Foxe's Book of Martyrs -- 87. WILLIAM SAUTRE

87. WILLIAM SAUTRE

The next year after followed a parliament holden at Westminster: in which parliament one William Sautre, a good man and a faithful priest, inflamed with zeal of true religion, required he might be heard for the commodity of the whole realm. But the matter being smelt before by the bishop, they obtained that the matter should be referred to the convocation; where the said William Sautre being brought before the bishops and notaries thereunto appointed, the convocation was deferred to the Saturday next ensuing.

"When Saturday was come, that is to say, the twelfth day of February, Thomas Arundel, archbishop of Canterbury, in the presence of his council provincial, being assembled in the said chapterhouse, against one Sir William Sautre, otherwise called Chatris, chaplain, personally then and there appearing by the commandment of the aforesaid archbishop of Canterbury, objected, that the said Sir William, before the bishop of Norwich, had once renounced and abjured divers and sundry conclusions heretical and erroneous; and that after such abjuration made, he publicly and privily held, taught, and preached the same conclusions, or else such-like, disagreeing to the catholic faith, and to the great peril and pernicious example of others. And after this he caused such.like conclusions holden and preached, as is said, by the said, Sir William without renunciation, then and there to be read unto the said archbishop, by Master Robert Hall, chancellor unto the said bishop, in a certain scroll written, in tenor of words as followeth

"Sir William Chatris, otherwise called Sautre, parish priest of the church St. Scithe the virgin, in London, publicly and privily doth hold these conclusions underwritten:

"Imprimis, He saith, That he will not worship the cross on which Christ suffered, but only Christ that suffered upon the cross.

"2. Item, That he would sooner worship a temporal king, than the aforesaid wooden cross.

"3. Item, That he would rather worship the bodies of the saints, than the very cross of Christ on which he hung, if it were before him.

"4. Item, That he would rather worship a man truly contrite, than the cross of Christ.

"5. Item, That he is bound rather to worship a man that is predestinate, than an angel of God.

"6. Item, That if any man would visit the monuments of Peter and Paul, or go on pilgrimage to the tomb of St. Thomas, or any whither else, for the obtaining of any temporal benefit; he is not bound to keep his vow, but he may distribute the expenses of his vow upon the alms of the poor.

"7. Item, That every priest and deacon is more bound to preach the word of God, than to say the canonical hours.

"8. Item, That after the pronouncing of the sacramental words of the body of Christ, the bread remaineth of the same nature that it was before, neither doth it cease to be bread.

"To which conclusions or articles, being thus read, the archbishop of Canterbury required the same Sir William to answer: and then the said William asked a copy of such articles or conclusions, and a competent space to answer unto the same. Whereupon the said archbishop commanded a copy of such articles or conclusions to be delivered then and there unto the said Sir William, assigning the Thursday then next ensuing to him to deliberate and make answer in. When Thursday, the said day of appearance, was come, Master Nicholas Rishton, auditor of the causes and businesses belonging to the said archbishop, then being in the parliament-house at Westminster, otherwise let, continued the said convocation with all matters rising, depending, and appertinent thereunto, by commandment of the said bishop, until the next morrow at eight of the clock. When the morrow came, being Friday, the aforesaid Sir William Sautre, in the chapter-house, before the said bishop and his council provincial then and there assembled, making his personal appearance, exhibited a certain scroll, containing the answers unto certain articles or conclusions given unto him, as is aforesaid, by the said bishop; and said, that unto the aforesaid archbishop he delivered the same as his answer in that behalf, under the tenor of such words as follow:

"I, William Sautre, priest unworthy, say and answer, that I will not, nor intend not to worship the cross whereon Christ was crucified, but only Christ that suffered upon the cross; so understanding me, that I will not worship the material cross, or the gross corporal matter: yet, notwithstanding, I will worship the same as a sign, token, and memorial of the passion of Christ, adoratione vicaria. And that I will rather worship a temporal king, than the aforesaid wooden cross, and the material substance of the same. And that I will rather worship the bodies of saints, than the very cross of Christ whereon he hung; with this addition, that if the very same cross were afore me as touching the material substance. And also that I will rather worship a man truly confessed and penitent, than the cross on which Christ hung, as touching the material substance.

"And that also I am bound, and will rather worship him whom I know to be predestinate, truly confessed, and contrite, than an angel of God: for that the one is a man of the same nature with the humanity of Christ, and so is not a blessed angel. Notwithstanding I will worship both of them, according as the will of God is I should.

