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851 [851]

K. Henry. 6. The burnyng of Richard Wyche. Cope aunswered.

diuers thousandes, & so brought þe rest by that meanes, vnder subiection to the Emperour duryng hys lyfe time, which after that continued not long. MarginaliaEx Ænea Sylu. lib. de hist. Boem. cap. 51.Ex Æne. Syl. The whiche souldiours, if they had fought so much for the catholike liberties of the Pope and his Churche, as they fought agaynst hym, it is marueill if the Pope had not dignified them all for holye martirs. But they that kill with the sword (sayth Christ) shall perishe wyth the sword. Notwithstāding, the cruell deceite of Mainardus is worthy of all men to be detested.

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MarginaliaEngland noted of crueltie.Duryng this busines among the Bishops beyond the sea, in the meane tyme our Byshops here also in England, were not vtterly vnoccupyed. Whether it be þe nature of the countrey that so geueth: or whether þe great lyuynges & wealthy promotions of the clergy, do draw with them a more insensible vntowardnes in Gods religion, hard it is to say: thys is manifest to all thē whiche will read and marke our stories from time to tyme, MarginaliaBurnyng and slaying in England.that in England is more burnyng and slaying for religion & for all other matters: more bloudshed among vs thē in any other land or nation in Christendome besides. After the burnyng of Rich. Houeden, of Nicolas Canon, and of Thomas Bagley priest, aboue recorded, pag. 790. whom the bishops cōdemned to death. an. 1431. not long after, Marginalia1439.about the yeare of our Lord. 1439. whiche was þe. xviij. of the reygne of kyng Henr. 6. they had an other poore mā by the backe, MarginaliaRichard Wiche priest, martyr
Ex Fabian. part. 7.
Ex antiquo atio Chronico.
named Richard vviche, 

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Richard Whiche

Foxe's account of Richard Wyche was first printed in the 1570 edition. Foxe listed two sources for his account, Robert Fabian's chronicle, and an old English chronicle he borrowed from someone named Permynger. This last named item is impossible to identify, particularly since Foxe's account is taken virtually word-for-word from Fabian. (See Fabyan's cronycle [London, 1559], STC 10664, p. 436). In the 1583 edition, Foxe added a royal proclamation to the sheriffs of London and Middlesex, ordering them to suppress the cult of Richard Wyche. How Foxe obtained a copy of this document is unknown, but the document survives and Foxe printed it accurately. (See the summary of the proclamation in Calendar of Close Rolls. Henry VI. Vol. III. 1435-1441, pp. 385-6).

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Foxe assumes, as almost every scholar examining the incident has, that Wyche was executed for Lollard beliefs and that his cult was generated by other Lollards. For a compelling case that neither assumption is true, and for the best account of the episode, see Richard Rex, 'Which is Wyche? Lollardy and Sanctity in Lancastrian London' in Martyrs and Martyrdom in England, c. 1400-1700, ed. Thomas S. Freeman and Thomas F. Mayer (Woodbridge, 2007), pp. 88-106.

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Thomas S. Freeman
University of Sheffield

priest, mentioned both in Robert Fabian, & also in an other old English Chronicle borowed of one Permynger. What his opiniōs were, they do not expresse. This they recorde, þt this Rich. vviche, first was degraded, thē burned at þe tower hil for heresy. Some do affirme that he before his death, reuolted, but that semeth by his burning, not to be true.

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Richard Wyche, truly a 'veteran Lollard priest' when he went to the stake in 1440, had a heretical career that started near the beginning of the century and took him from Newcastle to London and the Welsh marches. His intermittent appearances suggest that he was associated with Sir John Oldcastle, and was of some standing, since he sent a letter to John Hus (who also received books from him) in 1410, at the same time as Oldcastle wrote to a Bohemian noble. His respect in the eyes of Londoners was such that steps were taken to prevent people pilgrimaging to his place of execution. Foxe's account of Wiche's death is a short but particularly vivid one, describing how a pile of stones was gathered and a cross erected at the site of his execution, after the martyr's death. This interesting event, taking place some time after the death of the martyr would have been difficult to include, since most illustrations depict the moment immediately surrounding the death of the martyr. But the story may have been enough to warrant him having his own illustration (albeit one of the generic, repeated small woodcuts). CUL copy: Wiche is dressed in white with a greying beard. He is clad on top but is depicted as having heavily greying hair. WREN: the same details are added.

