of his coming from Rome, and yet fearing, by the common bruit and talk of your subjects, what his errand should be (that is, to practice some annoyance, by his pretended censures against the king’s majesty your uncle): he therefore, premonishing your grace before, as fearing the worst, most justly maketh his complaint thereof unto your grace his nephew, requiring you, that forasmuch as the aforesaid bruits and reports are slanderous to his majesty, and seeing that neither the emperor, nor the French king, nor any other princes, have consented thereto, or understood thereof, the king’s majesty, therefore, your uncle, willing to stop those bruits and talks, desireth and most heartily, prayeth yore grace, at his instant request, to vouchsafe to consider and weigh, First, The supremacy of princes, by the holy Scripture granted unto him and other princes in earth, under Christ, upon their churches.
Fourthly, What is to be understood by the true censure or excommunication of the church, and how no such can be in the power of the bishop of Rome, or of any other man, against his majesty, or any other prince; having so just ground to avoid from the root, and to abolish that execrable authority, which the bishop of Rome hath usurped, and doth usurp, upon all princes, to their great detriment and damage.
As touching the consideration of which four points, although the king’s majesty your uncle doubteth not your grace to be furnished and provided with sufficient knowledge, rightly to discern and judge upon the same; yet, if it shall so please your grace further to know your uncle’s mind touching the said points, I assure your highness, in the behalf of your aforesaid uncle his majesty, that he will not stick to send unto you such learned, wise, and discreet men, as shall amply inform you thereof, and of such other things as your grace, having once a smack thereof, shall think most worthy for a prince to know.
His request therefore to your highness is, that you will consider of what moment, and importance it shall be unto your grace (having the Scots your subjects so evil instructed in the premises), for you to assent and agree to any such censure, and so, by such example, to give such an upper-hand over yourself and other princes, to that usurper of Rome, as is very like hereafter to happen in other places of Christendom, wheresoever the true declaration of the truth and word of God shall have free course, to scourge them, unless they will adore, worship, and kiss the feet of that corrupt holiness, which desireth nothing else but pride, and the universal thrall of Christendom under Rome’s yokes.
But because the censures of that nuncio be not yet opened, but lie secret and uncertain under muttering, I shall cease further to proceed therein, till further occasion shall minister to me more certain matter to say and to judge. In the mean time, forasmuch as it is most certainly come to the intelligence of the king’s majesty, that the abbot of Arbroath should be chosen of late and elected to be a cardinal in this your realm of Scotland, his majesty therefore, for the good love and hearty good will he beareth unto your grace, as the uncle is bound unto the nephew, knowing that you as yet perceive not so well the hypocrisy and deceitful guile and malice of the Romans and their practices, as he himself doth, by his long experience; could not but, hearing thereof, advertise your grace, that his advice is, you should not suffer any of your subjects to take upon him that red hat of pride, whereby he shall incontinently, the same being received (unless he be of a contrary nature to any man that ever was yet of that sort), not only be in manner discharged of his obedience, and become the bishop of Rome’s true liege man; but also shall presume of his cardinalship to be your fellow, and to have the rule as well as you. Then should the bishop of Rome creep into your own very bosom, know all your secrets, and at last, unless you will be yoked and serve their pleasure in all points, your grace is like to smart for it. The thing perchance, in the beginning, shall seem to your grace very honorable and pleasant: but wisdom would, to beware of the tail, which is very black and bitter.
His majesty’s father, and grandfather to your grace, had a cardinal, whereof he was weary, and never admitted others after his decease, knowing the importable pride of them. In like manner also his highness, by the experience of one, hath utterly determined to avoid all the sort: so well his grace hath known and experienced their mischief, yoke, and thraldom, that thereby is laid upon princes. By reason whereof, as his highness is the more able by his own experience to inform your grace, so of good will and mere propensity of heart, caused partly by nature and kin, partly by conjunction and vicinity of dominions adjoining so near together, he is no less ready to forwarn your grace before, wishing that God will so work in your princely heart and noble stomach, that his majesty’s monition and friendly warning, as it proceedeth from a sincere affection and tender care of his part unto his nephew, so it may prevail and take place in your mind, that your grace, wisely weighing with yourself, what supreme right princes have, and ought to have, upon their churches and lands where they govern, and what little cause the bishop of Rome hath thereto, to proceed by unjust censures against them: your grace may therein not only stand to the just defense of your dear uncle, but also may endeavor to follow his steps therein, and to take his counsel, which, he doubteth not, but shall redound, not only to your grace’s honor, to the benefit, weal, and profit of your realm and subjects; but, especially, to the glory of Almighty God, and advancement of his true religion.
And thus have I expounded unto your grace the sum of my errand and message from the king’s majesty your uncle, who, as he would be glad to be advertised, by answer, of your grace’s purpose, mind, and intention in this behalf, so, for my part, according to my charge and duty, I shall be pressed and ready, with all diligence, to give mine attendance upon your pleasure for the same accordingly.
The king, considering the present state of his marriage, which was not yet well digested nor accepted in the courts of other princes, and also having intelligence of the straight amity intended by the marriages between the emperor and the French king, and also of the pope’s inclination to pleasure the emperor; and further understanding of the order and meaning of the French king’s council, not greatly favoring his purposes, sent therefore into France, for his ambassador, Edward Foxe, doctor of divinity, his chaplain and counsellor, with instructions and admonitions how to frame and attemper himself in those the king’s affairs. The contents of which his instructions came to this effect:
THE SUM AND EFFECT OF KING HENRY THE EIGHTH’S MESSAGE TO THE FRENCH KING, BY HIS AMBASSADOR, DR.
EDWARD FOXE, IN DEFENSE OF HIS PROCEEDINGS.
That the said Edward Foxe, first declaring to the French king the most affectuous commendations made on the king’s behalf, with declaration of the king’s most entire and hearty good will to understand of his prosperity, and the good success of his affairs, which his majesty no less desired than his own; and also, after the king’s letters being delivered to him and to other personages of his council, then, after his access made unto the king, he should utter and insinuate unto the king his master’s mind and intent in these three special points following.
The second, to signify and express the injuries done by the pope, as afterwards shall be declared.
The third was, to win and allure to the king’s devotion the chancellor of France.
And as touching the declaration of the justness of the king’s cause, first he, taking with him certain books printed, containing the determinations of universities in that behalf, with reasons and authorities confirming the same, should distribute the said books to the bishop of St. Line and to other bishops, to Monsieur de Langez, and other of the king’s council more; and to prove, after the best fashion, to obtain their approbations of the same books, and with dexterity to essay whether he could induce them of the university of Paris, and other learned men, to send forth this book with their authorities and approbations. That done, then he, being acquainted with all those points and articles of the king’s cause, in communicating and conference (as the case required), should not only make answer to such things as should be objected, but also furnish and maintain the justness of that opinion, with his learning, in such sort as he could best invent and excogitate.
As touching the second part, which contained the injuries done by the pope against the king, the said ambassador in that behalf, being a man no less acquainted, than also well beaten and ripe in the manifold misbehaviors of the pope from the beginning of the cause, should declare and express to the French king, how injuriously the said pope had demeaned himself towards the king’s highness; first, in sending a commission decretal, and then commanding it to be burned: as also in promising, by schedule of his own hand, not to call the cause out of England; and moreover, approving first the justness of the king’s cause, yet, notwithstanding, afterwards going from the same, and doing contrary.
Touching all which injuries received at the pope’s hand, though the king had great cause justly to complain, yet other injuries there were besides these, wherewith the king most especially was moved. The one was for calling and citing the king’s highness to appear at Rome. The other was for rejecting the person of the king’s trusty subject and chaplain, Master Kerne, his ambassador, from making such allegations as to the king in that case appertained; besides sundry other no small griefs and inconveniences, which here might be showed and alleged: but in these two special injuries the king thought himself most chiefly touched and aggrieved. In opening and ripping up of these injuries, and first, in the said injurious calling of the king to Rome, instructions were given to the said ambassador to explicate the open violation therein of the most ancient and general councils, the council of Nice, the council of Africa, and the council of Milevis; in which councils the contrary was, for quietness of the world, provided and ordered: declaring withal, how agreeable the same is to all laws, reason, and equity, that princes should not be compelled to repair to Rome at the pope’s calling, nor be bound, in a matter of such weight and moment, to send out of their realms and dominions, the writings, instruments, and monuments containing the secrets of their affairs, or to make and trust a proctor, being in so far distant parts, in a matter of such importance, to abide and fulfill that, which the said proctor should agree unto there. The matter and cause whereof did not so much concern the state of any one prince alone, as it touched the dignity of all other christian kings so nearly, that unless they would suffer themselves to be yoked with the pope’s authority, it was time (inasmuch as the pope now made this enterprise on them) to search and know the bottom and ground both of his and of their authority; and if any thing by negligence or misuse had been lost, to recover the same, rather than to suffer it to decay any more. As touching all which griefs, hurts, inconveniences, prejudice, and evil example which might thereof ensue, the king’s highness doubted not but that his good brother, the French king, would assist and concur with his highness for maintenance and defense of the same.
For declaration of the second notable grief and injury done by the pope to the king’s highness, thus furthermore he was willed to insinuate to the French king, what injury, or rather contumely, the king’s highness received at the pope’s hand, in not suffering the king’s subject and ambassador to allege such matter in defense of his prince, as by law, reason, and equity, was to be heard and admitted, forasmuch as the said ambassador, Dr. Kerne, the king’s chaplain, being at Rome at such time as citations were there published against the king’s highness, and understanding his grace by them to be called before one Capisucchi, dean of the Rota, was there ready to make answer to the queen’s agents’ complaint, and had, by the advice of other great learned men, conceived a certain matter containing causes reasonable and lawful, why the king’s highness should not be bound to appear there either by himself, or by his proctor: which matter also he did exhibit on the king’s behalf, as a true subject by law of nature is bound to maintain and allege in defense of his prince that is absent, and ought, by equity, to preserve him from condemnation. And yet this notwithstanding, the said Capisucchi, not regarding nor considering the matter alleged, demanded whether the said doctor had any proxy from the king or no, for such purpose, and upon default and lack of the said proxy (which was not necessary in this case), proceeded in the principal cause; by reason whereof the said Dr. Kerne appealed to the pope, alleging injury to be done not only to the king’s highness, but also to himself, for that such matter as he did allege, was not considered nor regarded, but process made: to which appellation, notwithstanding, the said Capisucchi gave an ambiguous and a doubtful answer; which was, that as much as Dr. Kerne was, by the law, a lawful person, so much he would give place, ‘et deferre appellationi;’ and otherwise not.
Thus, upon declaration of this doubtful answer, passed certain days, the said Capisucchi promising always to open his said answer and sentence more plainly, and to give a determinate resolution; which he nevertheless did not, albeit he was divers times urged thereunto; but so passed the time, and suddenly returned to process. Whereupon the said Dr. Kerne appealed eftsoons again, and put up a supplication to the pope, for admission of the said appeal; by reason whereof the matter was reasoned in the signature; in which signature by no law it could be showed why the said Dr. Kerne should not be admitted to allege in defense of the king’s highness; but only that they there among themselves being the greater number, who were of the emperor’s dominions, and fee’d of him (among whom was also the said Capisucchi), gave their voices as the pope said,—that Dr. Kerne should not be heard, ‘Sine mandato regiae majestatis.’ Whereunto when Dr. Kerne replied, saying, Whatsoever they decreed or said, there was no law to maintain and bear it: it was said again by the cardinal of Ancona, That the pope might judge after his conscience.
And, upon this resolution, they determined there to proceed in the principal cause, unless the king would send a proxy; intending by this injury and wrong, to enforce his highness to the exhibition of a proxy there, to his highness’s high prejudice, to the pernicious example of the like to be done to other princes, and also to the derogation of the liberties and prerogatives of his gracious realm: unto the observation whereof his highness is bound by his oath, and also by the same oath is bound to recover and restore such liberties and privileges as by any of his predecessors have been lost, diminished, or decayed in time past.
These, with other like injuries and wrongs of the pope done to the king, the aforesaid ambassador, Master Foxe, according as he had in charge and commission, did declare, open, and show unto the French king, to the intent to solicit the said king to do, by his mediation, for the remedy and redressing of those aforesaid injuries and wrongful dealings of the pope in this behalf.
Furthermore, for the third purpose, touching the chancellor of France, forasmuch as he was one of the chief personages whom the French king most trusted in his great affairs (by whose advice all matters of learning were then conduced and trained), the king thought it not unprofitable, by all ways and means, to win and allure his friendship and amity also unto his devotion; either that by his means and dexterity the king’s purposes might be advanced the better, or at least for a ‘ne noceat;’ that is, to mitigate and diminish such favor as he, by the admiral or otherwise, was moved to show to the imperials. For this cause the king, committing in charge to his ambassador aforesaid, willed and instructed him how and what to do, and after what manner to attemperate himself to all occasions and times of opportunity; as first, to deliver to him from the king his letters of credence, and withal to declare and extend the king’s most affectuous commendations, with the hearty good will and sincere affection which his highness bare to the said cardinal, chancellor of France; with no less desire, also, most gladly to do that thing which might be to his commodity and benefit, according as the manifold pleasures, gratuities, and kindness done on his part for the king’s highness, did worthily deserve. Then, after such words of mollification, to enter into further communication with him in such sort as might best serve his honor.
And forasmuch as the cardinal was then noted to be much moved with the affections of vain-glory and covetousness, therefore, amongst other communication, it was devised to infer mention of the papality, noting what ways and means might be used to attain unto that dignity: wherein, if the king’s highness could stand him in any stead, as he thought the person of the said chancellor most meet for the same, so he would not fail to move and to procure it, to the best furtherance of his advancement. And finally, to declare how desirous the king’s highness was, to retain, and make sure unto him, the amity and friendship of the said chancellor, and that his highness, devising by what means and ways he might do the same (albeit his grace knew well, that the faith and sincerity of the said chancellor towards his master was such as no gift, pension, or other offer could advance or increase that good will, which, for his master’s sake, he would employ in the king’s highness’s affairs), thought, that for declaration of his hearty good will towards the said chancellor, it were convenient to offer unto him some yearly remembrance, etc.
This was the sum and effect of the message which the king sent unto the French king, and to others of his council, by his ambassador, Master Edward Foxe, which was especially to signify and make manifest to the said French king, the unjust dealings and prejudicial proceedings of the pope, in calling up the king of England to appear at Rome by proxy, which was derogatory to the king’s dignity and crown, and also prejudicial both to general councils of the primitive time, and to the ancient laws and statutes of this realm (as is before declared), and no less hurtful for example to all other princes and kings likewise, etc.
THE ANSWER AND MESSAGE OF KING HENRY THE EIGHTH TO THE FRENCH KING, BY HIS AMBASSADOR STEPHEN GARDINER.
That forasmuch as the saying of the French king to the ambassadors was this; that notwithstanding all the king’s realm should agree and condescend ever so much to the right and title, which the succession procreated by this his lawful matrimony, hath, in this his realm; yet, when outward parties shall conceive any other or contrary opinion thereof, great trouble and vexation might ensue. Whereunto the king made answer again, declaring that he could not but greatly marvel, that the king his brother, being so wise a prince, and thereto so well expert and learned in chronicles and histories, not only of his own realm, but also of all others, or any of his council, being men of such experience as they were taken to be, would think that the opinion and consent of other outward realms were so highly to be considered and regarded of any prince or king, in establishing or in executing of things which might be lawfully done, and which touched the preservation of the rights, pre-eminences, dignity, and state of his realm, and did also notably confer unto the singular benefit and tranquillity of the same, so as the words both of the said king his brother, and of the great master, did pretend: who, furthermore, were not ignorant themselves, that many things have been, by his noble progenitors, kings of France, attempted and done, as well in cases of matrimony, as otherwise, which, in some part, in the opinion of the popes of Rome then being, and, in some part, in the opinion of divers other outward princes, states, seigniories, and common people, have been thought not perfectly good, nor yet much acceptable unto them; and yet, that notwithstanding, his said progenitors, knowing themselves the prosecuting of those causes to be beneficial to them and to the realm, have not therefore desisted from their said purposes, but, diligently employing their own strength and powers with the succors of their friends, have finally achieved their said enterprises without requiring, or greatly regarding, the opinion or agreement thereunto of outward princes.
