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1036 [1035]

K. Hen. 8. The Martyrdome of Thomas Benet.

not we al the same? Yes (saide he) but ye denye the fruites therof in euery poynt. Ye build vpon the sandes, not vpon the rocke. And wilt not thou beleue in dede (said they) that þe pope is Gods vicar? No (said he) in dede. And why, sayd they? MarginaliaThe Pope not Gods Vicar, and why? Because (quoth he) he vsurpeth a power not geuen hym of Christ, no more thē to other apostles, & also because he doth by force of that vsurped supremacie, blynd þe whole world, & doth cōtrary to al that euer Christ ordained or cōmaunded. What, said they, if he do al thngs after Gods ordinance & cōmaundement, should he then be his vicar? Thē (said he) would I beleue hym to be a good bishop at Rome ouer his owne dioces, & to haue no further power. And if it pleased God, I would euery bishop did this in their dioces: thē should we liue a peaceable lyfe in the church of Christ, & there should be no such seditions therin. If euery bishop would seke no further power then ouer his owne dioces, it were a goodly thyng. MarginaliaWhat inconuenience followeth, that all Byshops should be ruled by man. Now because al are subiect to one, al must do & consent to al wickednes, as he doth, or be none of his. This is the cause of great superstition in euery kingdome. And what bishop soeuer he be þt preacheth the Gospel, & mainteyneth the truth, is a true bishop of the church. And doth not (saide they) our holy father the Pope mainteine the Gospel? Yes (said he) I thinke he doth reade it, & peraduenture beleue it, & so do you also, but neyther he nor you doe fixe the anker of your saluatiō therin. Besides that, ye beare such good wyll to it, that ye keepe it close, that no mā may reade it, but your selues: and whē you preach, god knoweth howe you handle it: in so muche that the people of Christ knoweth no Gospel welneare, but the Popes Gospel, & so the blynd leade the blind, & both fal into the pyt. In the true Gospel of Christe, confidence is none, but onely in your popish traditions and phantastical inuentions.

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MarginaliaThe Popes Gospell. Thē said a blacke fryer to him, God knoweth, a blockehead: do we not preache the Gospel dayly? Yes (said he) but what preaching of the Gospel is that, when therwith ye extol superstitious thinges, and make vs beleue that we haue redemption through pardons and buls from Rome, a pœna & culpa, as ye terme it, and by the merites of your orders ye make many brethren and sisters, ye take yearely money of them, ye bury them in your coates, and in shrift ye begyle them: yea, ye do a thousande superstitious thynges more: a man may be wery to speake of them. I see (saide the fryer) that thou art a damned wretche: I wyl haue no more talke with thee.

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Then stept to hym a gray fryer, a doctor (God knoweth) of smal intelligence, & layd before him great and many daungers. I take God to record, said Benet, my lyfe is not deare to me. I am contēt to depart frō it, for I am weary of it, seeing your detestable doinges, to the vtter destructiō of Gods flocke, & for my part, I can no longer forbeare: MarginaliaBenet weary of the Fryers talke I had rather by death (which I know is not farre of) depart this life, þt I may no lōger be partaker of your detestable idolatries & superstitions, or be subiect to Antichrist your pope. Our Pope (said the fryer) is the vicar of God, & our wayes are the wayes of God. I pray you (said Benet) depart frō me, & tel not me of your waies. He is only my way, which saith: I am the way, the truth, and the life. In his waye wyll I walke, his doynges shall be my example, not yours, nor your false Popes. His truth wyll I embrace, not the lyes & falsehoode of you & your Pope. His euerlasting life wil I seeke, the true reward of al faithfull people. Away frō me, I pray you. Vexe my soule no lōger: ye shal not preuayle. There is no good example in you, no truth in you, no life to be hoped for at your handes. Ye are all more vaine then vanitie it selfe. If I should heare & folowe you this day, euerlasting death shoulde hang ouer me, a iust reward for al them that loue the iyfe of this world. Away frō me, your company liketh me not.

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Thus a whole weeke, night and day was Benet applyed of these and such other hypocrites. It were an infinite matter to declare al thinges done and said to him in the tyme of his imprisonment, and the hate of the people that tyme, by meanes of ignorance, was hot against him: MarginaliaTho. Benet pacient and constant. notwtstanding they could neuer moue his pacience. He answeared to euery matter soberly, & that more by the aide of gods spirite, then by any wordly study. I thinke he was at the least fiftie yeares olde. Being in prison, his wife prouided sustenance for hym, & when shee lamented, he cōforted her and gaue her many good and godly exhortations, and prayd her to moue hym nothing, to apply vnto hys aduersaries.