It is also testifyed of hym, þt hee, before hys death, spake (as propheceynge) þt the posterne of þe tower shoulde sincke: whiche also afterwarde, came as he said, to passe. Wherfore of MarginaliaRicharh Wyche, after his death taken for a saincte.many of the people he was counted for an holy man: In so muche that (as it is affirmed) they came to the place, where hee was brent, and there made theyr oblations, and prayers, and areyred a great heape of stones, and set vp a crosse there by night: so þt by this meanes a gret clamour ranne vpon the church men, and especially vppon such, as put him to death. Then to cease þe rumour, the kyng gaue commaundement to punish such, as wēt thether on pilgrimage. By vertue wherof, þe Maior and Shriffes did such diligence, that shortly after, that concourse and sekyng of the people, was left of.

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MarginaliaEx Regist. Henr. Chichesley.After the burning of this man, which was about the moneth of Iune, in the same yeare about Nouember, a conuocation was called by Henry Archbishop of Cant. MarginaliaThe byshops consult to abolishe the lawe of Premuniri facias.wherein was propounded among the Clergye, to consulte with thē selues, what way were best to be taken, for the remouing away the law of Premuniri facias: for so were the hartes then of the temporaltie set agaynst the ecclesiasticall sort, that where any vauntage myght be geuen them by the lawe, they did nothyng spare: by reason wherof, the churchmen at that tyme were greatly molested by the sayd law of Premuniri, & by the kings writtes, & other inditemēts, to their no smal anoyance. By long consultation and good aduisement, at last this way was taken, that a petition or supplication shoulde be drawen and presented to the kyng, for the abolishing of the foresayd law of Premuniri facias, and also for the restrayning of other briefes, wryts, and inditementes, which seemed then to lye heauy vpon the Clergy. Thys byll or supplication being cōtriued and exhibited by the Archb. of Cant. and of Yorke, vnto the king, & the kyng stāding in nede þe same time, of a subsidye to be collected of the Clergye: this answer was geuen to their supplication on the kinges behalfe: MarginaliaThe kings answere to the byll of the clergye touching the law of Premuniri.that forsomuch as the time of Christenmas then drew neare, wherby he had as yet no sufficient leysure to aduise vpon the matter, he wold take therein a farther pause. In the meane tyme, as one tendering their quiet, he woulde sende to all his officers and ministers within his realme, that no suche briefe of Premuniri, should passe agaynst them or anye of them, from the sayd tyme of Christenmas, till the next parliament, an. 1439. Ex Regist. Cant.

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In my former edition of Actes and Monumentes, so hastely rashed vp at that present, in suche shortnes of time, as in the sayd booke thou mayest see (gentle reader) declared and signified: amonge many other matters therin contayned, there is a shorte note made of one Eleanor Cobham duches of Glocester, and of Syr Roger Onley knight (priest it should haue bene printed.) 

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Eleanor Cobham

In his Catalogus, Bale gave an account of a 'Roger Onley', a chaplain to Eleanor Cobham, the wife of Duke Humphrey of Gloucester. Bale described 'Onley' as an Oxford graduate, who became a Lollard. The clergy, because he was a Lollard, and because they hated Gloucester, falsely accused 'Onley' and the duchess of Gloucester of sorcery. 'Onley' and certain others were hanged, drawn and quartered. Eleanor Cobham was tried by an ecclesiastical tribunal and imprisoned for the rest of her life (Catalogus, pp. 584-5). The individual whom Bale identified as Roger Onley was, in fact, Roger Bolingbroke, the principal of St Andrew's Hall, Oxford. (One of Bale's sources, the chronicle of John Hardyng, misidentified Bolingbroke as Onley). Bale's account was, moreover, highly tendentious. Eleanor Cobham had, in fact, dabbled in astrology in an effort to find out when her husband (the heir to the childless Henry VI) might become king. Cobham also obtained love potions from one Margery Jourdemane, a reputed witch, whom Bale failed to mention. (For an account of the episode see R. A. Griffiths, 'The Trial of Eleanor Cobham', Bulletin of the John Rylands Library 51 [1968-9], pp. 381-99). Most importantly, no medieval source gives the slightest hint that Bolingbroke and Cobham were, as Bale claimed, Lollards. This is based solely on Bale's assumption, stemming from his desire to see proto-Protestants throughout the Middle Ages, that anyone condemned by an ecclesiastical tribunal was a Lollard or a Protestant avant la lettre. Bale simply ignored detailed descriptions of Cobham's sorcery and the inconvenient involvement of Jourdemane.

