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1011 [1010]

K. Henry. 8. The supplication of beggars.

chearefull countenaunce towardes her, askyng where her husband was. She aūswered, if it like your grace, not farre of. Then sayth he, fetch him, and he shall come and go safe without perill, and no man shal do him harme, saying moreouer that hee had much wrong that hee was from her so long: who had bene absent now the space of two yeares and a halfe. In the whiche meane tyme, the Cardinall was deposed, as is aforeshewed, and M. More set in his place of the Chauncellourshyp.

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MarginaliaM. Fishe brought and gently entertayned of the kyng. Thus Fishes wife beyng emboldened by the kynges wordes, went immediatly to her husband being lately come ouer, and lying priuely within a myle of the Court, and brought him to the kyng: which appeareth to be about the yeare of our Lord. 1530. When the kyng saw him, and vnderstode he was the authour of the booke, he came and embraced him with louing countenaunce: who after lōg talke: for the space of iij. or iiij. houres, as they were ridyng together on huntyng, at length dimitted him and bad him take home his wife, for she had taken great paynes for him. Who aunswered the kyng agayne and sayd, he durst not so do, for feare of Syr Thomas More then Chaūcellour, & Stoksley then Byshop of London. This seemeth to be about the yeare of our Lord. 1530.

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The kyng takyng his signet of his finger, willed hym to haue him recommended to the Lord Chauncellour, chargyng him not to bee so hardy to worke him any harme. MarginaliaM. Fishe rescued by the kyng. M. Fishe receiuyng the kynges signet, went and declared hys message to the Lord Chauncellour, who tooke it as sufficient for his owne discharge, but he asked him if he had any thyng for the discharge of his wife: for she a litle before had by chaunce displeased the Friers, for not sufferyng them to say their Gospels in Latine in her house, as they did in others, vnlesse they would say it in English. Whereupon the Lord Chauncellour, though he had discharged the man, MarginaliaSyr. Tho. More persecuteth M. Fishes wyfe. yet leauing not his grudge towardes the wife, the next mornyng sent his man for her to appeare before hym: who, had it not bene for her young daughter, which then lay sicke of the plague had bene lyke to come to much trouble. MarginaliaM. Fishe dyeth of the plague. Of the which plague her husbād, the sayd M. Fish deceasing with in halfe a yeare, 

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Fish had been arrested in London on heresy charges, but died of plague before he could stand trial in 1531.

she afterward maryed to one M. Iames Baynham, Syr Alexander Baynhams sonne, a worshypfull knight of Glostershyre. The which foresaid M. Iames Baynham, not long after was burned, 
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James Bainham was a lawyer of Middle Temple and member of the Christian Brethren. He was burned as a relapsed heretic (tried on 19 April 1531) for denying purgatory and auricular confession. See John F Davis, Heresy and reformation in the south east of England, 1520-1559 (London, 1983), pp. 55-6.

as incontinently after in the processe of this story, shall appeare.

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MarginaliaThe summe of the scripture translated by M. Fishe And thus much concernyng Symon Fishe the author of the booke of beggars, 

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This refers to Simon Fish, A supplication for the beggars (Antwerp, 1529). For references I have used the copy in The English Scholar's Library of Old and Modern Works, ed. by Edward Arber (London, 1878), pp. 1-13, which can be found on-line at http://www.archive. org/stream/supplicationforb00fishuoft. For a biographical examination, see J S W Helt, 'Fish, Simon (d.1531)', ODNB (Oxford, O.U.P., 2004).

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who also translated a booke called the Summe of the Scripture, 
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This is Simon Fish's Sum of the Holy Scripture (which is actually the translation from a Dutch original treatise in denial of infant baptism), printed in England in 1529.

out of the Dutch.

Now commeth an other note of one Edmund Moddys the kynges footeman, 

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Edmund Moody was made a gentleman by letters patent in 1540. The story is that Moody saved the king from drowning some time previous, for which see //free pages.genealogy.roots web.ancestry.com/~edmund moody/.

touchyng the same matter.

