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1191 [1191]

K. Hen. 8. The Martyrdome of Bilney. M. Stafford of Cābridge. M. Simon Fyshe.

This once done, hee put of hys gowne, and went to the stake, & kneelyng vpon a litle ledge commyng out of the stake, whereon hee should afterwarde stand to bee better seene, MarginaliaTho. Bilney praying at the stake.he made hys priuate prayer with such earnest eleuation of his eyes and handes to heauen, and in so good quyet behauiour, that hee semed not much to consider the terror of hys death, & ended at the last, hys priuate prayers with the. 143. Psalme begynnyng Domine exaudi orationē meā, auribus percipe obsecrationē meā. &c. 

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Psalm 143.1

MarginaliaPsal. 143.that is, Heare my prayer O Lord, consider my desire: and the next verse he repeted in deepe meditation thrise: Et ne intres in iudicium cum seruo tuo Domine. I. 
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Psalm 143.2

And enter not into Iudgement with thy seruaunt, for in thy sight shall no man liuyng be iustified, and so finishyng that Psalme he ended hys priuate prayers. After that, he turned hym self to the officers, askyng them if they were ready, and they aunswered, yea. Whereupon he put of his iacket and doublet and stoode in hys hose and shyrte, and went vnto the stake, standyng vpon that ledge, and the chayne was cast about hym, and standyng thereon, MarginaliaDoct. Warner taking hys farewell of Tho. Bilney.the sayd Doct. Warner came to hym to byd hym farewell, whiche spake but fewe woordes for wepyng. Vppon whom the sayd Thomas Bilney did moste gentelye smile, and enclined hys body to speake to hym a fewe woordes of thankes, and the last were these: MarginaliaThe words of Tho. Bilney, to Doctour Warner.O Maister Doctour, Pasce gregem tuum, Pasce gregē tuum, vt cum venerit Dominus, inueniat te sic faciētem, I. Feede your flocke, feede your flocke, that when the Lord commeth, hee may finde you so doyng, and farewell good M. Doctour, and pray for me, and so hee departed without any aunswere, sobbyng and wepyng.

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And while he thus stoode vpon the ledge at the stake, certaine friers, Doctors & Priors of their houses beyng there presēt (as they were vncharitably & maliciouslye present at his examination & degradation &c.) came to hym and sayd: MarginaliaThe Fryers desire Bilney to speake for them.O M. Bilney the people bee persuaded that we be the causers of your death, and that we haue procured the same, & therupon it is lyke that they will withdraw their charitable almes frō vs all, except you declare your charitie towardes vs, & discharge vs of þe matter. Whereupon the sayd Thomas Bilney spake with a loude voyce to the people, and sayd: I pray you 

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A paraphrase of Luke 23.34.

good people, bee neuer the worse to these men for my sake, as though they should be the authors of my death. It was not they: and so he ended.

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Then the officers put reede and Fagottes about his body and set fire on the reede, which made a very great flame, whiche sparcled and deformed the visour of hys face, he holding vp his hands & knocking vpō his brest, crying sometymes Iesus, sometymes Credo. Whiche flame was blowen away from hym by the violence of the wynde, whiche was that day and. ij. or iij. dayes before, notable great, in whiche it was sayd that þe fieldes were meruellouslye plaged by the losse of corne: and so for a litle pause, hee stoode without flame, the flame departyng and recoursing thrise ere the woode tooke strength to be the sharper to consume hym: MarginaliaThe pacient death & Martyrdome of M. Bilney.and then he gaue vp the Ghost, and his body beyng withered bowed downeward vpon the chaine. Then one of the officers with his halbard smitte out the staple in the stake behinde him, and suffered his body to fall into the bottome of the fire, laying woode on it, and so he was consumed.

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Thus haue ye (good readers) the true historye, and Martyrdome of this good man, MarginaliaSaint Bilney.that is, of blessed Saint Bilney (as M. Latimer doth call hym) 

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Latimer uses such phraseology at least twice in his sermons. In his 'Seventh sermon before Edward the sixth (1549)', the phrase 'that blessed martyr of God' appears, while in his 'First sermon on the Lord's Prayer, 1552', Latimer says '… or rather Saint Bilney, that suffered death for God's word sake.' [See, Sermons and Remains of Hugh Latimer, sometime bishop of Worcester, martyr, 1555, 2 vols., ed. by George E Corrie (Cambridge, 1844), 1, pp. 222 and 334 respectively].

