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629 [629]

K. Richard. 2. A letter of the King to the Pope. Actes and Mon. of the church.

sect was dead & buried sixe yere before. MarginaliaAn. 1389
Pope boniface. 9.
After whō succeded in the schismaticall see of Rome pope Boniface, 9. who nothing inferiour to his predecessour in all kind of cruelnes, left no diligence vnatempted to set forward þt which Vrbane had begon, in suppressing them þt were the setters forth of the light of the Gospell: MarginaliaThe letters of pope Boniface. 9. to K. Rich.and had writen sundry tymes to kyng Richard as wel for the repealing of the actes of parliament againste his prouisions, Quare impedit, and premunire facias: as also þt he should assist the prelates of England in the cause of God (as he pretended) against such, whome he falslye suggested to be lollardes & traytors to the church, to the king, & the realme, &c. Thus the curteous pope, whome he coulde not reach with hys sword, at least with cruell slaūder of his malitious tongue, would worke his poyson against them, MarginaliaAn. 1396.whiche letter he wrote to the kyng in the yeare of our Lord, 1396. MarginaliaThe death of W. Courtney, Archb. of Cant.
Tho. Arundell Archb. of Cant.
which was the yere before the death of W. Courtney Archbishop of Cant. After whom succeded in that see, Thomas Arundel brother to the Erle of Arundel, beyng first B. of Ely, afterwarde Archbish. of Yorke, and lord Chauncelour of England, and at laste made Archb. of Cant. about the yeare of our lord. 1397. MarginaliaAn. 1398.The next yeare following, which was the yeare of our Lord 1398. & the 9. yeare of the pope 

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Richard II's letter to Boniface IX

Foxe states that he obtained this letter from Richard II to Pope Boniface IX from a portion of a manuscript from Durham. (It is worth remembering that Foxe's close friend James Pilkington was the bishop of Durham; he probably sent this letter to Foxe in answer to a request from Foxe for documents that could be used in the Acts and Monuments). The letter, apparently written around 1379, was an expression of Richard's concern over the Great Schism. Foxe overread the contents of the letter to see it as an expression of claims of royal sovereignty over the Papacy. Foxe's conclusion, that Richard's mentioning a reference to the 'great departing away' of 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4 (commonly considered a prophecy of Antichrist) meant that the king was prophesying the destruction of the Papacy, is particularly tendentious.

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Thomas S. Freeman
University of Sheffield

, I fynde in certain Recordes of the bish. of Duresme, a certain letter of K. Richard 2. written to the said Pope Boniface: Which because I iudged not vnworthye to be seene, I thought here to annexe þe same, proceding in forme as followeth.

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¶ To the most holy father in Christ and lord, lord Boneface the ix. by the grace of God high pope of the most holy Romish & vniuersall church, his humble and deuout sonne Richard by the grace of God king of England, & Fraunce, Lord of Ireland, greting, and desiring to help the miseries of the afflicted church, & kissing of that hys blessed feete.

