268. OTHER EVENTS OF FEBRUARY 1555.
After that Stephen Gardiner, bishop of Winchester, had got the laws and the secular arm on his side, as ye have heard, with full power and authority to reign and rule as he listed, and had brought these godly bishops and reverend preachers aforesaid under foot, namely, the archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Ridley, bishop of London, Master Latimer, Master Hooper, bishop of Worcester and Gloucester, Master Rogers, Master Saunders, Dr. Taylor, and Master Bradford, all which he had now presently condemned, and some also burned, he supposed now all had been cock-sure, and that Christ had been conqucred for ever, so that the people, being terrified with example of these great learned men condemned, never would nor durst once rout against their violent religion: not much unlike in this behalf to the manner of the Turks, who, when they cannot maintain their sect by good learning and truth of God's word, think by violence of sword to force whom they can to their belief; and, that done, afterward make laws, no man under pain of heresy to dispute, or once to call in question any of their proceedings. Even so, Stephen Gardiner and his fellows, when they see they cannot prevail by trial of God's word, and discourse of learning, neither are disposed simply to seek for truth where it is to be found, they take exceptions against God's word, affirming it to be intricate, obscure, and insufficient to be its own judge, and therefore that of necessity it must be judged by the pope's church: and so, having kings and queens on their side, they seek not to persnade by the word of God, nor to win by charity, but, instead of the law of God, they use, as the Proverb saith,τω νομω χειρων [Greek: to nomo cheiron] , compelling men by death, fire, and sword, (as the Turks do,) to believe that in very deed they think not. And indeed, after flesh and blood, this seemeth to be a sure way. Neither peradventure are they ignorant how gaily this way thriveth with the Turks; and therefore think they to practise the same; at least-wise so they do, upon what example soever they do it. And thus condemned they these godly learned preachers and bishops aforesaid, supposing, as I said, that all the rest would soon be quailed by their example. But they were deceived: for within eight or nine days after that Stephen Gardiner had given sentence against Master Hooper, Master Rogers, Master Saunders, Dr. Taylor, and Master Bradford, being the eighth of February, six other good men were brought likewise before the bishops for the same cause of religion, to be examined, whose names were William Pygot, butcher; Stephen Knight, barber; Thomas Tomkins, weaver; Thomas Hawkes, gentleman; John Laurence, priest; William Hunter, apprentice.
Stephen Gardiner, seeing thus his device disapappointed, and that cruelty in this case would not serve to his expectation, gave over the matter as utterly discouraged, and from that day meddled no more in such kind of condemnations, but referred the whole doing thereof to Bonner, bishop of London; who supplied that part right doughtily, as in the further process of this history hereafter evidently and too much may appear. Thus Bishop Bonner taking the matter in hand, called before him in his consistory at Paul's (the lord mayor and certain aldermen sitting with him) the six persons afore-named, upon the eighth of Febrnary in the year aforesaid, and on the next day, being the ninth of February, read the sentence of condemnation upon them, as appeareth in Bonner's own registers: such quick speed these men could make in despatching their business at once. Notwithstanding, because the death of these condemned martyrs did not follow incontinently before the next month of March, I will defer the prosecuting of their matter till I come, by the grace of the Lord, to the time and day of their suffering.
In the mean time, what was the cause that their execution was so long deferred after their condemnation, I have not precisely to say -- unless, peradventure, the sermon of Alphonsus, the Spanish friar, and the king's confessor, did some good. For so I find, that when those six persons aforesaid were cast upon Saturday the ninth of February, upon Sunday following, which was the tenth of February, the said Alphonsus, a Gray Friar, preached before the king; in which sermon he did earnestly inveigh against the bishops for burning of men, saying plainly that they learned it not in Scripture, to burn any for his conscience: but the contrary -- that they should live and be converted; with many other things more to the same purport. But, touching the lingering of these men's death, as I have not certainly to affirm, so let it pass.
On the fourteenth of February, Master Robert Ferrar, bishop of St. David's, was sent towards St. David's, there to be condemned and executed. Touching whose martyrdom, forasmuch as it fell not before the month of March, we will defer the history thereof till we come to the day and time of his suffering.
Furthermore, this foresaid fourteenth day of February, the lord chancellor, and other his fellow bishops, caused the image of Thomas Becket, that old Romish traitor, to be set up over the Mercer's chapel door in Cheapside in London, in the form and shape of a bishop, with mitre and crosier. Howbeit within two days after his erection, his two blessing fingers were first broken away, and on the next day (being the seventeenth of February) his head also was stricken off. Whereupon arose great trouble, and many were suspected; among whom one Master John Barnes, mercer, dwelling over against the same chapel, was vehemently by the lord chancellor charged withal, as the doer thereof; and the rather, for that he was a professor of the truth. Wherefore he, and three of his servants, were committed to prison; and at his delivery (although it could not be proved upon him) he was bound in a great sum of money as well to build it up again as often as it should be broken down, as also to watch and keep the same. And therefore, at this his compelled charges, the image was again set up the second day of March then next ensuing: but, for lack belike of careful watching, the fourteenth day of the same month in the night, the head of that dangerous beast, over whom there was such charge given, was again the second time broken off: which thing was so heinously taken, that the next day, being the fifteenth day, there was a proclamation made in London, that whosoever would tell who did strike off his head, (though he were of counsel, and not the principal doer,) he should have not only his pardon, but also one hundred crowns of gold, with hearty thanks. But it was not known who did it.