72. ANTI-PAPAL WRITERS: 1300-1360
And thus much concerning the letters and writings of the king, with such other domestic matters, perturbations, and troubles, passing between him and the pope, taken out of the public records of the realm, whereby I thought to give the reader to understand the horrible abuses, the intolerable pride, and the unsatiable avarice of that bishop, more like a proud Lucifer than a pastor of the church of Christ, in abusing the king, and oppressing his subjects with exactions unmeasurable; and not only exercising his tyranny in this realm, but raging also against other princes both far and near, amongst whom neither spared he the emperor himself. In the story and acts of which Emperor Louis, mentioned a little before, whom the pope did most arrogantly excommunicate upon Maundy Thursday, and the selfsame day placed another emperor in his room, relation was made of certain learned men which took the emperor's part against the pope. In number of whom was Marsilius of Padua, William Ockam, John of Ganduno, Luitpoldus, Andreas Landensis, Ulricus Hangenor, treasurer of the emperor, Dante, Aligerius, &c.; of whom Marsilius of Padua compiled and exhibited unto the Emperor Louis a worthy work entitled Defensor Pacis, written in the emperor's behalf against the pope. Wherein, both godly and learnedly disputing against the pope, he proveth all bishops and priests to be equal, and that the pope hath no superiority above other bishops, much less above the emperor; that the word of God ought to be only the chief judge in deciding and determining causes ecclesiastical; that not only spiritual persons, but laymen also, being godly and learned, ought to be admitted into general councils; that the clergy and the pope ought to be subject unto magistrates; that the church is the university of the faithful, and that the foundation and head of the church is Christ, and that he never appointed any vicar or pope over his universal church; that bishops ought to be chosen every one by their own church and clergy; that the marriage of priests may lawfully be permitted; that St. Peter was never at Rome; that the clergy and synagogue of the pope is a den of thieves; that the doctrine of the pope is not to be followed, because it leadeth to destruction; and that the corrupt manners of the Christians do spring and flow out of the wickedness of the spiritualty, &c. He disputeth, moreover, in another work, of free justification by grace; and extenuateth merits, saying that they are no causes efficient of our salvation, but only sine qua non, that is to say, that works be no cause of our justification, but yet our justification goeth not without them. For the which his doctrine, most sound and catholic, he was condemned by the pope, A.D. 1324. Concerning the which man and his doctrine I thought good thus much to commit to history, to the intent men may see that they which charge this doctrine now taught in the church with the note of novelty or newness, how ignorant and unskilful they be in the histories and order of times forepast.
In the same part of condemnation, at the same time, also was John of Ganduno, A.D. 1330. Which Johannes wrote much upon Aristotle and Averrois, and his books are yet remaining; and no doubt but he wrote also of divinity, but it is not unlike that these works have been abolished.
In the same number and catalogue cometh also William Ockam, who was in the year of our Lord 1326, as is before mentioned, and wrote likewise in defence of Louis the emperor against the pope; and also in defence of Michael, general of Grey Friars, whom the pope had excommunicated and cursed for a heretic. Divers treatises were by the said Ockam set forth, whereof some are extant and in print, as his Questions and Distinctions; some are extinct and suppressed. Some again be published under no name of the author, being of his doing; as the dialogue between the soldier and the clerk: wherein it is to be conjectured what books and works this Ockam had collected against the pope. Of this Ockam, John Sleidan in his history inferreth mention, to his great commendation, whose words be these: "William Ockam, in time of Louis the Fourth, emperor, did flourish about the year of our Lord 1326; who, among other things, wrote of the authority of the bishop of Rome; in the which book he handleth these eight questions very copiously: First, Whether both the administrations of the bishop's office, and of the emperor's, may be in one man? Secondly, Whether the emperor taketh his power and authority only of God, or else of the pope? Thirdly, Whether the pope and Church of Rome have power by Christ to set and place kings and emperors, and to commit to them their jurisdiction to be exercised? Fourthly, Whether the emperor being elected hath full authority, upon the said his election, to administer his empire? Fifthly, Whether other kings besides the emperor and king of Romans, in that they are consecrated of priests, receive of them any part of their power? Sixthly, Whether the said kings in any case be subject to their consecrators? Seventhly, Whether if the said kings should admit any new sacrifice, or should take to themselves the diadem without any further consecration, they should thereby lose their kingly right and title? Eighthly, Whether the seven princes electors give as much to the election of the emperor, as succession rightfully giveth to other kings?" Upon these questions he disputeth and argueth with sundry arguments and sundry reasons on both sides; at length he decideth the matter on the part of the civil magistrate, and by occasion thereof entereth into the mention of the pope's Decrees Extravagant, declaring how little force or regard is to be given thereunto.
