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1176 [1176]

K. Henry. 8. Articles agaynst Thomas Bilney, and Tho. Arthur with his aunsweres.

PersecutersPersecuted.The Causes.

vertues, without the grace of Christian liuyng, or that the
vertues which Aristotle hath set out, are rather fayned.
31. Whether they thinke it heresie, to teache the people,
that it is free to geue the tithes vnto Priestes, or to any other
poore man.
MarginaliaImages.32. VVhether they do thinke it more Christianlike to take
away the Images out of the Churches, or to permitte them
there, to adorne them and honor them.
33. VVhether they thinke it the part of a Christian man,
that preachers shoud exhorte men to pilgrimage, or to the
MarginaliaReliques.worshippyng of Reliques.
34. VVhether that thou Thomas Bilney, beyng cited vpon
heresie to appeare before my Lord Cardinall, and before the day
of thy apparance not hauyng made thy purgation vppon
those pointes that thou was cited: hast preached openly in
diuerse Churches of the Citie, and dioces of London, with-
out sufficient licence from the Byshop, or any other. 
Commentary  *  Close

Bilney was issued a license to preach in the diocese of Ely in 1525, which Bishop West retracted. Cambridge University Library, MS EDR, G/1/7, fol. 33A.

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Concernyng the aunsweres vnto these Articles,
(gentle reader) for somuch as in the most part of them,
Bilney with Arthure seemed to consent and agree (al-
though not fullye and directly, but by way and maner
of qualifiyng) 
Commentary  *  Close

For Bilney's 'manner of qualifying' see J. Y. Batley, On a Reformer's Latin Bible: being an Essay on the `Adversaria' in the Vulgate of Thomas Bilney (Cambridge, 1940), pp. 47-8; John F. Davis, `The Trials of Thomas Bylney and the English Reformation', Historical Journal, vol. 24 (1981), pp. 775-790; Susan Wabuda, 'Equivocation and Recantation During the English Reformation: the "Subtle Shadows" of Dr Edward Crome', The Journal of Ecclesiastical History, vol. 44 (1993), pp. 224-242; Gregory Walker, 'Saint or schemer?: the 1527 heresy trial of Thomas Bilney reconsidered', Journal of Ecclesiastical History, vol. 40 (1989), 219-38.

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yet because he did not expreslye denye
them, it shall not bee needefull here to recite them all,
saue onely such, wherin he semed to dissent frō them.

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MarginaliaAūsweres to the Interrogatories aforesayd.To the first & second Articles he aunswered affir-
Commentary  *  Close

Foxe was deliberately obscure here to conceal the fact that Bilney (with Arthur) believed that Luther's opinions had been justly condemned, even under the terms of Holy Scripture, and that Luther was 'a wicked and detestable hereticke'. Bilney and Arthur agreed that John Fisher, bishop of Rochester and chancellor of Cambridge University, had been correct in impugning Luther's assertions in his books Defensio Regie assertionis contra Babylonicam captiuitatem and Sacri sacerdotij defensiones contra Lutherum (Cologne: Peter Quentell, June 1525).

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To the third hee sayd, I beleue that many of the
Popes lawes, are profitable and necessarye, and doe
preuaile vnto godlines, neither in any poynt are repu-
gnant vnto the Scriptures, nor by any meanes are to
be abrogate, but of all mē to be obserued and reueren-
ced. But touchyng all those lawes I cā not determine:
for, as for such as I haue not read, I trust notwithstā-
dyng they are good also: & as for those þt I haue read, I
dyd neuer read thē to þe end or purpose to reproue thē,
but accordyng to my power, to learne and vnderstand
MarginaliaAgainst the multitude of lawes.them. And as touchyng the mulititude of lawes, S. Au-
gustine in his tyme, did much complaine, and Gerson
also, who maruayled that we could by any meanes liue
in safetie amongest so many snares of constitutions,
when as our forefathers, beyng pure before their fall,
could not obserue one onely precept.
MarginaliaThe true church can not erre in fayth.To the. iiij. Article, hee sayd that the Catholicke
Churche can by no meanes erre in faith, for it is the
whole congregation of the electe, and so knowen onely
vnto God, whiche knoweth who are his: otherwise no
man should be asserteyned of an other mans saluation,
or of his owne, but onely through faith and hope. For
MarginaliaEccle. is written: No man knoweth, whether he bee worthye
of hatred or loue. It is also sensible, and may bee demon
strate so farre fourth, as it is sufficiēt to establish vs
in all thinges that are to be beleued and done: For I may
truly say of the generall Councell beyng congregate
in the holy Ghost: behold here the Catholicke Church,
denominatyng the whole by the most worthy part.
¶ To the v. Article, hee aunswered affirmatiuely in these
wordes, cum sint libri Laicorum, adorare oportet, at non
imaginem, sed prototypon.
To the sixt Article, hee aunswered, that he dyd not
beleue that they are in heauen, beyng so taught by the
Scriptures, and holy fathers of the Church. 
Commentary  *  Close

Bilney's opinion that the saints were not in heaven was highly unusual. See John F. Davis, 'The Trials of Thomas Bylney and the English Reformation', Historical Journal, vol. 24 (1981), pp. 775-790.