"Also, that if any man hath made a vow to visit the shrines of the apostles Peter and Paul, or to go on pilgrimage unto St. Thomas's tomb, or any whither else, to obtain any temporal benefit or commodity, he is not bound simply to keep his vow upon the necessity of salvation; but he may give the expenses of his vow in alms amongst the poor, by the prudent counsel of his superior, as I suppose.

"And also I say, that every deacon and priest is more bound to preach the word of God, than to say the canonical hours, according to the primitive order of the church.

"Also, touching the interrogation of the sacrament of the altar, I say, that after the pronouncing of the sacramental words of the body of Christ, there ceaseth not to be very bread simply, but remains bread, holy, true, and the bread of life; and I believe the said sacrament to be the very body of Christ, after the pronouncing of the sacramental words.

"When all these answers were thoroughly, by Master Robert Hall, directly and publicly there read, the aforesaid archbishop of Canterbury inquired of the said Sir William, whether he had abjured the aforesaid heresies and errors objected against him, as before is said, before the bishop of Norwich, or not; or else had revoked and renounced the said or such-like conclusions or articles, or not? To which he answered and affirmed that he had not. And then, consequently, all other articles, conclusions, and answers above written immediately omitted, the said archbishop examined the same Sir William Sautre, especially upon the sacrament of the altar.

"First, Whether in the sacrament of the altar, after the pronouncing of the sacramental words, remaineth very material bread or not? Unto which interrogation, the same Sir William somewhat waveringly said and answered, that he knew not that. Notwithstanding he said, that there was very bread, because it was the bread of life which came down from heaven.

"After that the said archbishop demanded of him, whether, in the sacrament, after the sacramental words rightly pronounced of the priest, the same bread remaineth, which did before the words pronounced, or not. And to this question the aforesaid William answered in like manner as before, saying, that there was bread, holy, true, and the bread of life, &c.

"After that, the aforesaid archbishop asked him, whether the same material bread before consecration, by the sacramental words of the priest rightly pronounced, be transubstantiated from the nature of bread into the very body of Christ, or not? 'Whereunto Sir William said, that he knew not what that matter meant.

"And then the said archbishop assigned unto the said Sir William time to deliberate, and more fully to make his answer, till the next day; and continued this convocation then and there till the morrow: which morrow, to wit, the nineteenth day of February, being come, the aforesaid archbishop of Canterbury, in the said chapter-house of St. Paul in London, before his council provincial then and there assembled, specially asked and examined the same Sir William Sautre, there personally present, upon the sacrament of the altar, as before: and the same Sir William, again, in like manner as before, answered.

"After this, amongst other things, the said bishop demanded of the same William, if the same material bread being upon the altar, after the sacramental words being of the priest rightly pronounced, is transubstantiated into the very body of Christ or not? And the said Sir William said, he understood not what he meant.

"Then the said archbishop demanded, whether that material bread being round and white, prepared and disposed for the sacrament of the body of Christ upon the altar, wanting nothing that is meet and requisite thereunto, by the virtue of the sacramental words being of the priest rightly pronounced, be altered and changed into the very body of Christ, and ceaseth any more to be material and very bread or not? Then the said Sir William, deridingly answering, said, he could not tell.

"Then, consequently, the said archbishop demanded, whether he would stand to the determination of the holy church or not, which affirmeth, that in the sacrament of the altar, after the words of consecration being rightly pronounced of the priest, the same bread, which before in nature was bread, ceaseth any more to be bread. To this interrogation the said Sir William said, that he would stand to the determination of the church, where such determination was not contrary to the will of God.

"This done, he demanded of him again, what his judgment was concerning the sacrament of the altar: who said and affirmed, that after the words of consecration, by the priest duly pronounced, remained very bread, and the same bread which was before the words spoken. And this examination about the sacrament, lasted from eight o'clock until eleven, or thereabouts, of the same day: insomuch that during all this time the aforesaid William would no otherwise answer, neither yet, touching the same sacrament, receive catholic information, according to the institution of the pope's church, and his Christian faith. Wherefore the said Canterbury, by the counsel and assent of his whole convent then and there present, did promulgate and give sentence, by the mouth of Robert Hall, against the same Sir William Sautre, being personally present, and refusing to revoke his heresies, that is to say, his true doctrine, but constantly defended the same, under the tenor of words as followeth:

"In the name of God, Amen. We, Thomas, by the grace of God archbishop of Canterbury, primate of England, and legate of the see apostolical, by the authority of God Almighty, and blessed St. Peter and Paul, and of holy church, and by our own authority, sitting for tribunal or chief judge, having God alone before our eyes, by the counsel and consent of the whole clergy, our fellow brethren and suffragans, assistants unto us in this present council provincial, by this our sentence definitive, do pronounce, decree, and declare, by these presents, thee William Sautre, otherwise called Chatris, parish priest pretensed, personally appearing before us, in and upon the crime of heresy, judicially and lawfully convicted as a heretic, and as a heretic to be punished.