Trithemius maketh mention of one Gregorius Ariminensis, a learned and a famous and right godly man; who not much differing from the age of this Ockam, about the year of our Lord 1350, disputed in the same doctrine of grace and free-will as we do now, and dissented therein from the papists and sophisters, counting them worse than Pelagians.
Of the like judgment, and in the same time, was also Andreas de Castro, and Burdianus upon the Ethics of Aristotle; which both maintained the grace of the gospel, as is now in the church received, above two hundred years since.
And what should I speak of the duke of Burgundy, named Eudo, who at the same time, A.D. 1350, persuaded the French king not to receive in his land the new-found constitutions, Decretal and Extravagant, nor to suffer them within his realm; whose sage counsel then given, yet remaineth among the French king's records, as witnesseth Carolus Molineus.
Dante, an Italian writer, a Florentine, lived in the time of Louis, the emperor, about the year of our Lord 1300, and took part with Marsilius of Padua against three sorts of men, which, he said, were enemies to the truth: that is, first, the pope; secondly, the order of religious men, which count themselves the children of the church, when they are the children of the devil their father; thirdly, the doctors of decrees and decretals. Certain of his writings be extant abroad, wherein he proveth the pope not to be above the emperor, nor to have any right or jurisdiction in the empire. He proveth the donation of Constantine to be a forged and a feigned thing, as which neither did stand with any law or right; for the which he was taken of many for a heretic. He complaineth, moreover, very much, of the preaching of God's word to be omitted; and instead thereof, the vain fables of monks and friars to be preached and believed of the people, and so the flock of Christ to be fed not with the food of the gospel, but with wind. "The pope," saith he, "of a pastor is made a wolf, to waste the church of Christ, and procure with his clergy not the word of God to be preached, but his own decrees." In his Canticle of Purgatory, he declareth the pope to be the whore of Babylon; and to her ministers, to some he applieth two horns, to some four, as to the patriarchs, whom he noteth to be the tower of the said whore Babylonical.
Hereunto may be added the saying out of the book of Jornandus, imprinted with the aforesaid Dante; that forasmuch as antichrist cometh not before the destruction of the empire, therefore such as go about to have the empire extinct, are in so doing forerunners and messengers of antichrist. "Therefore let the Romans," saith he, "and their bishops beware, lest their sins and wickedness so deserving, by the just judgment of God, the priesthood be taken from them. Furthermore, let all the prelates and princes of Germany take heed," &c.
And because our adversaries, which object unto us the newness of our doctrine, shall see and perceive the course and form of this religion now received, not to have been either such a new thing now, or a thing so strange in times past; I will add to these above recited, Master Taulerus, a preacher of Argentine, in Germany, A.D. 1350; who, contrary to the pope's proceedings, taught openly against all men's merits, and against invocations of saints, and preached sincerely of our free justification by grace; referring all man's trust only to the mercy of God, and was an enemy to all superstition.
With whom also may be adjoined Franciscus Petrarcha, a writer of the same age, who, in his works and his Italian metre, speaking of Rome, calleth it the whore of Babylon, the school and mother of error, the temple of heresy, the nest of treachery, growing and increasing by the oppressing of others; and saith further, that she (meaning the pope's court) extolleth herself against her founders; that is, the emperors who first set her up, and did so enrich her; and seemeth plainly to affirm, that the pope was antichrist, declaring that no greater evil could happen to any man than to be made pope. This Franciscus was about the year of our Lord 1350.
And if time would serve us to seek out old histories, we should flnd plenty of faithful witnesses, of old and ancient time, to give witness with us against the pope, beside the other above rehearsed; as Johannes de Rupe Scissa, A.D. 1340; who, for rebuking the spiritually for their great enormities, and neglecting their office and duty, was cast into prison.
