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1133 [1132]

K. Hen . 8. The Acte of vj. Articles.

Finally, his grace straightly chargeth and commaundeth that hys subiectes do kepe and obserue all and singuler hys Iniunctions made by hys maiesty, vpon the payne therin contayned.

Here followeth how religion began to go backeward. 
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Act of Six Articles

In this section Foxe turns to what had become, in restrospect, a defining event of the Henrician Reformation: the 1539 Act Abolishing Diversity in Opinions (31 Henry VIII c. 14), universally known then and since as the Act of Six Articles. This is a critical part of Foxe's narrative of Henry's reign; it is also thick with factual errors and dubious interpretation.Foxe was heir to twin Protestant and Catholic traditions which had decided that the Act was a mainstay of religious conservatism. For Catholic opponents of religious change under Edward VI, the Act became a touchstone of orthodoxy, with the southwestern rebels of 1549 demanding that the 'Lawes … concernynge the syxe articles' should be restored. (A Copye of a letter (RSTC 15109.3: London, 1549), sig. B6r.) Protestants had long concluded that the Act was a bloody instrument of persecution. Richard Grafton, in his continuation of Edward Hall's chronicle - which provides the narrative core for Foxe's account of this episode, and to which many of the problems with Foxe's account can be traced - claimed that 'of some [the Act] was named the whip withe sixe strynges' (Edward Hall and Richard Grafton, The vnion of the two noble and illustrate famelies of Lancastre & Yorke (STC 12721: London, 1548), part II, fo. 234v). A pamphlet of 1548 described it as 'their whip of correction ... hanged [with] .vi. stringes' (Peter Moone, A short treatise of certayne thinges abused (STC 18056: London, 1548), sig. A3v).This view of the Act as the brutal centrepiece of a popish backlash determined Foxe's view, not only of the Six Articles, but of the period 1539-47 as a whole. Recent scholarship has taken a less apocalyptic view of the Act and of that period. Alec Ryrie, The Gospel and Henry VIII (Cambridge, 2002), pp. 15-39, discusses the Act, its reputation and its genesis, arguing that it was the outcome of a particular diplomatic moment, that it had little immediate impact, and that many reformers were content with much of it. Rory McEntegart, Henry VIII, the League of Schmalkalden and the English Reformation (Woodbridge, Suffolk, 2002), pp. 150-63, gives the critical diplomatic context. Glyn Redworth, 'A study in the formulation of policy: the genesis and evolution of the Act of Six Articles' in Journal of Ecclesiastical History vol. 37 (1986), pp. 42-67, reconstructs the process by which the Act came into being. The main factual errors of Foxe's account are chronological. The Hall and Grafton chronicle (his principle source for this section, alongside the text of the Act itself) used London mayoral years, which run from October to October: this led him to date the Act to 1540, rather than 1539. This is significant for Foxe's account of Thomas Cromwell's fall, for in 1570 and subsequent editions of the Acts and Monuments, Foxe redated Cromwell's fall, correctly, to 1540 - thus making it appear that Cromwell's arrest followed immediately on the passage of the Six Articles, whereas in fact more than a year separated the two events. His main account of the persecution under the Six Articles also suffers from serious chronological confusion.More significant, perhaps, is the vagueness of much of this account, for aside from Grafton's assertions and the text of the Act, Foxe had little hard evidence to back up his view that 'religion began to goe backward' from 1539-40 onwards. As a result, here as elsewhere Foxe is driven to embrace conspiracy theory. Behind every setback for the evangelical cause he detects the manipulating evil genius of Stephen Gardiner, bishop of Winchester: a view only loosely related to reality but, like the reputation of the Six Articles, already firmly established in English Protestant mythology by the time Foxe wrote. See Michael Riordan and Alec Ryrie, 'Stephen Gardiner and the making of a Protestant villain' in Sixteenth Century Journal vol. 34 (2003), 1039-63.Alec Ryrie

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MarginaliaThe variable chaunges and mutations of religion in kyng Henries dayes. To many which be yet alyue, and can testifie these things, it is not vnknowen, how variably the state of Religion stood in these dayes: how hardly and with what difficultie it came forth: what chaunces and changes it suffered. Euen as the kyng was ruled and gaue eare sometime to one, somtyme to an other, so one whyle it went forward, at an other season as much backward agayne, and sometyme cleane altered & changed for a seasō, accordyng as they could preuaile which were about the kyng. So long as Queene Anne lyued, the Gospell had indifferent successe.

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After that she, by sinister instigation of some about the kyng was made away, the cause of the Gospell began again to incline, but that the Lord then stirred vp the Lord Cromwell, oportunely to helpe in that behalfe. Who, no doubt, dyd much auayle for the encrease of Gods true Religion, and much more, had brought to perfection, MarginaliaThe course of the gospel interrupted by malicious enemyes. if the pestilent aduersaries malignyng the prosperous glory of the Gospell, by contrary practising had not craftily vndermined him and supplanted hys vertuous procedinges. By the meanes of which aduersaries it came to passe after the takyng away of the sayd Cromwell, that the state of Religion more and more decayed, duryng all the residue of the raygne of kyng Henry.

