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700 [676]

K. Henr. 6. The burning of Richard Wyche. Cope aunswered.

force. Who ioyning together fiue tymes (sayth þe story) with fiue sondry battayles, assailed and inuaded the Bohemians: at euery which battail, MarginaliaMaruelous feare fallen vpō the popes armie fiue tymes the said aduersaries stroken and daunted with a sodaine feare, ran away out of the field, leauyng their tentes with all their implementes and furniture behynde them, before any stroke was geuen. Ex Casp. Peuc. lib. 5. Wherby it may appeare, the holy angels of God to fight for them which embraced the syncere doctrine of Christes gospell.

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MarginaliaGods holy Angels pitch their tentes about thē which feare him. Psal. Thus the Bohemians through the mighty protection of almighty God, continued a long tyme inuincible, duryng all the lyfe of Zisca, and also of Procopius, till at length, through discord growyng betwene them and theyr captains Procopius and Mainardus, they were subdued vnto their enemies.

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MarginaliaThe cruell deceite & wicked facte of Mainardus agaynst the souldiours of Boheme. And here by the way is not to be omitted the wicked & cruell fact of Mainardus, who after the death of Procopius, thinkyng to purge the realme of Boheme of those chiefe and principall souldiours, which had bene long expert and trayned vp in warres, found meanes by a proclamation made, as though he would warre against other countreis of their enemies bordering about them, craftily to trayne all them which were disposed to take wages into certayne barnes or houels, prepared for the same purpose, MarginaliaCertaine thousandes of the Bohemian souldiours brent. and so shuttyng the doores vpon them, the wicked dissembler set fire vpon them, and brent of them diuers thousandes, and so brought þe rest by that meanes, vnder subiection to the Emperour duryng his lyfe tyme, which after that continued not long. MarginaliaEx Ænea Silu. lib. de hist. Boem. cap. 51 Ex Æne. Syl. The which souldiours, if they had fought so much for the catholike liberties of the Pope and his church, as they fought agaynst hym, it is meruaile if the Pope had not dignified them all for holy martyrs. But they that kil with the sword (sayth Christ) shall perish with the sword. Notwithstandyng the cruell deceite of Mainardus is woorthy of all men to be detested.

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MarginaliaEnglād noted of crueltie. During this busines among the bishops beyond the sea in the meane tyme our bishops here also in England, were not vnoccupied. Whether it be the nature of the countrey that so geueth: or whether the great liuinges and wealthy promotions of the clergy, do draw with them a more insensible vntowardnes in gods religion, hard it is to say: this is manifest to all them which will read and marke our stories from tyme to tyme, MarginaliaBurning & slaying in England. that in England is more burning & slaying for religion and for all other matters: more bloudshed among vs then in any other land or nation in Christendome besides. After the burning of Rich. Houeden, of Nich. Canon, and of Thom. Bagley priest, aboue recorded, pag. 644. whom the bishops condemned to death. an. 1431. not long after, MarginaliaAn. 1439. about the yere of our Lord. 1439. which was the 18. of the raigne of king Henr. 6. they had an other poore man by MarginaliaRichard Wiche Priest, Martyr.
Ex Fabian. part. 7.
Ex antiquo atio Chronico.

The burning of Rich. Wiche.

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Richard Wyche, truly a 'veteran Lollard priest' when he went to the stake in 1440, had a heretical career that started near the beginning of the century and took him from Newcastle to London and the Welsh marches. His intermittent appearances suggest that he was associated with Sir John Oldcastle, and was of some standing, since he sent a letter to John Hus (who also received books from him) in 1410, at the same time as Oldcastle wrote to a Bohemian noble. His respect in the eyes of Londoners was such that steps were taken to prevent people pilgrimaging to his place of execution. Foxe's account of Wiche's death is a short but particularly vivid one, describing how a pile of stones was gathered and a cross erected at the site of his execution, after the martyr's death. This interesting event, taking place some time after the death of the martyr would have been difficult to include, since most illustrations depict the moment immediately surrounding the death of the martyr. But the story may have been enough to warrant him having his own illustration (albeit one of the generic, repeated small woodcuts). CUL copy: Wiche is dressed in white with a greying beard. He is clad on top but is depicted as having heavily greying hair. WREN: the same details are added.

the back, named Rich. Wiche 
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Richard Whiche

Foxe's account of Richard Wyche was first printed in the 1570 edition. Foxe listed two sources for his account, Robert Fabian's chronicle, and an old English chronicle he borrowed from someone named Permynger. This last named item is impossible to identify, particularly since Foxe's account is taken virtually word-for-word from Fabian. (See Fabyan's cronycle [London, 1559], STC 10664, p. 436). In the 1583 edition, Foxe added a royal proclamation to the sheriffs of London and Middlesex, ordering them to suppress the cult of Richard Wyche. How Foxe obtained a copy of this document is unknown, but the document survives and Foxe printed it accurately. (See the summary of the proclamation in Calendar of Close Rolls. Henry VI. Vol. III. 1435-1441, pp. 385-6).