MarginaliaM. Moddys the kynges footeman. This M. Moddys beyng with the kyng in talke of religion, and of new bookes that were come from beyond the seas, sayde if it might please hys grace to pardon him, & such as he would bryng to his grace, hee should see such a booke, as was maruell to heare of. The kyng demaunded what they were. MarginaliaThe booke of Beggars brought to the kyng by George Elyot, & George Robynson. He sayd, two of your Marchauntes, George Elyot, & George Robinson. The kyng poynted a tyme to speake with them. When they came afore his presence in a priuye closet, he demaūded what they had to saye, or to shew him. One of them said þt there was a boke come to their hāds, which they had there to shew his grace. When he saw it, hee demaunded if any of them could read it. Yea sayd George Elyot, if it please your grace to heare it. I thought so, sayd the kyng, for if neede were thou canst say it without booke.

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The whole booke beyng read out, the kyng made a long pause, and then sayd, MarginaliaThe kynges aunswere vpon the booke of beggars. if a man should pull downe an old stone wall and begyn at the lower part, the vpper part thereof might chaunce to fall vpon his head: and then he tooke the booke and put it into his deske, and commaunded them vpon their allegiance, that they should not tell to any man, that he had sene the booke. &c. The Copie of the foresayd booke, intituled of the Beggars, here ensueth.

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¶ A certaine Libell or booke intituled the Supplication of beggers, throwen and scattered at the procession in Westminster vpon Candelmas day, before kyng Henry the viij. for hym to read and peruse, made and compiled by Maister Fishe. 
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Supplication of Beggers

This is a complete copy of Simon Fish, A supplication for the beggars (1529). For references I have used the copy in The English Scholar's Library of Old and Modern Works, ed. by Edward Arber (London, 1878), pp. 1-13.

Andrew ChibiUniversity of Leicester

¶ To the kyng our soueraigne Lord.

MarginaliaA libell called the supplication of beggars. MOst lamentably complayneth their wofull misery, vnto your hyghnes, your poore dayly bedemen the wretched hydious monsters, on whom scarsly for horror any eye dare looke, the foule vnhappy sort of lepers, and other sore people, needy, impotent, blynd, lame, and sicke, that lyue onely by almes, how that their number is dayly so sore increased, that all the almes of all the well disposed people of this your realme is not halfe enough for to susteine them, but that for very constraint, they dye for hunger. And this most pestilent mischiefe is come vpon your sayde poore beadmen, by the reason þt there is in the tymes of your noble predecessors passed, craftely crept into this your realme, an other sorte, not of impotent, MarginaliaStronge valiant sturdie and idle beggars. but of strong, puisant, and counterfeit holy, and idle beggers and vagabundes, which since the tyme of their first entrie, by all the craft and wylines of Sathan, are now encreased vnder your sight, not onely into a great number, but also into a kyngdome.

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These are not the herdes, but the rauinous wolues, goyng in herdes clothing, deuouring the flocke, Byshops, Abbots, Priours, Deacons, Archdeacons, Suffraganes, Priests, Monkes, Chanōs, Friers, Pardoners & Somners. And who is able to number this idle rauenous sort, which (setting all labour aside) haue begged so importunatly, MarginaliaMore then the thyrd part of the realme in the spirituall mens handes. that they haue gotten into their handes, more thē the third part of all your Realme. 

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The Supplication makes three important arguments (economic, theological and anti-clerical). That the clergy control so much land is one of his economic complaints. The economic argument is probably the key aspect of the treatise given that the 1520s witnessed a Europe wide inflation crisis.

The goodlyest Lordshyps, manors, landes, and territories are theirs. Besides thys, they haue the x. part of all the corne, medow, pasture, grasse, woode, coltes, calues, lambes, pygs, geese, and chickens. Ouer and besides, the x, part of euery seruauntes wages, the x. parte of wolle, milke, hony, waxe, cheese, and butter: yea and they looke so narrowly vpon their profites, that þe poore wyues must be countable to them for euery x. egge, or els she getteth not her rightes at Easter, and shalbe taken as an hereticke. Hereto haue they their foure offryng dayes. What money pull they in by probates of Testamentes, priuie tithes, and by mens offringes to their pilgrimages, and at their first Masses. Euery man and child that is buried, must pay somewhat for Masses and Diriges, to be song for hym, or els they will accuse their frendes and executours of heresie. What money get they by mortuaries, by hearing of confessions (and yet they will kepe thereof no counsell) by halowing of Churches, altares, superaltares, Chappels, and belles, by cursing of men, and absoluing them agayne for money? what a multitude of money gather the Pardoners in a yeare? How much money get the Somners 
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A summoner was a minor church official whose duty was to summon offenders to appear in ecclesiastical courts to stand trial for their offences against the church. Already, by Fish's period, holders were highly suspect of corruption and accepting bribes. See R Wunderli, 'Pre-Reformation London Summoners and the Murder of Richard Hunne', in Journal of Ecclesiastical History 33 (1982), pp. 209-24.

