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498 [498]

Actes and Monumentes of the Churche.

theues, with these yearly exactiōs that thei take of þe people? Truly nothing but exēpt thē selues frō thobedience of your grace. Nothing but translate al rule power, lordship, autoritie, obediēce, & dignitie from your grace vnto thē. Nothing but that al your subiectes shuld fal into disobediēce & rebelliō agaīst your grace & be vnder thē as thei did vnto your noble predecessor king Iohn: 

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Fish relates here the essential details of the origins of the Magna Carta. John was in dispute with the king of France (Philip Augustus) over his succession to the English throne, and with the pope (Innocent III) over the election of Stephen Langton as archbishop of Canterbury. John refused to recognize the election and Innocent issued an interdict against England in 1208, an excommunication order against John in 1209, and encouraged Philip to invade in 1212. John backed down and went so far as to give England and Ireland over to the pope (renting them back as a fiefdom for a yearly tribute of 1000 marks). It is this to which Fish refers.

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which for because that he would haue punished certaine traitours, that had conspired with the frēch king, to haue deposed hī frō his crown & dignitie (amōg the which a clerck called Stephen, whom afterward againste the kinges wil, the Pope made bishop of Caunterbury, was one) enterdited his land. For the which matter your most noble realme wrōgfully (alas for shame) hath stande tributary not vnto any kind of tēporal prince, but vnto a cruel deuelish bloudsupper, drōken in the bloud of the saintes & martyrs of Christ, euer since. Here were an holy sort of prelates that thus cruely could punish such a rightuous king, al his realme, & succession, for doing right. Here were a charitable sort of holy men that could thus enterdite an whole realme, & pluck away thobediēce of þe people frō their natural liege, lord, & kinge, for none other cause but for his righteousnes. Here were a blissed sort not of meke heardes but of bloudsuppers, that could set the french king vpō such a righteous prince, to cause him to lose his crowne & dignitie, to make effusion of the bloud of his people, onles this good & blissed king of great cōpassiō, more fearing & lamēting the shedīg of the bloud of his people, thē the losse of his crown & dignitie, agaīst al right & conscience, had submitted him self vnto thē. O case most horrible, that euer so noble a king, realme, & succession, shuld thus be made to stoupe to such a sort of bloudsupers. where was his sweard, power, crown, & dignitie become, wherby he might haue done iustice in this matter? wher was their obediēce become þt shuld haue bene subiect vnder his high power in this matter? Yea wher was thobediēce of all his subiects become, that for maintenaunce of the cōmon wealth shuld haue holpē his manfully to haue resisted these bloudsuppers, to the shedīg of their bloud? was not altogether by their policy, trāslated frō this good king vnto thē? Yea & what do they more? Truly nothing but aplie thēselues by al the sleightes thei may to haue to do with euery mans wife, euery mās doughter & euery mans maid, that cuckoldrie & baudrie shulde reigne ouer al amōg your subects, that no mā shuld know his own child, that their bastards might enherite the possessions of euery man, to put the right begotten children clere beside their inheritance in subuersiō of al estates & godly order. These be they that by their absteining frō mariage, do let the generatiō of the people, wherby al þe realme at lēgth if it shulde be continued, shalbe made desert & inhabitable. 
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This is part and parcel of Fish's various anti-clerical arguments. Here, clerical celibacy and sexual incontinence are said to have created the appearance of no less than 100,000 whores.

