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837 [813]

K. Henry. 8. Reformation of the Church in the tyme of M. Luther.

wyfe lye buried, it appeareth by his cheyne and his garland of Laurell, that he was both a knight, and florishyng then in poetrie. MarginaliaThe bookes of Iohn Gower. In the which place of hys sepulture were made in his grauestone 3. bookes, the first bearing the title, Speculum meditantis. The second, Vox clamantis. The 3. Confessio amantis. Beside these, diuers Chronicles and other workes mo he compiled.

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Lykewise as touching 

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The sparse biographical information on Chaucer that follows is from John Bale, Scriptorum Illustrium maioris Brytanniae…Catalogus (Basel, 1557), p. 525

the tyme of Chaucer, by hys owne workes in the end of his first booke of Troylus and Creseide it is manifest, that he and Gower were both of one tyme, although it seemeth that Gower was a great deale his auncient: both notably learned, as the barbarous rudenes of that tyme did geue: both great friendes together, and both in lyke kynd of study together occupied, MarginaliaChaucer & Gower commended for their studious exercise. so endeuoryng themselues, and employing their tyme, that they excellyng many other in study and exercise of good letters, dyd passe forth theyr liues here right worshipfully & godly, to þe worthy fame and commendation of theyr name. Chaucers workes be all printed in one volume, and therfore knowen to all men. 
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The first edition of Chaucer's collected works was printed in 1532 (STC 5068).

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Thys I meruail, 

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The description of Chaucer as a 'right Wicklevian' is Foxe's own composition.

to see the idle lyfe of the priestes and clergy men of that tyme, seyng these lay persones shewed themselues in these kynd of liberall studies so industrious & fruitfully occupied: but much more I maruell to consider this, how that the Bishops condemning and abolishyng all maner of english bookes and treatises which might bring the people to any light of knowledge, did yet authorise the woorkes of Chaucer to remayne still and to be occupied: MarginaliaChaucer a right Wickleuian. Who (no doubt) saw in religion as much almost as euē we do now, & vttereth in his works no lesse, and seemeth to be a right VVicleuian, or els was neuer any, and that all hys workes almost, if they be throughly aduised, will testifie, albeit it be done in mirth, and couertly) and especially the latter ende of his third booke of the Testament of loue: for there purely he toucheth the highest matter, that is, the cōmunion: Wherin, except a man be altogether blynd he may espye hym at the full. MarginaliaChaucers bookes. Although in the same booke (as in all other he vseth to do) vnder shadowes couertly, as vnder a visour, he suborneth truth, in such sort, as both priuily she may profite the godly mynded, and yet not be espied of the crafty aduersary: And therfore the bishops belike, takyng his workos but for iestes and toyes, in condemnyng other bookes, yet permitted his bookes to be red.

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MarginaliaMē brought to truth by reading Chaucers workes. So it pleased God to blynd then the eyes of them, for the more commoditie of his people, to the entent that thorough the reading of his treatises, some fruit might redound therof to his Church, as no doubt, it did to many: As also I am partly enformed of certaine which knewe the parties, which to them reported, þt by reading of Chausers works, they were brought to the true knowledge of religion. And not vnlike to be true. MarginaliaThe ploughmans tale in Chaucer. For to omitte other partes of his volume, wherof some are more fabulous then other, what tale can be more plainly told then the talke of the ploughman? 

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The 'Ploughman's Tale' is not by Chaucer. It was an anonymous medieval work, possibly partly rewritten to increase its anti-papal slant, attributed to Chaucer and printed as part of 'The Canterbury Tales'.

or what finger can point out more directly the pope with hys prelates to be Antichrist, then doth the poore Pellican reasonyng agaynst the gredy Griffon? 
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The pelican and the griffon are the two protagonists of the 'Ploughman's Tale'.

