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K. Richard. 2. The letter of King Richard. 2. to Pope Boniface.

other more in our owne proper tounge, which we would should be common to all Christian people. Wherefore, we earnestly desire and beseeche God for his great goodnesse sake, that he will wholy reforme our Church (now altogether out of frame) vnto the perfection of his first beginning and original. Ex Archiuis Regijs.

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¶ These verses following, were annexed vnto the conclusions.

Plangunt Anglorum gentes crimen Sodomorum,
Paulus fert horum sunt idola causa malorum,
Surgunt ingrati Gyerzite Simone nati,
Nomine prælati hoc defensare parati,
Qui Reges estis populis quicunque præestis,
Qualiter his gestis, gladios prohibere potestis?

¶ The which verses are thus Englished.

The English nation doth lament, of Sodomites their sinne.
Which Paule doth plainely signifie, by Idoles to begin.
But Giersitis full ingrate, from sinfull Symon sprong,
This to defende (though Priests is name) make bulwarkes great and strong.
Ye Prices therefore which to rule, the people God hath placed,
With iustice sword why see ye not, this euill great defaced?

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After these conclusions were thus proposed in the Parliament, the king not long after returned home from Dubline into England, toward the latter ende of the Parliament. MarginaliaRich. Stury, Lewes Clifford, Tho. Latimer, s. Moūtacute, good fauourers.Who at his return, called certaine of his nobles vnto him, Richard Stury, Lewes Clifforde, Thomas Latimer, Iohn Mountacute, &c. whom he did sharply rebuke, and did terribly threaten for that hee heard them to be fauourers of þt side: charging them straightly, neuer to hold, maintaine, nor fauour any more those opinyons and conclusions. And namely of Richarde Stury, he tooke an othe that he should neuer from that day, fauoure or defende any such opinions: which othe being taken, the king then answered. And I sweare (sayth he) againe to theee, that if thou doest euer breake thine oth, thou shalt die for it a shameful death. &c. Ex Chron. D. Albani.

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All this while W. Courtney Archbyshop of Caunterbury was yet aliue, who was a great stirrer in these matters. But yet Pope Vrbane the great maister of the Catholicke secte was deade and buried 6. yeare before. MarginaliaPope Vrbane. 9. dead After whom succeeded in the schismatical sea of Rome pope Boniface 9. MarginaliaAnno 1389. Pope Boniface. 9. who nothing inferiour to hys predecessour in all kinde of cruelties, left no diligence vnattempted to set forward that which Vrbane had begon, in suppressing them that were the setters foorth of the light of the Gospell: MarginaliaThe letters of pope Boniface 9. to K. Richard.and had wrytten sundry times to king Richard as well for the repealing of the Actes of Parliament against his prouisions, Quare impedit, and premunire facias: as also that hee should assist the Prelates of Englande in the cause of God (as he pretended) against such whom he falsly suggested to be Lollardes and traytors to the Church, to the king, and the Realme. &c. Thus the curteous pope, whom he coulde not reach with his sword, at least with cruel slander of hys malitious toung, would worke his poyson agaynst them, which letter he wrote to the king in the yeare of our Lord. 1396. MarginaliaAnno. 1396 Which was the yeare before the death of W. Courtney Archbishop of Caunterbury. MarginaliaThe death of W. Courtney Archb. of Cant. After whom succeded in that see, Thomas Arundel brother to the Earle of Arundel, being first Byshop of Ely, afterwarde Archbyshop of Yorke, and Lord Chancelor of England, and at last made Archbyshop of Caunterbury about the yeare of our Lorde 1397. MarginaliaTho. Arundell Archb. of Cant. The next yeare following, which was the yeare of our Lord 1398. MarginaliaAnn. 1398. and the 9. yeare of the Pope 

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Richard II's letter to Boniface IX

Foxe states that he obtained this letter from Richard II to Pope Boniface IX from a portion of a manuscript from Durham. (It is worth remembering that Foxe's close friend James Pilkington was the bishop of Durham; he probably sent this letter to Foxe in answer to a request from Foxe for documents that could be used in the Acts and Monuments). The letter, apparently written around 1379, was an expression of Richard's concern over the Great Schism. Foxe overread the contents of the letter to see it as an expression of claims of royal sovereignty over the Papacy. Foxe's conclusion, that Richard's mentioning a reference to the 'great departing away' of 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4 (commonly considered a prophecy of Antichrist) meant that the king was prophesying the destruction of the Papacy, is particularly tendentious.

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Thomas S. Freeman
University of Sheffield

, I finde in certaine recordes of the Bishop of Duresme, a certaine letter of K. Richard 2. written to the said pope Boniface: Which because I iudged not vnworthy to be sene, I thought here to annexe the same, proceeding in forme as foloweth.

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¶ To the moste holy father in Christ and Lorde, Lorde Boniface the 9. by the grace of God high Pope of the most holy Romish and vniuersall Churche, hys humble and deuout sonne Richard by the grace of God king of England, and Fraunce, Lord of Irelande, greeting, and desiring to help the miseries of the afflicted Church, and kissing of that his blessed feete.

