90. LAWS MADE AGAISNT HERETICS
This godly martyr, John Badby, having thus consummated his testimony and martyrdom in fire, the persecuting bishops yet not herewith contented, and thinking themselves as yet either not strong enough, or else not sharp enough, against the poor innocent flock of Christ, to make all things sure and substantial on their side, in such sort as this doctrine of the gospel now springing should be suppressed for ever, laid their conspiring heads together; and having now a king for their own purpose, ready to serve their turn in all points, (during the time of the same parliament above-recited yet continuing,) the aforesaid bishops and clergy of the realm exhibited a bill unto the king's Majesty, subtlely declaring what quietness had been maintained within this realm by his most noble progenitors, who always defended the ancient rites and customs of the church, and enriched the same with large gifts, to the honour of God and the realm; and, contrariwise, what trouble and disquietness was now risen by divers, as they termed them, wicked and perverse men, teaching and preaching openly and privily a certain new, wicked, and heretical kind of doctrine, contrary to the catholic faith and determination of holy church. Whereupon the king, always oppressed with blind ignorance, by the crafty means and subtle pretences of the clergy, granted in the said parliament, by consent of the nobility assembled, a statute to be observed, called Ex Officio, as followeth:
The statute Ex Officio.
"That is to say, that no man within this realm, or other the king's Majesty's dominions, presume to take upon him to preach privily or apertly, without special licence first obtained of the ordinary of the same place (curates in their own parish churches, and persons heretofore privileged, and others admitted by the canon law, only excepted): nor that any hereafter do preach, maintain, teach, inform openly or in secret, or make or write any book, contrary to the catholic faith and determination of the holy church: nor that any hereafter make any conventicles or assemblies, or keep and exercise any manner of schools touching this sect, wicked doctrine, and opinion. And further, that no man hereafter shall by any means favour any such preacher, any such maker of unlawful assemblies, or any such bookmaker or writer; and, finally, any such teacher, informer, or stirrer up of the people: and that all and singular persons having any of the said books, writings, schedules, containing the said wicked doctrines and opinions, shall, within forty days after this present proclamation and statute, really and effectually deliver, or cause to be delivered, all and singular the said books and writings unto the ordinary of the same place. And if it shall happen that any person or persons, of what kind, state, or condition soever he or they be, do or attempt any manner of thing contrary to this present proclamation and statute, or do not deliver the same books in form aforesaid: that then the ordinary of the same place, in his own diocese, by authority of the said proclamation and statute, shall cause to be arrested and detained under safe custody the said person or persons in this case defamed and evidently suspected, or any of them, until he or they so offending have, by order of law, purged him or themselves as touching the articles laid to his or their charge in this behalf; or until he or they have denied and recanted (according to the laws ecclesiastical) the said wicked sect, preachings, teachings, and heretical and erroneous opinions. And that the said ordinary, by himself or his commissaries, proceed openly and judicially to all the effect of law, against the said persons so arrested and remaining under safe custody, and that he end and determine the matter within three months after the said arrest, all delays and excuses set apart, according to the order and custom of the canon law. And if any person, in any cause above mentioned, shall be lawfully convicted before the ordinary of the diocese or his commissaries, that then the said ordinary may lawfully cause the said person so convicted (according to the manner and quality of his fact) to be laid in any of his own prisons, and there to be kept so long as his discretion shall be thought expedient.
"And further, the said ordinary (except in cases by the which, according to the canon law, the party offending ought to be delivered unto the secular power) shall charge the said person with such a fine of money to be paid unto the king's Majesty, as he shall think competent for the manner and quality of his offence. And the said diocesan shall be bound to give notice of the said fine, into the king's Majesty's exchequer, by his letters patent under his seal; to the intent that the said fine may be levied to the king's Majesty's use of the goods of the person so convicted.
