Critical Apparatus for this Page
Commentary on the Text
Names and Places on this Page
Unavailable for this Edition
1188 [1188]

K. Henry. 8. Defense of Thomas Bilney, agaynst M. More.

his teaching and preaching, as was obiected agaynst hym by one Richard Nele, Priest: who among other witnesses, deposed agaynst hym for preachyng in the towne of Wylsedone, 

Commentary  *  Close

This refers to Bilney's preaching tour of 1527 (Willesden, Newington and Ipswich) in which he spoke against images. For commentary, see Christopher Haigh, English Reformations: Religion, Politics, and Society under the Tudors (Oxford, 1993), p. 63.

these wordes folowyng:

MarginaliaEx Registro Lond. fol. 82.Put away your golden Gods, your siluer Gods, your stony Gods, and leaue your offerings, and lift vp your hartes to the Sacrament of the aultar. Also the sayd M. Bilney sayd in his Sermon: MarginaliaBilney agaynst offeringes to Images.I know certaine thinges haue bene offered in such places, which haue bene afterward giuen to whores of the stewes: and I call theē whores of the stewes, that be naught of their liuyng. &c. Ex Regist. 

Commentary  *  Close

Foxe is quoting Guildhall Library, Register Tunstall, 9531/10, fol. 82, but also see Thomas More, 'The confutation of Tyndale's answer', ed. by Louis A Schuster, Richard C Marius and James P Lusardi, The Yale Edition of the Complete Works of St. Thomas More, viii/1-3 (New Haven, 1973), 1, pp. 22-5.

[Back to Top]

Item, by an other witnes named W. Cade, it was deposed agaynst hym, 

Commentary  *  Close

William Cade, monk of Ipswich, testified that Bilney had criticised the greed, idolatry and sexual incontinence of the monks.

thus to preache: That Iewes and Saracenes would haue become Christen men long ago, had not Idolatrie of Christen men bene, by offeryng of Candels, waxe, or money to the stockes, and the stones of Images set and standyng in the Churches. &c.

[Back to Top]

Item, by the sayd deponent agaynst Bilney: That the Priestes take away the offerynges, and hange them about their whores neckes: and after that, they take them agayne from the whores, if they please them not, and hange them vpon the Images: and is not that a great relicke, when it is hanged there agayne?

[Back to Top]

Itē, by þe said deponēt it was testified against Bilney: MarginaliaBilney against pilgrimage.That goyng on pilgremage is naught, 

Commentary  *  Close

Pilgrimages were one of those practices hated by evangelical reformers in that it implied that man's own actions could increase merit in degradation of the one time for all time sacrifice of Christ on the cross.

and that no mā should vse it: For it were better not, and rather to tarye at home, and giue somwhat in almose, and offer your hartes, willes, & mindes to the Sacramēt, MarginaliaNote here how grosse Bilney was yet in the Sacrament.and leaue your Idolatry to Saintes.

[Back to Top]

Item, by W. Nelmys of Wylsedone, 

Commentary  *  Close

Bilney had preached in the town in 1527.

that Bilney should preache: They gilde their Gods, and beare them about, and men say, they do speake: and if they do speake, it is the deuill that speaketh in them, and not God. &c.

Item, by Tho. Daly of Wilsedone, that Bilney thus preached: You come hyther on pilgrimage to stockes and stones. You do naught: kepe you at home, and worship the Sacrament at home. &c.

Item, by Frier Iohn Hogekyn, that Bilney thus preached at Ipsewych: The cōmyng of our Sauiour Christ was long desired, and by diuers & many Prophets prophecied, that he should come. But Iohn the Baptiste, more then a Prophet, did not onely prophecie, but with his finger shewed: Beholde the Lambe of God that taketh away the sinnes of the world. 

Commentary  *  Close

John Huggen was a witness to Bilney's sermon at St George's chapel, Ipswich. Bilney had preached against salvation by works, referring to the one time for all time sacrifice of Christ on the cross and related doctrine of sola fideism. The idea being that to suggest salvation depends on any additional earned merits denigrates that original sacrifice. Bilney was arrested here.

[Back to Top]
Then, if this were the very Lambe, which Iohn did demonstrate, and shewed, which taketh away the sinnes of the world, MarginaliaBilney agaynst false merites.what iniurie is this Bull of the Bishop of Rome to our Sauiour Iesu Christ, that to be buryed in the cowle of S. Frances, 
Commentary  *  Close

This refers to the medieval practice of wrapping the dead in Franciscan cowls before burial as a means of increasing merit - See, Susan Wabuda, Preaching during the English reformation (Cambridge, 2002), pp. 108, 122-39.

shoulde or may remitte iiij. partes of penance? What is left to our Sauiour Christ, which taketh away the sinnes of the world? This I will iustifie to be a great blasphemie agaynst the bloud of Christ. &c.

