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Foxe's Book of Martyrs -- 278. OTHER EVENTS OF MARCH AND APRIL 1555.



The sum of the words spoken by Queen Mary to certain of her councillors, March the twenty-eighth, A.D. 1555, touching the restitution of the abbey lands.

            Before I pass over this month of March, I cannot but leave a little memorandum of the words or consultation of Queen Mary, used to certain of the council the twenty-eighth day of the said month of March, touching the restoring again of the abbey lands; who, after she had called unto her presence four of her privy council, the day and month aforesaid (the names of which councillors were these, namely, William, lord marquis of Winchester, high treasurer of England; Sir Robert Rochester, knight, the queen's comptroller; Sir William Peter, knight, secretary; Sir Francis Englefield, knight, master of the wards); the said Queen Mary inferred these words, the principal effect and sum whereof here followeth:--

            "You are here of our council: and we have willed you to be called unto us, to the intent you might hear of me my conscience, and the resolution of my mind, concerning the lands and possessions as well of monasteries, as of other churches whatsoever, being now presently in my possession.

            "First, I do consider, that the said lands were taken away from the churches aforesaid in the time of schism, and that by unlawful means, such as are contrary both to the law of God and of the church; for the which cause my conscience doth not suffer me to detain them: and therefore I here expressly refuse either to claim or to retain the said lands for mine; but with all my heart, freely and willingly, without all paction or condition, here, and before God, I do surrender and relinquish the said lands and possessions, or inheritances whatsoever, and do renounce the same with this mind and purpose, that order and disposition thereof may be taken, as shall seem best liking to our most holy lord the pope, or else his legate the lord cardinal, to the honour of God, and wealth of this our realm.

            "And albeit you may object to me again, that, considering the state of my kingdom, and the dignity thereof, my crown imperial cannot be honourably maintained and furnished without the possessions aforesaid: yet notwithstanding, I set more by the salvation of my soul, than by ten kingdoms; and therefore the said possessions I utterly refuse here to hold after that sort and title, and give most hearty thanks to Almighty God, which hath given me a husband likewise minded, with no less good affection in this behalf, than I am myself.

            "Wherefore I charge and command, that my chancellor, (with whom I have conferred my mind in this matter before,) and you four, to-morrow together do resort to the most reverend lord legate, and do signify to him the premises in my name, and give your attendance upon him for the more full declaration of the state of my kingdom, and of the foresaid possessions accordingly, as you yourselves do understand the matter, and can inform him in the same."

            This intimation being given by the queen, first unto the councillors, and then coming to the cardinal's hand, he drawing out a copy thereof in Latin, sent the same to the pope; which copy drawn in Latin, and coming afterward to my hand, I have thus translated into English, as you have heard.

            Furthermore, here by the way is to be understood, that in the month before, which was February, and on the nineteenth day of the said month, the bishop of Ely and the Lord Montacute, with sevenscore horse, were sent as ambassadors from the king and queen unto Rome; for what cause, in story it is not expressed; but, by conjecture, it may be well supposed to be for the same cause of abbey lands, as by the sequel thereof may probably appear.

            For it was not long after, but the pope did set forth in print a bull of excommunication for all manner of such persons, without exception, as kept any of the church or abbey lands; by virtue of which bull, the pope excommunicated as well all such as had any of the church or abbey lands, as also all such princes, bishops, and noblemen, justices of peace and others in office, who had not, or did not forthwith, put the same bull in execution, Albeit this execution (God be thanked) yet, to this day, was never put in practice. Wherein again is to be observed another catholic fetch, not unworthy, perchance, of marking. For whereas this kind of catholics, by rigour and force, may overmaster, they spare for no cost, but lay on load enough. This well appeared, and still doth appear, in burning the poor patient Christians, whom because they see to be destitute of power and strength to resist them, and content with patience to receive whatsoever is put unto them, there they play the lions, and make no end of burning and persecuting. But where they spy themselves to be overmatched, or fear to receive a foil in pursuing too far, there they keep in, and can stay the execution of their laws and bulls, be they never so apostolical, till they spy their time convenient for their purpose, as in this case is evident for all the world to see. For notwithstanding that the pope's bull, coming down with full authority for restitution of abbey lands, did so thunder out most terrible excommunication, not only against them which detained any such lands, but also against all others that did not see the pope's commandment to be executed; yet neither Winchester, nor any of all the pope's clergy, would greatly stir in that matter, perceiving the nobility to be too strong for them to match withal; and therefore were contented to let the case fall, or at least to stay for a time, while time might better serve them.