"And further, if any person within this realm and other the king's Majesty's dominions shall be convicted before the ordinary of the place, or his commissaries, of the said wicked preachings, doctrines, opinions, schools, and heretical and erroneous informations, or any of them; and will refuse to abjure and recant the said wicked sect, preachings, teachings, opinions, schools, and informations; or if, after his abjuration once made, the relapse be pronounced against him by the diocesan of the place, or his commissaries, (for so, by the canon law, he ought to be left to the secular power, upon credit given to the ordinary or his commissaries,) that then the sheriff of the same county, the mayor, sheriffs or sheriff, or the mayor or bailiffs of the same city, village, or borough of the same county, and nearest inhabiting to the said ordinary, or his said commissaries, shall personally be present, as oft as they shall be required to confer with the said ordinary or his commissaries in giving sentence against the said persons offending, or any of them: and, after the said sentence so pronounced, shall take unto them the said persons so offending, and any of them, and cause them openly to be burned in the sight of all the people; to the intent that this kind of punishment may be a terror unto others, that the like wicked doctrines and heretical opinions, or the authors and favourers thereof, be no more maintained within this realm and dominions, to the great hurt (which God forbid) of Christian religion, and decrees of holy church. In all which and singular the premises, concerning the statute aforesaid, let the sheriffs, mayors, and bailiffs of the said counties, cities, villages, and boroughs, be attendant, aiding and favouring the said ordinaries and their commissaries."
By this bloody statute, so severely and sharply enacted against these simple men, here hast thou, gentle reader, a little to stay with thyself, and to consider the nature and condition of this present world, how it hath been set and bent ever from the beginning, by all might, counsel, and ways possible, to strive against the ways of God, and to overthrow that which he will have set up. And although the world may see, by infinite stories and examples, that it is but in vain to strive against him, yet such is the nature of this world (all set in malignity) that it will not cease still to be like itself.
The like law and statute in the time of Dioclesian and Maximinus was attempted, as before appeareth; and for the more strength was written also in tables of brass, to the intent that the name of Christ should utterly be extinguished for ever: and yet the name of Christ remaineth, whereas that brazen law remained not three years. The which law, written then in brass, although it differ in manner and form from this our statute Ex officio, yet to the same end and cruelty, to spill the blood of saints, there is no difference between the one and the other; neither is there any diversity touching the first original doer and worker of them both: for the same Satan which then wrought his uttermost against Christ, before he was bound up, the same also now, after his loosing out, doth what he can, though not after the same way, yet to the same intent; for then, with outward violence, as an open enemy, he did what he could; now, by a more covert way, under the title of the church, he impugneth the church of Christ, using a more subtle way to deceive, under gay pretensed titles, but no less pernicious in the end whereto he shooteth; as well appeareth by this bloody statute Ex officio, the sequel whereof cost afterward many a Christian man's life, as, in process of story, remaineth more hereafter, Christ willing, to be declared.
Furthermore, for the more fortification of this statute of the king aforesaid, concurreth also another constitution made much about the same time by the archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Arundel: so that no industry nor policy of man here did lack to set the matter forward, but specially on the bishops' parts, who left no means unattempted, how to subvert the right ways of the Lord.
First, In most diligent and exquisite execution of the king's statute set forth, the execution whereof they did so exactly apply, that marvel it is to consider, all other laws of kings commonly, be they never so good, to be so coldly kept, and this only, among all the rest, so nearly followed. But herein is to be seen the diligence of the Romish prelates, which never let any thing fall, that maketh for the dignity of their estate.
Secondly, Beside their vigilant care in seeing the king's statute to be executed, no less industrious also were they in adding thereunto more constitutions of their own, as from time to time appeareth as well by other archbishops hereafter, and by Pope Martin, as also by this constitution here present made by Thomas Arundel, the archbishop.
But before we enter to the relation of these aforesaid constitutions of the clergymen, here cometh in more to be said and noted touching the aforesaid statute Ex officio, to prove the same not only to be cruel and impious, but also to be of itself of no force and validity for the burning of any person for the cause of religion; for the disproof of which statute we have sufficient authority remaining as yet in the Parliament Rolls to be seen in her Majesty's Court of Records: which here were to be debated at large, but that upon special occasion we have deferred the ample discourse thereof to the cruel persecution of the Lord Cobham hereafter ensuing; as may appear in the defence of the said Lord Cobham against Nicholas Harpsfield, under the title and name of Alanus Copus. And thus referring them for the examination of this statute to the place aforesaid, let us now return to Thomas Arundel, and his bloody constitutions above-mentioned: the style and tenor whereof, to the intent the rigour of the same may appear to all men, I thought hereunder to adjoin, in words as followeth:
"Thomas, by the permission of God, archbishop of Canterbury, primate of all England, and legate of the see apostolic: to all and singular our reverend brethren, fellow bishops, and our suffragans; and to abbots, priors, deans of cathedral churches, archdeacons, provosts, and canons; also to all parsons, vicars, chaplains, and clerks in parish churches, and to all laymen, whom and wheresoever dwelling within our province of Canterbury, greeting, and grace to stand firmly in the doctrine of the holy mother church.
