Foxe's Book of Martyrs -- 155. JOHN CASTELLANE.


The year next ensuing, which was 1525, Master John Castellane, born at Tournay, a doctor of divinity, after that he was called unto the knowledge of God, and became a true preacher of his word, and had preached in France, in a place called Bar le Duc, also at Vittery in Partoise, at Chalons in Champagne, and in the town of Vike, which is the chamber and episcopal seat of the bishop of Metz in Lorraine, after he had laid some foundation of the doctrine of the gospel in the town of Metz, in returning from thence he was taken prisoner by the cardinal of Lorraine's servants, by whom he was carried from Gorze to the castle of Nommeni. Whereupon the citizens of Metz took no little displeasure and grievance; who being grievously offended to have their preacher so to be apprehended and imprisoned, within short space after took certain of the cardinal's subjects, and kept them prisoners so long, until the abbot of St. Anthony, in Viennois, called Theodore de Chaumont, vicar-general, as well in causes spiritual as temporal, (through the jurisdiction both of the cardinal and bishopric of Metz, Toulouse, and Verdun,) being furnished with a letter and commission from the see of Rome, came to the said town of Metz; and after divers declarations made to the provost, and the other justices and counsellors of the city, he so wrought and brought to pass, that immediately the said subjects of the cardinal were set at liberty. But John Castellane was kept still prisoner in the castle of Nommeni, and was most cruelly handled from the fourth of May until the twelfth of January; during all which time, he persevered constant in the doctrine of the Son of God. Whereupon he was carried from Nommeni to the town and castle of Vike, always persevering constantly in the profession of the same doctrine, so that they did proceed unto the sentence of his degradation, that he might be delivered over unto the secular power, according to the custom and manner. And forasmuch as the form and manner of the sentence and process of degrading is notable, and hath been reported unto us word for word, we have thought good here to annex the same, to declare the horrible blasphemies joined with gross and brutish subtlety, in those high mysteries which the enemies of the truth do use in their process against the children of God; whereby every man, even the most ignorant, may evidently perceive the horrible blindness that these unshamefaced catholics are blinded withal.


The sentence of the degradation.

"Concerning the process inquisitory, formed and given in form of accusation against thee, John Castellane, priest, and religious man of the friars Eremites, of the order of St. Austin; understanding likewise thy confession, which thou hast made of thine own good will, maintaining false and erroneous doctrine; and marking also, besides this, the godly admonitions and charitable exhortations which we made unto thee in the town of Metz, which thou, like unto the serpent Aspis, hast refused, and given no ear unto: also considering thine answers made and reiterated unto interrogatories, by means of thine oath, in the which devilishly thou hast hidden and kept back not only the truth, but also, following the example of Cain, hast denied to confess thy sins and mischievous offence: and finally, hearing the great number of witnesses sworn and examined against thee, their persons and depositions diligently considered, and all other things worthy of consideration being justly examined, the reverend Master Nicholas Savin, doctor of divinity, and inquisitor of the faith, assistant unto us, hath entered process against thee, and given full information thereof; this our purpose and intent being also communicated unto divers masters and doctors both of the civil and canon laws, here present, which have subscribed and signed thereunto, whereby it appeareth, that thou, John Castellane, hast oftentimes, and in divers places, openly and manifestly spread abroad and taught many erroneous propositions, full of the heresy of Luther, contrary and against the catholic faith, and the verity of the gospel, and the holy apostolic see; and so accursedly looked back and turned thy face, that thou art found to be a liar before Almighty God: It is ordained by the sacred rules of the canon law, that such as through the sharp darts of their venomous tongue do pervert the Scriptures, and go about with all their power to corrupt and infect the souls of the faithful, should be punished and corrected with most sharp correction, to the end that others should be afraid to attempt the like, and apply themselves the better to the study of Christian concord, through the example set before their eyes, as well of severity, as of clemency. For these causes, and others rising upon the said process, by the apostolic authority, and also the authority of our said reverend lord the cardinal, which we do use in this our sentence definitive, which we, sitting in our judgment-seat, declare in these writings, having God only before our eyes, and surely considering, that what measure we do meet unto others, the same shall be measured to us again: we pronounce and declare sententially and definitively, thee, John Castellane, being here present before us, and judge thee, because of thy deserts, to be excommunicated, with the most great excommunication, and therewithal to be culpable of treason against the Divine Majesty, and a mortal enemy of the catholic faith, and verity of the gospel; also to be a manifest heretic, and a follower and partaker of the execrable cruelty of Martin Luther, a stirrer up of old heresies already condemned. And therefore, as thou oughtest to be deposed and deprived of all priestly honour and dignity, of all thy orders, of thy shaving and religious habit, also of thy ecclesiastical benefices, if thou hast any, and from all privilege of clergy: so we here presently do depose, deprive, and separate thee, as a rotten member, from the communion and company of all the faithful: and being so deprived, we judge that thou oughtest to be actually degraded. That done, we leave thee unto the secular powers, committing the degradation and actual execution of this our sentence unto the reverend lord and bishop here present, with the authority and commandment aforesaid."

