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813 [813]

K. Henry. 6. The Councell of Basill.

fore intended, accordyng to þe institution of the councell of Constāce. Notwithstandyng þe sayd Eugenius perceauyng afterward this Councell of Basill not to fauour hym and his doynges, and fearyng some detriment to come to hym by þe same, afterward laboured by all subtill practise to dissolue and interrupt the sayd Councell, and from Basill to translate it first to Ferraria, then to Florentia, more nere to his owne sea of Rome. Concernyng the whiche Councell of Basill, for somuch as we haue begon here to make mention, it shall bee no great digression out of the way, to discourse some thyng therof (the Lord so permitting) more at large, so much as for the most principall matters therof shall seme sufficient or necessary, to be knowen.

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¶ Here followeth the order and manner of the Councell of Basyll, touchyng the principall matters concluded therin, briefly collected and abridged here in this present booke: The rest whereof we haue referred vnto our former edition, wherin the full discourse of the whole disputation is to be sene more at large, for such as haue list and leysure to see more thereof. 
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Council of Basel [I]

One of the the more important results of the Council of Constance was the decree 'Frequens', mentioned in Foxe's text, which mandated that a general council was to held at regular intervals. The Council, which was in session from 1431-49, met despite the implacable hostility of Eugenius IV, who tried to dissolve it. In 1439, as Foxe will relate, the Council elected their own pope (or antipope), Felix V. At this point, the Council had over-reached itself by initiating fears of a new schism and it rapidly lost support. Ultimately the Council was out-manoeuvred by Eugenius and accomplished few of its objectives. Yet it was remembered positively by Protestants for its attempts to reform the Church and to restrict papal authority. It is for these reasons, particularly the latter, that Foxe devotes so much attention to it.

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Foxe's account of the Council of Basel was added to the 1563 edition. There is no section about it in either of his two Latin martyrologies. Apart from background material on Martin V, Cardinal Julian and the council at Ferrara, all of which came from Caspar Peucer's continuation of Carion's chronicle (see Chronicon Carionis, ed. Philip Melancthon and Caspar Peucer [Wittenburg, 1580], pp. 634-5), it was taken entirely from the first book of Aeneas Sylvius Picclomini's commentaries on the council. The commentary is devoted to events in the year 1439, when Picclomini was actually attending the council. At this point in his life, Picclomini, who later became Pope Pius II, was an ardent conciliarist and his approving account of the council was quite congenial to Foxe.

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As a result, in the 1563, Foxe followed the first book of Picclomini's account quite closely, although he abridged it. (Foxe would have been able to consult it in Ortwin Gratius' Fasciculus rerum expetendarum ac fugiendarum, where it was printed, or in the 1571 edition of Pius II's Opera omnia, both of which works he is known to have used. For a modern edition of this work, see Aeneas Sylvius Picclomini, De Gestis Concili Basiliensis Commentarium libri II, ed. Denys Hay and W. K. Smith, Second edition [Oxford, 1992]). In the 1570 edition, Foxe further abridged his already abridged version of Picclomini's text. The 1570 version was reprinted without further changes in subsequent editions.

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Most of Foxe's abridgements were relatively innocuous and were made simply to save paper in a book that was expanding to an alarming length. But some of Foxe's deletions were more tendentious. For example, Picclomini relates that Louis d'Aleman, the cardinal of Arles, president of the Council, and a staunch anti-papalist, at a critical juncture, 'quod erat futuram, plurimasque sanctorum reliquias tota urbe perquiri iussit…quae res maxime devotionem adauxit intantum ut vocato postmodum de more Spiritu Sancto nemo lachrymas continuerit' ['considered what was going to happen, and had ordered search to be made for the very many relics of the saints throughout the whole city….This so greatly increased the devotion that when, as usual, the Holy Spirit had been invoked, nobody restrained his tears'] (Picclomini, Commentarium, ed. Hay and Smith, pp. 178-9). Foxe's version of this passage ran: 'Arlatensis considered before what would come to passe. And after theyr prayers made unto almightie GOD, wyth great tears and lamentation that he would send them his holy spirit to aid and assist them, they were greatly comforted and encouraged' (1563, p. 319). Foxe did not want his godly, anti-papalist venerating relics, so this inconvenient passage was simply rewritten.

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Thomas S. Freeman
University of Sheffield

MarginaliaThe Councell of Basill.
Ex Ænea Syluio.
Ex Chochleo in Histor. Hußit.
Et ex paralipom. Abbat. Vrsperg.
IN the. 39. session of the Councell of Constance (as is before mencioned pag. 708.) it was decreed & prouided concerning þe order & times of such generall Councels as should hereafter follow: The first þt should next ensue, to be kept þe fift yeare after þe sayd Councel of Cōstance: The second to be holden þe vij. yere after that, & so orderly all other to followe successiuely frō. x. yeare to. x. yeare. Wherfore according to this decree, followed a general Councell, fiue yeares after þe Councell of Constance, celebrate and holden at Sene vnder pope Martine, an. 1424. but it sone broke vp. After the which Councell, the terme of. vij. yeares being expired, an other councel was called at Basill, in the yere of our Lord. 1431. The which councell is noted to haue bene the most troublesome, and to haue endured lōger then any other councell before time celebrate and holdē in the church. This councell continued almost the space of. xvij. yeares: wherein it was concluded, as before in the councell of Constance, that the generall Councels were aboue the Pope, and both of these twoo Councels did attribute the chiefe authority in decreing & determining, vnto the generall councell: which is the cause that the contrarye part doth derogate so much from the authoritie of thys present councell.