"It is a manifest and plain case, that he doth wrong and injury to the most reverend council, whoso revolteth from the things being in the said council once discussed and decided; and whosoever dare presume to dispute of the supreme or principal judgment here in earth, in so doing incurreth the pain of sacrilege, according to the authority of civil wisdom and manifold tradition of human law. Much more then they who, trusting to their own wits, are so bold to violate, and with contrary doctrine to resist, and in word and deed to contemn, the precepts of laws and canons, rightly made and proceeding from the key-bearer and porter of eternal life and death, bearing the room and person not of pure man, but of true God here in earth; which also have been observed hitherto of the holy fathers, our predecessors, unto the glorious effusion of their blood, and voluntary sprinkling out of their brains; are worthy of greater punishment, deserving quickly to be cut off, as rotten members, from the body of the church militant. For such ought to consider what is in the Old Testament written, Moses and Aaron among his priests, that is, were chief heads amongst them; and in the New Testament, among the apostles there was a certain difference: and though they were all apostles, yet was it granted of the Lord to Peter, that he should bear preeminence above the other apostles; and also the apostles themselves would the same, that he should be the chieftain over all the rest; and being called Cephas, that is, Head, should be a prince over the apostles, unto whom it was said, Thou being once converted, confirm thy brethren. As though he would say, If there happen any doubt among them, or if any of them chance to err and stray out of the way of faith, of just living, or right conversation, do thou confirm and reduce him in the right way again; which thing, no doubt, the Lord would never have said unto him, if he had not so minded, that the rest should be obedient unto him. And yet, all this notwithstanding, we know and daily prove that we are sorry to speak, how the old sophister, the enemy of mankind, (foreseeing and fearing lest the sound doctrine of the church, determined from ancient times by the holy forefathers, should withstand his malice, if it might keep the people of God in unity of faith under one head of the church,) doth therefore endeavour, by all means possible, to extirpate the said doctrine, feigning vices to be virtues. And so, under false pretences of verity dissimuled, he soweth discord in catholic people, to the intent that some going one way, some another, he, in the mean time, may gather to himself a church of the malignant, differing wickedly from the universal mother, holy church: in the which, Satan, transforming himself into an angel of light, bearing a lying and deceitful balance in his hand, pretendeth great righteousness, in contrarying the ancient doctrine of the holy mother church, and refusing the traditions of the same, determined and appointed by holy fathers; persuading men, by feigned forgeries, the same to be nought, and so inducing other new kinds of doctrine, leading to more goodness, as he by his lying persuasions pretendeth, although he in very truth neither willeth nor mindeth any goodness, but rather that he may sow schisms, whereby divers opinions, and contrary to themselves, being raised in the church, faith thereby may be diminished, and also the reverend holy mysteries, through the same contention of words, may be profaned by pagans, Jews, and other infidels, and wicked miscreants. And so that figure in the Apoc. chap. vi. is well verified, speaking of him that sat on the black horse, bearing a pair of balances in his hand; by the which heretics are understood, who, at the first appearance, like to weights or a balance, make as though they would set forth right and just things, to allure the hearts of the hearers; but afterward appeareth the black horse, that is to say, their intention, full of cursed speaking. For they, under a diverse show and colour of a just balance, with the tail of a black horse sprinkling abroad heresies and errors, do strike; and, being poisoned themselves, under colour of good raise up infinite slanders, and, by certain persons fit to do mischief, do publish abroad, as it were, the sugared taste of honey mixed with poison, thereby the sooner to be taken: working and causing, through their sleight and subtleties, that error should be taken for verity, wickedness for holiness and for the true will of Christ. Yea, and moreover, the aforesaid persons thus picked out, do preach before they be sent, and presume to sow the seed, before the seed discreetly be separate from the chaff; who, not pondering the constitutions and decrees of the canons, provided for the same purpose against such pestilent sowers, do prefer sacrifice diabolical (so to term it) before obedience to be given to the holy church militant.
