156. MARTYRS IN GERMANY.
It would fill another volume to comprehend the acts and stories of all them which in other countries, at the rising of the gospel, suffered for the same. But praised be the Lord, every region almost hath its own history-writer, which sufficiently hath discharged that part of duty, as every one in matters of his own country is best acquainted: wherefore I shall the less need to overstrain my travail, or to overcharge this volume therewith; only it shall suffice me to collect three or four histories, recorded by Ścolampadius and the rest, to bring it into a brief story, and so return to occupy myself with our own domestical matters here done at home.
"In the year of our Lord 1525, there was a certain good and godly minister, who had committed something in the commotion there raised by the rustical clowns of the country, which, they said that knew him, was but of small importance. He, because he had offended his prince before, not with any fact or crime, but with some word something sharply spoken, was therefore condemned to be hanged.
"After sentence was given, there was a gentleman of a cruel heart sent with a certain troop of men to apprehend the said priest, and to hang him; who, coming into his house, saluted him friendly, pretending as though their coming had been to make good cheer: for he was a good housekeeper, and the gentlemen of the country thereabouts used oftentimes to resort unto his house familiarly. This priest made ready for them in a short space a very sumptuous banquet, whereof they did eat and drink very cheerfully. After dinner was ended, and that the priest was yet at the table, thinking no hurt, the gentleman said to his servants, 'Take you this priest, our host, and hang him, and that without delay; for he hath well deserved to be hanged for the great offence he hath committed against his prince.' The servants were marvellously astonished with his words, and abhorring to do the deed, said unto their master, 'God forbid that we should commit anysuch crime, to hang a man that hath treated us so gently; for the meat, which he hath given us, is yet in our stomachs undigested. It were a wicked act for a nobleman to render so great evil for a good turn, but especially to murder an innocent.' Briefly, the servants sought no other occasion, but only to give him way to flee, that they might also avoid the execution of that wicked purpose.
"As the gentleman and his servants were thus contending, the priest said unto them, I beseech you show no such cruelty upon me; rather lead me away captive unto my prince, where I may purge myself. I am falsely accused, and I trust to pacify his anger which he hath conceived against me. At least remember the hospitality which I have ever showed to you, and all noblemen at all times resorting to my house.' But principally speaking to the gentleman, he advertised him of the perpetual sting which would follow upon an evil conscience; protesting that he had faithfully and truly taught them the doctrine of the gospel, and that it was the principal cause why he had such evil will: which long time before he had foreseen would come to pass, forasmuch as he had oftentimes in the pulpit reproved sharply and openly the horrible vices of the gentlemen, which maintained their people in their vicious living; and they themselves were given unto blasphemy and drunkenness, whereas they should show example of faith, true religion, and soberness; but they had oftentimes resisted him, saying, That it was not his part to reprove them, forasmuch as they were his lords, and might put him to death if they would: that all things which they did were allowable, and that no man ought to gainsay it: also that be went about some things in his sermons, that would come to an ill end.
"This good man, whatsoever he could say, could not make his matter seem good; for the gentleman continued in his wicked enterprise, and pricked forth his servants still to accomplish their purpose (for it was resolved by the prince, that he should be put to death); and, turning himself unto the priest, he said, that he could gain nothing by preaching in such sort, but that he should fully determine himself to die, for the prince had given express commandment to hang him, whose favour he would not lose for to save his life. At the last, the servants, after great sorrow and lamentation, bound their host, and hanged him upon a beam in his own house, the gentleman standing by and looking on. This good man, seeing no remedy, spake no other words but only, 'Jesus, have mercy upon me; Jesus, save me.'
"This is the truth of this most cruel act, which a Turk would scarcely have committed against his mortal enemy. Now let every man judge with himself, which of them have the greatest advantage, either they which commit the cruelty against the good, or the good men which do suffer the same unjustly. The first sort have a continual gnawing in their conscience, and the others obtain an immortal crown."
The history of the death of a certain minister, named Master Peter Spengler, which was drowned.
"In a certain village named Schlat, in the country of Brisgois, there was a vigilant minister, a man very well learned in the Scriptures, of a good name, for that he lived a godly and a blameless life, having long time faithfully done his office and duty; being also courteous and gentle, and well-beloved of men, but specially of the bishop of Constance, with whom he was in great authority; peaceable and quiet with all men that he had to do withal. He quieted discords and contentions with a marvellous prudency, exhorting all men to mutual charity and love. In all assemblies wheresoever he came, he greatly commended honest life and amendment of manners. When the purity of the gospel began to shine abroad, he began to read with great affection the Holy Scriptures, which long time before he had read, but without any understanding. When he had recovered a little judgment, and came to more understanding by continual reading, being also further grown in age, be began to consider with himself, in how great darkness and errors the whole order of priests had been a long time drowned. 'O good God,' said he, 'who would have thought it, that so many learned and holy men have wandered out of the right way, and could have so long time been wrapped in so great errors, or that the Holy Scripture could have been so deformed with such horrible abuses.' For he never well understood before (he said) that the gospel was the verity of God, in that order wherein it is written, seeing it containeth so much touching the cross, persecution, and ignominious death; and yet the priests lived in great prosperity, and no man durst maintain any quarrel against them without great danger. He also saw that the hour was come that the gospel should be displayed, that persecution was at hand, that the enemies of the truth began now to rage, that the wicked and proud lifted up their heads on high, and feared not to enterprise and take in hand all kind of mischief and wickedness against the faithful; that the bishops, which ought by their virtue and power to defend the word, were more barbarous and cruel than any tyrants had been before. He, thus considering the present state ofthe world, put all doubt from his heart, and saw presently before his eyes, that Jesus Christ had taught the truth; seeing so many bodies of the faithful were daily so tormented, beaten, exiled, banished, drowned, and burned. For who can report the great torments which the innocent have endured these years past, even by those who call themselves Christians; and for no other cause, but only for the true confession of Jesus Christ? This good pastor, (considering with himself the laws and doctrine of the Church of Rome to swerve from the truth of Christ, especially in restraining marriage,) to the end that he would not defile himself with fornication, married a maid of his, such a one as feared God; by whom afterwards he had many fair children.
"About this time the people of the country had raised a great commotion, who in their rage went to monasteries and priests' houses, as if they had taken in hand some pilgrimage, and spared nothing that they could find to eat. That which they could not eat, they either cast under foot, or carried it away with them. One company of this rustical sort lodged themselves in the house of this good priest; for they made no difference between the good and the bad. These roisters took from him all that they could find, leaving nothing behind them, insomuch that they took away the very hose from his legs, for all that he could do: albeit that he gently entreated them, showing them that it was theft and a hanging matter that they did, yet they continued still in their madness like beasts.
"As they were departing out of the house, the good priest could not refrain himself from weeping, saying unto them, 'I tell you before, these your inordinate doings will redound to some great mischief to yourselves; for what madness is this? What meaneth this rage and tumult, wherein you keep no order or equity, neither have any respect between friend and foe? Who thus stirreth you up? What counsel do you follow, or to what end do you this? Like thieves you spoil whatsoever you can lay hands upon. And think you not but these things which you now rob, ravin, and steal, you shall be compelled hereafter to restore again to your great detriment? What sedition did ever come to good end? You pretend the gospel, and have no peace of the gospel either in your mouths or in your hearts. These excesses,' saith he, 'ye never learned of me, which ever have taught you the true word of God. This your gospel,' saith he, 'is rather the gospel of the devil, than of God, which vexeth all the world with violence and wrong, spoiling and robbing without regard. The true gospel of Jesus Christ teacheth you to do good unto all men, to avoid dissensions and perjury. This I say unto you, that in these your doings you offend God, and provoke his just vengeance to plague you, which will never suffer these evils to escape unpunished. You find written in the gospel, That which thou wouldest not should be done to thee, do not to others. You offend also all the nobility, and your lawful magistrates, whom you are sworn and bound unto. It is no small matter, I tell you, to raise up sedition, to stir up others, and to disturb the state of the commonwealth: and when this tumult shall be ceased, what then shall your noblemen do? Shall they not rifle you as fast, and of your goods make themselves rich? and then shall one of you betray another.' These, with such other words, he stood preaching unto them, almost naked; but all this would not prevail with those men, who, after all these gentle admonitions and fair words, departed out of his house, giving him foul language, and calling him old dotard.' Amongst all others, one more wicked than the residue said unto him in this manner: 'O master curate! we have been long deceived by your selling of masses, by fearing us with purgatory, by your dirges and trentals; and so have we been spoiled; wherefore we do nothing, now, but require again the money which you robbed us of.' And so mocking and scorning him they departed.
