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1186 [1185]

K. Henry. 8. The death of L. Tho. Cromwel Earle of Essex. Ed. Boner. His othe.

shed in euery condition then they them selues.

Amongest the rest of those Commissioners whiche came vnto hym, one there was, whom the Lorde Cromwell desired to carye for hym a letter to the kyng. Whiche when he refused, saying that he would carye no letter to the kyng, from a traytour: then the Lorde Cromwel desired hym at least to do from hym a message to the king. To that the other was contented, & graunted so that it were not against his alleageance. Then the Lorde Cromwell takyng witnes of the other Lordes, what he had promised: You shall commend me (sayde he) to the kyng, and tell hym: by that hee hath so well tryed, and thorowly proued you, as I haue done, hee shall finde you as false a man as euer came about him.

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Besides this he wrote also a letter from the Tower to the kyng, whereof when none durst take the cariage vpon him MarginaliaSyr Raufe Sadler the L. Cromwels trusty frend Syr Raffe Sadler (whom he also had preferred to the kyng before, beyng euer trusty & faythfull vnto hym) went to the kyng, to vnderstand his pleasure, whether he woulde permitte hym, to bryng the letter or not. MarginaliaCromwels letter to the kyng. Whiche, when the kyng had graunted, the sayd M. Sadler, as he was required presented the letter vnto the kyng, which he cōmaunded thrise to be read vnto him: in so much the kyng semed to be moued therwith.

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MarginaliaThe L. Cromwell not suffered to come to hys aunswere. Notwithstandyng, by reason of the Acte of Parliament afore passed, the worthy and noble Lorde Cromwell oppressed by hys enemies and condemned in the Tower, and not commyng to his aunswere, the xxviij. day of Iuly. an. 1541. was brought to the scaffolde on Tower hill, where he sayd these wordes folowyng. 

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Cromwell's scaffold speech and prayer are taken from Edward Hall, The union of two noble and illustre famelies of Lancastre and Yorke (London, 1560), STC 12723a, fo. 242r-v.

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MarginaliaThe L. Cromwell brought to the scaffold. I am come hether to dye, and not to purge my selfe, as some thinke perauenture þt I will. For if I should so do I were a very wretch & a miser. I am by the law condemned to dye, and thanke my Lorde God that hath appoynted me this death for myne offence. For sithens the tyme that I haue had yeares of discretion, I haue lyued a sinner, and offended my Lorde God, for the whiche I aske him hartely forgeuenes. And it is not vnknowen to many of you, that I haue bene a great traueler in this world, and beyng but of a base degree, was called to high estate, and sithens the time I came therunto, I haue offended my Prince, for þe which I aske hym hartily forgeuenes, and beseech you all to praye to God with me, that he will forgeue me. And now I pray you that be here, to beare me record I die in the Catholicke fayth, not doubting in any Article of my faith, no nor doubting in any Sacrament of the Church. Many haue slaundered me, and reported that I haue bene a bearer of such as haue mainteined euill opinions, which is vntrue. MarginaliaA true Christian confesson of the L. Cromwell at his death. But I confesse, that lyke as God by his holy spirit doth instruct vs in the truth, so the deuill is ready to seduce vs, and I haue bene seduced: but beare me witnes that I die in the catholike fayth of the holy Church. And I hartely desire you to pray for the kinges grace, that he may long lyue with you in health and prosperitie: and that after hym hys sonne prince Edward that goodly impe, may long raigne ouer you. And once againe I desire you to pray for me, that so long as lyfe remayneth in this flesh, I wauer nothing in my fayth. And so making his prayer, kneeling vpon hys knees, he spake these wordes, the effect wherof here foloweth.

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A prayer that the Lord Cromwell sayd at the houre of his death.

