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566 [566]

K. Richard. 2. The history of John Wickleffe and his fellowes.

To thys letter of the archb. might not the king (gētle reader) thus answere agayne, and answere well?

MarginaliaWhat the K. might haue answered thē, prosopoia.YOur letters  

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This is not actual letter Richard II wrote. It is instead a fictional composition - and described as such - which Foxe wrote and presents what he feels Richard II should have said.

with your complaint & requestes in the same contayned, we haue receaued & well considered. For the accomplishing wherof, ye shall vnderstand þt as we are readely bent to gratifie & satisfy your mynde in thys behalfe on the one side: so we must beware againe on the other, that our autority be not abusede eyther to oppres before we know, or to iudge before we haue tried. Wherfore, forsomuch as you in your letters do excite & sharpen the seuere discipline of our secular sword, against one Nich. Herford, for his not appearyng before you: & yet shewyng in the sayde your letters no certayne cause to vs, what you haue to charge him with all: we therfore folowyng the example of Alexander Magnus, or rather the rule of equity in opening both our eares indifferentlye, to heare as well the one part as the other: do assigne both to hym, when as he may be found, & to you when ye shalbe called, a terme to appeare before vs. To thentent that the controuersye betwene you & him, stāding vpon pointes of religion, being tried by the true touchstone of Gods holy word, due correction indifferently may be ministred, according as the offence shall be found. In the meane time, this we cannot but somthing maruell at in your said letters: Fyrst, to see you men of the church, & angels of peace to be so desirous of bloud. Secondly, to consider you agayne so fierce in prosecuting the breach of your law: & yet so cold in pursuing the breach of the expres law of God & his cōmaundements. Thirdlye, to behold the vnstable doublenes in your procedinges, who pretendyng in your publike sentence, to become as intreaters for thē to vs in þe bowels of Iesus Christ, þt we wil withdraw frō thē the rigour of our seuerity, & yet in your letters you be they, which most set vs on If not appearing before you, be such a matter of cōtumacie, in case of your law, that it is in no case to be spared: what should thē our princely discipline haue done to mē of your calling: Henry Spencer B. of Norwych, being at Cant. was sent for by our speciall cōmaundement to come to our speech, denyed to come, & yet we spared him. Marginaliabishops of Cant. appeared not before their kinges, and yet they were not persecuted.Iohn Stratford Archb. your predecessour, being required of our progenitour K. Edward the thyrd to come to him at Yorke, would not appeare: by the occasion wherof, Scotland þe same time was lost, & yet was he suffered. The like might be sayd of Robert Wylchelsey in þe dayes of K. Edward the first & of Edmūd archb. of Cant. in the dayes of K. Henry 3. Steuen Langthon was sent for by K. Iohn to come, he came not. The like contumacie was in Becket toward K. Henry 2. Also in Anselme toward K. Henry. 1. All these for their not appearing before their princes ye do excuse, who notwithstanding might haue appeared without daunger of lyfe. Thys one man for not appearing before you, you thinke worthy of death: whose life you would haue condempned notwithstāding, if he had appeared. It is no reason if the Squiril clymyng to the tree from the Lyons clawes, would not appeare, being sent for to be deuoured: that the Eagle therfore shoulde seyse vpon hym without any iuste cause, declared agaynst the party. Wherfore according to this, & to that aforesaid when he shal appere, & you be called, and the cause iustly wayed, due execution shall be ministred.

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And thus farre concernyng Nicholas Herford, and the other aforesayd, but all this meane while 

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Wiclif and Urban VI

In the Commentarii, Foxe wrote that Wiclif was banished (this is an error Foxe derived from John Bale), but that he returned to Lutterworth where he died.Forty years later, at the pope's command, Wiclif's bones were exhumed and burned and their ashes cast into a river (Commentarii, fos. 32r-v). This was based on information gleaned from Bale's writings (see Bale, Summarium, fos. 155r and 157v as well as Select Works of John Bale, ed. Henry Christmas, Parker Society (Cambridge, 1849), p. 394). In the Commentarii, Foxe also wrote praising Bale for his work in recovering Lollard documents and he produced Wiclif's letter to Urban VI which was copied from the Fasciculi Zizaniorum (cf. Bodley Library, Musaeo e 86, fo. 83r-v with Commentarii, fos. 33r-34v). Foxe also printed another document, copied from the Fasciculi Zizaniorum, Wiclif's public response to questions put to him by Richard II and the Privy Council (cf. Bodley Library, Musaeo e 86, fos. 66v-67v with Commentarii, fos. 34v-37r).