[Back to Top]

Itē, by an other Frier Iulles, that Bilney thus preached, I trust there shall and will come other beside me, the whiche shall shew and preache to you the same fayth, and maner of liuing that I do: MarginaliaVid. supr. pag. 1138.whiche is the very true Gospell of our Sauiour, whereby you shall bee brought from your errours, wherein you haue bene long seduced: for before this, there hath bene many, that hath sclaundered you, and the Gospell of our Sauiour Christ. Of whō speaketh our Sauiour Christ Mat. 18. Qui scandalizauerit vnum de pusillis istis qui crediderunt. &c.

[Back to Top]

Adde moreouer to these, the testimonie of Richard Seman: that Bilney in Ipswitch should preache these wordes: MarginaliaBilney agaynst moe Mediatours then one.Our Sauiour Christ is our Mediatour betwene vs & the father: what then should nede vs to seke to any Saint for remedy, inferiour to Christ? Wherfore to make such petitiō to any, but to our Sauiour Christ, trusting therby to haue remedye, doth greate iniurye to the bloud of Christ, and deformeth our Sauiour Christ: like as, if a man should take, and strike of the head, and set it vnder the foote, and to set the foote aboue.

[Back to Top]

Thus much beyng partly touched before, I thought here to insinuate agayn out of the Registers, touching the opinions of Thomas Bilney. 

Commentary  *  Close

This is Guildhall Library, Register Tunstall, 9531/10.

Whereby may ap-peare the whole summe of his preachyng and doctrine to procede chiefly agaynst Idolatrie, inuocation of Saintes, vayne worship of Images, false trust to mēs merites, and such other grosse pointes of religion, as semed preiudiciall and derogatorie to the bloud of our Sauiour Christ Iesus. As touchyng the Masse, & Sacrament of the aultar, as he neuer varied from hym selfe, so he neuer differed therin from the most grossest Catholiques. And as concernyng his opinion of the church of Rome, how blinde it was at þt tyme, may sufficiently appeare by his own aunsweres in tyme of hys abiuratiō, written with his own hand in Latin, 
Commentary  *  Close

There are documents which purport to be written by Bilney, for which, see PRO, SP 1/66, fols. 296-317 (or L&P, v, no. 372 (1-3).

which I haue to shew, as foloweth: MarginaliaEx Regist. Lond. fol. 37.Credo 
Commentary  *  Close

This can be found earlier, on page 1137 [Foxe, 1570 edition] and is Bilney's answer to the third objection against him.

plærasq̀ leges pontificias vtiles esse, necessarias, & ad pietatem quoq; plurimum promouentes, nec sacris Scripturis repugnantes, imo ab omnibus plurimum obseruandas. &c. De omnibus non possum pronunciare, vtpote quas non legi, & quas legi, nunq̃ in hoc legi, vt reprehenderem, sed vt discerem intelligere, ac pro virili facere, & docere. De multiplicitate legum, questu, est suo tempore S. Augustinus, & item Gersonus, qui mitatur quomodo nos post lapsum, inter tot laqueos Cōstitutionum, tuti esse possimus, quum primi parentes adhuc puri, & ante lapsum, vnicum præceptum non obseruarint. &c.

[Back to Top]

Moreouer, concernyng the authoritie of the keys, thus he writeth, aunsweryng to his. 12. Article: Soli sacerdotes ordinati ritè per pontifices, habent claues, quarum virtute ligant & soluunt Marginalia* At hæc clæuis errat perperno.(* claue non errante) quod & facere eos non dubito, quamlibet sint peccatores. Nam Sacramētorum efficaciam non minuit, nedum tollit ministrorum indignitas, q̃diu ab ecclesia tolerantur. &c. 

Commentary  *  Close

Guildhall Library, Register Tunstall, 9531/10, fol. 137.

[Back to Top]

By these woordes of Bilney written by hym in Latine, although it may bee thought how ignoraunt and grosse he was after the rudenes of those dayes: yet by the same notwithstandyng it may appeare, how falsely he is noted and sclaūdered by M. More, and Cope my frende, to haue recanted the Articles, which he did neuer holde or mainteine otherwise in all his lyfe. 