"After that this sedition of the peasants was partly appeased, their armour being laid away, and they taken unto grace; after that also divers of the principals of that conspiracy were taken here and there in the villages, and executed; this good pastor, fearing no such thing, for the true and sincere preaching of the gospel, whereat many took great indignation, was taken in the night by certain soldiers, which bound him hand and foot with a great rope, before his wife and children, and so set him upon a horse, and led him away to Friburg. What grievous sighs, tears, sorrow, and lamentation were there! it would have moved any heart, were it as hard as a flint, to a doleful compassion; especially to see the barbarous and despiteful rebukes, taunts, and extreme cruelty showed by these proud popish soldiers against the innocent priest. Such beastly tyrants the world is never without: such godly ministers we have had but a few.
"The people, hearing this pitiful noise and lamentation in the night, came running out, not the men, but only the women, whom the soldiers willed to go home again, and that their men should come forth and keep the town; but their men durst not appear. Then from Friburg shortly after they conveyed him to Ensisheim.
"After they had long kept this man in prison, and that he had endured most terrible torments in all parts of his body, they judged him to death. If you will know the cause what they had to lay to his charge, it was only this, that he had married a wife secretly in his own house, with a few witnesses. Other crimes they had none to object against him; neither that he was a seditious and wicked man, or that he had committed any other offence, albeit they had gathered divers wicked persons out of sundry places, to pick out of his sermons the order and manner of his behaviour. When he was led unto the place of execution, he answered gently and quietly unto all them that came to comfort him. But there were divers monks and priests, which troubled him very sorely with their foolish babbling, as he was striving in his spirit against the horror of death, and making his prayer unto Almighty God; seeking nothing else but to turn him away from his hearty and earnest contemplation. But he desired them that they would hold their peace, saying that he had already confessed his sins unto the Lord Jesus, nothing at all doubting but that he had received absolution and forgiveness of them all. 'And I,' said he, 'shall this day be an acceptable sacrifice unto my Saviour Jesus Christ, for I have done no such thing wherefore I am now condemned, which might displease my Lord God, who, in this behalf, hath given me a good and quiet conscience. Now therefore let them which thirst for innocent blood, and shed the same, diligently advise themselves what they do, and that they offend even Him, unto whom it pertaineth truly to judge the hearts of men; for it is said, Vengeance is mine, and I will punish.' And forasmuch as he was a very lean man, he added this moreover, saying, 'It is all one; for shortly I must have forsaken this skin, which already scarcely hangeth to my bones. I know well that I am a mortal, and a corruptible worm, and have nothing in me but corruption. I have long time desired my latter day, and have made my request that I might be delivered out of this mortal body, to be joined with my Saviour Christ. I have deserved, through my manifold sins committed against my Saviour Christ, my cross; and my Saviour Christ hath borne the cross, and hath died upon the cross; and for my part I will not glory in any other thing but only in the cross of Jesus Christ.'
Illustration -- Peter Spengler Executed by Drowning
"There were present by certain naughty persons which could not endure to hear this godly exhortation, but made a sign unto the hangman to cast him down into the river. After he was thrown down, he moved by a certain space in the water, in such sort that the river whereinto he was cast was red with blood. This was a certain sign and token that innocent blood was that day shed. They which were there present, beholding that which had happened, were greatly amazed and astonied, considering with themselves what the staining of the water with the blood should signify. Every man returned home pensive and sad, marvelling at the cruel deed that was done that day: notwithstanding, no man durst open his mouth to speak one word, because that all things were exercised with such cruelty. This was done in the town of Ensisheim, A.D. 1525.
"These things I did understand by one which did behold them with his eyes. The Lord of his great grace be merciful unto us, and forgive us our sins!"
Such was the wickedness then of those days, and yet is still, that whosoever was perceived to favour the gospel, or any thing to dislike the doctrine of the pope's church, he was hated and despised of the rulers, lawyers, and all other papists through the whole country about; but especially of priests, monks, and friars. And though the life of the gospellers were never so sound and upright, yet such was the hatred and malice of the pope's friendsagainst them, that they never ceased to seek all occasions, and devise matters how to bring them to death.
It so happened a little before this present time, that there was a commotion of the rude and rustical people of the country rising in armour inordinately against their rulers, to the great disturbance of the whole country of Germany, and no less to their own destruction; of whom were slain above twenty thousand. At length, when this rebellion was appeased, and all things quiet, such as were the pope's friends, to work their malice against the gospel, took occasion thereby not long after to accuse and entangle such as they knew to be gospellers and protestants. And although the said gospellers were never so inculpable and clear from all rebellion, yet that sufficed not; for causes were made, false witnesses brought, corrupt judges suborned, to condemn the innocent; and many were put to death, their cause neither being heard nor known. By reason whereof a great number of good and innocent Christians were miserably brought to their end and martyrdom; in the number of whom was this poor man also, whose story by Ścolampadius is thus described:
"There was," saith he, "a certain man of the country, which in my judgment was a good man, and lover of justice, and a mortal enemy of all the cruel exactions of the gentlemen which oppressed the poor people. This man, after the tumult and commotion of the country was appeased, was grievously vexed and tormented because he had cried 'alarm,' when a great number of horsemen ranged about the country to seek out those which had been the authors of that sedition. This poor man was taken by policy, and so upholden with fair promises, that they made him confess whatsoever they required. He, thinking that they would not have put him to death, was cast into prison, where he was long time detained, and well cherished, to take away all suspicion from him. But, after he had tarried a long time in prison, they put him to the pinbank, laying divers and many grievous offences to his charge, where they kept him hanging in the truss of the cord the space of six hours, hanging a great stone fastened at his feet.
"The sweat that dropped from his body for very pain and anguish, was almost blood. In this distress he cried out pitifully, but all that could not once move the tormentors' hearts. When all the power and strength in his body began to fail him, with great violence they let him fall down. There this poor man lay even as a stock, not moving any part or member of his body, but a little drawing his breath, which was a token that there was some life in him. Here the tormentors were in great doubt what to do with the man, (whom they sought by all means to destroy,) in what place they might put him, that he should not die of that torment.
"Amongst them there was one who brought vinegar and rose water; and rubbing him therewithal, they did somewhat recover him. After they had caused him to eat and drink such as they provided for him, they let him down into a deep dungeon, where he could see neither sun nor moon. All this was done to the intent to put him to more torment, when he had somewhat recovered his strength again. There they let him continue eighteen days, after which time they brought him again to examination, propounding certain articles unto him, which he constantly denied. They devised divers and sundry kinds of torments, to the intent they might, even of force, extort something of this poor man, which might seem worthy of death; yet for all that they were fain to depart without their purpose. The twentieth day after, these tyrants hired a hangman, (a man sure worthy of his office,) which left no kind of cruelty unpractised; yet did he miss of his purpose also, and was constrained to leave his cruelty, and to pronounce even with his own mouth, that the man was innocent, in that he had so constantly endured so many horrible and grievous torments. Yet these tyrants came again the fourth time, and suborned two witnesses against him; thus concluding, that he was worthy of death, because he had cried 'alarm' after the truce was taken, and would have moved a new sedition. The day was appointed when he should suffer, and they brought unto him the hangman and a friar into the prison.
"In the mean time this poor man thought with himself, that they would have showed him the like cruelty as they had done the night before. They called him out of the dungeon where they had let him down, certifying him that they had things to tell him for his profit. This they did because he should not die in prison. Then they let down a cord and a staff, but they could not persuade him to sit thereupon, saying, that he would rather choose to die there, than he would endure any more such cruel torments; notwithstanding, if they would promise him not to put him any more to the truss of the cord, nor to put him to death, but to bring him before just judges, on that condition he would come out; although he had fully determined never to have removed from thence, but to have ended his life in that dungeon. There were present certain councillors which promised to perform his request, and thereupon he was taken out of the dungeon. As soon as he saw the friar, he cried out with a loud voice, saying, 'O miserable and wretched man that I am! now am I betrayed and deceived; for my latter hour is at hand. I see well the dream which I have dreamed this night will come to effect, for they do handle me tyrannously, and condemn me not being heard.' The friar brake him off from his purpose, and pulling a wooden cross out of his sleeve, presented it unto him, declaring that he must be quiet, because that they had already given sentence against him, and that he should gain nothing by so much talk. 'Poor man,' said the friar, thou hast had good and gentle judges; at the least thou shalt go to God; therefore confess thy sins in my ear, and after thou hast received absolution at my hands, doubt not but this day thou shalt go straight to the kingdom of heaven.' The poor man answered, 'Thou wicked friar! get thee away from me, for I have long since bewailed my sins and offences, and that before the face of my Lord Jesus, who hath already forgiven me all that which I have committed against his majesty; wherefore I have no need of thy absolution, which thou thyself dost not understand. This is most certain, that long time since thou shouldst have amended thine own wicked and hypocritical life. I know well enough what thou art; thou playest the ape with me, but thou hast a subtle and a crafty heart, which hath deceived much simple people. If thou hast any comfort or consolation out of the gospel to comfort me withal, let me have it; if not, get thee away from me with thy portues.'
