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444 [420]

K. Edw. 3. The history of Iohn Wickleffe.

purchased reseruations, with the clause of Anteferri, 

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That is a clause guaranteeing that one reservation to a benefice tookprecedence over all others.

MarginaliaBy this Anteferri that is, premunire is ment, the preeminēce aboue the kyng. to the value of: xx. or. xxx. thousand Scutes of gold agaynst the Popes Collector: who was wont to be an Englishmā, and now is a mere French, residyng at London, and conueyeth yearely to the Pope. xx. thousand markes, or. xx. thousand pound, who this yeare gathereth the first fruites whatsouer. MarginaliaThe popes law of preminere, which now we corruptly call premunire, debarred by the K. tit. 78 Alledgyng, the meanes to meete with these reseruatiōs and nouelties, are: to commaund all straungers to depart the Realme duryng the warres, that no English mā to become their farmour, or do send to them any money without speciall licence, on payne to be out of the kynges protection: Wherunto was aunswered by the kyng, that the statutes and ordinaunces therefore made, should be obserued.

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MarginaliaEx Actis parliamēti in an. reg. Ed. tertij. 25. tit. 24 In these rolles and recordes of such Parliamentes as was in this kynges tyme continued, diuers other thynges are to be noted much worthy to be marked, & not to be suppressed in silence. Wherin the Reader may learne and vnderstand, the state of the kynges iurisdiction here within this Realme, not to be straightned in those dayes (although the Pope then seemed to be in his chiefe ruffe) as afterward since in other kynges dayes was seene. As may appeare in the Parliamēt of the. xv. yeare of this kyng Edward the thyrd, and in the. 24. article of the sayd Parliament: where it is to be read, MarginaliaPunishment of the clergie in the temporall mens handes. that the kynges officers and temporall Iustices did then both punish vsurers, and impeached the officers of the Church for bribery, and for takyng money for temporall payne, probate of wylles, solemnitie of Mariage. &c. all the pretensed liberties of the Popish Church to the contrary notwithstandyng.

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MarginaliaClarkes subiect to temporall law. Furthermore, in the Parliament of the. 25. yeare, appeareth: that the liberties of the Clergy and their exemptions in clayming the deliueraunce of men by their booke vnder the name of Clerkes, stoode then in litle force, as appeared by one Hauketyne Honby Knight: who for inprisoning one of the Kynges subiectes, till he made fine of. xx. pound, was therfore executed, notwithstandyng the libertie of the Clergy, which by his booke wold haue saued hym, but could not.

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The like also appeared by iudgement geuen agaynst a Priest at Notingham, for killyng of his maister.

And likewise by hangyng certaine Monkes of Combe Ex Parlam. an. 25. Ed. 3.

MarginaliaThe raynement of the Archb. of Cant. an. 15. Ed. 3 tit. 49 Item, in the Parliament of the. 15. yeare, by apprehendyng of I. Stratford, Archbyshop of Canterbury, and his arraynment: concernyng which his arrainement, all things were committed to sir William of Kildisby.

Besides these truthes and notes of the kyngs Parliaments, wherin may appeare the toward procedyngs of this kyng and of all his commōs agaynst the pretensed Church of Rome: This is moreouer to be added to the commendation of the kyng, how in the booke of the actes and rolles of the king appeareth. MarginaliaIohn Wickliffe sent wyth the kings Ambassadours by the K. That the sayd king Edward the thyrd, sent also Iohn Wickleffe, reader then of the Diuinitie lector in Oxford, with certaine other Lords & ambassadours to þe duke of Millā, to entreat a mariage betwene his daughter, & Leonel kyng Edwardes sonne. By the which it is to be noted, what good will the kyng then bare to the sayd Wickleffe, & what small regard he had to the sinfull sea of Rome.

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Of the which Iohn Wickleffe, because we are now approched to his tyme: remaineth consequently for our story to entreate of, so as we haue here to fore done of other like valiaunt souldiours of Christes Church before him.

¶ Iohn Wickleffe.

MarginaliaHere beginneth the story of Iohn Wickliffe. AFter all these heretofore recited, by whō (as ye haue heard) it pleased the Lord somethyng to worke agaynst the Bishop of Rome, and to weaken the pernitious superstition of the Friers: Now remaineth consequently following the course of yeares, orderly to enter into the story and tractation of Iohn Wickleffe our countreyman, and other moe of his tyme, and same countrey, whom the Lord (with the lyke zeale and power of spirite) raysed vp here in England, to detect more fully and amply the poyson of the Popes doctrine, and false Religion set vp by the Friers. In whose opinions & assertions, albeit some blemishes perhaps may be noted: MarginaliaThe blemishes of Wickliffe made worse then they be. yet such blemishes they be, which rather declare him to be a man that might erre, then which directly did fight agaynst Christ our Sauiour, as the popes procedyngs and the Friers did. And what Doctor or learned man hath bene from the prime age of the church, so perfect, so absolutely sure, in whom no opinion hath sometyme swarued awry? And yet be the sayd articles of his, neither in number so many, nor yet so grosse in themselues and so Cardinall, as those Cardinall enemies of Christ perchaūce do geue them out to be: if his bookes whom they abolished, were remayning to be cōferred with those blemishes, which they haue wrasted to the worste, as euill will neuer sayd the best.

