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1177 [1176]

K. Henry. 8. Lorde Cromwell defended for suppressing of Abbayes.

stes seruauntes persecuted, and the peoples soules vncomforted: yea and the true Churche of Christ almost cleane extirped, had not almightye God (who can not forget his promise, prouided remedie in tyme, in raysing vp this Cromwel his seruaunt, and other like champions, to cut vp from the roote the houses of them, whiche otherwise would vtterly haue rooted vp the house of the Lord, & had subuerted a great part already.

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MarginaliaThe doctrine of Monkes and Fryers to be expended. Wherfore, who soeuer findeth hym selfe agreued with Cromwels doynges in suppressyng these Monasteryes of Monkes and Fryers, let hym wisely consider with hym selfe, first the doctrine, lawes, and traditions of these men, which he shal find rebellyng to the religion of Christe, pernitious to our saluation, derogatorie to Christes glory, full of much blasphemie and damnable idolatrie. MarginaliaThe lyfe of Monkes and Fryers considered. Secondly, let hym likewise well aduise the horrible and execrable lyues of these Cloysterers, or at þe least searche out the rolles and registers of matters found out by inquisition in kyng Henry the eight hys dayes, against them: which here is not to be spoken of, vnles we wyl speake as Mathewe Paris speaketh of the Court of Rome: Cuius fœtor vsque ad nubes fumum teterrimum exhalabat: That is, Whose filthye stinch (saith he) did breathe vp a most pestiferous fume, euē vnto the cloudes of heauen. &c.

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MarginaliaThe Lord Cromwell defended in suppressing Abbayes. Al which thynges wel considered, what marueyle is it then, if God of his iuste iudgement dyd set vp the foresayde Lord Cromwel to destroy these sinful houses, whom their owne corruptions coulde suffer no longer to stande? MarginaliaDissipation of Abbay landes in England expedient. And as touchyng the dissipation of their landes and possessions to the handes of suche as they were bestowed vpon: if it so pleased the kyng in bestowyng those Abbey landes vppon hys Nobles and Gentlemen, eyther to restore them agayne vnto them from whence they came, or els to gratifie his nobilitie, by that meanes of policie not to mislike his doyngs, what is that to Cromwel? But they might (say you) haue bene much better employed to other more fruitefull vses. Briefly to answeare therunto, what may be done presently in a common wealth, is not enough to saye: but what may also folowe must be considered. If this throwyng downe of Abbeys had happened in such free and reformed cities or countreys, as are amongest the Germanes, where the state gouerned and directed by lawes, rather thē by rulers, remayneth alwayes alike and vnmutable, who doubteth but such houses therestādyng still, þe possessiōs might wel be transposed to such vses abouesayde, without any feare or peryll? But in suche Realmes and kyngdomes as this, where Lawes and Parlamentes be not alwayes one, but are subiecte to the disposition of the prince: neyther is it certaine alwayes what Princes maye come: þe surest way therfore to sēd Monkerie & Popery packing out of the Realme, is to do with their houses and possessions as kyng Henry here dyd, through the motion & counsel of Cromwel. For els who seeth not in Queene Maryes time, if either the houses of Monkes had stande, or their landes had bene otherwise disposed then into the handes of such as they were, how many of them had bene restored and replenished againe with monkes and fryers, in as ample wise as euer they were? And if Dukes, Barons, and the Nobilitie scarce were able to retaine the lands and possessions of Abbeys distributed to them by kyng Henry, from the deuotion of queene Mary, seekyng to build againe the walles of Hierico: what then should the meaner sorte haue done, let other men coniecture. MarginaliaThe vtter ruine of Monasteries, was Gods worke. Wherefore it is not vnlike, but that Gods heauenly prouidence dyd wel foresee and dispose these thynges before by this man, in workyng the destruction of these Abbeys: wherupon as often as he sent out any men to suppresse any monasterie, he vsed commonly to send thē with this charge, that they should throw downe those houses euen to the foundation.

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Which wordes although maye seeme percase to some to be cruelly spoken of hym: yet contrarywise doo I suppose the doyng thereof not to be without Gods speciall prouidence and secrete guidyng: Or els we might perauenture haue had suche swarmes of fryers and monkes possessed in their neastes again, before this day in England, in so great a number, that tenne Cromwels afterwarde vnneth should haue sufficed to haue vnhoused them.

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Wherfore, yf the plantation which the Lord God neuer planted, be pluckt vp by the rootes 

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Matt. 15:13.

, MarginaliaMath. 15. let God alone with his working, and let the monasteries go.

MarginaliaMalleus Monachorum Crōwellus. Now that you haue seene, what this Malleus Monachorum 

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Literally, 'hammer of the monks'.

hath done in defacing the Synagogue of the pope: let vs see howe the saide Cromwel agayne dyd trauayle in setting vp Christes Church and congregation.

After that the Bishop of Romes power and authority was banished out of England, the Bishops of his sect neuer ceased to seeke all occasions, howe eyther to restore his head agayne, being broken and wounded, or at the least to keepe vprighte those thynges which yet remayned: wherein although their labours were not altogether frustrate, yet had they brought muche more to passe, MarginaliaCromwell the Forte and defence of the church. if Cromwel (as a mighty wal and defence of the church) had not resisted continually their enterprises.