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Foxe first printed an account of this incident, based solely on Bale, in the Rerum (p. 116). Foxe, however, added an important error of his own. He stated that Onley (or Bolingbroke), was a knight, while Bale (and Bale's sources) are clear that he was a cleric. Foxe repeated his brief account of Onley and Cobnam in the 1563 edition. The combination of Bale's and Foxe's errors provided Nicholas Harpsfield, Foxe's most important contemporary critic, with an invaluable opportunity to discredit Foxe. Harpsfield seized upon it with alacrity. Harpsfield pointed out that Onley was not a knight and that he was really Roger Bolingbroke. He also made something of Foxe's mention of a woman, the mother of Lady Young, whose account appeared in the 1563 edition (just after that of Cobham and 'Onley') and made his own mistaken assumption: that the mother of Lady Young was actually Margery Jourdemane. (The mother of Lady Young was actually Joan Boughton, who was executed in 1494; see The Great Chronicle of London, ed. A. H. Thomas and I. D. Thornley [London, 1938], p. 252. Boughton was the mother-in-law of Sir John Young, a mayor of London). Harpsfield also pointed out that no source claimed that Cobham, Bolingbroke and Jourdemane were heretics. Rather all were agreed that they were convicted of sorcery (Dialogi sex, pp. 830-1).

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In the 1570 edition, Foxe responded to Harpsfield. He conceded that he was incorrect about Onley/Bolingbroke having been a knight, but that was his only concession. The 1570 account of Cobham, including Foxe's response to Harpsfield, was repeated, without change, in subsequent editions.

Thomas S. Freeman,
University of Sheffield

Which two persons, about þe yeare of our Lord. 1440. or þe next yeare followyng, were condemned, the one to death, the other to perpetuall prison. MarginaliaA briefe answere to Cope, concerning Lady Eleanour Cobham. &c.Of this little short matter, maister Cope the Popes Scoute, lying in priuy wayt to spye faultes in all mens workes, where so euer any may appeare, taketh pepper in the nose, & falleth again vnto his old barking against me, for placing these foresaid persōs in my boke of Martyrs, but especially he thinketh to haue great vantage against me, for þt in the same story, I do ioyne withall, one Margaret Iourdemā, þe witch of Eye, condemned also with thē the same time, and burned for practising the kings death by an image of waxe. &c. To answer hereunto, first I say (as I before sayd) that I professe no suche title to write of Martyrs: but in generall to write of Actes and Monuments passed in the church and realme of England. Wherin, why should I be restrayned from the free walke of a storye writer, more then other that haue gone before me?

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Secondly, touching my cōmendation of Syr Roger Onley, and the Lady Eleanor, if maister Alane be therewith offended, I aunswer that I commended them for sauoring & fauouring of the truth of Christes doctrine: For the fact, if any such were in them, I do not cōmend them. And though I did commend them, yet neyther did I it with anye long tarying vpon it, nor yet altogether vpon mine own head, without some sufficient warrant of autoritye. For why maye not I as well beleue Iohn Bale, as M. Alane beleue maister Fabian? especiallye seing I do know, and was priuy, that the sayde Iohn in recognising his Centuries, followed altogether the hystory of Leland De Catalogo virorum illustrium, whyche booke being borowed of maister Cheke, I my selfe dyd see in the handes of the foresayd Iohn Bale, what tyme we were both together, dwelling in the house of the noble Lady Duches of Rychmond. Wherfore if he thinke me so lewd to speake without myne autors, he is deceiued. And if he thinke mine autors not to be beleued, then

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