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655 [590]

thought not to passe ouer, conteining in it as in a brief some þe great multitude of idolatruspylgrimages for the posteritie hereafter to vnderstand what then was vsed in Englande.

¶ A booke intituled the fantastie of Idolatrie.


ALl Christen people

Beyng vnder the steple

Of Iesu Christes faith,

Marke and drawe nere

And ye shall here,

What the holy scripture sayth.

First I wyll begyn
Your hartes to wyn,
with nother fable nor lye,
But with Gods testament
As is moste expedient,
Concerning idolatrie.
Wherin we myght se
Great authoritie,
Sauyng it were to long
For to rehearse
Nowe verse by verse,
In this same lytle song.
But I shall shewe
In wordes fewe,
The summe of the whole effecte
To them of good mynde
That be wylling to fynde
The trade of idolatrus sect.
Fyrst we will gather
Of our heauenly father,
Among his cōmaundementes ten
Written as no fables,
But in Moyses tables 

Commentary  *  Close

I.e., the Ten Commandments.


To be kept of all Christen men.
Where that he sayth
To the chyldren of fayth,
I am your God and kyng
Other Gods haue ye none,
But me alone
To loue aboue all thyng.
Idols and Images
Haue none in vsage
Of what mettell so euer they be
Graued or carued.
My wyll be obserued
Or els can ye not loue me.
Then I a ielous God,
Wyll scourge with my rod
I may not forbeare my hand
And specially
For Idolatry,
My power who can withstand.
The Prophetes all
In generall
Of Idols as we may se
Put vs from doubte
And set them out
In their colours as they ought to be
Saynt Paule also
with many saintes mo,
Against Idols with al their myght
Perceiuing suche swarmes
Did blase their armes
And brought them out to lyght.
This should suffise
All those that be wyseBut we of a stoubourne myndBe so harde hartedWyll not be conuertedBut rather styll be blynde,
Ronnyng hyther and thyther
We can not tell whether,
In offryng candels and pence,
To stones and stockes
And to olde rotten blockes
That came, we know not frō whense
To Walsyngham 
Commentary  *  Close

I.e., to the shrine of the Virgin Mary at Walsingham, one of the great pilgrimage sites in pre-Reformation England.

a gaddyng
To Cantorbury 
Commentary  *  Close

I.e., to the shrine of St. Thomas Becket at Canterbury.

a maddyng,
As men distraught of mynde
With fewe clothes on our backes
But an Image of waxe,
For the lame and for the blynde.
To Hampton 
Commentary  *  Close

I.e., to Southampton.

, to Ipswyche,
To Harforth, to shordyche,
With many mo places of pryce,
As to our lady of Worcester, 
Commentary  *  Close

In 1540, Bishop Hugh Latimer of Worcester had sent an image of the Virgin, long venerated at the cathedral, to London.


And the swete Rode of Chester,
With the blessed lady of Penryce.
To Leymster 
Commentary  *  Close

Leominster, in Berkshire, where relics of King Edward the Martyr were displayed.

, to Kyngstone,
To Yorke, to Donyngton,
To Redyng, to the chyld of grace,
To Wynsore, to Waltam 
Commentary  *  Close

Waltham Abbey, in Essex, where a piece of the True Cross was venerated.

,
To Ely, to Caultam,
Bare foted and bare legged apace.
To saynt Earth 
Commentary  *  Close

This is St. Erth, a village in Cornwall.

a ryght,
Where in the darke nyght
Many a iuglyng cast hath be done
To saint Augers 
Commentary  *  Close

Bishop Hugh Latimer denounced veneration of the relics of St. Algar, in a sermon to Convocation in June 1537.

rotten bones
That ran away for the nones
To the Crosse þt groweth at Chaldon
To the good holy Ghoste
That paynted poste
Abyding at Basyng stoke 
Commentary  *  Close

The reference to the painted post is obscure, but the general reference is to the chapel of the Guild of the Holy Ghost in Basingstoke.


Whiche doth as muche good
As a God made of wood
And yet he beareth a great stroke.
To the holy bloud of Hayles 
Commentary  *  Close

Cromwell's commissioners found that the relic of the blood of Christ at Hailes Abbey in Gloucestershire was fraudulent. It was denounced and exhibited at Paul's Cross in 1538.