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MarginaliaThe death of pope Martyn.When as pope Martine the fift had apointed Iulian, Cardinall and Deacon of S. Angel, his Legate, to celebrate and hold a generall councell at Basill for the reformation of the church, and rooting out of heresies, within short space after Pope Martin died, MarginaliaPope Eugenius 4.in whose seat Eugenius the fourth succeded, who confirmed vnto the said Cardinal Iulian, the same authoritie which his predecessor before had geuen him. Vnto this councell of Basill being begon, came the Emperour Sigismund, who during his life time, with his presence and autoritye did protect and defend the said Sinode. After þe Emperours death, Pope Eugenius altering his former minde and purpose, would transport the councell vnto Bononie, and therby hindred the successe of the councell of Basil. And first hee held a contrary councell at Feraria, & afterwarde at Florence: For after the death of the Emperour Sigismund, there was no princes or noble men, that had any care or regard of the councell. MarginaliaPope Eugenius seketh to dissolue the councell of Basill.Eugenius the Pope pretended causes, as touching the Grekes, which should come vnto the councell, and the vniting of their church vnto the West church, the which Grekes would in no wise passe the Alpes: Also as touching hys owne incommoditie, that hee could not come vnto Basil being so long a iourney, and that all men mighte haue easye accesse vnto Bononia, and that amongest the Germains (which in their owne countrye are so intractable) nothing can bee attempted for their reformation: whereupon he cited Cardinal Iu-lian and the Fathers of the councell vnto Bononia, vnder great penaltie. MarginaliaDissension betwene the coūcell of Basill, and pope Eugenius.They agayne cited the Pope, that either he should come himselfe vnto the Councell, or sende his Ambassadors vnder like penalty. For this cause the the Ambassadours of Albert kyng of the Romains, and of the other Princes of Germany, assēbled together first at Norenberge, and when as they coulde determine nothing there, they assembled agayne at Frankford, to appease the dissension betwene the councell and the Pope: for it was thought, that the Electors of the Empire might best assemble & meete in that place. In the meane time, the Emperours Ambassadours and the Ambassadours of the Electors, went vnto Basill, and hauing conference wyth the Ambassadours of the other Prynces which were there, they dyd earnestly exhort the fathers of the Councell, that they woulde embrace and receyue the vnity which they wold offer. MarginaliaThe princes request to remoue the councell, at the popes pleasure.The request of the princes was, that the fathers would transport the councell, and go vnto an other place: the which onely thing Pope Eugenius seemed alwayes to seeke and desire, that therby he might either diuide the fathers of the Councell, or take away their libertie.

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MarginaliaThe prelates of the councell refused the popes request.Notwithstanding this sacred Sinode thought good neither to deny the Princes request, nor to graunt that which Pope Eugenius required. During this doubt, the Emperours Ambassadours, the bishops of Patauia and Augusta (being much required and stirred therunto) appoynted a noble and valiant Baron called Conrad weinsperge, by the kinges commaundement, to be Protector and defender of the Councell, and the fathers. Wherby as the enemies perceiued the Emperours mynde to bee alienate from the Pope, so the Fathers of the Councell vnderstoode hys good wyll towardes them: forsomuche as he would not haue sent them a protector, if he had not iudged it a lawfull councell: neither agayne woulde he haue iudged it a councell in Basil, if he had geuen credit to Pope Eugenius. But by meanes of a great pestilence which began to grow, the assēbly that should haue bene holden at Frankford, was transported vnto Mentz. The Ambassadours of the Princes also thought good to go thither, if they might finde any meanes of vnity, whereby they myght vnite and knyt the Pope agayne vnto the Councell.

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MarginaliaThe princes assembled at Mentz, to make vnitie betwene the coūcell and the pope.The assembly was very famous, for there were present the Archbishops of Mentz, Colen and Treuers, electours of the sacred Empire, and all the Ambassadours of the other Electours. Notwithstanding, the Archbyshop of Colen was the chiefe fauourer of the Councel in this assemblye, who wyth all hys labour and diligence went about to bring the matter vnto a good end. Rabanus the Archbishop of Treuers shewed himself somwhat more rough. The sacred Sinode also thought good to send thither their Ambassadours, and apoynted out the Patriarke of Aquileya, the bishop of Vicene, and the bishop of Argen Diuines, Iohn Segouius, and Thomas Decorcellis, with diuers others. There was no man there present which woulde name himselfe the Ambassadour of Eugenius: All beit there were manye of his fauourers and frendes come thether, both frō the councell, and also out of Florence, the which, albeit they had sworne to the contrary, yet fauoured they more Eugenius then the Councell. But þe chiefe Hercules of all þe Eugenians, was Nicolaus Cusanus, a man singulerly well learned, and of great experience. After diuers consultations had, the Electours of the Empire, and the Ambassadours of the other princes of Germany, thought good to geue out cōmaundement throughout their whole nation and country, that the decrees of the councell of Basill should be receiued and obserued.

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Whilest these thinges were thus debated at Mentz, there sprang a certayne very doubtfull question amongest the Diuines, which remained at Basil, whether Eu-

genius
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