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which was the moft troublefome time for them, there
were, however, but very few burnt ; of which three prin-
cipal reaf ms may be given : Firft, as the Statutes did not
enact, that all in general fhould be burnt, who held the
Tenets of If'iciliff, but only fuch as preached or taught
them publickly, the number of the guilty was not very
great. Thefe Statutes were not obferved after the man-
ner of the Inquilition, but agreeably to the liberties and
privileges of the Englijh Nation. In the next place, the
Id<;a which the Clergy were pleafed to give of the Lollards,
was, that they entirely fubverted Religion. But often, in
the examination of the parties accufed as fuch, it appeared
that they only believed, the Pope and Clergy abufed their
power too much, which was the general opinion of the
Kingdom. It was well known, the Parliament had not
that in view, in their Statute againft the Lollards. Laftly,
the Jud-es themfelves fometimes happened to be of the
Sect, and this was the occafion of the Statute in the
Reign of Henry V, obliging all Magiftrates, at their en-
trance into Office, to fwear to the execution of the Laws
againft the Lollards. But I do not know whether that Sta-
tute was ever punctually obferved. It we believe ll'alfmg-
ham the Monk, the Judges and feveral Bifhops them-
felves were very remifs in the profecution of the Lollards.
This he afcribes to the general corruption which reigned
in England. But this corruption was nothing elfe but the
inclination of the Englijh for lllcUiff's opinions ; or, at
leaft, their fcruple to put People to death on account of
Religion. The molt remarkable thing in England, con-
cerning the Lollards, is the trial and punifhment of
Sir John Oldea/lle , otherwife called Lord Cohham, of
whom I have fpoken in the Reign of Henry V. We
mult now proceed to another Subject ; namely, the con-
tents which England had with tire Court of Rome during
the XVth Century.

Notwithstanding all the complaints frequently carried to
. the Court of Rome, concerning her continual incroach-
•' ments, and the precautions taken by feveral Parliaments to
fcreen themfelves from the lame, the Popes did not abate
their pretentions. The Acts of Parliament were to them
but like Thunders without execution, which reached not
their rights. Upon every occafion, they made no fcruple
to act contrary to thefe Statutes, as if they had not been
made ; and aftert their Apoftolick power, without troub-
ling themfelves whether they prejudiced the King or his
Subjects. The Parliament, willing to remedy the abufes
flowing from the continual difpenfations granted by the
Pope without hearing the caufe, palled in 1400 an Act,
That all Perfons who pur chafed or exceuted any Bulls to be
difeharged from the payment of Tythes, fhould incur the pe-
nalties contained in the Statute of Provijors. It was enacl-
ed by another Statute palled at the fame time, That if any
Perfon fhould procure a Provifion to lie exempt of the furif-
diilim of the Bifhops, he Jhould incur the fame Penalties.
Thefe Acts being made chiefly with a view to the Monks,
were not capable of producing the intended effect, becaufe
the Pope, by the fulnefs of his Apoftolick authority, ex-

empted the Monks from the obfervance of thefe Parlia-
mentary Statutes. The Bifhops, whom this affair chiefly
concerned, not daring to difpute the power aifumed by
the Pope, it was the Parliament's bufinefs to defend their
caufe, as well as their own. To that purpofe, the Sta-
tutes upon this Subject were revived, with an additional
Claufe, prohibiting the Monks in particular, to purchafe
or execute any fuch exemptions, upon the penalty conk
prifed in the Statute of Praemunire.