,
With your fyngers and nayles
All that ye may stretche and wynne
Yet it woulde not be seen
Except you were shryuen
And clene from all deadly synne.
There were we flocked
Lowted 
Commentary  *  Close

To be deceived or tricked.

and mocked
For nowe it is knowen to be
But the bloud of a ducke,
That long did sucke
The thrifte from euery degre.
To Pomfret, to Wyldon 
Commentary  *  Close

Willesden, in Suffolk, the site of a famous shrine to the Virgin Mary.

,
To saynt Anne of Bucston 
Commentary  *  Close

The springs at Buxton were dedicated to St. Anne.

,
To saint Mighels mount 
Commentary  *  Close

This is St. Michael's Mount in Cornwall.

also
But to reken all
My wyttes be to small
For God knoweth ther be many mo.
To saynt Syth 
Commentary  *  Close

St. Osyth

for my purse
Saynt Loye saue my horse
For my teth to saynt Apolyne
To saynt Iob for the poxe
Saynt Luke saue myne Oxe
Saynt Antony saue my swyne.
To Maister Iohn shorne 
Commentary  *  Close

John Shorne was rector of North Marston, Buckinghamshire, from 1290-1314. He was renowned for for his sanctity and as a miracleworker. Although he was never canonised, his posthumous shrine at Windsor became the centre of a flourishing cult. This ballad refers to Shorne's supposed feat of imprisoning the devil in his boot.

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That blessed man borne
For the ague to hym we apply
Whiche iugeleth with a bote
I beshrowe his herte rote
That wyll truste hym and it be I.
Suche was our truste
Suche was our luste
Vpon creature to call and crye
As men did please
For euery disease
To haue a God peculiarly.
Blessed saynt Sauiour
For his noughty behauiour
That dwelt not far from the stewes 
Commentary  *  Close

The abbey of St Saviour in Bermondsey was geographically close to an area of Southwark notorious for its brothels.


For causyng infidelitie
Hath lost his dignitie
Of hym we shall heare more newes.
The swete rode of Rambisbery 
Commentary  *  Close

The rood in the parish church of Ramsbury, in Wiltshire, was supposed to have miraculously required 16 oxen and seven horses to remove it, when Cromwell ordered it taken down. Gray is correcting this, saying one man dismantled the rood and three men carried it away.


Twenty myle from Maumbysbery
Was oftimes put in feare.
And nowe at the laste
He hath a brydling caste,
And is become I wote not wheare.
Yet hath it been saide
His vertue so wayde
That xvj. Oxen and mo,
Were not able to cary
This rode from Rambisbery
Though he toke seuen horses also.
Whiche is a great lye
For the truth to trye
His vertue is not worth a beane
For one man toke hym downe
From his churche and towne
Thre men conueyed him cleane.
Thus ran we about
To seke Idols out
Wandryng farre and nere,
Thynkyng the power
Of our blessed sauiour,
In other places more then there.
But now some may ronne
And when they haue done
Their Idols they shall not fynde
They haue had suche checkes
That hath broke their neckes
Holde fast that be left behynde.
For the rode of grace 
Commentary  *  Close

This is a reference to the Rood of Grace at the Cistercian monastery at Boxley, Kent. In February 1538, Cromwell's commissioners discovered mechanical devices in the rood which permitted the eyes of the Christ figure move. Later that month, the rood was displayed at Paul's Cross. The Boxley Rood became a virtual synonym for a fraudulent miracle.

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Hath lost his place,
And is rubbed on the gall
For false deuotion
Hath lost his promotion,
And is broken in peces small.
He was made to Iogle
His eyes would gogle
He wold bend his browes & frowne,
With his head he would nod
Lyke a proper yong God
His chaftes 
Commentary  *  Close

I.e., arms.

would go vp & downe.
The saying was
That this rode of grace
And our Lady of Walsyngham
Should haue bene maried
Sauyng they taried
To spie a tyme howe and whan.
For sometime in the nyght
If the people say ryght
As ij. louers eche other loue to pro-cure
They did mete very oft
Wherby it was thought
That our Lady and he had bene sure.
Now the rode is dead
And can not her wed
Death gaue him so sore a stroke
That it cost him his lyfe,
Aud lost hym his wyfe 
Commentary  *  Close

I.e., the shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham, the richest in Norfolk.


The rychest of all Northfolke.

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