Foxe's Book of Martyrs -- THE FOURTH BOOK,<BR>




    WILLIAM, duke of Normandy, surnamed the Conqueror, base son of Duke Robert, the sixth duke of Normandy, and nephew unto King Edward, after the foresaid victory obtained against Harold and the Englishmen, was received king over the realm of England, not so much by assent, as for fear and necessity of time. For else the Londoners had promised their assistance to Edgar Atheling to the uttermost of their power. But being weakened and wasted so greatly in battles before, and the duke coming so fast upon them, and fearing that they could not make their party good, submitted themselves. Whereupon the said William (of a duke made a king) was crowned upon Christmas day, in the year of our Lord 1067, by the hands of Aldredus, archbishop of York; forasmuch as at that time Stigand, archbishop of Canterbury, was absent, or else durst not or would not come in the presence of the king.

    William thus being crowned, did reign over the realm of England the space of one and twenty years and one month, with great severity and cruelness toward the Englishmen, burdening them with great tributes and exactions; which was, to pay of every hide of ground containing twenty acres six shillings. By means whereof certain parts of the land rebelled, and specially the city of Exeter, But at last William overcame them, and won the city, and punished them grievously. But, for that and for other stern deeds of William, divers of the lords departed into Scotland; wherefore he kept the other lords that tarried the straiter, and exalted the Normans, giving to them the chief possessions of the land. And forsomuch as he obtained the kingdom by force and dint of sword, he changed the whole state of the governance of this commonwealth, and ordained new laws at his own pleasure, profitable to himself, but grievous and hurtful to the people; abolishing the laws of King Edward, whereunto notwithstanding he was sworn before to observe and maintain them. For the which great commotions and rebellions remained long after among the people (as histories record) to have the said laws of King Edward revived again.

    About the third year of his reign, Harold and Canute, sons of Swanus, king of Denmark, entered into the north country. The Normans within York, fearing that the Englishmen would aid the Danes, fired the suburbs of the town. Whereof the flame was so big, and the wind so strong, that it reached the city, and burnt a great part thereof, with the minster of St. Peter, where, no doubt, many worthy works and monuments of books were consumed. In the time whereof the Danes, by the favour of some of the citizens, entered the city, and slew more than three thousand of the Normans. But not long after, King William chased them out, and drave them to their ships, and took such displeasure with the inhabitants of that country, that he destroyed the land from York to Durham, so that nine years after the province lay waste and unmanured, only except St. John's land of Beverly; and the people thereof were so strictly kept in penury by the war of the king, that (as our English story saith) they eat rats, cats, and dogs, with other vermin.

    Also in the fourth year of this king, Malcolm, king of Scots, entered into Northumberland, and destroyed the country, and slew there many of the people, both of men, women, and children, after a lamentable sort, and took some prisoners. But within two years after King William made such war upon the Scots, that he forced Malcolm their king to do him homage.

    And thus much concerning the outward calamities of this realm under this foreign conqueror, which is now the fifth time that the said land, with the inhabitants thereof, hath been scourged by the hand of God. First, by the Romans in the time of Julius Cæsar; then by the Scots and Picts (as hath been showed); afterward by the Saxons. Again, the Saxons or Englishmen did not enjoy the possession of Britain with long quiet, but were brought in as much subjection themselves under the Danes as they had brought the Britons before, (and even much more,) insomuch that through all England, if an Englishman had met a Dane upon a bridge, he might not stir one foot, before the Lord Dane (otherwise Lurdane) were past; and then if the English man had not given low reverence to the Dane at his coming by, he was sure to be sharply punished, as above hath been declared. This subjection con tinued almost from the reign of King Ethelwolfus, two hundred and thirty years, till the reign of King Edward. And yet the indignation of God thus ceased not, but stirred up the Normans against them, who conquered and altered the whole realm after their own purpose; insomuch that besides the innovation of the laws, coins, and possessions, there was almost in no church of England any English bishop, but only Normans and foreigners placed through all their diocess. To such misery was this land then brought, that not only of all the English nobility not one house was standing, but also it was thought reproachful to be called an Englishman. This punishment of God against the English nation writers do assign diversly to divers causes, (as partly before is touched,) of whom some assign this to be the cause, as followeth in the words of the story: "That whereas kings and queens, dukes and prelates, in the primitive time of the English church, were ready for religion to forsake either liberty or country, and give themselves to a solitary life; in process of time they grew to such dissoluteness, that they left no other realm like unto them in iniquity," &c. Again, some writing of the vision of King Edward, a little before the invasion of the Normans, testify how the king, reporting of his own vision, should hear that, for the great enormity and misbehaviour of the head dukes, bishops, and abbots of the realm, the kingdom should be given to the hand of their enemies, after the decease of him, for the space of one hundred years and one day. Which space was also seen by William the Conqueror, to be one hundred and fifty years; and that his progeny so long should continue. Again, some writers, treating of this so great wrath of God upon the English people, declare the cause thereof as followeth: "Like as the Englishmen did subdue the Britons, (whom God proposed for their deservings to exterminate,) and them unjustly did dispossess of their land; so they should likewise be subdued and scourged with a double persecution, first by the Danes, and after by the Normans." Moreover, to these injuries and iniquities done and wrought by the Englishmen, hitherto recited, let us add also the cruel villany of this nation, in murdering and tithing the innocent Normans before; who, coming as strangers with Alfred, the lawful heir of the crown, were despitefully put to death. Which seemeth to me no little cause why the Lord (whose doings be always just and right) did suffer the Normans so to prevail. By the coming in of the which Normans, and by their quarrel unto the realm, three things we may note and learn. First, to consider and learn the righteous retribution and wrath of God from heaven upon all iniquity and unrighteous dealing of men. Secondly, we may thereby note what it is for princes to leave no issue or sure succession behind them. Thirdly, what dangers often do chance to realms publicly by foreign marriage with other princes, &c.

