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1131 [1130]

K. Henry. 8. The kinges letter to the Emperour and Christen Princes.

MarginaliaNothing more pernicious to the church, then generall Councels, if they be abused. Truely as our forefathers inuented nothyng more holyer then generall Councels, vsed as they ought to be, so there is almost nothyng that may do more hurt to the Christian cōmon wealth, to the fayth, to our religion, then general Coūcels, if they be abused to lucre, to gaines, to the establishement of errours. They be called generall, and euen by their name do admonish vs, that al Christen men which do dissent in any opinion, may in them openly, frankly, & without feare of punishment or displeasure, say their mynd. For seeing suche thynges as are decreed in generall Councels, touche equally all men that geue assent therunto, it is meete that euery man may boldly saye there, that he thinketh. MarginaliaThe Popes Councels, are no generall Councels And veryly we suppose, that it ought not to be called a generall Councel, where alonely those men are heard, which are determined for euer, in all poyntes, to defende the Popishe parte, and to arme them selues to fight in the Bishop of Romes quarell, though it were against God & his scriptures. MarginaliaThe pope in his Coūcels is the partye accused: and also the iudge. It is no generall Councell, neyther it ought to be called generall, where the same men be onely Aduocates and aduersaries: the same accused and iudges. No it is agaynst the law of nature, eyther that we should cōdescend to so vnresonable a law against our selues, eyther that we should suffer our selues to be leaft without all defence, and beyng oppressed with greatest iniuries, to haue no refuge to succour our selues at. The Bishop of Rome and his, be our great enemyes, as we and all the worlde maye well perceyue by his doynges.

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He desireth nothing more then our hurt, and the destruction of our Realme: MarginaliaAgaynst all reason that he which is our accuser should also be our iudge. Doo not we then violate the iudgement of nature, if we geue hym power and authoritie to be our Iudge? MarginaliaThe Popes honor first gotten by superstition borne by ignoraunce, nourished by ambition, inceased by violence, defended by false vnderstanding and wrasting of scriptures. His pretended honor first gotten by superstition, after encreased by violence, & other wayes, as euyll as that: his power set vp by pretense of religion, in deede both against religion, and also contrary to the word of God: his primacie borne by the ignorancie of the world, nourished by the ambition of Bishoppes of Rome, defended by places of Scripture falsely vnderstand: these three thinges (we say) whiche are fallen with vs, and are like to fall in other Realmes shortly, shal they not be established agayne, if he maye decide our cause as hym lusteth? if he may at his pleasure oppresse a cause most righteous, and set vp his, most against truth? Certainely he is very blynde, that seeth not, what ende we may looke for of our controuersies, if such our enemye may geue the sentence.

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We desire, if it were in any wise possible, a Councell, where some hope maye be, that those thinges shall be restored, which nowe being deprauate, are like (if they be not amended) to be the vtter ruine of Christen religion. And as we doo desire suche a Councel, and thinke it meete that all men in all their prayers should desire & craue it of God: MarginaliaProuision to be made agaynst popish subtilties. euen so we thinke it perteyneth vnto our office, to prouide both that these Popish subtilties hurte none of our subiectes, and also to admonishe other Christen Princes, that the Bishop of Rome maye not by their consent, abuse the authoritie of kyngs, eyther by the extinguishyng of the true preaching of Scripture (that nowe begynneth to spryng, to growe, and spreade abroade) eyther to the troublyng of Princes liberties, to the diminishyng of kyngs authorities, and to the great blemishe of their princely maiestie. We doubt nothing but a Reader not parcial, wyll soone approue suche thinges as we here write, not so muche for our excuse, as that the worlde maye perceyue both the sundrye deceites, craftes, and subtilties of the papistes, and also how much we desire that controuersies in religion maye once be taken away.

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Al that we said there of Mantua, MarginaliaThis Councell of Mantua which the Pope proroged, he afterward trasferred to Vincence. This was the yeare. 1537. may here wel be spoken of Vincence. They do almost agree in al pointes. Neither it is like, that there wyl be any more at this Councell at Vincence, then were the last yeare at Mantua. Truely he is worthy to be deceyued, that being twise mocked, wyll not beware the thirde tyme. If any this last yeare made forth towarde Mantua, and beyng halfe on their way, then perceiued that they had taken vppon them that iourney in vaine, we do not thinke then so foolish, that they wyl hereafter ride farre out of towne to be mocked. The tyme also, and the state of thinges is suche, that matters of Religion may rather nowe be brought further in trouble (as other things are) then be commodiously intreated of and decided. MarginaliaThis time vnmeete for a generall Councell, and why? For whereas in maner þe whol world is after such sort troubled with warres, so incombred with the great preparations that the Turke maketh, cā there be any man so against the setlyng of religion, that he wyl thinke this tyme meete for a general Councel? Vndoubtedly it is meete that such controuersies as we haue with the bishop of Rome, be taken as they are, that is, much greater then that they may either be discussed in this so troublesome a tyme, or els be cōmitted vnto Proctors, without our great ieopardye, albeit the tyme were neuer so quiet.