MarginaliaA letter of K. Rich. 2. to pope Boniface. 9.WHo will giue my head water, and myne eyes streaming teares, that I may bewaile the decay and manifold troubles of our mother, which haue chaunced to her by her owne chyldren, in the distresse of this present schisme and diuision. For the sheepe haue forgotten the proper voice of their shepheardes, and hirelynges haue thrust in them selues to feede the Lordes flocke, who are clothed with the apparell of the true shepheard, chalenging the name of honour and dignitye, resemblyng so the true shepheard, that the poore sheepe can scarse know whom they ought to folow, or what pastour as a straunger they ought to flee, and whom they should shunne as an hireling: Wherfore we are afraid, least the holy stādard of the lord be forsaken of his host, and so that citie being ful of riches become solitary and desolate, and the land or people which was wont to say (floorishing in her prosperities) I sat as a Queene, and am not a wydowe, least it be destitute of the presence of her housbande, and as it were so be witched that she shall not be able to discerne his face, and so wrapped in mases, that shee shall not know where to turne her, that she might more easily finde him, and that she shall with weepyng speake that saying of the spouse: I sought hym whom my soule loueth, I sought him and found him not: For now we are compelled so to wāder, that if any man say, behold here is Christ, or ther, we may not beleue him so saying: and so manye shepheardes haue destroyed the Lordes vyneyard, and made his amiable portion a waste wildernes. These multitude of shepheards is become verye burdenous to the Lordes flocke. For when twoo striue to bee chiefe, the state of both their dignities standes in doubt, and in so doing they geue occasion to all the faythfull of Christ, of a schisme and diuision of the churche. And although both parties go about to subdue vnto their power the whole church militant, yet contrary to both theyr purpose, by working this waye, there begynneth to ryse now a diuision in the body of the church. Like as whenthe diuision of the quicke innocent body was asked, whē the two harlots did stryue afore Salomon: lyke as the ten tribes of Israell folowed Ieroboham the intruder, and were wythdrawen from the kyngdome for Salomons sinne: MarginaliaDesyre to rule in the church.euen so of old time the desire of ruling hath drawen the great power of the world from the vnitye of the church. MarginaliaGreece renounced the Romish church.Let your selues remember, we beseche you, how that all Greece dyd fall from the obedience of the Romish church in the time of the faction of þe primarche of Constantinople, and how Mahomet with his felowes by occasion of the supremacie in ecclesiasticall dignitie, deceaued a greate parte of Christians, and withdrewe them frō the Empire and ruling of Christ. And now in these daies, where as the same supremacie hathe withdrawen it selfe from the obedience of it, in so much that now in very few realmes the candel that burnes afore þe Lord remaineth, & that for Dauids sake his seruāt. And although now remayne fewe countreyes professing the obedience of Christes true vicare: yet peraduenture if euery man were left to his own libertie, he would doubt of þe preferring of your dignitie, or that is worse, would vtterly refuse it by such doubtfull euidence alledged on both sides: and this is the subtille craft of the croked serpent, that is to say, vnder þe pretense of vnitie, to procure schismes: as the spider of a wholesome flower gathers poyson, and Iudas learned of peace to make warre. Wherfore, it is liuely beleued of wyse men, that excepte thys pestilent schisme be withstand by and by, the keyes of þe church will be despised, & they shall binde the consciences but of a fewe? and whan either none dare be bolde to correcte thys fault or to reforme thinges contrarye to Gods lawe, so by thys meanes at lengthe temporall Lordes will take awaye the liberties of the church, and peraduenture the Romanes will come and take awaye their place, people and landes: they will spoyle their possessions and bryng the men of the church into bondage, and they shall be contemned, reuiled and despised: MarginaliaThe kyng semeth here to Prophesie.because the obedience of the people & deuotions towardes them will almost be taken away, whan the greater part of the church left to their owne libertie shall waxe prouder than they be wont, leauing a wicked example to thē that do see it. For when they see the prelates studie more for couetousnes than they were wont, to pursse vp money, to oppresse the subiectes, in their punishinges to seke for gaine, to confound lawes, to styrre vp strife, to suppresse truth, to vexe poore subiectes with wrong corrections in meate and drinke, intemperate, in feastings past shame: what maruell is it if the people despise them as the foulest forsakers of Gods lawe? but all these things do follow if the church should be left long in this doubtfulnes of a schisme, and than should that olde saying be verefied: in those dayes there was no kyng in Israell, but euery one dyd that that seemed ryght and straighte to himselfe. Micheas did see the people of the Lord scattered in the mountaines as they had bene shepe without a shepeheard: for whan the shepeheard is smitten, the shepe of the flocke shall be scattered, the greate stroke of the shepeheard is the minishing of hys iurisdiction, by which the subiectes are drawen frō hys obedience. Whā Iason had the office of the high priest, he chaunged the ordinaunce of God, and brought in the customes of the heathen, the priestes leauing the seruice of the holy alter and applying themselues to wrasting other exercises of the Grecians, and despysing those things that belonged to the priestes, dyd labour with all theyr might to learne such thynges of the Grecians, and by that meanes the place, people, and holy oynting of priestes which in time past were had in great reuerence of the kings, was troden vnder foote of all men, and robbed by the kinges power and was prophaned by thrusting in for money. Therfore, let the highest vicar of Christ looke vnto thys with a diligent eye, and let hym be the follower of hym

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