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Among these aduersaries aboue mentioned, the chief captayne 

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A typical example of unsubstantiated, conspiratorial claims of Gardiner's role. See Michael Riordan and Alec Ryrie, 'Stephen Gardiner and the making of a Protestant villain' in Sixteenth Century Journal vol. 34 (2003), 1039-63.

was Steuen Gardiner bishop of Wint. who with his confederates and adherentes, disdayning at the state of the L. Cromwell, MarginaliaThe mariage of Queene Anne of Cleue. and at the late mariage of the Lady Anne of Cleue (who in the beginnyng of the yere of our Lord. 1540. was maried to the kyng) as also greued partly at the dissolution of the Monasteries, and fearyng the growyng of the Gospell, sought all occasions how to interrupt these happy begynnyngs, and to trayne the kyng to their owne purpose. Now what occasion this wilye Winchester founde out to worke vpon, ye shall heare in order as followeth.

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MarginaliaThe occasions which Winchester did worke vp. It happened the same tyme that the Lord Cromwell for the better establishyng of sincere religion in this realme, deuised a mariage 

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Henry VIII's fourth and shortest marriage, to Anne of Cleves, remains a opaque episode. The fullest recent discussion - Retha M. Warnicke, The Marrying of Anne of Cleves (Cambridge, 2000) - provides useful detail, but the explanation of the marriage's failure which Warnicke advances has not proved persuasive. McEntegart, Henry VIII, the League of Schmalkalden and the English Reformation is invaluable on the diplomatic context. There is no serious case for believing Foxe's claim that Gardiner alienated the King from the marriage.

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for the kyng to be concluded betwene him and the Lady Anne of Cleue, MarginaliaThis Ladye Anne of Cleue was maryed to the king. an. 1540. whose other sister was already maried vnto the duke of Saxony. By this mariage it was supposed that a perpetual league, amitie, and allye should be nourished betwene this realme and the princes of Germany, and so therby godly religion might be made more strong on both partes agaynst the bishop of Rome and his tyrannicall religion. But the deuil euer enuying the prosperity of the gospell, layd a stumblyng blocke in that cleare way, for the kyng to stumble at. For when the parents of the noble lady were commoned withall for the furtheraunce of þe said mariage, among others of her frendes, whose good wil was required, the duke of Saxony her brother in law misliked þe mariage, partly for that he would haue had her bestowed vpon some prince of Germany more nigh vnto her sister, and partly for other causes, which he thought reasonable. Wherupon it followed that the slacknes of the Duke in that behalfe beyng espyed, crafty Winchester takyng good holdfast theron, so alienated the kynges mynd from the amitie, that semed now to begyn and grow betwene the Duke and the king, that by the occasiō therof, he brought the king at lēgth cleane out of credite with that religion and doctrine, which the duke had then maintayned many yeres before.

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Thus wily Winchester with his crafty fetches partly vpon this occasion aforesayd, and partly also by other pestilent perswasions crepyng into the kynges eares, ceased not to seeke all meanes how to worke his feate & to ouerthrow Religion, MarginaliaThe kyng brought out of credite with the doctrine of the Germayne Princes. first bringing him in hatred with the Germane Princes, thē putting hym in feare of the Emperour, of the French kyng, of the Pope, of the kyng of Scottes, and other forrene powers to rise agaynst hym, MarginaliaThe wicked counsell of St. Gardiner, & other about the k. but especially of Ciuill tumultes and commotions here within this realme (which aboue all thinges he most dreaded) by reasō of innouation of religiō and dissoluing of Abbies: and for abolishing of rites, and other customes of the Church, sticking so fast in the mindes of the people, that it was to be feared, least their hartes were or would be shortly styrred vp agaynst him, vnlesse some spedy remedye were to the cōtrary prouided: declaryng moreouer what a daungerous matter in a common wealth it is to attempt new alterations of any thyng, but especially of Religion. Which beyng so, he exhorted the kyng, for his own safegard and publicke quiet and trāquilitie of his realme, to see betime how and by what policie these so manifolde mischieefes might be pre uented. Agaynst whiche no other way nor shifte coulde better be deuised, then if he woulde shewe himselfe sharpe and seuere agaynst these new Sectaryes, Anabaptistes, & Sacramētaries 

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The pairing of Anabaptists and 'sacramentaries' (ie. those who denied the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, a group which included Reformed Protestants and most Lollards, but not Lutherans) is a typical Henrician touch: Henry VIII repeatedly bracketed these two groups together as those who profaned the two holiest Christian sacraments. The Act of Six Articles was indeed aimed principally at sacramentaries, who were then a minority amongst English evangelicals. See Ryrie, The Gospel and Henry VIII, pp. 34-6, 38-9, 138-43.