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It happened, that after the abolishyng of the Pope, certayne tumultes began to ryse about religion. MarginaliaAn assemblie of learned men appoynted by the kyng. Wherupon it seemed good vnto kyng Henry to appoynt an assemblie of learned men and Bishoppes, whiche shoulde soberly and modestly entreate and determine those thynges which perteyned vnto Religion. Briefly, at the kynges pleasure all the learned men, but specially the Bishoppe assembled, to whom this matter seemed chiefly to belong. 

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This detailed account of a vice-gerential synod, including Cromwell's oration and the other sppeeches, summoned by Cromwell in February 1537 (not 1536 as Foxe claims) is taken by Foxe from Alexander Alesius, Of the auctoritie of the word of God (Strausburg, 1548?), STC 292, sigs. A5r-B7v. As Cromwell's speech will make clear the object of the synod was to determine the number of sacraments. Bishop Stokesley of London led the defence of retaining the seven sacraments, basing his arguments on unwritten tradition.

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MarginaliaCromwell wyth Alex. Alesius resort to the assemblye. Cromwell thought also to be present hym selfe with the Bishoppes, who by chaunce meetyng with Alexander Alesius by the way, a Scottishe man, brought hym with hym to the parlament house, where all the Bishops were assembled together. Which was in the yeare. 1537. The Bishops and Prelates attendyng vpon the commyng of Cromwell, as he was come in, rose vp, and dyd obeysaunce to hym as to their vicar general, and he againe saluted euery one in their degree, and sate downe in the highest place at the table, accordyng to hys degree and office, and after hym euery Bish. in his order, and Doctors. First ouer agaynst hym sate the Archb. of Canterbury, then the Archbishop of Yorke, the bishops of London, Lincolne, Salisbury, Bath, Ely, Herford, Chichester, Norwiche, Rochester, and Worcester. &c. There Cromwel in the name of the kyng (whose most dere and secret Counsaylor at that present he was, and Lorde priuie Seale, and vicar general of the Realme) spake these wordes in maner folowyng.

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Right reuerende fathers in Christe: The kynges maiestie geueth you high thanks that ye haue so diligētly MarginaliaCromwells Oration to the Byshops. without any excuse, assembled hyther according to his commaūdement. And ye be not ignoraunt that ye be called hether to determyne certaine controuersies, whicheat this time be moued concernyng the Christian Religion and fayth, not onely in this Realme, but also in all nations through the worlde. For the kyng studyeth day and night to set a quietnesse in the Churche, and he can not rest, vntyll all suche controuersies be fully debated and ended, through the determination of you & of his whole parlamēt. For although his speciall desire is to set a staye for the vnlearned people, whose consciences are in doubt what they may beleue: and he hym selfe by his excellent learnyng, knoweth these controuersies well enough, yet he wyl suffer no common alteration, but by the consent of you and of his whole parlament. By the which thing ye may perceyue both his high wisedome, and also his great loue toward you. MarginaliaThe kinges request to the Byshops. And he desireth you for Christes sake, that all malice, obstinacie, and carnal respect set aparte, ye wil frendly and louingly dispute amōg your selues, of the cōtrouersies moued in the church, and that ye wyl conclude al thinges by the worde of God, without al brawling or scoldyng: neither wyl his maiestie suffer the Scripture to be wrasted and defaced by any Gloses, any papistical Lawes, or by any authoritie of Doctours or Councelles, and muche lesse wyll he admit any articles or doctrine, not conteyned in the Scripture, but approued onely by continuaunce of tyme and olde custome, and by vnwritten verities, as ye were woont to doe. Ye knowe well enough that ye be bounde to shewe this seruice to Christe and to his Churche, and yet notwithstandyng his maiestie wyll geue you high thankes, if ye wyll sette and conclude a godly and a perfecte vnitie: whereunto this is the onely waye and meane, if ye will determine all thynges by the Scripture, as God commaūdeth you in Deuteronomie, whiche thyng his maiestie exhorteth and desireth you to doo.

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When Cromwel had ended this his Oration, the Bishops rose vp altogether, geuyng thankes vnto the kynges maiestie, both for his great zeale towarde the Churche of Christe, and also for his most godly exhortation, woorthy so Christian a prince.

MarginaliaStokesley defendeth the 7. Sacramentes. Immediatly they rose vp to disputation, where as Stokesley Bishop of London first of all, beyng the moste earnest champion and maynteyner of the Romish Decrees, (whom Crōwell a litle before had checked by name, for defendyng vnwritten verities) endeuoured hym selfe with al his labour and industrie, out of the olde Schole Gloses to mainteyne the seuen Sacramentes of the Churche. The Archb. of Yorke, Lincolne, Bath, Chichester & Norwiche also fauoured his part and sect. On the contrary part, was the Archb. of Canterbury, the Bishops of Salisbury, Ely, Harford, and Worcester, with many other.

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After much communication had on eyther part, & that they had long contended about the testimonies of the Do-

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