    In the same fourth year of this king, between Easter and Whitsuntide, was holden a solemn council of the clergy of England at Winchester. At the which were present two cardinals sent from Pope Alexander the Second, Peter and John. In this council, the king being there himself present, were deposed divers bishops, abbots, and priors, (by the means of the king,) without any evident cause, to the intent his Normans might be preferred to the rule of the church, as he had preferred his knights before to the rule of the temporalty, thereby to stand in more surety of the land. Amongst whom also Stigand, archbishop of Canterbury, was put down for three causes against him pretended.

    The first was, for that he had holden wrongfully that bishopric, while Robert the archbishop (above mentioned) was living.

    The second was, for that he had received the pall of Benedict V., bishop of Rome. Which Benedict, for buying his popedom, had been deposed, as is showed before.

    The third cause was, for that be occupied the said pall without licence and lawful authority of the court of Rome.

    Then Stigand well proved the benevolence of King William. For whereas before the king seemed in friendly countenance to make much of him, and did unto him great reverence, then he changed all his mildness into sternness, and excused himself by the bishop of Rome's authority. So that in the end Stigand was deprived of his dignity, and kept in Winchester as a prisoner during his life. This Stigand is noted for a man so covetous and sparing, that when he would take nothing of his own, and swearing that he had not a penny, yet, by a key fastened about his neck, was found great treasure of his under the ground.

    At the same time was preferred to the archbishopric of York Thomas, a Norman, and canon of Baion.

    At which time also Lanfranc, abbot of Cadomonency, (a Lombard, and Italian born.) was sent for, and made archbishop of Canterbury; between which two archbishops about their consecration first began a contention, for giving and taking the oath of obedience; but that contention was at that time appeased by the king; and Thomas was contented to subscribe to the archbishop of Canterbury's obedience.