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This material was reprinted without change in the Rerum (pp. 15-17) except that Foxe added a reference to the archbishop of Prague burning Wiclif's books; this came from Bale, Summarium fo. 157v (cf. Rerum, p. 15). This material was translated into the 1563 edition without any change. In 1570, Foxe, however, made some corrections, conceding that Wiclif may not have gone into exile and correcting the date of his death. Foxe also added an account of the disastrous 'crusade' Henry Despenser, the bishop of Norwich, led against the French; this account was taken from College of Arms MS Arundel 7, a version of Thomas of Walsingham's Chronica majora. The version of all of these documents and events in the 1570 edition was reprinted without change in 1576 and 1583.

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Thomas S. Freeman
University of Sheffield

what became of Ihon Wickleffe it is not certainely knowen: Albeit so farre as may be gathered out of Walden, it appeareth that he was banished, and driuen to exile 
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In the Commentarii (fo. 32r-v) and the Rerum (p. 15) Foxe wrote that Wiclif had probably been exiled, that he returned home and died in Lutterworth in 1387. Foxe repeated this in the 1563 edition (p. 98). Foxe was basing this on Bale - although significantly, Foxe was more tentative about the exile than Bale had been (See Bale, Summarium, fos. 155r and 157v). In fact, Wiclif had not been exiled and Foxe replaced this with an even more tentative passage in the 1570 edition. In the second edition, Foxe also corrected the date of Wiclif's death to 1384.

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. In the meane tyme it is not to be doubted, but he was aliue duryng all this while, wheresoeuer he was as by his letter may appeare, whiche he about this tyme wrote to Pope Vrbane the vi. In the whiche letter he doth purge hym selfe, that beyng commaūded to appeare before the pope at Rome, he came not: declaryng also in the same a brief confession of his fayth. The copy of whiche Epistle here followeth 
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This letter is Wiclif's response to Urban VI's demand that he appear before the pope. Wisely, Wiclif decined to appear. The letter is reprinted from Bodley Library, Musaeo e 86, fo. 83r-v.

.

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¶ The Epistle of Ihon Wickleffe sent vnto Pope Vrban the 6. An. 1384.

MarginaliaThe epistle of I. Wickliff to pope Vrbane.VErely I do reioyce to open & declare the faith which I do hold vnto euery man. And specially vnto the bishop of Rome, the which for so much as I do suppose to be sounde and true, he will most willingly confirme my sayd faith, or if it be erronious amende the same.

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First I suppose, that the gospell of Christ, is the whole body of Gods law, and that Christ whiche did geue that same lawe him selfe, I beleue him to be very man, and in that poynt, to excede the law of the Gospel, and all other partes of the Scripture. Agayn I do geue and hold, that the Byshop of Rome, for so much as he is the vicare of Christ here in earth, to be boūd most of al other men vnto that lawe of the Gospell. For the greatnesse amongest Christes disciples, did not consiste in worldly dignitie or honours, but in the neare and exact folowyng of Christ, in his life and maners: wherupon I do gather out of the harte of the lawe of the Lord, that Christ for the tyme of his pilgrimage here, was a most poore man, abiectyng & castyng of all worldly rule and honour, as it appeareth by the Gospell of Mat. the. 8. and the ii. Cor. 8. chapter.

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Hereby I do fully gather, that no faithful man ought to folow, neither the pope him selfe, neither any of the holy men, but in such points, as he hath folowed the Lord Iesus Christe. MarginaliaThe true disciples of Christ seeke no honorFor Peter and the sonnes of Zebede by desyring worldly honour, contrary to the folowyng of Christes steppes did offend, and therfore in those errors, they are not to be folowed.

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Hereof I do gather, as a councel, that the pope ought to leaue vnto the secular power, all temporall dominion and rule, and there vnto effectually to moue and exhorte his hole clergy: for so did Christ, and specially by his Apostles. Wherfore, if I haue erred in any of these poynts, I will most humbly submit my selfe vnto correction, euen by death if necessitie so require: And if I could labour accordyng to my will or desire in my own person, I would surely present my self before the bishop of Rome: but the Lord hath otherwise visited me to the cōtrary, and hath taught me rather to obey God thē men. For so much thē, as God hath geuen vnto our pope, iust and true Euangelicall instinctions, we ought to pray, that those mocions be not extinguished by any subtle or crafty deuise.

