but alas, it is a sorowfull thinge to see, howe farr these deuines are seperate from the rule of the Apostolike mekenes which after they had this poore man fast entangled in ther prysō of Bocardo wt famine & hūger they brought this poor seruant of Christ vnto that pointe, þt thorough the long consumption and lack of slepe his natural strength beynge consumed, he lost his wittes and reason, wherby (as it is the manner of mad men) he vttered many vnsemely and vndescrete wordes wherupon the deuines spred rumours abroade that ther was an hereticke at Oxenforde which could abide to heare the name of Iesu but not the name of Christ to be named, and therfore that he ought to be burned, and so therupon cōdempned him that done, they sent the articles whervpon he was condempned vppe to London vnto the Lorde chancellour at that time being the Lord Audley, requiringe of him a writte to put him to execution. Of the which articles we could only attayne to knowleadge and vnderstanding but of ii. which were these.
It was very unusual for the charges against a heretic to be listed when notification was sent to Chancery of the heretic's condemnation. Harpsfield reports that Thomas Cromwell, the vicegerent of spiritual affairs, received complaints that Bishop Longland had acted improperly in trying and condemning Cowbridge. Cromwell demanded that the bishop sent the records of the case be sent to him (Dialogi sex, p. 858). Harpsfield's account is corroborated by Longland's letter to Cromwell on 22 July 1538, justifying his condemnation of Cowbridge (L&P 13(1), pp. 529-30). The documents Foxe saw where probably sent to Audley as a result of Cromwell's intervention in the case.[Back to Top]
When through their false accusations and articles they had obtayned a wryte of the Lord Chauncellour for the execution of this poore man, vnto whome the Lorde chauncelloure him selfe was some what alied. They came vnto him into the pryson, promisinge him meate and drink and other refreshing, if that he wold againe promise than that whē he should come vnto the stake, he would speake and say such thinges as they should apoint and minister vnto him. The Cowbridge beinge as before you haue hard almoste famished, for the desire of meat and sustenance, promised to do all things they would require of him. Wherupon for a certayn space after, he was well cherished and recouered some parte of his senses & strength. When the day appointed for execution was come, this meke lambe of Christ was brought forth vnto the slaughter with a great bande of armed men and being made fast in the middest of the fier (contrary to their expectation) often times callinge vpon the name of the Lorde Iesus Christ with great mekenes and quietnes he yelded his spirite into the handes of the Lorde.[Back to Top]
THis yere also one Peter a Germaine & another with him constantly endurid death by the fier at Colchester for theLords supper, but only that it is reportid that they defiled this good quarell with a nother foule erroure, touchinge the incarnacion of Christ of his mother.
FOr somuch as the nomber of yeres doth leade vs ther vnto we will some what touch and spek of fryer Forest although he be vnworthy of place & not to be nombered in this catologe. This forest was an obseruāt frier
John Forest has the unenviable distinction of the only Catholic executed for heresy in England during the Reformation. Forest was arrested in March or April 1538 for denying the Royal Supremacy when hearing confession. However, the authorities charged him with heresy instead of treason. Peter Marshall, who has analysed Forest's arrest and martyrdom, and the circumstances behind them, has argued that Forest's conviction for heresy was partly due to the recent papal summoning of a council at Mantua, which had heightened Henry VIII's sensitivity to denials of his supremacy over the Church. It was also partly due to anxiety that confessionals were being used to hatch treasonable plots. Marshall also argues that the decision to try Forest as a heretic was made by Cromwell in the expectation that the friar would recant and perform a humiliating recantation. At first, all went according to plan and Forest, after being convicted of heresy, agreed to abjure at Paul's Cross. However, in prison, Forest changed his mind. When Cromwell's original plan foundered on Forest's refusal to submit, the Vicegerent turned Forest's execution into a piece of political theatre. Forest was burned, on 22 May 1538, along with Dderfel Gadern, a great wooden statue that had been an object of pilgrimage at Llandderfel in North Wales. (For a detailed analysis of Forest's trial and martyrdom see Peter Marshall, 'Papist as Heretic: The Burning of John Forest, 1538', Historical Journal 41 , pp. 354-74).[Back to Top]
Foxe's first account of Forest was a brief note in the Rerum (p. 148) stating that friar Forest was executed for denying the Royal Supremacy in 1538. The account notes that Forest was burned along with an idol transported from Wales. This material was abridged from Hall's chronicle. In the 1563 edition, Foxe simply reprinted Hall's account word-for-word (cf. 1563, pp. 571-2 with Edward Hall, The union of the two noble and illustre families of Lancastre and York [London, 1550], STC 12723a, fos. 232v-233r). In the 1570 edition, Foxe made some changes to this account, deleting verses describing the burning of Forest and the statue and adding a brief account of the dissolution of the monasteries.[Back to Top]
During his trial, Forest admitted that he had told a penitent that when he [Forest] denyed papal supremacy, it was with an oath sworn by his outward man, but not the inward man [L&P XIII (1), no. 1043 (1)].
It is interesting to compare this denigrating account of Forest's submission, and then withdrawal of his submission, with the numerous admiring accounts, by Foxe, of Protestant martyrs - e.g. John Cardmaker and Thomas Whittle - doing exactly the same thing.
Foxe is deriving this spelling, or rather misspelling, from Hall. The statue was named 'Dderfel Gadern' and it was from Llanderfel, a pilgrimage site in North Wales.
Peter Marshall notes that this prophecy was first recorded in Hall's chronicle, a decade after the burning and the proceedings against Forest had begun before the authorities in London had heard of 'Dderfel Gadern' (Peter Marshall, 'Papist as Heretic: The Burning of John Forest, 1538' in Historical Journal 41 , p. 356). It is most likely that the 'prophecy' was an invention made following Forest's execution.[Back to Top]
These verses are part of the 'Fantasie of Idolatrie', printed on 1563, pp. 590 [recte 599]-589 [recte 600]. The stanzas here were included in the account of Forest in Hall's chronicle.
What to modern readers was a perfectly natural physical reaction, almost a reflex, was to hostile commentators such as Foxe, a sign that Forest was dying without the calm stoicism that was a hallmark of the true martyr of God.
Dauid Daruell Gatharn,
As saith the VVelshmen,