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K. Rich. 2. The story of W. Swinderby. Processe against Walter Bruite.

nede and brenning, which shall dimme your eghenen, and shall wast your liues about nought: Ye shulne sow your sede for hit shalbe deuoueret of enemies, I shall put my face against you, and ye shall fall before your enemies. And ye shulen be vnderlings to them that han hatet you, ye shall flee, no man pursuing. And if ye will not be buxome to me, I shall adde thereunto thornes and seuen folde blame. And I shall all to brast the hardnes of you, I shall geue the heauen aboue you as yron, & the earth as brasse. About nought shall your labour be, for the earth shall bring you forth no fruit, ne tree shall geue none apples to you. If that ye wenden agaynst me, and will not heare me, I shall adde hereto, seuen folde woundes for your sinnes, I shall send amongest you beastes of the field that shall deuour you and your beastes, I shall bring you into a field, and wayes shuln be desart. And if that ye will not receiue lore, but wenden agaynst me, I will also wenden agaynste you, and I shall smite you seuen sithes for your sinnes. I shall leade in vpon you, sword, venger of my couenaunt: and vpon the fleen into Cities, I shall send pestilence in the middest of you. So that tenne women shall bake their bread in one furnace, and yeld thē agayne by wayght, and ye shall eat, & not be fillet. If that ye heare me not by these thinges, but wenden agaynst me, I shall wend in agaynst you in a contrary woodnesse, and blame you with seuen plagues for your sinnes, so that they shoulen eat the flesh of your sonnes and of your daughters. And in so much my soule shall loth you, that I shal bring your Cities into wildernesse, and your Sanctuaryes I shall make desart, ne I shal not ouer that receiue sweet oder of your mouth. And I shall disperkle your land, and enemies shulen maruell thereon, when they shulen inhabite it, I shall disperpel you among Heathen, and draw my sword after you. These vengeaunces and many moe, God sayde should fall on them that breake his bidding, and dispiseth his lawes, and his domes. Than sithe Christ become man, and bought vs with his hart bloud, and has shewed vs so great loue, and geuen vs an easy law, of the best that euer might be made, and to bring vs to the ioy of heauen, and we despise it and louen it nought: what vengeaunce will be taken here on, so long as he has suffered vs, and so mercifully abidden, when he shall come that righteous iudge in the cloudes to deme this worlde? Therefore turne we vs to him, and leaue sinne that he hates and ouer all thinges mayntayne his lawe that he confirmed with his death. For other lawes that men had made, shoulde be demed at that day by the iust law of Christ, and the maker that them made, and then we wonne that long life and that ioy that Paule speaketh of, that eye ne see not, ne eare heard not, ne into mans hart ascended not, the blisse and ioy that God hath ordeyned to them that louen him and his lawes.

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MarginaliaThe faythfull request of W. Swinderby. Deare worshipfull sirs in this world I beseech you for Christes loue, as ye that I trow louen Gods law & trouth (that in these dayes is greatly borne abacke) that they wollen vouchsafe these thinges that I send you written to Gods worship, to let them be shewed in the Parliament as your wittes can best conceiue, to most worship to our God, and to shewing of the trouth and amēding of holy Church. My conclusions and mine appeale & other true matters of Gods law (gif any man can finde therein errour, falsenesse, or default, prouet by the law of Christ clearely to chirsten mens knowledge) I shall reuoke my wrong conceit, and by Gods law be amendet: euer redy to hold with Gods law opēly & priuely with Gods grace, and nothing to holde, teach, or maynetayne that is contrary to his law.

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Of the proces, answeres, & condemnation of this worthy priest and true seruaunt of Christ, Williā Swinderby, you haue heard. What afterward became vpō him, I haue not certainly to say or affirme, whether he in prisō died, or whether he escaped theyr handes, or whether he was burned there is no certayne relation made. This remayneth out of doubt that during þe time of K. Richard. 2. no great harme was done vnto him. Which was to the yeare. 1401. at what time K. Richard being wrongfully deposed 

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The equivalent passage in the 1563 edition is much more neutral; by 1570 Foxe was ready to denounce Henry IV as a usurper.