MarginaliaThe prayer of the L. Cromwell at his death. O Lord Iesu, which art the onely health of all men liuing, and the euerlasting life of them which die in thee: I wretched sinner do submit my self wholy vnto thy most blessed will, and being sure that the thing can not perish which is committed vnto thy mercy, willingly now I leaue this frail and wicked flesh in sure hope that thou wilt in better wise restore it to me againe at the last day in the resurrection of the iust. I besech thee, most mercifull lord Iesus Christ, that thou wilt by thy grace make strong my soule against all tēptations, and defend me with the buckler of thy mercy against all the assaults of the deuil. I see and knowledge that there is in my selfe no hope of saluation, but all my confidence, hope and trust, is in thy most mercifull goodnes. I haue no merites nor good workes, which I may alledge before thee. Of sinnes and euil workes (alas) I see a great heape: but yet thorow they mercy I trust to be in the number of them to whome thou wilt not impute their sinnes: but wilt take and accept me for righteous and iust, and to be the inheritour of euerlasting lyfe. Thou merciful lord waste borne for my sake, thou didst suffer both hunger and thirst for my sake: thou didst teach pray, & faste for my sake: all thy holy actions and workes thou wroughtest for my sake: thou sufferedst most greuous paines and torments for my sake: finally, thou gauest thy most precious body and thy bloud to be shed on the crosse for my sake. Now most mercifull Sauiour, let all these thinges profite me, that thou freely hast done for me, which hast geuen thy selfe also for me. Let thy bloud cleanse and washe away the spots and foulnes of my sinnes. Let thy righteousnes hide and couer my vnrighteousnes. Let the merites of thy passion and bloudsheding be satisfaction for my sinnes. Geue mee Lord thy grace that the fayth of my saluatiō in thy bloud wauer not in me, but may euer be firme and constant. That the hope of thy mercy and life euerlasting neuer decay in me, that loue waxe not colde in me. Finally that the weaknes of my flesh bee not ouercome with the feare of death. Graunt me mercyfull Sauyour, that when death hath shut vp the eyes of my body, yet the eyes of my soule may stil beholde and looke vpon thee, and when death hath taken away the vse of my tongue, yet my harte may cry and say vnto thee: Lorde into thy handes I commende my soule: Lorde Iesu receaue my Spirite. Amen.

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MarginaliaThe death of the Lord Cromwell. And thus his prayer made, after he had godly & louingly exhorted them that were about hym on the scaffold, he quietly committed hys soule into the handes of God, & so paciently suffred the stroke of the axe, by a ragged and butcherly miser, which very vngodly performed the office.

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¶ Of the Bible in English printed in the large volume, and of Edmund Boner preferred to the Bishoprike of London, by the meanes of the Lord Cromwell. 
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Great Bible

This lengthy, convoluted, and chronologically-confused passage relates the history of Miles Coverdale's revision of the vernacular "Thomas Matthew Bible" in Paris in 1538; the failure of that foreign printing venture; and the eventual production of a new version - Henry VIII's "Great Bible," licensed and authorized - by Richard Grafton and Edmund Whitchurch in 1539. This is, however, no triumphant tale of the political successes of the Bible in English; it instead forms the unhappy prologue to the government's subsequent decisions, between 1542 and 1546, to withdraw nearly all support for the lay reading of scripture.

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The act of violence against the faith that characterizes this tale is the burning of books, then, not bodies. Here Foxe's sights are most firmly fixed on Bishop Edmund Bonner: his diplomatic work at the French court; his role in promoting and supporting the printing of a revision of the Matthew Bible at Paris; his translation while still in France from the Hereford see to London; and his subsequent defection from the ranks of Cromwell's supporters to an alliance with the Bishop of Winchester, Stephen Gardiner, after the newly-created earl of Essex's execution. Ultimately Foxe rewrites Bonner's championship of the English Bible at Paris (an enterprise that the bishop had in fact partially underwritten with 600 pounds of his own) into an act of cunning provocation aimed at ferreting out and punishing lay readers of scripture in England.

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This account first appeared in 1570 and was reprinted virtually word for word in the edition of 1583. The 1563 edition contains, however, a relevant section entitled "The kyngs brief for the setting up the Byble of the greater volume in Englyshe" (fols 624-5), which consists of two short texts: Henry VIII's 1540 command for "the Bible of the greater volume" to be placed in "every Cathedrall, collegiate, and other parish churches and chappells"; and the text of a 1541 letter by Bonner to the archdeacon of London, Richard Gwent, which gave directives in support of the royal mandate.

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This letter, contrasted with Bonner's far more qualified position by 1542, and indeed his subsequent enthusiasm for presiding over "heretical" book burnings at Paul's Cross (especially if those books issued from the pens of William Tyndale or Miles Coverdale), allows Foxe to take a literary turn in the direction of political paradox, perhaps the only way to deal with the unpredictable twists of later Henrician religious policy. Foxe follows this section in the 1563 edition with the account of Bonner's imprisonment of John Porter for reading the Bible unlawfully in St. Paul's.

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In 1563, Foxe's purpose had been "to show how [he, i.e., Bonner] that…was once a setter forth of…afterward became the chief putter down again of the same, and made the reading of the Bible to be a trap or snare to entangle many good men, and to bring them to ruin and destruction." He enlarges on this intention in the 1570 and 1583 editions with the assistance of anecdotal evidence provided by informants like Ralph Morice, who had been principal secretary to Archbishop Thomas Cranmer and was thus responsible for the politically sensitive communications passing between the archbishop and Cromwell.

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Lori Anne FerrellClaremont Graduate University

ABout the tyme and yere, when Edmund Boner bishop of Hereford, and ambassadour resident in Fraunce, begā first to be nominate and preferred by the meanes of the lord Cromwell to the bishoprike of London: which was, an. 1540. 