"Which sentence definitive being thus read, the aforesaid archbishop of Canterbury, continued in the same provincial council till Wednesday next and immediately ensuing, to wit, the twenty-fourth day of the same month of February; which being expired, the bishop of Norwich, according to the commandment of the said archbishop of Canterbury, presented unto the aforesaid William Sautre, by a certain friend of his, being present at the same council, a certain process enclosed and sealed with his seal, giving the names of credible witnesses, and sealed with their seals, to which William Sautre thus replied:

"Imprimis, Touching the first and second, where I said, that I would adore rather a temporal prince, and the lively bodies of the saints, than the wooden cross whereupon the Lord did hang: I do revoke and recant the same, as being therein deceived.

"To this I say, that the article is false and erroneous, and by false information I held it; the which I renounce and ask forgiveness thereof, and say, that it is a precious relic, and that I shall hold it while I live, and that I swear here.

"I know well that I erred wrongfully by false information; for I wot well, that a deacon or a priest is more bound to say his matins and hours, than to preach; for thereto he is bounden by right: wherefore I submit me, &c.

"Touching that article, I know right well that I erred by false information: wherefore I ask forgiveness.

"As concerning vows, I say that opinion is false and erroneous, and by false information I held it; for a man is bounden to hold his vow, &c.

"To the seventh article I say, that I did it by authority of priesthood, through which deed I acknowledge well that I have guilt and trespassed: wherefore I submit me to God and to holy church, and to you, father, swearing that I shall never hold it more.

"To the eighth I say, that I held it by false and wrong information: but now I know well that it is heresy, and that bread, anon as the word of the sacrament is said, is no longer bread material, but that it is turned into Christ's very body; and that I swear here.

"I say, that this is false and erroneous, &c. "I say as I said, &c.

"This being done, the twenty-second of February aforesaid, in the year of our Lord 1400, in the chapter-house of St. Paul, in London aforesaid, the aforesaid archbishop of Canterbury, in the convocation of his prelates and clergy, and such-like men there being present, caused the afore recited process of the bishop of Norwich to be read openly and publicly to Sir William Sautre, otherwise called Chatris, And afterward he asked the said Sir William, whether he plainly understood and knew such process, and the contents within the same; and he said, Yea. And further he demanded of him, if he would or could say or object any thing against the process; and he said, No. And after that incontinent, the aforesaid archbishop of Canterbury demanded and objected against the said Sir William, as divers others more did; that after he had, before the bishop of Norwich, revoked and abjured, judicially, divers errors and heresies, among other errors and heresies by him taught, holden, and preached, he affirmed, that in the same sacrament of the altar, after the consecration made by the priest, as he taught, there remained material bread; which heresy, amongst others, as errors also he abjured before the aforesaid bishop of Norwich. Hereunto the afore-said William answered smiling, or in mocking wise, saying and denying that he knew of the premises. Notwithstanding, he publicly affirmed, that he held and taught the aforesaid things after the date of the said process made by the said bishop of Norwich, and that in the same council also he held the same. Then finally it was demanded of the said Sir William, why he ought not to be pronounced as a man fallen into heresy, and why they should not further proceed unto his degradation according to the canonical sanctions: whereunto he answered nothing, neither could he allege any cause to the contrary.

"Whereupon the aforesaid archbishop of Canterbury, by the counsel and assent of the whole council, and especially by the counsel and assent of the reverend fathers and bishops, as also priors, deans, archdeacons, and other worshipful doctors and clerks then and there present in the council, fully determined to proceed to the degradation and actual deposing of the said William Sautre, as refallen into heresy, and as incorrigible; according to the sentence definitive put in writing, the tenor whereof is in words as followeth:

"In the name of God, Amen. We, Thomas, by the grace of God archbishop of Canterbury, legate of the see apostolical, and metropolitan of all England, do find and declare, that thou, William Sautre, otherwise called Chatris, priest, by us, with the counsel and assent of all and singular our fellow brethren and whole clergy, by this our sentence definitive declared in writing, hast been for heresy convicted and condemned, and art (being again fallen into heresy) to be deposed and degraded by these presents.

