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1240 [1239]

K. Hen. 8. Syr George Blage. A proclamation against Scripture bookes.

had liued vnto this day, with the Frēch king, it had ben past my L. of Winchesters power, to haue visured the kynges highnes as he dyd when he was about the sayd league.

I am sure you were at hamptō Court, quoth the Archb. when the Fenche kynges Ambassadour was intertayned there at those solemne bancketyng houses, not long before the kynges death: namely when after the banket was done the first night, the king leaning vpon the Ambassadour and vpon me, If I should tell what communication between the kinges highnes and the sayd Ambassador was had concerning the establishing of sincere Religion then, a man would hardlye haue beleeued it. Nor I my selfe had thought the kinges highnes had bene so forward in those matters as thē appeared. I may tell you it passed the pulling down of Roodes and suppressing the ringing of Belles, MarginaliaThe purpose of K. Henry & of the French king a little before their deathes. I take it that few in England would haue beleued that the kinges Maiestye and the French king had bene at this poynte, not only within halfe a yeare after to haue chaunged the Masse in both the Realmes into a Communion, as wee now vse it, but also vtterly to haue extirped and banyshed the Byshop of Rome and his vsurped power out of both their Realmes and Dominions.

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Yea they were so throughly and firmely resolued in that behalfe, that they ment also to exhorte the Emperour to doe the like in Flaunders and other his Countreis and Seniories, or els to breake of from him. And herein the kinges highnes willed me (quoth the Archbishop) to penne a forme thereof to be sent to the Frenche king to consider of. But the deepe and most secret prouidence of almighty God oweing to this Realme a sharpe scourge for our iniquities, preuented (for a time) this their most godly deuise and intēt, by taking to his mercy both these Princes.

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¶ A briefe narration of the trouble of Sir George Blage.

MarginaliaSyr Gregory Blage falsely accused. HEre would also somthing be said of Sir George Blage one of the kinges priuy chamber, who being falsely accused by Sir Hew Gauerley knight, and master Litletō, was sent for by Wrisley Lord Chauncelor the sonday before An Askew suffered, MarginaliaSyr George Blage sent to Newgate & condemned. and the next day was caryed to Newgate, and from thence to Guild Hall, where hee was condemned the same day, & appointed to be burned the Wensday folowing. MarginaliaThe cause of hys condemnation. The wordes which his accusers layde vnto him were these. What if a mouse should eate the bread? then by my consent they should hang vp the mouse. Where as in deede these wordes he neuer spake as to his liues end he protested. But the truth as he sayd, was this, that they craftely to vndermine him, MarginaliaThe craftie vndermining of these false accusers. walking with him in Paules church after a sermon of D. Crome asked if he were at the Sermon, and hee sayd yea, I heard say (sayth M. Litletō) that he sayd in his sermō that the Masse profiteth neither for the quick nor the dead. No sayd M, Blage, wherfore then? belike for a gentleman when he rydeth a hunting to keep his horse from stumbling. And so they departing immedyatly after he was apprehended (as is shewed) and condemned to be burned. When this was heard among them of the priuy Chamber, the king hearing them whispering together (which he could neuer abide) commaūded them to tell him the matter. Wherupon the matter being opened. and sute made to the king, especially by the good Earle of Bedford thē Lord priuy Seal, MarginaliaM. Blage pardoned by the kyng. the king being sore offended with their doings þt they would come so neare him, and euen into his priuy Chamber without his knowledge, sent for Wrisley, commaunding him eftsoones to draw out his pardon himselfe, and so was hee set at liberty. Who cōming after to the Kinges presence: ah my pigge sayth the king to him (for so he was wōt to call him). MarginaliaThe kinges pigge almost rosted. Yea sayd he if your maiestye had not been better to mee then your Byshoppes were, your pigge had beene rosted ere this time.

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MarginaliaAn. 1546. But let this matter of Sir George Blage passe, wee will now reduce our story agayne to Anne Askew and her felow Martirs, who the same weeke were burned, & could finde no pardon.

