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535 [511]

K. Henry. 4. The Præface of W. Thorpe to his examination.

trie, and are reputed as idolatters.

Item, they saide and affirmed that the true fleshe and blood of our lord Iesus Christ, is not in the sacramēt of the aulter, after the wordes spoken by the priest truly pronounced.

Item, they said and affirmed, the sacrament of the aultar to be sacramentall bread, not hauing life, but onely instituted for a memorial of Christes passion.

Item, they saide and affirmed, that the body of Christe which is takē on the aultar, is a figure of the body of Christ, as long as we see the bread and wine.

Item, they said and affirmed, that the decree of the prelates and clergie in the prouince of Canterbury, in their last conuocation, with the consent of the kyng and the nobles in the last parliament against him that was brent lately in the citie of London, was not sufficient to chaunge the purpose of the said Iohn, when the substaunce of the materiall bread is euen as before in the sacrament of þe aular it was, no change beyng made in the nature of bread.

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Marginalia* Their article comonly was thus, that who so taketh vpon him the office of a Prieste though he haue no cure of soules, nor licence of hys ordinary, is bound to preach the Gospell. * Item, that any lay man may preache the Gospel in euery place, and may teache it by his owne authoritie, without the licence of his Ordinary.

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Item, that it is sinne, to geue any thing to the preaching fryers, to the Minorites, to the Augustines, or to the Carmelites.

Item, that we ought not to offer at the funerals of the dead.

Item, that the confession of sinnes to the people, is vnneedful.

Item, that euery good man (though he be vnlearned) is a priest.

Item, that the infant (although he dye vnbaptised) shalbe saued.

Item, that neyther the Pope, nor the prelate, neither any ordinary can compel any man to sweare by any creature of God, or by the Bible booke.

Item, that as well the Bishop, the simple man, the priest, and the lay man, be of like authoritie (as long as they lyue wel.)

Item, that no man is bounde to geue bodyly reuerence to any prelate

¶ William Thorpe. 
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William Thorpe

William Thorpe's account of his informal examination by Archbishop Thomas Arundel, on 7 August 1407, is one of the very few accounts by a Lollard of their persecution. As such it was of considerable interest to evangelicals anxious to demonstrate that there were 'true' Christians before Luther. Thorpe's account appeared in print, from the Antwerp press of Hans Luft around 1530. It was probably edited by William Tyndale, George Constantine or both. This version of Thorpe's examination formed the core of Foxe's account of Thorpe.

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In the Commentarii, Foxe printed an abridged version of the 1530 version of Thorpe's examination (fos. 116r- 156v). This abridged version was copied from Bale's translation written in Bodley Library MS e Musaeo 86, fos. 108v-110v). The Commentarii account was reprinted almost exactly in the Rerum (pp. 79-96). In the 1563 edition, Foxe had obtained a copy of the 1530 version of Thorpe's examinations. Foxe stated that he was printing Thorpe's examination as it had been printed by William Tyndale. Foxe then reprinted The examinacion of Naster William Thorpe, ed William Tyndale? or George Constantine?, (Antwerp, 1530?), STC 24045, in its entirety. In the 1570 edition, Foxe declared that he would rather have printed an original version of Thorpe's examinations, but all he could obtain was Tyndale's version. Foxe also stated that David Whitehead, a prominent Protestant preacher, had seen a copy of an MS copy of the work in George Constantine's hands before it was printed. Apart from these changes, the account of Thorpe in the 1570 edition repeated that in the 1563 edition. The 1570 account of Thorpe was reprinted, without alteration, in subsequent editions.

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Thomas S. Freeman
University of Sheffield

MarginaliaThe examination of the constannt seruaunt of God Williā Thorpe. THus much briefly beyng signified by the way, touching these whiche haue bene forced in tyme of this king, to open abiuration: Next commeth to our hāds the woorthy historie of maister Williā Thorpe, a warriour valiaunt, vnder the triumphant banner of Christ, with the processe of his examinations, before the foresaide Thomas Arundell Archbishop of Canterbury, written by the sayde Thorpe, and storyed by his owne pen, at the request of his freendes, as by his owne wordes in the processe hereof may appeare. In whose examination (which seemeth first to begyn. an. 1407) thou shalt haue, good reader, both to learne and to marueyle. To learne, in that thou shalt heare truth discoursed and discussed, with the cōtrary reasons of the aduersary dissolued. To marueyle, for that thou shalt beholde here in this man, the marueylous force and strength of the Lordes might, spirite and grace, workyng and fighting in his souldiers, & also speaking in their mouthes, according to the worde of his promise. Luke. xxi. To the text of the story we haue neyther added nor diminished: MarginaliaThis history first set forth & corrected by M. W. Tyndall. But as we haue receyued it, copied out, & corrected by maister William Tindal (who had his owne hand writing) so we haue here sent it and set it out abroade. Although for the more credite of the matter, I rather wished it in his own naturall speache, wherein it was first written. Notwithstanding, to put away al doubt & scruple herein, this I thought before to premonishe and testifie to the reader, touchyng the certaintie hereof: that they be yet alyue which haue sene the selfe same copy in his owne old English, resembling the true antiquitie both of the speache, and of the tyme: The name of whom as for record of the same to auouche, is M. Whithead, who as he hath seene the true auncient copie in the handes of George Constantine, so hath he geuen credible relation of the same, both to the printer, and to me. Furthermore the said maister Tindal (albeit he dyd somwhat alter and amend the Englishe thereof, and frame it after our maner) yet not fully in all words, but that somthing doth remayne, saueryng of the olde speache of the tyme. What the causes were why this good man and seruant of Christ, w. Thorpe dyd write it, and pen it out hym selfe, it is sufficiently declared in his owne preface, set before his booke, whiche here is prefixed in maner as foloweth.