"And from that day, being Wednesday, there was in the said council provincial nothing further prosecuted, but was continued with all dependents till the Friday next ensuing; which Friday approaching, Master Nicholas Rishton, by the commandment of the said archbishop of Canterbury, being then busied, as he said, in the parliament house, continued this council and convocation with all incidents, dependents, and occasions growing and annexed thereunto, the next day, to wit, Saturday next and immediately after ensuing. Upon Saturday, being the 26th of the said month of February, the aforesaid archbishop of Canterbury sat in the bishop's seat of the aforesaid church of St. Paul in London, and solemnly apparelled in his pontifical attire, sitting with him as his assistants these reverend fathers and bishops, of London, Lincoln, Hereford, Exeter, Menevensis, and Rossensis, above-mentioned, commanded and caused the said Sir William Sautre, apparelled in priestly vestments, to be brought and appear before him. That done, he declared and expounded in English to all the clergy and people there in a great multitude assembled, that all process was finished and ended against the said Sir William Sautre. Which thing finished, before the pronouncing of the said sentence of the relapse against the said Sir William, as is premised, he often then and there recited and read. And for that he saw the said William in that behalf nothing abashed, he proceeded to his degradation and actual deposition, in form as followeth:

"In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, We, Thomas, by God's permission archbishop of Canterbury, primate of all England, and legate of the apostolic see, do denounce thee, William Sautre, otherwise called Chatris, chaplain feigned, in the habit and apparel of a priest, as a heretic, and one re-fallen into heresy, by this our sentence definitive, by counsel, assent, and authority, to be condemned; and by conclusion of all our fellow brethren, fellow bishops, prelates, council provincial, and of the whole clergy, do degrade and deprive thee of thy priestly order. And in sign of degradation and actual deposition from thy priestly dignity, for thine incorrigibility and want of amendment, we take from thee the paten and chalice, and do deprive thee of all power and authority of celebrating the mass, and also we pull from thy back the casule, and take from thee the vestment, and deprive thee of all manner of priestly honour.

"Also, We, Thomas, the aforesaid archbishop, by authority, counsel, and assent, which upon the aforesaid William we have, being deacon pretensed, in the habit and apparel of a deacon, having the New Testament in thy hands, being a heretic, and twice fallen, condemned by sentence as is aforesaid, do degrade and put thee from the order of a deacon. And in token of this thy degradation and actual deposition, we take from thee the book of the New Testament, and the stole, and do deprive thee of all authority in reading of the gospel, and of all and all manner of dignity of a deacon.

"Item, We, Thomas, archbishop aforesaid, by authority, counsel, and assent, which over thee the aforesaid William we have, being a sub-deacon pretensed, in the habit and vestment of a sub-deacon, a heretic, and twice fallen, condemned by sentence, as is aforesaid, do degrade and put thee from the order of a sub-deacon; and in token of this thy degradation and actual deposition, we take from thee the albe and maniple, and do deprive thee of all and all manner of sub-diaconical dignity.

"Also, We, Thomas, archbishop aforesaid, by counsel, assent, and authority which we have over thee, the aforesaid William, an acolyte pretensed, wearing the habit of an acolyte, and heretic, twice fallen, by our sentence, as is aforesaid, condemned, do degrade and put from thee all order of an acolyte; and in sign and token of this thy degradation, and actual deposition, we take from thee the candlestick and taper, and also urceolum, and do deprive thee of all and all manner of dignity of an acolyte.

"Also, We, Thomas, archbishop aforesaid, by assent, counsel, and authority, which upon thee the aforesaid William we have, an exorcist pretensed, in the habit of an exorcist or holy water clerk, being a heretic, twice fallen, and by our sentence, as is aforesaid, condemned, do degrade and depose thee from the order of an exorcist; and, in token of this thy degradation and actual deposition, we take from thee the book of conjurations, and do deprive thee of all and singular dignity of an exorcist.

"Also, We, Thomas, archbishop aforesaid, by assent, counsel, and authority, as is above said, do degrade and depose thee, the aforesaid William, reader pretensed, clothed in the habit of a reader, a heretic, twice fallen, and by our sentence, as is aforesaid, condemned, from the order of a reader; and in token of this thy degradation and actual deposition, we take from thee the book of the divine lections, (that is, the book of the church legend,) and do deprive thee of all and singular manner of dignity of such a reader.