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This is certaine and can not be denyed, but that he beyng the publike Reader of Diuinitie in the Vniuersitie of Oxford: was for the rude tyme wherin he liued, famously reputed for a great Clerke, a deepe scholemā, and no lesse expert in all kynde of Philosophie. The which doth not onely appeare by his owne most famous and learned writynges and monumentes, but also by the confession of Walden his most cruell and bitter enemy. Who in a certain Epistle written vnto pope Martin the fift sayth, that he was wonderfully astonished at his most stronge argumentes, with the places of authoritie whiche he had gathered, with the vehemency and force of his reasons. &c. And thus much out of Walden. Marginalia1371. It appeareth by such as haue obserued the order & course of tymes, that this Wickleffe florished about the yeare of our Lord. 1371. Edward the third raigning in England: for thus we do finde in the Chronicles of Caxtō. MarginaliaThe tyme of Iohn Wickliffe. In the yeare of our Lord. 1371. (sayth he) Edward the third, kyng of Englād in his Parliament, was agaynst the Popes Clergy: He willyngly harkned and gaue care to the voyces and tales of heretickes, with certaine of his counsell: conceauyng and folowyng sinister opinions, agaynst the Clergy. Wherfore (afterward) he tasted and suffred much aduersitie and trouble. Marginalia1372 And not lōg after, in the yeare of our Lord (sayth he) 1372. he wrote vnto the Byshop of Rome, that he should not by any meanes entermedle any more wtin his kyngdome as touchyng the reseruation, or distribution of benefices: And that all such Bishops as were vnder his dominion, should enioy their former and auncient libertie, and be confirmed of their metropolitanes, as hath bene accustomed in times past. &c. Thus much writeth Caxton: But as touching the iust number of the yeare and tyme, we will not be very curious or carefull about, at this present. This is out of all doubt, that at what tyme all the world was in most desperate and vile estate, and that the lamentable ignoraunce and darknes of God his truth had ouershadowed the whole earth: This man stepped forth like a valiaunt champion, vnto whom it may iustly be applyed that is spoken in the booke called Ecclesiasticus of one Simon the sonne of Onias. Euen as the mornyng starre beyng in the middest of a cloud, & as the Moone beyng full in her course, and as the bright beames of the Sunne: so doth he shyne and glister in the temple and Church of God.

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Thus doth almighty God continually succour & helpe, when all thynges are in dispayre: beyng alwayes (according to the Prophecy of the Psalme) a helper in tyme of neede. The which thyng neuer more playnly appeared, then in these latter dayes and extreme age of the Church: when as the whole state and condition (not onely of wordly thynges, but also of Religion) was so depraued and corrupted. That like as the disease named Lethargus amongest the Phisicions, euē so the state of Religion amongst the Diuines, was past all mens helpe and remedy. MarginaliaA descriptiō of Wickliffes time. The onely name of Christ remained amongest Christians, but his true and liuely doctrine was as farre vnknowen vnto the most part, as his name was cōmen vnto all men. As touching fayth, consolation, the end & vse of the law, the office of Christ, of our impotency and weaknes, of the holy ghost, of the greatnes and strength of sinne, of true workes, of grace and free iustification of libertie of a Christian man, wherein consisteth and resteth the whole summe and matter of our profession: there was no mention nor any word almost spokē of. Scripture, learnyng, & diuinitie, was knowne but vnto a few, and that in þe scholes onely: & there also turned & conuerted almost all into sophistry. In stede of Peter and Paule, men occupied their tyme in studying Aquinas and Scotus, and the maister of sentēce. The world leauyng and forsakyng the liuely power of Gods spirituall word and doctrine, was altogether led and blinded with outward ceremonies and humaine traditions, wherein the whole scope, in a maner of all Christian perfection did cōsiste and depend. In these was all the hope of obteinyng saluation fully fixed: hereunto all thynges were attributed. In somuch, that scarsly any other thyng was sene in the temples or Churches, taught or spoken of in Sermēs, or finally intended or gone about in their whole lyfe, but onely heapyng vp of certaine shadowed ceremonies vpon ceremonies, neither was there any end of this their heapyng.

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The people were taught to worshyp no other thyng but that which they did see, and did see almost nothyng which they did not worship.

The Church beyng degenerated from the true Apostolicke institutiō aboue all measure (reseruyng onely the name of the Apostolicke Church, but farre from the truth therof

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