We, therefore, considering and weighing that error which is not resisted seemeth to be allowed, and that he openeth his bosom too wide, which resisteth not the viper, thinking there to thrust out her venom; and willing, moreover, to shake off the dust from our feet, and to see to the honour of our holy mother church, whereby one uniform holy doctrine may be sown and planted in the church of God, (namely, in this our province of Canterbury,) so much as in us doth lie, to the increase of faith and service of God, first rooting out the evil weeds and offendicles which, by the means of perverse preaching and doctrine, have sprung up hitherto, and are like more hereafter to grow; purposing by some convenient way, with all diligence possible, to withstand them in time, and to provide for the peril of souls, which we see to rise under pretence of the
premises: also, to remove all such obstacles, by which the said our purpose may be stopped, by the advice and assent of all our suffragans and other prelates, being present in this our convocation of the clergy, as also of the procurators of them that be absent, and at the instant petition of the procurators of the whole clergy within this our province of Canterbury, for the more fortification of the common law in this part; adding thereunto punishment and penalties condign, as be hereunder written.
"We will and command, ordain and decree, That no manner of person, secular or regular, being authorized to preach by the laws now prescribed, or licensed by special privilege, shall take upon him the office of preaching the word of God, or by any means preach unto the clergy or laity, either within the church or without, in English, except he first present himself, and be examined of the ordinary of the place where he preacheth: and so being found a fit person, as well in manners as knowledge, he shall be sent by the said ordinary to some one church or more, as shall be thought expedient by the said ordinary, according to the quality of the person. Nor any person aforesaid shall presume to preach, except first he give faithful signification in due form of his sending and authority; that is, that he that is authorized, do come in form appointed him in that behalf, and that those that affirm they come by special privilege, do show their privilege unto the parson or vicar of the place where they preach. And those that pretend themselves to be sent by the ordinary of the place, shall likewise show the ordinary's letters made unto him for that purpose, under his great seal. Let us always understand, the curate (having the perpetuity) to be sent of right unto the people of his own cure: but if any person aforesaid shall be forbidden by the ordinary of the placc, or any other superior, to preach, by reason of his errors or heresies which before, peradventure, he hath preached and taught; that then, and from thenceforth, he abstain from preaching within our province, until he have purged himself, and be lawfully admitted again to preach by the just arbitrement of him that suspended and forbade him; and shall always, after that, carry with him, to all places wheresoever he shall preach, the letters testimonial of him that restored him.
"Moreover the parish priests or vicars temporal, not having perpetuities, nor being sent in form aforesaid, shall simply preach in the churches where they have charge, only those things which are expressly contained in the provincial constitution set forth by John, our predecessor, of good memory, to help the ignorance of the priests, which beginneth, Ignorantia Sacerdotum; which book of constitutions we would should be had in every parish church in our province of Canterbury, within three months next after the publication of these presents, and (as therein is required) that it be effectually declared by the priests themselves yearly, and at the times appointed. And, lest this wholesome statute might be thought hurtful to some, by reason of payment of money, or some other difficulty, we therefore will and ordain, that the examinations of the persons aforesaid, and the making of their letters by the ordinary, be done gratis and freely, without any exaction of money at all by those to whom it shall appertain. And if any man shall willingly presume to violate this our statute grounded upon the old law, after the publication of the same, he shall incur the sentence of greater excommunication, ipso facto; whose absolution we specially reserve, by tenor of these presents, to us and our successors. But if any such preacher, despising this wholesome statute, and not weighing the sentence of greater excommunication, do, the second time, take upon him to preach, saying and alleging, and stoutly affirming, that the sentence of greater excommunication aforesaid cannot be appointed by the church in the persons of the prelates of the same, that then the superiors of the place do worthily rebuke him, and forbid him from the communion of all faithful Christians.
