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1204 [1203]

K. Hen. 8. A ridiculous pagent that hapned in Oxford.

And as in a great fire (where fire is in dede) we see many tymes how one litle sparke giueth matter of a mightye flame settyng whole stackes and pyles on burnyng: so here vppon a small occasion of one mans worde, kyndled first a generall crye, then a strong opinion runnyng in euery mans head within the Churche, thinking the Churche to bee on fire, where no fire was at all. MarginaliaDeluders deluded. Thus it pleased almyghtie God, to delude these deluders, that is, MarginaliaWe see great clarkes how they are deceaued ofttimes in small trifles þt these great Doctours and wise men of the Scholes, which thinke them selues so wise in Gods matters as thoughe they coulde not erre should see by theyr owne senses and iudgementes, how blynde and infatuated they were in these so small matters & sensible trifles.

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MarginaliaWhat strong imagination can do in deluding mans senses. Thus this strong imagination of fire beyng fixed in their heades, as nothyng coulde remoue them to thinke contrary but that the Churche was on fire: so euery thyng that they sawe or heard, encreased this suspition in them, to make it seme most true, which was in dede most false. The first & chiefest occasion that augmented this suspition, was the hereticke there bearyng his fagotte, whiche gaue them to imagine, that all other heretickes, had conspired with hym to set the Churche on fire.

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After thys, through the rage of the people & runnyng too and fro, the duste was so raysed, that it shewed as it hadde bene the smoke of fire. Which thyng together with the outcrye of the people, made all men so afrayde, that leauyng the Sermon, they began altogether to runne away. But suche was the preasse of the multitude runnyng in heapes together, that the more they laboured, the lesse they coulde gette out. For whilest they ranne all headlong vnto the doores euery man striuyng to gette out first, they thrust one an other in such sorte, and stucke so fast, that they whiche were without, neyther coulde gette into the Churche, agayne, neither they þt were withincould gette out by any meanes. So then one doore being stopped, they ranne to an other litle wicket on the North side, towardes the Colledge called Brasen nose, thinking so to passe out. But there agayn was the lyke or greater thronge. MarginaliaMuch hurt done in the thronge, whereof some dyed some yet are aliue whose mothers armes were there broken. So the people clustring & thronging together, it put many in daunger and broughte many vnto their ende, by brusing of their bones and sides. There was yet an other doore towardes the West, whiche albeit it was shutte and seldome opened: yet now rāne they to it with such sway, that the great barre of yron (whiche is incredible to bee spoken) beyng pulled out and broken by force of mens handes, the doore notwithstandyng could not be opened, for the preasse or multitude of people.

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At the last, when they were there also paste all hope to gette out, then they were al excedingly amazed and ranne vp and downe, crying out vppon the heretickes which had conspired their death. The more they ranne about & cryed out the more smoke & duste rose in the Church, euen as though all thynges nowe had ben on a flamyng fire. I thinke there was neuer such a tumultuous hurley burley rysing so of nothyng heard of before, nor so great a feare where was noe cause to feare, nor perill at all: so that if Democritus þe mery Philosopher 

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Democritus (born c. 460 BC) was an ancient philosopher who was known as the 'laughing philosopher' because he held that a cheerful disposition should be cultivated by the wise. For reasons that are less clear, Heraclitus (fl. 500 BC) came to be associated with melancholy and pessimism.

MarginaliaDemocritus was a Philosopher which vsed to laugh at all thinges: as [illegible text] 
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This probably would read Heraciltus, which is what is written in this gap in the 1570 edition (p.1383) and the 1583 edition (p.1208).

vsed to weepe at all thinges.
sitting in the toppe of the Church, and seyng all thynges in suche safetie as they were, hadde looked downe vpon the multitude, and beholden so great a number some howlyng and weepyng, runnyng vpp and downe, and playing the madde men, nowe hether, nowe thether, as beyng tossed too and fro with waues or tempestes, trembling and quakyng, ragyng & faryng without any manyfest cause specially if he had seene those great Rabbines the Doctors laden with so many badges or cognisaunces of wisedome, so foolishly and ridiculously seekyng holes and corners to hyde them selues in, gaspyng, breathyng, and sweatyng, and for very horror, beyng almost beside them selues, I thinke he woulde haue satisfied him selfe with thys one laughter, for all hys life tyme, or ells rather would haue laughed his hart out of hys belly, whilest one sayd that he playnely heard the noice of the fire, an other affirmed that hee sawe it with hys eyes, and an other sware that he felte the molten leade droppyng downe vppon hys head and shoulders, Such is the force of imagination, when it is once grafted in mens hartes through feare. In all the whole company there was none that behaued him selfe more modestly then the hereticke that was there to do penaunce, who casting his Fagotte of from hys shoulders vppon a Monkes head that stoode by, MarginaliaSome say that the Monkes head was broken with the fagotte. kept hym selfe quiet, myndyng to take such part as the other dyd.

