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1010 [1009]

K. Henry. 8. The Martyrdome of Bilney. M. Stafford of Cābridge. M. Simon Fishe.

make a poore collation vnto them, and thereby ranne into the disobedience of certaine authoritie in the Churche, by whom I was prohibited: 

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This may refer to Bilney's prohibition from preaching by Bishop West of Ely. On 23 July 1525 he had been licensed to preach in the diocese, but this was revoked by the bishop after Bilney was first charged and tried for heresy by Wolsey in 1527.

how beit I trust at the generall day, charitie that moued me to this acte, shall beare me out at the iudgement seate of God: MarginaliaM. More proued a lyer, by witnes present at Bilneys death. and so he proceeded on, without any maner of wordes of recantation, or chargyng any man for procuryng him to his death.

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This once done, he put of his gowne, and went to the stake, and kneelyng vppon a litle ledge commyng out of the stake, whereon he should afterward stand to be better sene, MarginaliaTho. Bilney praying at the stake. he made hys priuate prayer with such earnest eleuatiō of his eyes and handes to heauen, and in so good quyet behauiour, that he seemed not much to cōsider the terrour of his death, and ended at the last, his priuate prayers with the. 143. Psalme begynnyng Domine exaudi orationem meam, auribus percipe obsecrationem meam. et cet. 

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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 iudiciū cum seruo tuo Domine. i. 
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Psalm 143.2

And enter not into Iudgemēt with thy seruaunt, for in thy sight shall no man liuyng be iustified,
& so finishyng that Psalme he ended hys priuate prayers.

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After that, he turned himselfe to the officers, askyng thē if they were ready, and they aunswered, yea. Whereupon he put of his iacket and doublet and stode in his hose and shyrt, and went vnto the stake, standyng vpon that ledge, and the chayne was cast about him, and standyng thereon, MarginaliaDoct. Warner taking his farewell of Thomas Bilney. the sayd Doct. Warner came to him to byd hym farewel, which spake but fewe wordes for weepyng. Vpon whom the sayd Tho. Bilney did most gentlye smile, & inclined his body to speake to him a fewe wordes of thankes, and the last were these: MarginaliaThe wordes of Tho. Bilney to Doct. Warner. O Maister Doctour, Pasce gregem tuum, Pasce gregem tuū, vt cum venerit Dominus, inueniat te sic facientem. That is. Feede your flocke, feede your flocke, that when the Lorde commeth, he may finde you so doyng, and farewel good M. Doctour, and pray for me, and so he departed without any aunswere, sobbyng and weepyng.

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And while he thus stode vpon the ledge at the stake, certaine Friers, Doctours and Priors of their houses beyng there present (as they were vncharitably and maliciously present at his examination and degradation &c.) came to him and sayd: MarginaliaThe Friers desire Bilney to speake for them. O M. Bilney the people be persuaded that we be the causers of your death, and that we haue procured the same, and thereupon it is like that they will withdraw their charitable almes from vs all, except you declare your charitie towardes vs, and discharge vs of the matter. Wherupon 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, be 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 Fagots about his body and set fire on the reede, which made a very great flame, whiche sparcled and deformed the visour of his face, he holdyng vp his hands and knockyng vppon his brest, crying sometymes Iesus, sometymes Credo. Whiche flame was blowen away from him by the violence of the wynde, which was that day and two or iij. dayes before, notable great, in which it was sayd that the fieldes were merueilously plagued by the losse of corne: and so for a litle pause, he stode without flame, the flame departyng and recoursing thrise ere the woode tooke strength to be the sharper to consume him: MarginaliaThe pacient death & Martyrdome of M. Bilney. and then he gaue vp the ghost, & his body being withered bowed downward vpon the chayne. Then one of the officers with his halbard smitte out the staple in the stake behynde 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 history, & Martyrdome of this good man, MarginaliaSaint Bilney. that is, of blessed Saint Bilney (as M. Latymer 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 and partie beyng there present & yet alyue, it is furthermore constantly affirmed, that Bilney not onely did neuer recant, but also that he neuer had any such Bill, or script, or scrolle in his hand to read, either softly, or apertly, as M. More per licentiā Poeticam, would beare vs down. MarginaliaM. Mores false report refuted. Wherfore euen as ye see M. More deale in this, so ye may trust him 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 dyd much good in Northfolke where he was burnt: so his diligēt trauaile, in teachyng and exhortyng other, and example of life correspondent to his doctrine, left no small frute behynde hym in Cambridge, beyng a great meanes of framyng that Vniuersitie, & drawyng diuers vnto Christ. By reason of whō, and partly also of an other called M. Stafford, the word of God began there most luckely to spread, and many toward wittes to florish. In the company of whom was M. Latymer, Doctour Barnes, Doct. Thistell of Penbroke hall, M. Fooke of Benet Colledge, and M. Soude of the same Colledge, Doctour 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 which he professed, as by this example here folowyng may appeare.

