Robert Henry.

The history of Great Britain : from the first invasion of it by the Romans under Julius Cæsar. Written on a new plan (Volume 5) online

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Online LibraryRobert HenryThe history of Great Britain : from the first invasion of it by the Romans under Julius Cæsar. Written on a new plan (Volume 5) → online text (page 29 of 49)
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{hQ9/ 'Budian, J.' li, p. a^, . (.J'C)) I'errcr. f.' 404.

(J!i) Id. f. 391




Ch. i.§3- CIVIL ANt) MILITARY. 29 j

who excelled in them, on whom he beftowed more ofA.D. 1488.
his company, confidence, and favour, than became a'
king in his circumftances. This excited in his fierce
and haughty nobles, dillike and contempt of their fove-
reign, and indignation againft the obje6ls of his favour;
which produced the moft pernicious confequences. In
one word, if James III. had fiourifhed in a more po-
iifhed age and more civilized country, he would have
been efteemed, what he really waSj a good and amiable^
though not a gr^at prince.







B O O K V.

CHAP. n.

H'tfiory of Reltgion in GrEAT BRITAIN, from the ac
cefjion of Henry IV. A. I>. 1399^ i^ ^he aeceJJtQn cj
Henry \ll. A. D. I485.

Cent. XV. X H E ecclefiaftlcal tranfa61ions of this period that

^"^""^^ merit the attention of pafterity are not many : being/

for the moft part, of a melancholy nature, they fhall be

related with as much brevity as is eonliftent with


Henry Hchty IV. confcious of the dcfcSi of his title to the

courts the throne, earneftly delired to gain the favour and fupport

«iergy* of the clergy. With this view, he fent the earl of

Northumberland to a convocation of the piovince of |

Canterbury, met in the chapter-houfe of St. Paul's, 6th

October A. D. 1399, with a mefTage admirably adapte^d

to pleafe the members o^ that affembly, and attach them

to his intereft. ** I am laot come (faid the earl), like

" the

Ch. 2. RELIGION. 293

f<^ the commiiTioners of former kings, to demand your ^«"^- ^^•

<^ monc-y, bat to allure you, that my royal mafter never ''"*''"''!''''''^

«* will demand any money of his clergy, except in cafes

'* of the moft extreme neceflity. I am come moft ear-

** neftly to beg the prayers of the church for the king

^' and kingdom; and to promife, that he will protect

** the clergy in all their liberties and immunities ; and

*« that he will alTift them with all his pov/er in extermi^

^^ nating heretics (i)-" The firft of thefe prcmifes was

foon foi-gotten ; and no king of England ever made fuch

freqaent demands of money from the clergy as Henry

IV. after he was firmly eftablifhed on the throne ; but

the iecond was too faithfully performed.

Archbiiliop Arundel, who was now reftored to his fee Law agalnd
of Canterbury, was a cruel enemy to Wickliffe and his ^^^^''^'
followers. When he was archbifhop of York, he per^
fecuted them with great feverity ; but being now placed
at the head of the church, and fupported by all the
power of the crown, he determined to ihew them no
mercy. That he m.ight be armed with legal powers to
take vengeance on the devoted Lollards, he and his
plergy applied to the parliament that met at Weftminfter
A. D. 1400, reprefenting, that many perfons who had
no authority from a biilrop preached heretical do61rines,
publiOied heretical books, and taught errors and here-
fies in the fchools ; and praying the parliament to pro-
vide a remedy againft thefe dangerous innovadons. In
compliance with this reprefentation of the clergy, the
parliament, or rather the king and peers, made a fevere
law againft the Lollards, authorifmg the bifliops to im-
prifon all perfons fufpeded of herefy, to tiy them in
the fpiritual court ; and if they proved either obftinate
ox relapfed heretics, the fpiritual judge was to call the
fherifF of the county, or the chief magiftrate of the
town, to be prefent when the fentence of condemnation
was pronounced, and immediately to deliver the con-
demned peribn to the fecular magiftrate, who was to
caufe him to be burnt to death, in iome elevated place,
in the fight of all the people (2).

\\) Wilkin. Conciliar. torn. 3. p. Z38, 139.

(2) Statutes, id Hen. IV. ch. \e^. Wilkiu. Concil. torn. 3. p. a;!.