    After this, it followed within short space that the said Lanfranc, and Thomas, archbishop of York, who first builded the minster of York, and gave possessions thereunto, came to Rome with Remigius, bishop of Dorcester, for their palls, as the manner was; without which no archbishop nor bishop could be confirmed, although their election were never so lawful. This pall must be asked nowhere but of the pope or his assigns, and that within three months; also it must be asked not faintly, but mightily. Which, as it was a chargeable thing to other nations, (especially such as were far from Rome,) so it was no small gain to the Romish see, as they did order it. For although at the beginning the pall was given without money according to the decree, or for little, as percase in this time of Lanfranc; yet in process of years it grew to such excess, that where the bishopric of Mentz was wont to give to Rome but ten thousand florins, afterward it arose so, that he which asked his confirmation could not obtain it without twenty thousand. And from thence it exceeded to five and twenty thousand, and at length to seven and twenty thousand florins; which sum Jacobus, archbishop of Mentz, was pressed to pay, a little before the Council of Basil; insomuch that the said Jacobus, at his departing, (which was within four years after,) said that his death did not so much grieve him, as to remember his poor subjects, which should be constrained to pay so terrible a fine for the pope's pall. Now by this what riseth to the pope in whole Germany, containing in it above fifty bishoprics, it may be easily conjectured. Lanfranc thus coming to Rome, with the other two bishops, he. for the estimation of his learning, obtained of Alexander two palls; one of honour, the other of love. He obtained for the other two bishops also their confirmation. At which time, they being there present before Alexander, the controversy began first to be moved (or rather renewed) for the primacy betwixt the two metropolitans, that is, betwixt the archbishop of Canterbury and the archbishop of York, whether of them should have pre-eminence above the other; for Canterbury challenged to himself the preroga tive and primacy over whole Britain and Ireland: the which contention continued a long season betwixt these two churches, and was often renewed in the days of divers kings after this; as in the reign of Henry the First, betwixt Thurstious of York and Radulphus of Canterbury. And again, in the seven and twentieth year of the said king, at his second coronation; for Radulphus would not suffer the first coronation to stand, because it was done by the bishop of York, without his assent. Also in the reign of Henry the Second, where Pope Alexander made a letter decretal betwixt these two metropolitans for bearing the cross in the year 1159. Also another time, in the reign of the said king, betwixt Richard of Canterbury and Roger of York. Again, about the year of our Lord 1170, when Thomas Becket, hearing the king to be crowned of Roger, bishop of York, complained thereof grievously to Pope Alexander the Third. At another time, in the year 1176, betwixt Richard and the said Roger, whether of them should sit on the right hand of Cardinal Hugo in his council at London. Moreover, in the beginning of the reign of King Richard, in the year 1190, betwixt Baldwinus of Canterbury and Godfridus of York.

    Now to proceed in the story hereof. After this question was brought (as is said) to the pope's presence, he (not disposed to decide the matter) sent them home into England, there to have their cause determined. Whereupon they speeding themselves from Rome to England in the year 1070, and in the sixth year (as is said) of this William, brought the matter before the king and the clergy at Windsor. Whereon Lanfranc, first alleging for himself, brought in, from the time of Austin to the time of Beda, (which was about 140 years,) how that the bi shop of Canterbury had ever the primacy over the whole land of Britain and Ireland; how be kept his councils divers times within the precincts of York; how he did call and cite the bishops of York thereto; whereof some he did constitute, some he did excommunicate, and some he did remove; be sides also he alleged divers privileges granted by princes and prelates to the primacy of that see.

    To this Thomas, archbishop of York, replieth again, and, first beginning with the first original of the Britons' church, declareth in order of time.

    The Britons, first possessors of this kingdom of Britain, which endured from Brutus and Cadwaladar 2076 years, under a hundred and two kings, at length received the Christian faith in the year 162. In the time of Lucius their king, Eleutherius, bishop of Rome, sent Faganus and Damianus, preachers, unto them; at which time after their conversion, they assigned and ordained in the realm eight and twenty bishops, with two archbishops, Theonus, the archbishop of London. and Theodosius, archbishop of York. Under those bishops and archbishops the church of Britain was governed after their conversion almost three hundred years, till at length the Saxons, being then infidels, with Hengistus their king, subduing the Britons by fraudulent murder, invaded their land, which was about the year of our Lord 440. After this, the Britons being driven into Cambria, (which we now call Wales,) the Saxons overrunning the land, divided themselves into seven kingdoms. And so, being infidels and pagans, continued till the time that Gregory, bishop of Rome, sent Austin to preach unto them; who coming first to Dover, being then the head city of Kent, called in Latin Dorobernia, and there planting himself, converted first the king of Kent, called Edelbertus, who had then subdued certain other kings unto Humber. By reason whereof Austin was made archbishop of Dover, by the appointment of Gregorius I., who sent him certain palls with his letter from Rome. as before is expressed. Which letter being recited, then Thomas, expounding upon the same, beginneth to declare for himself, how the meaning of Gregory in this letter was, to reduce the new church of Saxons or Englishmen to the order that was in the old time among the Britons; that is, to be under two metropolitans, one of London, the other of York; for so the church was ordered in the time of the Britons, as is before declared. Notwithstanding. he giveth to Austin this prerogative during his lifetime, to have authority and jurisdiction, not only over his twelve bishops, but upon all other bishops and priests in England. And after his decease, then these two metropolitans, London and York, to oversee the whole clergy, as in times past amongst the Britons: whom he joineth together after the death of Austin to constitute bishops. and to oversee the church. And that he so meaneth London to be equal in authority with York, it appeareth by four arguments. First, that he willeth London to be consecrate by no bishop, but of his own synod. Secondly, in that he willeth no distinction of honour to be betwixt Loadon and York, but only according to that as each one of them is elder in time. Thirdly, for that he matcheth these two together in common council, and with one agreement to consent together in doing and disposing such things as they shall consult upon in the zeal of Christ Jesus; and that in such sort, that one should not dissent nor discord from the other. What meaneth this, but that they should govern together, whom he would not to dissent together? Fourthly, where he writeth, that the bishop of York should not be subject to the bishop of London: what meaneth this, but that the bishop of London should be equivalent with the metropolitan of York, or rather superior unto him?

