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1231 [1231]

K. Hen. 8. Crueltie of the Clergie. The mariage of Queene Anne.

Also he sayd to Syr Edmund, that Arthur and Bilney were better Christen men then he was, or any of them that dyd punishe Arthur and Bilney.

Per me Edmundum Peerson.

And thus we haue, as in a grosse summe, compiled together the names and causes, though not of all, yet of a great, and to great a number of good men and good wemē, whiche in those sorowfull dayes (from the yeare of our Lord. 1527. to this present yeare. 1533. that is, till the commyng in of Queene Anne) were manifolde wayes vexed and persecuted vnder the tyrannye of the Byshop of Rome. Where agayne we haue to note, that from this present yeare of our Lord. 1533. duryng the tyme of the sayd Queene Anne, we read of no great persecution, nor any abiuration to haue bene in the Churche of England, MarginaliaTen Dutchmen Anabaptistes put to death,
saue onely that the Registers of London make mention of certein Dutchmen counted for Anabaptistes, of whom x. were put to death in sondry places of the realme an. 1535. other x. repented and were saued. Where note agayne that ij. also of the sayd company albeit the definitiue sentēce was read, yet notwithstanding were pardoned by the kyng, whiche was contrary to the Popes lawe. 

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See Susan Brigden, London and the Reformation [Oxford,1989], pp. 270-71 for the background to these execiutions.

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MarginaliaAn. 1533.
Complaint of the commons agaynst the Clergye.
Ex Edw. Hallo.
Nowe to proceede forth in our matter, after that the Byshops and heades of the Clergye hade thus a longe tyme taken theyr pleasure, exercising theyr cruell authoritie agaynst the poore wasted flocke of the Lord, and beganne furthermore to stretch forth theyr rigour and austeritie, to attach and moleste also other greater persons of the temporaltie: 

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Henry VIII's divorce

Foxe's treatment of Henry VIII's divorce from Queen Catherine of Aragon was clearly central to how he explained the coming of the protestant reformation to England. In the 1563 edition, his explanatory structure was clear and unadorned. He sought to provide 'the whole summe and matter' and to prove that it was a 'maruelous and moost gracious worke', a direct intervention of the 'holy prouidence of God', an event which would have been unthinkable for 'anye Prince within this realme' on his own, let alone any subject of it. That providence worked through the conscience of the king, by which God 'did kepe al princes and kinges so vnder him'. The problem for Foxe was that, if he were to provide the comprehensive account of the affair that he promised, it necessarily involved a complex narrative that concentrated more upon the secret and public affairs of men (and women) rather than the inner workings of divine providence. At all events, by 1570, this explicit explanatory structure, with its ringing introductory claims, was abandoned by Foxe in favour of a denser, but more circumstantiated account of the divorce, in which the point about God's providence became buried in the narrative. By concentrating on the events post-1529, Foxe conveniently ignores, of course, the longer history of the early fourteenth-century praemunire and provisor acts of the English parliament which were essential background to the parliamentary intervention in the 'King's Great Matter' in due course.