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by extortion, in a yeare, by asciting the people to the Commissaries Court, and afterwarde releasing the apparauntes for money? Finally, the infinite number of begging Friers, what get they in a yeare?

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Marginalia* Paraduenture the common counte of the parishes of England, among men, and in Mappes of the olde time so went. And albeit the sayd Parishes doe not amount now to the same rate of 52000: yet neuertheles the number (no doubt) is great, and therfore the quartarage of the Fryers can not be little, but ryseth to a great pennye through the Realme. Whereupon the scope of thys mans reason soundeth to good purpose. For although he hit not perfectly on the iust summes, yet it can not be denyed, but the Fryers had very much, and much more, then they deserued. Agayne, neither can it be denyed, but the more they had, the lesse redounded to the impotent needie beggars in deede. And what reason is it, that such valiaunt beggars, which may worke, and yet will needes be idle, shoulde reape any peece of the croppe, which beare no burden of the haruest, but wilfully do sit idle, and serue to no vse necasarie in the common wealth? * Here if it please your grace to marke, you shall see a thing far out of ioint. There are wythin your realme of Englād. 52000. Parishe Churches. And this standing, that there be but x. housholdes in euery Parish, yet are there v.c. M. & xx. M. housholdes. And of euery of these housholdes hath euery of the fiue orders of Friers, a peny a quarter, for euery order: that is, for all the fiue orders, fiue pence a quarter, for euery house: that is, for all þe fiue orders. xx. d. a yeare of euery house. Summa v.C. and xx. M. quarters of Aūgels. 

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At the time (c.1526) under Henry VIII, an Angel was valued at 7s and 6d. Fish's point is that just one of the existing five orders of mendicant friars in England took some ₤43.333 6s.8d each year out of the English economy.

That is, cclx. M. halfe Aungels. Summa cxxx. M. Aūgels. Marginalia* Admitte the Summa totalis came not to so much, yet it came to more then the Fryers deserued, whiche coulde well worke and woulde not, and woulde needes begge, and needed not. Whereof reade more pag. 404. and 407. in the story of Armachanus. * Summa totalis xliij. M. poundes & cccxxxiij. li. vi. s. viij. d. sterlyng. Whereof not iiij. C. yeares passed, they had not one peny.

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Marginalia* Oh greuous, &c. these wordes, sayth M. More, the soules themselues did heare, euen into Purgatorie. Belyke M. More hymselfe stoode behinde Purgatorie doore the same time, or els how coulde he tell, that the soules dyd heare hym? * Oh greuous & paynefull exactions, thus yearely to be payde: from the whiche the people of your noble predecessours the Kynges of the auncient Britaines, euer stoode free. And thys will they haue, or els they will procure hym that will not geue it them, to be taken as an hereticke. What Tyranne euer oppressed the people, lyke this cruell and vengeable generation? what subiectes shalbe hable to helpe theyr Prince, that be after this fasion yearely poled? What good Christen people can bee able to succour vs poore lepers, blynde, sore, and lame, that bee thus yearely oppressed? Is it any maruaile that your people so complayne of pouertie? Is it any maruayle that the taxes, fiftenes and subsidies, 

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These are parliamentary grants of taxation calculated based on one-fifteen of a person's annual income (there was another valuation based on a tenth) as well as customs duties paid annual to the king in the form of tonnage (on wine) and poundage (on all other goods).

that your grace most tenderly of great compassion, hath taken among your people to defende them from the threatened ruine of theyr common wealth, haue bene so sloughtfully, yea paynfully leuied,

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seyng
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