MarginaliaA letter of K. Richard 2. to Pope Boniface. 9.WHo wil giue my head water, & mine eyes streaming teares, that I may bewaile the decay and manifold troubles of our mother, which haue chaunced to her by her owne children in the distresse of this present schisme and diuision. For the sheepe haue forgotten the proper voyce of their shepherds. and hirelings hauethrust in themselues to feede the Lordes flocke, who are clothed with the apparell of the true shephearde, chalenging the name of honour & dignity, resembling so the true shepheard, that the pore sheepe can scarse know whome they ought to folow, or what pastour as a straunger they ought to flee, and whom they shuld shun as an hireling: Wherefore we are afraid, least the holy standard of the Lord be forsaken of his host, and so that Citye being full of riches become solitary and desolate, and the land or people which was sont to say (flourishing in her prosperities) I sate as a Quene, and am not a widowe, least it be destitute of the presence of her husband, and as it were so bewitched that shee shall not be able to discerne his face, and so wrapped in mases, that she shal not know where to turne her, that she might more easily finde him, and that she shall with weeping speake that saying of the spouse: I sought him whom my soule loueth, I sought him and found him not: For now we are compelled so to wander, that if any man say, beholde here is Christ, or there, we may not beleeue him so saying: and so many shepheards haue destroyed the Lordes vineyarde, and made his amiable portion a waste wildernesse.

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This multitude of shepherdes is become very burdenous to the Lords flocke. For when two striue to be chief, the state of both their dignities standes in doubt, and in so doing they geue occasion to all the faithfull of Christ, of a schisme and diuision of the Churche. And although both parties goe about to subdue vnto their power the whole Church militant, yet cōtrary to both their purpose, by working this way, there beginneth to rise nowe a diuision in the body of the Church. Like as when the diuision of the quicke innocent body was asked, when the two harlots did striue afore Salomon: like as the ten tribes of Israel folowed Ieroboham the intruder, and were withdrawne from the kingdome for Salomons sinne: MarginaliaDesire to rule in the Church.euen so of olde time the desire of ruling hath drawne the great power of the world from the vnitie of the Churche. Let your selues remember, we beseeche you, how that all Greece did fall from the obedience of the Romish Churche in the time of the faction of the primarche of Constantinople, MarginaliaGreece renounced the Romish Church. and howe Mahomet with his felowes by occasion of the supremacie in Ecclesiasticall dignitie, deceiued a great part of Christians, and withdrewe them from the Empire and ruling of Christ. And nowe in these dayes, where as the same supremacie hathe wythdrawen it selfe from the obedience of it, in so muche that nowe in very fewe realmes the candle that burnes afore the Lord remaineth, and that for Dauids sake his seruaunt: And although nowe remaine fewe countreys professing the obedience of Christs true vicare: yet peraduenture if euery man were left to his owne libertie, he would doubt of the preferring of your dignity, or that is worse, woulde vtterly refuse it by such doubtfull euidence alleaged on both sides: and thys is the subtil craft of the croked Serpent, that is to say, vnder the pretense of vnitie, to procure schismes: as the spider of a wholesome flower fathers poyson: and Iudas lerned of peace to make warre. Wherefore, it is liuely beleeued of wise men, that except this pestilent schisme be withstand by and by, the keyes of the Churche will be despised, and they shall binde the consciences but of a few? and when either none dare to be bolde to correct this fault or to reforme things contrary to Gods lawe, MarginaliaThe king seemeth here to prophesie. so by this meanes at length temporall Lordes will take away the liberties of the Church, and peraduenture the Romanes will come and take away their place, people and landes: they wil spoile their possessions and bring the men of the Churche into bondage, and they shall be contemned, reuiled and despised: because the obedience of the people and deuotions towardes them will almoste bee taken away, when the greater part of the Church left to their owne libertye shall waxe prouder than they be wont, leauing a wicked example to them that doe see it. For when they see the Prelates studie more for couetousnesse that they were wont, to purste vp money, to oppresse the subiectes, in their punishings to seeke for gaine, to confounde lawes, to stirre vp strife, to suppresse truth, to vexe poore subiects with wrong corrections, in meat and drinke intemperate, in feastings past shame: what maruell is it if the people despise them as the foulest forsakers of Gods lawe? but all these things doe folowe if the Church shoulde be left long in this doubtfulnesse of a schisme, and than shoulde that olde saying be verified: in those dayes there was no king is Israel, but euery one did that that seemed right and straighte to himselfe. Micheas did see the people of the Lorde scattered in the mountaines as they had bene shepe without a shephearde: for when the shepheard is smitten, the sheepe of the flocke shalbe scattered, the great stroke of the shepheard is the minishing of his iurisdiction, by which the subiects are drawen from his obedience. When Iason had the office of the highest Priest, hee chāged the ordinance of God, and brought in the customes of the heathen, the priests leauing the seruice of the holy altar & applying themselues to wrasting other exercises of the Grecians, & despising those things that belōged to the priests, did labor with all their might to learne suche thinges of the Grecians, and by that meanes the place, people, and holy oynting of Priestes whych in time past were hadde in greate reuerence of kynges, were troden vnder foote of all men, and robbed by the kinges power, and was

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