Vnder which Hypotyposis or Poesie, who is so blind that seeth not by the Pellicane, the doctrine of Christ, and of the Lollardes to bee defended against the church of Rome? Or who is so impudēt that can deny that to be true which the Pellican there affirmeth in describing the presumptuous pryde of that pretensed Church? Agayne what egge can be more lyke, or fig vnto an other, then the wordes, properties, and conditions of that rauenyng Griphe resembleth the true Image, that is, the nature and qualities of that which we cal the church of Rome, in euery point and degree? and therfore no great maruayle, if that narration was exempted out of the copies of Chaucers workes: which notwithstandyng now is restored agayne, and is extant for euery man to read that is disposed.

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This Geffrey Chaucer beyng borne (as is thought) in Oxfordshire, and dwellyng in Woodstocke, lyeth buried in the church of the minster of S. Peter at Westminster, in an Ile on the Southside of the sayd Church, not far from the dore 

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Bale mentioned that Chaucer was buried in Westminster abbey, but the description of his tomb is not in Bale. Presumably Foxe saw it or had a description sent to him.

leading to the cloyster, and vpon his graue stone first were written these two old verses.

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Galfridus Chaucer vates & fama poesis
Maternæ, hac sacra sum tumulatus humo.

Afterward about the yeare of our Lord. 1556. one M. Brickam bestowyng more cost vpon his tombe, dyd adde therunto these verses following.


Qui fuit Anglorum vates ter maximus olim,
Galfridus Chaucer conditur hoc tumulo.
Annum si quæras Domini, si tempora mortis,
Ecce nota subsunt, quæ tibi cuncta notent.

25. Octob. An. 1400.

Here beginneth the reformation of the church of Christ, in the tyme of Martin Luther.

MarginaliaThe corruption of the Church described. ALthoughe 

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Prophecies preceeding Luther

The purpose of this section is threefold. One is to underscore the importance of Martin Luther (and consequently his doctrine of justification by faith; notice how Foxe begins this section with a little lecture on the insufficiency of works to obtain salvation) in the history of the Church. (It is worth remarking that it is Luther, not Wiclif, whom Foxe sees as the central figure in initiating the reform of the Anti-Christian Church). Secondly, it is a way to invoke the miraculous to support the Protestant cause. If, as Foxe is claiming here, the advent of Luther was prophesied and, if it was heralded by portents, than who could doubt that his teachings were God's word? The drawback was that, as with Foxe's collection of prophecies of the rise of Islam and of the Ottoman Empire, these prophecies were extra-Biblical and, while some of them came from what, to Foxe and his readers were reliable sources, such as Jan Hus, other came from people, such as Bridget of Sweden and Catherine of Siena, whom even Foxe was wary of crediting with the spirit of prophecy. A third purpose of this section was to underscore the corruption of the medieval Church. This was a relatively easy task, since many of these prophecies were contained in writings denouncing the pope and the clergy.

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Most of the material in this section came from the basic works which Foxe relied on for his interpretation of Church history: John Bale's Scriptorum Illustrium maioris Brytanniae…Catalogus (Basel, 1557) and Matthias Flacius's Catalogus testium veritatis (Basel, 1556). Foxe also drew on another work of Flacius: his two volume edition of the writings of Jan Hus: Ioannis Hus et Hieronymi Pragensis confessorum Christi historia et monimenta (Nuremburg, 1558).

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Thomas S. Freeman
University of Sheffield

it can not be sufficiently expressed with tongue or pen of man, into what miserable ruine and desolation the Church of Christe was brought in those later dayes: yet partly by the readyng of these stories aforepast, some intelligence may be geuen to them, whiche haue iudgement to marke or eyes to see, in what blyndnes and darkenes the worlde was drowned during the space of these 400. yeres heretofore and more. By the vewyng and considering of whiche times and histories, thou mayst vnderstand (gentle reader) how the Religion of Christ, which onely consisteth in spirit and veritie, was wholy turned into outward obseruations, ceremonies, and idolatrie. So many sainctes we had, so many Gods.,So many monasteries, so many pilgrimages. As many Churches, as many reliques forged and feyned we had. Agayne, so many reliques, so many lyeng miracles we beleued. In stede of the onely liuyng Lord, we worshipped dead stockes and stones. In place of Christ immortall, we adored mortall bread. In stead of his bloud, we worshipped the bloud of duckes. How the people were led, so that the priestes were fed, no care was taken. In steade of Gods worde, mans worde was set vp. In stead of Christes Testament, the Popes Testament, that is the Canon law: in stead of Paul, the maister of Sētence 
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I.e., the great twelfth-century theologian, Peter Lombard.