"And that the said person hereupon lawfully convicted (except he recant and abjure after the manner of the church) be pronounced a heretic by the ordinary of the place. And that from thenceforth he be reputed and taken for a heretic and schismatic, and that he incur the penalties of heresy and schismacy, expressed in the law; and, chiefly, that his goods be adjudged confiscate by the law, and apprehended, and kept by them to whom it shall appertain. And that his abettors, receivers, and defenders, being convicted, in all cases be likewise punished, if they cease not off within one month, being lawfully warned thereof by their superiors.
"Furthermore, no clergyman, or parochians of any parish or place within our province of Canterbury, shall admit any man to preach within their churches, church-yards, or other places whatsoever, except first there be manifest knowledge had of his authority, privilege, or sending thither, according to the order aforesaid: otherwise the church, churchyard, or what place soever in which it was so preached, shall ipso facto receive the ecclesiastical interdict, and so shall remain interdicted, until they that so admitted and suffered him to preach, have reformed themselves, and obtained the place so interdicted to be released in due form of law, either from the ordinary of the place, or else his superior.
"Moreover, like as a householder casteth wheat into the ground, well ordered for that purpose, thereby to get the more increase, even so we will and command that the preacher of God's word, coming in form aforesaid, preaching either unto the clergy or laity, according to his matter proponed, shall be of good behaviour, sowing such seed as shall be convenient for his auditory: and chiefly, preaching to the clergy, he shall touch the vices commonly used amongst them; and to the laity, he shall declare the vices commonly used amongst them; and not otherwise. But if he preach contrary to this order, then shall he be sharply punished by the ordinary of that place, according to the quality of that offence.
"Item, Forasmuch as the part is vile that agreeth not with the whole, we do decree and ordain, that no preacher aforesaid, or any other person whatsoever, shall otherwise teach or preach concerning the sacrament of the altar, matrimony, confession of sins, or any other sacrament of the church, or article of the faith, than that already is discussed by the holy mother church; nor shall bring any thing in doubt that is determined by the church, nor shall, to his knowledge, privily or apertly pronounce blasphemous words concerning the same; nor shall teach, preach, or observe any sect, or kind of heresy whatsoever, contrary to the wholesome doctrine of the church. He that shall wittingly and obstinately attempt the contrary, after the publication of these presents, shall incur the sentence of excommunication ipso facto: from the which, except in point of death, he shall not be absolved, until he hath reformed himself by abjuration of his heresy, at the discretion of the ordinary in whose territory he so offended, and hath received wholesome penitence for his offences. But if the second time he shall so offend, being lawfully convicted, he shall be pronounced a heretic, and his goods shall be confiscated and apprehended, and kept by them to whom it shall appertain. The penance before-mentioned, shall be after this manner: if any man, contrary to the determination of the church, that is, in the decrees, decretals, or our constitutions provincial, do openly or privily teach or preach any kind of heresy or sect, he shall in the parish church of the same place where he so preached, upon one Sunday or other solemn day, or more, at the discretion of the ordinary, and as his offence is more or less, expressly revoke what he so preached, taught, or affirmed, even at the time of the solemnity of the mass, when the people are most assembled; and there shall he, effectually and without fraud, preach and teach the very truth determined by the church; and, further, shall be punished after the quality of his offence, as shall be thought expedient, at the discretion of the ordinary.
"Item, Forasmuch as a new vessel, being long used, savoureth after the head, we decree and ordain, that no schoolmasters and teachers whatsoever, that instruct children in grammar, or others whosoever, in primitive sciences, shall, in teaching them, intermingle any thing concerning the catholic faith, the sacrament of the altar, or other sacraments of the church, contrary to the determination of the church; nor shall suffer their scholars to expound the Holy Scriptures, (except the text as hath been used in ancient time,) nor shall permit them to dispute openly or privily concerning the catholic faith, or sacraments of the church. Contrariwise, the offender herein shall be grievously punished by the ordinary of the place, as a favourer of errors and schisms.