Again, whereas the chancellor of France made this overture to the said bishop of Winchester, Whether the king would be contented to have indifferent judges to be appointed by the authority of the pope, to determine his cause, with a commission decretal from the same, declaring, ‘Quid juris,’ etc. The king, by his ambassador thereunto answering, declared, ‘That the pope, having done unto him such notable and evident injuries as he had done, it was his office and duty now to labor himself to end this matter, and to study how to make due satisfaction:to God, and his justice, which he hath, ‘tam indignis modis,’ offended and violated, and to deliver himself out of the danger, and the perpetual infamy of the world, which he hath incurred by reason of these his most ungodly doings; and not to look that the king should make any request or suit unto him therefor, or recompense for the same, etc.
Furthermore, whereas the pope, at the request of the French king, had in open consistory prorogued execution of his censures and excommunication against the king unto the first day of November, and word thereof was sent to the king by his ambassadors, from the great master of France, that the king might have the said prorogation made authentically in writing, if he would; the king, answering thereunto, thought it not unprofitable, that his ambassadors resident in France should receive into their hands the possession of the said new prorogation, conceived and written in authentic form and manner, according to the order of the laws.
After this again came other letters to the king from France, namely, from the great master of France, tending to this end; that if the king would do nothing for the pope (meaning, by the revocation of such acts of parliament as were made in the realm of England, to the pope’s prejudice), it were no reason, neither should it be possible, for the French king to induce the pope to any gratuity or pleasure for the king in his affairs.
Whereunto the king answering again, sendeth word to the French king to this effect:
THE KING’S ANSWER TO THE FRENCH KING’S REQUEST.
That he trusted and hoped well of the perfect friendship of the French king, his good brother, that he will never suffer any such persuasion to enter into his breast, whatsoever the great master, or any other shall say to the contrary thereof; nor that he will require any thing more of him to do for the pope, chancellor, or others, than his council hath already devised to be done in this behalf; especially, considering the words of the said French king’s promise made before, as well to the duke of Norfolk, as to the other ambassadors, promising his friendship to the king simply, without requiring him to revocate, or infringe, any such act or constitution made by the realm and parliament to the contrary: persuading, moreover, and laying before the eyes as well of the pope, as of the French king, how much it should redound to the pope’s dishonor and infamy, and to the slander also of his cause, if he should be seen so to pact and covenant with the king upon such conditions, for the administration of that thing which he, in his own conscience, hath reputed and adjudged to be most rightful, and agreeable to justice and equity; and ought of his office and duty to do in this matter ‘simpliciter et gratis,’ and without all worldly respects, either for the advancement of his private lucre and commodity, or for the preservation of his pretensed power and authority. For surely it is not to be doubted but that the pope, being minded and determined to give sentence for the invalidity and nullity of the king’s first pretensed matrimony, hath conceived and established in his own conscience a firm and certain opinion and persuasion, that he ought of justice and equity so to do.
Then to see the pope to have this opinion indeed, and yet refuse to do this for the king, unless he shall be content for his benefit and pleasure, ‘cedere juri suo,’ and to do some things prejudicial unto his subjects contrary to his honor: it is easy to be foreseen, what the world and posterity shall judge ‘De tam turpi nundinatione justitiae, et illius tam foeda et sordida lucri et honoris ambitione.’
And as for the king’s part, if he shall not attain justice now at the mediation of his good brother, knowing the pope to be of this disposition and determination in his heart, to satisfy all his desires, being moved thereunto by justice, and that the let thereof is no default of justice in the cause, but only for that the king would not condescend to his request; it is to the king matter sufficient enough for discharge of his conscience to God and to the world, although he never did execute indeed his said determination. For since his corrupt affection is the only impediment thereof, what need either the king to require him any further to do in the cause, or else his subjects to doubt any further in the justness of the same?
Albeit if respects to benefits and merits done towards the pope and see of Rome should be regarded in the attaining of justice in a cause of so high consequence as this is, reason would, that if it would please the pope to consider the former kindness of the king showed unto him in time past (whereof he is very loth to enter the rehearsal, ‘Ne videatur velle exprobrare quae de aliis fecerit bene’), he should not now require of him any new benefit or gratuity to be showed unto him; but rather study to recompense him for the old graces, merits, pleasures, and benefits before received. For surely he thinketh that the pope cannot forget, how that for the conservation of his person, his estate and dignity, the king hath not heretofore spared for any respect, in using the office of a most perfect and steadfast friend, to relinquish the long continued good will established between him and the emperor, and to declare openly to all the world, that for the pope’s sake, and in default of his deliverance, he would become enemy to the said emperor, and to make against him actual war.
Besides this, the king hath not failed him with right large and ample subventions of money, for the better supporting of his charges against the enterprises of the said emperor, combining and knitting himself with the French king, to procure the advancement of the said French king’s army into Italy, to the charges whereof the king did bear little less than the one half; besides notable losses sustained as well in his customs, subsidies, and other duties, as also to the no little hinderance and damage of his subjects and merchants, occasioned by discontinuance of the traffic and intercourse heretofore used with the emperor’s subjects. In doing of all which things, the king hath not been thus respective, as the pope now showeth himself towards him, but, like a perfect friend, hath been always contented frankly, liberally, and openly, to expone all his study, labor, travail, treasure, puissance, realm, and divers subjects, for the pope’s aid, and maintenance of the state and dignity of the church and see of Rome. Which things although he doth not here rehearse ‘animo exprobrandi,’ yet he doubteth nor but the same, weighed in the balance of any indifferent man’s judgment, shall be thought to be of that weight and value, as that he hath justlydeserved to have some mutual correspondency of kindness to be showed unto him at the pope’s hands; especially in the ministration of justice, and in so reasonable and just cause as this is; and not thus to have his most rightful petition rejected and denied, because he will not follow his desire and appetite in revoking of such acts, as be here made and passed for the weal and commodity of his realm and subjects.
Thus ye have heard how instantly the king had labored, by the means of the French king, to the pope being then in France, for right and justice to be done for the dissolution and nullity of his first pretensed matrimony with his brother’s wife: which when it could not be attained at the pope’s hands, unless the king would recompense and requite the same, by revoking of such statutes as were made and enacted here in the high court of parliament, for the surety of succession and establishment of the realm; what the king thereunto answered again, ye heard, declaring that to be a far unequal recompense and satisfaction for a thing which ought of right and justice to be ministered unto him, that a king therefore should revoke and undo the acts and statutes passed by a whole realm, contrary to his own honor and weal of his subjects, etc.
Here is moreover to be understood, how that the pope, with all his papists, and the French king also, and peradventure Stephen Gardiner too, the king’s own ambassador, had ever a special eye to disprove and disappoint the king’s succession by queen Anne, whom they knew all to be a great enemy unto the pope; thinking thereby that if that succession were diminished, the pope’s kingdom might soon be restored again in England. But yet, for all their unjust and crafty packing, they were, through God’s providence, frustrated of their desired purpose: for, although they so brought to pass the next year following, to annul the order of that succession by a contrary parliament, yet neither did they so annihilate it, but that both king Edward followed, yea, and also the same succession afterwards, by the said king, and other parliaments was restored again; and yet, God be praised, hath hitherto reigned, and doth yet flourish in the realm of England.
Now, as we have declared the king’s doings in the realm of Scotland and of France, proceeding further in the king’s proceedings with other princes, let us see how the king defended himself and his cause before the emperor, sending his ambassador unto him, using these words before his majesty, as here followeth.
THE ORATION OF THE KING’S AMBASSADOR BEFORE THE EMPEROR, IN DEFENCE OF HIS CAUSE.
Sir: the king my master, taking and reputing you as his perfect friend, confederate, and ally, and not doubting but you, remembering the mutual kindness between you in times past, will show yourself in all occurrents to be of such mind and disposition, as justice, truth, and equity do require, hath willed me, by his letters, to open and to declare unto you, what he hath done, and in what wise he hath proceeded, concerning such marriage as by many years was supposed to have been between your aunt and his grace: in which matter there being two principal points specially to be regarded and considered, that is to say, the justice of the cause, and the order of the process therein, his highness hath so used him in both, as no man may right wisely complain of the same.
For as touching the justness of the cause, that is to say, of that marriage between him and your said aunt, to be nought, and of no moment, or effect, but against the law of God, nature, and man, and indispensable by the pope, and in no wise available; his highness hath done therein as much as becometh him for discharge of his conscience, and hath found so certain, so evident, so manifest, so open and approved truth, as whereunto his majesty ought of good congruence to give place, and which by all others ought to be allowed and received, not as a matter doubtful, disputable, or depending in question and ambiguity; but as a plum, determined, and discussed verity of the true understanding of God’s word and law, which all christian men must follow and obey, and before all other worldly respects prefer and execute. In attaining the knowledge whereof, if his highness had used only his own particular judgment and sentence, or the mind only and opinion of his own natural subjects (although the same might in his conscience have sufficed), he would not much have repugned, if some others had made difficulty to assent to him in the same, till further discussion had been made thereupon. But now, forasmuch as besides his own certain understanding, and the agreement of his whole clergy to the same in both provinces of this realm, his majesty hath also for him the determination of the most famous universities of Christendom, and most indifferent to pronounce and give judgment in this case: and among them, the university of Bologna (all fear of the pope set apart), concluding against his power, and also Padua (the Venetians’ threats not regarded) giving their sentence for the truth and evident words of God’s law; there should no man, as seemeth to him, gainsay or withstand, either in word or deed, the truth thus opened; but, for his honor and duty, to the observation of God’s law, willingly embrace and receive the same. According whereunto his grace perceiveth also, as well in his realm, as elsewhere, a notable consent and agreement amongst all divines, and such as have studied for knowledge of God’s law, without contradiction of any number, unless it be such as, applying their mind to the maintenance of worldly affections, do, either in defense of such laws as they have studied, or for satisfaction of their private appetite, forbear to agree unto the same; the number of whom is so small, as, in the discerning of truth, it ought not to be regarded in a case so plainly described and determined by God’s word as this is.
And if percase your majesty here, not regarding the number but the matter, shall seem to consider, in this case, not so much who speaketh, as what is spoken; to answer thereunto, I say, Sir! the king, my master, is of the same mind, for his own satisfaction, and taketh himself to be in the right, not because so many say it, but because he being learned, knoweth the matter to be right.
Nevertheless reason would, and enforceth also, that strangers to the cause, and not parties therein, should be induced to believe that to be truth which such a number of clerks do so constantly affirm; especially not being otherwise learned to be judges of their sayings, as your majesty is not. And if you were, then could your highness show such reasons, authorities, and grounds as cannot be taken away; and be so firm and stable, as they ought not of christian men in any part to be impugned, like as hath been partly heretofore showed by his sundry ambassadors to your imperial majesty, and should eftsoons be done, were it not too great an injury to that which is already passed in the realm, to dispute the same again in any other country: which, being contrarious to the laws and ordinances of his realm, he trusteth your prudency will not require, but take that which is past for a thing done, and justly done; and as for God’s part, to leave his conscience to himself, ‘qui Domino suo stat aut cadit;’ and for the world, (to pass over as a friend that which nothing toucheth you, and not to marvel though the said king my master, regarding the wealth of his soul principally, with the commodity of his person and so great benefit and quiet of his realm), have percase done that which he, for his private fantasy, would had not chanced; like as his highness also would wish it had not happened, that such cause had been given unto him to compel him so to do.
But these things in their outward visage be but worldly, and inwardly touch and concern the soul. ‘Quid autem prodest homini si universurn mundum lucretur, animae veto suae detrimentum patiatur? Primum quaerite regnum Dei,’ etc. And yet neither is his highness ignorant what respect is to be had unto the world; and how much he hath labored and travailed therein, he hath sufficiently declared and showed to the world in his acts and proceedings. For if he had utterly contemned the order and process of the world, or the friendship and amity of your majesty, he needed not to have sent so often and sundry embassades to the pope, and to you both, nor continued and spent his time in delays, as he hath done hitherto, but might, many years past, have done what he hath done now, if it had so liked him, and with as little difficulty then as now, if without such respect he would have followed his pleasure in that behalf. But now I doubt not your majesty doth well remember how often the king, my master, hath sent unto your highness, and that your majesty hath heard also what suits he hath made to the pope, and how the said pope hath handled him again only in delay and dalliance; with open commission given to his legates to determine and give sentence for him by a commission decretal, and secretly to give them instructions, to suspend and put over the same. By which means, and others semblable, he perceived plainly himself to be brought into such a labyrinth, as going forward that way he were like to come to no end, and was therefore compelled to step right forth at once to the maze’s end, there to quiet and repose himself at last.
And is it not time to have an end in seven years, or else to seek for it another way? The pope hath showed himself both unwilling to have an end, and also so ready and prone to do him injury, as well in citing him to Rome, as also sending forth certain briefs to his grace slanderous, and for the injustice and iniquity of them, to himself dishonorable; as he gave his highness good and just cause to suspect, whether any end to be made at his hand (if any he would make) might be in his conscience received and followed. For the pope doing injury in some point, why should he be thought a convenient judge, not using himself indifferently in this matter (as many more particularities may be showed and declared), considering there is a general council, 88 willing all matters to be determined where they first began, and that the whole body of our realm hath, for the wealth of the same, by a law established the determination of such causes? by reason whereof the bishop of Canterbury, as metropolitan of our realm, hath given sentence in due judgment for the king’s party. It is not to be asked, nor questioned, whether that matter hath been determined after the common fashion, but whether it hath in it common justice, truth, and equity of God’s law. For observation of the common order, his grace hath done what lay in him, and enforced by necessity, hath found the true order maintainable by God’s word and general councils, which he hath in substance followed with effect, and hath done as becometh him, tendering either God’s law, or his person, or the wealth of his realm, like as he doubteth not but your majesty (as a wise prince), remembering his cause from the beginning hitherto, will of yourself consider and think, that among mortal men nothing should be immortal, and suits must once have an end, ‘Si possis recte, si non quocunque modo.’ And if he cannot as he would, then must his highness do as he may; and he that hath a journey to be perfected, must, if he cannot go one way, essay another. Whatsoever hath been herein done, necessity hath enforced him (that is to say, God’s law) in the matter, and such manner of dealing of the pope, as he hath showed unto him in the same, doing sundry injuries without effect of justice, wherein he promised the same. But as for the king’s matter to the pope, he shall treat with him apart. As touching your majesty, he taketh you for his friend, and as to a friend he openeth these matters unto you, trusting to find your majesty no less friendly hereafter unto him, than he hath done heretofore.
By these matters thus passed and discoursed to and fro, between the king and these foreign princes above rehearsed, many things are to be understood of the reader, whoso is disposed to behold and consider the state and proceeding of public affairs, as well to the church appertaining, as to the commonwealth. First, how the king cleareth himself both justly and reasonably for his divorce made with the lady Katharine, the emperor’s aunt. Secondly, how he proveth and defendeth his marriage with queen Anne to be just and lawful, both by the authority of God’s word, and the comprobation of the best and most famous learned men and universities, and also by the assent of the whole realm.
