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545 [545]

K. Edward. 3. The history of Iohn Wickliffe Actes and Mon. of the church.

and sprong vp a thousand sortes and facions of straūge religions, beyng the onely roote and well heade of all superstition. Howe great abuses and deprauations were crept into the Sacramentes, at what time they were cōpelled to worship similitudes and signes of thynges, for the very thynges them selues: and to adore such thynges as were instituted and ordeynd onely for memorialls. MarginaliaAl good things defiled & spotted with superstition.Finally what thyng was there, in the hole state of Christen religion so sincere, so sounde and pure, whiche was not defiled and spotted with some kynde of superstition? Besides this, with how many bondes and snares of dayly new fangled ceremonies, the sely consciences of men redemed by Christ to libertie, were snared and snarled? In so much, that there could be no great differēce almost perceaued betwene Christianite and Iuishnes, saue onely that the state and cōdition of the Iewes, might seeme somwhat more tolerable, then ours. There was nothing soughte for out of the true fountaines, but out of the dirty pudles of the Philistians. The christiā people were wholy caried away as it wer by the noses, with meere decrees and constitutions of men, euen whether as pleased the byshops to leade thē, & not as Christes will did direct them. All the whole worlde was filled and ouerwhelmed with errours and darkenes. And no great maruell, for why the simple and vnlearned people beyng farre from all knowledge of the holy Scripture: thought it sufficient inough for them, to know onely these thynges whiche were deliuered them by their pastors and shepheardes, and they on the other parte taught in a maner nothyng els, but such things as came forth of the court of Rome. Whereof the most part tended to the profite of their order, more then to the glory of Christ. The Christian fayth was estemed or counted none other thyng then, but that euery man should know that Christ once suffred, that is to say, that all men should know and vnderstand þt thing which the deuils them selues also knew. Hypocrisie was counted for wonderfull holynes. All men were so addicte vnto outward shewes, that euē they them selues which professed the most absolute and singular knowledge of the Scriptures, scarsly did vnderstād or know any other thyng. MarginaliaThe captain of the church seduced as well as the inferiour sort.And this euidently did appeare, not onely in the common sorte of Doctors and teachers, but also in the very heddes and captaynes of the churche: whose hole religion and holynes, consisted in a maner in the obseruyng of dayes, meates, and garmentes, and such lyke rethoricall circumstances, as of place, tyme, person. &c. Hereof sprang so many sortes and facions of vestures and garmentes: so many differences of colors & meates: with so many pilgrimages to seueral places, as though S. Iames at Compostella could do, that whiche Christ could not do at Canterbury: Or els that God were not of lyke power and strength in euery place, or could not be founde but beyng sought for by runnyng and gaddyng hither and thither. Thus the holynes of the hole yeare was transported and put of vnto the Lent season. MarginaliaPalestina denied holy for Christes walkyng there.No countrey or land was counted holy, but onely Palestina, where Christ had walked him selfe with his corporall feete. Such was the blindnes of that tyme, men dyd striue and fight for the crosse at Ierusalē, as it had been for the chief and onely force and strength of our fayth. It is a wonder to read the monumentes of the foremore tymes, to see and vnderstande what great troubles and calamities this crosse hath caused almost in euery Christian common wealth. For the Romishe champions neuer ceased, by writyng, admonishyng, and counsayling, yea and by quarellyng: to moue and stirre vp Princes mindes to warre and battaile, euen as though the fayth and belefe of þe Gospell, were of small force or litle effect without that woddē crosse. MarginaliaRichard K. of Englande.This was the cause of the expedition of the most noble Prince kyng Richarde vnto Ierusalem. Who beyng taken in the same iourney, and deliuered vnto the emperour: could scarsly be ransomedhome again, for thirty M. markes. pag. 325. MarginaliaFredericke themperor of Rome.In the same enterprise or iourney, Fridericus þe Emperour of Rome a man of most excellent vertue, was drowned in a certayne riuer there, in the yeare of our Lord. 1179. MarginaliaPhillip K. of Fraunce..And also Philip the kyng of Fraunce, scarsly returned home agayne in saftye not without great losses: so much dyd they esteme the recouery of þe holy citie and crosse. Vpon this alone, all mens eyes, minds, and deuotions, wer so set and bent: as though either there were no other crosse but that, or that þe crosse of Christ were in no other place but onely at Ierusalem. Such was the blyndnes and superstition of those dayes, whiche vnderstode or knew nothyng but such as were outwardly seen: where as the profession of our religion standeth in much other higher matters, and greater mysteries. MarginaliaPope Vrbane.What was the cause why that Vrbanus did so vexe and tormente hym selfe? Because that Antioche with the holy crosse, was lost out of the hands of the Christians. For so we do find it in the Chronicles, at what tyme as Ierusalē with K. Gwido, and the Crosse of our Lord was takē, & vnder the power of Sultane Vrbanus toke the matter so greuously, þt for very sorrow he dyed. MarginaliaLambert pope.In whose place succeded Lābertus whiche was called Gregorie the eight: by whose motion it was decreed by the Cardinals, that (settyng aparte all riches and voluptuousnes) they should preach the crosse of Christ, and by theyr pouertie and humilitie first of all should take the crosse vpō thē, & go before others into the lād of Ierusalē. These are þe words of the historie. Wherby it is euident vnto þe vigilant reader, vnto what grosenes the true knowledge of the spiritual doctrine of þe Gospell was degenerate & growē vnto, in those dayes: MarginaliaThe knowledge of the gospels grosely expounded by the Romanistes.How great blindnes and darkenes was in those dayes, euen in the first primacie, and supremacie of the Byshop of Rome: as though the outward succession of Peter & the Apostles, had ben of great force or effecte to that matter. What dothe it force in what place Peter did rule or not rule? It is much more to be regarded, that euery mā should labour and studie with all their endeuour, to folowe the life and confession of Peter: And that man semeth vnto me to be the true sucessor of Peter, agaynst whom þe gates of hell shall not preuaile. For if that Peter in the Gospell do beare the type and figure of þe christen church (as all mē in a maner do affirme) what more folishe or vayne thing can there be: then thorow priuate vsurpation, to restraine and to bind that vnto one man, which by the appoyntment of the Lord is of it selfe free and open to so many?