Illyricus, a writer in our days, testifieth that he found and read in an old pamphlet, that the said Johannes should call the Church of Rome the whore of Babylon, and the pope to be the minister of antichrist, and the cardinals to be the false prophets. Being in prison, he wrote a book of prophecies, bearing the title, Vade Mecum in Tribulationem; in which book, which also I have seen, he prophesied and admonished affliction and tribulation to hang over the:spiritually. And he pronounceth plainly, that God will purge his clergy, and will have priests that shall be poor, godly, and that shall faithfully feed the Lord's flock; moreover, that the goods of the church shall return again to the laymen. He prophesied also the same time, that the French king and his army should have an overthrow; which came likewise to pass during the time of his imprisonment. Of this Johannes de Rupe, writeth Froisart in his time, and also WiCkliff; of whose prophecies much more may be said at more leisure, Christ willing, hereafter.
About the same year of our Lord, 1340, in the city of Herbipoli, was one named Master Conrad Hager; who, as appeareth by the old bulls and registers of Otho, bishop of the said city, is there recorded to have maintained and taught, the space of twenty-four years together, the mass to be no manner of sacrifice, neither that it profiteth any man either quick or dead; and that the money given of the dead for masses, be very robberies and sacrileges of priests, which they wickedly do intercept and take away from the poor; and he said, moreover, that if he had a stove full of gold and silver, he would not give one farthing for any mass. For the same his doctrine this good preacher was condemned and enclosed in prison; what afterward became of him we do not find.
There is among other old and ancient records of antiquity belonging to this present time, a certain monument in verses poetically compiled, but not without a certain moral, entitled P?nitentiarius Asini, The Ass's Confessor, bearing the date and year of our Lord in this number, Completus, A.D. 1343. In this treatise are brought forth the wolf, the fox, and the ass, coming to shrift and doing penance. First, the wolf confesseth him to the fox, who easily doth absolve him from all his faults, and also excuseth him in the same. In like manner the wolf, hearing the fox's shrift, showeth to him the like favour again. After this cometh the ass to confession, whose fault was this, that he, being hungry, took a straw out from the sheaf of one that went in peregrination unto Rome. The ass, both repenting of this fact, and because he thought it not so heinous as the faults of the other, he hoped the more for his absolution. But what followed? After the silly ass had uttered his crime in auricular confession, immediately the discipline of the law was executed upon him with severity; neither was he judged worthy of any absolution, but was apprehended upon the same, slain, and devoured. Whosoever was the author of this fabulous tale, he had a mystical understanding in the same; for by the wolf no doubt was meant the pope; but the fox was resembled to the prelates, courtesans, priests, and the rest of the spiritually. Of the spiritually the lord pope is soon absolved; as, contrarily, the pope soon doth absolve them in like manner. By the ass is meant the poor laity, upon whose back the strait censure of the law is sharply executed, especially when the German emperors come under the pope's inquisition, to be examined by his discipline, there is no absolution nor pardon to be found, but in all haste he must be deposed, as in these stories may partly appear before. And thus they, aggregating and exaggerating the fault to the uttermost, fly upon the poor ass and devour him. By the which apology, the tyrannical and fraudulent practices of these spiritual Romanists are lively described.
Not long after these above rehearsed, about the year of our Lord 1350, Gerhardus Ridder wrote also against the monks and friars a book entitled Lacryma Ecclesiæ, wherein he disputeth against the aforesaid religious orders, namely, against the Begging Friars; proving that kind of life to be far from Christian perfection, for that it is against charity to live upon others, when a man may live by his own labours: and affirmeth them to be hypocrites, filthy livers, and such as for man's favour, and for lucre' sake, do mix with true divinity, fables, apocryphas, and dreams of vanity. Also that they, under pretence of long prayer, devour widows' houses, and with their confessions, sermons, and burials, do trouble the church of Christ manifold ways. And therefore persuaded the prelates to bridle and keep short the inordinate licence and abuses of these monastical persons, &c.
