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1340 [1339]

K. Edw. 6. The Martyrdome of William Gardiner in Portugale.
MarginaliaAn. 1552.

¶ The order and maner of the cruell handling of William Gardiner, an Englishe Merchaunt, tormented and burned in Portugall, in the cause of God and of hys truth.
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It may have been an accepted patristic commonplace that the cause, not the punishment, makes the martyr, but it proved difficult (if not impossible) not to see a relationship between the two. Foxe's image of William Gardiner is among his most shocking. But the shock could not be seen as other than appropriate for the significance of the condemned's stand. His offence, that of trampling on the consecrated host and overturning the communion chalice, in no less a place than the Portuguese royal chapel, was to be seen as a heroic gesture in the noblest of causes: refusing to accept papal maintenance of the most egregious of all spiritual trespasses --- the idolatry of the host. The horror of this execution, the condemned man's hands having been cut off before the burning, and his body then suspended on a pulley enabling him to be raised and lowered in and out of the fire, prompted readers to make their own contribution by inserting words into the empty bandarole, such as 'Pitty, pitty', and 'I suffer for the Truth'. The substantial accuracy of Foxe's account of this event can be verified in Portuguese records, and it is clear that his informant was in Lisbon at the time and quite probably an eye-witness of the event. CUL copy: note that additional detail is provided; for example, the blood gushing from his wrists. He is wearing a purple-pink top and blue hose. WREN copy: the same details are provided in this copy also.

MarginaliaThe wretched crueltie of the Portugales in burning a Christian Martyr. There was in that place a certain engine, frō the whiche a greate rope commyng downe by a pully, was fastened about þe middle of thys christiā martyr, whiche firste pulled him vp. Then was there a gret pile of wood set on fire vnderneath him, into þe whiche hee was by little and little let downe, not with þe whole body, but so that his fete only felt þe fire. Then hee was hoysed vp, & so let down again into the fire & thus oftētymes pulled vp and downe. In which great torment for all that, hee continued with a constant spirit: & the more terriblye he burned, the more vehemently hee prayed. MarginaliaW. Gardiner at his burnyng willed againe to repent.

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At the last when his fete were consumed, the tormenters asked hym whether he did not yet repent hym of his deede, and exhorted him to call vpon our Lady and the Saintes. Whereunto he aunswered, that as he had done nothyng whereof hee dyd repete hym, so he had the lesse neede of the helpe of our Lady or any other Sainte: and what externall tormentes so euer they vsed, the truth (he sayd) remayneth alwayes one and lyke vnto it selfe: the which as he had before confessed in his lyfe, so would he not now deny it in his death, desiryng them to leaue of such vanities and folly. MarginaliaW. Gardiner would not pray to our Lady, so long as he had Christ to be his aduocate. For when as Christ dyd cease any more to be our Aduocate, then he would praye to our Lady to be hys Aduocate, and sayd: MarginaliaThe prayer of W. Gardiner out of the 43. Psalme. O eternall God, father of all mercies, I beseech thee looke downe vpon thy seruaunt. &c. And when as they sought by all meanes possible to stop his praying and praysing God in this sort, he cryed out with a loude voyce, rehersing the 43. Psalme: Iudica me deus & discerne causam meam, de gente non sancta. Iudge me O God, and defend my cause agaynst the vnmercifull people.

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He was not come vnto the latter ending of the psalme, when as they pullyng hym vp and downe in the fire for the more torment, the rope beyng burnt a sonder, he fell downe in the midst therof: wheras geuyng his body for a sacrifice, he chaunged hys temporall paynes for perpetuall rest and quietnesse.

Thus it seemed good in the sight of God by this Messenger to prouoke the Portugales to the sincere knowledge of hym: and therefore they ought the more to haue acknowledged the great loue and kyndnesse of God offred vnto thē, and also the more to be myndefull of their owne duetie and thankefulnesse towardes hym. MarginaliaA lesson for the Portugales. And if it be so great an offence to violate the ordinaunces of mans lawe, and to contemne the Embassadours of Kynges and Princes, let the Portugals and all other loke well vnto it, what it is so cruelly to handle the heauenly Messenger of the hygh God. 

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Once again, Foxe is anxious to describe providential punishments befalling persecutors and here the reason why is obvious: the actions of Providence 'prove' that Gardiner was indeed a martyr of God.

MarginaliaThe iust hand of God vpon persecuters. Neyther was this their cruelty altogether vnreuenged by the mighty hand of God, when as not onely the very same night, amongst diuers of the kinges ships which wer in the next hauen ready to sayle, one was burned, beyng set on fire by a sparcle of Gardiners fire driuē thether with þe wynde, MarginaliaIt is reported that that sparcle lighted amōgest gunpouder. but also the kings sonne which was then maried, died within halfe a yere, and the next yere after the King hymselfe also dyed, and so both within one yere after the tormentyng of this blessed Martyr. 
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In the Rerum (p. 208) and 1563 (p. 878), Foxe stated that João III died three or four months after Gardiner's execution. In later editions, Foxe modified that statement to the one year given here. In actual fact, the Infante died in January 1554 and João III in June 1557.

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Thus the body of the sayd Gardiner beyng consumed, yet the rage and fury of the common people so ceased not, but they were as cruell against him beyng dead, as they were when he was alyue, and with their tounges tormented this Martyr, when they could doe no more with their handes:

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