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All the other beyng carefull for them selues, neuer made an end of runnyng vp and downe and crying out. None cryed out more earnestly then the Doctor that preached (who was, as I sayd, D. Smith) who in a maner first of al cried out in the pulpite, saying: These are the traines and subtilties of the heretickes agaynst me. Lord haue mercy vpon me: Lord haue mercye vpon me. But might not God, as it had ben (to speake with Iob) out of a whirlewynd 

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See Job 40: 6.

haue MarginaliaProsopopœia. aunswered agayne vnto this preacher thus: Thou doest now implore my mercy but thou thy selfe shewest no mercy vnto thy felowes and brethren. Howe doth thy fleshe tremble now at the mention of fire, but you thinke it a sport to burne other simple innocentes, neither do you any thing at all regarde it? If burnyng seme so greuous a matter vnto you, and to suffer the torment of fire: then you shoulde also haue the lyke consideration in other mens perils and daungers, when as you do burne your felowes and brethren.

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MarginaliaA iust expostulation against these burners of gods people. Or if you thinke it but a light or triflyng matter in in them, go to now, do you also with lyke courage, contemne, & with like pacience suffer nowe the same tormentes your selues. And if so bee it I shoulde nowe suffer you with the whole Churche to be burned to ashes, what other thyng shoulde I do vnto you, then you doe dayly vnto your felowes and brethren? Wherefore since you so litle esteme the death of others, be now content that other men shoulde also litle regard the death of you. With this (I saye) or with some other lyke aunswere, if that either God, or humane charitie, eyther the eommon sense of nature would expostulate with them, yea if there had bene a fire in dede (as they were more feared then hurt) who would haue doubted but that it had happened vnto them accordyng to their desertes? But now worthy it is the notyng, how the vayne feare and folye of these catholickes either was deluded, either how their crueltie was reproued, MarginaliaA good warning for the Papistes to know what burning meaneth wherby they beyng better taught by their owne example, might hereafter learne what it is to put other poore men to the fire whiche they them selues here so much abhorred.

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But to returne agayne to the descriptiō of this pageant: wherin (as I sayd before) there was no daunger at all, yet were they all in such feare, as if present death had bene ouer their heades.

In all this great maze and garboyle, there was nothyng more feared then the meltyng of the lead, which many affirmed that they felte droppyng vpon their bodies. Now in this sodeine terrour and feare, which tooke from them all reason and coūcell out of theyr myndes: to beholde what practises and sondry shiftes euery man made for him selfe, it woulde make not onely Democritus, and Heraclitus also to laugh 

Commentary  *  Close

Democritus (born c. 460 BC) was an ancient philosopher who was known as the 'laughing philosopher' because he held that a cheerful disposition should be cultivated by the wise. For reasons that are less clear, Heraclitus (fl. 500 BC) came to be associated with melancholy and pessimism.

, but rather an horse welnere to breake his halter. But none vsed them selues more ridiculously, then such as semed greatest wyse men, sauyng that in one or ij. peraduenture some what more quietnes of mynde appeared. Amongest whom was one MarginaliaClaymundus President of Corpus Christi Colledge. Claymund Presidēt of Corpus Christi Colledge (whom for reuerence and learnyngs sake I do here name) and a fewe other aged persons with him, whiche for their age and weakenes, durst not thrust them selues into the throng amongest the rest, but kneeled downe quietly before the high altar, committyng them selues and their liues vnto the Sacrament. 
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John White, in another account of the same incident, claims that Claymund cast himself down before the altar and committed himself to the mercy of God, rather than escape through a broken window (John White, Diacosio-Martyrion[Louvain, 1553], STC 25388, fo. 83r).

The other whiche were yonger & stronger, ran vp and downe through the preasse marueilyng at the vnciuilitie of men, and waxt angry with the vnmanerly multitude that would geue no rowme vnto the Doctours, Bachelers, Maisters, and other graduates and regent masters. But as the terror and feare was common vnto all men, so was there no difference made, of persons or degrees euery man scamlyng for him selfe. The violet cap or purple gowne, did there nothyng auayle the Doctour, neither the masters hode nor the Monkes coule was there respected.

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Yea if the kyng or Queene had bene there at that present and in that perplexitie, they had bene no better then a common man. After they had long striuen and assayed all maner of wayes and sawe no remedy, neither by force neither authoritie to preuayle: they fell to intreating and offeryng of rewardes, one offeryng xx. pound, an other his scarlet gown so that any man would pull hym out, though it were by the eares.

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Some stoode close vnto the pillers, thinking themselues safe vnder the vautes of stone for the droppyng of the leade. Other some beyng without money & vnprouided of all shift, knew not which way to turne them. One beyng a president of a certayne Colledge (whose name I nede not here to vtter) pulling a bourd out from the pues, couered his hed and shoulders therwith against the scalding lead, which they feared much more then the fall of the Churche. Nowe what a laughter would this haue ministred vnto Democritus amongest other thynges, to behold there a certayne graund paunch, who seyng the dores stopped and euery way closed vp, thought by an other compendious meanes to get out thorough a glasse wyndow if it might be by any shift. But here the iron grates letted 

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John White, in another account of the same incident, claims that Claymund cast himself down before the altar and committed himself to the mercy of God, rather than escape through a broken window (John White, Diacosio-Martyrion[Louvain, 1553], STC 25388, fo. 83r).

hym: notwithstanding his gredy mind would nedes attempt if he could happily bring his purpose to passe. Whē he had broken þe glasse, & was come to the space betwene þe grates where he should crepe out, first he thrust in his head with the one shoulder, & it went through wel enough. Thē he laboured to gette the other shoulder after, but there was great labor about þt, & lōg he stuck by þe shoulders

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