To the. vij. Article hee sayd, that it is not to bee
thought contrary.
To the viij. Article, whether a man may not obserue
the feastes and fastes of the Church prescribed, hee
thought that there is no man, but he ought to obserue
To the. ix. Article, hee sayd that we are likewise
bound as vnto parentes.
To the. xiij. Article, hee aunswered thus, the. xiiij.
chapter of S. Paul in his first Epistle to the Corinthi-
ans moueth me to beleue, that it is best, that þe people

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Persecuters.Persecuted.The Causes.

should haue the Lordes Prayer & the Apostles Crede
in English, so that their deuotion might þe more be fur-
thered by the vnderstandyng therof, and also that ther-
by they might bee the more prompt and experte in the
Articles of their faith: of the which it is to be feared
a great number are ignoraunt. Surely I haue heard
many say, that they neuer heard speake of the resur-
rection of the body: and beyng certified therof, but they
became much more apte and ready vnto goodnes, and
more fearefull to do euill.
To the fiftenth Article, he said hee would wishe that
MarginaliaScripture to be in Englishe.the Gospels and Epistles should bee read in Englishe.
For I would (sayth Paul) rather haue. v. wordes. &c.
That the Church might be edified. &c. And Chriso- Marginalia1. Cor. 14.
stome exhorteth his hearers to looke vppon bookes, that
they might the better committe vnto memory, those
MarginaliaS. Iohns gospell translated into Englishe by Bede.thynges whiche they had heard. And S. Bede did trans-
late S. Iohns Gospell into Englishe.
Touchyng the. xviij. Article, for the translatiō of the
Scripture into Englishe 
Commentary  *  Close

Translations of the Bible into English had been illegal ever since the Wycliffite heresies of the late fourteenth century. See 5 Ric. II, st. 2, c. 5 (1382); 2 Hen. IV, c. 15 (1401); 2 Hen. V., st. 1, c. 7 (1414), and also the 1408 Constitutions of Archbishop Thomas Arundel, printed in William Lyndwood, Provinciale, (seu Constitvtiones Angliae) (Oxford, 1679; rpt. 1968), p. 286. The call of the humanists, including Erasmus, to return ad fontes, and to understand sacred scripture as it had been written, was highly controversial in the late 1520s. Susan Wabuda, 'The Woman with the Rock: the Controversy on Women and Bible Reading', in Belief and Practice in Reformation England: A Tribute to Patrick Collinson from His Students, eds. Susan Wabuda and Caroline Litzenberger (Aldershot, 1998), pp. 40-59.

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, concernyng the whole, hee
dyd partly doubt. Notwithstādyng, he wished that the
Gospels and Epistles of the day, might be read in Eng
lishe, that the people, might bee made the more apte to
heare sermōs. But here some will say, there might also
be daunger for errour. Wherunto he aunswered: but
MarginaliaObiection dissolued.good and vigilant pastors might easely helpe that mat-
ter, by addyng the playne interpretation of the fathers
in the margentes, in Englishe, vpon the darke and ob-
scure places, whiche would put away all doubtes. O
how great profite of soules should the vigilant pastors
get hereby, whiche contrarywise, through their slouth-
fulnes, bryng great ruine and decay?
To the. xxv. Article, as touchyng pardons, he sayd,
MarginaliaThe Popes pardons iniurious to Christes passion.that as they be vsed, and haue too long bene, it were
better that they shoulde bee restrained, then that they
should be any longer vsed as they haue bene, to the in-
iury of Christes Passion.
Touchyng the. xxvi. Article, he sayd that it is not a-
gaynst the doctrine of Christ and hys Apostles, to con-
MarginaliaHow Christians may go to the lawe.tende in the lawe, so it be done with charitie, if Saint
Austen and the reuerent father Marcus Marulus dyd
not erre, whiche graunted that liberty to the weake
Christians: albeit that true Christians ought to giue
eare vnto Saint Paules, saying: Why do ye not ra-
Marginalia1. Cor. 6.ther suffer iniury? And to Christ him self which sayth:
He that will contend with thee in the law, and take
away thy coate, giue hym thy cloke also.
Touchyng the. xxviij. he aunswered, that God is
the author of the punishment onely, but not of the
offence, as Basilius Magnus teacheth in hs Sermon
vpon these wordes of the Prophet: Non est malum in
MarginaliaAmos. 3.ciuitate, quod non fecit Dominus. And S. Augustin
in an other place (as I remember) prayeth: That he be
not led into that temptation, that he should beleue God to be
the Author of sinne and wickednes.

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¶ Here ensueth a brief Summary or collection of certaine
depositions, deposed by the seuerall witnesses a fore-
named, vppon certeine interrogatories ministred
vnto them, for the inquiry of Maister Bilneys
doctrine and preachyng.
MarginaliaDepositions agaynst M. Bilney.FIrste it was deposed, that in hys Sermon in Christes
MarginaliaHeresie in the Popes church to confesse Christ onely to be our Mediatour.Churche in Ipswitch, he should preache and say, our Sa-
uiour Christ is our Mediator betwen vs and the father: what
should we nede thē to seke to any Saint for remedie? 
Commentary  *  Close

To write that Christ is our only mediator, as Foxe does here, is meant to dismiss the role that any of the saints had in salvation, and most particularly was a criticism of the cult of the Blessed Virgin Mary.


fore it is great iniurie to the bloud of Christ, to make such
petitions, and blasphemeth our Sauiour.
That man is so vnperfect of him selfe, that he can in no
wise, merite by his owne dedes.
Also that the commyng of Christ was long prophecyed
before, and desired by the Prophets: but Iohn Baptist beyng
more then a Prophet, did not onely prophecie, but with hys
finger shewed hym, saying: Ecce agnus dei, qui tollit peccata mun
MarginaliaIohn. 9.di. Then, if this were the very lambe whiche Iohn did demō-
strate, that taketh away the sinnes of the worlde, what iniury
is it to our Sauiour Christ, that to be buried in Saint Frances

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