            Yea, and moreover, under a crafty pretence that the nobility and men of lands, at the first coming out of the bull, should not be exasperated too much against them, they subtlely abused the pulpits, and dissembled with the people; affirming that the said pope's late bull, set forth in print, for restitution of abbey lands, was not meant for England, but for other foreign countries: whereas, in very deed, the meaning of that bull was only for England, and no country else, as both by this intimation of Queen Mary here mentioned, and by many other conjectures, and also by Master Feckenham's ballet of Caveat emptor, may appear: whereby it is easy for all men to understand what the purpose of those men was to do, if time, which they observed, might have served their devotion.

            But to let this matter pass of the pope's bull, the time now serveth to entreat of Pope Julius's death, forasmuch as he made his end about the latter end of this foresaid month of March. Concerning the deeds and acts of which pope, to make a full declaration, it were not so much tedious to the reader, as horrible to all good ears, Under this Julius flourished the archbishop of Benevento, a Florentine, named John de la Casa, dean of the pope's chamber, and chief legate to the Venetians; who, well declaring the fruit of that filthy see, so far forgat both honesty and nature, that he shamed not only to play the filthiest immorality himself, and to boast openly of the same; but also took upon him most impudently in Italian metre, to all men's ears, to set forth the praise and commendation of a certain nameless iniquity, saying that he himself never used other; and this book was printed at Venice by one Trajanus Nævus. And yet the pope could suffer this so great iniquity and shameless beastliness, even under his nose in his own chamber; which could not abide the true doctrine of Christ in Christian books.

            Amongst other pranks and deeds of this foresaid pope, in his Jubilee, and in the synod of Trent, and in confirming of the idol of Loretto, this is also reported of him in his life, that he delighted greatly in pork-flesh and peacocks. Upon a time when he was admonished of his physician to abstain from all swine's flesh, for that it was noisome for his gout, and yet would not follow his counsel; the physician afterward gave warning to his steward or orderer of his diet, that he should set no more pork-flesh before him. Whereupon when the pope perceived the said pork-flesh to be lacking in his accustomed service: "Where," said he, "is my pork?" And when his steward had answered, that his physician had forbidden any pork to be served; then the pope, bursting out into a great rage, saith these words; "Bring me," said he, "my pork-flesh, in the despight of God."

            At another time, he, sitting at dinner, pointing to a peacock upon his table, which he had not touched, "Keep," said he, "this cold peacock for me against supper, and let me sup in the garden; for I shall have guests." So when supper came, and, amongst other hot peacocks, he saw not his cold peacock brought to his table, the pope, after his wonted manner, most horribly blaspheming God, fell into an extreme rage, &c.; whereupon one of his cardinals, sitting by, desired him, saying, "Let not your Holiness, I pray you, be so moved with a matter of so small weight." Then this Julius the pope, answering again, "What," said he, "if God was so angry for an apple, that he cast our first parents out of Paradise for the same, why may not I, being his vicar, be angry then for a peacock, since a peacock is a greater matter than an apple." Behold here, good reader, by this pope, the holiness of that blasphemous see: and yet thou shalt see here what affection was borne to this pope here in England, bythe diriges, hearses, and funerals, commanded to be had and celebrated in all churches by the queen and her council, as may appear by the copy of their letters here following.


A letter from the bishop of Winchester (being lord chancellor) unto Bonner, bishop of London, touching the celebrating of the pope's funeral.

            "After my hearty commendations to your good Lordship: The king and queen's Majesties having certain knowledge of the death of the pope's Holiness, thought good there should be as well solemn obsequies said for him throughout the realm, as also these prayers (which I send you herein enclosed) used at mass times in all places at this time of vacation: and therefore willed me to signify their pleasures unto you in this behalf, that thereupon ye might proceed to the full accomplishment thereof, by putting the same in due execution within your own diocese, and sending word to the rest of the bishops, to do the like in theirs. Thus doubting not but that your Lordship will use such diligence in this matter at this time, as shall be necessary, I bid your Lordship heartily well to fare.
            "From my house at Esher, the tenth of April, 1555.
                        "Your assured friend and brother,
                                    STEPHEN WINTON, Chancellor."