Then the catholick fathers when they had brought this christian woman with the residue (as aboue hath beene declared) vnto their rest, they being now in their ruffe and triumph, like as the Pharisies when they had brought Christ to his graue, deuised with thēselues how to keep him down still, and to ouer tread truth for euer. Wherupon consulting with certayne of the Counsell, they made out a straight and hard proclamation, authorised by the kinges name, for the abolishing of the Scripture, and all suche Englishe bookes, which might geue any lighte to the settinge forthe of Gods true worde and grace of the Gospel, the copye and tenour of which Proclamation is this as followeth. 

Commentary  *  Close
Proclamation of 1546

Henry VIII's 'streight & cruell proclamation…' had been issued on 8 July 1546 and printed by Berthelet as A proclamation deuised by the kinges hyghnes, with thaduise of his most honorable counsell, to auoide and abolish suche englishe bookes, as conteine pernicious and detestable errours and heresies made the .viii. daye of Iuly, the .xxxviii. yere of the kynges maiesties most gracious reigne (London, 1546) - STC 7809). The circular letter abolishing holy days was not notices by the editors of the Letters and Papers, and may well have been taken from one or other of the bishop's registers to which Foxe had access. Anne Askew's story is taken mainly from John Bale, The lattre examinacyon of Anne Askewe latelye martyred in Smythfelde, by the wycked Synagoge of Antichrist, with the Elucydacyon of Iohan Bale. ('Imprented at Marpurg in the lande of Hessen' - i.e. Wesel, n.d. [1546]) - STC 850. The source of the 'publicke instrument' issued in the name of William Warham is Warham's register (full publication details….p. 188 et seq), from whence it was printed by David Wilkins (Concilia Magnæ Britanniæ et Hiberniæ : a synodo verolamiensi A.D. CCCC XLVI. ad londinensem A.D. M DCCXVII. Accedunt constitutiones et alia [London, 1737], p. 727). The list of heresies gathered out of Tyndale's works appears to be Foxe's own composition from a variety of sources. William Tyndale, The parable of the wycked mammon Compiled in the yere of our lorde .M.d.xxxvi (London: John Daye, 1547) - STC 24457 had been published by the publisher of the Acts and Monuments itself. William Tyndale's The obedie[n]ce of a Christen man and how Christe[n] rulers ought to governe, where in also (if thou marke diligently) thou shalt fynde eyes to perceave the crafty conveyance of all iugglers ('At Marlborow in the la[n]de of Hesse' [i.e. Antwerp], n.d. [1528]) - STC 24446 is also readily identifiable. John Frith's A pistle to the Christen reader The revelation of Antichrist. Antithesis, wherin are compared to geder Christes actes and oure holye father the Popes ('At Marlborow in the lande of Hesse' [i.e. Antwerp]: 'Hans Luft' [i.e. Johannes Hoochstraten], n.d. [1529]) - STC 11394 was a literal and unsophisticated translation by John Frith of Martin Luther's tract Ad Librum Magistri Nostri Magistri Ambrosii Catharine…..Responsio…cum exposita Visione Danielis viii. De Antichristo of 1521, omitting Luther's address and valediction but introducing a commentary on Daniel 8 in the preface by Frith in which theantithesis of the ways of Antichrist and Christ (as indicated in the title) is a summary of the exegesis. Foxe's marginal note 'Ex Gil Genebrardo' is something of a mystery. For Foxe's sources for the history of the early reformation in Scotland, see Thomas S. Freeman, 'Foxe, Winram and the Martyrs of the Scottish Reformation' in Sixteenth Century Journal 27 (1996), pp. 23-46. King Henry VIII's brief to Bonner appears to be taken from his register, although there is also a copy of it in BL Add MS 38656 at fol 3b.

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David LoadesHonorary Research Fellow,
University of Sheffield

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A Proclamation for the abolishing of English bookes, after the death of Anne Askew, set forth by the kyng. an. 1546. the 8. day of Iuly.