Furthermore, for the establishing of the king’s succession to the imperial crown of this realm, for the suppression of the pope, and uniting the title of supremacy unto the king’s crown, what order was therein taken, and what penalty was set upon the same, may appear by the act of parliament 77 set forth A.D. 1534, 89 in these words following: ‘If any person or persons, after the first of February next, do maliciously imagine, invent, practice, or attempt to deprive the king of the dignity, title, or name of his royal estate, etc., that then every such person and persons so offending in any of the premises, their aiders, counsellors, consenters, and abettors, being thereof lawfully convicted, according to the laws and customs of this realm, shall be reputed, accepted, and adjudged traitors; and that every such offense in any the premises committed or done after the said first day of February, shall be reputed, accepted, and adjudged high treason; and the offenders therein, their aiders, consenters, counsellors, and abettors, being lawfully convicted of any such offense, shall have and suffer such pains of death and other penalties, as are limited and accustomed in cases of high-treason.’
Upon this and such other acts concluded in those parliaments, what stomach the pope took, what stir he kept, and what practices he wrought with cardinal Pole, to stir up other nations to war against us; what difficulty also there was with the emperor, with the French king, and with the king of Scots, about the matter; and what labor was used on the king’s part, to reconcile the princes for his own indemnity, to keep him from their wars and invasions, and especially to obtain the pope’s approbation, and to avoid his censures of excommunication; and finally, what despiteful injuries and open wrongs the pope wrought against him, upon which pope the king had bestowed so much money and great treasures before, all this, likewise, by the premises may appear.
Wherefore, to end now with these, and to go forward in our story, as the order and computation of years do give, we have now consequently to enter into the story of the good martyr of God, William Tyndale, being this present year falsely betrayed and put to death; which William Tyndale, as he was a special organ of the Lord appointed, and as God’s mattock to shake the inward roots and foundation of the pope’s proud prelacy, so the great prince of darkness, with his impious imps, having a special malice against him, left no way unsought how craftily to entrap him, and falsely to betray him, and maliciously to spill his life, as by the process of his story here following may appear.
THE LIFE AND STORY OF THE TRUE ,SERVANT AND MARTYR OF GOD, WILLIAM TYNDALEWHO, FOR HIS NOTABLE PAINS AND TRAVAIL, MAY WELL BE CALLED THE APOSTLE OF ENGLAND IN THIS OUR LATER AGE William Tyndale, the faithful minister and constant martyr of Christ, was born about the borders of Wales , 78 and brought up from a child in the university of Oxford, where he, by long continuance, grew up, and increased as well in the knowledge of tongues, and other liberal arts, as especially in the knowledge of the Scriptures, whereunto his mind was singularly addicted; insomuch that he, lying then in Magdalen hall, read privily to certain students and fellows of Magdalen college, some parcel of divinity; instructing them in the knowledge and truth of the Scriptures. His manners also and conversation being correspondent to the same, were such, that all they that knew him, reputed and esteemed him to be a man of most virtuous disposition, and of life unspotted.
Thus he, in the university of Oxford, increasing more and more in learning, and proceeding in degrees of the schools, spying his time, removed from thence to the university of Cambridge, where, after he had likewise made his abode a certain space, being now further ripened in the knowledge of God’s word, leaving that university also, he resorted to one Master Welch , 79 a knight of Gloucestershire, and was there schoolmaster to his children, and in good favor with his master. This gentleman, as he kept a good ordinary commonly at his table, there resorted to him many times sundry abbots, deans, archdeacons, with divers other doctors, and great beneficed men; who there, together with Master Tyndale sitting at the same table, did use many times to enter communication, and talk of learned men, as of Luther and of Erasmus; 80 also of divers other controversies and questions upon the Scripture.
Then Master Tyndale, as he was learned and well practiced in God’s matters, so he spared not to show unto them simply and plainly his judgment in matters, as he thought; and when they at any time did vary from Tyndale in opinions and judgment, he would show them in the book, and lay plainly before them the open and manifest places of the Scriptures, to confute their errors, and confirm his sayings. And thus continued they for a certain season, reasoning and contending together divers and sundry times, till at length they waxed weary, and bare a secret grudge in their hearts against him.
Not long after this, it happened that certain of these great doctors had invited Master Welch and his wife to a banquet; where they had talk at will and pleasure, uttering their blindness and ignorance without any resistance or gainsaying. Then Master Welch and his wife, coming home, and calling for Master Tyndale, began to reason with him about those matters whereof the priests had talked before at their banquet. Master Tyndale, answering by the Scriptures, maintained the truth, and reproved their false opinions. Then said the lady Welch, a stout and a wise woman (as Tyndale reported), “Well,” said she, “there was such a doctor who may dispend a hundred pounds, and another two hundred pounds, and another three hundred pounds: and what! were it reason, think you, that we should believe you before them?” Master Tyndale gave her no answer at that time, and also after that (because he saw it would not avail), he talked but little in those matters. At that time he was about the translation of a book called ‘Enchiridion Militis Christiani,’ 3 which, being translated, he delivered to his master and lady; who, after they had read and well perused the same, the doctorly prelates were no more so often called to the house, neither had they the cheer and countenance when they came, as before they had: which thing they marking, and well perceiving, and supposing no less but it came by the means of Master Tyndale, refrained themselves, and at last utterly withdrew, and came no more there.
As this grew on, the priests of the country, clustering together, began to grudge and storm against Tyndale, railing against him in alehouses and other places; of whom Tyndale himself, in his prologue before the first book of Moses, thus testifieth in his own words, and reporteth that he suffered much in that country by a sort of unlearned priests, being full rude and ignorant (saith he) God knoweth: “who have seen no more Latin, than that only which they read in their portueses and missals (which yet many of them can scarcely read), except it be ‘Albertus, De Secretis Mulierum,’ in which yet, though they be never so sorrily learned, they pore day and night, and make notes therein, and all to teach the midwives, as they say; and also another called ‘Lindwood,’ a book of constitutions to gather tithes, mortuaries, offerings, customs, and other pillage, which they call not theirs, but God’s part, the duty of holy church, to discharge their consciences withal. For they are bound that they shall not diminish, but increase all things unto the uttermost of their powers, which pertain to holy church.” Thus these blind and rude priests, flocking together to the alehouse (for that was their preaching place), raged and railed against him, affirming that his sayings were heresy; adding moreover unto his sayings, of their own heads, more than ever he spake, and so accused him secretly to the chancellor, and others of the bishop’s officers.
It followed not long after this, that there was a sitting of the bishop’s chancellor 81 appointed, and warning was given to the priests to appear, amongst whom Master Tyndale was also warned to be there. And whether he had any misdoubt by their threatenings, or knowledge given him that they would lay some things to his charge, it is uncertain; but certain this is (as he himself declared), that he doubted their privy accusations; so that he by the way, in going thitherwards, cried in his mind heartily to God, to give him strength fast to stand in the truth of his word.
Then when the time came for his appearance before the chancellor, he threatened him grievously, reviling and rating at him as though he ‘had been a dog, and laid to his charge many things whereof no accuser yet could be brought forth (as commonly their manner is, not to bring forth the accuser), notwithstanding that the priests of the country the same time were there present. And thus Master Tyndale, after those examinations, escaping out of their hands, departed home, and returned to his master again.
There dwelt not far off a certain doctor, that had been an old chancellor before to a bishop, who had been of old familiar acquaintance with Master Tyndale, and also favored him well; unto whom Master Tyndale went and opened his mind upon divers questions of the Scripture: for to him he durst be bold to disclose his heart. Unto whom the doctor said, “Do you not know that the pope is very Antichrist, whom the Scripture speaketh of? But beware what you say; for if you shall be perceived to be of that opinion, it will cost you your life:” and said moreover, “I have been an officer of his; but I have given it up, and defy him and all his works.”
It was not long after, but Master Tyndale happened to be in the company of a certain divine, recounted for a learned man, and, in communing and disputing with him, he drave him to that issue, that the said great doctor burst out into these blasphemous words, and said, “We were better to be without God’s laws than the pope’s.” Master Tyndale, hearing this, full of godly zeal, and not bearing that blasphemous saying, replied again, and said, “I defy the pope, and all his laws;” and further added, that if God spared him life, ere many years he would cause a boy that driveth the plough, to know more of the Scripture than he did. After this, the grudge of the priests increasing still more and more against Tyndale, they never ceased barking and raling at him, and said many things sorely to his charge, saying that he was a heretic in sophistry, a heretic in logic, a heretic in divinity; and said moreover to him, that he bare himself bold of the gentlemen there in that country; but notwithstanding, shortly he should be otherwise talked withal. To whom Master Tyndale, answering again, thus said, that he was contented they should bring him into any country in all England, giving him ten pounds a year to live with, and binding him to no more but to teach children, and to preach.
To be short, Master Tyndale, being so molested and vexed in the country by the priests, was constrained to leave that country, and to seek another place; and so coming to Master Welch, he desired him, of his good will, that he might depart from him, saying on this wise to him: “Sir, I perceive that I shall not be suffered to tarry long here in this country, neither shall you be able, though you would, to keep me out of the hands of the spiritualty; and also what displeasure might grow thereby to you by keeping me, God knoweth; for the which I should be right sorry.” So that in fine, Master Tyndale, with the good will of his master, departed, and eftsoons came up to London, and there preached awhile, according as he had done in the country before, and especially about the town of Bristol, and also in the said town, in the common place called St. Austin’s Green.
At length, bethinking himself of Cuthbert Tonstal, then bishop of London, and especially for the great commendation of Erasmus, who, in his annotations, 82 so extolleth him for his learning, Tyndale thus cast with himself, that if he might attain unto his service, he were a happy man. And so coming to Sir Henry Guilford, the king’s comptroller, and bringing with him an oration of Isocrates, which he had then translated out of Greek into English, he desired him to speak to the said bishop of London for him; which he also did; and willed him moreover to write an epistle to the bishop, and to go himself with him. This he did likewise, and delivered his epistle to a servant of his, named William Hebilthwait, a man of his old acquaintance. But God, who secretly disposeth the course of things, saw that was not the best for Tyndale’s purpose, nor for the profit of his church, and therefore gave him to find little favor in the bishop’s sight; the answer of whom was this: That his house was full; he had more than he could well find: and advised him to seek in London abroad, where, he said, he could lack no service, etc. And so remained he in London the space almost of a year, beholding and marking with himself the course of the world, and especially the demeanour of the preachers, how they boasted themselves, and set up their authority and kingdom; beholding also the pomp of the prelates, with other things more, which greatly misliked him; insomuch that he understood, not only that there was no room in the bishop’s house for him to translate the New Testament, but also that there was no place to do it in all England. And therefore, finding no place for his purpose within the realm, and having, by God’s providence, some aid and provision ministered unto him by Humphrey Mummuth, 83 above recited (as you may see before), and certain other good men, he took his leave of the realm, and departed into Germany, where the good man, being inflamed with a tender care and zeal of his country, refused no travail nor diligence, how, by all means possible, to reduce his brethren and countrymen of England to the same taste and understanding of God’s holy word and verity, which the Lord had endued him withal. Whereupon, considering in his mind, and partly also conferring with John Frith, Tyndale thought with himself no way more to conduce thereunto, than if the Scripture were turned into the vulgar speech, that the poor people might also read and see the simple plain word of God. For first, wisely casting in his mind, he perceived by experience, how that it was not possible to establish the lay people in any truth, except the Scriptures were so plainly laid before their eyes in their mother tongue, that they might see the process, order, and meaning of the text; for else, whatsoever truth should be taught them, these enemies of the truth would quench it again, either with apparent reasons of sophistry, and traditions of their own making, founded without all ground of Scripture; or else juggling with the text, expounding it in such a sense as it were impossible to gather of the text, if the right process, order, and meaning thereof were seen.
Again, right well he perceived and considered this only, or most chiefly, to be the cause of all mischief in the church, that the Scriptures of God were hidden from the people’s eyes; for so long the abominable doings and idolatries maintained by the pharisaical clergy could not be espied; and therefore all their labor was with might and main to keep it down, so that either it should not be read at all, or if it were, they would darken the right sense with the mist of their sophistry, and so entangle those who rebuked or despised their abominations, with arguments of philosophy, and with worldly similitudes, and apparent reasons of natural wisdom; and, with wresting the Scripture unto their own purpose, contrary unto the process, order, and meaning of the text, would so delude them in descanting upon it with allegories, and amaze them, expounding it in many senses laid before the unlearned lay people, that though thou felt in thy heart, and wert sure that all were false that they said, yet couldst thou not solve their subtle riddles.
For these and such other considerations this good man was moved (and no doubt stirred up of God) to translate the Scripture into his mother tongue, for the public utility and profit of the simple vulgar people of his country; first setting in hand with the New Testament, which he first translated about A.D. 1527 . 84 After that, he took in hand to translate the Old Testament, finishing the five books of Moses, with sundry most learned and godly prologues prefixed before every one, most worthy to be read and read again by all good Christians, as the like also he did upon the New Testament. He wrote also divers other works under sundry titles, amongst which is that most worthy monument of his, entitled, “The Obedience of a Christian Man,” wherein, with singular dexterity, he instructeth all men in the office and duty of christian obedience, with divers other treatises, as “The Wicked Mammon,” “The Practice of Prelates;” with expositions upon certain parts of the Scripture, and other books also, answering to Sir Thomas More and other adversaries of the truth, no less delectable, than also most fruitful to be read; which partly before being unknown unto many, partly also being almost abolished and worn out by time, the printer hereof, good reader, for conserving and restoring such singular treasures, hath collected and set forth in print the same in one general volume, all and whole together, as also the works of John Frith, Barnes, and others, as are to be seen, most special and profitable for thy reading.
These books of William Tyndale being compiled, published, and sent over into England, it cannot be spoken what a door of light they opened to the eyes of the whole English nation, which before were many years shut up in darkness.
At his first departing out of the realm he took his journey into the further parts of Germany, as into Saxony, where he had conference with Luther 85 and other learned men in those quarters; where after he had continued a certain season, he came down from thence into the Netherlands, and had his most abiding in the town of Antwerp, *there, being not idle, but laboring in setting forth the plain declaration and understanding of the Scriptures,* until the time of his apprehension; whereof more shall be said (God willing) hereafter.
Amongst his other books which he compiled, one work he made also for the declaration of the sacrament (as it was then called) of the altar; which he kept by him, considering how the people were not as yet fully persuaded in other matters tending to superstitious ceremonies and gross idolatry. Wherefore he thought as yet time was not come to put forth that work, but rather that it should hinder the people from other instructions, supposing that it would seem to them odious to hear any such thing spoken or set forth at that time, sounding against their great goddess Diana, that is, against their mass, being had everywhere in great estimation, as was the goddess Diana amongst the Ephesians, whom they thought to come from heaven. Wherefore Master Tyndale, being a man both prudent in his doings, and no less zealous in the setting forth of God’s holy truth after such sort as it might take most effect with the people, did forbear the putting forth of that work, not doubting but, by God’s merciful grace, a time should come to have that abomination openly declared, as it is at this present day: the Lord Almighty be always praised therefore. Amen !
These godly books of Tyndale, and especially the New Testament of his translation, after that they began to come into men’s hands, and to spread abroad, as they wrought great and singular profit to the godly, so the ungodly (envying and disdaining that the people should be any thing wiser than they, and again, fearing lest, by the shining beams of truth, their false hypocrisy and works of darkness should be discerned), began to stir with no small ado; like as at the birth of Christ, Herod was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. But especially Satan, the prince of darkness, maligning the happy course and success of the gospel, set to his might also, how to impeach and hinder the blessed travails of that man; as by this, and also by sundry other ways may appear. For at what time Tyndale had translated the fifth book of Moses called Deuteronomy, minding to print the same at Hamburgh, he sailed thitherward; where by the way, upon the coast of Holland, he suffered shipwreck, by which he lost all his books, writings, and copies, and so was compelled to begin all again anew, to his hinderance, and doubling of his labors. Thus, having lost by that ship, both money, his copies, and his time, he came in another ship to Hamburgh, where, at his appointment, Master Coverdale tarried for him, and helped him in the translating of the whole five books of Moses, from Easter till December, in the house of a worshipful widow, Mistress Margaret Van Emmerson, A.D. 1529; a great sweating sickness being at the same time in the town. So, having dispatched his business at Hamburgh, he returned afterwards to Antwerp again.