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Thus when these godly Canons & priestes with the monkes & fryers had done what they could, and perceiued that he would by no meanes relēt, then they proceding vnto iudgemēt, drewe out their bloudy sentence against hym, MarginaliaSentence read agaynst Tho. Benet. condēning hym (as the maner is) to be burned. Which being done, & the writ which they had procured De cōburendo, being brought frō London, 

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'De heretico comburendo' was the statute authorizing the death penalty for heresy. It mandated that a writ had to be sent from Chancery authorizing the execution of a condemned heretic.

MarginaliaTho. Benet deliuered to the secular power. they deliuered hym the xv. of Ianuary. 1531. vnto sir Tho. Denys knight, thē She riffe of Deuonshire, to be burned. The myld martyr reioycing his end to approch so neare, as the shepe before þe shearer yeelded hym selfe with al humblenes, to abyde and suffer the crosse of persecution: MarginaliaTho. Benet brought to the place of execution. and beyng brought to his execution, in a place called Liuery dole, without Exeter 
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The Freeman's Book of Exeter records that Sir Thomas Dennys, sheriff of Exeter, wished to burn Dusgate in Southernhay (just aside the city walls), but that the mayor insisted that he be burned at Liverydole, the normal site of executions, a mile outside the city (Exeter City Muniments, Book 55, fo. 89r). This entry does not record the reasons for this decision, but it seems likely that the sheriff wished to make a public spectacle of Dusgate's death and that the mayor resisted this, possibly from sympathy for Dusgate, possibly from fear of disorder.

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, he made his moste humble confession and prayer to almightie God, and requested all the people to doo the like for hym, whom he exhorted with such granitie and sobrietie, and with such a pithie oration to seeke the true honoring of God, and the true knowledge of hym, as also to leaue the deuises, fantasies, and imaginations of mans inuentions, that all the hearers and beholders of hym were astonied and in great admiration: In so much that the moste part of the people, as also the Scribe who wrote the sentence of condemnation against hym, dyd pronounce and confesse that he was Gods seruaunt, and a good man. Neuerthelesse two Esquiers, namely Thomas Carewe and Iohn Barnehouse standyng at the stake by him, first with fayre promises & goodly woordes, but at length rough threatnynges, willed hym to reuoke his errours, and to call to our Lady and the Saintes, and to say, Precor sanctam Mariam & omnes sanctos Dei. &c. 
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'I pray to holy Mary and all the saints of God'.

MarginaliaTho. Benet refuseth to pray to our Ladye. To whō he with al meekens answeared, saying: No no, it is God onely, vppon whose name we muste call, MarginaliaOne Aduocate Christ. and we haue no other aduocate vnto hym, but onely Iesus Christe: Who dyed for vs, and nowe sitteth at the right hande of his father, to be an aduocate for vs, and by hym muste we offer and make our prayers to God, if we wyll haue them to take place and to be hearde. With whiche aunsweare the foresayd Barnehouse was so enkindled, MarginaliaA furse bushe thrust in hys face, because he would not pray to our Ladye. that he tooke a furse bushe 
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A furze is an evergreen bush with spiny leaves. It was used in this case as kindling for the fire to burn Dusgate.

vppon a pike, and beyng sette on fire, thruste it vnto his face, saying: Ah whoresonne heretique, praye to our Ladye, and saye, Sancta Maria, ora pro nobis, or by Gods woundes I wyll make thee to doo it.

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To whom the sayde Thomas Benet with an humble and a meeke spirite, moste paciently answered: Alas Syr, trouble me not. And holding vp his handes, sayde: Pater ignosce illis. 

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Dusgate is quoting Luke 23:34 in theVulgate.

MarginaliaThe constant end and Martyrdōe of Tho. Benet. Whereupon the Gentlemen caused the wood & furses to be set a fire, & therewith this godly man lyfted vp his eyes and handes into heauen, saying: O Domine, recipe spiritum meum 
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Dusgate is quoting Luke 23:46 in the Vulgate.

: and so continuyng in his prayers, dyd neuer styrre nor striue, but moste paciently abode the crueltie of the fire, vntyl his lyfe was ended. For the which the Lord God be praised, and send vs his grace and blessing, that at the latter day we may with hym enioy the blesse and ioy prouided and prepared for the elect children of God.

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MarginaliaThe Martyrdome of Tho. Benet.

woodcut [View a larger version]

The burnyng of Thomas Benet.

This Benet was burned in a Ierkine of neates leather, 

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I.e. a jerkin of the highest quality leather.

at whose burnyng, suche was the deuilishe rage of the blynde people, that wel was he or shee that coulde catche a sticke or furse to cast into the fire.

Hytherto
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