MarginaliaThe notable zeale of M. Stafforde, in sauing a damnable priest. For as the plague 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 plague, M. Stafford hearyng therof, and seyng the horrible daunger that his soule was in, was so moued in conscience to helpe the daūgerous case of the Priest, that he neglectyng his owne bodely death, to recouer the other from eternall damnation, came vnto him, exhorted, and so laboured him, that he would not leaue him, before he had conuerted him, and saw his coniuryng bookes burned before his face. Which beyng done, maister 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, et Edmund. Episcoporum Lond.

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Concernyng which M. Stafford, this moreouer is to be noted how that M. Latymer beyng yet a feruent and a zelous Papist, standyng in the Scholes when M. Stafford read, bad the Scholers not to heare hym: and also preachyng agaynst hym, exhorted the people, not to beleue hym, MarginaliaM. Latimer asketh M. Stafforde forgeuenes. and yet the sayd Latymer confessed hymselfe, that he gaue thankes to God, that he asked hym forgeuenesse before hee 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 his constant and godly aduenture in such a cause, may seeme 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 the Cardinall, I should haue placed the story of Symō Fish with the booke called the Supplication of Beggars, declaryng how and by what meanes it came to the kynges hand, and what effect therof followed after, in the reformation of many thynges, 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 sixe yeares before. The maner and circumstaunce of the matter is this:

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After that the light of the Gospel workyng mightely in Germanie, began to spread his beames here also in England, great styrre and alteration folowed in the harts 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 Bishop of Rome, and the glory of his Cardinals was not so high, but such as had fresh wittes sparcled with Gods grace, begā to espy Christ from Antichrist, that is, true sinceritie, from counterfait religion. In the number of whom, was the sayd M. Symon Fishe, a Gentlemā of Grayes Inne. It happened the first yeare that this Gentleman came to Lōdon to dwell, which was about the yeare of our Lord. 1525. that there was a certaine play or interlude made by one M. Roo of the same Inne Gentlemā, 

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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 which play partly was matter agaynst the Cardinal Wolsey. And where none MarginaliaEx certa relatione, viuoq̀; testimonio propriæ ipsius coniugis. durst take vpon thē to play that part, whiche touched the sayd Cardinall, this foresayd M. Fish tooke vpon him to do it, wherupon great displeasure ensued agaynst him, vpon the Cardinals part: In so much as he deyng pursued by the sayd Cardinall, the same night that this Tragedie was playd, was compelled of force to voyde his owne house, & so fled ouer the sea vnto Tyndall: vpon occasion wherof the next yeare folowyng this booke was made (beyng about the yeare. 1527.) and so not long after in the yeare (as I suppose) 1528. was sent ouer to the Lady Anne Bulleyne, who then lay at a place not farre from the Court. Which booke her brother seyng in her hand, tooke it and read it, & gaue it her agayne, willyng her earnestly to giue it to the kyng, which thing she so dyd. MarginaliaThe booke of the supplication of beggars geuen to the kyng. This was (as I gather) about the yeare of our Lord. 1528. The kyng after he had receaued the booke, demaunded of her who made it. Wherunto she aunswered and sayd, a certaine subiect of his, one Fish, who was fled out of the Realme for feare of the Cardinall. 
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No doubt as a result of his treatise, A supplication for the beggars (1529).

After the kyng had kept the booke in his bosome iij. or iiij. dayes, as is credibly reported, such knowledge was giuen by the kynges seruauntes, to the wife of þe said Symō Fishe, þt she might boldly send for her husband, without all perill or daunger. Whereupon she thereby beyng incouraged, came first and made sute to the kyng for the safe returne of her husband. Who vnderstādyng whose wife she was, shewed a maruelous gentle and

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