Yet I have made no mention of Michael Sesenas, provincial of the Grey Friars, nor Petrus de Corbaria, of whom writeth Antoninus, in quarta parte summæ, and saith they were condemned in the Extravagant of Pope John, with one Johannes de Poliaco. Their opinions, saith Antoninus, were these: That Peter the apostle was no more the head of the church than the other apostles; and that Christ left no vicar behind him, or head in his church; and that the pope hath no such authority to correct and punish, to institute or depose the emperor. Item, that all priests, of what degree soever, are of equal authority, power, and jurisdiction, by the institution of Christ; but by the institution of the emperor, the pope to be superior, which, by the same emperor, also may be revoked again. Item, that neither the pope nor yet the church may punish any man, punitione coactiva, that is, by extern coaction, unless they receive licence of the emperor. This aforesaid Michael, general of the Grey Friars, wrote against the tyranny, pride, and primacy of the pope, accusing him to be antichrist, and the Church of Rome to be the whore of Babylon, drunk with the blood of saints. He said there were two churches, one of the wicked flourishing, wherein reigned the pope; the other of the godly afflicted. Item, that the verity was almost utterly extinct: and for this cause he was deprived of his dignity, and condemned of the pope. Notwithstanding, he stood constant in his assertions. This Michael was about the year of our Lord 1322, and he left behind him many favourers and followers of his doctrine, of whom a great part were slain by the pope; some were condemned, as William Ockam; some were burned, as Johannes de Castilione, and Franciscus de Arcatara.
With him also was condemned, in the said Extravagant, Johannes de Poliaco, above touched, whose assertions were these: That the pope could not give licence to hear confessions to whom he would, but that every pastor in his own church ought to suffice. Item, that pastors and bishops had their authority immediately from Christ and his apostles, and not from the pope. Item, that the constitution of Pope Benedict the Second, wherein he granteth larger privileges to the friars above other pastors, was no declaration of the law, but a subversion: and for this he was by the said friars oppressed, about the year of our Lord 1322.
After Simon Mepham, archbishop of Canterbury, before mentioned, who lived not long, succeeded John Stratford. After whom came John Offord, who lived but ten months; in whose room succeeded Thomas, and remained but one year, A.D. 1350; and after him Simon Islip was made archbishop of Canterbury by Pope Clement the Sixth, who sat seventeen years, and built Canterbury college in Oxford. Which Simon Islip succeeded the bishop of Ely, named Simon Langhan, who within two years was made cardinal. In whose stead, Pope Urban the Fifth ordained William Wittlesey, bishop of Worcester, to be archbishop of Canterbury, A.D. 1366. In which year, William, bishop of Winchester, elected and founded the New college in Oxford.
Again, in the order of the popes, next unto Pope Clement the Sixth before mentioned, about the same time, A.D. 1353, succeeded Pope Innocent the Sixth; in the first year of which, pope, two friars Minors, or Franciscans, were burned at Avignon, Pro opinionibus (as mine author saith) erroneis, prout D. papæ et ejus cardinalibus videbatur, that is, "for certain opinions, as seemed to the pope and his cardinals erroneous." Of the which two friars I find, in the Chronicles De Actis Rom. Pontificum, and in the history of Premonstratensis, that the one was Johannes Rochtayladus; or rather, as I find in Catalog. Testium, cited out of the Chronicle of Henricus de Herfordia, his name to be Hayabalus who being, as he recordeth, a friar Minorite, began first in the time of Pope Clement the Sixth, A.D. 1345, to preach and affirm openly, that he was, by God's revelation, charged and commanded to preach, that the church of Rome was the whore of Babylon, and the pope with his cardinals to be very antichrist; and that Pope Benedict, and the others before him his predecessors, were damned; with other such-like words tending much against the pope's tyrannical majesty. And that the aforesaid Hayabalus being brought before the pope's face, constantly did stand in the same, saying, that he was commanded by God's revelation so to say, and also that he would preach the same if he might. To whom it was then objected, that he had some heretical books, and so was committed to prison in Avignon. In the time of his accusation it happened that a certain priest, coming before the pope, cast the pope's bull down before his feet, saying, Lo here, take your bull unto you, for it doth me no good at all. I have laboured now these three years withal, and yet notwithstanding, for all this your bull, I cannot be restored to my right. The pope hearing this, commanded the poor priest to be scourged, and after to be laid in prison with the aforesaid friar. What became of them afterward, the aforesaid writer, Henricus de Herfordia, maketh no mention; but I may probably conjecture this priest and this friar, Rochtayladus, or rather Hayabalus, were the two, whom mine author, Thomas Walsingham, writeth to be burned at this time in Avignon, about the first beginning of this Pope Innocent the Sixth. Of this Rochtayladus I thought good here to infer the testimony. and mention of John Froisart, written of him in his first volume, chap. 211, in these words:
There was, saith Froisart, a friar Minor, in the city of Avignon, which was full of great clergy, called friar John of Rochtaylada, the which friar Pope Innocent the Sixth held in prison in the castle of Baignour, for showing of many marvels after to come: principally he showed many things to fall unto the prelates of the church for the great superfluity and pride that was then used among them; and also he spake many things to fall of the realm of France, and of the great lords of Christendom, for the oppressions that they did to the poor common people. This friar, said he, would prove all his saying by the authority of the Apocalypse, and by other books of holy saints and prophets, the which were opened to him by the grace of the Holy Ghost: he showed many things hard to believe, and many things fell after as he said. He said them not as a prophet, but he showed them by authority of ancient Scriptures, and by the grace of the Holy Ghost, who gave him understanding to declare the ancient prophets, and to show to all Christian people the years and times when such things should fall. He made divers books founded on great sciences and clergy, whereof one was made the year of our Lord 1346, wherein were written such marvels, that it were hard to believe them; howbeit many things according thereto fell out after. And when he was demanded of the wars of France, he said that all that had been seen was not like that should be seen after; for he said that the wars in France should not be ended till the realm were utterly wasted and spoiled, in every part. The which saying was well seen after, for the noble realm of France was sore wasted and soiled, and specially in the term that the said friar had set; the which was in the years of our Lord 1356-1359. He said, in those years the princes and gentlemen of the realm should not for fear show themselves against the people of low estate, assembled of all countries without head or captain; and they should do as they list in the realm of France; the which fell after, as ye have heard, how the companions assembled them together, and by reason of their robbery and pillage waxed rich, and became great captains.
About the same time happened in France a certain contention between the French prelates and the friars of Paris, testified and recorded by Godfridus de Fontanis; the brief effect of which story is this. The prelates of France conventing and assembling together in the city of Paris, after a long deliberation among themselves, caused, by the beadles, to be called together all the students, masters, and bachelors of every faculty, with the chief heads also of all the religious houses and friars in the university of Paris: who being all there congregated together in the house of the bishop of Paris, where there were present four archbishops and twenty bishops, first stood up the bishop of Biturecense, who, there making his sermon, took for his theme the Epistle of St. Paul to the Ephesians; and concluded thereupon, first, that true charity would compel them to see and provide for their flocks. Secondly, that the vigour of charity would arm them to withstand errors. Thirdly, he concluded, that by duty of charity they were bound to give their lives for the souls of their flock committed to their charge. Fourthly, that by the same charity every man ought to hold himself content with that which was his own, and not to intermeddle or busy himself further than to him appertained or belonged to his office. "For there," saith he, "all order ecclesiastical is dissolved, whereas men, not containing themselves in their own precincts, presume in other men's charges, where they have nothing to do. But this charity," saith he, "now-a-days waxeth cold, and all ecclesiastical order is confounded and utterly out of order. For many there be, which nowadays presume to thrust in themselves where they have nothing to do; so that now the church may seem a monster. For as in a natural body appeareth a monster, where one member doth the office of another; so in the spiritual body, which is the church, it may be thought likewise; as when our learned and prudent brethren, to wit, the friars Majors and Minors, do take upon them to usurp and occupy the office to us especially appertaining; namely, whereas the Scripture warneth us all, none to take upon him any office, except he be called thereunto of the Lord, as Aaron was. Wherefore we have heretofore oftentimes caused the said friars, both by the king himself in his own person, and also by other nobles, to be spoken to and desired to surcease from doing and intermeddling in our office, and yet they would not, but have preached against our wills through all our diocesses, and have heard confessions, saying, that they have the pope's privilege to bear them out therein. For the which cause we come to you, and not we here present only, but also we have the hand-writing and the full consent of all other our fellow bishops throughout the kingdom of France, to complain to you of this so great insolency and presumption of the friars. For that as we are, you shall be. Neither do I think that there be any of us prelates here now, which have not some time been taken out of this university of yours. We have desired, moreover, and caused to be desired of the aforesaid friars, that they would send their privileges to the see apostolical, to be interpreted and expounded more plainly by the lord pope; which they refused also to do. Wherefore to the intent you may the better understand and see what their privileges be, and how far they do extend, we have appointed the said privileges here openly to be read unto you."
