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522 [522]

K. Edw. 3. The prayer and complaint of the Ploughman.

as to Peter as the Gospell opunlych telleth. In this place men seggen that thou graūted to Peters successours, the selue power that thou gaue to Peter. And therfore the byshop of Rome, that saith he is Peters successour, taketh this power to hym to bynden and vnbinden in earth what him lyketh. MarginaliaThe pope proued a false Antichrist in earth.But Lord, ych haue much wonder how he may for shame clepen him selfe Peters successour. For Peter knowledged that thou were Christ and God, and kept the hestes of thy law: but these han forsaken the hestes of thy law, and hath y maked a law contrary to thyne hestes of thy law. And so he maked hym selfe a false Christ & a false God in earth. And I trowe thou gaue him no power to vndo thy lawe. And so in takyng this power vpon hym, maketh him a false Christ & Antichrist. For who may be more agens Christ, than he that in his wordes maketh him selfe Christes viker in earth. MarginaliaThe popes abhomination described.And in his werkes vndoth the ordinaunce of Christ, and maketh men byleuen that it is nedefull to the heale of mens soules, to byleuen that he is Christes viker in earth. And what euer he bindeth in earth is ybounden in heauen, and vnder this colour he vndoth Christes lawe, and maketh men alwais to kepen his law, and his hestes. And thus men may yseen that he is agenst Christ, & therfore he is Antichrist that maketh men worshupen hym as a God on earth, as the proude kyng Nabugodonosor did sumtyme, that was kyng of Babylone.

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And therfore we lewed men that knowen no God but thee Iesu Christ, beleuen in thee that art our God, and our kyng, and our Christ, and thy lawes. And forsaken Antichrist and Nabugodonosor that is a false God, and a false Christ, and his lawes that ben cōtrary to thy teachyng. And Lord strength thou vs agenst our enemies. For they ben about to maken vs forsake thee and thy law, other elles to putten vs to deeth. O Lord, onlych in thee is our trust to helpe vs in this mischefe, for thy great goodnesse that is with outen ende.

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Lord, thou ne taughtest not thy disciples to assoylen men of her sinne, and settē them a penaunce for ther sinne, in fastyng ne in prayenge, ne other almous dede: ne thy self, ne thy disciples, vseden no such power here on earth. For Lord, thou forgeue mē their sinnes, and bede hem sinne no more. And thy disciples Marginalia* Fulleden, that is, baptised.* fulleden men in thy name, in forgeuenesse of her sinnes. Nor they tooke no such power vpon them as our prestes dare now. And Lord, thou ne assoyledest no man both of his sinne and of his peyne, that was dewe for hys sinne, ne thou grauntedst no man such power here on earth.

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MarginaliaPurgatory.And Lord, me thinketh that gif there were a Purgatorye, and eny earthlych man had power to delyueren sinfull men from the peynes of Purgatory, he shulde and he were in charite, sauen euerich man that were in waye of saluacion from thilke peynes, syth they make them greater then any bodilych peynes of this worlde. Also gif the byshop of Rome had such a power, he hym selfe shoulde neuer comen in Purgatory ne in hell. And sith we see well that he ne hath no power to kepen him selfe ne other mē nother out of these bodilych peynes of the worlde, and he may go to hell for hys sinne as another man may: I ne byleue not, that he hath so great a power to assoylen mē of ther sinne as he taketh vpon him abouen all other men. And I trowe that in this he hygheth hym selfe aboue God.

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MarginaliaSellyng of Bishoprikes & beneficesAs touching the sellyng of byshoprickes and personages 

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i.e. 'parsonages'.

, I trow it be a poynte of falshede. For agenst Gods ordinaunce he robbeth poore men of a porcion of their sustinaunce, and selleth it, other geueth it, to find proude men in idlenesse that done the lewed puple litell profyte, but muche harme as we tolde before. Thus ben thy cōmaundements of treweth of mekenesse, and of porenesse, vndone by hym that clepeth him selfe thy viker here vpon earth.

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A Lord, thou gaue vs a commaundement of chastite that is a forsakyng of fleshliche lustes. For thou broughtest vs to a lyuyng of soule that is ygouerned by thy woorde. For Lord, thou ordenedist woman more frele than man to ben ygouerned by mās rule and his helpe, to please thee and kepe thyne hestes. MarginaliaMariage.Ne thou ne ordeynedist that a man should desire the company of a woman, and maken her his wife, to lyuen with her in his lustys, as a swyne doth or a horse. And his wife ne lyke hym not to his lustes, Lord, thou ne gaue not a man leue to departen him from his wife, and taken him another.

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But Lord, thy mariage is a common accorde betwene man and woman, to lyuen together to their liues ende, and in thy seruice either the better for others helpe: and thilke that ben thus ycome together, bene ioyned by thee, and thilke that God ioyneth, maye no man depart. But Lord, thou sayest that gif a man see a woman to coueten her, thā he doth with the woman lechery in his hart. And so Lord, gif a man desire his wife in couetyse of suche lustes, & not to flye from whordome, his weddins is lechery, ne thou ne ioynest them not together. Thus was Raguels doughter ywedded to. vij husbandes that the deuil istrangled. But Tobye tooke her to lyue with her in clennes, and bringing vp of her children in thy woorship, and on him the deuil ne had no power. For the wedding was Imaked in God, for God, and through God.