"The friar was so confused and amazed with these words, that he knew not what to do or say. The hangman, being wiser than the friar, bade him read unto the poor man something of the passion, wherein the poor man would take great pleasure. This foolish friar had no other consolation to comfort him withal, but to hold the crucifix of wood before him, saying, 'Behold thy Saviour which died for thee; look upon him, and thou shalt be comforted.' Then said the poor man, 'I have another Saviour, this is none of my Saviour; get thee away from me, thou naughty person! with thy marmoset of wood; my Saviour dwelleth in heaven, in whom I trust that he will not deliver my soul to eternal death.' The friar crossed himself, showing the semblance of a man that was very sorry and aggrieved, thinking with himself that this poor man was fallen into desperation. Then he was led forth into the market-place, where, according to the custom, openly before all the people, his confession was read with a loud voice; which contained no other thing, but only that the man had been a seditious person, and that in the time of truce he had cried, 'Alarm,' even in the night, when all men were at rest.
Illustration -- A Good Man Beheaded
"When he was come to the place where he should suffer, being compassed in with glaves and halberts hired for the purpose, after he had said the Lord's prayer, the hangman bade him kneel down; but he refused so to do, declaring that he had yet something more to say before the people, thinking that he should not be denied to speak in that place, as he was before the wicked judges. 'Those,' said he, 'Which know me, shall be sufficient good witnesses on my behalf, that from my youth upward I have always lived in good name, fame, and honesty, being never before accused for any offence, sedition, or perjury. In an evil time have I happened into these cursed days, when all ways both of God and man are turned topsy turvy. I was adherent to the tumult and sedition of the men of the country, as many others were, which dwelt thereabout. But what then? are there not also many gentlemen which followed the peasants' army, and many strong towns. which went also with them? I was not the author of any sedition, which always I have mortally hated. I never gave counsel unto any man to move any broil or tumult in any place. We asked counsel of our gentlemen what we should do, when the bands of the peasants were assembled in the fields; but they gave us neither counsel nor comfort. And to speak of myself, I did never understand or know what the articles were that were published, neither was there ever any man that told me wherefore they were published; neither did I know wherefore the bands of the countrymen were risen, neither wherefore every man moved his neighbour to put on armour. Wherefore then have ye taken me as a seditious man, and made me to endure so great torments?' He continued a long time declaring his innocency; but, notwithstanding all his excuses and defences, the hangman drew his sword, and, at the commandment of the judge, struck off his head, as he had made an end of his prayers. His tongue moved a long time after in his head, by means of the force of the words which he had before spoken.
Thus this good man of the country ended his days, against whom the false judges could find no crime or offence to object, albeit they had diligently sought by witnesses to have information of all his life and living. The Lord grant his Spirit to all those which suffer for his name.
Wolfgangus Schuch, a German, burned in Lorraine.OLFGANGUS Schuch, coming to a certain town in Lorraine, bearing the name of St.Hippolyte, and being received in the said town to be their pastor, laboured by all means how to extirpate out of the hearts of the people, idolatry and superstition. Which, through the grace of Christ working with him, he in short time had brought prosperously to pass according to his desire; insomuch that the observation of Lent, images, and all idols, with the abomination also of the mass, in the same town was utterly abolished: so reformable God made the hearts of the people there, and such affection had they to their minister, It was not long but the rumour thereof came to the hearing of Duke Anthony, prince of Lorraine, (under whose dominion they were,) through the swift report of the adversaries, falsely belying these Hippolytanes to the duke; as though they, in relinquishing the doctrine and faction of the pope, went about to reject and shake off all authority and power of princes, and all superior governors. By the means of which sinister report they incensed the prince to such displeasure and indignation, that he threatened to subvert and utterly to destroy the town with sword and fire. Wolfgangus, having word of this, wrote unto the duke his epistle in most humble and obedient wise, in defence both of his ministry, of his doctrine which he taught, and of the whole cause of the gospel.
In which epistle, first, he excused the people to be innocent and blameless, and rather those slanderous reporters were worthy to be blamed, and also punished, for their false rumours and forged slanders raised up against them. After that, he opened and explained the cause and state of the gospel, and of our salvation, consisting only in the free grace of God, through faith in Christ his Son; comparing also the same doctrine of the gospel with the confused doctrine of the Church of Rome. That done, thirdly, he proceeded to our obedience, honour, and worship, which first we owe to God and to Christ, next under him to princes here and potentates, whom God hath placed in his room, and endued with authority here in earth; unto whom they offered themselves now and at all times pressed and most ready to obey, with all service and duty, &c.
But with this epistle Wolfgangus did nothing prevail, either for that it was intercepted by the way, or else for that the false accusations and wicked tongues of the adversary part took more effect to win credit with the duke, than could the simple defence of verity. Whereupon Wolfgangus, when he saw no other remedy, rather than the town should come into any danger for his cause, the good man, of his own accord, came to the city of Nancy, (which is the head town of Lorraine,) there to render a confession of his doctrine, and also to deliver the town of St. Hippolyte out of peril, drawing all the danger upon himself.
As soon as he was come thither, incontinent hands were laid upon him, and he laid fast in a strait and stinking prison, where he was sharply and bitterly handled under the custody of the churlish and cruel keepers. All this notwithstanding, Wolfgangus, continuing in that prison the space of a whole year, yet would not be moved from his constancy, neither with the straitness of the prison, nor with the hardness of his keepers, nor yet with the compassion of his wife and children, of which he had about six or seven. Then was he had to the house of the Grey Friars, to profess there his faith; where he both wittily and learnedly confuted all them that stood against him.
There was a friar named Bonaventure, provincial of that order, of face, body, and belly monstrous, but much more gross in blind ignorance; and a man utterly rude, a contemner of all civility and honesty; who, being long confessor to the duke, and of great authority in Lorraine, as he was an enemy to virtue and learning, so was he ever persuading the duke to banish out of the court and country of Lorraine all learned men; neither could he abide any person which seemed to know more than his elders knew before. The sum of all his divinity was this, to be sufficient to salvation only to know the Pater-noster and Ave Maria. And thus was the duke brought up and trained, and in nothing else, as the duke himself oftentimes in talk with his familiars would confess. This Bonaventure, being chief judge and moderator where Wolfgangus disputed or was examined, had nothing else in his mouth, but "Thou heretic! "" Judas! "Beelzebub!" &c. Wolfgangus, bearing patiently those private injuries which pertained to himself, proceeded mightily in his disputation by the Scriptures, confuting, or rather confounding his adversaries; who being not otherwise able to make their party good, yet for very shame, because they would not seem to do nothing, took his Bible with his notes in the margin into their monastery, and burned it. At the last disputation Duke Anthony himself was said to be there, altering his apparel because he would not be known; who, albeit he understood not the speech of Wolfgangus speaking in Latin, yet perceiving him to be bold and constant in his doctrine, departing from the disputation, gave sentence that he should be burned, because he denied the church, and sacrament of the mass. Whereupon it followed shortly after that Wolfgangus was condemned to be burned, who, hearing the sentence of his condemnation, began to sing the 122nd Psalm.
As he was led to the place of execution, passing by the house of the Grey Friars, Bonaventure the great Cyclops, sitting at the door, cried out to him, "Thou heretic! do thy reverence here to God, and to our Lady, and to his holy saints;" showing to him the idols standing at the friar's gate: to whom Wolfgangus answered again, "Thou hypocrite! thou painted wall! the Lord shall destroy thee, and bring all thy false dissimulation unto light." When they were come to the place of his martyrdom, first his books before him were thrown into the fire. Then they asked him, whether he would have his pain minished or shortened? to whom he said, "No," bidding them to do their will; "for," said he, "as God hath been with me hitherto, so trust now he will not leave me when I shall have most need of him;" concluding his words thus, that they should put the sentence in execution: and so beginning to sing the one and fiftieth Psalm, he entered into the place heaped up with faggots and wood, continuing in his Psalm, and singing till the smoke and the flame took from him both voice and life.