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¶ The preface of William Thorpe.

MarginaliaThe preface. THe Lord God that knoweth all thinges, wotteth well that I am right sorrowfull for to write or to make knowne this sentence beneath written, whereby of myne euen christen set in high state & dignity, so great blindnes & malice may be knowen: that they which doe presume of them selues to destroy vices, and to plant in men vertues, nether dreade to offend God, nor lust to please hym as their works shewe. MarginaliaGods lawes must be knowen and folowed. For certes the bidding of God and his law, which in the praysinge of his most holye name he commaundeth to be knowen and kept of all men and women, yong and old, after the cunning and power that he hath geuen to them: The Prelates of this land and their ministers, with þe couent of priestes chiefly consenting to them, enforce them most busilye to withstand and destroye the holye ordinaunce of God. And there through, God is greately wroth and moued to take hard vengeaunce, not onely vpon them that do the euil but also on them that consent to these Antichristes limmes: which know or might know, their malice and falshoode, and dresse them not to withstand their malice and their great pride. Neuertheles 4. things moueth me to write this sentence beneath.

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MarginaliaFoure causes of setting forth his examination The first thing that moueth me hereto is this, þt where as it was knowen to certaine freends, that I came frō the prison of Shrewsbery, and as it befel in dede that I should to the prison of Canterbury: then diuers freends in diuers places, spake to me ful hartfully and full tenderly: and commaunded me then, if it so were that I shoulde be examined before the Archb. of Cant. that if I might in any wise, I shoulde write mine apposing, and myne answearyng. And I promised to my special frendes, that if I myght, I wold gladly doo their byddyngs as I might.

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MarginaliaThe 2. cause. The second thyng that moueth me to write this sentence, is this: diuers frendes which haue heard that I haue bene examined before the Archbishop, haue come to me in prison, and counselled mee busely, and coueted greatly that I should doe the same thyng. And other brethren haue sent to me, and required me on Gods behalfe, that I should write out and make knowen, both mine apposing and myne aunsweryng, for the profitte that (as they say) vpon my knowledgyng, may come thereof. But this they bad me, that I should be busie in all my wits, to go as neare the sentēce and the wordes as I could, both that were spoken to me & that I spake: Vpauenture this writing may come an other tyme, before the Archbyshop and his counsell. And of this counsellyng I was right glad: for in my conscience I was moued to do this thyng, & to aske hetherto the speciall helpe of God. And so than I consideryng the great desire of diuers frendes of sondry places, accordyng all in one: I occupyed all my mynde& my wits so busely, that through Gods grace I perceiued by their meaning and their charitable desire, some profite might come there through. For southfastnes and truth hath these conditiōs: MarginaliaTruth leaueth alwayes a sweete smell behynde it. where euer it is impugned, it hath a sweete smell, and therof commeth a sweete sauour. And the more violently the enemyes dresse themselues to oppres and to withstand the truth, the greater and the sweeter smell commeth therof. And therfore, this heauenly smell of Gods word, will not as a smoke passe away wyih the wynde: but it will descende and rest in some cleane soule, that thrysteth thereafter. And thus some deale by this writyng, may be perceiued through Gods grace, how that the enemies of the truth (standyng boldly in their malice) inforce them to withstand the freedome of Christes Gospell, for which freedome Christ became man, and shed his hart bloud. And therfore it is great pitie and sorow, that many men & women do their owne weyward will: nor busie them not to know nor to do the pleasaunt will of God.

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MarginaliaGodly counsell geuen if it may be followed. The men and womē that heare the truth and southfastnes, and heare or know of this (perceauyng what is now in the Church) ought here through, to be the more moued in all their wits, to able them to grace, and to set lesser price by themselues, that they without tarieng: forsake wilfully and bodely all the wretchednes of this life, since they know not how soone, nor whē, nor where, nor by whō God will teach them, and assay their pacience. MarginaliaPersecution followeth the true Church. For no doubt, who that euer will liue piteously, that is charitably in Christ Iesu, shall suffer now here in this life persecution, in one wise or an other. That is, if we shall be saued, it behoueth vs to imagine full busely, the vility and foulnes of sinne, and how the Lord God is displeased therfore: and so of this vilitie of hidousnes of sinne, it behoueth vs to busie vs in all our wits, for to abhorre and hold in our mynde a great shame of sinne euer, & so then we owe to sorrow hartely therfore, and euer fleyng all occasion therof. And then behoueth vs to take vpon vs sharpe penaūce, cōtinuying therin, for to obtaine of the Lord

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