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In the 1563 edition, Foxe quickly asserts his view that the marriage of King Henry VIII to Catherine of Aragon in 1509 had been unlawful ab initio. His view was shared by many contemporaries, who thought that it contravened both divine law and human legal custom (so-called 'impediments'). It contravened divine law in that Catherine had been married to Henry's elder brother Arthur. When he died, it was considered imperative by all parties (Henry VII, Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabella of Castile) that the marriage tie between England and Spain continue, but a papal dispensation was necessary as the subsequent marriage contravened divine law as spelled out in Leviticus (18.16 and 20.21). In other words, there was both an impediment of affinity and of a consanguinity relationship (within forbidden degrees) between Catherine and Henry. Affinity was understood in one of two ways, however, in either 'biblical' or 'canonical' forms. The former (as outlined in Leviticus) arose out of the 'sponsalia' only, that is the 'matrimonium ratum', for which consummation was irrelevant (unlike in the case of the latter and out of which consanguinity or the blood relationship developed). There was a contemporary opinion (e.g. that of William Warham) that even with a papal dispensation the subsequent marriage would be unlawful (see BL, Cott. MSS, Vit. B, xii, fol.123v; L&P, iv:iii, 5774) and certain complications over the dispensation itself, when it was granted by Pope Julius II, were raised. In the event, while the full dispensation was being considered, Queen Isabella of Castile, near death, demanded action and was sent a rather hastily written papal brief (subsequently known as the 'Spanish Brief') dated 26 December 1503 (actually despatched in the autumn of 1504). This was known in England [see, L&P, i, p.243] and the brief was believed to be an inexact version of the bull. Later legal difficulties arose over the Latin word 'forsan' ('perhaps') which appears in the bull but not in the brief with regard to the consummation of the earlier marriage. (For a view of the bull and the brief that reflects some of these contemporary perceptions, see Edward Lord Herbert of Cherbury, The Life and Raigne of King Henry the Eighth (London, 1649), pp. 264ff.) While the brief acknowledged consummation, the bull merely stated that it was probable. This question mark over the consummation, despite the definition of affinity, was a matter for heated opinions for which no definitive theological evidence existed, and over which opinion (among the divines, ancient Fathers and canonists) was divided well into the sixteenth-century (see Andrew A Chibi, Henry VIII's Conservative Scholar (Bern, 1997), pp.23ff; J. J. Scarisbrick, Henry VIII [Berkeley, 1968], pp.163ff). In 1504 there were also certain financial matters to be faced. King Henry VII had been slow in making treaty-related payments to King Ferdinand of Aragon as he and Queen Isabella had not completed their 'dowry' obligations. Henry VIII stalled the new marriage to put pressure on his ally, which raised rumours that Catherine was actually pregnant, rumours exacerbated by the delay in created prince Henry as 'Prince of Wales'. The king also had the prince record a formal protest against the marriage (he was fourteen, considered of age, while the marriage had been negotiated without his prior consent). When Henry became king in 1509, he married Catherine nine weeks after his accession, despite theological opinion. These other legalities and political tactics would be brought up again in due course. Human legal custom (not obligatory) had been contravened in that the impediment of 'public honesty', which arose from the apparent non-fulfilment of the original marriage contract (non-consummation), had not been officially addressed in any contemporary documents. For a difference of opinion, cf. Scarisbrick, Henry VIII, pp.184-97 and Jasper Ridley, Thomas Cranmer (London, 1962), pp.37ff. These were all delicate issues. In a quite remarkable revision of his presentation, Foxe is much less strident about the 'unlawfulness' of the marriage in 1570 and later editions. It was 'very straunge and hard, for one bother to mary the wife of an other'. This enabled him to place the emphasis elsewhere - on the advice that Henry VIII received from learned theologians on the matter in Europe's universities; and to heap blame on the papacy for its role in the affair.

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To make the point that the marriage had been 'unlawful', Foxe somewhat exaggerates the point by saying that 'all universities' in the 1563 edition had found it to be so. He nuances the point in the editions after 1570. No university in Germany was found to give a positive determination, and many of the positive determinations were predicated upon the belief that Catherine's first marriage was consummated (over which there is a question mark). However, twelve positive determinations were sent, several of which were published as a preface to a book detailing the theological conclusions of the king's scholars, written by Stokesley, Fox and de Burgo and translated into English by Thomas Cranmer. The twelve positive determinations of 1530 come from Oxford (8 April) - gained by Fox, Longland and Bell; Cambridge (9 March) - gained by Fox and Gardiner; the canon law faculty of Paris (25 May) - gained by Stokesley, Fox and Reginald Pole; the divinity faculty of Paris (2 July) - gained by Stokesley, Fox and Pole; Angers (7 May); Bourges (10 June); Bologna (10 June); Orléans (5 April); Toulouse (1 October); Padua (1 July), Ferrara and Pavia (no dates mentioned). The text of some of these can be found in The Divorce Tracts of Henry VIII, ed. by Edward Surtz and Virginia Murphy (Angers, 1988), pp.5-27. There was a related problem of determining how valuable these university opinions were. Many modern scholars (e.g., Rex, Scarisbrick) have said that they had limited value in that they were bought and paid for (see, Rex Fisher, p. 163; Scarisbrick, Henry VIII, p. 256). Others (e.g., Chibi, Farge) have examined in more detail how the royal scholars solicited and interpreted the advice they received (see Andrew A Chibi, Henry VIII's Bishops [Cambridge, 2003], pp.110-2; James K Farge, 'The Divorce Consultation of Henry VIII', in Orthodoxy and Reform in Early Reformation France: The Faculty of Theology of Paris, 1500-1543 [Leiden, 1985], pp.135-43).