Thus, as Satan is, and ever hath been, an enemy to all godly endeavors, and chiefly to the promoting and furtherance of God’s word, as by this and many other experiments may be seen, so his ministers and members, following the like quality of their master, be not altogether idle for their parts; as also by the pope’s chaplains and God’s enemies, and by their cruel handling of the said Master Tyndale at the same time, both here in England and in Flanders, may well appear.
When God’s will was, that the New Testament in the common tongue should come abroad, Tyndale, the translator thereof, added to the latter end a certain epistle, wherein he desired them that were learned to amend, if ought were found amiss. Wherefore if there had been any such default deserving correction, it had been the part of courtesy and gentleness, for men of knowledge and judgment to have showed their learning therein, and to have redressed what was to be amended. But the spiritual fathers then of the clergy, being not willing to have that book to prosper, cried out upon it, bearing men in hand that there were a thousand heresies in it, and that it was not to be corrected, but utterly to be suppressed. Some said it was not possible to translate the Scriptures into English; some, that it was not lawful for the lay people to have it in their mother-tongue; some, that it would make them all heretics. And to the intent to induce the temporal rulers also unto their purpose, they made more matter, and said that it would make the people to rebel and rise against the king. All this Tyndale himself, in his own prologue before the first book of Moses, declareth; and addeth further, showing what great pains were taken in examining that translation, and comparing it with their own imaginations and terms, that with less labor, he supposeth, they might have translated themselves a great part of the Bible: showing moreover, that they scanned and examined every tittle and point in the said translation, in such sort, and so narrowly, that there was not one i therein, but if it lacked a prick over its head, they did note it, and numbered it unto the ignorant people for a heresy. So great were then the froward devices of the English clergy (who should have been the guides of light unto the people), to drive the people from the text and knowledge of the Scripture, which neither they would translate themselves, nor yet abide it to be translated of others; to the intent (as Tyndale saith) that the world being kept still in darkness, they might sit in the consciences of the people through vain superstition and false doctrine, to satisfy their lusts, their ambition, and insatiable covetousness, and to exalt their own honor above king and emperor, yea and above God himself. The bishops and prelates of the realm, thus (as ye have heard) incensed and inflamed in their minds, although having no cause, against the Old and New Testament of the Lord newly translated by Tyndale, and conspiring together with all their heads and counsels, how to repeal the same, never rested before they had brought the king at last to their consent; by reason whereof, a proclamation in all haste was devised and set forth under public authority, but no just reason showed, that the Testament of Tyndale’s translation, with other works besides, both of his, and of other writers, were inhibited and abandoned, as ye heard before: 6 which was about A.D. 1527. And yet not contented herewith, they proceeded further, how to entangle him in their nets, and to bereave him of his life; which how they brought to pass, now it remaineth to be declared.
In the registers of London it appeareth manifest, how that the bishops and sir Thomas More having any poor man under ‘coram,’ to be examined before them, namely, such as had been at Antwerp, most studiously would search and examine all things belonging to Tyndale, where and with whom he hosted, whereabouts stood the house, what was his stature, in what apparel he went, what resort he had, etc.: all which things when they had diligently learned (as may appear by the examination of Simon Smith and others), then began they to work their feats, as you shall hear by the relation of his own host.
William Tyndale, being in the town of Antwerp, had been lodged about one whole year in the house of Thomas Pointz an Englishman, who kept there a house of English merchants; about which time came thither one out of England, whose name was Henry Philips, his father being customer Poole, a comely fellow, like as he had been a gentleman, having a servant 87 ith him: but wherefore he came, or for what purpose he was sent thither, no man could tell.
Master Tyndale divers times was desired forth to dinner and supper amongst merchants; by means whereof this Henry Philips became acquainted with him, so that within short space Master Tyndale had a great confidence in him, and brought him to his lodging, to the house of Thomas Pointz; and had him also once or twice with him to dinner and supper, and further entered such friendship with him, that through his procurement he lay in the same house of the said Pointz; to whom he showed moreover his books, and other secrets of his study, so little did Tyndale then mistrust this traitor.
But Pointz, having no great confidence in the fellow, asked Master Tyndale how he came acquainted with this Philips. Master Tyndale answered, that he was an honest man, handsomely learned, and very conformable. Then Pointz, perceiving that he bare such favor to him, said no more, thinking that he was brought acquainted with him by some friend of his. The said Philips, being in the town three or four days, upon a time desired Pointz to walk with him forth of the town to show him the commodities thereof, and in walking together without the town, had communication of divers things, and some of the king’s affairs; by which talk Pointz as yet suspected nothing, but after, by the sequel of the matter, he perceived more what he intended. In the mean time this he well perceived, that he bare no great favor either to the setting forth of any good thing, or to the proceedings of the king of England. But after, when the time was past, Pointz perceived this to be his mind, to feel if he could perceive by him, whether he might break with him in the matter, for lucre of money, to help him to his purpose, for he perceived before that he was monied, and would that Pointz should think no less: but by whom it was unknown. For he had desired Pointz before, to help him to divers things; and such things as he named, he required might be of the best, “for,” said he, “I have money enough;” but of this talk came nothing but that men should think he had some things to do; for nothing else followed of his talk. So it was to be suspected, that Philips was in doubt to move this matter for his purpose, to any of the rulers or officers of the town of Antwerp, for doubt it should come to the knowledge of some Englishmen, and by the means thereof Master Tyndale should have had warning.
So Philips went from Antwerp to the court of Brussels, which is from thence twenty-four English miles, the king having there no ambassador; for at that time the king of England and the emperor were at a controversy for the question betwixt the king and the lady Katharine, who was aunt to the emperor; and the discord grew so much, that it was doubted lest there should have been war between the emperor and the king; so that Philips, as a traitor both against God and the king, was there the better retained, as also other traitors more besides him; who, after he had betrayed Master Tyndale into their hands, showed himself likewise against the king’s own person, and there set forth things against the king. To make short, the said Philips did so much there, that he procured to bring from thence with him to Antwerp, that procuror-general, who is the emperor’s attorney, with certain other officers, as after followeth; which was not done with small charges and expenses, from whomsoever it came.
Within a while after, Pointz sitting at his door, Philips’s man came unto him, and asked whether Master Tyndale were there, and said, his master would come to him; and so departed: but whether his Master Philips were in the town or not, it was not known; but at that time Pointz heard no more, either of the master or of the man. Within three or four days after, Pointz went forth to the town of Barrois, 88 being eighteen English miles from Antwerp, where he had business to do for the space of a month or six weeks; and in the time of his absence Henry Philips came again to Antwerp, to the house of Pointz, and coming in, spake with his wife, asking her for Master Tyndale, and whether he would dine there with him; saying, “What good meat shall we have?” She answered, “Such as the market will give.” Then went he forth again (as it is thought) to provide, and set the officers whom he brought with him from Brussels, in the street, and about the door. Then about noon he came again, and went to Master Tyndale, and desired him to lend him forty shillings; “for,” said he, “I lost my purse this morning, coming over at the passage between this and Mechlin.” So Master Tyndale took him forty shillings, which was easy to be had of him, if he had it; for in the wily subtleties of this world he was simple and inexpert.
Then said Philips, “Master Tyndale! you shall be my guest here this day.” “No,” said Master Tyndale, “I go forth this day to dinner, and you shall go with me, and be my guest, where you shall be welcome.” So when it was dinner-time, Master Tyndale went forth with Philips, and at the going forth of Pointz’s house, was a long narrow entry, so that two could not go in a front. Master Tyndale would have put Philips before him, but Philips would in no wise, but put Master Tyndale before, for that he pretended to show great humanity 89 So Master Tyndale, being a man of no great stature, went before, and Philips, a tall comely person, followed behind him; who had set officers on either side of the door upon two seats, who, being there, might see who came in the entry; and coming through the same entry, Philips pointed with his finger over Master Tyndale’s head down to him, that the officers who sat at the door might see that it was he whom they should take, as the officers that took Master Tyndale afterwards told Pointz, and said to Pointz, when they had laid him in prison, that they pitied to see his simplicity when they took him. Then they took him, and brought him to the emperor’s attorney, or procuror-general, where he dined. Then came the procuror-general to the house of Pointz, and sent away all that was there of Master Tyndale’s, as well his books as other things; and from thence Tyndale was had to the castle of Filford, 90 ighteen English miles from Antwerp, and there he remained until he was put to death.
Then incontinent, by the help of English merchants, were letters 91 ent, in favor of Tyndale, to the court of Brussels. Also, not long after, letters were directed out of England to the council at Brussels, and sent to the merchant-adventurers, to Antwerp, commanding them to see that with speed they should be delivered. Then such of the chief of the merchants as were there at that time, being called together, required the said Pointz to take in hand the delivery of those letters, with letters also from them, in favor of Master Tyndale, to the lord of Barrois and others; which lord of Barrois (as it was told Pointz by the way) at that time was departed from Brussels, as the chief conductor of the eldest daughter of the king of Denmark, to be married to the palsgrave, whose mother was sister to the emperor, she being chief princess of Denmark. Pointz, after he heard of his departure, did ride after the next way, and overtook him at Achon, where he delivered to him his letters; which when he had received and read, he made no direct answer, but somewhat objecting, said, There were of their countrymen that were burned in England not long before 92 (as indeed there were Anabaptists burned in Smithfield); and so Pointz said to him, “Howbeit,” said he, “whatsoever the crime was, if his lordship or any other nobleman had written, requiring to have had them, he thought they should not have been denied.” “Well,” said he, “I have no leisure to write, for the princess is ready to ride.” Then said Pointz, “If it shall please your lordship, I will attend upon you unto the next baiting-place;” which was at Maestricht. “If you so do,” said the lord, “I will advise myself by the way what to write.” So Pointz followed him from Achon 93 to Maestricht, which are fifteen English miles asunder; and there he received letters of him, one to the council there, another to the company of the merchantadventurers, and another also to the lord Cromwell in England.
So Pointz rode from thence to Brussels, and then and there delivered to the council the letters out of England, with the lord of Barrois’s letters also, and received eftsoons answer into England of the same by letters which he brought to Antwerp to the English merchants, who required him to go with them into England. And he, very desirous to have Master Tyndale out of prison, let not to take pains, with loss of time in his own business and occupying, and diligently followed with the said letters, which he there delivered to the council, and was commanded by them to tarry until he had other letters, with which he was not dispatched thence in a month after. At length, the letters being delivered him, he returned again, and delivered them to the emperor’s council at Brussels, and there tarried for answer of the same.
When the said Pointz had tarried three or four days, it was told him by one that belonged to the Chancery, that Master Tyndale should have been delivered to him according to the tenor of the letters; but Philips, being there, followed the suit against Master Tyndale, and hearing that he should be delivered to Pointz, and doubting lest he should be put from his purpose, he knew no other remedy but to accuse Pointz, saying, that he was a dweller in the town of Antwerp, and there had been a succourer of Tyndale, and was one of the same opinion; and that all this was only his own labor and suit, to have Master Tyndale at liberty, and no man’s else.
Thus, upon his information and accusation, Pointz was attached by the procuror-general,the emperor’s attorney, and delivered to the keeping of two sergeants at arms; and the same evening was sent to him one of the chancery, with the procuror-general, who ministered unto him an oath, that he should truly make answer to all such things as should be inquired of him, thinking they would have had no other examinations of him but of his message. The next day likewise they came again, and had him in examination, and so five or six days one after another, upon not so few as a hundred articles, as well of the king’s affairs, as of the message concerning Tyndale, of his aiders, and of his religion; out of which examinations, the procuror-general drew twenty-three or twenty-four articles, and declared the same against the said Pointz, the copy whereof he delivered to him to make answer thereunto, and permitted him to have an advocate and proctor, that is, a doctor and proctor in the law; and order was taken, that eight days after he should deliver unto them his answer, and from eight days to eight days, to proceed till the process were ended. Also that he should send no messenger to Antwerp where his house was, being twentyfour English miles from Brussels, where he was prisoner, nor to any other place, but by the post of the town of Brussels; nor to send any letters, nor any to be delivered to him, but written in Dutch; and the procuror-general, who was party against him, to read them, to peruse and examine them thoroughly (contrary to all right and equity), before they were sent or delivered: neither might any be suffered to speak or talk with Pointz in any other tongue or language, except only in the Dutch tongue; so that his keepers, who were Dutchmen, might understand what the contents of the letters or talk should be: saving that at one certain time the provincial of the White Friars came to dinner where Pointz was prisoner, and brought with him a young novice, being an Englishman, whom the provincial, after dinner, of his own accord, did bid to talk with the said Pointz; and so with him he was licensed to talk. The purpose and great policy therein was easy to be perceived. Between Pointz and the novice was much pretty talk, as of sir Thomas More, and of the bishop of Rochester, and of their putting to death; whose death he seemed greatly to lament, especially dying in such a quarrel, worthy (as he said) to be accounted for martyrs; with other noble doctrine, and deep learning in divinity, meet to feed swine withal: such blindness then in those days reigned amongst them. * The 7 eighth day, the commissioners that were appointed came to the house where Pointz was kept, to have had his answer in writing: he, making no great haste in proceeding, answereth them with a dilatory, saying, he was there a prisoner, and might not go abroad, so as, although he have appointed and named who to be a counsel with him, they came not to him, nor he could not go to them; nor none may come to give counsel in this matter, but such as be licensed and named by you. Then they gave him a day, to make answer against the next eighth day. And Pointz drew his own mind, answering to the whole declaration generally; the which, at the next coming, he delivered them: but that answer they would not take, saying, he must answer to every article particularly; and so they took order, that he should make it ready against the next coming. Thus he trifled them off, from Holantide until Christmas-even, with dilatories, from eighth day to eighth day. And upon Christmas even, in the morning, they came to him to have had answer, the which was not made, nor any counsel came to him in all that time: howbeit, they would delay the time no longer, but said they, “Bring in your answer this day, or else ye shall be put from it;” so he perceived, that if it were not brought in that night, he should have been condemned without answer. So then, with much ado, he gate the advocate to help him in ordering of answer; but it was long or he came, so that it was past eight o’clock of Christmas-even before his answer were delivered to the procuror-general. And then after, as the time served, at the days appointed, went forth with replication duplic, with other answers each to other, in writing what they could, in answering to the emperor’s ordinances. And at such time as the commissioners came to Pointz, that traitor Philips accompanied them to the door, in following the process against him, as he also did against Master Tyndale, as they who had Pointz in keeping showed him.
The process being ended, as the order is there, either party delivered up to the commissioners a bag, with his process in writing, and took an invitorie of every parcel of writing that was within the bag. So it rested in their hands; but, upon sentence, Pointz required, in the time of process, that he might put in surety, and to be at liberty. The which they granted him at the first time, but, afterwards, they denied to take surety for his body.
And then he sent a post from the town of Brussels to Antwerp to the English merchants, thinking they would not let him have sticke for lack of their help, in putting in sureties for him, considering the cause, with the circumstance; and for that they put him thereto themselves; although they had made him no promise for his charges and pains taken, as Pointz reporteth of them that they did indeed, the which as yet he hath to make it appear.
