This Introduction to Book Six is noteworthy for two things. The first is a declaration of Foxe's chronological organization for the Acts and Monuments. Foxe probably always intended the Reformation period would require several books but it might well be that the decision to break the material from Wiclif to Luther into separate books was originally unintended and made suddenly. The other notable item is Foxe's declaration that the major purposes of the material in Book Six is to demonstrate the Antichrist's continuous persecution of the True Church and the existence of the True Church and its members in the centuries before Luther.[Back to Top]
Thomas S. Freeman
University of Sheffield
ACcording to the fyue sundry diuersities and alterations of the Church, so haue I diuided hitherto the order of this present church story into fiue principall partes, euery part contayning. 300. yeares. So that now comming to the last. 300. yeares, that is, to the last times of the church, counting from the time of Wickliffe: Forasmuch as in the compasse of the sayd last 300. yeares, are contayned great troubles and perturbations of the church, with the meruailous reformation of the same through the wondrous operation of the almightye, all which thynges cannot be comprehended in one booke, I haue therefore disposed the sayd later. 300. yeares, into diuers bookes, beginning nowe with the. vi. booke, at the raygne of king Henry the. vi. In whych booke, beside the greuous and sondry persecutions raised vp by Antichrist, to be noted, herein is also to be obserued, that where as it hath of long time bene receiued and thought of the common people, that this religion now generallye vsed, hath spronge vp and risen but of late, euen by the space (as many doe thinke) of. xx. or. xxx. yeares, it may nowe manifestlye appeare, not onely by the actes and monumentes heretofore passed, but also by the histories hereafter following, how thys profession of Christes religion hath bene spread abrode in England of old and auncient time, not onely from the space of these. cc. later yeares, from the time of Wyckleffe, but hath continually frō tyme to tyme sparkled abroad, although the flames therof haue neuer so perfectlye burst out, as they haue done within these hundred yeares and more: As by these histories here collected and gathered out of registers, especially of the dioces of Norwich, shall manifestly appeare: wherein may be sene what men, and howe many both men and wemen within the sayd diocesse of Norwych, haue bene, whych haue defended the same cause of doctrine, which now is receiued by vs in the church. Which persons although then they were not so strongly armed in their cause & quarell, as of late yeares they haue bene, yet were they warriours in Christes Churche, and fought for their power, in the same cause. And altbough they gaue backe through tyranny, yet iudge thou the best good Reader, and referre the cause thereof to God, who reuealeth all thinges according to hys determined wyll and appoynted tyme.[Back to Top]
MarginaliaKing Henry vi.THis yong prince beyng vnder the age of one yere, after þe death of hys father, succeded in his reigne and kyngdome of England, MarginaliaAn. 1422an. 1422. and in the viij. yeare was crowned at Westminster: and the secōd yeare after was crowned also at Paris, Henry bishop of Winchester, cardinall being present at them both, and reigned. 38. yeares, MarginaliaEx Scala mundi.and then was deposed by Edward þe iiij. as here after (Christ willyng) shalbe declared in his time. MarginaliaEx Regist. Cant.In the first yeare of his reigne was burned
In the Commentarii (fos. 82r-83r) and then the Rerum (p. 72), there is a brief account of William White, a Lollard leader in the diocese of Norwich. This account was taken word-for-word from a note John Bale made in the Fasciculus Zizanniorum (Bodley MS e Musaeo 86, fos. 63r and 98r-101r). In the 1563 edition, this account was replaced with material drawn from a Norwich diocese court book, covering a series of heresy trials that took place in 1428-31 Much of this court book survives as Westminster Diocesan Archives MS B.2. (This manuscript has been printed as Norwich Heresy Trials 1428-31, ed. Norman P. Tanner, Camden Society Fourth Series 20 ). The contents of this volume are now out of order, indicating that it has been unbound at some point, probably when Foxe used it. When the volume was unbound, material was apparently lost as Foxe records examinations for which material no longer survives: those of John Florence, Richard Belward, John Goddesel, Hugh Pye, John Exeter, Iacolet Germaine, the six Lollards in Bungay, Thomas Pie, John Mendham, John Beverley, Nicholas of Eye and the depositions of William Wright are no longer extant. In the 1563 edition, Foxe also added a description of William White's recantation taken from John Bale's Catalogus (pp. 564-5) and a description of White's execution that is clearly drawn from oral tradition. Finally Foxe 's account of Richard Howden was printed in the Commentarii (fo. 83r) and the Rerum (p. 72) and reprinted in all editions of the Acts and Monuments without change. It