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Foxe was convinced in the 1563 that the pope's dispensation in respect of the marriage was unlawful - an early indication to those who had eyes to see of the fundamental flaws in the papal claims to authority in such matters. The question of whether the pope had sufficient authority to dispense with divine law in certain cases (that one the various faculties and doctors determined on) assumed that the previous marriage had been consummated. While it is interesting to go through the various evidences put forward one way or another, the fact of the matter is that the three central figures to the events, Catherine, Henry and Arthur, all had agendas to pursue, so anything they say is questionable in hindsight. For instance, when Henry first married Catherine, he said she was a virgin, a claim which assured the legitimacy of any premature births. Later, when he claimed she had not been a virgin, it suited the king's need for it to be nullified.

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Foxe was aware that a full account of the 'Great Matter' had to account for where the royal doubts about the validity of his marriage had come from. In 1563, Foxe formulates what still remain the three main avenues of scholarly investigation. Either Wolsey first suggested there was a problem, or the Spanish ambassador, or the king himself developed a scruple. In the 1570 edition and beyond, Foxe nuances his account, suggesting that it was a royal doubt, nurtured by the discussions over the possible marriage of Princess Mary, firstly to the Emperor Charles V (arranged through the so-called Treaty of Windsor, 1522) and then, when that fell through (the Infanta Isabel, or Isabella of Portugal being eventually married to Charles V, at Seville, 10 March 1526) by another potential marriage proposal to the French duke of Orléans, where there was a parallel problem, pointed out to him in the negotiations by a président of the Parlement of Paris. That said, Foxe is equally clear that Wolsey had a role in fomenting the king's doubts. In fact, we now know that Wolsey had already expressed them guardedly as early as 1518 (Calendar of State Papers, i (i & ii), i, p.1). What is undeniable is the issue that Foxe does not comment on, allowing the king's oration to do so for him (it would perhaps have been imprudent to dwell on it too much in 1570, or in subsequent editions): that after nine years of marriage, Henry did not have a male heir and this placed the Tudor dynasty on unsteady ground.

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Andrew ChibiUniversity of Leicester

so it fell that in the beginnyng of the next or second yeare following, MarginaliaA Parlament, an. 1534.which was an. 1534. a Parlament was called by the kyng, about the xv. day of Ianuary. In þe which Parlament, the commons renuing their olde grieffes, MarginaliaCruelty of the clergy against the temporaltye.complained of the crueltie of the Prelates and Ordinaries, for callyng men before them ex officio. For such was then the vsage of the Ordinaryes and theyr Officialls, that they woulde send for men, and laye accusations to them of heresye, onely declaryng to thē, that they were accused, and would minister articles to them, but no accuser should be brought forth: wherby the commons was greuouslye anoyed and oppressed, for the partie so acited, must eyther abiure, or doe worse, for purgation he myght none make.

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As these matters were longe debatyng in the common house, at last it was agreed, that the temporall men should put theyr grieffes in wryting, and deliuer them to the kyng. Wherupon, the xviij. day of Marche, the common speaker accōpanyed with certayne Knightes and Burgeses of the common house, came to þe kynges presence, and there declared, how the temporall men of hys realme were sore agreued with the cruell demaynour of the Prelates and Ordinaryes, which touched their bodyes and goods so neare, that they of necessitie were enforced to make their humble sute by their speaker vnto hys grace, to take such order and redresse in the case, as to hys high wysedome myght seeme moste conuenient. &c.

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Vnto thys request of the commons, although þe kyng at that tyme gaue no present graunt, but suspended thē with a delaye, yet notwithstandyng thys sufficientlye declared the grudging myndes of the temporall men, agaynst the spiritualtie, lackyng nothing but Gods helpyng hand to worke in the kynges hart for reformation of such thynges, which all they dyd see to bee out of frame. MarginaliaGods helpyng hand in tyme of nede.Neyther dyd the Lordes diuine prouidence faile in tyme of neede, but eftsoones ministred a readye remedye in tyme expedient. He sawe the pryde and crueltie of the spirituall Clergye growen to such an hight, as was intolerable. He sawe agayne and heard the gronyng hartes, the bitter afflictions of his oppressed flocke, his truth decayed, his religiō prophaned, the glory of his sonne defaced, his Church lamentably wasted: wherfore it was hye tyme for his hye maiesty to looke vpon the matter (as he did in deede) by a straunge and wonderous meanes, whiche was throughe the kinges diuorsement from Lady Katherine Dowager, and marying with Lady Anne Bullen, in this present yeare: whiche was the first occasion and begynnyng of all this publicke reformation, whiche hath folowed since in this Churche of England to thys present day, accordyng as ye shall heare.