But, to pass over this, and to make the matter short: if the fore-said merchants, such as were of the town of Antwerp, had, at the time, been surety for him, then the matter had been altered from crime to civil; but when Pointz had delivered to them his answer, they demanded of him, for his charges, money, or sureties. The charges was much to reckon for the two officers’ meat, and drink, and wages, beside his own charges; so as it was about five shillings every day. For all the while he was prisoner, he was not in a common prison, but in the keeping of two officers in one of their houses. So they demanded sureties to be brought within eight days for the charges, but then they denied him to take surety for his body, to make answer at liberty. Pointz, considering that they altered in their purposes, as well by more as in that; and perceiving by other things (as also it was told in secret), it would have cost him his life if he had tarried, yet Pointz granted them to put in sureties, requiring of them to have a messenger to send; not for that he reckoned to have any, but to make dilatory, or else they would have sent him to a stronger prison. But Pointz dilayed them, thinking, if he could, to make a scape; yet he did make a good face, as though he reckoned to have been in no danger; which if he had not so done, it was very unlike he should have escaped with his life out of their hands. And at the eighth day the commissioners came again to Pointz, and there received both their bags with the process, one of the procurorgeneral, and one of Pointz, delivering either of them an invitorie of such pieces of writing as were delivered in the bags, and demanded sureties of Pointz, according to the order they took when they were last with him.
Pointz alleged that he had divers times required them which had him in keeping to get him a messenger, as he also had done, but made no great haste to have any; for he reckoned it should be a sufficient dilatory, whereby to have another day. And with much alleging of the impossibility, for that he could get no messenger to send forth, at the last, they put him apart, and agreed to give him a day eight days after, and called him in again, and commanded the officer to get him one; as they did. And so Pointz sent him with letters to the English merchants, the which at that time were at Barrowe. Howbeit, he reckoned to prove to get away before the return again of the messenger, for he perceived his tarrying there should have been his death; and therefore, to put in a venture to get away, and so he might save himself (for, if he had been taken, it would have been but death, if he had been prisoner there in their hands at that time about twelve or thirteen weeks): so he tarried not the coming again of the messenger, but, in a night, by a mean he conveyed himself, and so, by God’s help, at the opening of the town gate in the morning gat away. And when it was perceived that he was gone, there was horse sent out after him, but, by the means that he knew well the country, he escaped and came into England. But what more trouble followed to Pointz 94 of the same, it serveth not for this place to rehearse. Master Tyndale, still remaining in prison, was proffered an advocate and a procuror; for in any crime there, it shall be permitted to counsel to make answer in the law; the which he refused to have any, but sayde, he would make answer for himself, and did: but, it is to be thought, his answer will not be put forth. Notwithstanding, he had so preached to them there who had him in charge, and such as was there conversant with him in the Castle, that they reported of him, that if he were not a good christian man, they knew not whom they might take to be one.* At last, after much reasoning, when no reason would serve, although he deserved no death, he was condemned by virtue of the emperor decree 95 , made in the assembly at Augsburgh (as is before signified), and, upon the same, brought forth to the place of execution, was there tied to the stake, and then strangled first by the hangman, and afterwards with fire consumed in the morning , 96 at the town of Filford, A.D. 1536; crying thus at the stake with a fervent zeal, and a loud voice, “Lord ! open the king of England’s eyes.”
Such was the power of his doctrine, and the sincerity of his life, that during the time of his imprisonment (which endured a year and a half), 97 it is said, he converted his keeper, the keeper’s daughter, and others of his household. Also the rest that were with Tyndale conversant in the castle, reported of him that if he were not a good christian man, they could not tell whom to trust.
The same morning in which he was had to the fire, he delivered a letter to the keeper of the castle, which the keeper himself brought to the house of the aforesaid Pointz in Antwerp, shortly after; which letter, with his examinations and other his disputations, I would, might have come to our hands; all which I understand did remain, and yet perhaps do, in the hands of the keeper’s daughter. For so it is of him reported, that as he was in the castle prisoner, there was much writing, and great disputation to and fro, 98 between him and them of the university of Louvain (which was not past nine or ten miles from the place where he was prisoner), in such sort, that they all had enough to do, and more than they could well wield, to answer the authorities and testimonies of the Scripture, whereupon he most pithily grounded his doctrine. *That 8 traitor, worse than Judas to man’s judgment in the act doing, only not comparing to Christ, and that the Scriptures hath already judged Judas, otherwise not so good; for Judas, after he had betrayed his Master and Friend, was sorry, acknowledged and confessed his fact openly, declared his Master to be the very Truth, despising the money that he had received for doing the act, brought it again and cast it before them. This traitor Philips, contrariwise, not lamenting, but rejoicing in that he had done, not declaring the honest goodness and truth of his friend, but applied, in all that he could devise, to declare him to be false and seditious, not despising the money that he had received, nor bringing it again, but procured and received more, wherewith to follow the suit against that innocent blood to the death; the which endured about one whole year and a half, that he let no time therein, but all that time followed with most diligent attendance to and fro, and from Louvain to Brussels, and to Filford, with process to have sentence against him. And having there no other thing to do, nor applied himself with nothing else; the which was not done with small expenses and charges, from whomsoever it came. And, as I have heard say there in that country, Master Tyndale found them in the university of Louvain (the which was not past nine or ten English miles from there he was prisoner) enough to do.
And yet, in all that while, if they had not taken to help them an ordinance of the emperor’s making (the which ordinance was made by the advice and counsel of the pope’s soldiers, for the upholding of his kingdom, and also joined with his own laws), they knew not else how to have brought him to his death by their disputing with him in the Scriptures; for he was permitted to dispute, in answering to them by writing. And that traitor Philips was not satisfied with that he knew to have money enough, as himself before had said to Pointz: but, as Judas did run away with the bag when he went to betray Christ, with the which he went his way (the other apostles thought he had gone to have bought things necessary, but he went to appoint with the Jews for the taking of his master, Christ); so, in like manner, this traitor Philips, the same morning that he brought his trayterie to purpose, with bringing Master Tyndale into the hands of God’s enemies, took money of him under a color of borrowing, and put it into his bag, and then incontinent went his ways therewith, and came with his company of soldiers, the which laid hands upon him as before, and led him away. And about one whole year and a half after, he was put to death at Filford, with fire;* and, albeit this Philips rejoiced awhile after he had done it, yet the saying so goeth, that he not long time after enjoyed the price of innocent blood, but was consumed at last with lice . The worthy virtues and doings of this blessed martyr, who, for his painful travails and singular zeal to his country, may be called, in these our days, an apostle of England, it were long to recite. Among many others, this, because it seemeth to me worthy of remembrance, I thought not in silence to overpass, which hath unto me been credibly testified by certain grave merchants, and some of them also such as were present the same time at the fact, and men yet alive; the story whereof is this: There was at Antwerp on a time, amongst a company of merchants as they were at supper, a certain juggler, who, through his diabolical enchantments of art magical, would fetch all kinds of viands and wine from any place they would, and set them upon the table incontinent before them, with many other such like things. The fame of this juggler being much talked of, it chanced that as Master Tyndale heard of it, he desired certain of the merchants, that he might also be present at supper, to see him play his parts. To be brief, the supper was appointed, and the merchants, with Tyndale, were there present. Then the juggler, being required to play his feats, and to show his cunning, after his wonted boldness began to utter all that he could do, but all was in vain. At last, with his labor, sweating, and toiling, when he saw that nothing would go forward, but that all his enchantments were void, he was compelled, openly to confess, that there was some man present at supper, who disturbed and letted all his doings.
As concerning the works and books of Tyndale, which extend to a great number, thou wast told before, loving reader! how the printer hereof mindeth, by the Lord’s leave, to collect them all in one volume together, and put them out in print. Wherefore it shall not greatly at this time be needful to make any several rehearsal of them. And as touching his translation of the New Testament, because his enemies did so much carp at it, pretending it to be so full of heresies; to answer therefore to their slanderous tongues and lying lips, thou shalt hear and understand what faithful dealing and sincere conscience he used in the same, by the testimony and allegation of his own words, written in his epistle to John Frith, as followeth, “I call God to record against the day we shall appear before our Lord Jesus, to give our reckoning of our doings, that I never altered one syllable of God’s word against my conscience, nor would do this day, if all that is in earth, whether it be honor, pleasure, or riches, might be given me,” etc.
And as ye have heard Tyndale’s own words, thus protesting for himself, now let us hear likewise the faithful testimony of John Frith, for Tyndale his dear companion and brother, thus declaring in his answer to Master More, as followeth:
THE TESTIMONY OF JOHN FRITH, IN HIS BOOK OF THE SACRAMENT, CONCERNING WILLIAM TYNDALE.
And Tyndale I trust liveth, well content with such a poor apostle’s life as God gave his Son Christ, and his faithful ministers in this world, who is not sure of so many mites, as ye be yearly of pounds, although I am sure that for his learning and judgment in Scripture, he were more worthy to be promoted than all the bishops in England. I received a letter from him, which was written since Christmas, wherein, among other matters, he writeth this: ‘I call God to record against the day we shall appear before our Lord Jesus, to give a reckoning of our doings, that I never altered one syllable of God’s word against my conscience, nor would do this day, if all that is in earth, whether it be honor, pleasure, or riches, might be given me. Moreover, I take God to witness to my conscience, that I desire of God to myself in this world, no more than that, without which I cannot keep his laws,’ etc. Judge, christian reader, whether these words be not spoken of a faithful, clear, innocent heart. And as for his behavior, it is such that I am sure no man can reprove him of any sin, howbeit no man is innocent before God, who beholdeth the heart.
Thus much out of Frith. And thus, being about to conclude and finish with the life and story of William Tyndale, it shall be requisite now that the reader do hear something likewise of his supplications made to the king and nobles of the realm, as they are yet extant in his works to be seen, and worthy in all ages to be marked, the tenor whereof tendeth to this effect as followeth.
TYNDALE’S SUPPLICATION TO THE KING, NOBLES, AND SUBJECTS OF ENGLAND I beseech the king’s most noble grace, well to consider all the ways by which the cardinal, and our holy bishops, have led him since he was first king; and to see whereunto all the pride, pomp, and vain boast of the cardinal is come, and how God hath resisted him and our prelates in all their wiles. We, having nothing to do at all, have meddled yet with all matters, and have spent for our prelates’ causes more than all Christendom, even unto the utter beggaring of ourselves; and have gotten nothing but rebuke and hate among all nations, and a mock and a scorn of them whom we have most holpen. For the Frenchmen (as the saying is) of late days made a play, or a disguising, at Paris, in which the emperor danced with the pope and the French king, and wearied them; the king of England sitting on a high bench, and looking on. And when it was asked why he danced not, it was answered, that he sat there but to pay the minstrels their wages: as one who should say, we paid for all men’s dancing. We monied the emperor openly, and gave the French king double and treble secretly; and to the pope also. Yea, and though Ferdinand had money sent openly to blind the world withal, yet the saying is, through all Dutch-land, that we sent money to the king of Poland, etc.
Furthermore, I beseech his grace also to have mercy on his own soul, and not to suffer Christ and his holy Testament to be persecuted under his name any longer, that the sword of the wrath of God may be put up again, which, for that cause, no doubt, is most chiefly drawn.
Thirdly, my petition is to his grace, to have compassion on his poor subjects, that the realm utterly perish not with the wicked counsel of our pestilent prelates. For if his grace, who is but a man, should die, the lords and commons not knowing who hath most right to enjoy the crown, the realm could not but stand in great danger.
My fourth suit and exhortation is to all the lords temporal of the realm, that they come and fall before the king’s grace, and humbly desire his majesty to suffer it to be tried, who of right ought to succeed: and if he or she fail, who next, and who third. And let it be proclaimed openly; and let all the lords temporal be sworn thereto, and all the knights, and squires, and gentlemen, and the commons above eighteen years old, that there be no strife for the succession.
If they try it by the sword, I promise them, I see no other likelihood, but it will cost the realm of England, etc. Further, of all the subjects of England this I crave—that they repent; for the cause of evil rulers is the sin of the subjects, as testifieth the Scripture. And the cause of false preachers is, that the people have no love unto the truth, saith Paul, in 1 Thessalonians 2. We be all sinners a hundred times greater than all that we suffer.
Let us, therefore, each forgive others, remembering the greater sinners the more welcome, if we repent; according to the similitude of the riotous son. (Luke 15) For Christ died for sinners, and is their Savior, and his blood is their treasure, to pay for their sins. He is that fatted calf which is slain to make them good cheer withal, if they will repent and come to their Father again; and his merits are the goodly raiment to cover the naked deformities of their sins.
Finally, if the persecution of the king’s grace, and other temporal persons, conspiring with the spiritualty, be of ignorance, I doubt not but that their eyes shall be opened shortly, and they shall see and repent, and God shall show them mercy. But if it be of a set malice against the truth, and of a grounded hate against the law of God, by the reason of a full consent they have to sin, and to walk in their old ways of ignorance, whereunto, being now past all repentance, they have utterly yielded themselves, to follow with full lust, without bridle or snaffle (which is the sin against the Holy Ghost), then ye shall see, even shortly, that God shall turn the point of the sword wherewith they now shed Christ’s blood, homeward, to shed their own again, after all the examples of the Bible.
These things thus discoursed, pertaining to the story and doings of Tyndale, finally it remaineth to infer certain of his private letters and epistles, whereof, among divers others which have not come to our hands, two special he wrote to John Frith, one properly, under his own name, another under the name of Jacob; but, in very deed, it was written and delivered to John Frith, being prisoner then in the Tower, as ye shall further understand by the sequel hereafter. The copy and tenor of the epistles here followeth.
A LETTER SENT FROM WILLIAM TYNDALE UNTO MASTER FRITH, BEING IN THE TOWER.
The grace and peace of God our Father, and of Jesus Christ our Lord, be with you, Amen. Dearly beloved brother John! I have heard say, how the hypocrites, now that they have overcome that great business which letted them, or at the least way have brought it to a stay, they return to their old nature again. The will of God be fulfilled, and that which he hath ordained to be, ere the world was made, that come, and his glory reign over all!
Dearly beloved! however the matter be, commit yourself wholly and only unto your most loving Father, and most kind Lord. Fear not men that threat, nor trust men that speak fair; but trust him that is true of promise, and able to make his word good. Your cause is Christ’s gospel, a light that must be fed with the blood of faith.
The lamp must be dressed and snuffed daily, and that oil poured in every evening and morning, that the light go not out. Though we be sinners, yet is the cause right. If when we be buffeted for well doing, we suffer patiently and endure, that is acceptable to God; (1 Peter 2) for to that end we are called. For Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that we should follow his steps, who did no sin. Hereby have we perceived love, that he had laid down his life for us; therefore we ought also to lay down our lives for the brethren. (1 John 9) Rejoice and be glad, for great is your reward in heaven. (Matthew 5) For we suffer with him, that we may also be glorified with him; who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body; according to the working whereby he is able even to subject all things unto him. (Romans Philippians 3) Dearly beloved! be of good courage, and comfort your soul with the hope of this high reward, and bear the image of Christ in your mortal body, that it may, at his coming, be made like to his, immortal; and follow the example of all your other dear brethren, who choose to suffer in hope of a better resurrection. Keep your conscience pure and undefiled, and say against that, nothing. Stick at necessary things, and remember the blasphemies of the enemies of Christ, saying, they find none but that will abjure, rather than suffer the extremity. Moreover, the death of them that come again after they have once denied, though it be accepted with God, and all that believe, yet it is not glorious: for the hypocrites say ‘He must needs die; denying helpeth not. But, might it have holpen, they would have denied five hundred times; but seeing it would not help them, therefore, of pure pride and mere malice together, they spake with their mouths, what their conscience knoweth false.’ If you give yourself, cast yourself, yield yourself, commit yourself, wholly and only to your loving Father; then shall his power be in you, and make you strong; and that so strong, that you shall feel no pain, which should be to another present death: and his Spirit shall speak in you, and teach you what to answer, according to his promise. He shall set out his truth by you wonderfully, and work for you above all that your heart can imagine: 12 yea and you are not yet dead, though the hopocrites all, with all that they can make, have sworn your death. ‘Una salus victis nullam sperare salutem;’ to look for no man’s help bringeth the help of God to them that seem to be overcome in the eyes of the hypocrites: yea, it shall make God to carry you through thick and thin for his truth’s sake, in spite of all the enemies of his truth. There falleth not a hair, till his hour be come; and when his hour is come, necessity carrieth us hence, though we be not willing. But if we be willing, then have we a reward and thank.