"Item, For that a new way doth more frequently lead astray than an old way, we will and command, that no book or treatise made by John Wickliff, or others whomsoever, about that time, or since, or hereafter to be made, be from henceforth read in schools, halls, hospitals, or other places whatsoever, within our province of Canterbury aforesaid, except the same be first examined by the university of Oxford or Cambridge; or, at least, by twelve persons, whom the said universities, or one of them, shall appoint to be chosen at our discretion, or the laudable discretion of our predecessors; and the same being examined as aforesaid, to be expressly approved and allowed by us or our successors, and in the name and authority of the university, to be delivered unto the stationers to be copied out, and the same to be sold at a reasonable price, the original thereof always after to remain in some chest of the university. But if any man shall read any such kind of book in schools or otherwise, as aforesaid, he shall be punished as a sower of schism, and a favourer of heresy, as the quality of the fault shall require.
"Item, It is a dangerous thing, as witnesseth blessed St. Jerome, to translate the text of the Holy Scripture out of one tongue into another; for in the translation the same sense is not always easily kept, as the same St. Jerome confesseth, that although he were inspired, yet oftentimes in this he erred: we therefore decree and ordain, that no man hereafter, by his own authority translate any text of the Scripture into English, or any other tongue, by way of book, libel, or treatise; and that no man read any such book, libel, or treatise, now lately set forth in the time of John Wickliff, or since, or hereafter to be set forth, in part or in whole, privily or apertly, upon pain of greater excommunication, until the said translation be allowed by the ordinary of the place, or, if the case so require, by the council provincial. He that shall do contrary to this, shall likewise be punished as a favourer of error and heresy.
"Item, For that Almighty God cannot be expressed with any philosophical terms, or otherwise invented of man; and St. Augustine saith, that he hath oftentimes revoked such conclusions as have been most true, because they have been offensive to the ears of the religious; we do ordain and specially command, that no manner of person, of what state, degree, or condition soever he be, do allege or propone any conclusions or propositions contrary to the catholic faith, or repugnant to good manners, (except necessary doctrine pertaining to their faculty of teaching or disputing in their schools or otherwise,) although they defend the same with never so curious terms and words. For, as saith blessed St. Hugh of the sacraments, That which oftentimes is well spoken, is not well understood. If any man, therefore, after the publication of these presents, shall be convicted wittingly to have proponed such conclusions or propositions, except (being monished) he reform himself in one month, by virtue of this present constitution, he shall incur the sentence of greater excommunication ipso facto, and shall be openly pronounced an excommunicate, until he hath confessed his fault openly in the same place where he offended, and hath preached the true meaning of the said conclusion or proposition in one church or more, as shall be thought expedient to the ordinary.
"Item, No manner of person shall presume to dispute upon the articles determined by the church, as is contained in the decrees, decretals, or constitutions provincial, or in the general councils; but only to seek out the true meaning thereof, and that expressly, whether it be openly or in secret; nor shall call in doubt the authority of the said decretals or constitutions, or the authority of him that made them; nor teach any thing contrary to the determination thereof: and, chiefly, concerning the adoration of the holy cross, the worshipping of images, of saints, going on pilgrimage to certain places, or to the relics of saints, or against the oaths, in cases accustomed to be given in both common places, that is to say, spiritual and temporal. But of all it shall be commonly taught and preached, that the cross and image of the crucifix, and other images of saints, in the honour of them whom they represent, are to be worshipped with procession, bowing of knees, offering of frankincense, kissing, oblations, lighting of candles, and pilgrimages, and with all other kind of ceremonies and manners that have been used in the time of our predecessors; and that giving of oaths in cases expressed in the law, and used of all men to whom it belongeth, in both common places, ought to be done upon the book of the gospel of Christ. Contrary unto this whosoever doth preach, teach, or obstinately affirm, (except he recant in manner and form aforesaid,) shall forthwith incur the penalty of heresy, and shall be pronounced a heretic, in all effect of law.
"Item, We do decree and ordain, that no chaplain be admitted to celebrate in any diocese within our province of Canterbury, where he was not born, or received not orders; except he bring with him his letters of orders, and letters commendatory from his ordinary, and also from other bishops in whose diocese of a long time he hath been conversant, whereby his conversation and manners may appear; so that it may be known, whether he hath been defamed with any new opinions touching the catholic faith, or whether he be free from the same: otherwise, as well he that celebrateth, as he that suffereth him to celebrate, shall be sharply punished at the discretion of the ordinary.