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The date here is incorrect; work in Paris began in May 1538.

it happened that the sayd Thomas Lord Cromwell and Earle of Essex, 
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Cromwell was created earl of Essex in 1540: the sixth creation of that title, which went forfeit at his death later that year.

procured of þe kyng of england hys gracious letters to the Frenche kyng MarginaliaThe Bibles of the greatest volume printed in Paris. to permitte and licence a subiect of hys to imprint the Bible in English within the vniuersitie of Paris because paper was there more meete and apt to be had for the doyng therof, then in the realme of England, and also that there were more store of good workmen for the redy dispatch of the same. 
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At this time the presses of Francois Regnault in Paris excelled any in England in quality and efficiency of book production: his press had been solely responsible for the printing of the Church of England's services since 1519.

And in lyke maner at the same tyme the sayd kyng wrote vnto his ambassadour, who then was Edmund Boner Byshop of Herford lying in Paris, that he should ayde and assist the doers thereof MarginaliaThe doers hereof were Rich. Graftō and Whytchurch. in all their reasonable sutes. The which Bishop outwardly shewed great frendship to the merchaunts that were þe imprinters of the same, 
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I.e., Richard Grafton and Edmund Whitchurch.

and moreouer did dyuers and sundry tymes call and commaund the sayd persons, to be in maner daily at hys table both dinner and supper, MarginaliaEdm. Boner a great furtherer in printing the Bybles in Englishe. and so much reioysed in the workemanship of the sayd Bible, that he himselfe would visite the imprinters house, where the same bibles were printed, and also would take part of such dinners as the Englishmen there had, and that to hys coste, which, as it semed he little wayed. MarginaliaThe new testamnet in Englishe & Latine put in print by Boner. And further the sayd Boner was so feruent that he caused the sayd Englishmen to put in print a new testament in english and latine, 
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I.e., a revision of the "Thomas Matthew" Bible of 1537.

and hymselfe toke a great many of them and payd for them and gaue thē to hys frendes. And it chaunced the meane tyme, while the sayd Bible was in printyng, MarginaliaEdm. Boner made Bysh. of London. that kyng Henry the 8. preferred the sayd Boner from the bishopricke of Herford, to bee bishop of London, 
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Bonner had been elected bishop of Hereford in November 1538 while at the French court (where he had succeeded the religious conservative Stephen Gardiner as ambassador). Being non-resident, he had neither been consecrated, nor taken possession of the see, when in November 1539 he was translated to the bishopric of London. He returned to London and was consecrated on 4 April 1540. One of the bishop of London's duties was the oversight of London presses and, in conjunction with the archbishop of Canterbury, the suppression of unlawful writings.

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at which tyme the sayd Boner according to the statute law of england, tooke hys othe to the kyng, 
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I.e., the Oath of Allegiance required of all bishops at consecration, as mandated by statute 26 Henry VIII, c.1 (1534).

knowledging his supremacie, and called one of the aforesayd Englishemn that printed the bible, whom he then loued, although afterward vppon the chaunge of the world he dyd hate hym as much, whose name was Richard Grafton: to whom the sayd Boner sayd when he toke his othe, MarginaliaBoners wordes to Grafton, when he tooke hys othe to the kyng. maiater Grafton, so it is, that the kyngs most excellent maiestie hath by hys gracious gift presented me to the Bishopricke of London, for the which I am sory, for if it would haue pleased hys grace, I could haue bene well content to haue kept myne old Bishoprike of Herford. Then sayd Grafton I am right glad to heare of it, and so I am sure wyll bee a great number of the City of London: for though they yet know you not, yet they haue heard so much goodnes of you from hence, as no doubt they wyll hartily reioyce of your placyng. Then sayd Boner, I pray God I may doe that may content them, and to tell you M. Grafton, MarginaliaBoner reproueth Stokesley for his persecuting. Before god (for that was commonly his othe) the greatest fault that I euer found in Stokesley, 
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Stokesley was consecrated bishop of London in November 1530.

was for vexing and troublyng of poore men, as Lobley 
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Michael Lobley had already attracted unwelcome official notice: in 1531 he was indicted for purchasing heretical books in Antwerp. He escaped severe punishment, however, and went on to become the Warden of the Stationers' Company in 1560.

the bookebynder, and other, for hauyng the scripture in english, and God willyng he did not so much hynder it, MarginaliaBoners promise to set forth the scripture in Englishe. but I wyll as much further it, & I wil haue of your Bibles set vp in the Churche of Paules, 
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The order to place a Bible in English, "of the largest volume," in every parish and cathedral by All Saints' Day (30 November) had been issued in Cromwell's Second Injunctions of 1538.

at the leaste in sondrye places sixe of them, and I wyll pay you honestly for them and geue you harty thankes. Which wordes he then spake in the hearyng of diuers credible persons, as Edmund Stile Grocer, and other. But

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