This Statute, which I have mentioned upon feveral
occafions, was a terrible fence againft the Court of
Rome's Usurpations. Indeed, it did not diredtly attack
the Pope, fince the Parliament had no Jurifdicfion over
him. But as it hindered the Englijh from applying to
the Court of Rome for things contrary to the Prerogatives
of the Crown, and the Laws of the Realm, it abridged
the Pope of good part of the advantages which he pre-
tended to reap from his Apoftolick power. It will per-
haps be thought ftrange that the Popes fhould be filenr,
when, and long after, this Statute was palled. But it is
eafy to difcover the reafon. The Schifm which began
in 1378, and lafted till 1409, hindered them from ftir-
ring. The Popes received by England, took care to
give no offence at fuch a juncture. It is true, there was
an interval of fome years, during which Alexander V,
and 'John XXIII, might have made fome attempt a-
gainft that Law. But Alexander's Pontificate was very
fhort, and 'John was employed in affairs, as he thought*
of more importance. Martin V* confidered not this af-
fair with the fame indifference. In 1 426, he writ a
thundering Letter to Chieheley Archbifhop of Canterbu-
ry, upbraiding him for his remill'nefs, and enjoining him
to exert his utmoft that this Statute might be repealed.
Henry VI, who then reigned, not being above five years
old, the Pope thought it a favorable juncture to compafs
his ends. It will not be perhaps unacceptable, to infert
part of this Letter, which fhows the Pope's fentiments
concerning the pretended privileges of his See.


Servant of the Servants of GOD,

To his Reverend Brother, the ArchbiJJwp of
Canterbury, Greeting, and Apoflolical

" TT A D you confidered what a ftriet account you Martin V«

" I JL muft give to Almighty God for the Flock h "'"" <''■>

" committed to your care : Had you called to mind the o/caiiter-

" obligations of your Office, and how much you are bury.

" bound to maintain the rights and honour of the Ro- Jl" nC p'

'" man Church, of whom you hold your Dignity : Had 7. [_ Co [,

f" you, I fay, duly recollecited thefe things, you would p. 95.

.'" never have fuffered your felf to be feized with fuch a

'." lethargy and negligence. No, you would have done

" your duty long fmce ; you would have endeavoured

" to fet right the milled, and oppofed with all your pow-

" er thofe who had facrilegioufly invaded the privileges

" granted by our Saviour to the Church. Was the au-

" thoritv of vour Character beftowed upon you only to

" enrich vour felf, and give you opportunitv oi-feeiin

" your own, and not the things which are Je/its Cbri/Ts '

" If this be your opinion, you greatly miltake the in

" ftructions of our blelTed Saviour, who, when he com-

" mitted his Sheep to St. Peter's care, only commanded

" him to feed them ; neither received he this command,

" till he had given his Mafter repeated affurances of his

" love. Is this then your manner ot fhewing your

" love to Chrift ? Is this feeding and taking care of the

" Flock ? Will fuch conduct as this difcharge vour duty

" to the Holy See ? Alas > your Flock are running down

" a precipice before your eves, and you are regardlefs

" of their danger, and make no attempt to lave them :

" You fuffer them to feed in dangerous paftures without

" warning them ; and, whi.~h is horrible, you feem to

" put poifon in their mouths with your own hands: You

" fee the Wolves fcatter and tear them in pieces, an'!

" like a dumb Dog, vouchfafe not fo much as to bark.

" You can behold the authority of our Bleiled Savioui

" and the Holy See defpifed and trampled on, without

" dropping one word of Remcnftra'nce. One would

" have thought, you might at leaft, have whifpered youi

" diflike, though you had been ii> very prudent as not

" to have declared it publickly. Are vou not fenfiblc,

" you muft one dav account to the utmoft Farthing for

" all omilhons and prevarications of this kind ; !)o not

" vou think, il any ot your Flock arc lull by youi

neglect, ( and. alas ' there arc



Book XIV.

Tlie State of the Churc h.


6, ■-.


'•' blood will be required eit your hands ? Confider and
" tremble what vengeance God denounces by his Pro-
" phet Ezekiel : Son of man, I have Jet thee a watchman
tl unto the houfc of Ifrael ; if thou feejl the (word come, and
" dojl not blow the trumpet, and any per fon is tafen away,
" his blood will I require at thy hands.'