Cent. XV. The archbifhop, impatient to put this cruel law in
^*''~^''"^*^ execution, even during the feffion of parliament that
fi'rWhiiamniade it, brought Sir William Sawtre, reftor of St. Of-
Sawtre, wyth, London, to his trial for herefy, before the con-
vocation of the province of Canterbury, at St. Paul's.
The chief herefies of which he was accufed were thefc
two, that he refufed to worfhip the crofs, and that he
denied the do61rine of tranfubftantiation. The unhappy
man, in order to avoid the painful death vrith which he
was threatened, endeavoured to explain away his he-»
relies as much as poffible. He confented to pay
an inferior vicarious kind of worfhip to the crofs, on
account of him w^ho died upon it. But that gave no
fatisfa61ion. He acknowledged the real prefence of
Chrift in the facrament; and that, after the words of,
confecration were pronounced, the bread became the
true fpiritual bread of life. He underwent an exami-r
nation of no lefs than three hours on that fubjecl, Fe-
bruary 19, A. D. 140 1 ; but when the archbifhop urged
him to profefs his belief, — " That after confecration
^^ the fubftance of the bread and wine no longer re-
^' mained, but was converted into the fubftance of the
'^ body and blood of Chrift, which were as really and
^^ truly in their proper fubftance and nature in the la-
^'^ crament; as they were in the womb of the Virgin
^' Mary, as they hung upon the crofs, as they lay in
'^^ the grave, and as they now refided in heaven ;" he
' ftood aghaft, and, after fome hefitation, declared,

*''^ That, w^hatever might be the confequence, he could
^' neither undevftand nor believe that doctrine." On
this the archbiflrop pronounced him an obftinate heretic,
degraded him from all the clerical orders with which he
had been invefted, and delivered him to the mayor and
Iheriifs of London, with this hypocritical requeft, that
-they would ufe him kindly ; though he well knew, that
all the kindnefs they dared to fliew him was to burn
him to afhes. He was accordingly burnt in Smithfield,
and had the honour to be the hrft perfon in England
who fullered this painiu^ kind of death, for maintaining
thofe docliines which are now maintained by all the
proteftant churches (3).

(3) Wilkin. Cancil. torn. 3. p z6^. Fox, Acts and Monuments,


u i

Gh. 2. • RELIGION- 295

This cmei public execution of fo refpe61abl.e a tier- Cint. xv.
gyman ftmck terror into all ,the followers of WicklifTe, ^'^T^^T'*^
and made many 01 tnem conceal their opinions to pre-^,,jn^^,t;do
ferve their lives. Odiers of them;, wh&n they v/ere
brought to their trial, fainted, wounding their confci-
ences, by pretending to renounce their ientiments; and
feveral years elapied before any ojie was fauud who
had fortitude to endure the fiery trial (4). Great mul-
titudes,, ' how'cver, in all parts of England, paiticuiarly
in London, "Oxford, Shi-ewibury, Norfolk, and Lin-
colnfiiire, ftill iecretly adhered to the opinions of
"Wicklifte (5;).

Archbifliop Arundel was as fuperftitiou-s as he v/as Arundel^
cruel. He incrca/ed the number of holidays, and ap- ^^r^^^^"'*^" .
pointed additionaf a6i:s of woriKip to be pajd to the Vir-^"^'
gin MaiTj to wliofe patronage he afcribed all the prof-
perity of the Englifli nation, and particularly the late
revolution, w^hich had reftored him to his fee (6). To
do this predate juftice, he attempted to re6i:ify a very
great abufe w^hich had' long prevailed, of holding fairs
and markets in ehurch-yards on Sundays. He prohi-
bited this pra6i:ice, except in harveft, when it was
thought to be neceilary (7).

WilUam Thorp, a clergyman of uncomrnon learning Safferings
for the age in which he liourifhed, was a difciple of^^j^^p*
Wickliffe, and preached the do6lrines he had learned
from him in many parts of England. He was fometimes
imprifoned; but by his own prudence and favourable J

events, he long efcaped any feverer fufterings. Being
apprehended by the magiftrates of Shrewlbury, he was
fent to the archbifliop of Canterbury \ before whom,
and three of his moft learned clergy, he underwent a
very long examination, pn the fiift Sunday of Augull
A. D. 1407 j of which he wrote a very diftinfl account.
prom this account it appears, that Mr. Thorp was^art
overmatch far his antagonifts at difputation ; which
made them have recourfe to promifes and threaten'ngs
to ihake his conftancy. The primate, who was much
addi6ted to prophane fwearing, declared, with^ manV
oaths, — " That he would purfue him, and all his fe^l-

(4) Fox, Aasand Monuments p. 435« (5) I^. ibid.