Then stood up another in the public place, and there read the privileges of both the orders; and afterward read also the constitution of Pope Innocent the Third, written in the fifth of the decretals, and beginneth, Omnis utriusque sexus, &c.; which constitution was repugnant and contrary to the aforesaid privileges, as he there manifestly proved, declaring how both the privileges were derogatory to that constitution.
This done, then rose up the Bishop Ambianensis, a great lawyer, who discoursing from article to article, there proved by good law, that the said constitution stood in all its force and vigour, and ought not to be infringed by the friar's privileges in any part. And, therefore, by the virtue of that constitution, that the friars ought not so misorderly to intrude themselves in hearing confessions, in enjoining of penance, and in preaching in churches and diocesses, without special licence of the bishop of the diocess, and curate of the parish; unto whose words never a friar at that time replied again. And so the bishop proceeding to his conclusion, desired the university to assist them in that case, wherein they were all determined, saith he, to stand firmly to the shedding of their blood, in resisting that misorder and injuries of the friars. This happened the sixth day of December, which they dedicated to St. Nicholas.
The next day, being Sunday, one of the order of the Minorites, or Franciscans, went to the church of the Majorites, or Preaching Friars, where he made a sermon, which was never seen before, the one order to come and resort to the other, beginning in the aforesaid matter to reply, and to expound in order through every article as well as he could; adding, moreover, and saying, that they went not so far in their privileges as they lawfully might. And he said moreover, that what time the said privileges were in obtaining in Rome, the Bishop Ambianensis was there present himself, resisting the same with all his power; yea, all the prelates also of France sent and wrote up to the court against the same, and yet did not prevail. For when the friars there presently declared and opened to the pope in what manner and how far they had used their privileges, the pope the same time said, Placet, that is, agreed unto the same. "And now," saith he, "the prelates require and demand of us to send up our privileges to the court, which were great folly in us. For in so doing, what should we else but give place and occasion to revoke again the authority which is given into our hands already? Furthermore, our warden and master is now lately dead, and the master here of the Dominic Friars is not now present. Wherefore we dare not determine in such a weighty cause, touching the privileges of our order, without the presence of them. And therefore we desire you of the university to hold us therein excused, and not to be so lightly stirred against us, for we are not the worst and vilest part of the university," &c.
The next day, being the eighth day of the same month, is also dedicate to the conception of our Lady; upon which day it was determined likewise, that one of the Dominic Friars should preach in the church of the Franciscan or Grey Friars; and so he did, tending to the same end, as the other friar in the other church had done before. Whereto it may seem the proverb well answered, whereof we read in the Gospel, Facti sunt amici Herodes et Pilatus in ipso die.
It was not long after that the feast of St. Thomas the apostle followed, in whose vigil all the heads of the university again were warned the third day after to congregate together in the church of St. Bernard at the sermon time. Which being done, and the assembly meeting together, another sermon was made by a divine of the university, whose theme was, Prope est dominus omnibus invocantibus eum in veritate, &c.; wherein he, with many words and great authorities, argued against them that would not be obedient unto their prelates, &c. The sermon being ended, then rose up again the Bishop Ambianensis, who, prosecuting the rest of the theme, and coming to the word in veritate, divided it into three parts, according to the common gloss of the decretals:
Est serum vitæ, doctrinæ, justitiæque,
Primum semper Habe; duo propter scandalA linque.
Showing and declaring by many authorities, both of canonical Scriptures and out of the law, and by evident demonstration of experience, that the friars first had no verity of life, because they were full of hypocrisy; neither had they verity of doctrine, because in their heart they bare gall, and in their tongue honey; neither verity of justice, because they usurped other men's offices. And thus concluding with the same, he caused again to be read the said privileges, with the constitution above specified. And so expounding place by place, he did argue and prove that the said constitution in no part was evacuate or infringed by the privileges aforesaid. Which thing being declared, he added, moreover, that, "whereas the friars say," saith he, "that I should be present in the obtaining of the privileges, I grant it to be true; and when word came to me thrice thereof, I went to the pope, reclaiming and requiring the said privileges to be revoked; but the next day after, it so pleased the pope to send me out abroad upon weighty affairs, so that then the matter had no end. After that, we sent also other messengers with our letters, for the same cause, unto the court of Rome, whom the friars say not to have prevailed, but they lie therein; for the said messengers again brought us letters from the chief of the court of Rome, sealed with their seals; which letters we have divers times presented to our king, and will shortly show them unto you all; in the which letters the load pope hath promised the said privileges either to be utterly abrogate, or else to be mitigated with some more plain interpretation, of the which we trust shortly to have the public bull or writ from the pope."