    And thus he expounded the meaning of Gregory to be in the foresaid letter. To whom Lanfranc again answereth, that he was not the bishop of London, and that the question pertained not to London. Thomas replieth, having on his part many fautors, that this privilege was granted by Gregory to Austin alone, to have all other bishops subject to him; but after his decease there should be equality of hononr betwixt London and York, without all distinction of priority, save the only priority of time should make superiority between them. And although Austin translated the see from London to Kent; yet Gregory, if his mind had been to give the same prerogative to the successors of Austin, (which he gave to him,) would expressly have uttered it in the words of his epistle, writing thus to Austin: That which I give to thee, Austin, I give also and grant to all thy successors after thee. But in that he maketh here no mention of his successors, it appeareth thereby that it was not his mind so to do.

    To this Lanfranc argueth again: If this authority had been given to Austin alone, and not to his successors, it had been but a small gift, proceeding from the apostolic see to his special and familiar friend; especially seeing also that Austin in all his life did constitute no bishop of York, neither was there any such bishop to be subject to him. Again, we have privileges from the apostolic see which confirm this dignity in the successors of Austin, in the same see of Dover. Moreover, all Englishmen think it both right and reason to fetch the direction of well living from that place, where first they took the sparkle of right believing. Further, whereas you say that Gregory might have confirmed with plain words the same thing to tIme successors of Austin which he gave unto him, all that I grant; yet, notwithstanding, this is nothing prejudicial to the see of Canterbury. For if you know your logic, that which is true in the whole, is also true in the part; and what is true in the more, is also true in the less. Now the Church of Rome is as the whole, to whom all other churches be as parts thereof; and as homo, mankind, is genus, the general, in a certain respect, to all his individua, to all particular persons, yet in every particular person lieth the property of the general; so, in like manner, the see of Rome in a certain respect is the general and the whole to other churches, and yet in every particular church is contained the whole fulness of the whole Christian faith. As the church of Rome is greater than all churches, that which is wrought in it ought to work in the less churches also; so that the authority of every chief head of the church ought to stand also in them that do succeed, unless there be any precise exception made by name. Wherefore, like as the Lord said to all bishops of Rome the same thing which he said to Peter, so Gregory in like manner said to all the successors of Austin that which he said to Austin. So thus I conclude: likewise as the bishop of Canterbury is subject to Rome, because he had his faith from thence; so York ought to be in subjection to Canterbury, which sent the first preachers thither. Now, whereas you allege that Gregory would Austin to be resident at London, that is utterly uncertain. For how is it to be thought that such a disciple would do contrary to the mind of such a master? But grant (as you say) that Austin removed to London, what is that to me, who am not bishop of London? Notwithstanding, all this controversy ceasing betwixt us, if it shall please you to come to some peaceable composition with me, (all contention set apart,) you shall find me not out of the way, so far as reason and equity shall extend.

    With these reasons of Lanfranc Thomas gave over, condescending that his province should begin at Humber. Whereupon it was then decreed, that York from that time should be subject to Canterbury in all matters appertaining to the rites and regiment of the catholic church; so that wheresoever within England Canterbury should or would hold his council, the bishop of York should resort thither with his bishops, and be obedient to his decrees canonical.

    Provided, moreover, that when the bishop of Canterbury should decease, York should repair unto Dover, there to consecrate with others the bishops that should be elect. And if York should decease, his successors should resort to Canterbury, or else where the bishop of Canterbury should appoint, there to receive his consecration, making his profession there, with an oath of canonical obedience. Thomas being content withal, Lanfranc the Italian triumpheth with no small joy, and putteth the matter forthwith in writing, that the memory thereof might remain to the posterity of his successors. But yet that decree did not long stand. For shortly after the same scar, so superficially cured, burst out again. Insomuch that in the reign of King Henry the First, A.D. 1121, Thurstinus, archbishop of York, could not be compelled to swear to the archbishop of Canterbury; and yet notwithstanding by the letters of Calixtus the second was consecrated without any profession made to the said bishop, with much more matter of contention, all which to recite it were too long. But this I thought to commit to history, to the intent men might see the lamentable decay of true Christianity amongst the Christian bishops, who, inflamed with glorious ambition, so contended for honour, that without mere forcement of law no modesty could take place.

