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570 [570]

K. Richard. 2. The history of Iohn Wickliffe and his fellowes.

neuer at any time was there any note or spot of suspition noysed of hym. But in his aunsweryng, readyng, preachyng, and determining, he behaued him selfe laudably, & as a stoute & valiant champion of the fayth: vanquishing by the force of the Scriptures, all such who by their wilfull beggery blasphemed and sclaundered Christes religion. Neither was this sayd doctor conuict of any heresy, either burned by our prelates after his buriall 

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This passage demonstrates that while the 1406 date of the letter may or may not be genuine, it was written before Wiclif's body was exhumed and burned in 1428. Further evidence will demonstrate that the 'testimony' was written before 1411.

. MarginaliaThe bones of Wickliff were not yet commūded by the councel of Const. to be burned. Ex. 2. tomo operum I. Hussi. fol. vlt.God forbyd that our prelates should haue condemned a man of such honesty, for an hereticke: who amōgest all the rest of our vniuersity, had written in Lodgike, Philosophy, Deuinitie, Moralitie, & the Speculatiue art wtout peere. The knowledge of which all and singular things, we do desire to testify & deliuer forth: to thintent, that the fame and renowne of this sayd doctor, may be the more euidēt and had in reputacion amongst them vnto whose hands these present letters testimoniall shall come.

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In witnesse whereof, wee haue caused
these our letters testimoniall to be sea
led with our common seale. Dated at
Oxford in our congregation house, the
v. daye of October in the yeare of our
Lord. 1406.

¶ The testimony and wordes of maister Ihon Hus, as touchyng master Ihon Wickleffe 
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Foxe first printed this defence of Wiclif in the Rerum (pp. 24-25) and he derived it from Johannis Hus et Hieronymi Pragensis confessorum Christi historia et monumenta, 2 vols. (Nuremburg, 1558), I, fos. 108v-109v. It originally came from a work of Hus's, defending Wiclif against the 'calumnies' of 'John' (actually Peter) Stokes, an English Carmelite, written in 1411.

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MarginaliaThe testimonye and iudgement of M. Iohn Mus cōcerning Iohn Wickleffe.VErely, as I do not beleue neither graunt, þt maister Ihon Wickleffe is an hereticke: so do I not deny, but firmely hope that he is no hereticke. For so much as in all matters of doubt I ought, as neare as I cā, to chuse the best part. Wherfore I surely trust, that master Ihon Wickleffe is one of the nomber of them whiche are saued. The wordes of Christ moueth me therunto, saying Mathew vij. Do ye not iudge, that ye be not iudged, and Luke the vi. Do not condemne, and ye shall not be condemned: and the woordes of the Apostle. 1. Cor. 4. Do ye not iudge before the Lord him selfe do come, the whiche shall open those thinges that are hid in darknes, to manifest the priuities of all hartes.

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Secondly, the loue and charitie whiche I ought to beare vnto my neighbour (louing hym as my self) doth moue me therunto. Luke. x.

Thirdly, his good fame and reporte, moueth me, the whiche he hath of the good priestes, of the vniuersitie of Oxford, and not of the wicked, and cōmonly of the vulgare sorte, although not of the couetous, proude, and luxurious prelates.

Fourthly, his owne workes and writinges do sturre me therunto, by the whiche he goeth about with his hole indeuour, to reduce all men vnto the law of Christ, and specially the clergy: that they should forsake the pompe and dominion of this worlde, and with the Apostles lead the lyfe of Christ.

Fiftly his owne protestations, whiche he doth often times vse in his sentēces, often repeatyng the same, doth not a litle moue me.

Sixtly, his earnest desire and affection whiche he had vnto the law of Christ, doth not a litle alure me therūto, disputyng of the veritie thereof, the whiche cannot fayle in any one iote or title. Wherupon he made a boke of the veritie of the holy Scripture, MarginaliaLib. de sensu & veritate scripturæ per I. Wickleuū.approuyng euen vnto the vttermost, the truth of Gods law.

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Wherfore it were to foolish a consequent to say, that because the nomber of the prelates and clergy in England, Fraunce, and Boheme do counte Ihon Wickleffe for an hereticke, that therfore he is an hereticke. &c. MarginaliaTrue iudgement standeth not vpon nūber and multitude.Like is the reason for burning of the bokes, for it is writtē in the first booke of the Machabees first chapter: that they did burne the bokes of the Lord, tearyng them in peeces, and who soeuer was founde to haue kept any bookes of the Testament or will of the Lord, or the whiche obserued and kept the law of the Lord, they were by þe kinges commaundement put to death. If then the burnyng of those bookes by wicked men did argue or proue the euilnesse of the bokes, thē was the law of God euil & naught.

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MarginaliaBurning of bokes proueth not by an by an heretike.So likewise the burning of S. Gregories bokes, and diuers other saintes and good men, should argue and proue that they were euill and naughty men. Wherupō as it doth not folow, that because the Bishops, Scribes, and Phariseis, with the elders of the people, condemned Christ Iesus as an hereticke, that therfore he is an hereticke: So likewise doth it not folowe of any other man. The byshops, masters of diuinitie, monks, and prelates, condemned this man as an hereticke. Ergo, he is an hereticke. MarginaliaA false consequent reproued by I. Chrisostō.For this consequent is reproued by Ihon Chrisostome, whiche was twise condemned as an hereticke by the Bishops and the hole clergy. Likewise S. Gregory in his bookes, was condemned by the Cardinals.

