222. THREE DIVERS SORTS OF JUDGMENTS AMONGST THE PAPISTS, AGAINST HERETICS AS THEY CALL THEM.
As touching the penance and penalty enjoined to these aforesaid, as also to all other such like, first here is to be noted, that the catholic fathers, in their processes of heretical pravity, have three divers and distinct kinds of judgments and proceedings. For some they judge to be burned, to the intent that others being brought into terror by them, they might therefore more quietly hold up their kingdom, and reign as they list. And thus condemned they these five aforesaid; and notwithstanding they were willing to submit themselves to the bosom of the mother church, yet could they not be received; as by the words of the register, and by the tenor of their sentence above specified, may well appear.
And this sort of persons, thus by them condemned, consisteth either of such as have been before abjured, and have fallen again into relapse; or else such as stand constantly in their doctrine, and refuse to abjure; or else such as they intend to make a terror and example to all others, notwithstanding that they be willing and ready to submit themselves, and yet cannot be received: and of this last sort were these five martyrs last named. So was also John Lambert, who, submitting himself to the king, could not be accepted. So was likewise Richard Mekins the silly lad, and the three women of Guernsey, whose submission would not serve to save their lives; with many others in like case. Against this sort of persons, the process which the papists use is this. First, after they begin once to be suspected by some promoter, they are denounced and cited; then, by virtue of inquisition they are taken and clapped fast in irons in prison; from thence they are brought forth at last to examination, if they be not before killed by famine, cold, or straitness of the prison. Then be articles drawn, or rather wrested, out of their writings or preachings, and they put to their oath, to answer truly to every point and circumstance articulated against them: which articles if they seem to deny, or to salve by true expounding, then are witnesses called in and admitted, what witnesses soever they are, be they never so much infamous; usurers, ribalds, women, yea, and common harlots. Or, if no other witnesses can be found, then is the husband brought in, and forced to swear against the wife, or the wife against the husband, or the children against the natural mother, as in this example of Agnes Grebil. Or, if no such witness at all can he found, then are they strained upon the rack, or by other bitter torments forced to confess their knowledge, and to impeach others. Neither must any be suffered to come to them, what need soever they have; neither must any public or quiet audience be given them to speak for themselves, till at last sentence be read against them, to give up to the secular arm, or to degrade them, if they be priests, and so to burn them.
And yet the malignity of these adversaries doth not here cease; for after the fire hath consumed their bodies, then they fall upon their books, and condemn them, in like manner, to be burned; and no man must be so hardy as to read them, or keep them, under pain of heresy. But before they have abolished these books, first they gather articles out of them, such as they list themselves, and so perversely wrest and wring them after their own purpose, falsely and contrary to the right meaning of the author; as may seem, after their putting down, to be most heretical and execrable. Which being done, and the books then abolished, that no man may confer them with their articles, to espy their falsehood; then they divulge and set abroad those articles, in such sort as princes and people may see what heretics they were. And this is the rigour of their process and proceeding against these persons whom thus they purpose to condemn and burn.
To the second order belong that sort of heretics whom these papists do not condemn to death, but assign them unto monasteries, there to continue, and to fast all their life, with bread of sorrow, and water of affliction: and that they should not remove one mile out of the precinct of the said monastery so long as they live, without they were otherwise, by the archbishop himself or his successors, dispensed withal. Albeit many times the said persons were so dispensed withal, that their penance of bread and water was turned for them to go to woolward Wednesdays and Fridays every week, or some other like punishment, &c.
The third kind of heretics were those whom these prelates did not judge to perpetual prison, but only enjoined them penance, either to stand before the preacher, or else to bear a faggot about the market, or in procession, or else to wear the picture of a faggot bordered on their left sleeves, without any cloak or gown upon the same; or else to kneel at the saying of certain masses; or to say so many Pater-nosters, Aves, and Creeds, to such or such a saint; or to go in pilgrimage to such or such a place; or else to bear a faggot to the burning of some heretic; or else to fast certain Fridays bread and water; or, if it were a woman, to wear no smock on Fridays, but to go woolward, &c.
And thus much by the way out of the register of William Warham aforesaid; like as also out of other bishops' registers many more such like matters and examples might be collected, if either leisure would serve me to search, or if the largeness of these volumes would suffer all to be inserted that might be found. Howbeit, amongst many other things omitted, the story and martyrdom of Launcelot and his fellows is not to be forgotten; the story of whom (with their names) is this:
About the year of our Lord 1539, one John a painter, and Giles Germane, were accused of heresy; and while they were in examination at London before the bishop and other judges, by chance there came in one of the king's servants named Launcelot, a very tall man, and of no less godly mind and disposition, than strong and tall of body.
This man, standing by, seemed by his countenance and gesture to favour both the cause, and the poor men his friends; whereupon he, being apprehended, was examined and condemned together with them. And the next day, at five o'clock in the morning, was carried with them into St. Giles in the fields, and there burned; being but a small concourse or company of people it their death.
In the company and fellowship of these blessed saints and martyrs of Christ, which innocently suffered within the time of King Henry's reign, for the testimony of God's word and truth, another good man also cometh to my mind, not to be excluded out of this number, who was with like cruelty oppressed, and was burned in Smithfield about the latter end of the time of Cuthbert Tonstall, bishop of London. His name was called Stile, as is credibly reported unto us by a worthy and ancient knight, named Sir Robert Outred, who was the same time present himself at his burning, and witness of the same. With him there was burned also a book of the Apocalypse, which belike he was wont to read upon. This book when he saw fastened unto the stake, to be burned with him, lifting up his voice, "O blessed Apocalypse," said he, "how happy am I, that shall be burned with thee!" And so this good man, and the blessed Apocalypse, were both together in the fire consumed.
And thus, through the gracious supportation of Christ our Lord, we have run over these seven-and-thirty laborious years of King Henry's reign; under whose time and governance, such acts and records, troubles, persecutions, recantations, practices, alterations, and reformations as then happened in the church, we have here discoursed, with such statutes, injunctions, and proclamations, as by him were set forth in causes and matters to the said church appertaining: albeit not comprehending all things so fully as might be, yet pretermitting so few things as we could, of such matters as came to our hands; save only that certain instruments, with a few other occurrents somewhat pertaining to the course of this king's history, have past our hands, as the false lying bull of Pope Leo the Tenth, against Martin Luther, with the form also of the said Martin Luther's appeal from the pope unto a general council. All which, with other matters more besides omitted, we have deferred by themselves hereafter to be exhibited and declared in the sequel of this present story, as in his due place shall appear.