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1034 [1033]

K. Hen. 8. The storye of Thomas Benet, Martyr. The Popes cursing.

tenaunce of hym selfe and his wife, he dyd practise to teach yong children and kept a schole for the same purpose. MarginaliaBenet came to Exeter. But that towne not seruyng his expectation, after his abode one yeare there, he came to the citie of Exceter, and there hyring an house in a streate called the Bocher rowe, dyd exercise the teaching of children, and by that meanes susteined his wife and familie. He was of a quiet behauiour, of a godly conuersation, and a very courteous nature, humble to al men, and offensiue to no bodye. His greatest delight was to be at al Sermons and preachings, wherof he was a diligent and an attentiue hearer. The tyme whiche he had to spare frō teachyng, hee gaue holy to his priuate study in the Scriptures, hauyng no dealings nor conferences with any bodye, sauyng with such as he coulde learne and vnderstand to be fauourers of the gospel & zelous of Gods true religion: of such he would be inquisitiue and most desirous to ioyne hym selfe vnto them. MarginaliaW. Strowde prisoned in Exeter for Gods worde. And therfore vnderstanding that one William Strowde of Newnham, in the countie of Deuonshire Esquir, was cōmitted to the Bishops prison in Exeter, vpon suspition of heresie, although he were neuer before acquainted with hym, yet dyd he send his letters of cōfort & consolation vnto hym. Wheren, to auoide al suspition which might be conceiued of hym, he dyd disclose him selfe, & vttered what he was, and the causes of his being in þe countrey, writing among other things these wordes: MarginaliaBenet why he maryed. Vt ne scortator aut immundus essem, vxorē duxi, cū qua hisce sex annis, ab istorū Antichristianorū manibus in deuonia latitaui. That is to say, because I woulde not be a whoremōger or an vncleane person, therfore I maried a wife, with whom I haue hidden my selfe in Deuonshire from the tyrannie of the Antichristians, MarginaliaAntichristians are those which are against Christ. these sixe yeares.

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But as euery tree & herbe hath his due time to bryng forth his fruit, so did it apeare by this mā. For he daily seing þe glory of God to be so blasphemed, idolatrous religion so embraced & mainteined, & that most false vsurped power of the bish. of Rome so extolled, was so greued in conscience & troubled in his spirit, that he could not be quiet tyl he dyd vtter his mind therin. Wherfore dealing priuately with certain of his frends he did playnly opē & disclose how blasphemously and abominably God was dishonored, his word cōtemned, and his people whō he so dearely bought, were by blynd guides caryed headlong to euerlastyng damnation, & therfore he could no lōger endure, but must nedes & would vtter their abominations, MarginaliaThe godly zeale of Thomas Benet. and for his owne part, for the testymonye of his conscience, and for the defence of gods true religion, would yeeld hym self most patiently (as nere as God would geue hym grace) to die and to shed his bloud therin, allegyng that his death should be more profitable to the churche of God, and for the edifiyng of his peeple, then hys lyfe should be. To whose perswasions when his frends had yeelded, they promised to praye to God for hym that he might be strong in the cause, and continue a faythful souldier to the end. Which done, he gaue order for the bestowing of such bookes as he had, and very shortly after, in the moneth of October, he wrote his mynd in certaine scrols of paper, which in secrete maner he set vp vpon the doores of the Cathedral church of the citie: in whiche was written: MarginaliaThe Pope is Antichrist The Pope is Antichrist, and we ought to woorship God onely, and no Saintes.

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MarginaliaBenet setteth by billes against the Pope. These byls beyng found, there was no smal adoo, & no litle search made for the inquiry of the hereticke that should set vp these byls: and the Mayor & his officers were not so busie to make searches to find this heretique, but þe bishop and all his doctours were as hoate as coales, & enkindled as though they had ben stong with a sort of waspes. Wherfore to kepe the people in their former blyndnes, order was takē that the doctors should in hast vp to the pulpit euery day, and confute this heresie. Neuertheles this Thom. Benet keping his owne doinges in secret, went the sonday folowyng to the Cathedral Church to the sermon, and by chance sat downe by MarginaliaBenet almost taken in the church two men, which were the busiest in al þe citie in seekyng and searchyng for this heretike, and they beholding this Benet, sayd the one to the other, Surely this felow by al likelyhoode, is the heretike that hath set vp the byls and it is good to examine hym. Neuertheles whē they had wel beheld hym, and saw the quiet and sober behauior of the man, hys attentiuenes to the preacher, his godlynes in the church, beyng alwayes occupied in his booke, which was a Testament in the Latine tounge, were astonyed & had no power to speake vnto hym, but departed and leaft hym readyng in his booke. MarginaliaThe stories a litle vary touching the taking of Benet. As touching this poynt of Benets behauiour in the Church, I find the reportes of some other a litle to varye, and yet not muche contrary one to the other. For in receyuyng the letters and writyngs of a certaine minister, which at the same tyme was present at the doyng herof in Exeter, thus I find moreouer added cōcerning the behauiour of this Thomas Benet in the church. 

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Vowell apparently sent Foxe documents and testimonies along with his own account of Dusgate.