Commentary  *  Close

This refers to Nicolas Harpsfield's treatise, Dialogi sex contra summi Pontificatus, monasticae vitae, sanctorum, sacrarum imaginum oppugnatoreset pseudomartyrs (Antwerp, 1566), which was itself very critical of Foxe's original 1563 edition. It was Harpsfield who raised More's conclusions about Bilney's trials and second recantation at Norwich. For comments, see G R Elton, 'Persecution and Toleration in the English Reformation', in Studies in Church History, 21 (1984), pp. 163-84 (also published in Studies in Tudor and Stuart Politics and Government: Papers and reviews 1946-1972, ed. by G R Elton (Cambridge, 2003), pp. 175-98. For More's notation of Bilney's recantation, see Thomas More, 'The confutation of Tyndale's answer', ed. by Louis A Schuster, Richard C Marius and James P Lusardi, The Yale Edition of the Complete Works of St. Thomas More, viii/1-3 (New Haven, 1973), 1, pp. 22-5.

[Back to Top]
And therfore (as I said) though it be graunted to M. More, or in his absence, to my frende Cope, that Bilney was assoyled, was confessed, and housseled, before his burnyng, yet all this argueth not that he recanted.

[Back to Top]

MarginaliaContrary reasons to proue that Bilney did not againe recant.Now that I haue sufficiently (I trust) put of the reasons of M. More and of others, whereby they pretend falsely to face vs out, that Bilney the seconde tyme again recāted at his death: 

Commentary  *  Close

The conclusion that More set out to prove that Bilney had made a second recantation is also the conclusion of Professor Guy, for which see J A Guy, The Public Career of Sir Thomas More (New Haven, 1980), p. 170.

it remaineth on þe other part, that I likewise do inferre my probations, whereby I haue to argue and conuince, that Bilney did not the second tyme recante, as he is vntruly sclaundered. And first I will begyn euen with the woordes and testimonie of M. Mores owne mouth, who beyng Lord Chaūcellour when message was sent to him, for a writte of discharge to burne Bilney, speakyng in this wise to the messēgers, that came: MarginaliaMores owne wordes against him selfe.Goe your wayes (said he) and burne hym fyrst, and then afterward come to me for a bill of my hand. Which wordes may giue vs euidēce enough, that Bilney was not thought then to haue recanted, for then the Lord Chauncellour would not haue ben so greedy and hastie (no doubt) to haue him dispatched. And how standeth this with M. Mores woordes now, whiche beareth vs in hand, that hee recanted many dayes before his burnyng?

[Back to Top]

MarginaliaProued by byshop Nixes wordes, that Bilney dyd not recant at hys burning.The like euidence we may also take by the verdite of þe Bishop him selfe, that burned hym: whose wordes were these. After he had burned him, and then heard tell of D. Shaxton: Christes mother, sayd he (that was his oth) I feare I haue burnt Abell, & let Cain go. &c. 

Commentary  *  Close

In a sermon of 1531 (Ash Wednesday) Shaxton preached a sermon in which he suggested that while it was permissible to doubt purgatory it was illicit to give voice to these doubts, after which he was carefully watched. For discussion, see Alec Ryrie, The Gospel and Henry VIII: Evangelicals in the Early English Reformation (Cambridge, 2003), p. 72; Peter Marshall, Religious Identities In Henry VIII's England (Aldershot, 2006), p. 173; Susan Wabuda, 'Shaxton, Nicholas (c.1485-1556)', ODNB (2004).

[Back to Top]
As who would say: I had thought before, that I had punished Cain, & let Abell go: but now I feare I haue burnt Abell, and let Cain escape. Whereby it is playne to vnderstande, what was the Byshops iudgement of Bilney, before his burning: that is, that he was a Cain and the other an Abell. But after the burnyng of Bilney, the Bishop hearyng nowe of Shaxton, turneth his iudgement, and correcteth him self, swearyng now the contrary: that is, lest hee had burned Abell, and let

[Back to Top]
Cain
Go To Modern Page No:  
Click on this link to switch between the Modern pagination for this edition and Foxe's original pagination when searching for a page number. Note that the pagination displayed in the transcription is the modern pagination with Foxe's original pagination in square brackets.
Find:
Type a keyword and then restrict it to a particular edition using the dropdown menu. You can search for single words or phrases. When searching for single words, the search engine automatically imposes a wildcard at the end of the keyword in order to retrieve both whole and part words. For example, a search for "queen" will retrieve "queen", "queene" and "queenes" etc.
in:  
Humanities Research Institute  *  HRI Online  *  Feedback
Version 2.0 © 2011 The University of Sheffield