was drawn from a biographical note on Howden wriiten by Bale in the Fasciculi Zizaniorum (Bodley MS e Musaeo 86, fo, 63r). The 1563 account was reprinted without change, exception for the deletion of Latin versions of some documents, in subsequent editions. Foxe chose to print this material in such detail because it provided a convincing answer to the Catholic challenge of where was the Protestant Church before Luther. Yet, from Foxe's point of view, there were drawbacks to reprinting these records. For one thing, Foxe was clearly troubled by the number of Lollard abjurations and tried to explain this away by comparing the Norwich Lollards to 'new trained soldiours in gods field'. Foxe was even less comfortable with some of the views expressed by these Lollards. He 'explained' that statements by the Norwich Lollards denying that baptism was a sacrament, that tithes might lawfully be witheld from wicked priests and that marriages need not be celebrated in church, were really lies placed by the notaries recording the examinations. Although this disclaimer would seem to indicate that Foxe edited these records with a relatively light hand - he could have removed the offending passages rather than disavowing them - there are still examples of his rewriting the text. For example, Foxe has Margery Baxter describe William White as a good and holy man; what she actually said was that he was a 'magnus sanctus in celo' [a great saint in heaven] (Norwich heresy Trials, p. 47).[Back to Top]
Thomas S. Freeman
University of Sheffield
MarginaliaThree articles fyrst obiected to W. Taylour.First, that who soeuer hāgeth any Scripture about his necke, taketh away the honor due onely to God, and geueth it to the deuill.
Secondly, that no humaine person is to be worshypped, but onely God is to be adored.
Thirdly, that the sanctes are not to bee worshipped nor inuocated.
Vpon these Articles the sayd VVilliā Taylour beyng examined, denyed that he did preache or holde them in way of defendyng them, but onely did common & talke vpon the same, especially vpon the second and third Article, onely in way of reasonyng and for argument sake. And to iustifie his opinion to be true in that whiche he did holde, he brought out of his bosome a paper or libell written, wherin were conteined certaine Articles, with the testimonies of the doctours alledged, and exhibited þe same vnto the Archbishop. Who thē being bydde to stād a side, the Archbishop consultyng together with the Byshops & other prelates, what was to be done in the mat-ter, deliuered the writynges vnto maister Iohn Castle, and Iohn Rikynghale, the two Vicechauncelours of Oxford & Cambridge, & to Iohn Langdon monke of Cāterbury. Who aduising with them selues, and with other diuines, about the Articles and allegations, on the mōday folowyng presented the sayd Articles of VVilliam Taylour, to the Archbyshop and Prelates, as erroneous and hereticall. Wherupon VVilliam Taylour being called before them, in conclusion was contented to reuoke the same, and for his penaunce was by them cōdemned to perpetuall prison.[Back to Top]
Notwithstandyng throughe fauour they were contented, that he should be released from his carcerall induraunce, in case he would put in sufficient suretie in the kynges Chauncerye, and sweare that he shall neuer holde or fauour any such opinions hereafter. And thus the sayd VVilliam Taylour appoynted to appeare the next Wenesday at Lambeth before the Archbishop, to take hys absolution from hys long excōmunication during the tyme from Thomas Arundell, appeared againe before him, where he layeng a side hys Arunlousa, that is, hys cloke, his cap, and stripped vnto his doublet, kneled at the feete of the Archbyshop. MarginaliaThe forme of canonicall absolution in the church vsed against thē that were excommunicate.Who then standyng vp, and hauyng a rodde in his hande, began the Psalme, Miserere. &c. his chapleins aunsweryng the second verse. After that was sayd the Collecte, Deus cui proprium. &c. with certain other prayers. And so taking an othe of him, the Archbishop committed him to the custody of the Bishop of Worcester, to whom power and authoritie was permitted to release him, vpon the conditions aforesayd. And thus was VVilliam Taylour, for that tyme absolued, being enioyned notwithstanding to appeare at the next conuocation when soeuer it should bee, before the sayd Archbyshop or hys successour that should followe hym.[Back to Top]
In the meane tyme, while VVilliam Taylour was thus in the custody of the Byshop of Worcester, there passed certayne writynges betwene him, and one Thomas Smith priest at Bristowe, in the whiche writynges VVilliam Taylour replyed agaynst the sayd Thomas, concernyng the question of worshippyng Sanctes. Vpō the occasiō of whiche replye, being brought to the hands of the Bishop of Worcester, VVilliam Taylour began a new to be troubled, and was brought agayne before the publicke conuocation of the clergie, by the sayd Byshop of Worcester, to aunswere vnto his writynges. This was. an. 1422. the xi. day of February. Vnto the whiche conuocation the sayd VVilliam being presented, his wri[Back to Top]