"Finally, Because those things which newly and unaccustomably creep up, stand in need of new and speedy help, and where more danger is, there ought to be more wary circumspection and stronger resistance; and not without good cause, the less noble ought discreetly to be cut away, that the more noble may the more perfectly be nourished: considering, therefore, and in lamentable wise showing unto you, how the ancient university of Oxford, which as a fruitful vine was wont to extend forth her fruitful branches to the honour of God, the great perfection and defence of the church, now partly being become wild, bringeth forth bitter grapes, which being undiscreetly eaten of ancient fathers, that thought themselves skilful in the law of God, hath set on edge the teeth of their children; and our province is infected with divers and unfruitful doctrines, and defiled with a new and damnable name of Lollardy, to the great reproof and offence of the said university, being known in foreign countries, and to the great irksomeness of the students there, and to the great damage and loss of the church of England, which in times past by her virtue, as with a strong wall, was wont to be defended, and now is like to run into ruin not to be recovered: at the supplication, therefore, of the whole clergy of our province of Canterbury, and by the consent and assent of all our brethren and suffragans, and other the prelates in this convocation assembled, and the proctors of them that are absent, lest the river being cleansed, the fountain should remain corrupt, and so the water coming from thence should not be pure, intending most wholesomely to provide for the honour and utility of the holy mother the church and the university aforesaid; we do ordain and decree, that every warden, provost, or master of every college, or principal of every hall within the university aforesaid, shall, once every month at the least, diligently inquire in the said college, hall, or other place where he hath authority, whether any scholar or inhabitant of such college or hall, &c., have holden, alleged, or defended, or by any means proponed, any conclusion, proposition, or opinion, concerning the catholic faith, sounding contrary to good manners, or contrary to the determination of the church, otherwise than appertaineth to necessary doctrine; and if he shall find any suspected or defamed herein, he shall, according to his office, admonish him to desist. And if, after such monition given, the said party offend again in the same or such like, he shall incur ipso facto (besides the penalties aforesaid) the sentence of greater excommunication. And nevertheless, if it be a scholar that so offendeth the second time, whatsoever he shall afterward do in the said university shall not stand in effect. And if he be a doctor, a master, or bachelor, he shall forthwith be suspended from any scholar's act, and in both cases shall lose the right that he hath in the said college or hall, whereof he is, ipso facto; and by the warden, provost, master, principal, or other to whom it appertaineth, he shall be expelled, and a catholic, by lawful means, forthwith placed in his place. And if the said wardens, provosts, or masters of colleges, or principals of halls, shall be negligent concerning the inquisition and execution of such persons suspected and defamed, by the space of ten days from the time of the true or supposed knowledge of the publication of these presents, that then they shall incur the sentence of greater excommunication, and nevertheless shall be deprived ipso facto of all the right which they pretend to have in the colleges, halls, &c., and the said colleges and halls to be effectually vacant: and after lawful declaration hereof made by them to whom it shall appertain, new wardens, provosts, masters, or principals, shall be placed in their places, as hath been accustomed in colleges and halls, being vacant in the said university. But if the wardens themselves, provosts, masters, or principals aforesaid, be suspected and defamed of and concerning the said conclusions or propositions, or be favourers and defenders of such as do therein offend, and do not cease, being thereof warned by us, or by our authority, or by the ordinary of the place: that then by law they be deprived, as well of all such privilege scholastical, within the university aforesaid, as also of their right and authority in such college, hall, &c., besides other penalties aforementioned, and that they incur the said sentence of greater excommunication.
"But if any man, in any case of this present constitution, or any other above expressed, do rashly and wilfully presume to violate these our statutes in any part thereof, although there be another penalty expressly there limited, yet shall he be made altogether unable and unworthy by the space of three years after, without hope of pardon, to obtain any ecclesiastical benefice within our province of Canterbury: and nevertheless, according to all his demerits and the quality of his excess, at the discretion of his superior, he shall be lawfully punished.