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Foxe assumes, as almost every scholar examining the incident has, that Wyche was executed for Lollard beliefs and that his cult was generated by other Lollards. For a compelling case that neither assumption is true, and for the best account of the episode, see Richard Rex, 'Which is Wyche? Lollardy and Sanctity in Lancastrian London' in Martyrs and Martyrdom in England, c. 1400-1700, ed. Thomas S. Freeman and Thomas F. Mayer (Woodbridge, 2007), pp. 88-106.

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Thomas S. Freeman
University of Sheffield

priest, mentioned both in Rob. Fabian, and also in an other old english chronicle borowed of one Perminger. What his opinions were, they doe not expresse. This they record, that this Rich. Wiche, first was degraded, then burned at the tower hill for heresie, Some doe affirme that he before hys death reuolted, but that seemeth by his burnyng, not to be true.

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It is also testified of hym, that before his death, spake (as prophesiing) that the postern of þe tower should sincke, which also afterwarde came as he sayd to passe. Wherefore of MarginaliaRich. Wiche after his death taken for a saincte. many of the people he was counted for an holy man: In so muche that (as it is affirmed) they came to the place where he was burnt, and there made their oblations and prayers, and areyred a great heape of stones, and set vp a crosse there by night: so that by this meanes a gret clamour ranne vpon the Churchmen, and especyally vpon such as put him to death. Then to cease the rumour, the kynge gaue commaundement to punishe suche, as wente thether on pilgrimage. By vertue whereof, the Mayor and Shiriffes did such diligence, that shortly after, that concourse and sekyng of the people was left of.

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MarginaliaEx Regist. Henr. Chichesley. After the burning of this man, which was about the moneth of Iune, in the same yeare about Nouember, a cōuocation was called by Henry Archbishop of Cant. MarginaliaThe bishops consult to abolishe the lawe [illegible text] wherin was propounded among the Clergye, to consult with them selues, what way were best to be taken, for the remouing a way the law of Premuniri facias: for so were the hartes then of the temporaltie set agaynst the ecclesiasticall sort, that where any vauntage myght be geuen them by þe lawe, they did nothyng spare: by reason wherof, the churchmen at that tyme were greatly molested by the sayd lawe of Premuniri, and by the kinges writtes, and other inditementes, to their no smal anoyance, By long consultation and good aduisement, at last this way was taken, that a petition or supplication shoulde be drawen & presented to the king, for the abolishing of the foresayd law of Premuniri facias, and also for the restrayning of other briefes, wryts, & inditements, which seemed then to lye heauy vpō the Clergy. This byll or supplication beyng contriued and exhibited by the Archb. of Cant. & of Yorke, vnto the kyng standing in nede þe same time, of a subsidye to be collected of the Clergye: this answer was geuen to their supplication on the kynges behalfe: MarginaliaThe kinges answere to the bill of the clergie touching the lawe of Premuniri. that for somuch as the tyme of Christenmas then drew neare, wherby he had as yet no sufficient leysure to aduise vpon the matter, he would take therin a farther pause. In the meane tyme, as one tendering their quiet, he would send to all his officers and ministers wtin his realme, that no such brief of Premuniri, should passe agaynst them or any of them, from the sayd tyme of Christenmas, till the next parliament, an. 1439. Ex Regist. Cant.

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In my former edition of Actes & monumentes, so hastely rashed vp at that present, in such shortnes of time, as in the sayd booke thou mayst see (gentle reader) declared and signified: amonge manye other matters therin contayned, there is a shorte note made of one Eleanor Cobham duches of Gloucester, and of Syr Roger Onley Knight (priest it should haue bene printed,) 