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without any recantation, testified and ratified by the authoritie aboue sayd. By the which authoritie & partie being there present & yet alyue, it is furthermore constantly affirmed, that Bilney not onely did neuer recant, but also that he neuer had any such byll, or script, or scrolle in his hand to read, either softly, or apertly, as M. More per licenciam Poeticam, woulde beare vs downe. MarginaliaM. Mores false report, refuted.Wherfore euē as ye see M. More deale in this, so ye may trust hym in the residue of his other tales, if ye will.

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¶ Maister Stafford of Cambridge. 
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George Stratford and Simon Fish

The story of George Stratford, appearing for the first time in the 1570 edition of the martyrology, followed on and reinforced the revised material that Foxe had introduced that year upon Thomas Bilney. Stratford's conversion and martyrdom was presented as additional proof of the efficacity of Bilney's message. The text of Simon Fish's famous, and virulently anti-clerical 'Supplication of Beggars' had been printed in the 1563 edition of the martyrology as 'A certaine Libell or boke intituled the Supplycation of beggers throwen and scattered at the procession in Westminster vpon Candelmas day…' - i.e. 2 February 1529 (1563, pp. 445-448). When it came to the 1570 edition, Foxe tucked it in, with evident embarrassment, after the Stratford narrative: 'before the tyme of M. Bilney, and the fall of the Cardinall, I should haue placed the story of Symon Fish with the booke called the Supplication of beggars […]' but by placing it where he did, he was able to recover the forward momentum of his reformation narrative. The theme of the 'Supplication' was (as Foxe put it) 'the reformation of many thinges, especially of the Clergy'. Fish had written it during his second exile in Antwerp. The sixteen-page pamphlet accused the church of almost everything - from avarice to treason. The printer of the subversive pamphlet was most likely to have been Johannes Grapheus of Antwerp. From Antwerp the 'Supplication' was smuggled into England, penetrating the country's borders despite its prohibition. It was dedicated to Henry VIII.

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Andrew ChibiUniversity of Leicester

MarginaliaM. Bilney the chiefe conuerter or apostle of Cambridge.AS the death of this godly Bilney did much good in Northfolke where he was burnt: so his diligēt trauaile, in teachyng and exhortyng other, and example of lyfe correspondent to hys doctrine, left no small frute behinde him in Cambridge, beyng a great meanes of framyng that Vniuersitie, and drawyng diuers vnto Christ. By reason of whom, and partly also of an other called M. Stafford, the word of God began there most luckely to spread, and many towarde wittes to florish. In the company of whom was M. Latimer, Doctour Barnes, D. Thistell of Penbroke hal, M. Fooke of Benet Colledge, and M. Soude of the same Colledge, Doct. Warner aboue mentioned, with diuers other moe.

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This M. Stafford was then the publicke reader of the Diuinitie lecture in that Vniuersitie. Who, as he was an earnest professour of Christes Gospell: so was he as diligent a folower of that whiche he professed, as by this example here folowyng may appeare.

MarginaliaThe notable zeale of M. Stafforde, in sauing a damnable priest.For as the plage was then sore in Cambridge, and amongest other, a certeine Priest called Syr Henry Coniurer 

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This refers to events of 1528 when the famous magician was in the town, and was used to illustrate Stafford's attention to his duties as a priest. Thomas Becon, chaplain to Cranmer, notes that Stafford set out to convert this man - resulting in the burning of his books - but that Stafford caught the plague and died before the effort was completed. See Writings of the Rev. Thomas Becon, chaplain to archbishop Cranmer, and prebendary of Canterbury, ed. by William M Engles (Philadelphia, 1890), p. 7.