Fear not the threatening therefore, neither be overcome of sweet words, with which twain the hypocrites shall assail you; neither let the persuasions of worldly wisdom bear rule in your heart; no, though they be your friends that counsel you. Let Bilney be a warning to you, let not their visor beguile your eyes. Let not your body faint. He that endureth to the end shall be saved. (Matthew 22) If the pain be above your strength, remember, whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, I will give it you.’ And pray to your Father in that name, and he shall ease your pain, or shorten it. The Lord of peace, of hope, and of faith, be with you, Amen. William Tyndale.
Two have suffered in Antwerp, ‘In die sanctae crucis,’ unto the great glory of the gospel; four at Ryselles 102 in Flanders, and at Luke 102 hath there one at the least suffered; and all the same day.
At Rouen in France they persecute, and at Paris are five doctors taken for the gospel. See, you are not alone; be cheerful, and remember that among the hard-hearted in England, there is a number reserved by grace; for whose sakes, if need be, you must be ready to suffer. Sir, if you may write, how short soever it be, forget it not, that we may know how it goeth with you, for our heart’s ease. The Lord be yet again with you with all his plenteousness, and fill you that you flow over, Amen.
George Joy 103 at Candlemas, being at Barrowe, printed two leaves of Genesis in a great form, and sent one copy to the king, and another to the new queen, with a letter to N. 104 , to deliver them; and to purchase license, that he might so go through all the Bible.
This chanced the ninth day of May.
ANOTHER NOTABLE AND WORTHY LETTER OF MASTER WILLIAM TYNDALE, SENT TO THE SAID JOHN FRITH, UNDER THE NAME OF JACOB.
Dearly beloved brother Jacob, mine heart’s desire in our Savior Jesus, is, that you arm yourself with patience, and be cold, sober, wise, and circumspect, and that you keep you alow by the ground, avoiding high questions, that pass the common capacity. But expound the law truly, and open the veil of Moses to condemn all flesh; and prove all men sinners, and all deeds under the law, before mercy have taken away the condemnation thereof, to be sin and damnable; and then, as a faithful minister, set abroach the mercy of our Lord Jesus, and let the wounded consciences drink of the water of him. And then shall your preaching be with power, and not as the doctrine of the hypocrites; and the Spirit of God shall work with you, and all consciences shall bear record unto you, and feel that it is so. And all doctrine that casteth a mist on those two, to shadow and hide them (I mean the law of God, and mercy of Christ), that resist you with all your power. Sacraments without signification refuse. If they put significations to them, receive them, if you see it may help, though it be not necessary. Of the presence of Christ’s body in the sacrament, meddle as little as you can, that there appear no division among us. Barnes will be hot against you. The Saxons be sore on the affirmative: whether constant or obstinate, I commit it to God. Philip Melancthon is said to be with the French king. There be in Antwerp that say, they saw him come into Paris with a hundred and fifty horses, and that they spake with him. If the Frenchmen receive the word of God, he will plant the affirmative in them. 14 George Joy would have put forth a treatise of the matter, but I have stopped him as yet: what he will do if he get money, I wot not. I believe he would make many reasons little serving to the purpose. My mind is that nothing be put forth till we hear how you shall have sped. I would have the right use preached, and the presence to be an indifferent thing, till the matter might be reasoned in peace, at leisure, of both parties. If you be required, show the phrases of the Scripture, and let them talk what they will: for as to believe that God is everywhere, hurteth no man that worshippeth him nowhere but within in the heart, in spirit and verity; even so, to believe that the body of Christ is everywhere (though it cannot be proved), hurteth no man that worshippeth him nowhere save in the faith of his gospel. 15 You perceive my mind: howbeit if God show you otherwise, it is free for you to do as he moveth you.
I guessed long ago, that God would send a dazing into the head of the spiritualty, to catch themselves in their own subtlety, and I trust it is come to pass. And now methinketh I smell a counsel to be taken, little for their profits in time to come. But you must understand, that it is not of a pure heart, and for love of the truth, but to avenge themselves, and to eat the whore’s flesh, and to suck the marrow of her bones. 16 Wherefore cleave fast to the rock of the help of God, and commit the end of all things to him: and if God shall call you, that you may then use the wisdom of the worldly, as far as you perceive the glory of God may come thereof, refuse it not; and ever among thrust in, that the Scripture may be in the mother tongue, and learning set up in the universities. But if aught be required contrary to the glory of God, and his Christ, then stand fast, and commit yourself to God, and be not overcome of men’s persuasions; which haply shall say, We see no other way to bring in the truth.
Brother Jacob, beloved in my heart! there liveth not in whom I have so good hope and trust, and in whom my heart rejoiceth, and my soul comforteth herself, as in you; not the thousandth part so much for your learning, and what other gifts else you have, as became you will creep alow by the ground, and walk in those things that the conscience may feel, and not in the imaginations of the brain; in fear, and not in boldness; in open necessary, things, and not to pronounce or define of hid secrets, or things that neither help nor hinder, whether it be so or no; in unity, and not in seditious opinions: insomuch that if you be sure you know, yet in things that may abide leisure, you will defer, or say (till others agree with you), ‘Methinks the text requireth this sense or understanding,’ Yea, and if you be sure that your part be good, and another hold the contrary, yet if it be a thing that maketh no matter, you will laugh and let it pass, and refer the thing to other men, and stick you stiffly and stubbornly in earnest and necessary things. And I trust you be persuaded even so of me: for I call God to record against the day we shall appear before our Lord Jesus, to give a reckoning of our doings, that I never altered one syllable of God’s word against my conscience, nor would this day, if all that is in the earth, whether it be pleasure, honor, or riches, might be given me. Moreover, I take God to record to my conscience, that I desire of God, to myself in this world, no more than that, without which I cannot keep his laws.
Finally, if there were in me any gift that could help at hand, and aid you if need required, I promise you I would not be far off, and commit the end to God. My soul is not faint, though my body be weary. But God hath made me evil-favored in this world, and without grace in the sight of men, speechless and rude, dull and slow-witted: your part shall be to supply what lacketh in me; remembering that as lowliness of heart shall make you high with God, even so meekness of words shall make you sink into the hearts of men. Nature giveth age authority, but meekness is the glory of youth, and giveth them honor. Abundance of love maketh me exceed in babbling.
Sir, as concerning purgatory and many other things, if you be demanded, you may say, if you err, the spiritualty hath so led you, and that they have taught you to believe as you do. For they preached you all such things out of God’s word, and alleged a thousand texts, by reason of which texts you believed as they taught you; but now you find them liars, and that the texts mean no such things, and therefore you can believe them no longer; but are as you were before they taught you, and believe no such thing: howbeit you are ready to believe, if they have any other way to prove it: for without proof you cannot believe them, when you have found them with so many lies, etc. If you perceive wherein we may help, either in being still, or doing somewhat, let us have word, and I will do mine uttermost.
The mighty God of Jacob be with you, to supplant his enemies, and give you the favor of Joseph: and the wisdom and the spirit of Stephen be with your heart, and with your mouth, and teach your lips what they shall say, and how to answer to all things. He is our God, if we despair in ourselves, and trust in him: and his is the glory. Amen.
I hope our redemption is nigh. William Tyndale.
This letter was written A.D. 1588, in the month of January: which letter, although it do pretend the name of Jacob, yet understand, good reader, that it was written in very deed to John Frith, as is above told thee. For the more proof and evidence hereof, read Frith’s book of the sacrament, and there thou shalt find a certain place of this epistle repeated word for word, beginning thus; “I call God to record, against the day we shall appear before our Lord Jesus to give a reckoning of our doing, that I never altered one syllable of God’s word against my conscience,” etc.; which epistle John Frith himself witnesseth that he received from Tyndale, as in his testimony above appeareth.
THE DEATH OF THE LADY KATHARINE, PRINCESS DOWAGER, AND THAT OF QUEEN ANNE.
After whom, the same year also, in the month of May next following, followeth the death also of queen Anne, who had now been married to the king the space of three years. In certain records thus we find, that the king, being in his jousts at Greenwich, 105 suddenly with a few persons departed to Westminster, and, the next day after, queen Anne, his wife, was had to the Tower, with the lord Rochford her brother, and certain others, and, the nineteenth day after, was beheaded. The words of this worthy and christian lady at her death were these:
THE WORDS OF QUEEN ANNE AT HER DEATH.
Good christian people! I am come hither to die, for according to the law, and by the law, I am judged to death; and therefore I will speak nothing against it. I come hither to accuse no man, nor to speak any thing of that whereof I am accused and condemned to die; but I pray God save the king, and send him long to reign over you, for a gentler, or a more merciful prince was there never; and to me he was ever a good, a gentle, and a sovereign lord. And if any person will meddle of my cause, I require them to judge the best.
And this was the end of that godly lady and queen. Godly I call her, for sundry respects, whatsoever the cause was, or quarrel objected against her.
First, her last words spoken at her death declared no less her sincere faith and trust in Christ, than did her quiet modesty utter forth the goodness of the cause and matter, whatsoever it was. Besides that to such as wisely can judge upon cases occurrent, this also may seem to give a great clearing unto her, that the king, the third day after, was married in his whites unto another. Certain this was, that for the rare and singular gifts of her mind, so well instructed, and given toward God, with such a fervent desire unto the truth and setting forth of sincere religion, joined with like gentleness, modesty, and pity toward all men, there have not many such queens before her borne the crown of England. Principally this one commendation she left behind her, that during her life, the religion of Christ most happily flourished, and had a right prosperous course.
Many things might be written more of the manifold virtues, and the quiet moderation of her mild nature, how lowly she would bear, not only to be admonished, but also of her own accord would require her chaplains plainly and freely to tell whatsoever they saw in her amiss. Also, how bountiful she was to the poor, passing not only the common example of other queens, but also the revenues almost of her estate; insomuch that the alms which she gave in three quarters of a year, in distribution, is summed to the number of fourteen or fifteen thousand pounds; besides the great piece of money which her grace intended to impart into four sundry quarters of the realm, as for a stock there to be employed to the behoof of poor artificers and occupiers. Again, what a zealous defender she was of Christ’s gospel all the world doth know, and her acts do and will declare to the world’s end. Amongst which other her acts this is one, that she placed Master Hugh Latimer in the bishopric of Worcester, and also preferred Dr.
Shaxton to his bishopric, being then accounted a good man. Furthermore, what a true faith she bare unto the Lord, this one example may stand for many: for that when king Henry was with her at Woodstock, and there, being afraid of an old blind prophecy, for which neither he nor other kings before him durst hunt in the said park of Woodstock, nor enter into the town of Oxford, at last, through the christian and faithful counsel of that queen, he was so armed against all infidelity, that both he hunted in the aforesaid park, and also entered into the town of Oxford, and had no harm.
But because, touching the memorable virtues of this worthy queen, partly we have said something before, partly because more also is promised to be declared of her virtuous life (the Lord so permitting) by others who then were about her, I will cease in this matter further to proceed.
This I cannot but marvel, why the parliament holden this year, that is, the twenty-eighth year of the king (which parliament three years before had established and confirmed this marriage as most lawful), should now so suddenly, and contrary to their own doings, repeal and disable the said marriage again as unlawful, being so lawfully before contracted. 17 But more I marvel, why the said parliament, after the illegitimation of the marriage enacted, not contented with that, should further proceed, and charge her with such carnal desires of her body as to misuse herself with her own natural brother, the lord Rochford, and others; being so contrary to all nature, that no natural man will believe it.
But in this act of parliament did lie, no doubt, some great mystery, which here I will not stand to discuss, but only that it may be suspected some secret practising of the papists here not to be lacking, considering what a mighty stop she was to their purposes and proceedings, and on the contrary side, what a strong bulwark she was for the maintenance of Christ’s gospel, and sincere religion, which they then in no case could abide. By reason whereof it may be easily considered, that this christian and devout Deborah could lack no enemies amongst such a number of Philistines, both within the realm, and without.
Again, neither is it unlike, but that Stephen Winchester, being then abroad in embassy, was not altogether asleep; the suspicion whereof may be the more conjectural, for that Edmund Bonner, archdeacon of Leicester, and then ambassador in France, succeeding after Stephen Winchester, did manifestly detect him of plain papistry, as in the sequel of their stories, when we come to the time, more amply (the Lord granting) shall be expressed.
And as touching the king’s mind and assent, although at that time, through crafty setters-on, he seemed to be sore bent both against that queen, and to the disheriting of his own daughter; yet unto that former will of the king so set against her then, I will oppose again the last will of the king, wherein, expressly and by name, he did accept, and by plain ratification did allow, the succession of his marriage to stand good and lawful.
Furthermore, to all other sinister judgments and opinions, whatsoever can be conceived of man against that virtuous queen, I object and oppose again (as instead of answer) the evident demonstration of God’s favor, in maintaining, preserving, and advancing the offspring of her body, the lady\parELIZABETH, now queen, whom the Lord hath so marvellously conserved from so manifold dangers, so royally hath exalted, so happily hath blessed with such virtuous patience, and with such a quiet reign hitherto, that neither the reign of her brother Edward, nor of her sister Mary, to hers is to be compared; whether we consider the number of the years of their reigns, or the peaceable-ness of their state. In whose royal and flourishing regiment we have to behold, not so much the natural disposition of her mother’s qualities, as the secret judgment of God in preserving and magnifying the fruit and offspring of that godly queen.
And finally, as for the blasphemous mouth both of cardinal Pole, and of Paulus Jovius, that popish cardinal, 107 who, measuring belike other women by his courtezans of Rome, so impudently abuseth his pen in lying and railing against this noble queen: 18 to answer again in defense of her cause to that Italian, I object and oppose the consent and judgment of so many noble protestants and princes of Germany, who, being in league before with king Henry, and minding no less but to have made him the head of their confederation, afterwards, hearing of the death of this queen, utterly brake from him, and refused him only for the same cause.
But all this seemeth (as is said) to be the drift of the wily papists, who, seeing the pope to be repulsed out of England, by the means chiefly of this queen, and fearing always the succession of this marriage in time to come, thought by sinister practice to prevent that peril before, whispering in the king’s ears what possibly they could, to make that matrimony unlawful; and all for the disheriting of that succession.
Again, Stephen Gardiner (who was a secret worker against that marriage, and a perpetual enemy against lady Elizabeth), being then abroad with the French king, and the great master of France, ceased not, in his letters, still to put the king in fear, that the foreign princes and powers of the world, with the pope, would never be reconciled to the king, neither should he be ever in any perfect security, unless he undid again such acts before passed, fox the ratification of that succession: which thing when they had now brought to pass after their own desire (that both now the queen was beheaded, and Elizabeth the king’s daughter disherited), they thought all things to be sure for ever. But yet God’s providence still went beyond them, and deceived them; for incontinently after the suffering of queen Anne, the king, within three days after, married lady Jane Seymour, of whom came king Edward, as great an enemy to God’s enemy the pope, as ever his father was, and greater too.