, Hēry the 4. inuaded the kingdome of England. About the beginning of whose reigne we read of a certayn Parliament holden at Londō, mentioned also of Thomas Walden (as is aboue specified) in which parliamēt it was decreed: that whosoeuer shewed themselues to be fauorers of Wickliffe they should be apprehended, who at that time were called Lollards, and if so be they did obstinately perseuere in that doctrine, they should be deliuered ouer vnto the bishop of the dioces, & from him should be cōmitted to the correctiō of the secular magistrate. This law (sayth þe story) 
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This 'old storie' was College of Arms Arundel MS 7, a version of Thomas Walsingham's Chronica Majora. See Historia Anglicana, ed. H. T. Riley, 2 vols., Rolls Series 28 (London, 1863-4), II, p. 247. Foxe's speculation that this unnamed figure, burned at Smithfiels in 1401, was Swinderby was unfounded.

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brought a certaine priest vnto punishmēt the same yeare, who was burned in Smithfielde in the presence of a great number. This we haue drawne out of a piece of an old story, & it is most certaine that there such a Priest was burned for the affirmation of the true faith, but it doth not appeare by the story, wht the Priestes name was. Notwithstanding by diuers coniectures it appeareth vnto me that his name was Swinderby that was forced to recant before by the Bishop of Lincolne. Whereby what is to be coniectu-red by the premisses, let other men iudge what they think. I haue nothing hereof expressely to affirme. This is plain for al men to iudge (which haue here sene and read his story) that if he were burned, then the bishops, Friers & priestes, which were the causes therof, haue a great thing to answere to the Lord, when he shall come to iudge þe quicke and the dead, & seculum per ignem.

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¶ The story and process agaynst Walter Brute.

MarginaliaThe story of Walter Brute a Britton. AFter the story of William Swinderby, I thought good and conuenient, next to adioyne the actes and doinges of Gualter Brute his ioynte fellow and companion, being a lay man, and learned: brought vpp as it seemeth in the Vnuiersitie of Oxforde, being there also graduate. 

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Walter Brute

The background of Walter Brut, or Brit, remains obscure. From 1391-3, he was tried for heresy by John Trefnant, the bishop of Hereford, and most of our information about him comes from the records of that trial, which were preseved in Trefnant's register. Brut described himself as 'laycus' (layman) and 'agricola' (farmer) and as 'a Britonibus ex utraque parente originem habens' (having a Welsh origin from both parents); see Registrum Johannis Trefnant, Episcopi Herefordensis, ed. W. W. Capes, Canterbury and York Society (London, 1916), p. 285. But he was clearly well-educated, fluent in Latin, and with a ready knowledge of scripture, canon law and history. (The best discussion of Brut's background and education is Anne Hudson, '"Laicus litteratus": the paradox of Lollardy' in Heresy and Literacy, 1000-1530, ed. Peter Biller and Anne Hudson (Cambridge, 1994), pp. 222-6). Brut had also been previously cited for heresy by Archbishop William Courtenay and by Trefnant's predecessor, John Gilbert (see Registrum Trefnant, p. 279). Trefnant's heretic may have been the same person as Walter Bryt or Brit, an astronomer, who was a fellow of Merton College in 1379 (see ODNB sub 'Bryt, Walter'). Both the astronomer and the heretic were Welsh, both possessed the same not common Christian name and surname, and if the astronomer left Oxford to return to Hereford - perhaps because of unorthodox religious beliefs - it would explain his relative obscurity and his apparently truncated university career. Against this, astrology is completely absent from Bryt's astronomical writings but figures prominently in Brut's apocalyptic predictions.

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If Brut was the former fellow of Merton, it would help explain the elaborate preparations Trefnant made for his trial. The bishop summoned two masters and three bachelors of theology, two doctors and of civil and canon law, drawn from the dioceses of Hereford, Worcester and Exter and the two universities. But Brut's eventual fate is unknown and despite its local significance, his trial faded from memory. Neither Bale nor any other Henrician or Edwardian Protestant had heard of Brut and Foxe did not mention him in either of his Latin martyrologies or in his 1563 edition. It was only when he gained access to the Trefnant register that Foxe learned of Brut and his trial. When he read this material, Foxe must have realized that God was indeed on his side. Here was a figure, from the dark period before Luther, who identified the Papacy with Antichrist and who believed that the Eucharist was primarily a memorial. But even the garden of Eden had serpents and there were aspects of Brut's thought that troubled Foxe, most notably, but not exclusively Welshman's insistence that the just laywoman, as well as layman, was a priest, that a woman had a duty to preach publicly and could even legitimately consecrate the Host. When it came to these passages, Foxe, displaying a sudden concern for the reader's patience - after reproducing page after page of Brut's arguments - and 'summarized' (i.e., omitted) Brut's more radical opinions on the subject. Foxe also registered caveats against Brute's denial that tithing was obligatory and that sworn oaths were not binding. Brut's writings presented Foxe with an unusually severe case of a frequent dilemma: how to present the views of an individual who possessed many beliefs Foxe admired along with some Foxe deplored. Simple misrepresentation was dangerous, because what Foxe wrote could always be compared to the original at some point. So Foxe (apart from the woman preachers, which was a bridge too far) usually presented what Brut said and than devoted considerable effort to interpreting it for the reader. The clash between the views of Brut, a remarkably independent, if not idiosyncratic, thinker and the much more conventional views of Foxe is compelling.

