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
A Ccordyng to the fiue sondry diuersities and alterations of the Church, so haue I diuided hetherto the order of this present Church story into fiue principall partes, euery part contayning. 300. yeares. So that now commyng to the last. 300. yeares, that is, to the last tymes of the Church, countyng from the tyme of Wickleffe: For asmuch as in the compasse of the sayd last 300. yeares, are contained great troubles and perturbations of the Church, with the meruailous reformation of the same through the wondrous operation of the almighty, all which thynges cannot be comprehended in one boke, I haue therfore disposed the sayd latter. 300. yeares, into diuers bookes, beginnyng now with the vj. booke, at the raigne of kyng Henry the vj. In which booke, beside the greuous and sundry persecutions raised vp by Antichrist, to be noted, herein is also to be obserued, that where as it hath of long tyme bene receiued and thought of the common people, that this Religion now generally vsed, hath sprong vp and rysen but of late, euen by the space (as many do thinke) of. xx. or. xxx. yeares, it may now manifestlye appeare, not onely by the Actes and Monumentes heretofore passed, but also by the hystories hereafter followyng, how this profession of Christes Religion hath bene spread abroad in England of old and auncient tyme, not onely from the space of these. 200. later yeares, from the tyme of Wyckleffe, but hath continually from tyme to tyme sparkled abroad, although the flames therof haue neuer so perfectly burst out, as they haue done within these hundred yeares and more: As by these hystories here collected and gathered out of Registers, especially of the Diocesse of Norwich, shall manifestly appeare: wherin may be sene what men, and how many both men and women within the sayd Dioces of Norwich, haue bene, which haue defended the same cause of doctrine, which now is receiued by vs in the Church. Which persons although then they were not so strōgly armed in their cause and quarell, as of late yeares they haue bene, yet were they warriours in Christes church, and fought for their power, in the same cause. And although they gaue backe through tyranny, yet iudge thou the best good Reader, and referre the cause therof to God, who reueleth all thynges accordyng to hys determined will and appointed tyme.[Back to Top]
Marginaliaking Henry. 6. T His yong prince beyng vnder the age of one yere, after the death of his father, succeded in his reigne and kyngdome of Englād, Marginalia1422 an. 1422. and in the eight yeare was crowned at Westminster: and the secōd yeare after was crowned also at Paris, Hēry Byshop of Winchester, Cardinall beyng present at them both, & raigned. 38. yeares, MarginaliaEx Scala mundi. and then was deposed by Edward the iiij. as here after (Christ willyng) shalbe declared in hys tyme. MarginaliaEx Regist. Cant. In the first yeare of his reigne
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 first obiected to W. Taylour. First, that whosoeuer hāgeth any Scripture about hys necke, taketh away the honor due onely to God, and geueth it to the Deuill.
Secondly, that no humayne person is to be worshipped, but onely God is to be adored.
Thirdly, that the Saintes are not to be worshipped nor inuocated.
Vpon these Articles the sayd William Taylour being examined, denyed that he did preach or holde them in way of defendyng them, but onely did common and talke vpon the same, especially vpon the second and third Article, onely in way of reasonyng, and for argument sake. And to iustifie hys opinion to be true in that which he did holde, he brought out of his bosome a paper or libell written, wherein were conteined certayne Articles, wyth the testimonies of the Doctours alledged, and exhibited the same vnto þe archbyshop. Who then beyng bidde to stand a side, the Archbyshop consultyng together wyth the Bishops and other prelates, what was to be done in the matter, delyuered the writynges vnto Maister Iohn Castle, and Iohn Rikynghale, the two Vicechauncelours of Oxford and Cambridge, and to Iohn Langdon Monke of Canterbury. Who aduising with them selues, and wyth other deuines, about the Articles and allegations, on the monday folowyng, presented the sayd Articles of William Taylour, to the Archbyshop and Prelates, as erroneous and hereticall. Wherupon William Taylour beyng called before them, in conclusion was contented to reuoke the same, and for hys penaunce was by them condemned to perpetuall prison.[Back to Top]
Notwythstanding through fauour they were contented, that he should be released from hys carceral induraunce, in case he would put in sufficient suretie in þe kyngs Chaūcery, and sweare that he shall neuer holde or fauour any such opinions hereafter. And thus the sayde William Taylour appoynted to appeare the next Wenesday at Lambeth before the Archbyshop, to take hys absolution from hys long excommunication duryng the tyme from Thomas Arundell, appeared agayne before hym, where he laying a side his Arunlousa, that is: hys cloke, his cap, and stripped vnto hys doublet, kneled at the feete of the Archbyshop. MarginaliaThe forme of canonicall absolution in the Church vsed against them that were excommunicate. Who then standing vp, and hauyng a rodde in hys hand, began þe Psalme Miserere. &c. hys chapleynes aunswering the second verse. After that was sayde, the Collecte, Deus cui proprium. &c. wyth certayne other prayers. And so taking an oth of hym, the Archbyshop committed hym to the custody of the Byshop of Worcester, to whom power and authoritie was permitted to release hym, vpon the conditions aforesayd. And thus was William Taylour, for that tyme absolued, beyng enioyned notwythstandyng to appeare at the next conuocation whēsoeuer it should be, before the said Archbyshop or hys successour that should follow hym.[Back to Top]
In the meane tyme, while William Taylour was thus in the custody of the Byshop of Worcester, there passed certayne writinges betwene hym, and one Thomas Smith priest at Bristow, in the which writynges William Taylour replyed agaynst the sayd Thomas, concernyng þe question of worshyppyng Saintes. Vpō the occasion of whiche reply, beyng brought to the hands of the Byshop of Worcester, William Taylour began a new to be troubled, and was brought agayne before the publicke cōuocation of the clergie, by the sayd Bishop of Worcester, to aunswere vnto hys writynges. This was an. 1422. the xi. day of February. Vnto the which conuocation the sayd William beyng presented, hys writyngs were read to him which he would not, nor could not deny to be of his owne hand writyng.[Back to Top]
MarginaliaThe opinion of W. Taylour concerning worshipping of Saintes. The tenour and effecte of whose writyng onely tended to proue, that euery petition and prayer for any supernaturall gifte, ought to be directed to God alone, and to no creature. Albeit in thys hys writyng he dyd not vtterly deny, that it was not lawfull in no respect to pray to Saintes (and bryngeth for the same Thomas Aquine) but onely in respecte of that worship, which is called Cultus latriæ: MarginaliaCultus latriæ, that is, worship which is onely due to God. And further so prosecuteth hys mynde herein, that he semeth litle or nothyng to differ from the superstition of the papists: as most playnely appeareth by hys owne wordes, saying: Nunquam tamen negaui, aut negare intendo, merita aut sanctorum suffragia tam beatorum, quam viantium, tam viuis, quam mortuis ad hoc dispositis, quamtum possunt, suffragari, vel prosicere, quia hoc est elicibile ex Scriptura,[Back to Top]