The singular virtue, constancy, and learning of this blessed man, as it refreshed and greatly edified the hearts of many good men, so it astonished as much the minds of his adversaries, and wrought to their confusion. For shortly after his death, the commendator of St. Anthony of Vienna, who sat as spiritual judge over him, and gave sentence of his condemnation, fell suddenly down and died. Also his fellow, who was abbot of Clarilocus, and suffragan to the bishop of Metz, suddenly, at the coming of the duchess of Denmark into the city of Nancy, stricken with sudden fear at the crack of guns, fell down and died, as they which werepresent and saw it have made faithful relation of the same. A.D. 1525.
John Huglein, martyr, burned at Merseburg.
Of John Huglein, priest, mention is made in the Commentaries of John Sleidan; in lib. vi., who ,the next year following, A.D. 1526, was burned at Merseburg, by the bishop of Constance, for that he did not hold with the bishop of Rome's doctrine in all points.
Moreover, besides other matters in this year occurrent, here is also a memorandum to be made to all posterity, that in this present year 1526, unto John Frederic, son and heir to the prince and elector of Saxony, was promised the Lady Katharine, the emperor's younger sister, in marriage, and writings made of the same. But when the alteration of religion was sent by God's providence into Saxony, they swerved from their covenants; and Hawnart, which was then the emperor's ambassador in Germany, said plainly that there was no promise to be kept with heretics: wherein they seemed to follow well the footsteps of the council of Constance, as before you have partly heard in the story of John Huss, and of the emperor Sigismund.
George Carpenter of Emerich, martyr, burned in the town of Munich, in Bavaria.
The eighth day of February, in the year of our salvation 1527, there happened a rare and marvellous example and spectacle in the town of Munich in Bavaria, which was this: A certain man, named George Carpenter, of Emerich, was there burnt. When he was taken out of the prison called Falken-Tower, and led before the council, divers friars and monks followed him, to instruct and teach him; whom he willed to tarry at home, and not to follow him. When he came before the council, his offences were read, contained in four articles.
I. That he did not believe that a priest could forgive a man's sins.
II. That he did not believe that a man could call God out of heaven.
III. That he did not believe that God was in the bread which the priest hangeth over the altar, but that it was the bread of the Lord.
IV. That he did not believe that the very element of the water itself, in baptism, doth give grace.
Which four articles he utterly refused to recant. Then came unto him a certain schoolmaster of St. Peter, in the town of Munich, saying, "My friend George! dost thou not fear the death and punishment which thou must suffer? If thou wert let go, wouldst thou return to thy wife and children?" Whereunto he answered, "If I were set at liberty, whither should I rather go, than to my wife and well-beloved children?" Then said the schoolmaster, "Revoke your former sentence and opinion, and you shall be set at liberty." Whereunto George answered: "My wife and my children are so dearly beloved unto me, that they cannot be bought from me for all the riches and possessions of the duke of Bavaria; but, for the love of my Lord God, I will willingly forsake them." When he was led to the place of execution, the schoolmaster spake unto him again in the midst of the market-place, saying, "Good George! believe in the sacrament of the altar; do not affirm it to be only a sign." Whereunto he answered, "I believe this sacrament to be a sign of the body of Jesus Christ offered upon the cross for us." Then said the schoolmaster, moreover, "What dost thou mean, that thou dost so little esteem baptism, knowing that Jesus Christ suffered himself to be baptized in Jordan?" Whereunto he answered, and showed what was the true use of baptism; and what was the end why Christ was baptized in Jordan; and how necessary it was that Christ should die and suffer upon the cross, wherein only standeth our salvation. "The same Christ," said he, "I will confess this day before thewhole world; for he is my Saviour, and in him do I believe."
After this came unto him one Master Conrad Scheter, the vicar of the cathedral church of our Lady in Munich, a preacher, saying, "George! if thou wilt not believe the sacrament, yet put all thy trust in God, and say, I trust my cause to be good and true; but if I should err, truly I would be sorry and repent:" whereunto George Carpenter answered, "God suffer me not to err, I beseech him." Then said the schoolmaster unto him, "Do not put the matter on that hazard, but choose unto you some good Christian brother, Master Conrad, or some other, unto whom thou mayest reveal thy heart; not to confess thyself, but to take some godly counsel of him." Whereunto he answered, "Nay, not so, for it would be too long." Then Master Conrad began the Lord's prayer: "Our Father which art in heaven;" whereunto Carpenter answered, "Truly thou art our Father, and no other, this day I trust to be with thee." Then Master Conrad went forward with the prayer, saying, "Hallowed be thy name." Carpenter answered, "O my God, how little is thy name hallowed in this world! "Then said Master Conrad, "Thy kingdom come." Carpenter answered, "Let thy kingdom come this day unto me, that I also may come unto thy kingdom." Then said Conrad, "Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven." Carpenter answered, "For this cause, O Father! am I now here, that thy will might be fulfilled and not mine." Then said Conrad, "Give us this day our daily bread." Carpenter answered, "The only living bread Jesus Christ, shall be my food." Then said Conrad, "And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them that trespass against us." Carpenter answered, "With a willing mind do I forgive all men, both my friends and adversaries." Then said Master Conrad," And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from all evil." Whereunto Carpenter answered, "O my Lord! without doubt thou shalt deliver me; for upon thee only have I laid all my hope." Then he began to rehearse the Belief, saying, "I believe in God the Father Almighty." Carpenter answered, "O my God! in thee alone do I trust; in thee only is all my confidence, and upon no other creature; albeit they have gone about to force me otherwise." In this manner he answered to every word; which his answers, if they should be described at length, would be too long.
This prayer ended, the schoolmaster said unto him, "Dost thou believe so truly and constantly in thy Lord and God with thy heart, as thou dost cheerfully seem to confess him with thy mouth?" Hereunto he answered; "It were a very hard matter for me, if that I, which am here ready to suffer death, should not believe that with my heart, which I openly profess with my mouth: for I knew before that I must suffer persecution, if I would cleave unto Christ, who saith, Where thy heart is, there also is thy treasure, Luke xii.; and whatsoever thing a man doth fix in his heart to love above God, that he maketh his idol." Then said Master Conrad unto him, "George! dost thou think it necessary after thy death, that any man should pray for thee, or say mass for thee?" He answered, "So long as the soul is joined to the body, pray God for me, that he will give me grace and patience, with all humility, to suffer the pains of death with a true Christian faith; but when the soul is separate from the body, then have I no more need of your prayers."
When the hangman should bind him to the ladder, he preached much unto the people. Then he was desired by certain Christian brethren, that as soon as he was cast into the fire, he should give some sign or token what his faith or belief was. To whom he answered, "This shall be my sign and token; that so long as I can open my mouth, I will not cease to call upon the name of Jesus."
Behold, good reader! what an incredible constancy was in this godly man, such as lightly hath not been seen in any man before. His face and countenance never changed colour, but cheerfully he went unto the fire. "In the midst," saith he, "of the town this day will I confess my God before the whole world." When he was laid upon the ladder, and the hangman put a bag of gunpowder about his neck, he said, "Let it so be, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost!" And when the two hangmen lifted him up upon the ladder, smiling, he bade a certain Christian farewell, requiring forgiveness of him. That done, the hangman thrust him into the fire. He with a loud voice cried out, "Jesus! Jesus!" Then the hangman turned him over; and he again for a certain space cried, "Jesus! Jesus! "and so joyfully yielded up his spirit.
Leonard Keyser, martyr, burned at Schardingham.
Here also is not to be passed over the marvellous constancy of Master Leonard Keyser, of the country of Bavaria, who was burned for the gospel. This Keyser was of the town of Rawbe, four miles from Passau, of a famous house. This man, being at his study in Wittenberg, was sent for by his brethren, which certified him, that if ever he would see his father alive, he should come with speed; which thing he did. He was scarcely come thither when, by the commandment of the bishop of Passau, hewas taken by his mother and his brethren. The articles which he was accused of, for which also he was most cruelly put to death, and shed his blood for the testimony of the truth, were these:
That faith only justifieth.
That works are the fruits of faith.
That the mass is no sacrifice or oblation.
Item, For confession, satisfaction, the vow of chastity, purgatory, difference of days, for affirming only two sacraments, and invocation of saints.
He also maintained three kinds of confession.
The first to be of faith, which is always necessary.
The second of charity, which serveth when any man hath offended his neighbour, to whom he ought to reconcile himself again, as a man may see by that which is written in Matt. xviii.
The third, which is not to be despised, is to ask counsel of the ancient ministers of the church.