    Of such-like contentions among prelates of the clergy for superiority, we read of divers in old chronicles, as in the history entitled Chronicon Hirsseldense, where is declared a bloody conflict which twice happened in the church of Goslaria, between Hecelon. bishop of Hildesheime, and Wederatus, bishop of Fulda, and all for the superior place, who should sit next to the emperor; the emperor himself being there present, and looking on them, and yet not able to stay them.

    Thus I have described the troublous contention betweea Lanfranc and Thomas, metropolitan of York in the days of Alexander; of which controversy. and of the whole discourse thereof, Lanfranc writeth to Pope Alexander.

    In the story before of King Egelred was declared, about the year of our Lord 1016, how the bishops of Lindisfarne, otherwise named Holy Land, in the flood of Tweed, was translated to Durham; so likewise in the days of this Lanfrancus, archbishop of Canterbury, A.D. 1076,. divers bishops' sees were altered and removed from townships to greater cities. As the bishopric of Selese was removed to Chichester; out of Cornwall to Exeter; from Wells to Bath; from Shireborne to Salisbury; from Dorcester to Lincoln; from Litchfield to Chester; which bishopric of Chester Robert being the bishop, reduced from Chester to Coventry. Likewise after that, in the reign of William Rufus, A.D. 1095, Herbert, bishop of Thetford, from thence reduced the see to Norwich.

Illustration -- Dover

    As concerning Dover and Canterbury, whether the see was likewise translated from the town of Dover to the city of Canterbury in the time of Theodorus, or whether Canterbury by old time had the name of Dorobernia, (as the letter of Lanfranc to Pope Alexander above mentioned doth pretend,) I find it not in histories expressly defined; save that I read by the words of William, being yet duke of Normandy, charging then Harold to make a well of water for the king's use in the castle of Dorobernia, that the said Dorobernia then was taken for that which we now call Dover; but whether Dorobernia and the city of Canterbury be both one or divers, the matter is not great. Notwithstanding this I read in the Epistle of Pope Bonifacius to King Ethelbert, as also to Justinus, archbishop; in the Epistle of Pope Honorius to Bishop Honorius; of Pope Vitalianus to Theodorus; of Pope Sergius to King Ethelred, Alfred, and Adulphus, and to the bishops of England: likewise of Pope Gregory the Third to the bishops of England; of Pope Leo to Athelard, archbishop of Canterbury; of Formosus to the bishops of England; and of Pope John to Dunstan; that the name of Dorobernia and of Canterbury indifferently are taken for one matter.

    In this time, (and by the procuring of this Lanfranc,) the ninth year of this king, a council was holden at London, where, among the acts thereof, these were the principal things concluded.

    First, for the order of sitting, that the archbishop of York should sit on the right hand, and the bishop of London on the left hand; or, in the absence of York, London should have the right, and Winchester the left, hand of the archbishop of Canterbury sitting in council.

    2. The second, that bishops should translate their sees from villages into cities. whereupon those sees above named were translated.

    3. That monks should have nothing in proper; and if any so had, he dying unconfessed should not be buried in the churchyard.

    4. That no clerk or monk of any other diocess should be admitted to orders, or retained without letters commendatory or testimonial.

    5. That none should speak in the council except bishops and abbots, without leave of the arch-metropolitans.

    6. That none should marry within the seventh degree with any, either of his own kindred or of his wives departed.

    7. That none should either buy or sell any office within the church.

    8. That no sorcery or any divination should be used or permitted in holy church.

    9. That no bishop nor abbot, nor any of the clergy, should be at the judgment of any man's death or dismembering, neither should be any favourer of the said judicants.

    Moreover, in the days of this Lanfranc, divers good bishops of the realm began to take part with priests against the monks, in displacing these out of their churches, and to restore the married priests again; insomuch that Walkelmus, bishop of Winchester, had placed above forty canons instead of monks for his part; but this godly enterprise was stopped by stout Lanfranc, the Italian Lombard. This lusty prelate sat nineteen years; but at his latter end he was not so favoured of William Rufus, and died for sorrow. Although this Italian Frank, being archbishop, had little leisure to write, yet something he thought to do to set out his famous learning, and wrote a book against Berengarius, entitling it, Opus Scintillarum. The old church of Canterbury he plucked down, and builded up the new.

Previous Next