Navigate the 1563 Edition
PrefaceBook 1Book 2Book 3Book 4Book 5
Critical Apparatus for this Page
Commentary on the TextCommentary on the Woodcuts
Names and Places on this Page
Unavailable for this Edition
534 [blank]

Stafford, whan he aunswered for his forme in diuinitie. Therfore this doctor Barnes boldened in Christ preached his sermon and was accused by two of the kings hall to be an heretick as here after shall more appere. After that the saide Bilney had cōuerted M. Latimer, MarginaliaThis maister Latimer brought Bilney from his desperation And than the sayde Bilney won him to gospell.he proceding forward in his jurney towarde Londō preached, emonge many sermons, one specially at S. Magnus, against the new idolatrous roode newly erected, before it was gilded: and there was apprehended & caried with Arthur, as is aforesaide, to Tonstall, and so to the cole house: And from thens to the towre, till they abiured, and bare faggots at Paules crosse, as we haue before specified. Cōcerning his diet which we spake of, it was so straight, þt for the space of a yere and halfe commenly he toke but one meale a day. So that if he were disposed to sup, he would kepe his commons: MarginaliaEx relatione cuiusdā ipsius discipuli.And like wise his supper, if he were disposed to dine, & would beare it to some prison: Where he vsed commenly to frequent and to exhorte such as were infamed or prisoned for euil life. Emong whome there was a certeine woman, one of þe officers wifes, there cast in prison for adultry: whome he there conuerted with his dayly exhortation, and brought to such repentance and also syncerity of faith, that afterward she offered her self redy to dye for the same in detesting of her former life. His scholler which had daily cōuersation with him, told vs that to his thinking, no night he slept aboue. iiii. hours, & yet we speake of more then he reported to vs.

[Back to Top]

He could abide no swearinge, nor singing.

Comming from the church where singinge was, he wold lament to his schollers, þe curiositie of their deinty singing, which he called rather a mockery with god, then otherwise. And when Doct. Thurlby Bishop after, then scholler lieng in the chamber vnderneth him, 

Commentary  *  Close

Thomas Thirlby, the future bishop of Westminster, was also a fellow of Trinity Hall.

wold play vpon his recorder (as he would often do) he would resort straight to hys prayer.

[Back to Top]

A description of the godly constancy of Thomas Bilney, who being in prison, oftentimes Prooued the fire with his finger
woodcut [View a larger version]
Commentary on the Woodcuts  *  Close
Preparing for, or being tested in advance for the ordeal of burning by a flame recurs in Foxe's book. See for instance Bonner's burning of Thomas Tomkins' hand, and the burning of Rose Allin's hand. Bilney's self-testing was of a different order, but it was the same proof -- the human ability to meet an ultimate ordeal; spiritual triumph over physical pain. The unnaturally radiant light of the candle (which may itself be read as a symbol of divine revelation) is a blazon of his success. James Truman has recently posited a very different interpretation of this picture, arguing that it depicts Bilney in a homosexual relationship. He maintains, we would argue erroneously, that this woodcut 'exposes the interplay between the suffering of martyrdom ... and the physical intimacy of early modern male friendship'. He cannot account for the total lack of comment to this effect by Foxe's contemporaries or by subsequent generations of theologians or scholars. This image has no heading in the first edition in which it is set awkwardly on the page, squashed into the bottom left corner of the opening -- its left edge reaching far into the margin -- and with the text butting right up to it on the top and right side. CUL copy: the flames in this image are a very bright orange, with their centres depicted in yellow, their tips in red. The book clasps are also depicted in red. Bilney is dressed in brown. WREN copy: this is a much paler image than that in CUL.

At last M. Bilney taking his leaue in trinitie hall at ten of the clock at night of some of his frendes: Saide, he would go to Ierusalem 

Commentary  *  Close

Foxe here compares Bilney with Christ on the way to the cross.

and so to see them no more. And imediatly departed to Norfolk, and there preached first priuatly in housoldes, to confirme the bretherne & sistern, & also to cōfirm thankris, whōe he cōuerted to Christ. Then preached openly in the fieldes, confessing his fact and preaching openly that thing, which before he had abiured, to be a very truth, and bad al men beware by him and neuer to truste to their fleshly frendes in causes of religion.