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MarginaliaIohn Duke of Lancaster defended of I. Wickliffe.By like proofe also as they affirme, maister Ihon Wickleffe to be an hereticke: Ihon duke of Lancaster (a man of worthy memory and progenitor of Henry kyng of Englād) should also be an heretike. For the sayd duke defended, fauoured, & greatly loued maister Ihon Wickleffe, Ergo, the sayd duke is or was an hereticke, the consequent is good. The Minor is well knowen vnto þe Englishe men. The Maior appearerh in the Canon, where it is sayd, he whiche defendeth an hereticke. &c.

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But these thinges set a part, I demaund of the aduersary, whether master Ihon Wickleffe be dāned for euer or no? If he say þt he is dāned because he is an heretike: MarginaliaIohn Wickliffe proued no heretike.I propound this vnto him, whether M. Ihon Wickleffe whiles he lyued helde any false doctrine contrary to þe holy Scripture: If he do affirme it, let hym thē shew what doctrine it is, and afterward declare that he held it obstinatly: And he shall finde, that in his bookes he alwayes wrote most commēdable protestations agaynst obstinacie and stifneckednes. And by and by after, master Ihon Stokes in hys Intimation, sayth, that maister Ihon Wickleffe in Englād, is counted for an hereticke. This semeth also false by the letter testimoniall of the Vniuersitie of Oxforde: vnto the whiche there is more credite to be geuen, then vnto hym. 

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Since Hus wrote this defence in 1411, and since Hus is citing the 'testimony' from Oxford, it follows that the 'testimony' was written before 1411 and that its 1406 date may well be genuine.

And thys shall suffice for this present. 
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If Hus is correct about this, it may indicate that the 'testimony' from Oxford was produced by English supporters of Wiclif.

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Now as we haue declared the testimony of the Vniuersity of Oxford, & of Iohn Hus, concerning the praise of Iohn Wyckliffe: It foloweth lykewyse, that wee set forth and expresse the contrary censure and iudgements of his enemies, blinded wt malicious hatred and corrupt affectiōs agaynst him: MarginaliaTlhe councel of Constāce agoinst I. Wickliffe.especially of the Popes Councell gathered at Constance, proceeding first in condemnyng hys bookes, then of his articles, and afterward burning of his bones. The copy of which their sentence geuen against him by that Councell here foloweth 

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Wiclif and the Council of Constance

The list of followers of Wiclif who were persecuted after his death, is taken from John Bale's notes in the Fasciculi Zizaniorum, and was first printed in the Commentarii. Most of the material that Foxe has on Wiclif and the Council of Constance, however, was added in the Rerum. The reason for this is that Foxe acquired the two sources that he would use for this material, Ortwin Gratius's collection of documents, the Fasciculis rerum expetendarum et fugiendarum (Cologne, 1535) and Matthias Flacius's edition (anonymously edited) of Jan Hus's writings, Johannis Hus et Hieronymi Pragensis confessorum Christi Historia et Monumenta (Nuremburg, 1558), while he was in exile, working on the Rerum. Foxe would use the former for the documents coming out of the Council of Constance and the latter for Hus's defense of Wiclif's doctrines. The material in the Rerum was translated into the 1563 edition without much change, apart from the articles of Wiclif which were condemned at Constance; Foxe saw fit to emend these. In the 1570 edition this material was somewhat re-arranged and Hus's long defence of Wiclif dropped. However, Foxe did add, in this edition, articles alleged against Wiclif by the Franciscan William Woodford, a contemporary of Wiclif's at Oxford and a bitter critic of his teachings. Woodford's articles were taken from Ortwin Gratius's compilation. There was no change made to the material on Wiclif and the Council of Constance in the 1576 edition. In the 1583 edition, Hus's defense of Wiclif, which had been omitted since 1563, was reinserted into the text.

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Foxe's purposes in producing these documents were twofold. First of all, in many cases (and Foxe generally removed the exceptions), the teachings of Wiclif denounced as heretical, accorded reasonably well with Protestant beliefs and practices, thus helping to make the case that Protestantism was not an invention of Martin Luther's. Jan Hus's warm embrace of Wiclif's doctrines only strengthened this position. And the condemnation of Wiclif, the burning of his remains and the persecution of his followers helped establish Wiclif - somewhat against the odds - as a martyr and his enemies as members the False Church.

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Thomas S. Freeman
University of Sheffield


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¶ The Sentence, geuen by the councell of Constance, in condemnyng the doctrine, and xlv. articles of Ihon Wickleffe.

MarginaliaThe sentēce of the councel of Const. against I. Wickliffe 

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Foxe first printed this sentence in the Rerum (pp. 21-22) ; it was then translated and reprinted in every edition of the Acts and Monuments. Foxe was reprinting this sentence, accurately, from Ortwin Gratius, Fasciculus rerum expetendarum et fugiendarum (Cologne, 1535), fo. 150r-v.

.THe most holy and sacred councell of Constance, making and representing the catholike churche, for the extirpation of this present schisme, and of all other errours and heresies, springyng and growyng vnder the shadow and pretence of the same: and for the reformation and amendement of the church, beyng lawfullye congreate and gathered together in the holye ghost, for the peryetuall memory of the tyme to come.

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We are taught by the actes and histories of the holye fathers, that the catholike fayth (without the whych, as the holy Apostle S. Paule saith, it is vnpossible to please God) hath alwayes bene defended by the faythfull and spirituall soldiours of the church, by the shielde of fayth, agaynst the false worshippers of the same faith, or rather peruers impugners: which through their proud curiositye wyll seme to know more, and to be wyser then they ought to be, and for the desyre of the glory of the worlde, haue gone about oft times to ouerthrow the same. These kindes of warres and battayles haue bene prefigured to vs before in those carnal wars of þe Israelites against the Idolatrous people. For in those spirituall wars the holy catholike church, thorough the vertue and power of

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