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lay sore sicke of the sayd plage, M. Stafford hearyng thereof, and seyng the horrible daunger that hys soule was in, was so moued in conscience to helpe the daungerous case of the Priest, that hee neglecting his owne bodely death, to recouer the other from eternall damnatiō, came vnto him, exhorted, & so labored him, that he would not leaue him, before he had cōuerted him, and sawe his coniuryng bookes burned before his face. Whiche beyng done, M. Stafford went home, and immediatly sickened, and shortly after, most Christianly deceased. 
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This repeats the details of his death. I can find no mention of Stafford in the letters of Ridley.

Ex fideli testimonio D. Ridlei, & Edmund. episcoporum Lond.

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Concernyng whiche M. Stafford, this moreouer is to be noted how that M. Latimer beyng yet a feruent and a zelous Papist, stādyng in the Scholes when M. Stafford read, bad the scholers not to heare him: and also preachyng against hym, exhorted the people, not to beleue him, MarginaliaM. Latimer asketh M. Stafforde forgeuenes.and yet the sayd Latimer confessed hym self, that he gaue thankes to God, that hee asked him forgeuenes before he departed. 

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Stafford and Latimer had an initially stormy relationship as Stafford lectured on the Bible from study of the original languages (influenced by Erasmus) while Latimer was opposed to this, thinking students should study the schoolmen and glosses, as was more traditional. See Hugh Latimer, 'Seventh sermon on the Lord's Prayer, 1552', in Sermons and Remains of Hugh Latimer, sometime bishop of Worcester, martyr, 1555, 2 vols., ed. by George E Corrie (Cambridge, 1844), 1, pp. 440-1.

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And thus much by the waye of good M. Stafford, who for hys constant and godly aduenture in such a cause, may seme not vnworthy to go with blessed Bilney, in the felowshyp of holy and blessed Martyrs.

¶ The story of M. Simon Fishe.

MarginaliaM. Simon Fyshe, author of the booke, called the Supplication of Beggars.BEfore the tyme of M. Bilney, and the fall of þe Cardinall, I should haue placed the story of Symon Fish with the booke called the Supplication of beggars, declaryng how and by what meanes it came to the kyngs hand, and what effecte therof followed after, in the reformation of many thinges, especially of the Clergy. But the missyng of a few yeares in this matter, breaketh no great square in our story, though it be now entred here which should haue come in vi. yeares before. The maner and circūstance of the matter is this:

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After that the light of the Gospell workyng mightly in Germanie, began to spread his beames here also in England, great styrre and alteration folowed in the hartes of many: so that colored hypocrisie, and false doctrine, and painted holynes began to be espyed more and more by the readyng of Gods word. The authoritie of the Byshop of Rome, and the glory of his Cardinals was not so hygh, but such as had fresh wyttes sparcled with Gods grace, began to espye Christ from Antichrist, that is, true sinceritie, from counterfait religiō. In the nūber of whom, was þe; sayd Symon Fishe, a Gentlemā of Grayes Inne. It happened þe first yeare that this Gentleman came to London to dwell, which was about þe yere of our Lord. 1525. that there was a certeine play or interlude made by one M. Roo of the same Inne Gentleman 

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In the winter of 1527 Jack Roo had produced a masque (written twenty years earlier) which Wolsey took to be aimed at himself. Foxe has Fish playing the offending role. Roo spent time in the Fleet prison as a result of the play, and Fish escaped to Antwerp. However, Foxe may have placed Fish into the play without any real justification as Edward Hall, a barrister of Gray's Inn and eye-witness to the events, does not mention Fish, although one Thomas Moyle was also imprisoned (for which, see Edward Hall, The Union of the Two Noble and Illustre Families of Lancastre & York [London, 1547], fol. 154v). These events are examined closely in Rodney M Fisher, 'Simon Fishe, Cardinal Wolsey and John Roo's Play at Gray's Inn, Christmas 1526', in Archiv für Reformationsgeschichte, 69 (1978), pp. 293-8 and in Peter Gwyn, The King's Cardinal: The rise and fall of Thomas Wolsey (London, 1990), pp. 136-7.

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, in whiche playe partly was matter agaynst the Cardinal Wolsey. And where none

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durst
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