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The mariage betwene K. Henry. 8. and Queene Anne Bullen, and Queene Catherine deuorced.

MarginaliaQueene Anne maryed, and Lady Catherine deuorced.IN the first entrey of this kynges reigne, ye heard before pag. 924. how after the death of prince Arthur, the Ladye Katherine Princes Dowager and wife to Prince Arthur, by þe consent both of her father & of his, and also by the aduise of the nobles of this realme, to the end her dowrie might remaine still within the realme, MarginaliaK. Henry maryeth his brothers wife.was espoused after the deceasse of her husbād, to his next brother, whiche was this kyng Henry. This Mariage seemed very straunge and hard, for one brother to mary the wife of an other. But what can bee in this earth so hard or difficulte, wherwith the Pope, the omnipotent Vicare of Christ, can not by fauour dispense, if it please him? MarginaliaThe Pope dispenseth for the brother to mary the brothers wife.The Pope whiche then ruled at Rome, was Pope Iulius the second, by whose dispensation, this Mariage, which neither sense of nature would admitte, nor Gods law would beare, was concluded, approued and ratified, and so continued as lawfull, without any doubt or scruple, þe space neare of xx. yeares, till about the tyme, MarginaliaThe Spanyardes first doubted of the kynges maryage.that a certeine doubt beganne first to bee moued by the Spanyardes them selues of the Emperours counsaile. an. 1523. at what tyme Charles the Emperour beyng here in England promised to mary the Lady Mary daughter to the king of England, with the whiche promise the Spanyardes them selues were not well contented, obiecting this amōg many other causes, that the sayd Lady Mary was begotten of the kyng of England by his brothers wife. Whereupon the Emperour forsakyng that Mariage, did couple hym selfe with Lady Isabell, daughter to kyng Emanuell of Portugall. Whiche Mariage was done in þe yere of your Lord. 1526. After this Mariage of the Emperour, the next yeare folowyng, kyng Henry beyng disapoynted thus of the Emperour, entred talke, or rather was laboured too by the Frenche Ambassadours, for the sayd Lady Mary to be maried to the Frenche kynges sonne, Duke of Orliance. Vpon the talke wherof, after long debaytyng, MarginaliaThe second doubt whether the Ladye Marye was rightly length the matter was put of by a certeine doubt of the President of Paris, casting the like obiection as the Spanyardes had done before, that was, whether the Mariage betwene the kyng and the mother of this Lady Mary, whiche had bene his brothers wife before, were good or no. And so the Mariage twise vnluckly attempted, in lyke sorte brake of agayne and was reiected: which happened in the yeare of our Lord. 1527.

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The kyng vppon the occasion hereof castyng many thinges in his minde, began to consider the cause more depely, first with him selfe, after with certeine of hys nerest counsaile, MarginaliaTwo perplexities in the kinges minde.wherin ij. thinges there were whiche chiefly pricked his minde, whereof the one touched his conscience, the other concerned the state of his realme. For if that Mariage with his brothers wife stode vnlawfull by the lawe of God, then neither was his conscience cleare in reteining the mother, nor yet the state of the realme firme by succession of the daughter. MarginaliaCardinall Wolsey an helper to the kinges diuorce.It happened the same tyme, that the Cardinall, whiche was then nearest about þe kyng, had fallē out with the Emperour, for not helpyng him to the Papacie, as ye before haue heard: for the whiche cause hee helped to set the matter forwarde, by all practise hee myght. Thus the kyng perplexed in his conscience, and carefull for the common wealth, and partly also incited by the Cardinall, could not so rest, but inquired further, to feele what the worde of God and learnyng would say vnto it. Neither was the case so hard, after it began once to come in publicke question, but that by the word

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