(6) Wilkin. Concil. torn. 3. p. 2^46. r^X. (7) Id. ibiJ.


Cent. XV- f « fo narrowly, that he would not leave one flip in the
"""•^^^y^'^ <^« land." One of the afliftant priefts told him, that if
he did not recant, he fhould be curfed, degraded, burnt,
and damned ; and another of them propofed to throw
him into the fea. At lafl the primate adopted a mea-
fure, in appearance at leaft, milder. He committecj
him to a loathfome prifon at Saltwood, the horrors ca
which had overcome the fortitude of feveral other Lol-
lards ; and in this prifon, it is probable, Mr. Thorp
died, as no further mention is made of him in
hiftory (8).
Attempts The exceffive riches and diffblute manners of many »
on the pa- of the clergy, created them many enemies, and produc-
tnmony of ^^ feveral attempts againft the patrimony of the church.
When the kmg viras reduced to great ftraits in nis expe-,
dition into Wales, A. D. 1403, lome of his baroris pro-'
p^fed to feize the money and plate of certain rich pre-
lates who were in the army, to fupply his wants. But
the primate, who was prefcnt, denounced fuch threats
againft^any who fhould prefume to invade the property,
of the church, that the propofal was not adopted (9),
In a parliament at Coventry, A. D. 1404, when a fup-
ply was demanded from the commons, they reprefented
by their fpeakcr to the king, in the houfe of lords, that
the cojnmons w^ere reduced to great poverty by frequent
taxes and their perfonal fervice, and could not afford
any fupply; but that the clergy w^allowed in wealth;
and that it was therefore reafonable to take fome of their
iupeiiluous riches to fupply the necelTities of the ftate.
To ward off this blow, the primate fell on his knees be-
fore the king, and conjured him to remember his coro-
' nation oath, by which he had folemnly fwoin to prote61:
the church in all her privileges and immunities. The
king delired the archbifliop to rife and go to his place,
^iiil affured him he would defend the church in all her
pofleifions, and would leave her richer than he found
her. The peers adopting the fame idea, the commons
were not only obliged to relinquiih their propofal, but
to beg pardon for their prefumption (lo).

(8) Fox, p. 487 — 500.

(9) Walfing. Vp^digma NeuJiris, p. 5^1.
^10) id. ibid. Hift. Ang. j«, 371,- 372.


Ch. 2. R E L I G I O N. ,297

Several laws were made in this reign againft the ex- Cent. XV.
orbitant exaclio'ns of the court of Rome, againft the^""^^^
pope's providing fucceffors to benefices before they he-^^^^Q_ tl^^.
came vacant, and againft his granting exemptions to court of
the regular clergy from the payment of tithes (i i).Ro««««
But th^fe laws were not more efeclual than former dnes
to the fame purpofe.

The primate held a convention of the prelates and Archbididp
clergy of his province, at St. Paul's, January 14, A. P. /Vrundd'e
1409, in which thirteen canons or conftitutions were ^°"^'^'^'^**
made. In the preface to thefe canons, it is declared °°^'
to be the moft horrid of all crimes, to difpute any of
the do6lrines, or difobey any of the decrees, promul-
gated by the pope — '' who carried the keys of eternal
^^ life and eternal death ; was the vicegerent, not of a
** mere man, but of the true God, on earth ; and to
" whom God had committed the goveinment of the
" kingdom of he^iven (12)." T^is was rather ftrong
language, efpecially at a time when there were two
popes, who had fent one another to the devil, and were
both declared contumacious heretics by the council of
Pifa that fame year (13). The defign of archbifhop
Arundel's conftitutions was, to ^r^vent the increafe, and
even to extirpate LoUardry, as the doctrines of Wick-
liffe were then called, by infii6i:ing certain wholefome
ie verities on thofe who propagated or profelfed thefe