To fee this beginning) would not one think the point
in queftion was fonie new Hercfy, tending to fubvert
the foundations of Religion ? At leaft, one fliould be-
lieve, the Pope had the Wickliffitcs in view. ]'ut it was
not fo : We Avail lee in the lequcl of the Letter what
the affair was ; namely, the Statute of Pra'/nunire, which
the Archhifhop had not cnufed to be repealed, the Pope
groundlefsly fuppofing, it was in that Prelate's Power to
annul the Laws of the Realm. He continued in this
manner :

" I leave it to vour felf to confider, what abomina-
" ble violence has been committed upon your Province.
" Pray read that Roval Law, if there's any thing in it
*' that is either Law or Royal. For how can that be
" called a Statute, which repeals the Laws of God and
" the Church ? Or how can it defervc the name of
" Royal, when it dellroys the antient cuftoms ot the
" Realm ; and it is fo contrary to thefe words of Scrip-
"■ lure, The King leveth judgment ? Tell me then, Re-
" verend firother, whether you, who are a Catholick
" Bifhop, can think it reafonable Inch an Acl as this
" fhould be in force in a Chriltian Countrv ?

" In the firft place, under colour of this execrable
" Statute, the King of England grafps at the Spiritual
" JurifdiiKion, and governs fo abfolutely in Eccleliaftical
" matters, as if our Saviour had appointed him his Vicar.
" He makes Laws for the Church and Clergy. In
"• fhort, he nukes fo many Provifions about Clerks, Be-
K neficcs, and the concerns of the Hierarchy, that one
" would think the Keys of the Kingdom of Heaven were
" put into his hands, and the Superintendence of thefe
" affairs had been intiuftcd with him, and not with St.
" Peter.

tc Befides thefe hideous Usurpations, he has enacted
" fcveral penalties againft the Clergy. Such a rigor is
" the more unjurtihable, as the Euglijli Government does
" not treat Turks and 'Jews with fo great feverity. Peo-
" pic of all Countries and Perfuafions have the liberty
" of coming into England. Only thofc who have Cures
" beftowed upon them by Chrift's Vicar are' excluded :
" Only thofe, I fay, are banifhed, feized, imprifoned,
" ftripped of their fortunes. If any eccleliaftical Per-
" (on, charged with the execution of the Mandates and
" Cenfures of the Holy Sec, happens to fet foot on
" Englijl) ground, and proceed in the bufinefs of his
" Commiffion, he is treated like an enemy, thrown out
" of the King's protection, and expofed moreover to
" ftill greater hardships. Was ever fuch Iniquity as this
" palled into a Law ? Pray confider whether fuch Sta-
" tutcs as thefe are for the honour of the Kingdom ; and
" whether it becomes you to be filent under all this
" outrage. Is this an inftance of filial Obedience ? Is
" this the Englijh People's way of fhowing their regards
" to their Mother Church and the Holy See? Can that
" be called a Catholick Kingdom, where fuch profane
*' Laws are praclifed ; where application to Chrift's VI-
" car is prohibited ; where St. Peters Succeflor is not
" allowed to execute our Saviour's Commiffion ? Chrift
" (aid to St. Peter, and in him to his SuccelTors, fdd
" my Sheep. But this Statute will not fuffer him to feed
" them, but transfers that office upon the King, and pre-
" tends in feveral cafes to give him Apoftolical Autho-
" rity. Chrift built his Church upon St. Peter ; but
" this Act of Parliament hinders the effe£l of this dif-
" pofition, not permitting St. Peter's See to proceed in
" the functions of Government, or to make Provifions
" fuitable to the neceffitics of the Church. Our Lord
" has ordered, that whatever his High-Prieft Jliall bind
' ' or loofe in Earth, JJiall be bound or loofed in Heaven :
" But this Statute over-rules the divine command : For
" if the immediate representative of our Saviour thinks
*' fit to delegate any Prieft to execute the Power of the
" Keys, contrary to the intent of the Statute, he is re-
" fufed admittance, forced out of the Kingdom, ftript of
1 ' his Effects, and made liable to farther Penalties. It
' ' any Difcipline, if any Ap-'ftolick Cenfure, appear a-
" gainft this uf.tge, it is punifhed as a capital offence.