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(as they called thē) and would also set forth such Articles, confirming the auncient & Catholicke fayth, as whereby he might recouer agayne his credence with Christen Princes, and whereby al the world besides, might see and iudge him to be a right and a perfit Catholicke. MarginaliaThe kyng abused by wicked counsell. By these, and such lyke crafty suggestions, the kyng beyng to much seduced and abused, began to withdrawe hys defense from the reformation of true Religion, supposing therby to procure to him selfe more safetie both in hys owne realme, and also to auoyde such daungers, which otherwise myght happen by other Princes, especially seyng of late hee had refused to come to the generall Councel at Vincence 
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Vicenza. In 1537, Pope Paul III's plan for a General Council at Mantua having failed, he translated the Council to Vicenza, intending it to open on 1 May 1538. This plan too failed, and after a series of further delays the Council finally assembled at Trent in 1545.

, beyng therto inuited both by the Emperour, & other foreine potentates, as ye haue heard before. And therfore, although he had reiected the Pope out of hys realme, yet because hee woulde declare him selfe neuerthelesse to bee a good Catholicke sonne of the mother Churche, and a withstander of new innouatiōs and heresies (as the blynd opinion of the world dyd then esteme them) first he stretched out hys hand to the condemnyng and burnyng of Lambert 
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See 1563, pp. 527-569; 1570, pp. 1255-85.

, then after he gaue out those Iniunctions aboue prefixed: & nowe further to encrease this opinion with all men, MarginaliaAn. 1540.
The Popes craftye factors in England.
in the yeare next folowyng, which was of the Lord. 1540 
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. through the deuise and practise of certeine of the Popes factors about hym, he summoned a solemne Parlament to be holden at Westminster the 28. day of Aprill, of all the states and Burgeses of the Realme: Also a Synode or conuocation of all þe Archbyshops, Byshops, and other learned of the Clergye of this Realme to be in lyke maner assembled.

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The Acte of vi. Articles.

MarginaliaThe 6 Articles. In which Parliament Synode or conuocation, certain Articles, matters, and questions, touchyng religion wer decreed by certayn prelates, to the nomber especially of. vj. commonly called the. vj. Articles (or the whip with 6. strings) to be had and receyued among the kings subiects, in pretēse of vnity. But what vnity therof folowed, the groning hartes of a great number, and also the cruel death of diuers both in the dayes of Kyng Henry, & of Queene Mary 

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The mention of Mary is strictly inaccurate, for the Act was repealed in 1547 and never reenacted, but it demonstrates how the Act became a symbol of persecution of heresy more generally.

, cā so wel declare, as I pray God, neuer the like be felt herrafter.

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The doctrine of these wycked articles in the bloudy cte conteyned, although it be worthy of no memory amongest christen men, but rather deserueth to be buried in perpetual obliuion, yet for that the office of history compelleth vs therunto, for the more lyght of posterity to come: faythfully and truly to comprise thinges done in the church, as well one as an other, this shalbe briefly to recapitulate the summe & effect of the foresayd vj. articles, in order as they were geuen out, and here vnder do follow.

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The first Article. 
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The text of the articles is taken verbatim from the statute 31 Henry VIII c. 14 (Statutes of the Realm, vol. 3 (London 1817), pp. 739-40).


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Foxe notes quite correctly that this first article defends the full doctrine of transubstantiation. However, although the word itself had appeared in early drafts of the bill, it was deliberately omitted from the final Act. See Ryrie, The Gospel and Henry VIII, p. 36.

THe first Article in this present Parliament accorded and agreed vpon was this: that in the most blessed Sacramēt of the aulter, by the strength and efficacie of Christes mighty word (it beyng spoken by the priest) is present really vnder the forme of bread and wyne, the natural body & bloud of our Sauiour Iesu Christ, conceyued of the virgine Mary and that after the consecration there remaineth no substāce of bread or Wyne, or any other substance, but the substaunce of Christ God and man.

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The 2. Article.

MarginaliaThe sacrament in both kyndes excluded. Secondly, that the communion in both kinds, is not necessary ad salutem, by the law of God to all persons: and that it is to be beleued and not doubted of, but that in the flesh, vnder forme of bread, is the very bloud, and wyth the bloud, vnder forme of wyne, is the very flesh, as well aparte, as they were both together.

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The 3. Article.

Thirdly, that priestes after the order of priesthode receyued as afore, may not mary by the law of God.

The 4. Article.

Fourthly, that vowes of chastity or widowhead, by mā or woman made to god aduisedly, MarginaliaAduisedly, that is made, aboue the age of 21. yeares, priestes onely excepted. ought to be obserued by the law of God: and that it exempteth them from other liberties of Christen people, which without that they myght enioy.

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The 5. Ariicle.

Fiftly, that it is mete and necessary, that priuate Masses be continued and admitted in this english church and congregation, as wherby good Christen people, ordering them selfes accordingly, do receiue both godly & goodly consolations and benefites: MarginaliaBy these benefites of priuate masses, is ment, the helping of soules in Purgatory. And it is agreeable also to gods law.

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