And forasmuch as all this was contrary to the bull of Pope Leo, and the emperor's decree made at Worms, sentence was given against him, that he should be degraded, and put into the hands of the secular power. The persecutors who sat in judgment upon him, were the bishop of Passau; the suffragans of Ratisbon and Passau; also Dr. Eckius, being guarded about with armed men. His brethren and kinsfolks made great intercession to have his judgment deferred and put off, that the matter might be more exactly known. Also John Frederic, duke of Saxony, and the earls of Schauenburg and Shunartzen, wrote to the bishop for him, but could not prevail. After the sentence was given, he was carried by a company of harnessed men out of the city again, to Schardingham, the thirteenth of August; where Christopher Frenkinger, the civil judge, receiving him, had letters sent him from Duke William of Bavaria, that forthwith, tarrying for no other judgment, he should be burned alive. Whereupon the good and blessed martyr, early in the morning, being rounded and shaven, and clothed in a short gown, and a black cap set upon his head, all cut and jagged, so was delivered unto the officer. As he was led out of the town to the place where he should suffer, he boldly and hardily spake in the Almain tongue, turning his head first on the one side, and then on the other, saying, "O Lord Jesus! remain with me, sustain and help me, and give me force and power."
Then the wood was made ready to be set on fire, and he began to cry with a loud voice, "O Jesus! I am thine, have mercy upon me, and save me; "and therewithal he felt the fire begin sharply under his feet, his hands, and about his head. And because the fire was not great enough, the hangman plucked the body, half burnt, with a long hook, from underneath the wood. Then he made a great hole in the body, through which he thrust a stake, and cast him again into the fire, and so made an end of burning. This was the blessed end of that good man, who suffered for the testimony of the truth, on the sixth of August, A.D. 1527.
Wendelmuta, widow, martyr, at the Hague.
In Holland also the same year, 1527, was martyred and burned a good and virtuous widow, named Wendelmuta, a daughter of Nicholas of Munchenstein. This widow, receiving to her heart the brightness of God's grace by the appearing of the gospel, was therefore apprehended and committed to custody in the castle of Werden; and shortly after from thence was brought to Hague, the fifteenth day of November, there to appear at the general sessions of that country; where was present Hochstratus, lord president of the said country, who also sat upon her the seventeenth day of the aforesaid month. Divers monks were appointed there to talk with her, to the end they might convince her, and win her to recant; but she, constantly persisting in that truth wherein she was planted, would not be removed. Many also of her kindred, and other honest women, were suffered to persuade with her; among whom there was a certain noble matron, who loved and favoured dearly the said widow being in prison. This matron coming and communing with her, in her talk said, "My Wendelmuta! why dost thou not keep silence, and think secretly in thine heart these things which thou believest, that thou mayest prolong here thy days and life? To whom she answered again: "Ah," said she, "you know not what you say. It is written, With the heart we believe to righteousness, with the tongue we confess to salvation," &c., Rom. x. And thus she, remaining firm and stedfast in her belief and confession, on the twentieth day of November was condemned, by sentence given as against a heretic, to be burned to ashes, and her goods to be confiscated; she taking the sentence of her condemnation mildly and quietly.
After she came to the place where she should be executed, and a monk there had brought out a blind cross, willing her many times to kiss and worship her God; "I worship," said she, "no wooden god, but only that God which is in heaven:" and so, with a merry and joyful countenance, she went to the stake, desiring the executioner to see the stake to be fast, that it fall not. Then taking the powder, and laying it to her breast, she gave her neck willingly to be bound, with an ardent prayer commending herself into the hands of God. When the time came that she should be strangled, modestly she closed her eyes, and bowed down her head, as one that would take a sleep: which done, the fire then was put to the wood, and she, being strangled, was burned afterwards to ashes; instead of this life, to get the immortal crown in heaven. A.D. 1527.
Peter Flisteden and Adolphus Clarebach, put to death at Cologne.
In the number of these German martyrs, are also to be comprehended Peter Flisteden and Adolphus Clarebach; two men of singular learning, and having ripe knowledge of God's holy word. Which two, A.D. 1529, (for that they did dissent from the papists in divers points, and especially touching the supper of the Lord, and other the pope's traditions and ceremonies,) after they had endured imprisonment a year and a half, by the commandment of the archbishop and senate, were to put to death and burned in Cologne, not without the great grief and lamentation of many good Christians; all the fault being put upon certain divines, which at that time preached, that the punishment and death of certain wicked persons should pacify the wrath of God, which then plagued Germany grievously with a new and strange kind of disease: for at that season the sweating sickness did mortally rage and reign throughout all Germany.
A preface to the table following.
If thou well remember in reading this book of stories, loving reader! it was before mentioned and declared how in the year of grace 1501, certain prodigious marks and prints of the Lord's passion, as the crown, cross, nails, scourges, and spear, were seen in Germany upon the garments of men and women. Which miraculous ostent, passing the ordinary course of natural causes, as it was sent of God, no doubt, to foreshow the great and terrible persecution, which afterwards fell in the country of Germany, and other regions besides, for the testimony of Christ; so, if the number and names of all those good men and women, which suffered in the same persecution, with their acts and doings, should be gathered and compiled together, it would ask a long time, and a large volume. Notwithstanding, partly to satisfy the history which we have in hand, partly also to avoid tedious prolixity, I thought briefly to contract the discourse thereof, drawing, as in a compendious table, the names of the persecutors, and of the martyrs who suffered, and the causes thereof, in as much shortness as I may; referring the full tractation of their lives and doings to those writers of their own country, where they are to be read more at large. And to keep an order in the same table, as much as in such a confused heap of matters I may, according to the order and distinction of the countries in which these blessed saints of Christ did suffer; I have so divided the order of the table in such sort, as first to begin with them that suffered in Germany, then in France, also in Spain, with other foreign countries more; showing only the names, with the principal matters of them; referring the rest to the further explication of their own story-writers, from whence they be collected: the which table being finished, my purpose is, Christ willing, to return to the full history of our own matters, and of the martyrs who suffered here in England.
A table of the names and causes of such martyrs as gave their lives for the testimony of the gospel, in Germany, France, Spain, Italy, and other foreign countries, since Luther's time: in which table are contained the persecutors, the martyrs, and the causes of their martyrdom.
The martyrs of Germany.F divers who suffered in Germany for the witness of the gospel, partly some rehearsal is made before, as of Voes and Esch, of Sutphen, John Castellane, Peter Spengler, with a certain godly minister, and another simple man of the country, mentioned in Ścolampadius: also of them in Dithmarsch and Prague, of M. George of Halle, Gasper, Tambert, George of Vienna, Wolfgangus Schuch, John Huglius, George Carpenter, Leonard Keyser, Wendelmuta, Peter Flisteden, Adolphus Clarebach, and others. The residue follow in order of this table here to be showed.
Persecutors: Charles the emperor; also two servants of a butcher, who did apprehend one Nicholas at Antwerp, A.D. 1524.
Nicholas of Antwerp, a martyr.
Persecutors: Margaret, daughter of Maximilian, princess of Holland; also M. Montane, M. Rosemund, and M. Anchusanus, inquisitors; also M. Jodocus Lovering, vicar of Mechlen, A.D. 1524.
Johannes Pistorius, a learned man of Holland, and partly of kin to Erasmus of Rotterdam, a martyr.
Persecutor: Sebastian Braitestein, abbot. In Suevia, A.D. 1525.
Matthias Weibell, schoolmaster, a martyr.
Persecutors: certain noblemen, after the commotion of the countrymen in Germany, A.D. 1525.
A certain godly priest, a martyr.
Persecutor: the name of the persecutor appears not in the story.
George Scherter, a martyr, at Radstadt, by Saltsburg, A.D. 1528.
Persecutor: Balthasar, official.
Henry Fleming at Dornick, 1535, a martyr.
Persecutor: a popish priest, and a wicked murderer.
A good priest dwelling not far from Basil, 1539, a martyr.
Persecutors: Charles, the emperor's procurator; Dr. Enchusanus, inquisitor; and Latomus.
Twenty-eight Christian men and women of Louvain, A.D. 1543, martyrs.
Persecutor: the name of the persecutor appeareth not in the story.
Master Perseval, a martyr at Louvain, A.D. 1544.
Persecutor: Dorsardus, a potentate in that country, and a great persecutor.
Justus Imsberg, a martyr at Brussels, A.D. 1544.
Persecutor: the parson of Brussels.
Giles Tilleman, a martyr at Brussels, A.D. 1544.
Great persecution in Gaunt, and other parts of Flanders, by the friars and priests thereof.
As Charles the emperor did lie in Gaunt, the friars and doctors there obtained, that the edict made against the Lutherans, might be read openly twice a year. This being obtained, great persecution followed, so that there was no city nor town in all Flanders, wherein some either were not expulsed, or beheaded, or condemned to perpetual prison, or had not their goods confiscated: neither was there any respect of age or sex. At Gaunt especially, many there were of the head men, which for religion sake were burned.