" And what does your prudence think of all this ?
" Is this a Catholick Statute ? Can it be fuffered with-
" out diihonour to our Saviour, without a breach upon
" the Laws' of the Gofpel, and the ruin of people's Souls r
. " Why therefore did )ou not cry aloud ? Why did you
'• not lift up your voice tike a Trumpet ? Jhow your peo-
" pie their Tranjjrreffion, and the J ' i;uj'e of Jacob their
" Sinf, that their blood may not be required at pur hands ?
" If afl perfons who have the cure, of Souls, are bound

" to this duty, how much more are you, who hive botri
" the Prielfs and People committed to vour care by the I foly

See, by whole favour you enjoy the privilege ol Pri-
" mate and Legate for the Church o! England, and have
" the honour of being Succeflor to that glorious Martyr
' St. Thomas, who, to remove the oppreflion of fuch Sta-
" tutes, fcrupled not to facrilice himfell for the Intereft
" of the Church.

" Thefe things confidcrcd, you, w1k> ought to have

fet up the Church's Standard, been nioft forward m
" the defence of Religion, and animated your fellow Hi
" fhops to a noble Contelt, are the firft that turn yooi

back, and decline the fervice. Thus either by your
" great cowardice, or, as it is generally believed, by youi
" downright prevarication, ybu difcourage thofc who offer
" to make a ffand. If therefore the Church complain of
" your conduct ; if the whole he laid to your charge, be
" not furprized, but troubled at the Imputation. , Let

this reproach fervC to put you upon reforming your
" conduct, and make you boldly perform the duties ot
" your Office ; which, were you but inclined to make
" the molt of your power, would not be very difficult.

Exert therefore your Character among the Laity ; in-
" form their underirandfngs in this point, and ende.t-
" vour to reclaim them. Shew them what a fnarc thi.
" Statute will prove, and how much guilt it *e.i!l draw
" upon their Confidences. Let your Admonition, be
" preffing and (harp, and then the crooked will te made
" Ji 'rait, and the rough ways fmesth.'*

After fo fevere a reprimand, the Pope e htinties to tell
the Archhifhop, that he thought himfelf bound in Con
fcience to deal thus plainly with him. Tien he chari Si
him, upon pain of Excommunication, to go immediately
to the Privy- Council, and make what Intereft he could,
for repealing the Statute of Praemunire, to apply to both
Houfes of Parliament for the fame purpofe, and'let them
know, that all thofe who obey that Statute were under
Excommunication. Moreover, he orders him to enjoin
all the Clergy to preach publickly, and every where, the
fame Doctrine ; to take with him two grave perfons to
attcll his diligence, and to certify him of the refult of the

It it be inquired what made Martin V, fo very an^ry Rtafinicf
with Chicheley, who was not concerned in the Statute of '** p ^' '
Prcemunire, pafled long before he was Archbifhop, and CmtaB '
who had not the power to procure a repeal, tlie reafon
is this. Chicheley had oppofed to his utmoft, the Papal
Exemptions. He had dilliiaded Henry V , from Confent-
ing, that Henry Beaufort his Uncle fhould be made Car-
dinal, Legate a latere for Life, and hold the Bifhoprick
of ll'inchejlcr in Commendam. Moreover, he had faid
publickly, that all the Pope's proceedings tended only to
drain England continually.