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These be they that haue made an C. M. idel hores in your realme, which wold haue gotten their liuīg honestly, in þe swet of their faces, had not their superfluous ryches elected them to vnclean lust & idelues. These be they that corrupt the whole generation of mākind in your realme, that catche the pockes of one womā & beare thē to another, that be brent with one woman & beare it to another, that catche the lepry of one woman & beare it to an other. Yea some one of them shal bost among his felowes that he hath medled with an C. women. These be they that whē they haue ones drawen mens wiues to such incontinēcie, spend away their husbands goods, make the wemen to run away frō their husbandes: yea, run away thē selues both wt wife & goodes, bringing both mā wife & childrē to idlenesse, theft, & beggery. Yea who is abel to nōbre the great & brode botomles occean sea, ful of euils, that this mischeuous & sinful generation may laufully bring vpon vs vnpunished. where is your sweard, power, crown, & dignitie, become, thatshuld punish (by punishment of death euen as other mē are punished) the felonies, rapes, murders, & treasons, cōmitted by this sinful generatiō? Where is their obediēce become that shuld be vnder your high power in this matter? Is not altogether translated & exēpt frō your grace vnto thē? What an infinite nōbre of people might haue ben encreased to haue peopled the realme, if these sort of folke had ben maried like other mē, what breche of matrimony is there brought in by thē? such truly as was neuer since the world begā amōg the whole multitude of the Heathē. Who is she that will set her hādes to worke to get iij. d. a day & mai haue at lest xx. d. a day to slepe an hour with a frier, a mōke, or a priest? what is he þt wold labour for a groat a day, & may haue at lest xij. d. a day to be baude to a priest, a monke, or a frier? what a sort are there of thē that mary priestes soueraigne ladies, but to cloke the priestes incōtinency & that thei may haue a liuing of the priest thē selues for their labour? How many M. doth such lubricitie brīg to beggery, theft & idlenes, which should haue kepte their good name, & haue set thē selues to worke had not ben this excesse treasure of the spiritualtie? what honest man dare take any manne or woman in his seruice that hath ben at such a schole with a spiritual mā? Oh the greuous shipwrak of the cōmon wealth which in aunciēt time before the coming of these rauenous wolues ware so prosperous: that then ther were but fewe theues: yea theft was at that time so rare that Cesar was not cōpelled to make penalte of death vpon felony as your grace may wel perceiue in his institutes. Ther was also at that time but few poore people, & yet they did not beg, but there was giuen thē enough vnasked, for ther was at that time none of these rauenous wolues to aske it frō thē, as it apeareth in the actes of thapostles. Is it any maruel though there be now so many beggars, theues, and idle people? Nay truely.

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What remedy: 

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At this point in the treatise, Fish has basically claimed that the clergy are a separate state within the state, subject to their own rules and regulations, indeed, taking power away from the temporal authority all the time. His point here is that temporal law is ineffective.

make lawes against thē? I am in doubt whether ye be able. Are they not stronger in your own parliament house then your selfe? what a nomber of byshops, abbots, & priours, are lordes of your parliament? are not al the learned men of your realme in fee with thē to speake in your parliament house for thē against your crown, dignitie, & cōmon wealth of your realme, a few of your owne learned coūcel only excepted? what lawe can be made against thē that may be aduaylable. Who is he (though he be greued neuer so sore) for the murdre of his auncester rauishmēt of his wife, of his daughter, robbery, trespas, mayme, dette, or any other offence dare laye it to their Charge by any way of accion, & if he do, then is he by & by, by their wylinesse accused of heresie, yea they wil so handle him or he passe that, except he wil beare a faggot for their pleasure, he shalbe excommunicate and then be al his actions dashed.

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So captiue ar your lawes vnto theim, that no man that they liste to excomunicate, may be admitted to sue any action in any of your courtes. If any man in your sessions dare be so hardy to endite a priest of any suche crime, he hath or the yeare go out, suche a yoke of heresie laide in his neck, that it maketh him wyshe that he had not done it. Your grace may see what a worke there is in London, how the bishop rageth for enditing of certain curates of extorcion & incōtinencie the last yeare in the warinol quest. Had not Richard Hun commenced accion of premunire against a priest, 

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This refers to the great cause célèbre of the 1510s, the so-called Hunne case. In essence, Hunne refused to pay a fee to the parish priest (the rector of St Mary Matfelon in Whitechapel) for the burial of his child (March 1511). The priest sued Hunne in the ecclesiastical court of Audience (April 1512) - which found in the priest's favour - and Hunne counter-sued in the civil courts (January 1513) accusing the priest of slander and praemunire (acting upon the orders of a foreign power without the king's license). The London clergy rallied and charged Hunne with heresy as a result, and he was imprisoned in the Lollards' Tower of St Paul's Cathedral (October 1514). He committed suicide (4 December 1514) and his body was burned for heresy (20 December). A coroner's jury concluded (February 1515) that Hunne had been murdered while in prison. See E Jeffries Davis, 'The Authorities for the Case of Richard Hunne (1514-15)' in The English Historical Review 30 (July 1915), pp. 477-88.

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he had bene yet aliue and none heretike at al but an honest mā. did not diuers of your noble progenitours seing their crown & dignitie rū into ruyne & to be thus craftely translated into the hands of this mischeuous generation, make diuers statutes for the reformatiō therof, among which the statute of Mortmayne 
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Mortmain is a legal condition in which land or property is possessed not by a person but by a non-personal legal entity (or corporation) like the church. The land or property, thereby, is not subject to inheritance fines. The two statutes (of 1279 and 1290) were attempts by Edward I to prevent too much land falling into the possession of the church (which limited the crown's revenues).

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was one? To the intent that after that tyme they shoulde haue no more geuen

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