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At that tyme (saith he) as I remēber, doct. Moreman MarginaliaDoctors & fryers in Exeter.Crispin, Caseley with suche other, bare the swing there. Beside these there were also preachers there, one Doctour Bascauild, an vnlearned doctor god knoweth, and one D. Dauid, as well learned as he, both Gray fryers, and doct. I know not who, a Blacke fryer, not much inferiour vnto them. MarginaliaGregory Bassed fryer of Exeter. Moreouer there was one Bacheler of Diuinitie, a Gray fryer named Gregory Bassed, in deede learned more then they al, but as blynde and superstitious as he whiche was most. Whiche Gregory 

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At this time, Bassett was a member of the Oxford Franciscan convent. He would become warden of the Exeter Franciscan convent. This account of Bassett's imprisonment, in his younger days, for reading works of Luther is confirmed by Exeter City Muniments, Book 51, fo. 350r.

not long before, was reuolted from the way of righteousnes, to the way of Belial: for in Bristow (saith the author) he lay in prison long, & almost famished, for hauyng a booke of M. Luther, called his questions, which he a long tyme priuily had studyed, & for teachyng of youth a certain Cathechisme. To be shorte, the brayne of the Canons and Priestes, the officers and commons of that citie, were very earnestly busied, howe or by what meanes suche an enormious heretique, whiche had pricked vp those Bylles, might be espied and knowen, but it was long first. At last the Priestes found out a toye to curse hym what soeuer he were, with booke, bell and candle, which curse at that day seemed most feareful and terrible. The maner of the curse was after this sort.

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One of the Priestes, apparelled all in white, ascended vp into the pulpit. MarginaliaThe priestes curse they cannot tell whom. The other rabblement, with certayne of the two orders of Fryers, and certayne superstitious Monkes of S. Nicholas house 

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I.e., St. Nicholas's Priory, a Benedictine house in Exeter.

standing round about, and the Crosse (as the custome was) being holdē vp, with holy candles of waxe fixed to the same, he began his sermon with this Theme of Iosue: Est blasphemia in Castris. There is blasphemie in the army: 
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A reference to Joshua 6-7. The story of these chapters (and undoubtedly the theme of the sermon) was of Aachan, whose covert defiance of God's laws, brought destruction upon the Israelites until his sin was discovered and he was slain.

and so made a long protestation, but not so long as tedious and superstitious, and so concluded, that that foule and abominable heretike, whiche had put vp suche blasphemous bylles, was for that his blasphemie, damnably accursed, & besought God, our Lady S. Peter Patrone of that church, with all the holy company of martyrs, Confessours, and virgins, that it might be knowen what heretike had put vp suche blasphemous bylles, that Gods people might auoyde the vengeance.

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The maner of the cursing of the sayd Benet was maruelous to beholde, for as muche as at that tyme there was fewe or none, vnles a Sherman or two (whose houses I well remember were searched for Bylles at that tyme and for bokes) that knew any thyng of Gods matters, or how God doth blesse their curses in such cases. MarginaliaThe maner of the popes blacke curse, with booke, bell, and candle. Then saide the Prelate, by the authority of God the father almighty, and of the blessed vigin Mary, of S. Peter and Paule, and of the holy Saints, we excommunicate, we vtterly curse and banne, commyt and deliuer to the deuyl of hel, hym or her, what soeuer he or shee be, that haue in spite of God and of S. Peter, whose church this is, in spite of al holy saintes, and in spite of our most holy father the Pope Gods vicare here in earth, and in spite of the reuerende father in God Iohn our Diocesane, and the worshipfull Canons, Maisters, and Priestes, and Clarkes, whiche serue God dayly in this Cathedrall Churche, fixed vp with waxe suche cursed and hereticall Bylles full of blasphemie, vpon the doores of this and other holy Churches within this citie. Excommunicate plainely be he or shee plenally, or they and deliuered ouer to þe deuyll, as perpetuall malefactours and scismatiques. Accused might they be, & geuen body and soule to the deuyll. MarginaliaHere is cold charitie. Cursed be they, he, or shee, in Cities and townes, in fieldes, in wayes, in pathes, in houses, out of houses, and in all other places, standyng, lyyng, or rysing, walkyng, runnyng, wakyng, sleepyng, eatyng, drinkyng, and what so euer thyng they doo besides. MarginaliaBlesse, and curse not, sayth the Lord. Curse, and blesse not, sayth the Pope. We separate them, hym, or her, from the thresholde, and from all the good prayers of the Churche, from the participation of the holy Masse, from all Sacramentes, Chapels, and aultars, from holy bread, and holy water, from all the merites of gods Priestes, and religious men, and from all their Cloysters, from all their pardons, priuileges, grauntes, and immunities, whiche all the holy fathers Popes of Rome haue graunted to them: and we geue them ouer vtterly to the power of the feende, and let vs quench their soules, if they be dead, this night in the paynes of hel fire, as this candle is now quenched and put out (and with that he put out one of the candles) MarginaliaMarke the apishe pageantes of these popelinges. and let vs praye to God (if they be aliue) that their eyes maye be put out, as this candle light is (so he put out the other candle) and let vs pray to God and to our Lady, & to S. Peter and Paul, and all holy Saintes, that all the senses of their bodyes may fayle them, and that they may haue no feelyng, as nowe the light of this candle is gone (and so he put out the thyrd candle) except they, he, or shee, come openly nowe and confesse their blasphemie, and by repentaunce (as muche as in them shall lye) make satisfaction to God, our Lady, S. Peter, and the worshipfull company of this Cathedral church, and as this holy Crosse staffe nowe fal-

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