The Archbifhop willing to juftify himfelf, did not do
it to the Pope's Satisfaction. On the contrary, he drew „
upon himfelf a ftill more thundering Letter, and after that H.ft. Rrt.
a third, directed to the two Archbifheps, wherein, to ''"•'' P - *"*
mortify Canterbury, York is named firft. Chicheley fearing
the Pope's threats, got fome Bifhops to write in his be-
half, but nothing was capable of pacifying him. At
length, he lent him a Letter himfelf, telling him, he
heard by common report, that his Holinefs had proceeded
to a Sentence againft him, which had never happened to
any Archbifhop of Canterbury fince the davs of St. Au-
gujlin. That however, he was not certain of the thing,
becaufe he was commanded by the King to bring all the
Inftruments, received from Rome, with the Seals whole,
and lodge them in the Paper-Office till the Parliament

Mean while, Martin V, refolving to pufh this affair,
writ to the King and Parliament in a more haughty ftrain
than had ever been ufcd by any Pope. He admonifhes,
or rather commands them to repeal the Statute of Prct-
munire, otherwife he allures them they cannot be faved.

At laft, the Archbifhop, feeing the Pope thus dbftinate,
and not daring any longer to difobey him, went with fe-
veral other Bifhops to the Houfc of Commons, where he
made a long Speech, tending to pcrfwade the Houfc to
repeal the Statute, and put them in mind of the danger of an
Interdict upon the whole Kingdom. But neither his ar-
guments nor threats, were capable of inducing the Com-
mons to repeal, or even explain the Act. On the con-
trary, th'-y addrefled the King to take the Archbifhop
into his protection, and to write to the Pope in his be-

Pope Martin's Letter, and his extraordinary endeavours
for repealing the Statute of Praemunire, afford matter for
three remarks. The firft K this Letter is a demonftra-
tion, that the main ot Religion was then made to confift
in the Pope's Prerogatives, and the Clergy's Immunities.
Hence it aifo appears, how avcle Martin was to content





to the leaft diminution of his pretended Rights, and con-
fequently to a reformation in the Head and Members of
the Church, demanded with fo much earneftnefs at the
Council of Conjlance, where he was prefent himfelf.

The fecond remark is, that at all times the Popes, in
their Contefts with the feveral States of Chrijlendom,
have always had great advantages. Thefe advantages
confiftcd, in that," by the threats of Excommunication
and Interdict, they pufhed matters fo far, that there was
need of great refolution not to be over- awed, and lofe
ground, either by agreement, or otherwife. But if this
refolution was proof againft all attempts, and the circum-
ftances of affairs were not favorable to the Court of
Rome, fhe had the power to flop when fhe pleafed, in ex-
pectation of a better opportunity. They who had the
misfortune to contend with her, always reckoned it a
great Victory not to be vanquifhed, being fatisfied if fhe
would but fufFer them to live in peace.
CvritFiun The third remark, is a Conjecture which I fliall leave
"ibt'tr ' t0 tlle ReaJei ' s Judgment. Though Henry VI, was then
but five years old, and his minority feemed to counte-
nance the Pope's delign, it is certain however, England
had never been in a more profperous condition. The En-
glijh were quiet, and pleafed with the Government, and
the Victories of Crcvant and Verneuil had put their affairs
in France upon a very good foot. On the other hand,
the affairs of Charles VII, were in fuch diforder, that
there was no appearance of their being ever reftored ; and
therefore Martin V, could not deem it a proper time
for him. Betides, the King's two Uncles were not dif-
pofed to fuffer the Prerogatives Royal, and the People's
Rights, to be trampled upon, when their affairs were in
fo flourifhing a condition. It is therefore fomething pro-
bable, that Martin V, who was much more inclined to
France than to England, made then all that ftir, only to
excite troubles in England, which would be of fervice to
King Charles, and give him time to breathe. If the
Archbifhop had punctually obeyed him, and the Clergy
every were preached againft the Statute of Praemunire,
purfuant to the Pope's exprefs orders, the Parliament
would have been forced to fupport their Act, and punifh
the Clergy's preemption. Then the Pope would have
had a pretence to put the Kingdom under an Interdict,
which would have greatly embroiled the affairs of the
EngliJ]} in France. But Chicheley's prudence prevented the
milchief which might have fprung from Martin's haughty
proceedings. In fhort, Martin perceiving, he was fup-
ported neither by the King's Council, nor the Clergy,
nor the People, dropped the affair, not thinking proper
to expofe his authority any farther. This conjecture is
built upon Martin's continual partiality to France, whe-
ther out of Inclination, or becaui'e, indeed, it was not for
the Intereft of the Court of Rome, that France fhould be
fubject to England.