' An example of this feverity was exhibited foon after Burning of
the publication of thefe canons. Thomas Bad by, a^^^if"^"*
taylor, in the diocefe of Worcefter, was tried and found ^" ^*
guilty of herefy by the bifhop of that fee, January 2,
A. D. 14 10, and fent, with a copy of' his trihl and fen-
tence, to the primate. The herefy of which Badby was
accufed, and for which he was condemned, was this —
^' That the facrarnent of the body of Chrift, confecrated
f* by the prieft on the altar, was not the true body of
*^ Chrift, by virtue of the woixi$ of the facrament ; but

(11) Statutes at Lsrge, item, Sec.
(la) Wilkiru Concil. torn. 3 p. 314.
(13) DuPin, Cent. XV. c i.
(14]^ Wilkin, Coacil. toni. 1. p. 314. 3»$*

^^ that


Cent. XV. <c that, after the facramental words fpoken by- the prieft
^^^''^r"'*^ ^^ to make the body of Chrift, the material bread did
'^ remain upon the altar as at the beginning; neither
^^ was it turned into the very body of Chrift after the
^' facramental words fpoken by the prieft ( 15)." He
was alfo acciifed of faying that '^ no prieft was able to
^' make the bgdy of Chnft." On thefe fubje^ts he wa^'
examined by the archbifliop, in the prefence of nine
other bifiiops, and many of the chief nobihty, Marchi
I. The primate preffed him earneftly to renounce his
errors, and believe as the church believed ; and declared,^
that if he would do this, " he would gage his foul fo?
" him at the day of judgment." Bat Badby ftill ad-
hering to his opinions^ he pronounced hjm an obftinat(^
heretic, and delivered him to the fecular magiftrates,^
** defiring them very inftantly not to put him to death j"^
though he knew perfeclly that they could " do nothing
elfe. He wss accordingly conducted to Smithfield the^
fame day, in the afternoon, placed in a large tan, fur-^
rounded with dry wood, and fafteiled to a ftake with-
iron chains. Before the fire was kindled, the prince of
Wales rode up to the pile, and earneftly intreated hin;i
to fave himfclf from a painful death, by renouncing his
hereiles, promifing him a competent annaity for life if
he would comply. The poor man, w^ith many expref-
, fions of the warmeft gratitude to the prince, declared,'
that he firmly beljeved his opinions to be true, anct
that he could not renounce them, even to fave his life.^
The fire being then put to the wood, when he felt thef
violence of the flames, he cried aloud for mercy. Thcf
prince, thinking that the pain he had felt had over-
come his fortitude, commanded the flames to be extin-
guiihed, and renewed his entreaties to him to recant.'
But this humble fuiferer remaining invincible in his re-
folution to endure any torment rather than renounce the
truth, the fire was kindled, and he was reduced to^
Schlfm m - As it doth not properly belong to our prefent fubje6l,
ti>e papacy, fo it WO aid be tedious to give a minute detail of all the
fleps that were taken by the church of England, in con-

(15) Fox, p. 479.
{16) Fox, p. 477 — 459.

•^% - ^

Gh. 2.



jun(9:ion with other churches, to put an end to the fchifm Cent. XV.
in the papacy, which had now continued about thirty
years- It is fufhcient to obferve, that the two contend-
ing popes, Peter de Luna, called Benedi.6l XIII. and
Angelas Corarius, called Gregory XII. were depofed by
the council ef Pifa, June 5, A. D. 1409, as manifeil
fchifmatics and heretics, guilty of coiitumacy and per-
jury; and on the 19th of the fame mont]], that general
council railed Peter Philaret, a Greek, to the papacy,
who took the name of Alexander V. and was acknow-
ledged as pope by the church of England (17). But this
was fo far from putting an end to the fchifm, that it
added one pope more to the number; fo that now, and
for feveral years after, there were no fewer than three in-
fallible heads of the church, and keepers of the keys of
the kingdom, at once; who gave one another vevy bad x •'
names, which was not the worft proof of thei;- Infallibiv-
lity. Alexander V. died May 3, A. Do 14 10, and was
fucceeded by Balthafar Cofla, a Neapolitan, who aflumed
the name of John XXIII*- But John was depofed^
A. D. 14 155 by the council of Conftance, for herefyj,
contumacy, perjury, iimony, adultery, inccft, and a
thoufand cheats (18). Benedi6l XIII. (Peter de Luna)
was alfo depofed; and Angelus Corarius (Gregory XII.)
having refigned, the chair of St. Peter was coniidered as
empty, and Odon de Colonna, cardinal-deacon of
St. George, was plajced in it, who took the name of
Martin V. But as Benedi6]: XIII. did not fubmit to the
fentence of depofition, and even had a fucceflbr named
Clement VII. the fchifm was not fully terminated till
A. D. i4'29/after it had continued more than half a cen-
tury, had occaiioned great confifion in the Chriftian
world, and put all the princes and ftates in Europe to
incredible expence and trouble-