This sentence being thus ended, with their catholic sermon also, the said bishop of Nicopolis, sitting in his pontificalibus in the judgment-seat, being suffragan of Metz, with the clergy, nobles, and people about him, proceeded to the degrading (as they call it) of the said Master John Castellane. Thus the said Master John Castellane, being prepared and made ready to his degradation by the officers of the said bishop, was apparelled in his priestly attire, and afterwards brought forth of the chapel by the priests which were thereunto appointed, with all his priestly ornaments upon him; and holding his hands together, he kneeled down before the bishop. Then the officers gave him the chalice in his hands, with wine and water, the patine, and the host; all which things the said bishop which degraded him, took from him, saying, "We take away from thee, or command to be taken away from thee, all power to offer sacrifice unto God, and to say mass, as well for the quick as the dead." Moreover, the bishop scraped the nails of both his hands with a piece of glass, saying, "By this scraping we take away from thee all power to sacrifice, to consecrate, and to bless, which thou hast received by the anointing of thy hands." Then he took from him the chesille, saying," By good right we do despoil thee of this priestly ornament, which signifieth charity; for certainly thou hast forsaken the same, and all innocency." Then taking away the stole, he said, "Thou hast villanously rejected and despised the sign of our Lord, which is represented by this stole: wherefore we take it away from thee, and make thee unable to exercise and use the office of priesthood, and all other things appertaining to priesthood."

The degradation of the order of priesthood being thus ended, they proceeded to the order of deacon. Then the ministers gave him the book of the Gospels, which the bishop took away, saying, "We take away from thee all power to read the Gospels in the church of God, for it appertaineth only to such as are worthy." After this he spoiled him of the dalmatick, which is the vesture that the deacons use, saying, "We deprive thee of this Levitical order; forasmuch as thou hast not fulfilled thy ministry and office." After this the bishop took away the stole from behind his back, saying, "We justly take away from thee the white stole which thou hadst received undefiledly; which also thou oughtest to have borne in the presence of our Lord: and to the end that the people dedicated unto the name of Christ may take by thee example, we prohibit thee any more to exercise or use the office of deaconship." Then they proceeded to the degrading of subdeaconship, and taking away from him the book of the Epistles, and his subdeacon's vesture, deposed him from reading of the Epistles in the church of God. And so orderly proceeding unto all the other orders, degraded him from the order of Benet and Collet, from the order of exorcist, from the lectorship, and last of all, from the office of door-keeper, taking from him the keys, and commanding him hereafter not to open or shut the revestry, nor to ring any more bells in the church. That done, the bishop went forward to degrade him from his first shaving, and taking away his surplice, said unto him, "By the authority of God Almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, and by our authority, we take from thee all clerkly habit, and despoil thee of all ornament of religion: also we depose and degrade thee of all order, benefit, and privilege of the clergy, and as one unworthy of that profession, we commit thee to the servitude and ignominy of the secular state." Then the bishop took the shears, and began to clip his head, saying in this manner: "We cast thee out as an unthankful child of the Lord's heritage, whereunto thou wast called, and take away from thy head the crown, which is the royal sign of priesthood, through thine own wickedness and malice. The bishop also added these words: "That which thou hast sung with thy mouth, thou hast not believed with thy heart, nor accomplished in work; wherefore we take from thee the office of singing in the church of God."

The degrading thus ended, the procurator fiscal of the court and city of Metz, required of the notary an instrument or copy of the degrading. Then the ministers of the bishop turned him out of his clerkly habit, and put upon him the apparel of a secular man. That done, forasmuch as he which is degraded, according to the institution of Pope Innocent the Third, ought to he delivered unto the secular court, the bishop that degraded him proceeded no further, but said in this manner: "We pronounce that the secular court shall receive thee into their charge, being thus degraded of all clerkly honour and privilege."

This done, the bishop, after a certain manner, entreated the secular judge for him, saying, "My lord judge! we pray you as heartily as we can, for the love of God, and the contemplation of tender pity and mercy, and for the respect of our prayers, that you will not in any point do any thing that shall be hurtful to this miserable man, or tending to his death, or maiming of his body." These things thus done, the secular judge of the town of Vike, confirming the aforesaid sentence, condemned the said Master John Castellane to be burned quick; which death he suffered the twelfth of January, A.D. 1525, with such a constancy, that not only a great company of ignorant people were thereby drawn to the knowledge of the verity, but also a great number which had already some taste thereof, were greatly confirmed by that his constant and valiant death.


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