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Thomas S. Freeman
University of Sheffield

The tractation of whose discourse as it is something long, so therein may appeare diuers thinges worthye to be read and considered.

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MarginaliaEx Registro Epis. Herford. First, þe mighty operation of gods spirit in him, his ripe knowledge, modest simplicitie, his valiant constancie, hys learned tractations and manifolde conflictes susteyned aagaynst Gods enemies. On the contrary part in hys aduersaryes may appeare, might against right, mans authoritie agaynst plaine veritie: against which they hauing nothing directly to aunswere, proceede in condemnation agaynst whom they are able to bring forth no confutation. The chiefest occasion that seemed to stirre vp the heart and zeale of this Walter agaynst the pope: was the impudent pardons and indulgenses of Pope Vrbane, graunted to Henry Spenser Bishop of Norwich: to fight against pope Clement, mentioned before pag. 428. Secondly the wrōgfull condemnation of the articles and conclusions of William Swinderby, the whole order wherof, in the processe here following more playnly may appeare.

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The processe had by Bohn Byshop of Hereford, agaynst Walter Brute lay man, and learned, of the dioces of Hereford, touching the cause of heresie, as they called it, set forward by the way of the Byshops office. &c. at the instruction of certain faithful Christians, as he termed them, but in deed cruell and false promoters.

MarginaliaMurdring harts lurking vnder louing wordes. IN þe name of God, Amen. 

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The charges against Walter Brut are taken from Trefnant's register; see Registrum Johannis Trefnant, Episcopi Herefordensis, ed. W. W. Capes, Canterbury and York Society (London, 1916), pp. 278-83.

To all maner of faithful christian people that shall see and heare this our presēt proces. Iohn by þe sufferance of God bishop of Hereford sendeth greeting & cōtinual chartitie in þe Lord. We would þt you al should know, that of late by many faithfull christian people, & specially zealous followers of the catholicke faith, it was lamētably done vs to vnderstand by way of complaint: that a certain sonne of ours going out of kind, named Walter Brute lay person, learned, of our dioces, hath vnder a cloked shew of holynes, dānably seduced the people: & setting behind him þe feare of God, doth seduce thē as much as he cā, frō day to day, informing & teaching openly and priuely, as well the nobles as the commōs, in certaine conclusiōs hereticall, schismatical, and erroueous & also heretofore condēned. And they haue also probably exhibited against þe same Walter, articles vnder writtē, in maner and forme as followth.

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¶ Articles exhibited and denounced to the bishop, against Walter Brute.

MarginaliaArticles denoūced against W. Brute by priests and Friers. REuerend father and Lorde, we the faythfull people of Christ, & zelous louers of the catholicke faith, and also your humble and deuout children: do minister & exhibite to your reuerend fatherhood, the articles vnder written, touching þe catholicke faith, cōtrary and against malicious persons, & detractours of the same faith, & the determinations of holy mother church, & namely agaynst the childe of Belial, one Walter Brute, a false teacher and seducer amongst þe people. Hūbly beseeching, þt you would vouchsafe to haue regard to þe correction of the enormities vnder written, according vnto þe Canonicall constitutions, euen as to your office pastorall doth lye and belong.

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MarginaliaThe first article. In primis, we do geue and exhibite and entēd to proue, that the same Walter Brute being vnmindfull of his saluation, hath bene by many and dieurs faythfull Christian people sundry times accused of the cursednes of heresy: As by the swift report, slaūder, and rumour of the people, proceding before the most reuerend father & Lord, Lord William Archb. of Caunterbury, and also before the reuerend father & Lord, Lord Iohn late B. of Herford, your prede-

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