tooke place, and almost full possession. The law of god was litle read: the vse and ende thereof was lesse knowne. And as the end of the law was vnknowen, so the difference betwene the Gospell and the law, was not vnderstanded, þe benefite of Christ not considered, the effect of fayth not expended. Through the ignoraunce wherof, it can not be told, what infinite errours, sectes and religions crept into the church ouerwhelmyng the world, as with a floud of ignoraunce and seduction. And no meruell, for where the foundation is not well layd, what buildyng can stand and prosper? MarginaliaThe foundation of Christian religion. The foundation of all our Christianitie is onely this: The promise of God, in the bloud of Christ his sonne, geuing & promising life vnto all that beleue in hym: Geuyng (sayth the Scripture) vnto vs, and not barganyng or indentyng with vs: MarginaliaRom. 6. And that freelye (sayth the Scripture) for Christes sake, and not condicionally for our merites sake. MarginaliaRom. 4.

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Furthermore freelye (sayth the Scripture) by grace, that the promise might be firme and sure, and not by thee workes þt we do, whiche are alwayes doubtfull. MarginaliaRom. 4. By grace (sayth the Scripture) through promise to all & vpō al that beleue, and not by the law vpon them that do deserue. MarginaliaRom. 3. For if it come by deseruyng then is it not of grace: If it be not of grace, then is it not of promise. And contrariwise if it be of grace & promise, MarginaliaRom. 11. then is it not of workes sayth S. Paule. 

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See Romans 3-4.

Vpon this foundation of Gods free promise, and grace first builded the patriarkes, kings, and prophets. Vpon þe same foundation also Christ the lord builded his church. Vppon the which foundation the apostles likewise builded þe church Apostolicall or catholicall.

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This Apostolicall and Catholique foundation, so long as the Church did retayne, so long it continued syncere and sound: which endured a long season after þe Apostles time. But after, in proces of yeares, through wealth and negligence crept into the Church, as soone as this foundatiō began to be lost, came in newe builders, which woulde builde vpon a newe foundation, a newe Churche more glorious, whiche we call now the Church of Rome. Who beyng not contented wyth the old foundatiō and the head corner stone, which the Lord by hys word had layde, in place thereof, they layd the ground worke vpon the condition and strength of the law and workes. 

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Ephesians 2:20-22.

Although it is not to be denyed, but that the doctrine of Gods holy lawe, and of good workes according to the same, is a thing most necessary to be learned and folowed of all men: yet is not that the foundation, wherupon our saluation consisteth, neither is that foūdation able to beare vp the weight of the kingdome of heauen: but is rather the thing, which is builded vpō the foūdation: which foundatiō is Iesus Christ, according as we are taught of S. Paule, saying: No man can lay any other foundation, beside that which is layd, Christ Iesus. &c. 
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1 Cor. 3:11.

Marginalia1. Cor. 3.

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MarginaliaThe doctrine of the church corrupted. But this auncient foundation with the olde auncient church of Christ (as I said) hath ben now of long time forsaken, and in stede therof a new church, with a new foundation hath bene erected, and framed, not vpon gods promise and his free grace in Christ Iesus, nor vpon the free iustification by faith, but vpon merites & deserts of mens workyng. And hereof haue they planted all these their new deuises, so infinite that they cannot well be numbred as masses, trecenares, diriges, obsequies, mattens and houres, singyng seruice, vigiles, mydnightrising, barefootgoing, fishfasting, lentfast, imberfast, statiōs, rogatiōs, iubiles, aduocatiō of saints, praying to images, pilgrimage walkyng, workes

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DDd.iij.
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