Archbifliop Arundel ftill continued his efforts to extir- Pcrfec
pate the opinions of WickliSTe, by pcrfecuting thofe by ^'^"•
w^hom they were maintained. Ke was the more exas-
perated againft thefe opinions, that fome of them were
hoftiie to. the power and riches of the clergy; and their
friends in the houfe of commons had made repeated at-
tempts on the pofleffions of the church. In the parlia-

17) DuPin. Cent. XV. c. i.

(18) Id, ibid. 'c. ^,


' 1


Ce»€. XV, ment that met at Weftminfter In the beginning of Lent
^!"*'">'"*^ A. D. 1409, the commons reprefented to the king, in
the houi'e of Peers, " That if he would pleafe to take
*^ away the eftates of the bijlhops^ abbots, and priors.,
*^ which they fpent in unneceffary ponip and luxury, thg
.** crown and kingdom would reap great advantages, 9^
^^ it would enable the king to fupport 15 earls, i5q^
** knights, 6200 efquire^, and 100 hafph^ls (19).^
^ut this petition was rejeded; and the peeri prefented 3
counter petition, praying the king to protect the patrU
mony of the church, and to punifh all fuch as taught thi^
people that it was lawful to take it away (20).

The piimate, in order to fupprefs the do61rines qf
Wickliffe in the univerlity of Oxford, where they pre^
Tailed mc-re than in any other part of England, let oi|t
wi^ a great rednue, A. D. 141 1, to vifit that univerfity.
j^ut when ne approached, he was met by the chancellor
^nd pro^^i^^s^ who told him, that if he came only to take
a view of their colleges, he iliould be received and en-
tertained with all the refpe61 due to his high rank ; but
that if iie came as their vifitor, he could no;^ be admitted^
^ecaufe they were exempted by feveral papal bulls Irogi
all epifcopal vifuation. The primate, greatly irritated
at this repulfe, appealed to the king ; w-ho, after hearr
ing both partiea, pronounced a definitive lentence, Fe-
bruaiy 9, A. D. 14 12, againft the univerfity (21)
Dcannes The archbifhop, being engaged in other affairs, di^
of wickiifTc jjQ^ execute his intended vifitation, but commanded the
coadeinne . ^j^j^g^f^ty. ^-q appoint twelve of its moft learned and or-'
thodox members to examine the works of WicklifFe, and
extract fuch opinions as appeared to them heretical or
eiToneous. In compliance with this injun61:ion, the uni-
verfity chofe four do6iors, four bachelors, and four flu-
dents in divinity, who examined Wickliffe's works, and
^xtra6led no fewer than 267 opinions, which they de-
clared to be partly heretical and partly erroneous, which
they tranfmitted to the primate, who fent them to the
pope, with a requeft to condemn them, and grant him
authority to take the body of Wicklitfe out of the grave,
and throw it on a dunghill, that it might be trampled on

(19) Wilfing. p. 379.