And further, that the manner of proceeding herein be not thought uncertain, considering with ourselves, that although there be a kind of equality in the crime of heresy and offending the prince, as is avouched in divers laws; yet the fault is much unlike, and to offend the Divine Majesty requireth greater punishment than to offend the prince's Majesty: and where it is sufficient, for fear of danger that might ensue by delays, to convince by judgment the offender of the prince's Majesty, proceeding against him fully and wholly, with a citation sent by messenger, by letters, or edict not admitting proof by witnesses, and sentence definitive to be: we do ordain, will, and declare, for the easier punishment of the offenders in the premises, and for the better reformation of the church divided and hurt, that all such as are defamed, openly known, or vehemently suspected, in any of the cases aforesaid, or, in article of the catholic faith, sounding contrary to good manners, by the authority of the ordinary of the place or other superior, be cited personally to appear, either by letters, public messenger being sworn, or by edict openly set at that place where the said offender commonly remaineth, or in his parish church, if he have any certain dwelling-house; otherwise, in the cathedral church of the place where he was born, and in the parish church of the same place where he so preached and taught: and afterwards, certificate being given that the citation was formerly executed against the party cited being absent and neglecting his appearance, it shall be proceeded against him fully and plainly, without sound or show of judgment, and without admitting proof by witnesses and other canonical probations. And also, after lawful information had, the said ordinary (all delays set apart) shall signify, declare, and punish the said offender, according to the quality of his offence, and in form aforesaid; and further, shall do according to justice, the absence of the offender notwithstanding. Given at Oxford."
Who would have thought, by these laws and constitutions, so substantially founded, so circumspectly provided, so diligently executed, but that the name and memory of this persecuted sort should utterly have been rooted up, and never could have stood? And yet, such be the works of the Lord, passing all men's admiration, all this notwithstanding, so far was it off that the number and courage of these good men was vanquished, that rather they multiplied daily and increased. For so I find in registers recorded, that these aforesaid persons, whom the king and the catholic fathers did so greatly detest for heretics, were, in divers countries of this realm, dispersed and increased; especially at London, in Lincolnshire, in Norfolk, in Herefordshire, in Shrewsbury, in Calais, and divers other quarters more, with whom the archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Arundel, the same time had much ado, as by his own registers doth appear. Albeit some there were that did shrink; many did revolt and renounce, for danger of the law; among whom was John Purvey, which recanted at Paul's cross, of whom more followeth, the Lord willing, to be said in the year 1421. Also John Edward, priest of the diocese of Lincoln, who revoked in the Green-yard at Norwich; Richard Herbert and Emmot Willy of London; also John Becket, who recanted at London; item, John Seynons of Lincolnshire, who was caused to revoke at Canterbury. The articles of whom, which commonly they did hold, and which they were constrained to abjure, most especially were these which follow:
"First, That the office of the holy cross (ordained by the whole church) celebrated, doth contain idolatry.
"Item, They said and affirmed, that all they which do reverence and worship the sign of the cross, do commit idolatry, and are reputed as idolaters.
"Item, They said and affirmed, that the true flesh and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, is not in the sacrament of the altar, after the words spoken by the priest truly pronounced.
"Item, They said and affirmed the sacrament of the altar to be sacramental bread, not having life, but only instituted for a memorial of Christ's passion.
"Item, They said and affirmed, that the body of Christ, which is taken on the altar, is a figure of the body of Christ as long as we see the bread and wine.
"Item, They said and affirmed, that the decree of the prelates and clergy in the province of Canterbury, in their last convocation, with the consent of the king and the nobles in the last parliament, against him that was burnt lately in the city of London, was not sufficient to change the purpose of the said John, when the substance of material bread is even as it was before in the sacrament of the altar, no change being made in the nature of bread.
"Item, That any layman may preach the gospel in every place, and may teach it by his own authority, without the licence of his ordinary.
"Item, That it is sin to give any thing to the Preaching Friars, to the Minorites, to the Angus-tines, to the Carmelites.
"Item, That we ought not to offer at the funerals of the dead.
"Item, That the confession of sins to the priest is unneedful.
"Item, That every good man, though he be unlearned, is a priest.
"Item, That the infant, though he die unbaptized, shall be saved.
"Item, That neither the pope, nor the prelate, neither any ordinary, can compel any man to swear by any creature of God, or by the Bible book.
"Item, That the bishop, the simple man, the priest and layman, be of like authority, as long as they live well.
"Item, That no man is bound to give bodily reverence to any prelate."