Before I leave the Praemunire, it will not be improper
to obferve, that this Statute had two principal Claufes.
The firft, containing the Statute of Provifors, made in
the reign of Edward I, prohibiting to follicite and procure
Benefices from the Court of Rome by way of Provifion,
contrary to the rights of the Crown or the Patrons.
The fecond forbid to carry to the Court of Rome, or elfc-
ivhere , Caufes belonging to the King's Courts. The
Clergy complained that by thefe words, or elfcwhere, the
King's Judges pretended to deprive the Ecclefiaflical Courts
<jf numberlefs Caufes, which before they had the Cogni-
zance of. They maintained, that thefe words, or elfe-
wherty inferted in the Act, had no relation to the Eccle-
fiaftical Courts, but only to the feveral places where the
Pope might refide. That neverthelefs the Judges under -
ftood them in the firft fenfe, and if there was in a
procefs the leaft point belonging to the royal Jurifdiction,
took occafion, from thefe two words, to remove it from
the Ecclefiaflical Court, as well as from the Court of
Rome. In 1439, the Convocation complained to the King
of the explanation of thefe terms by the Lay Judges,
pretending it was contrary to the intent of the Law, for
feveral reafons alledged in their addrefs. For that time,
the Clergy had no anfwer, or, if they had, it was not to
Plt , their mind. But in the Reign of Edward IV, they ob-
Edw. IV. tained the King's Charter, prohibiting his Judges to med-
p. 2. m. 5. j] e w jth criminal matters where the Clergy were concern-
ed. I do not know whether Edward granted this Char-
ter cut of policy, to gain the Clergy's protection, or was
convinced that the words, or elfewhere, were explained
contrary to the Parliament's intention.
Oibn c-r- Befides the contefts occafioned by the Statute of Prce-
uh btnuitm lnuniri between England and the Court of Rome, there
- were alfo others which I fliall but juft mention. In 14.03,
in the Reign of Henry IV, the Parliament paffed an Act,
forbidding all Perfons that fhould have Provifion of any
Benefice, to pay into the Apoftolick Chamber more than
was paid in old time. The penalty for offenders was*

t J': J


that they fhould forfeit to the King the fame fum they
paid the Pope. The occafion of this Statute was a Grie-
vance introduced fome time before by the Court of Rome :
Which was, that no PeTfon fhould have Provifion of any
Benefice that was void, till he had compounded with the
Apoftolick Chamber, as well for the Firft-P'ruits, as for
other lefter fervices in that Court, and paid, beforehand,
the fum agreed upon.

But the greateft difpute between England and the Popes,
was concerning the collation of the Bifhopricks. Though
the Popes, when the firft Anglo-Saxons were converted,
had fent Italian or other foreign Bifhops into England, it
is certain that towards the latter-end of the Saxon Mo-
narchy, the Bifhops were chofen by the Chapters. The
fame privilege was continued to them after the Norman
Conqueft, and confirmed by King Johns Charter. Mean
while, the Popes having gradually extended their authori-
ty, affumed the power of bellowing Archbifhopricks and
Bifhopricks, by way of Provifion, fometimes on one,
fometimes on another pretence. This is what I have had
frequent occafion to remark. They would have at ence
eftablifhed this rule, that the difpofal of all the Bifhop-
ricks belonged to them by Divine Right ; but meeting
with obftacles, bethought themfelves of another expedi-
ent ; and that was, to get poiTeftion by degrees, in order
afterwards to plead prefcription. Thus being content at
firft with maintaining, that on certain occafions they had
a power to fill the vacant Sees, they afterwards framed
thefe occafions whenever they pleafed. In fhort, they

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