(zo) Fuller's Chyrch Hift. book 4. p. i^^,

(zij Fullcr'ii Church Hift. booK 4* P* »^4»




by all chrtftiafts. The pope condemned Wickliffe's doc- Cent. xv.
trines, but refufed to grant the primate permiffion to dif-^^"^*"^''""'^
turb his afhes (z%)*

Though Henry IV. died March 30, A. JD* 14 13, the Lord Cob.
power of the primate -(vas not diminifhed, nor the perfe- ^^"* ^^'
cation of th€ Lollards in the ieaft abated; the clei-gy ^^*^^^^
having taken great pains to gain the favour of his fon and
fucceflbr Henry V. The archbilhop^ fecure of the fap-
port of the crown, now determined to attack fir John
GWcaftle, lord Cobham, who was at the head of the
party, in order to ftrike terror into the reft. Soon after
the coronation of Henry V. a parliament met at Weft-
minfter, and a convocation at St. Paul's. At this convo'-
cation a copy of each of Wickliffe's works was publicly
burnt, with great folemnity, by the primate, in prefence
af the nobility, cleigy, and people. It happened that
3ne of the books burnt on this occafion had belonged to
;ord Cdbham, who was alfo accufed by the proiSlors of
he clergy as the great encourager of the Lollards,
ind was therefore :ftinxmon«d to appear before the com^-
nation (23)*

The ptimate, upon fecond thoughts, did not think it The king
Droper to proceed any further againft a perfon of fuch *^'^^^^'^*®
ligh rank, and fo renowned for his valour aiid virtues, CoLliaffl?
ill he had confulted the king, and obtained his perm iifli-
>n to proceed. The king defired the primate to deky
he profecution for fome time, and prom ifed to coinverfe
;vith laid Gobhatn, and endeavour to perfuade him to re-
lounce his errors. Accoixdingly he had a private con var-
iation^ with iiim> and laboured veiy earneftly to prevail
upon him to return to the faith and obedience of the
:hurch. He anfwered i:^ terms of the higheft refpecSl",
but fpoke with fo much fi^eedom of the pope as anti-
:hrift,; that the king was di%ufted,^ and gav<^ him up t6
the will of the clei^y (24 ) . Thi* ) primate, having obtain-
sd the roy^l permiilionj^ proceeded with great vigour
^inft lord Gobham; who having difregarded three fuc-
ceffive fammonlcs, was declared contumacious, an4 ex^
comttiiimicated. In the mean time he was afppreh^ndgdV
SRid imprifoned in the tower of London, and br<>i5ght

(ai) Wilkin. ConciL torn. 3. p. 3S9»^353»

(13) Fox, p. 514. Wilkin. Couciiia, p. 355.

(14) Wilkin. Concilia, p. 3i!:|,




Cent. XV. from thence before the primate, affified by feveral biiliops
^*''^^'''^*^ and doctors, September 25. The primate naiTated to
him all the fteps that had been taken in his affair, thatJ
he had been declared contumacious, and excommuni-
cated; but that, on deiiring it, he was ready to grants
* him abfolution. Lord Cobham taking no notice of this
offer, faid, he was very willing to give them an account
of his religious principles ; and, pulling a paper out o£
his bofom., read it as the confeffion of his faith, and then ■
delivered it to the archbifhop. The following is a copy'
of that curious paper, that may be fuppofed to contain'
the fentiments of the moft intelligent Lollards, cautiouily
expreiled, in the language of that age.

'' I John Oidcaftell, knyght, lord of Cobham, Wole,'
^"^ that all Criftyn men wyte and underftond, that I
*^, olepe Allmyghty God in to wytnefs, that it hath ben,
'^^ now ySj and ever, with the help of God, fhall ben
*' ,myn intent, and my wylle, to beleve feythfully and
*^ fully all the facramentis that evyr Godordeyned to be
'* do in holy, ehurche; and, more over, for to declare,
*^ me in thefe foure pcyntes: I beleve, that > the moft*
^ '^ worfchipfull facrarnent of the atiter is Criftesbody in

*' forme of bred, the fame body that was born of the
" blyflyd Virgyne our lady feint Marye^' r.don' on the
^' crofs, deed and buryed, the thrydde day ros fro deth
*^ to ly£, the wych body is now glorified in hevene»'
" Alfo^ as for the facrarnent of penance, I beleve, that ^
'f it is .nedfull to every man that Ihail be faved, to for-.
'^ fake fynne, and do due penance for fynne bifore doon,
*^ wyth trewe confeffion, very contrition, andduhe. fa-t
*' tisfa61ion, as Goddes law lymiteth and techeth, and*
'' ell ys may not be faved. Whych penance I deiir all

Online LibraryRobert HenryThe history of Great Britain : from the first invasion of it by the Romans under Julius Cæsar. Written on a new plan (Volume 5) → online text (page 29 of 49)