Afterwards, the emperor coming to Brussels, there was terrible slaughter and persecution of God's people, namely, in Brabant, Hennegow, and Artois; the horror and cruelty whereof is almost incredible: insomuch that at one time as good as two hundred men and women together were brought out of the country about into the city, of whom some were drowned, some buried quick, some privily made away, others sent to perpetual prison: whereby all the prisons and towers thereabout were replenished with prisoners and captives, and the hands of the hangman tired with slaying and killing; to the great sorrow of all them which knew the gospel, being now compelled either to deny the same, or to confirm it with their blood. The story hereof is at large set forth by Francis Encenas, a notable learned man, who also himself was prisoner the same time at Brussels: whose book, written in Latin, I myself have seen and read, remaining in the hands of John Oporine at Basil.
Persecutors: The Franciscan Friars of Gaunt.
Martin Hśurblock, fishmonger at Gaunt, a martyr, A.D. 1545.
This Martin ever, almost to his later age, was a man much given to all wickedness and fleshly life, so long as he continued a follower of the pope's superstition and idolatry. Afterward, (as God hath always his calling,) through the occasion of a sermon of his parish priest, beginning to taste some workings of grace and repentance of his former life, went out of Gaunt for the space of three months, seeking the company of godly Christians, such as he heard to use the reading of the Scriptures: by whom he being more groundedly instructed, returned again to the city of Gaunt, where all his neighbours first began to marvel at the sudden change of this man. The Franciscans, which knew him before so beneficial unto them, now seeing him so altered from their ways and superstition, and seeing him to visit the captives in prison, to comfort them in persecution, and to confirm them in the word of God which went to the fire, conspired against him: whereby he was detected and laid in bands.
After that, with sharp and grievous torments they would have constrained him to utter other of the same religion. To whom thus he answered: that if they could prove by the Scripture, that his detecting and accusing of his brethren, whom they would afflict with the like torments, were not against the second table of God's law, then he would not refuse to prefer the honour of God before the safeguard of his brethren. Then the friars examined him in the sacrament, asking him why he was so earnest to have it in both kinds, "seeing," said they, "it is but a naked sacrament, as you say?" To whom he answered, that the elements thereof were naked, but the sacrament was not naked, forasmuch as the said elements of bread and wine, being received after the institution of Christ, do now make a sacrament and a mystical representation of the Lord's body, communicating himself with our souls. And as touching the receiving in both kinds, because it is the institution of the Lord, "Who is he," said Martin, "that dare alter the same?" Then was he brought before the council of Flanders. The causes laid against him were the sacrament, purgatory, and praying for the dead; for the which he was condemned and burned at Gaunt, in Verle-place, all his goods being confiscated. As he stood at the stake, a Franciscan friar said to him, "Martin, unless thou dost turn, thou shalt go from this fire to everlasting fire." "It is not in you," said Martin again, "to judge." For this the friars afterwards were so hated, that many bills and rhymes were set forth in divers places against them.
Persecutors: The council of Flanders.
Nicholas Vanpole, and John de Bruck and his wife; martyrs at Gaunt, A.D. 1545.
Persecutors: The same council.
Ursula, and Maria, virgins of noble stock, martyrs at Delden, A.D. 1545.
Delden is a town in Lower Germany, three miles from Deventer, where these two virgins of noble parentage were burned; who, after diligently frequenting of churches and sermons, being instructed in the word of the Lord, defended, that seeing the benefit of our salvation cometh only by our faith in Christ, all the other merchandise of the pope, which he useth to sell to the people for money, was needless. First, Maria, being the younger, was put to the fire; where she prayed ardently for her enemies, commending her soul to God; at whose constancy the judges did greatly marvel.
Then they exhorted Ursula to turn, or if she would not, at least that she should require to be beheaded. To whom she said, that she was guilty of no error, nor defended any thing but which was consonant to the Scripture, in which she trusted to persevere unto the end. And as touching the kind of punishment, she said, she feared not the fire, but rather would follow the. example of her dear sister that went before. This was marvellous, that the executioners could in no wise consume their bodies with fire, but left them whole, lying upon the ground white; which certain good Christians privily took up in the night, and buried. Thus God many times showeth his power in the midst of tribulations.
Persecutors: The parson of St. Katharine's; Dr. Tapert; and William Clericken, ruler of Mechelen.
Andreas Thiessen, and Katharine his wife; also Nicholas Thiessen, and Francis Thiessen, their sons, martyrs at Mechelen, A.D. 1545.
Andrew Thiessen, citizen of Mechelen, of his wife Katharine had three sons and a daughter, whom he instructed diligently in the doctrine of the gospel, and despised the doings of popery: wherefore being hated and persecuted of the friars and priests there, he went into England and there died. Francis and Nicholas, his two sons, went to Germany to study; and returning again to their mother, and sister, and younger brother, by diligent instruction brought them to the right knowledge of God's gospel. Which being not unknown to the parson there of St. Katharine's, he called to them Drs. Rupert and Tapert, and other masters and friars, who taking counsel together with William Clericken, the head magistrate of the town of Mechelen, agreed that the mother, with her four children, should be sent to prison, separated one from another; where great labour was employed to reclaim them home unto their church, that is, from light to darkness again. The two younger, to wit, the daughter with the younger brother, being not yet settled either in years or doctrine, something inclined to them, and were delivered. The mother, which would not consent, was condemned to perpetual prison. The other two, Francis and Nicholas, standing firmly to their confession, defended that the catholic church was not the Church of Rome; that the sacrament was to be administered in both kinds; that auricular confession was to no purpose; that invocation of saints was to be left; that there was no purgatory. The friars they called hypocrites, and contemned their threatenings. The magistrates, after disputations, fell to torments, to know of them who was their master, and what fellows they had. Their Master, they said, was Christ, who bare his cross before. Fellows, they said, they had innumerable, dispersed in all places. At last they were brought to the judges: their articles were read, and they condemned to be burned. Coming to the place of execution, as they began to exhort the people, gags, or balls of wood, were thrust into their mouths, which they, through vehemency in speaking, thrust out again, desiring for the Lord's sake that they might have leave to speak. And so, singing with a loud voice, Credo in unum Deum, &c., they went, and were fastened to the stake, praying for their persecutors; and exhorting the one the other, they did abide the fire patiently. The one feeling the flame to come to his beard, "Ah!" said he, "what a small pain is this, to be compared to the glory to come?" Thus the patient martyrs, committing their spirits to the hands of God, to the great admiration of the lookers on, through constancy achieved the crown of martyrdom.
Persecutors: The names of their accusers appear not in the authors.
Marion, wife of Adrian Taylor, martyr at Dornick, A.D. 1545.
In the same persecution against Bruley and his company in Dornick, was apprehended also one Adrian, and Marion his wife. The cause of their trouble, as also of the others, was the emperor's decree made in the council of Worms against the Lutherans mentioned before. Adrian, not so strong as a man, for fear gave back from the truth, and was but only beheaded. The wife, stronger than a woman, did withstand their threats, and abide the uttermost; and being enclosed in an iron grate, formed in shape of a pasty, was laid in the earth and buried quick, after the usual punishment of that country for women. When the adversaries first told her that her husband had relented, she believed them not; and therefore, as she went to her death, passing by the tower where he was, she called to him to take her leave; but he was gone before.
Persecutors: The magistrates of Dornick or Tournay.
Master Peter Braley, preacher, a martyr, at Dornick, A.D. 1545.
Master Peter Bruley was preacher in the French church at Strasburg, who at the earnest request of faithful brethren came down to visit the lower countries about Artois and Dornick, in Flanders; where he most diligently preached the word of God unto the people in houses, the doors standing open. Whereupon, when the magistrates of Dornick had shut the gates of the town, and had made search for him three days, he was privily let down the wall in the night by a basket: and as he was let down to the ditch ready to take his way, one of them that let him down, leaning over the wall to bid him farewell, caused unawares a stone to slip out of the wall, which falling upon him, brake his leg, by reason whereof he was heard of the watchman complaining of his wound, and so was taken, giving thanks to God, by whose providence he was there staid to serve the Lord in that place. So long as he remained in prison, he ceased not to supply the part of a diligent preacher, teaching, and confirming all them that came to him in the word of grace. Being in prison, he wrote his own confession and examination, and sent it to the brethren. He wrote also another epistle unto them that were in persecution; another also to all the faithful; also another letter to his wife, the same day that he was burned. He remained in prison four months. His sentence was given by the emperor's commissioners at Brussels, that he should be burned to ashes, and his ashes thrown into the river. Although the priests and friars made the fire but small, to multiply his pain, yet he the more cheerfully and constantly took his martyrdom, and suffered it. The letters of Duke Frederic, and of the landgrave, came to entreat for him; but he was burned a little before the letters came.
