77. POPE GREGORY THE ELEVENTH AND KING EDWARD THE THIRDfter the death of Pope Urban, next succeeded Pope Gregory the Eleventh,who,among his other acts, first reduced again the papacy out of France unto Rome, which had from thence been absent the space now of seventy years; being thereto moved (as Sabellicus recordeth) by the answer of a certain bishop,whom, as the pope saw standing by him, he asked, why he was so long from his charge and church at home, saying, that it was not the part of a good pastor, to keep him from his flock so long. Whereunto the bishop answering again, said, And you yourself being the chief bishop, who may and ought to be a spectacle to us all, why are you from the place so long where your church doth lie? By the occasion whereof the pope sought all means after that to remove and to rid his court out of France again to Rome, and so he did.
This Gregory the Eleventh, in a certain bull of his sent to the archbishop of Prague, maketh mention of one named Militzius, a Bohemian, and saith in the same bull, that this Militzius should hold opinion and teach, A. D. 1366, that antichrist was already come. Also that the said Militzius had certain congregations following him; and that in the same congregations were certain harlots, who, being converted from their wickedness, were brought to a godly life; which harlots being so converted, he used to say, were to be preferred before all the holy religious virgins. And therefore he commanded the archbishop to excommunicate and persecute the said Militzius, which in foretime had been a religious man of Prague, and after forsook his order, and gave himself to preaching, and at length was by the aforesaid archbishop imprisoned.
Jacobus Misnensis, a learned man and a writer in the time of John Huss, maketh mention of this Militzius, and calleth him a worthy and a famous preacher. Also he citeth many things out of his writings, in the which writings this good Militzius thus declareth of himself, how he was moved and urged by the Holy Ghost to search out by the sacred Scriptures, concerning the coming of antichrist. And that he was compelled by the same Holy Spirit publicly to preach at Rome, and also before the inquisitor there to protest plainly, that the same great antichrist, which is prophesied of in the Holy Scriptures, was already come. Moreover his saying was, That the church through negligence of the pastors was desolate, did abound in temporal riches, but in spiritual riches was empty. Also, That in the church of Christ were certain idols which destroyed Jerusalem, and defaced the temple, but hypocrisy caused that those idols could not be, seen. Also, That many there were which denied Christ, because that knowing the truth, yet for fear of men they durst not confess their conscience, &c. And thus much of good Militzius, living in the time of Gregory the Eleventh, and King Edward the Third, A. D. 1370. The which king of England, holding a parliament in the third year of this pope, sent his ambassadors to him, desiring him, that he from henceforth would abstain from his reservations of benefices used in the court of England; and that spiritual men within this realm promoted unto bishoprics, might freely enjoy their elections within the realm, and be confirmed by their metropolitans, according to the ancient custom of the realm. Wherefore, upon these, and such other like, wherein the king and the realm thought themselvcs much grieved, he desired of the pope some remedy to be provided, &c. Whereunto the pope returned a certain answer again unto the king, requiring by his messengers to be certified again of the king's mind concerning the same. But what answer it was it is not in the story expressed, save that the year following, which was 1374, there was a tractation at Bruges upon certain of the said articles between the king and the pope, which did hang two years in suspense; and so at length it was thus agreed between them, that the pope should no more use his reservations of benefices in England, and likewise the king should no more confer and give benefices upon the writ, Quare impedit, &c.; but as touching the freedom of elections to be confirmed by the metropolitan, mentioned in the year before, thereof was nothing touched.
As touching these reservations, provisions, and collations, with the elections of the archbishops, bishops, beneficed men, and other, wherewith the pope vexed this realm of England, as before you have heard; the king, by the consent of the lords and commons, in the twenty-fifth year of his reign, enacted, that according to a statute made in the thirtieth year of his grandfather, Edward the First, wherein was made an act against the ravenous pillage of the pope, through the same provisions, reservations, and collations, &c., but not put in execution; by the which provisions, the state of the realm decreased more and more, the king's royalty and prerogative was greatly obscured and diminished, innumerable treasure of the realm transported, aliens and strangers placed in the best and fattest bishoprics, abbeys, and benefices within the realm; and such, as either for their offices in Rome, as cardinalships and such like, could not be here resident, or, if resident, yet better away for causes infinite, as partly have been touched before; he not only revived the said statute made by Edward the First, his grandfather, but also enlarged the same; adding thereunto very strait and sharp penalties against the offenders therein, or in any part thereof, as exemption out of the king's protection, loss of all their lands, goods, and other possessions, and their bodies to be imprisoned at the king's pleasure; and further, whosoever was lawfully convict, or otherwise, for want of appearance by process directed forth, were within the lapse of this statute of Præmunire, for so bare the name thereof, should suffer all and every such molestations and injuries, as men exempted from the protection of the king. Insomuch, that whosoever had killed such men, had been in no more danger of law therefore, than for the killing of any outlaw, or one not worthy to live in a commonwealth. Like unprofitable members were they then, yea, in that time of ignorance, esteemed in this commonwealth of England, which would offer themselves to the wilful slavery and servile obedience of the pope; which thing in these days, yea, and that amongst no small fools, is counted more than evangelical holiness. He that list to peruse the statute, and would see every branch and article thereof at large discussed and handled, with the penalties therefore due, let him read the statute of Provision and Præmunire, made in the twenty-fifth year of this king's days. And let him read in the statutes made in the parliaments holden the twenty-seventh year and thirty-eighth year of his reign; and under the same title of Provision and Præmunire he shall find the pope's primacy and jurisdiction within this realm more nearly touched, and much of his papal power restrained: insomuch that whosoever, for any cause or controversy in law, either spiritual or temporal, the same being determinable in any of the king's courts, as all matters were, whether they were personal or real citations, or other, should either appeal, or consent to any appellation to be made, out of the realm to the pope or see of Rome, should incur the said penalty and danger of Præmunire. Divers other matters wherein the pope is restrained of his usurped power, authority, and jurisdiction within this realm of England, are in the said titles and statutes expressed, and at large set forth, whoever list to peruse the same, which for brevity's sake I omit, hastening to other matters.