In the mean time, as these troublous tumults were in doing in England, Paul III., bishop of Rome, for his part was not behind, to help forward for his own advantage; who, seeing his usurped kingdom and seat to be darkened in the countries of Germany, and also in England, thought it high time to bestir him; and therefore, to provide some remedy against further dangers, appointed a general council at Mantua in Italy, requiring all kings and princes either personally to be there, or else to send their ambassadors under fair pretences, as to suppress heresies, and to restore the church, and to war against the Turk, etc. This bull was subscribed with the hands of twenty-six cardinals, 19 and set up in divers great cities, that it might be known and published to the whole world; unto which bull first the protestants of Germany do answer, declaring sufficient causes why they refused to resort to that council, being indicted at Mantua, in the pope’s own country. Whose declaration, with their causes grave and effectual, being set forth in print, and in the English tongue, although they were worthy here to be inserted, yet for brevity, and more speed in our story, I will pretermit the same, and only take the oration or answer of our king here; wherein he likewise rendereth reasons and causes most reasonable, why he refuseth to come or to send, at the pope’s call, to this council indicted at Mantua: whose oration or protestation, because it containeth matter of some weight and great experience, I thought good here to express as followeth: A PROTESTATION IN THE NAME OF THE KING, AND THE WHOLE COUNCIL AND CLERGY OF ENGLAND, WHY THEY REFUSE TO COME TO THE POPE’S COUNCIL, AT HIS CALL Seeing that the bishop of Rome calleth learned men from all parts, conducting them by great rewards, making as many of them cardinals as he thinketh most meet, and most ready to defend frauds and untruths; we could not but with much anxiety cast with ourselves, what so great a preparance of wits should mean. As chance was, we guessed even as it followed. We have been so long acquainted with Romanish subtleties and popish deceits, that we well and easily judged the bishop of Rome to intend an assembly of his adherents, and men sworn to think all his lusts to be laws: we were not deceived. Paul, the bishop of Rome, hath called a council, to which he knew well either few or none of the christian princes could come. Both the time that he indicted it, and also the place where he appointed it to be, might assure him of this. But whither wander not these popish bulls? whither go they not astray? What king is not cited and summoned by a proud minister and servant of kings, to come to bolster up errors, frauds, deceits, and untruths, and to set forth this feigned general council? For who will not think that Paul, the bishop of Rome, goeth sooner about to make men believe that he pretendeth a general council, than that he desireth one indeed? No! who can less desire it, than they that do despair of their cause, except they be judges, and give sentence themselves against their adversaries? We, who very sore against our will at any time leave off the procurement of the realm and common weal, need neither to come ourselves, nor yet to send our procurators thither; no, nor yet to make our excuse for either of both. For who can accuse us, that we come not at his call, who hath no authority to call us?
But for a season let us (as a sort of blindlings do) grant that he may call us, and that he hath authority so to do, yet, we pray you, may not all men see, what availeth it to come to this council, where ye shall have no place, except ye be known both willing to oppress truth, and also ready to confirm and stablish errors? Do not all men perceive, as well as we, with what integrity, fidelity, and religion, these men go about to discuss matters in controversy, that take them in hand in so troublesome a time as this is? Is it not plain what fruit the common weal of Christendom may look for there, whereas Mantua is chosen the place to keep this council at? Is there any prince not being of Italy, yea, is there of Italy any prince, or other dissenting from the pope, that dareth come to this assembly, and to this place? If there come none that dare speak for trodden truth, none that will venture his life, is it marvel if (the bishop of Rome being judge, no man repining, no man gainsaying) the defenders of the papacy obtain that popish authority, now quailing and almost fallen, be set up again?
Is this the way to help things afflicted? to redress troubled religion? to lift · up oppressed truth? Shall men this way know, whether the Roman bishops (who, in very deed, are, if ye look upon either their doctrine or life, far under other bishops) ought to be made like their fellows, that is, to be pastors in their own diocese, and so to use no further power; or else, whether they may make laws, not only unto other bishops, but also to kings and emperors? O boldness! meet to be beaten down with force, and not to be convinced with arguments! Can either Paul that now lordeth, or any of his, earnestly go about (if they alone, or at least without any adversary, be thus in a corner assembled together) to heal the sicknesses, to take away the errors, to pluck down the abuses that now are crept into the church, and there be bolstered up by such councils as now is like to be at Mantua?
It is very like that these, who prowl for nothing but profit, will right gladly pull down all such things as their forefathers made, only for the increase of money. Whereas their forefathers, when their honor, power, and primacy, were called into question, would either in despite of God’s law maintain their dignity, or, to say better, their intolerable pride, is it like that these will not tread in their steps, and make naughty new canons, whereby they may defend old evil decrees? Howbeit, what need we to care either what they have done, or what they intend to do hereafter, forasmuch as England hath taken her leave of popish crafts for ever, never to be deluded with them hereafter? Roman bishops have nothing to do with English people. The one doth not traffic with the other; at least, though they will have to do with us, yet we will none of their merchandise, none of their stuff. We will receive them of our council no more We have sought our hurt, and bought our loss a great while too long. Surely their decrees, either touching things set up or put down, shall have none other place with us than all bishops’ decrees have; that is, if we like them, we admit them; if we do not, we refuse them. But lest, peradventure, men shall think us to follow our senses too much, and that we, moved by small or no just causes, forsake the authority, censures, decrees, and popish councils, we thought it best here to show our mind to the whole world.
All the articles of his faith, no jot omitted, be all so dear unto us, that we would much sooner stand in jeopardy of our realm, than to see any point of Christ’s religion in jeopardy with us. We protest that we never went from the unity of this faith, neither that we will depart an inch from it. No, we will much sooner lose our lives, than any article of our belief shall decay in England. We, who in all this cause seek nothing but the glory of God, the profit and quietness of the world, protest that we can suffer deceivers no longer. We never refused to come to a general council; no, we promise all our labor, study, and fidelity, to the setting up of trodden truth, and troubled religion, in their place again, and to do all that shall lie in us, to finish such controversies as have a great while too long vexed Christendom. Only we will all christian men to be admonished, that we can suffer no longer that they be esteemed willing to take away errors, who indeed, by all the ways their wits will serve them, go about this alone, that no man, under pain of death, may speak against any error or abuse.
We would have a council; we desire it, yea, and crave nothing so oft of God, as that we may have one. But yet we will that it be such as christian men ought to have; that is, frank and free, where every man without fear may say his mind. We desire that it be a holy council, where every man may go, about to set up godliness, and not apply all their study to the oppressing of truth. We will it be general, that is to say, kept at such time, and in such place, that every man who seeketh the glory of God may be present, and there frankly utter his mind: for then it shall seem general, either when no man that dissenteth from the bishop of Rome is compelled to be from it; or when they that be present are not letted by any just terror, to say boldly what they truly think: for who would not gladly come to such a council, except it be the pope, his cardinals, and popish bishops? On the other side, who is so foolish, where the chief point that is to be handled in this council is the pope’s own cause, power, and primacy, to grant that the pope should reign, should be judge, should be president of this council? If he, who indeed can never think himself able to defend his cause before any other judge, be evermore made his own judge, and so controversies not decided, but errors set up, what can be devised in the commonwealth of Christendom more hurtful to the truth, than general councils?
And here to touch somewhat their impudent arrogancy: By what law, power, or honest title take they upon them to call kings, to summon princes to appear, where their bulls command them? In time past all councils were appointed by the authority, consent and commandment of the emperor, kings, and princes: why now taketh the bishop of Rome this upon him? Some will say, ‘It is more likely that bishops will more tender the cause of religion, gladlier have errors taken away, than emperors, kings, or princes.’ The world hath good experience of them, and every man seeth how faithfully they have handled religious matters. Is there any man that doth not see how virtuously Paul now goeth about by this occasion to set up his tyranny, again? Is it not like that he that chooseth such a time as this is, to keep a council, much intendeth the redress of things that now are amiss? that he seeketh the restoring of religion, who now calleth to a council, the emperor and the French king, two princes of great power, so bent to wars, that neither they, nor any other christian prince can, in a manner, do any thing but look for the end of this long war? Go to, go to, bishop of Rome! Occasion long wished for offereth herself unto you: take her! she openeth a window for your frauds to creep in at.
O fools! O wicked men! May we not justly so call you? Are ye not fools, who, being long suspected, not only by princes, but by all christian people, in a manner, that in no case you could be brought to a general council, plainly show the whole world, that by these your conciliables, your hutter-mutter in corners, you take away all hope of a lawful, catholic, and general council? Are you not wicked, who so hate truth, that except she be utterly banished, ye will never cease to vex her? 21 The living God is alive, neither can Truth, his darling, he being alive, be called to so great shame, contumely, and injury; or, if it may be called to all these, yet can it come to none of them. Who is he that grievously lamenteth not men to be of such shameful boldness, to show apertly that they be enemies unto Christ himself? on the other side, who will not be glad to see such men as foolish as they be wicked? The world is not now in a light suspicion, as it hath been hitherto, that you will no reformation of errors; but every man seeth before his eyes your deceits, your wicked minds, your immortal hatred that ye bear against the truth. Every man seeth how many miserable tragedies your pretense of a unity and concord hath brought into Christendom. They see your fair face of peace hath served sedition, and troubled almost all christian realms. They see ye never oppugn religion more than when ye will seem most to defend it. They be sorry to see that great wits a long season have spent their whole strength in defense of deceits: Reason, to put his whole power to the promoting of pride and ungodliness; Virtue to serve Vice; Holiness to be slave to Hypocrisy; Prudence to Subtlety; Justice to Tyranny. They be glad that Scripture now fighteth for itself, and not against itself. They be glad that God is not compelled to be against God; Christ against Christ. They be glad that subtlety hath done no more hurt to religion in time past, than now constancy doth good to truth, They see the marks that ye have shot at, in all your councils past, to be lucre, money, gains. They see you sought your profit, yea, though it were joined with the slaughter of truth.
And, we pray you, what may Paul the bishop of Rome seem now to go about, who, seeing all princes occupied in great affairs, would steal (as he calleth it) a general council? what other thing, than hereby to have some excuse to refuse a general council hereafter, when time and place much better for the handling of matters of religion shall be given unto the princes of Christendom? He will think he may then do as princes now do. He will think it lawful not to come then, because princes now come not. We pray God that we ever brawl not one with another for religion: and whereas dissension is amongst us, we yet for our parts do say, that we, as much as men may, defend the better part, and be in the right way.
We pray God that the world may enjoy peace and tranquillity, and that then we may have both time and place to settle religion: for except princes first agree, and so (war laid aside) seek peace, he loseth his labor that seeketh a general council. If the bishop of Rome may keep his council while they thus be together, will not there be made many pretty decrees? If they, who would come if they had leisure, be absent, and we, who though we safely might come, will not lose any part of our right; trow you, in all our absence, that the bishop of Rome will not handle his profit and primacy well?
Paul! how can any of ours not refuse to come to Mantua, through so many perils, a city so far set from England, so nigh your friends, kinsmen, and adherents? Is he not unworthy of life, who, when he may tarry at home, will pass through so many jeopardies of life?
Can he who cometh to Cremona, a city not far from Mantua, be safe if he be taken not to be the bishop of Rome’s friend, that is (as the common sort of deceived people do interpret) a heretic? And if there come to Mantua such a number as would furnish a general council, may not Mantua seem too little to receive so many guests?
Put these two together: all the way from England to Mantua is full of just perils, and yet if ye escape all those, the very place where the council is kept is more to be suspected than all the way. Do ye not know all civil laws to compel no man to come to any place, where he shall be in jeopardy of his life all the way? We have no safe-conduct to pass and return by the dominions of other princes.
And if we had a safe-conduct, yet should not we be charged with rashness, that where just terror might have dissuaded us from such a journey, we committed ourselves to such perils? Surely he, who, the time being as it is, things standing as they do, will go from England to Mantua, 22 may be careless, if he lack wit: sure of his arrival, or return from thence, he cannot be; for who doth not know how oft the bishops of Rome have played false parts with them that in such matters have trusted to their safe-conducts? How oft have they caused, by their perfidy, such men to be slain, as they have promised by their faith before, that they should both come safe, and go safe? These be no news, that popes are false, that popes keep no promise either with God or man; that popes, contrary to their oaths, do defile their cruel hands with honest men’s blood. But we tarry too long in things that as well touch all men as us.
We will, these now laid apart, turn our oration unto such things, as privately touch both us, king Henry VIII., and all Englishmen. Is it unknown to any man, what mind Paul the bishop of Rome beareth to us king Henry VIII., to us his nobility, to us his grace’s bishops, and to us all his grace’s subjects, for the pulling down of his usurped power and proud primacy? for expelling of his usurped jurisdiction, and for delivering of our realm from his grievous bondage and pollage? Who seeth not him even inflamed with hatred against us, and the flames to be much greater than he can now keep them in? He is an open enemy, he dissembleth no longer, provoking all men, by all the means that he can, to endamage us and our country. These three years he hath been occupied in no one thing so much, as how he might stir up the commons of England, now corrupting some with money, some with dignities. We let pass what letters he hath written to christian prlnces: with how great fervent study he hath exhorted them to set upon us. The good vicar of Christ, by his doing, showeth how he understandeth the words of Christ. He thinketh he playeth Christ’s part well, when he may say, as Christ did, 23 ‘I come not to make peace in earth, but to send swords about;’ and not such swords as Christ would his to be armed withal, but such as cruel man-quellers abuse in the slaughter of their neighbors. We marvel little though they vex other princes oft, seeing they recompense our favor showed to them with contumelies, our benefits with injuries.
We will not rehearse here how many our benefits bestowed upon Roman bishops be lost. God be with such ingrate carles, unworthy to be numbered amongst men: certes such, that a man may well doubt whether God or man hath better cause to hate them. But that we have learned to owe good will even to them that immortally hate us, what could we wish them so evil, but they have deserved much worse? We wish them this hurt alone, that God send them a better mind. God be thanked, we have made all their seditious intents sooner to show their great malice towards us, than to do us much hurt; yea, they have well taught us, evermore to take good heed to our enemies. Undoubtedly it were good going to Mantua, and to leave their whelps amongst the lambs of our flock. When we be weary of our wealth, we will even do then, as they would have us now do. No, no! as long as we shall see his heart so good towards us, we trust upon his warning we shall well provide to withstand his cruel malice. No, let him now spend his deceits, when they can hurt none but such as would deceive, and are deceived.
They be afraid, if we should sustain no hurt because we justly rejected their primacy, that other princes would begin to do likewise, and to shake off their shoulders the heavy burdens that they so long have borne against Scriptures, all right and reason.
They be sorry to see the way stopped, that now their tyranny, avarice, and pride, can have no passage unto England, which was wont to walk, to triumph, to toss, to trouble all men. They can scarce suffer privileges, that is to say, license to spoil our citizens, given them by our forefathers, and brought in by errorful custom, to be taken from them. They think it unlawful that we require things lawful of them that will be under no laws. They think we do them wrong, because we will not suffer them to do us wrong any longer. They see their merchandise to be banished, to be forbidden.
They see that we will buy no longer chalk for cheese. They see they have lost a fair fleece, vengeably sorry that they can dispatch no more pardons, dispensations, totquots, with the rest of their baggage and trumpery. England is no more a babe. There is no man here, but now he knoweth that they do foolishly, who give gold for lead, more weight of that, than they receive of this. They pass not, though Peter and Paul’s faces be graven in the lead, to make fools fain. No, we be sorry that they should abuse holy saints’ visages, to the beguiling of the world.
Surely, except God take away our right wits, not only his authority shall be driven out for ever, 24 but his name also shortly shall be forgotten in England. We will from henceforth ask counsel from him and his, when we lust to be deceived, when we covet to be in error: when we desire to offend God, truth, and honesty. If a man may guess the whole work by the foundation, where deceits begin the work, can any other than deceits be builded upon this foundation? What can you look for in this Mantuan council, other than the oppression of truth and true religion? If there be any thing well done, think, as every man doth, bishops of Rome to be accustomed to do a few things well, that many evils may the better be taken at their hands. They, when they lust, can yield some part of their right. They are content that some of their decrees, some of their errors and abuses, be reprehended: but they are never more to be feared, than when they show themselves most gentle; for if they grant a few, they ask many, if they leave a little, they will be sure of a great deal. Scarce a man may know how to handle himself, that he take no hurt at their hands, yea, when they bless him; who seldom do good, but for an intent to do evil. Certainly, come whoso will to these shops of deceits, to these fairs of frauds, we will lose no part of our right in coming at his call, who ought to be called, and not to call. We will neither come at Mantua, nor send thither for this matter, etc.