Persecutor: The senate of Dornick, and Doctor Hasarde, a Grey Friar.
Peter Miocius, a silk-weaver, and one Bergiban, martyrs, at Dornick, A.D. 1545.
Persecutor: A certain prince in Germany, about Hungary, or the parts of Pannonia.
A priest of Germany, a martyr.
Persecutors: Alphonsus Diazius, a Spaniard; Petrus Malvenda, the pope's prolocutor at Ratisbon, a Spaniard; the emperor's confessor, a Black Friar, a Spaniard; also Marquina.
John Diazius, Spaniard, a martyr, killed by his own brother at Neoberg, in Germany, A.D. 1546.
Persecutor: A bishop in Hungary.
A godly priest in Hungary, a martyr.
Persecutor: Charles, the emperor.
John Frederic of Saxony, elector, A.D. 1547, martyr.
Persecutor: Charles the emperor, and Mary his sister.
The landgrave of Hesse, A.D. 1547, martyr.
Persecutor: Charles the emperor.
Herman, archbishop of Cologne, martyr, A.D. 1547.
With these holy martyrs above recited may also be numbered Herman, archbishop of Cologne, who, a little before the emperor had war against the protestants, had reformed his church from certain papistical superstitions, using therein the aid and advice of Martin Bucer. Wherefore Charles the emperor sent word to Cologne, that he should be deposed; which he patiently did suffer. In his room was set Adolphus, earl of Scauvenburg.
Persecutor: The president or mayor of Dornick.
Master Nicholas Frenchman; also Marion, wife of Augustine, a barber, martyrs, A.D. 1549.
Master Nicholas and Barbara his wife; also Augustine, a barber, and Marion his wife, born about Hennegow, after they had been at Geneva a space, came into Germany, thinking that way to pass over into England. By the way, coming to Hennegow, Augustine desired Master Nicholas, because he was learned, to come to Bergis to visit and comfort certain brethren there: which he willingly did. From thence, passing by Dornick (or Tournay) they held on their journey toward England. But in the way Augustine and his wife, being known, were detected to the lieutenant of Dornick, who, in all speedy haste following after them, overtook them four miles beyond Dornick. Augustine (how I cannot tell) escaped that time out of their hands, and could not be found. The soldiers then, laying hands upon Nicholas and the two women, brought them back again unto Dornick. In returning by the way, when Master Nicholas at the table gave thanks, as the manner is of the faithful, the wicked ruler, scorning them, and swearing like a tyrant, said, "Now let us see, thou lewd heretic, whether thy God can deliver thee out of my hand." To whom Nicholas, answering again modestly, asked, What had Christ ever offended him, that he with his blasphemous swearing did so tear him in pieces? desiring him, that if he had any thing against Christ, rather he would wreak his anger upon his poor body, and let the Lord alone. Thus they, being bound hands and feet, were brought to Bergis, and there laid in the dungeon. Then Duke Ariscote, accompanied with a great number of priests and Franciscan friars, and with a doctor, which was their warden, came to talk with them. Nicholas, standing in the midst of them, being asked what he was, and whither he would; answered them perfectly to all their questions: and moreover, so confounded the friars, that they went away ashamed, saying, that he had a devil, and crying, "To the fire with him, Lutheran!"
As they continued looking still for the day of their execution, it came to the rulers' minds to ask of Nicholas in what house be was lodged, when he came to Bergis? Nicholas said, He had never been there before; and therefore, being a stranger, he could not tell the name of the house. When Nicholas would confess nothing, Duke Ariscotus came to Barbara, the wife of Nicholas, to know where they were lodged at Bergis, promising many fair words of delivery, if she would tell. She being a weak and timorous woman, uttered all; by the occasion whereof great persecution followed, and many were apprehended. Where this is to be noted, that shortly even upon the same, the son of the said Duke Ariscotus was slain, and buried the same day when Augustine was burned. To be short, Nicholas shortly after was brought before the judges, and there condemned to be burned to ashes; at which sentence-giving, Nicholas blessed the Lord, who had courted him worthy to be a witness in the cause of his dear and well-beloved Son. Going to the place of execution he was commanded to speak nothing unto the people, or else he should have a ball of wood thrust into his mouth. Being at the stake, and seeing a great multitude about him, forgetting his silence promised, he cried with a loud voice: "O Charles, Charles! how long shall thy, heart be hardened?" And with that one of the soldiers gave him a blow. Then said Nicholas again; "Ah miserable people! thou art not worthy, to whom the word of God should be preached." And thus he spake as they were binding him to the stake. The friars came out with their old song, crying, that he had a devil; to whom Nicholas spake the verse of the Psalm, Depart from me, all ye wicked! for the Lord hath heard the voice of my weeping. And thus this holy martyr, patiently taking his death, commended up his spirit unto God in the midst of the fire.
Marion, wife of Augustine, above mentioned, a martyr, at Bergis in Hennegow, A.D. 1549.
After the martyrdom of this Master Nicholas, Marion, the wife of Augustine, was called for, with whom they had much talk about the manner and state of Geneva, asking her how the sacraments were administered there, and whether she had celebrated there the Lord's supper? To whom she answered, that the sacraments there were celebrated after the Lord's institution, of the which she was no celebrator, but a partaker. The sentence of her condemnation was this, that she should be interred quick. When she was let down to the grave, kneeling upon her knees, she desired the Lord to help her; and before she should be thrown down, she desired her face might be covered with a napkin or some linen cloth; which being so covered, and the earth thrown upon her face and body, the hangman stamped upon her with his feet till her breath was past.
Persecutors: The watchmen or soldiers of Bellimont.
Augustine, the husband of Marion, martyred at Bellimont, in Hennegow, A.D. 1549.
Ye heard before how Augustine escaped before, at the taking of Nicholas and the two women. After this he gave himself to sell spices, and other pedlary ware, from place to place; who, at length, coming to the town of Bellimont in Hennegow, there was known and detected to the magistrate; whereof he, having some intelligence before, left his ware and ran away. And seeing, moreover, the house beset about with harnessed men where he was hosted, he began to be more afraid, and hid himself in a bush; for he was very timorous, and a weak-spirited man. But the hour being come which the Lord had appointed for him, it happened that certain standing upon the town wall, which might well see him go into the thicket or bush, gave knowledge thereof to the soldiers, which followed him to the bush, and took him. Being taken, he was had to Bergis, the head town of Hennegow, where being examined, valiantly standing to the defence of his doctrine, answered his adversaries with great boldness.
Wherein here is to be noted and marvelled to see the work of the Lord, how this man, being before of nature so timorous, now was so strengthened with God's grace, that he nothing feared the force of all his enemies. Among others came to him the warden of the Grey Friars, with a long oration, persuading him to relent, or else he should be damned in hell-fire perpetually. To whom Augustine answering again, said, "Prove that which you said by the authority of God's word, that a man may believe you: you say much, but you prove nothing, rather like a doctor of lies than of truth," &c. At last, he being there condemned to be burned at Bellimont, was brought to the inn where he should take horse, where was a certain gentleman, a stranger, who, drinking to him in a cup of wine, desired him to have pity upon himself; and if he would not favour his life, yet that he would favour his own soul. To whom said Augustine, after he had thanked him for his good will, "What care I have," said he, "of my soul, you may see by this, that I had rather give my body to be burned, than to do that thing that were against my conscience." When he was come to the town of Bellimont, where he should be burned, the same day there was a great burial of the son of Duke Ariscotus, which was slain a little before (as is before touched); by the occasion whereof many nobles and gentlemen were there present, who, hearing of this Augustine, came to him and talked with him. When the day came of his martyrdom, the people, being offended at his constancy, cried out to have him drawn at a horse's tail, to the place of burning; but the Lord would not suffer that. In fine, being tied to the stake, and fire set unto him, heartily he prayed unto the Lord, and so in the fire patiently departed.
A certain woman of Augsburg who narrowly escaped martyrdom there; A.D. 1550.
Two virgins, in the diocese of Bamberg, martyrs, A.D. 1551.
In the diocese of Bamberg, two maids were led out to slaughter, which they sustained with patient hearts and cheerful countenances. They had garlands of straw put on their beads; whereupon the one comforted the other, going to their martyrdom: "Seeing Christ," said she, "for us bare a crown of thorns, why should we stick to bear a crown of straw? no doubt but the Lord will render to us again better than crowns of gold." Some said that they were Anabaptists; and it might be (saith Melancthon) that they had some fond opinion admired withal; yet they did hold (saith he) the foundation of the articles of our faith, and they died blessedly, in a good conscience, and knowledge of the Son of God. Few do live without errors. Flatter not yourselves, thinking yourselves so clear that you cannot err.