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MarginaliaThe rysing vp of Wickliffe in a troublous tyme.Thus in these  

Commentary  *  Close
John Wiclif's career

In the first edition of the Acts and Monuments, Foxe's account of the genesis of Wiclif's clashes with the Church consisted of a few nuggets of biographical data - Kenningham's attack on Wiclif, for example - and a great deal of assertion about the nobility of Wiclif and the base motives of his opponents. In the second edition, this was complemented by a detailed, if somewhat tendentious, account of Wiclif's position in the politics of the last days of Edward III's reign. Foxe derived all of this new material from BL, Harley MS 3634, a version of Thomas Walsingham's Chronica majora, which covered the years 1376-82. Foxe did not know that his source was written by Walsingham, but only that it was written by a monk of St. Alban's monastery and that is how he cites it. There were numerous versions of the Chronica majora and often Foxe would rely on the more detailed account in another manuscript version of Walsingham's chronicle - that contained in College of Arms MS 7. (Also Foxe seems to have owned Arundel MS 7, making it easier for him to access than BL MS Harley 3634, which he stated that he borrowed from Matthew Parker). The reason why MS Harley 3634 appealed to Foxe was that its bias worked in the martyrologist's polemical interest. When Walsingham began writing his chronicle, he was bitterly hostile to John of Gaunt, but his feelings toward the duke changed during the 1380s and later portions of his work portray him in a favourable light. Walsingham's animus towards Gaunt was of use to Foxe because it led the chronicler to emphasize the support Gaunt gave to Wiclif (whom Walsingham regarded as a detestable heretic). To Walsingham, this association was a powerful indication of Gaunt's corruption, but to Foxe it was valuable evidence that, from its beginnings, Lollardy had aristocratic, and even royal, support. This helped Foxe to remove any taint of subversiveness from Lollardy and also fit Foxe's theme that good princes opposed the Papacy and protected its critics. Chronicon Angliae, ab anno Domini 1328 usque ad annum 1388, ed. E. M. Thompson, Rolls Series 64 (London, 1874) contains a reliable edition of MS Harley 3634.

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Thomas S. Freeman
University of Sheffield

so great and troublous times and horrible darkenes of ignoraunce, what tyme there semed in a maner to be no one so litle a sparke of pure doctrine lefte or remayning: This foresayd Wickliffe by Gods prouidence, sprang and rose vp: through whom, the lord would first waken and raise vp agayn the world, which was ouer muche drowned and whelmed in the deepe streames of humaine traditions. Thus you haue here the time of Wickliffes originall.

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MarginaliaWickliffe a deuine in OxfordWhich Wickliffe after he had now by a long tyme professed diuinitie in the Vniuersitie of Oxforde, & perceauing the true doctrine of Christes Gospell to be adulterate and defiled with so many filthy inuentions of bishops, sectes of monkes, and darke errours: And that he after long debating and deliberating with himself (with many secret sighes and bewayling in hys minde, the general ignorance of þe whole world) could no longer suffer or abyde the same: but that he at þe last, determined with himselfe to helpe and to remedie such thinges as he saw to be wyde and out of the way. But for so muche as he sawe that thys daungerous medling, coulde not be attempted or sturred without great trouble, neyther that these thinges which had been so long time with vse and custome rooted and grafted in mens mindes, coulde not be sodenly plucked vp or taken awaye, he thought with

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