MarginaliaA proclamation for the abolyshing of Englishe bookes. THe kynges most excellent Maiestye vnderstandyng how vnder pretēce of expoundyng and declaryng the truth of Gods Scripture, diuers leude and euil disposed persōs haue taken occasion to vtter and sow abroade by bookes imprinted in the Englishe tongue, sondry pernicious and detestable errours and heresies, MarginaliaNay rather for the ignoraunce and lacke of Gods scripture, many haue taken occasion of errour & heresies intolerable. not onely contrary to the lawes of this realme, but also repugnant to the true sense of Gods lawe and his worde, by reason wherof certayne men of late, to the destruction of their owne bodies and soules, and to the euill example of others, haue attempted arrogantly & maliciously to impugne the truth, and therwith trouble the sober, quyet and godly Religion vnited and established vnder the kynges Maiestie in this his realme: hys highnes mindyng to foresee the daungers that might ensue of the sayde bookes, is enforced to vse his general prohibition commaundement and proclamation, as followeth.

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MarginaliaThe new testament of Tyndalles & of Couerdals translation in Englishe forbidden. First, that from henceforth no man, woman, or person, of what estate condition, or degree, so euer he or they be, shall after the last daye of August next ensuyng, receaue, haue, take, or kepe in his or their possession: the text of the newe Testament of Tyndals or Couerdals translation in Englishe nor any other then is permitted by the Acte of Parliament made in the Session of the Parliament holden at westminster in the xxxiiij. or. xxxv. yeare of hys Maiesties most noble reigne, nor after the sayde daye, shall receiue, haue, take, or kepe in his or their possession, MarginaliaEnglishe bookes of Scripture restrayned. any maner of bookes printed or written in the English tongue, which be or shall be set forth in the names of Frith: Tindall, Wicklife, Ioy, Roy, Basile, Bale, Barnes, Couerdall, Tourner, Tracy or by any of them, or any other booke or bookes, conteining matter contrary to the sayd Acte made an. xxxiiij. or xxxv. but shal before the last day of August next comming, deliuer the same Englishe booke or bookes to his Maister in that housholde, if he be a seruaunt or dwell vnder any other, and the maister or ruler of the house & such other as dwell at large shall deliuer all such bookes of the sortes aforesayd as they haue, or shall come to their handes, deliuered as afore or otherwise, to the Maior, Baliefe or chief Constable of the Towne where they dwell, to be by them deliuered ouer openly with in forty dayes next folowyng after the sayd deliuery, to the Shriffe of the shyre, or to the Byshop Chaūcellor, or Cōmissary of the same dioces, MarginaliaBurning of scripture bookes. to the entent the said Byshop, Chauncellour, Commissary and Shriffe, and euery of them shal cause them incontineutly to be openly burned which thyng the kynges Maiesties pleasure is, that euery of them shall see executed in most effectuall sorte, and of their doyngs therof make certificate to the kynges Maiesties most honorable Councell, before the first of October next commyng

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And to the intent that no man shall mistrust any daunger of such penall statutes as be passed in this behalfe, for kepyng of the sayd bookes, MarginaliaA haste to bring in bookes. the kynges maiestie is most graciouslye contented by this proclamation, to pardon that offence to the sayd tyme appointed, by this proclamation for the deliuery of the sayd bookes, and commaundeth that no Byshop, Chauncellor, Commissary, Maior, Bailiffe, Shriffe, or Constable, shalbe curious to marke who bringeth foorth such bokes, but onely order, and burne them openly, as is in this proclamation ordered. And if any man after the last day of August next coming, shal haue any of the said bokes in his keping, or be proued, and conuinced by sufficient witnes, before 4. of the kings most honorable counsail, to haue hidden them, or vsed them, or any copy of any of them, or any part of thē, wherby should appeare that he willingly hath offended the true meaning of this proclamation, MarginaliaThe penaltie limited. the same shall not onely suffer imprisonment and punishment of hys body at the kings maiesties will and pleasure, but also shall make such fine and raunsome to his highnes for the same, as by his maiestie or foure of his graces said counsaile shall be determined. &c.

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Finally, his maiesty straightly chargeth and cōmaundeth that no person or persons, of what estate, degre, or conditiō so euer he or they be, from the day of this proclamatiou presume to bring any maner of English booke, concernyng any maner of Christen religion, printed in the parties of beyond the seas into this realm, or sel, geue or distribute any english boke printed in outward parties, or the copy of any suche boke or any part therof to any person dwelling within this his graces realme, or any other his maiesties dominions, vnlesse the same shal be specially licēced so to do by his highnes expresse graunt to be obtained in writing for the same, vpon the paynes before limited, and therewithall to incurre his maiesties extreme indignation.

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