Persecutors: James Hesselius, chamberlain of Gaunt, and the friars there.
Hostius, otherwise called George, martyred at Gaunt, A.D. 1555.
This Hostius, born at Gaunt, was cunning in graving in armour and in steel. He first was in the French church here in England, during the reign of King Edward. After the coming of Queen Mary, he went to Norden, in Friesland, with his wife and children. From thence, having business, he came to Gaunt, where (after a certain space that he had there continued, instructing divers of his friends) he heard that there was a Black Friar, who used to preach good doctrine to the people: wherefore he, being desirous to hear, came to his sermon; where the friar, contrary to his expectation, preached in defence of transubstantiation. At the hearing of which his heart was so full, that he had much ado to refrain, while the sermon was finished. As soon as the friar was come down, he burst out and charged him with false doctrine, persuading the people, as well as he could be heard, by the Scriptures, that the bread was but a sacrament only of the Lord's body. The friar, not willing to hear him, made signs unto him to depart; also the throng of the people was such, that it carried him out of the doors. He had not gone far, but Hesselius the chamberlain overtook him and carried him to prison. Then were doctors and other friars, as Pistorius, and Bunderius, brought to reason with him of the sacrament, of invocations of saints, and purgatory. He ever stood to the trial only of the Scripture, which they refused. Then was it agreed that he should declare his mind in writing, which he did. He wrote also to his wife at Emden, comforting her, and requiring her to take care of Samuel and Sarah his children. When he was condemned, he was commanded not to speak to the people. Hesselius the officer made great haste to have him despatched; wherefore he, mildly like a lamb, praying for his enemies, gave himself to be bound, patiently taking what they would do against him: whom first they strangled, and then consumed his body, being dead, with fire. And thus was the martyrdom of Hostius.
John Frisius, abbot in Bavaria, A.D. 1554.
Persecutors: The bailiff of Hennegow; the governor of the town and castle of Dornick; Peter Deventiere, lieutenant of the said bailiff; Philip de Cordis, chief councillor in criminal causes; Nicholas Chambree; Peter Rechelier; James de Clerke; Nicholas of Fernague; Master Hermes, of Wingles, one of the council for the said bailiwick.
Bertrand le Blas, martyred at Dornick, A.D. 1555.
The story of Bertrand is lamentable, his torments incredible, the tyranny showed unto him horrible, the constancy of the martyr admirable. This Bertrand, being a silk-weaver, went to Wesel, for the cause of religion, who being desirous to draw his wife and children from Dornick to Wesel, came thrice from thence to persuade with her to go with him thither. When she in no wise could be entreated, he, remaining a few days at home, set his house in order, and desired his wife and his brother to pray that God would establish him in his enterprise that he went about. That done, he went upon Christmas day to the high church of Dornick, where he took the cake out of the priest's hand, as he would have lifted it over his head at mass, and stamped it under his feet, saying that he did it to show the glory of that god, and what little power he hath: with other words more to the people, to persuade them that the cake or fragment of bread, was not Jesus their Saviour. At the sight hereof the people, being struck with a marvellous damp, stood all amazed. At length such a stir thereupon followed, that Bertrand could hardly escape with life.
It was not long but the noise of this was carried to the bailiff of Hennegow, and governor of the castle of Dornick, who lay sick the same time of the gout at Biesme; who, like a madman, cried out, that ever God would or could be so patient, to suffer that contumely, so to be trodden under the foot by such a miser: adding, moreover, that he would revenge his cause in such sort, as it should be an example for ever to all posterity; and forthwith the furious tyrant commanded himself to be carried to the castle of Dornick. Bertrand being brought before him, was asked whether he repented of his fact, or whether he would so do, if it were to be done again? Who answered, that if it were a hundred times to be done, he would do it; and if he had a hundred lives, he would give them in that quarrel. Then was he thrice put to the pinbank, and tormented most miserably, to utter his setters-on, which he would never do. Then proceeded they to the sentence, more like tyrants than Christian men; by the tenor of which sentence, this was his punishment:
First, he was drawn from the castle of Dornick to the market-place, having a ball of iron put in his mouth. Then he was set upon a stage, where his right hand, wherewith he took the host, was crushed and pressed between two hot irons, with sharp iron edges fiery red, till the form and fashion of his hand was misshapen. In like manner they brought other like irons for his right foot, made fire-hot, whereunto of his own accord he put his foot, to suffer as his hand had done before, with marvellous constancy and firmness of mind. That done, they took the ball of iron out of his mouth, and cut off his tongue, who, notwithstanding, with continual crying, ceased not to call upon God; whereby the hearts of the people were greatly moved: whereupon the tormentors thrust the iron ball into his mouth again. From thence they brought him down to the lower stage, he going to the same no less cheerfully and quietly, than if no part of his body had been hurt. There his legs and his hands were bound behind him with an iron chain going about his body, and so he was let down flat upon the fire; whom the aforesaid governor, there standing by and looking on, caused to be let up again, and so down and up again, till at last the whole body was spent to ashes, which he commanded to be cast into the river. When this was done, the chapel where this mass-god was so treated was locked up, and the board whereupon the priest stood was burnt; the marble stone whereupon the host did light, was broken in pieces. And, finally, forasmuch as the said Bertrand had received his doctrine at Wesel, commandment was there given, that no person out of that country should go to Wesel, or there occupy, under incurring the danger of the emperor's placard.
Two hundred ministers of Bohemia, A.D. 1555.
The same year two hundred ministers and preachers of the gospel were banished out of Bohemia, for preaching against the superstition of the bishop of Rome, and extolling the glory of Christ.
The preachers of Locrane.
Locrane is a place between the Alps, yet subject to the Helvetians. When these also had received the gospel, and the five pages of the Helvetians, above-mentioned, were not well-pleased therewith, but would have them punished, and great contention was among the Helvetians about the same, it was concluded at length, that the ministers should be exiled; whom the Tigurines did receive.
Francis Warlut, and Alexander Dayken, martyred at Dornick, A.D. 1562.
Persecutor: The earl of Lalaine.
Gillot Viver, James Faber his father-in-law, Michael Faber, son of James; also Anna, wife of Gillot, and daughter of James Faber, martyred at Valence.
These, in the cause of the gospel, suffered at Valence.
James Faber, being an old man, said, that although he could not answer or satisfy them in reasoning, yet he would constantly abide in the truth of the gospel.
Anna his daughter, being with child, was respited. After she was delivered, she followed her husband and father in the like martyrdom!
Michella Caignoucle, martyred at Valence, A.D. 1550.
Godfride Hamelle, martyred at Dornick, A.D. 1552.
Besides these Germans above specified, a great number there was, both in the higher and lower countries of Germany, which were secretly drowned, or buried, or otherwise in prison made away; whose names, although they be not known to us, yet they are registered in the book of life. Furthermore, in the Dutch book of Adrian, divers other be numbered in the catalogue of these German martyrs, which likewise suffered in divers places of the lower country. The names of certain whereof be these.
At Bergis, or Berg, in Hennegow, were burnt, A.D. 1555, John Malo, Damian Witrock, Weldrew Calier; buried quick, John Porceau. At Aste suffered also one Julian, A.D. 1541, and Adrian Lopphen, A.D. 1555: at Brussels, A.D. 1559, one Bawdwine beheaded: another called Gilleken Tielman burnt, A.D. 1551.
Add moreover to the same catalogue of Dutch martyrs, burnt and consumed in the lower countries under the emperor's dominion, the names of these following. W. Swolle, burnt at Mechelen, A.D. 1529; Nicholas Paul, beheaded at Gaunt; Robert Orgvier, and Joan his wife, with. Baudicon and Martin Orgvier, their children, who suffered at Lisle, A.D. 1556; M. Nicholas, burnt at Mons; John Fosseau at Mons; Cornelius Volcart at Bruges, A.D. 1553; Hubert the printer, and Philip Joyner, at Bruges, A.D. 1553; a woman buried with thorns under her; Peter le Roux at Bruges, A.D. 1552. At Mechlen suffered Francis and Nicholas Thiis, two brethren, A.D. 1555. At Antwerp were burnt Adrian a painter, and Henry a tailor, A.D. 1555; also Cornelius Halewine, locksmith, and Herman Janson, the same year. Master John Champ, schoolmaster, A.D. 1557; with a number of other besides, who in the said book are to be seen and read.
A.D. 1525, we read also in the French history, of a certain monk, who, because he forsook his abominable order, and was married, was burned at Prague.
A preacher poisoned at Erfurt, by the priests of that place.