At last the said bishop required and desired of all there, of what diocess or country soever they were, that they would copy out the aforesaid privileges, and send them abroad into their countries, that all men might see what they were, and how far they did extend. In fine, the matter coming into open disputation, it was concluded by Master Giles, one of the Augustine friars, (who was thought to be most reasonable of all the other friars,) in this wise, that after his sentence the prelates were in the truer part.
Concerning this wrangling contention between the university and friars of France, here before mentioned, whereof partly the original cause may be understood, by that which hath been said, to rise upon certain privileges granted by popes to the friars, to intermeddle in matters of parish churches; as to hear confessions, to preach and teach, with power thereto annexed to gather for their labour, to bury within their houses, and to receive impropriations, &c., because it were too long here to describe the full circumstances thereof, also because the said contention did endure a long time not only in France, but also came over into England; the whole discourse thereof more amply, Christ willing, shall be declared in the beginning of the next book following, when we come to the story of Armachanus.
About what time and year this brawl was in the university of Paris, between the friars and prelates there, as hath been declared, the like contention happened also in the university of Oxford, in the year above prefixed, 1354, save only that the strife among the masters of Paris, as it rose upon friarly ceremonies, so it went no further than brawling words and matter of excommunication; but this tumult, rising of a drunken cause, proceeded further unto bloody stripes. The first original whereof began in a tavern, between a scholar and the good man of the house; who, falling together in altercation, grew to such heat of words, that the student (contra jus hospitii) poured the wine upon the head of the host, and brake his head with the quart pot. Upon this occasion given, eftsoons parts began to be taken between the townsmen and the scholars; insomuch that grievous sedition and conflict followed upon the same, wherein many of the townsmen were wounded, and to the, number of twenty slain; divers also of the scholars were grievously hurt. The space of two days this hurly-burly continued. Upon the second day certain religious and devout persons ordained a solemn procession general, to pray for peace. Yet notwithstanding all that procession, as holy as it was, it would not bring peace. In the which procession, the skirmish still waxing hot, one of the students, being hardly pursued by the townsmen, for succour in his flight came running to the priest or friar, who carried about, as the manner was, the pix; thinking to find refuge at the presence of the transubstantiated god of the altar there carried imboxed. Notwithstanding, the god being not there present, or else not seeing him, or else peradventure being asleep, the scholar found there small help; for the townsmen in heat of the chase, forgetting belike the virtue of the pope's transubstantiation, followed him so hard, that in the presence of the pix they brake his head, and wounded him grievously. This done, at length some peace or truce for that day was taken. The next morrow following, other townsmen in the villages about, joining with the townsmen of Oxford, confederated together in great force and power to set upon the students there, and so did, having a black flag borne before them, and so invaded the university men; whereupon the scholars being overmatched, and compelled to flee into their halls and hostels, were so pursued by their enemies, that twenty of the doors of their halls and chambers were broke open, and many of them wounded, and, as it is said, slain and thrown into privies; their books with knives and bills cut all in pieces, and much of their goods carried away. And thus the students of that university, being conquered by the townsmen of Oxford, and of the country about, departed and left the university; so that for a time the schools there, and all school acts, did utterly cease from all exercise of study, except only Merton college-hall, with a few other remaining behind.
This being done the twelfth day of February, the queen at the same time being at Woodstock was brought to bed, and purified on the first Sunday in Lent, with great solemnity of jousting. About which time the bishop of Lincoln, their diocesan, hearing of this excessive outrage, sendeth his inhibition to all parsons and priests, forbidding them throughout all Oxford, to celebrate mass or any divine service in the presence of any lay person within the said town of Oxford, interdicting withal the whole town; which interdiction endured the space of a whole year and more.