And so the king, proceeding in the said his protestation, declareth moreover, how the pope, after he had summoned his council first to be kept at Mantua, the 23d day of May, A.D. 1537, shortly after directed out another bull, to prorogate the same council to the month of November; pretending, for his excuse, that the duke of Mantua would not suffer him to keep any council there, unless he maintained a number of warriors for defense of the town. And therefore, in his latter bull, he prorogueth this assembly, commanding patriarchs, archbishops, bishops, abbots, and others of the spiritualty, by virtue of obedience, and under pain of cursing, to be present; but showeth no place at all where he would be, nor whither they should come. And in very deed no great matter though no place were named; for as good a council nowhere to be called, as where it could not be; and as well no place served him that intended no council, as all places. And to say truth, much better no place to be named, than to name such as he purposed not to come to; for so should he break no promise, who maketh none. And so, going forward in his oration, toward the latter end the king thus inferreth by his words of protestation, saying:
Now, we will the pope and his adherents to understand that which we have oft said, and now say, and ever will say: ‘he nor his hath no authority nor jurisdiction in England.’ We give him no more than he hath: that is never a deal. That which he hath usurped against God’s law, and extorted by violence, we, by good right, take from him again. But he and his will say, we gave them a primacy. We hear them well: we give it you indeed. If you have authority upon us as long as our consent giveth it you (and you evermore will make your plea upon our consent), then let it have even an end where it began: we consent no longer, your authority must needs be gone. If we, being deceived by false pretense of evil-alleged Scriptures, gave to you that ye ought to have refused, why may we not, our error now perceived, your deceit espied, take it again? We princes wrote ourselves to be inferiors to popes. As long as we thought so, we obeyed them as our superiors. Now we write not as we did, and therefore they have no great cause to marvel, if we hereafter do not as we did; both the laws civil, and also the laws of God, be on our side. For a free man born doth not lose his liberty, no nor hurt the plea of his liberty, though he write himself a bondman.
Again, If they lean to custom, we send them to St. Cyprian, who saith, that custom, if truth be not joined with it, is nothing but ‘erroris vetustas,’ that is, ‘an old error.’ Christ said, ‘Ego sum via, veritas, et vita:’ ‘I am the way, the truth, and life:’ he never said, ‘Ego sum consuetudo,’ ‘I am the custom.’ Wherefore, seeing custom serveth you on the one side, and Scripture us on the other, are ye able to match us? In how many places doth Christ admonish you to seek no primacy, to prefer yourselves before nobody; no, to be obedient unto all creatures! Your old title, ‘servus servorum,’ evil agreeth with your new forged dignity. But we will not tarry in matters so plain; we only desire God, that Caesar and other christian princes, would agree upon some holy council, where truth may be tried, and religion set up, which hath been hurt by nothing so sore, as by general—not general—councils: errors, and abuses grow too fast. ‘Erudimini qui judicatis terram; ‘Get you learning, you that judge the earth,’ and excogitate some remedy for these so many diseases of the sick church. They that be wisest, do despair of a general council: wherefore we think it now best, that every prince call a council, provincial, and every prince do redress his own realm. We make all men privy to what we think best to be done for the redress of religion. If they like it, we doubt not but they will follow it, or some other better. Our trust is, that all princes will so handle themselves in this behalf, that princes may enjoy their own, and priests of Rome content themselves with what they ought to have. Princes, as we trust, will no longer nourish wolves’ whelps; they will subscribe no more to popish pride, to the papacy, etc.
Favor our doings, O christian princes! Your honor and ancient majesty is restored. Remember there is nothing pertaining so much to a prince’s honour as to set forth truth, and to help religion. Take you heed that their deceit work not more mischief than your virtue can do good, and everlasting war we would all princes had with this papacy. As for their decrees, so hearken to them, that if in this Mantuan assembly things be well done, ye take them; but not as authorized by them, but that truth, and things that maintain religion, are to be taken at all men’s hands. And even as we will admit things well made, so, if there be any thing determined in prejudice of truth, for the maintenance of their evil grounded primacy, or that may hurt the authority of kings, we protest unto the whole world that we neither allow it, nor will at any time allow it.
We think you all see, that Paul, and his cardinals, bishops, abbots, monks, friars, with the rest of the rabblement, do nothing less intend, than the knowledge and search of truth. Ye see this is no time meet, Mantua no place meet, for a general council. And though they were both meet, yet except some other call this council, you see that we need neither to come, nor to send. You have heard how every prince in his own realm may quiet things amiss. If there be any of you that can show us a better way, we promise, with all hearty desire, to do that which shall be thought best for the settling of religion, and that we will leave our own advices, if any man show us better; which mind of ours we most heartily pray God that gave it us, not only to increase in us, but also to send it unto all christian princes, all christian prelates, and all christian people.
A little before the death of queen Anne, there was a parliament at Westminster, wherein were given to the king, by consent of the abbots, all such houses of religion as were under three hundred marks; which was a shrewd prognosticate of the ruin of greater houses, which indeed followed shortly after, as was and might easily be perceived before by many, who then said, that the low bushes and brambles were cut down before, but great oaks would follow after.
Although the proceeding of these things did not well like the minds of the pope’s friends in England, yet, notwithstanding, they began again to take some breath of comfort, when they saw the aforesaid queen Anne dispatched. Nevertheless they were frustrated of their purpose (as is afore showed) and that double wise. For first, after they had their wills of queen Anne, the Lord raised up another queen, not greatly for their purpose, with her son king Edward; and also for that the lord Cromwell, the same time, began to grow in authority, who, like a mighty pillar set up in the church of Christ, was enough, alone, to confound and overthrow all the malignant devices of the adversaries, so long as God gave him in life here to continue; whose story hereafter followeth more at large.
Shortly after this aforesaid marriage of the king with this queen Jane Seymour above mentioned, in the month of June, during the continuation of the parliament, by the consent of the clergy holding then a solemn convocation in the church of St. Paul, a book 25 was set forth containing certain articles of religion necessary to be taught to the people; wherein they treated specially but of three sacraments, baptism, penance, and the Lord’s Supper; where also divers other things were published concerning the alteration of certain points of religion, as that certain holidays were forbidden, and many abbeys began to be suppressed. For this cause the rude multitude of Lincolnshire, fearing the utter subversion of their old religion, wherein they had been so long nursled, did rise up in a great commotion, to the number well near of twenty thousand, having for their captain a monk, called doctor Makerel, calling himself then captain Cobler; but these rebels, being repressed by the king’s power, and desiring pardon, soon brake up their assembly. For they, hearing of the royal army of the king coming against them, with his own person there present, and fearing what would follow of this, first the noblemen and gentlemen, who before favored them, began to withdraw themselves, so that they were destitute of captains; and at last they, in writing, made certain petitions to the king, protesting that they never intended hurt towards his royal person. These petitions the king received, and made this answer again to them as followeth.
THE KING’S ANSWER TO THE REBELS IN LINCOLNSHIRE.
First, we begin to make answer to the fourth and sixth articles, because upon them dependeth much of the rest. Concerning choosing of councillors, I never have read, heard, or known, that princes, councillors, and prelates, should be appointed by rude and ignorant common people, nor that they were persons meet, or of ability, to discern and choose meet and sufficient councillors for a prince. How presumptuous then are ye, the rude commons of one shire, and, that one the most base of the whole realm, and of the least experience, to find fault with your prince, for the electing of his councillors and prelates, and to take upon you, contrary to God’s law and man’s laws, to rule your princes, whom you are bound, by all law, to obey and serve with both your lives, lands, and goods, and for no worldly cause to withstand.
As for the suppression of religious houses and monasteries, we will that ye and all our subjects should well know, that this is granted us by all the nobles spiritual and temporal of this realm, and by all the commons in the same, by act of parliament; and not set forth by any councillor or councillors upon their mere will and fantasy, as you full falsely would persuade our realm to believe.
And where ye allege that the service of God is much diminished, the truth thereof is contrary; for there be no houses suppressed where God was well served, but where most vice, mischief, and abomination of living was used; and that doth well appear by their own confessions, subscribed with their own hands, in the time of their visitations, and yet we suffered a great many of them (more than we needed by the act) to stand; wherein if they amend not their living 26 we fear we have more to answer for, than for the suppression of all the rest. And as for the hospitality for the relief of the poor, we wonder ye be not ashamed to affirm that they have been a great relief of poor people, when a great many, or the most part, have not past four or five religious persons in them, and divers but one, which spent the substance of the goods of their houses in nourishing of vice, and abominable living. Now what unkindness and unnaturality may we impute to you, and all our subjects that be of that mind, which had lever such an unthrift sort of vicious persons should enjoy such possessions, profits, and emoluments, as grow of the said houses, to the maintenance of their unthrifty life, than we, your natural prince, sovereign lord, and king, who do and have spent more of our own in your defences, than six times they be worth?
As touching the Act of Uses, we marvel what madness is in your brain, or upon what ground ye would take authority upon you, to cause us to break those laws and statutes, which, by all the noble knights and gentlemen of this realm (whom the same chiefly toucheth), have been granted and assented to, seeing in no manner of things it toucheth you, the base commons of our realm.
Also, the grounds of all those uses were false, and never admitted by law, but usurped upon the prince, contrary to all equity and justice, as it hath been openly both disputed and declared by all the well learned men in the realm of England, in Westminster-hall: whereby ye may well perceive how mad and unreasonable your demands be, both in that, and in the rest; and how unmeet it is for us, and dishonorable, to grant or assent unto, and less meet and decent for you, in such a rebellious sort, to demand the same of your prince.
As touching the Fifteenth which you demand of us to be released, think ye that we be so faint-hearted, that perforce ye of one shire (were ye a great many more) could compel us, with your insurrections, and such rebellious demeanour, to remit the same? or think you that any man will or may take you to be true subjects, that first make and show a loving grant, and then perforce would compel your sovereign lord and king to release the same, the time of payment whereof is not yet come? Yea, and seeing the same will not countervail the tenth penny of the charges which we have, and daily do sustain, for your tuition and safeguard, make you sure that by your occasions of these ingratitudes, unnaturalness, and unkindness to us now administered, ye give us cause (who have always been as much dedicated to your wealth, as ever was king) not so much to set our study for the setting forward of the same, seeing how unkindly and untruly ye deal now with us, without any cause or occasion: and doubt ye not, though you have no grace nor naturalness in you to consider your duty of allegiance to your king and sovereign lord, the rest of our realm, we doubt not, hath; and we and they shall so look on this cause, that we trust it shall be to your confusion, if, according to your former letters, you submit not yourselves.
As touching the first fruits, we let you to wit, it is a thing granted us by act of parliament also, for the supportation of part of the great and excessive charges, which we support and bear for the maintenance of your wealths and other our subjects: and we have known also that ye our commons have much complained also in times past, that the most part of our goods, lands, and possessions of the realm, were in the spiritual men’s hands; and yet, bearing us in hand that ye be as loving subjects to us as may be, ye cannot find in your hearts that your prince and sovereign lord should have any part thereof (and yet it is nothing prejudicial unto you our commons), but do rebel and unlawfully rise against your prince, contrary to the duty of allegiance and God’s commandment. Sirs! remember your follies and traitorous demeanors, and shame not your native country of England, nor offend any more so grievously your undoubted king and natural prince, who always hath showed himself most loving unto you; and remember your duty of allegiance, and that ye are bound to obey us your king, both by God’s commandment and the law of nature.
Wherefore we charge you eftsoons, upon the aforesaid bonds and pains, that you withdraw yourselves to your own houses every man, and no more to assemble contrary to our laws and your allegiances, and to cause the provokers of you to this mischief to be delivered to our lieutenant’s hands or ours, and you yourselves to submit you to such condign punishment as we and our nobles shall think you worthy of: for doubt you not else, that we and our nobles neither can nor will suffer this injury at your hands unrevenged, if ye give not to us place of sovereignty, and show yourselves as bounden and obedient subjects, and no more intermeddle yourselves from henceforth with the weighty affairs of the realm, the direction whereof only appertaineth to us your king, and such noblemen and councillors as we list to elect and choose to have the ordering of the same.
And thus we pray unto Almighty God, to give you grace to do your duties, to use yourselves towards us like true and faithful subjects, so as we may have cause to order you thereafter; and rather obediently to consent amongst you to deliver into the hands of our lieutenant a hundred persons, to be ordered according to their demerits, at our will and pleasure, than, by your obstinacy and wilfulness, to put yourselves, your wives, children, lands, goods and chattels, besides the indignation of God, in the utter adventure of total destruction, and utter ruin, by force and violence of the sword.
After the Lincolnshire men had received this the king’s answer aforesaid, made to their petitions, each mistrusting the other, who should be noted to be the greatest meddler, even very suddenly they began to shrink, and out of hand they were all divided, and every man at home in his own house in peace: but the captains of these rebels escaped not all clear, but were afterwards apprehended, and had as they deserved. After this, immediately, within six days upon the same, followed a new insurrection in Yorkshire for the same causes, through the instigation and lying tales of seditious persons, especially monks and priests; making them believe, that their silver chalices, crosses, jewels, and other ornaments, should be taken out of their churches; and that no man should be married, or eat any good meat in his house, but should give tribute there-for to the king: but their especial malice was against Cromwell and certain other counsellors.
This their devilish rebellion they termed by the name of a ‘Holy Pilgrimage;’ but they served a wrong and a naughty saint. They had also in the field their streamers and banners, whereupon was painted Christ hanging upon the cross on the one side, and a chalice, with a painted cake in it, on the other side, with other such ensigns of like hypocrisy and reigned sanctity, pretending thereby to fight for the faith and the right of holy church.
As soon as the king was certified of this new seditious insurrection, he sent with all speed against them, the duke of Norfolk, the duke of Suffolk, the marquis of Exeter, the earl of Shrewsbury, and others, with a great army, forthwith to encounter with the rebels.
These noble captains and councillors, thus well furnished with habiliment of war, approaching towards the rebels, and understanding both their number, and how they were full bent to battle, first with policy went about to essay and practice how to appease all without blood-shedding; but the northern men, stoutly and sturdily standing to their wicked cause and wretched enterprise, would in no case relent from their attempts: which when the nobles perceived, and saw no other way to pacify their furious minds, utterly set on mischief, they determined upon a battle. The place was appointed, the day assigned, and the hour set; but see the wondrous work of God’s gracious providence! The night before the day of battle came (as testifieth Edward Hall), fell a small rain, nothing to speak of, but yet, as it were by a great miracle of God, the water which was but a very small ford, and that men in a manner, the day before, might have gone dry-shod over, suddenly rose of such a height, deepness, and breadth, that the like no man that there did inhabit, could tell they ever saw before; so that that day, even when the hour of battle should come, it was impossible for the one army to come at the other.
After this, that the appointment made between both of the armies (being thus disappointed as it is to be thought, only by God,who extended his great mercy, and had compassion on the great number of innocent persons that in that deadly slaughter had like to have been murdered), could take no place; then, by the great wisdom and policy of the said captains, a communication was had, and a pardon of the king’s majesty obtained for all the captains and chief doers of this insurrection; and they were promised that for such things as they found them aggrieved withal, they should gently be heard, and their reasonable petitions granted; and that their articles should be presented to the king, that by his highness’s authority, and the wisdom of his council, all things should be brought to good order and conclusion: and with this order every man quietly departed, and those who before were bent as