A woman of St. Magnus's imprisoned for not praying for the pope.

            Upon this commandment, on Wednesday in Easter week there were hearses set up and diriges sung for the said Julius in divers places; at which time it chanced a woman to come into St. Magnus's church, at the bridge-foot in London, and there, seeing a hearse and other preparation, asked what it meant: and another that stood by said, that it was for the pope, and that she must pray for him, "Nay," quoth she, "that will I not, for he needeth not my prayers: and seeing he could forgive us all our sins, I am sure he is clean himself; therefore I need not to pray for him." She was heard speak these words of certain that stood by, who, by and by, carried her unto the cage at London-bridge, and bade her cool herself there.

Illustration -- The Woman in the cage at London-bridge.


A spectacle for all Christians to behold, and to take heed of the pope's blasphemous doctrine.


Y many and sundry ways Almighty God hath admonished men of all nations in these our latter years, to embrace, and not violently to repugn against, the light of his gospel: as first, by preaching of his word; secondly, by the blood of the martyrs; and thirdly, by terrible examples showed from time to time upon his adversaries, In the number of whom cometh here to he remembered the notable working of God's hand upon a certain priest in Kent, named Nightingal, parson of Crundal beside Canterbury; who, upon Shrove-Sunday, which was about the third day of the said month of March, and year of our Lord aforesaid, (rejoicing belike not a little at this alteration of religion,) began to make a sermon to his parishioners, taking his theme out of the words of St. John: He that saith that he hath no sin, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. And so upon the same very impertinently declared to them all such articles as were set forth by the pope's authority, and by the commandment of the bishops of this realm; saying, moreover, unto the people in this wise "Now, masters and neighbours, rejoice and be merry; for the prodigal son is come home. For I know that the most part of you be as I am, for I know your hearts well enough. And I shall tell you what hath happened in this week past: I was before my Lord Cardinal Pole's Grace, and he hath made me as free from sin, as I was at the font-stone: and on Thursday last being before him, he hath appointed me to notify (thank him for it) the same unto you, and I will tell you what it is."-- And so reading the popes bull of pardon that was sent into England, he said, he thanked God that ever he had lived to see that day; adding, moreover, that he believed, that by the virtue of that bull he was as clean from sin, as that night that he was born:-- and immediately upon the same fell suddenly down out of the pulpit, and never stirred hand nor foot, and so lay he. This was testified by Robert Austen of Cartham, who heard and saw the same, and it is witnessed also by the whole country round about.


John Awcock, martyr.

            In the beginning of April, and the second day of the said month, died in prison John Awcock, who after was buried in the fields; as the manner of the papists was to deny their Christian burial to such as died out of their popish antichristian church.

            Now, forasmuch as having passed the month of March, we are entered into the month of April, to set down in order, out of public records, what happened in the said month, here followeth to be noted: that the first day of April, A, D, 1555, a letter was sent to the sheriff of Kent to apprehend Thomas Wodgat and William Maynard, for preaching secretly, and to send them up to the council. The seventh day of the said month, another letter was sent to the said sheriff for the apprehension of one Harwich, who went about, with a boy with him, preaching from place to place.

            The fifteenth of April a letter was directed to Sir Nicholas Hare, and Sir Thomas Cornwallis, willing them to examine Master Flower (alias Branch) what he meant, by wearing about his neck written, Deum time, idolum fuge; and whom else he knew to wear the like: praying them also to speak to Bonner, bishop of London, speedily to proceed against him for his religion, according to the laws, and that the justices of peace of Middlesex should likewise proceed against him for shedding of blood in the church, according to the statute; so as if he continue his opinion, he might be executed at the furthest by the latter end of this week, and that his right hand be, the day before his execution, or the same day, stricken off.

            The twenty-second of April there was a like letter sent to the justices of peace of Middlesex, with a writ for the execution of the said Flower, commanding them to see his hand stricken off before his burning.

            The twenty-ninth of April, Master Robert Hornebey, servant then to the Lady Elizabeth, was convented before the council for his religion; and standing constantly to the truth, notwithstanding their threats and other persuasions, was therefore committed to the Marshalsea.


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