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141 [1333]

¶ The Copy of the Epistle sente by the bishop of Rome to Richard king of Englande, to persecute Iohn Wickeliffe.

VNto hys welbeloued Sonne in Chryste, Richarde the most noble kynge of Englande healthe. & c,

The Kingdome of Englande which the most highest hathe put vnder your power and gouernance being so famous and renowmed in valiancy and strength, so aboundant and flowing in all kind of wealth and riches: but muche more glorious resplendent and shining through the brightnes & clearnes of theyr godlines and faith, hath accostomed alwayes to bringe forthe men endued with the trew knowledge and vnderstanding of the holy scriptures, graue in yeres, feruent in deuotion, & defendours of the catholick fayth: The whiche haue not only directed & instructed their owne people thorow their holsom doctrine & preceptes into the true pathe of Gods commaundements: But also as we haue hard by the report and information of many credible persōs, to our great grief and hart sorow that Iohn Wiccleffe persō of Lutterworth in the dioces of Lincoln, professor of diuinitie (I wold to God he wer no author of heresy) to be fallen into suche a detestable and abhominable madnes, that he hath propounded and set forth diuerse and sundry conclusions ful of errors and conteining moste manifest heresy the which doo tend vtterly to subuert and ouerthrow the state of the whole church, of the which some of them (albeit vnder coloured phrase and spech) seme to smell and sauour of peruerse opinions and the folish doctrine of condemned memory of Marsilius of Padua, & Iohn of Ganduno whose bokes were by pope Iohn the. xxii. our predecessor, a man of most happy memory reproued and condemned. &c.

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Hitherto gentle reader, thou hast heard how Wiccleffe was accused by the Bishop. Nowe you shall also heare his resons and argumentes by the whiche he did confute him to the king. It followeth. Therefore for so muchd as our reuerent bretherne the archebishop of Canterbury, & the bishop of London haue receyued a special cōmaundement from vs by our autoritie, to apprehende and commit the fornamed Iohn Wiccliffe vnto prison, and to transporte his confession vnto vs. If they shal seme in the prosecution of this their busines to lack your fauour or helpe we require and moste ernestly desire your maiesty euē as your moste noble predecessors haue alwayes ben moste ernest louers of the catholicke faythe (whose case or quarell in this matter, is chiefly handled,) that you would vouchsafe euē for thereuerence of God, & the faith aforesaid, & also of the Apostolick seat, and of our person, that you will with your helpe and fauour, assist the saide archbishop and all other that shal go about to execute the said busines. Wherby besides þe prayse of men, you shall obtaine a heauenly rewarde & greate fauoure and good will at our hande, and of the sea aforsaide. Dated at Rome at. S. Mary the greater, the. xi. Kal. of Iune in the. vii. yere of our bishopricke. An. MCCClxxviii.

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These are the hole 

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The following passages sharply criticizing the employment of capital punishment for heresy was first printed in Commentarii (fos. 12r-15r) and it is an important early indication of Foxe's opinions on this subject. These passages were reprinted in the Rerum (pp. 6-7) and in the 1563 edition, but subsequently dropped.

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force and strengthe of the argumentes with the whyche these Apostolicke Bysshops doo defende the Christian faithe, by the which also they doo perswade the hole world to the burnynge of their brethern, whome they by a slaunderous tytle and name doo call Heretickes, and we truly contrarywyse most blessed Martirs. We wyll requyre and commaunde you: What reason is brought herein? but only that wyll standeth for reason. MarginaliaThe popes reasons and arguments in cōfutyng heresies.Whatsoeuer the Pope dothe once pronounce or speake, it is counted of suche force and effecte, that there is nomanne so hardye or stoute that dare once murmur againste it. But they whiche doo succede in Thapostles roome and place ought to confer with their brethern, with an Apostolycke spirite and mekenes, considering with them selues, according to the coūsel of the Gospell, of what spirit & whose ministers they are: For what so euer is lawfull vnto an externe Iudge, in a prophane cause, or in time paste hathe ben licensed vnto tyrauntes amongste the Heathen, or elles whatsoeuer was permitted vnto the Bishops of tholde lawe, is not by and by fytte and decente for the ministers of the new Testamente, the whych haue receiued a far dyuerse & cōtrary spyrite, euen the spyrite of hym which commaunded them to learn of hym to be humble and meke of heart. Wherefore it were very decente that these menne bragge they neuer so muche of the Apostles succession, that they doo remember them selues not only that they are ministers and seruauntes, but also whose ministers they are. For as Themistocles sayde, that he woulde not counte hym a cunnyng Musician that kepte neyther number or mesure in hys song: So like wyse must these menne thynke of them selues, in the vsynge of theyr function and office, they frame them selues no other way, then accordyng to the trewe harmonie of the rule whyche they haue professed.

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And albeit that Wyckcliffe had ben a moste greate and ranke Heretycke, yet where did the Pope learne to bynde hym in fetters, to lay hym in Pryson, and with force and fyer to oppresse and persecute him, when as yet he had confuted him by no probable argument, whose cause also peraduenture he did not sufficiently know? And seing þt Io. Wickliffe had writtē so many bokes in latin, if they had semed not cōsonant vnto the

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