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And that the Pope and cardinals, be not moued to do any thyng, contrary vnto the law of the Lord. Wherfore let vs pray vnto our God, that he wyll so styrre vp our Pope Vrbane the sixt as he began, that he with his clergy may folow the Lord Iesus Christ, in lyfe & maners: and that they may teach the people effectuallye, and that they lykewise may faythfully followe them in the same. And let vs specially pray, that our Pope may be preserued from all maligne and euill councell, as whiche doo know that euill and enuious men of his houshold wold geue hym. And seeing the Lorde will not suffer vs to be tempted aboue our power, much lesse then wyll he require of any creature to do that thing which they are not able: for somuche, as that is the playne condition and maner of Antichrist.

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MarginaliaThe pope occupied so in schismaticall that he had no leysure to other matters.Thus much wrote Iohn Wickliffe vnto Pope Vrbane: but this Pope Vrbane otherwise termed, Turbanus was so hote in his warres against Clement þe Frēch pope his aduersary, that he had no leasure, and lesse lyst, to attende vnto Wickleffes matters. By the occasion of whiche schisme, God so prouided for poore Wickleffe, that he was in some more rest and quietnes. Cōcernyng whiche schismatical wars of these popes, for as much as we haue here entred into the mention hereof, it shall not be impertinent from the order of our story, disgressyng a litle from the matter of Ihon Wickleffe, to touch something of the tragicall doynges of these two holy Popes striuing for the triple crowne: to the entent that the Christian reader (iudgyng by their fruites and procedinges) may see and vnderstand what difference is betwen these Popes, and Christ and his Apostles. MarginaliaDifference betwene the apostles and the popes in striuing for preeminence.For though in the story of the Gospell it is read, þt certayne of the disciples did striue which should be the greater, yet neither do we read that one of them tooke euer weapon agaynst the other: and moreouer in the said story of the Gospel it doth appeare, that they in so striuyng as they did, were therfore sharply rebuked of our sauiour Christ, and were taught by him an other lesson.

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MarginaliaAn. 1383About þe beginning of the next yeare following 

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Henry Despenser, the bishop of Norwich, had proposed - possibly at the instigation of Urban VI, to lead a military expedition into Flanders. To the English, this was simply another campaign in the Hundred Years War, with the strategic objective of harassing the French from the north. However, since the French were the chief supporters of the anti-pope Clement VII the expedition was also declared to be a crusade by Urban VI, who granted Despenser sweeping privileges to facilitate his raising and maintaining the expedition. (And since it was a crusade, most of the costs were shifted onto the clergy, thus pleasing both the Crown and the Commons who were delighted at thought of an inexpensive war). Foxe drew his account of the 'crusade from the version of Thomas Walsingham's Chronica majora in College of Arms MS Arundel 7 (cf the printed version in Historia Anglicana, ed. H. T. Riley, Rolls Series 28, 2 vols. [London, 1863-4], II, pp. 76-80 and 88-100. Foxe is interested in the episode largely to demonstrate the bloodthirsty nature of the Papacy and its devotion to political, rather than spiritual, objectives. As a result, Foxe dramatically compresses Walsingham's narrative, rendering the account of military operations somewhat unclear.

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, which was an. 1383. Pope Vrbane setting all hys studie howe to represse and conquer the contrary pope hys aduersarie, being then at Auinion (seing all his other meanes to fayle, and that hys crosse keyes could doe no good) tooke to hym the sworde of Romulus, and set vpon hym with open warre. MarginaliaThe pope set to warre.And first deuising with hym selfe whom he might best chuse for his chiefe champion: thought none meeter for such affayres then Harry Spencer being thē bishop of Norwiche, a young and a stoute prelate, more fitter for the cāping cure, thē for the peaceable church of Christ, as partly also myght appeare before by his actes done at Lennam in striuing for þe Mayres Mace, mentioned before pag. 528. Vnto this bishop of Norwyche, þe pope had sent hys bulles aboute thys tyme, to Croysis 
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I.e., to enlist on a crusade.

who soeuer woulde goe with him into Fraunce, to destroy the Antipope which named hymself Clement, and to make warre against all those þt toke his part. Which

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Bulles
Bb.iij.
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