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Eleanor Cobham

In his Catalogus, Bale gave an account of a 'Roger Onley', a chaplain to Eleanor Cobham, the wife of Duke Humphrey of Gloucester. Bale described 'Onley' as an Oxford graduate, who became a Lollard. The clergy, because he was a Lollard, and because they hated Gloucester, falsely accused 'Onley' and the duchess of Gloucester of sorcery. 'Onley' and certain others were hanged, drawn and quartered. Eleanor Cobham was tried by an ecclesiastical tribunal and imprisoned for the rest of her life (Catalogus, pp. 584-5). The individual whom Bale identified as Roger Onley was, in fact, Roger Bolingbroke, the principal of St Andrew's Hall, Oxford. (One of Bale's sources, the chronicle of John Hardyng, misidentified Bolingbroke as Onley). Bale's account was, moreover, highly tendentious. Eleanor Cobham had, in fact, dabbled in astrology in an effort to find out when her husband (the heir to the childless Henry VI) might become king. Cobham also obtained love potions from one Margery Jourdemane, a reputed witch, whom Bale failed to mention. (For an account of the episode see R. A. Griffiths, 'The Trial of Eleanor Cobham', Bulletin of the John Rylands Library 51 [1968-9], pp. 381-99). Most importantly, no medieval source gives the slightest hint that Bolingbroke and Cobham were, as Bale claimed, Lollards. This is based solely on Bale's assumption, stemming from his desire to see proto-Protestants throughout the Middle Ages, that anyone condemned by an ecclesiastical tribunal was a Lollard or a Protestant avant la lettre. Bale simply ignored detailed descriptions of Cobham's sorcery and the inconvenient involvement of Jourdemane.

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Foxe first printed an account of this incident, based solely on Bale, in the Rerum (p. 116). Foxe, however, added an important error of his own. He stated that Onley (or Bolingbroke), was a knight, while Bale (and Bale's sources) are clear that he was a cleric. Foxe repeated his brief account of Onley and Cobnam in the 1563 edition. The combination of Bale's and Foxe's errors provided Nicholas Harpsfield, Foxe's most important contemporary critic, with an invaluable opportunity to discredit Foxe. Harpsfield seized upon it with alacrity. Harpsfield pointed out that Onley was not a knight and that he was really Roger Bolingbroke. He also made something of Foxe's mention of a woman, the mother of Lady Young, whose account appeared in the 1563 edition (just after that of Cobham and 'Onley') and made his own mistaken assumption: that the mother of Lady Young was actually Margery Jourdemane. (The mother of Lady Young was actually Joan Boughton, who was executed in 1494; see The Great Chronicle of London, ed. A. H. Thomas and I. D. Thornley [London, 1938], p. 252. Boughton was the mother-in-law of Sir John Young, a mayor of London). Harpsfield also pointed out that no source claimed that Cobham, Bolingbroke and Jourdemane were heretics. Rather all were agreed that they were convicted of sorcery (Dialogi sex, pp. 830-1).

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In the 1570 edition, Foxe responded to Harpsfield. He conceded that he was incorrect about Onley/Bolingbroke having been a knight, but that was his only concession. The 1570 account of Cobham, including Foxe's response to Harpsfield, was repeated, without change, in subsequent editions.

Thomas S. Freeman,
University of Sheffield

Which two persons, about the yeare of our Lord. 1440. or the next yeare following, were condemned, the one to death, the other to perpetuall prison. MarginaliaA briefe aunswere to Cope, concerning Lady Eleanor Cobham. &c. Of this litle short matter, maister Cope þe Popes Scout, lying in priuy wayt to spye faultes in all mens workes, where so euer any may appeare, taketh pepper in the nose, and falleth agayne vnto his old barking agaynst me, for placing these foresaid persons in my boke of Martyrs, but especially he thinketh to haue great vaūtage agaynst me, for that in the same story, I do ioyne withall, one Margaret Iourdeman, the witch of Eye, cōdemned also with them the same time, and burned for practising þe kinges death by an image of waxe, &c. To aunswer hereunto, first I say (as I before sayd) that I professe no such title to write of Martyrs: but in generall to write of rites and Monumentes passed in the church and realme of England. Wherein, why should I be restrayned from the free walke of a storye writer, more then other that haue gone before me?

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Secondly, touching my commendation of Syr Roger Onley, and the Lady Eleanor, if maister Alane be therewith offended, I aunswere that I commended them for sauoring and fauouring of þe truth of Christes doctrine: For the fact, if any such were in them, I do not commend them. And although I did cōmend them, yet neither did I it with anye long tarying vpō it, nor yet altogether vpō mine owne head, without some sufficient warraunt of authoritie. For why may not I as well beleue Iohn Bale, as M. Alane beleue M/ Fabian? especially seing I do know, & was priuy, that the said Iohn in recognising his Centuries, followed

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