"Item, We, Thomas, archbishop of Canterbury abovesaid, by authority, counsel, and assent, the which we have, as is aforesaid, do degrade, and put thee, the aforesaid William Sautre, sexton pretensed, in the habit of a sexton, and wearing a surplice, being a heretic, twice fallen, by our sentence definitive condemned, as aforesaid, from the order of a sexton; and in token of this thy degradation and actual deposition, for the causes aforesaid, we take from thee the keys of the church-door, and thy surplice, and do deprive thee of all and singular manner of commodities of a door-keeper.

"And also, by the authority of omnipotent God, the Father, the Son, and Holy Ghost, and by our authority, counsel, and assent of our whole council provincial above written, we do degrade thee, and depose thee, being here personally present before us, from orders, benefices, privileges, and habit in the church; and, for thy pertinacy incorrigible, we do degrade thee before the secular court of the high constable and marshal of England, being personally present; and do depose thee from all and singular clerkly honours and dignities whatsoever, by these writings. Also, in token of thy degradation and deposition, here actually we have caused thy crown and ecclesiastical tonsure, in our presence, to be rased away, and utterly to be abolished, like unto the form of a secular layman; and here we do put upon the head of thee, the aforesaid William, the cap of a lay, secular person; beseeching the court aforesaid, that they will receive favourably the said William unto them thus re-committed."

Thus William Sautre, the servant of Christ, being utterly thrust out of the pope's kingdom, and metamorphosed from a clerk to a secular layman, was committed, as ye have heard, unto the secular power: which so done, the bishops, yet not herewith contented, cease not to call upon the king, to cause him to be brought forth to speedy execution. Whereupon the king, ready enough and too much to gratify the clergy, and to retain their favours, directeth out a terrible decree against the said William Sautre, and sent it to the mayor and sheriffs of London to be put in execution; the tenor whereof hereunder ensueth.

"The decree of our sovereign lord the king and his council in the parliament, against a certain newly sprung up heretic, to the mayor and sheriffs of London, &c. Whereas the reverend father Thomas, archbishop of Canterbury, primate of all England, and legate of the apostolic see, by the assent, consent, and council of other bishops, and his brethren suffragans, and also of all the whole clergy within his province or diocese, gathered together in his provincial council, the due order of the law being observed in all points in this behalf, hath pronounced and declared, by his definitive sentence, William Sautre, sometime chaplain, fallen again into his most damnable heresy, the which before-time the said William had abjured, thereupon to be a most manifest heretic, and therefore hath decreed that he should be degraded, and hath for the same cause really degraded him from all prerogative and privilege of the clergy, decreeing to leave him unto the secular power; and hath really so left him, according to the laws and canonical sanctions set forth in this behalf, and also that our holy mother the church hath no further to do in the premises; we therefore, being zealous in religion, and reverent lovers of the catholic faith, willing and minding to maintain and defend the holy church, and the laws and liberties of the same, to root all such errors and heresies out of our kingdom of Enggland, and with condign punishment to correct and punish all heretics or such as be convict; provided always that both according to the law of God and man, and the canonical institutions in this behalf accustomed, such heretics convict and condemned in form aforesaid, ought to be burned with fire: we command you, as straitly as we may, or can, firmly enjoining you that you do cause the said William, being in your custody, in some public or open place within the liberties of your city aforesaid, the cause aforesaid being published unto the people, to be put into the fire, and there in the same fire really. to be burned, to the great horror of his offence, and the manifest example of other Christians. Fail not in the execution hereof, upon the peril that will fall thereupon."

Illustration -- The burning of William Sautre

Thus it may appear how kings and princes have been blinded and abused by the false prelates of the church, insomuch that they have been their slaves and butchers, to slay Christ's poor innocent members. See, therefore, what danger it is for princes not to have knowledge and understanding themselves, but to be led by other men's eyes, and specially trusting to such guides, who, through hypocrisy, both deceive them, and, through cruelty, devour the people.

As King Henry the Fourth, who was the deposer of King Richard, was the first of all English kings that began the unmerciful burning of Christ's saints for standing against the pope; so was this William Sautre, the true and faithful martyr of Christ; the first of all them in Wickliffs time, which I find to be burned in the reign of the aforesaid king, which was in the year of our Lord 1400.

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