[Back to Top]

MarginaliaBilney contendeth to go to Ierusalem.And so setting forward in his iurney towardes the celestial Hierusalem, he departed from thens to the Anchrise in Norwich 

Commentary  *  Close

The place where the Anchoress was walled up was near the convent of the Dominican Friars in Norwich (now known as St. Andrew's and Blackfriars Halls). Sir Thomas More wrote that Bilney was 'secretely kepte' for a time in Norwich, and he was seized while he was delivering to her 'dyuers of Tyndales bokes'. The books afterward were conveyed away by another man, who was found with them, and the double discovery of Bilney and the books 'came to lyght by the very prouysyon of god.' Sir Thomas More, The confutacyon of Tyndales answere, ed. L. A. Schuster et al., in The Complete Works of St. Thomas More, vol. 8, pt. 1 (New Haven, 1973), p. 23 from The confutacyon of Tyndales answere (London: William Rastell, 1532, STC 18079), sig. Cc3B.

[Back to Top]
, MarginaliaAn ancrise in Norwich conuerted by Bylney.& there gaue her a new testament of Tindalls translation, and thobedience of a christian man. 
Commentary  *  Close

Foxe tells us here that Bilney gave her only two books (rather than the 'dyuers' that More mentioned) by William Tyndale: his translation of the New Testament, and The obedience of a Christen man. Tyndale's New Testament began to reach England from its first edition of 1525 (printed in Cologne, STC 2823) and from the Worms edition of 1526. Other expositions of scripture followed when Tyndale was living in Antwerp. The obedience of a Christen man appeared in 1528. The obedience of a Christen man and how Christen rulers ought to governe (Marlborow in the land of Hessen: Hans Luft [Antwerp: J. Hoochstraten], 1528, STC 24446).

[Back to Top]
MarginaliaBilney the second time apprehēded and imprisoned.And forth with was apprehended caried to prisone, ther to remain til the blind bishop Nix sēt for a wryt to burn hm. In the meane season the friers & religious men wt the residue of their doctors Ciuil & cannon resorted to him & labored to perswade him not to dye therin, saying: He shuld be dāned body & soul, but he buildīg him self fast on the rock bad thē al avoid, & bad thē send two of their best doctors they had, to confound hym if they could, and to shew a better truth then he had to shew for him by the word of God. MarginaliaDocter Cal and Doctor Stokes sēt to dispute with Bilney.And then did the blind bishop of Norwich send to him Doct. Call a gray frier: And Docter Stokes and Austē frier. who lay with him in prison in disputation till the write cam that he should be burned. MarginaliaDoctor Call conuerted by Bylney.Doct. Cal by þe word of God through tholy ghost, and by Maister Bilneyes doctrine and godly life whereof he had experience, was conuerted to Christ. The other Doct. Stokes remained obdurate and doth vnto this day, MarginaliaDoctor Stokes now placed and beneficed at Lin.whose hart also the lord, if it be his will, cōuert, & open þe eies of his age, þt he may forsake þe former blindnes of his youth Emong thother, that were doers against him was one Fryer Bird with one eye. 
Commentary  *  Close

John Byrd was born in Coventry, and he became a suffragan bishop in 1537. In 1541 he was made bishop of the newly-created diocese of Chester. At the time of Bilney's examinations, Byrd was still a Carmelite friar. See Richard Copsey's account of him in ODNB. Dr John Stokes was the prior of the convent of Augustinian friars in Norwich.

[Back to Top]
MarginaliaThis Bird was a suffragane in Couentrye and was he that brought apples to Boner mentioned in the story of Haukes. A nother was a black Frier called Hodgkins, who after being vnder þe bishop of Canterb. maried & in Maris time put away his wife. As it is reported by him þt was hys scholer he would manye times attempte to proue the fier wt his finger nye to the candle, but especialy the night before he suffred martirdō, at what time he did hold his fīger (in þe prisō at yeld hall) after twise prouing so lōg in the flame, þt he burnt of the fyrste ioynt.

[Back to Top]
Go To Modern Page No:  
Click on this link to switch between the Modern pagination for this edition and Foxe's original pagination when searching for a page number. Note that the pagination displayed in the transcription is the modern pagination with Foxe's original pagination in square brackets.
Type a keyword and then restrict it to a particular edition using the dropdown menu. You can search for single words or phrases. When searching for single words, the search engine automatically imposes a wildcard at the end of the keyword in order to retrieve both whole and part words. For example, a search for "queen" will retrieve "queen", "queene" and "queenes" etc.
Humanities Research Institute  *  HRI Online  *  Feedback
Version 2.0 © 2011 The University of Sheffield