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What other Princes wyl do, we cē not tel: but we neither leaue our realme at this tyme, neyther wyll we will trust any Proctour with our cause, wherin the whole staye and wealth of our realme standeth, but rather we [illegible text] be at the handlyng therof our selfe. Marginalia[illegible text] For except both an other Iudge be agreed vpon for those matters, and also a place more commodious be prouided for the debating of our causes, albeit al other thinges were as we would haue them, yet may we lawfully refuse to come or send any to this pretended Councel. We wyll in no case make hym our arbeter, whiche not many yeares past, our cause not hearde, gaue sentence agaynst vs. We wyl that such doctrine, as we folowyng the Scripture, do professe, be rightly examined, discussed and brought to the Scripture, as to the only touchstone of true learnyng.

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Marginalia[illegible text] We wyl not suffer them to be abolished, ere euer they be discussed, ne to be oppressed, before they be knowen: muche lesse we wyl suffer them to be troden downe being so clearly true. Marginalia[illegible text] No, as there is no iote in Scripture, but we wyll defende it, though it were with ieopardye of our life, and peryll of this our Realme: so is there nothing that dooth oppresse this doctrine, or obscure it, but we wyll be at continuall warre therewith. As we haue abrogated all olde popishe traditions in this our Realme, whiche eyther dyd helpe his tyrannie, or encrease his pride: so if the grace of God forsake vs not, we wyll well foresee, that no newe naughtie traditions be made with our consent, to bynde vs or our Realme. MarginaliaWould [illegible text] the [illegible text]

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If men wyl not be willyngly blynde, they shal easily see euen by a due and euident proufe in reason, though grace doth not yet by the worde of Christ enter into them, howe smal the authoritie of the Bishop of Rome is, by the lawfull denyal of the Duke of Mantua for the place. For if the Bishop of Rome did earnestly intende to keepe a Coūcel at Mantua, and hath power by the lawe of God, to call Princes to what place hym liketh: why hath he not also authoritie to chuse what hym lysteth: The Bishop chose Mantua: MarginaliaThe Duke of Mantua denieth the Pope his Citie for his Councell. the Duke kept hym out of it. If Paule the Bishop of Romes authoritie be so great as he pretendeth, why could not he compell Fredericus, Duke of Mantua, that the Councell might be kept there? The Duke would not suffer it. No, he forbad hym hys towne.

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How chaunceth it, that here excommunications flee not abroade? Why doth he not punishe this Duke? Why is his power. that was woont to be more then full, here emptie? wont to be more then all, here nothyng? Dooth he not call men in vayne to a Councell, if they that come at his callyng be excluded the place, to the whiche he calleth them? MarginaliaIf the Popes authoritie may be stopped by a Duke what authoritie then hath he ouer kinges and Emperours? Maye not kynges iustely refuse to come at his call, when the Duke of Mantua may deny hym the place that he chooseth? If other Princes order hym as the Duke of Mantua hath done, what place shall be leaft hym, where he maye kepe his general Councel?

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Agayne, if Princes haue geuen hym this authoritie to call a Councel, is it not necessary, that they geue hym also al those thynges, without the whiche he can not exercise that his power? Shall he call men, and wyll ye let hym to finde no place to cal them vnto? Truely he is not woonte to appoynt one of his owne cities, a place to keepe the Councell in. No, the good man is so faythfull and frendly toward other, that seldome he desireth Princes to be his gestes.

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And admytte he shoulde call vs to one of his Cities, shoulde we safely walke within the walles of suche our enemies towne? Were it meete for vs there to discusse controuersies of Religion, or to keepe vs out of our enemyes trappes? meete to study for the defence of such doctrine as we professe, or rather how we might in such a throng of perylles be in safegarde of our lyfe? MarginaliaExample that the pope hath no power vpon places in other mens dominiōs. Wel, in this one acte the Bishop of Rome hath declared, that he hath none authoritie vpon places in other mens dominions, and therefore if he promise a Coūcel in any of those, he promiseth that, that is in an other man to perfourme, and so may he deceyue vs againe.

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MarginaliaDilemma against the Pope. Nowe if he cal vs to one of his owne townes, we be afrayd to be at suche an hostes table. We saye, better to ryse a hungred then to go thence with our bellyes full. But they say, the place is found, we nede no more to seeke where the Councel shal be kept. As who saith, that that chaunced at Mantua, maye not also chaunce at Vincence: MarginaliaVincence a cytie vnder the dominiō of the Venetians. and as though it were very like, that the Venetians, men of suche wisedome, shoulde not both foresee, and feare also, that the wise Duke of Mantua seemed to feare. Certes, when we thinke vppon the state that the Venetians be in nowe, it seemeth no very likely thyng, that they wiyl eyther leaue Vincence their Citie to so manye Nations, without some great garrison of souldiers, or ells that they beyng els where so sore charged already, wyl nowe nourish an armye there?

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