The king also sent thither his justices to examine and inquire of the matter, before whom divers laymen and of the clergy were indicted, and four of the chief burgesses of the said town were indicted, and by the king's commandment sent to the Tower of London, and were there imprisoned. At length, through much labour of the nobles, the king so took up the matter, that sending his writings unto all sheriffs in England, he offered pardon to all and singular students of that university, wheresoever dispersed, for that transgression; whereby the university in short time was replenished again as before. Moreover, it was granted to the vice-chancellor or commissary, as they term him, of the town and university of Oxford, to have the assize of bread, ale, wine, and all other victual, the mayor of the said town being excluded. Also it was granted and decreed, that the commons of Oxford should give to the university of Oxford two hundred pounds sterling, in part of satisfaction for their excesses; reserved, notwithstanding, to every one of the students his several action against any several person of the townsmen, &c.
About the year of our Lord 1354, the king, with the consent of his council, revoked home again out of Flanders the staple of wool, with all things thereunto appertaining, and stablished the same in sundry places within the realm, namely, in Westminster, Canterbury, Chichester, Bristol, Lincoln, and in Hull; which staple, after A.D. 1362, was translated over into Calais.
Of Simon Islip, archbishop of Canterbury, mentioned a little before, I read in the said author above specified, that he, by his letters patent, directed to all parsons and vicars within his province, straitly charged them and their parishioners, under pain of excommunication, not to abstain from bodily labour upon certain saints' days, which before were wont to be hallowed and consecrated to unthrifty idleness. Item, that to priests should be given no more for their yearly stipend, but three pounds, six shillings, and eight pence, which made divers of them to rob and steal, &c. A.D. 1362. The next year following, which was 1363, the aforesaid King Edward kept his parliament at London, in the month of October; wherein was prohibited, that gold nor silver should be worn in knives, girdles, brooches, rings, or in any other ornament belonging to the body, except the wearer might dispend ten pounds a year. Item, that none should wear either silks or costly furs, except such as might dispend one hundred pounds a year. Also that merchant venturers should not export over any merchandise out of the realm, or seek for wines in other countries; whereby other nations should be constrained rather to seek to us, &c. But none of this did take any great effect.
After this Simon Islip, as is above recorded, followed Simon Langham, then William Wittlesey, after whom next in the place succeeded Simon Sudbury.
Much about the same time the nuns of St. Bridget's order began first; about which time also was builded the Queen's college in Oxford, by Queen Philippa of England, wife to King Edward the Third.
Moreover, in the time of this Pope Innocent, friar John Lyle, bishop of Ely, moved with certain injuries, as he thought, done to him by the Lady Blanch, made his complaint to the pope; who sending down his curse to the bishop of Lincoln and other prelates, to be executed upon the adversaries of the bishop of Ely, commanded them, that if they did know any of the said adversaries dead and buried, that notwithstanding, they should cause the same to be taken up: which also they performed accordingly, of whom some had been of the king's council; wherefore the king being displeased, and not unworthily, did trouble and molest again the said prelates. This coming to the pope's hearing, certain were directed down from the court of Rome, in the behalf of the aforesaid bishop of Ely, who meeting with the bishop of Rochester, the king's treasurer, delivered unto him, being armed, letters from the bishop of Rome, the tenor whereof was not known. Which done, they incontinently avoided away; but certain of the king's servants pursuing, did overtake them; of whom some they imprisoned, some they brought to the justices, and so they were condemned to be hanged. Wherein may appear what reverence the pope's letters, in this king's days, had in this realm of England. This Pope Innocent ordained the feast of the Holy Spear, and of the Holy Nails.
Forasmuch as Satan, being chained up all this while for the space of a thousand years, beginneth about this time to be loosed and to come abroad, according to the forewarning of St. John's Revelation; therefore, to conclude the Fourth Book, wherein sufficiently hath been described the excessive pride and pomp of antichrist, flourishing in his ruff and security, from the time of William the Conqueror hitherto; now, Christ willing and assisting us thereunto, we mind in these latter books hereafter following, in order of history to express the latter persecutions and horrible troubles of the church, raised up by Satan, in his minister antichrist, with the resistance again of Christ's church against him. And so to prosecute, by the merciful grace of Christ, the proceeding and course of times, till we come at length to the fall and ruin of the said antichrist; to the intent that if any be in such error to think that antichrist is yet to come, he may consider and ponder well the tragical rages, the miserable and most sorrowful persecutions, murders, and vexations of these latter three hundred years now following, and then I doubt not but he will be put out of all doubt, and know that not only antichrist is already come, but also will know where he sitteth, and how he is now falling apace, the Lord Christ be thanked for ever, to his decay and confusion.
END OF PART 1