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MarginaliaA lesson how to marrye.A Lord, the people is farre ygo from thys maner of weddyng. For now men wedden their wyues for fairnes, other for ryches, or some such other fleshlich lustes. And Lord, so it preueth by them for the most part. For a man shall not finde two wedded in a land, where the husband loues the wyfe, and the wyfe is buxum 

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i.e. 'submissive'.

to the man, and they shoulden after thy law of mariage. But other the mā loues not his wife, or the wife is not buxum to her mā. And thus Lord is the rule of prefe, that neuer faileth to preue whether it bee done by thee or no. And Lord, all this mischiefe is common among thy people, for that they know not thy word, but their shepheards and hired men feeden them with their Marginalia* Sweuens, that is dreames.* sweuens and leasynges. And Lorde, where they shoulden gon before vs in the field, they seggen þt their order is to holy for thy mariage. And Lord, he þt calleth himself thy vicar vpon earth, wil not suffren priests to taken them wyues, for that is against his law: But Lord, he wyll dispensen with them to kepen horen for a certaine somme of money. And Lord, all horedome is forfended in thy law. And Lord, thou neuerforfend est priestes their wiues, nor thy apostles neyther. MarginaliaPriestes had wyues to the tyme of Anselmus.And wel I wote in our lond, priestes hadden wyues vntill Anselmus daies 
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St Anselm was archbishop of Canterbury from 1089-1109 and imposed celibacy on the clergy in England.

in the yeare of our Lord God, a leuen hundred and twentye and nyne, as Huntingdō writes 
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Henry of Huntingdon (c. 1088-c. 1157), a medieval chronicler.

. And Lord, this makes people for the most part belieuen, that lechery is no synne. Therfore we lewd mē prayen thee, that thou wolt send vs shepheards of thine owne that wolen feden thy flocke in thy lesewe, and gon before them selfe, and so written thy law in our hartes, that from the least to the most all they mayen knowen thee. And Lord geue our king and his lordes, hart to defenden thy true shepherdes and thy shepe from out of the wolues mouthes, and grace to know thee that art the true Christ, the sonne of thy heauenlye father, from the Antichrist, that is the sonne of pride. And Lorde, geue vs thy poore sheepe pacience and strength to sufer for thy law, the cruelnes of the mischeuous wolues. And Lord, as thou hast promised, shorten these dayes. Lorde we axen this now, for more nede was there neuer.

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I doubt not gentle reader, but in reading this goodly treatise aboue prefixed, þe matter is manifest & playne of it selfe without any further explication, what is to bee thought and iudged of this vicare of Christ & successour of Peter, whom we call the byshop of Rome: whose lyfe here thou seyst not onely to be so disordered in all points, swaruyng from the steppes and example of Christ the prince and byshop of our soules, but also whose lawes and doctrine is so repugnant and contrary from the preceptes and rule of the Gospell, that almost there is no cōuenience betwene them: as in the perusing of this complayning prayer, thou mayst notoriously vnderstand. Wherfore hauing no nede to stād in any further expressing of this matter, but leauyng it to thyne owne consideration, and discretion: I will speede my self Christ wyllyng, to procede towarde the tyme of Wycleffe and hys felowes, takyng by order of yeares as I go such thyngs by the waye, as both happened before the sayd tyme of Wycleffe, and also may the better prepare the minde of the reader, to the entryng of that story. Where first I thinke it not inconuenient to inferre a propheticall parable 

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Johannes de Rupecissa

Foxe drew the following anti-papal parable from Matthias Flacius, Catalogus testium veritatis (Strasbourg, 1562), Appendix, pp. 30-32.

Thomas S. Freeman
University of Sheffield

writen about this tyme, or not much before, whiche the autor morally applieth vnto þe byshop of Rome. To what autor this prophecie or morall is to be ascribed, I haue not certenly to affirme. Some say, that Rupescissanus  
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Johannes de Rupescissa (John of Roquetaillade - c.1310-c.1364) was a Franciscan friar, mystic and alchemist of the fourteenth-century.

(of whom mention is made before pag. 486. was the autor therof, and alledge it out of Froysard. But in Froysard 
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Jean Froissart (c.1337-c.1405), a fourteenth-century French chronicler.

, as yet I haue not found it. In þe meane season, as I haue found it in Latin expressed, because it painteth out the pope so righly in his fethers & colours, as I thought the thyngs not to be omitted, so I toke this present place, as most fytt (although perauenture missyng the order of yeares a litle) to inserte the same. The effect of whiche parable foloweth here vnder writen.

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In the time of Pope Innocent the vi. aboue specified, this Ioannes de Rupescissa. a frier, amonge other his prophecies meruelously forespake (as allegeth Froysard, who both hard him and saw hym) of the takyng of Ihon the French kyng prisoner, & brought forth many other notable collections concernyng the perils, mutatiōs, & chaungings in the church to come. And at what tyme þe Pope kept him at Auinion in prison (where Froysard is sayd to see him and to speake with him) the said Froysard hard in the Popes court this example and parable, recited by the foresayd frier Rupescissanus, to ij. Cardinals, to witte, Cardinall Hostiensis, and Cardinall Auxercensis. Whiche foloweth in these wordes.

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MarginaliaA parable propheseing the ruine of the pope.When on a certeine tyme, a byrde was brought into the world all bare and without fethers, the other byrdes hearyng therof came to visite her: and for that they saw her to be a meruelous fayre and beautifull byrde, they counsayled together howe they might best do her good, sith by no meanes without fethers, she myght eyther flee or lyue commodiously. They all wished her to liue for her excellēt forme and beauties sake, in so much that among thē all there was not one, that would not graūt some part of her owne fethers to decke this byrde withall: yea and the more tryme they saw her to be, the more

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fethers
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