80. HERFORD, REPPINGTON AND ASHTON
Item, the twelfth day of June, in the year aforesaid, in the chamber of the Friars Preachers, the aforesaid Master Robert Rigges, chancellor of the university of Oxford, and Thomas Brightwell, professors of divinity, being appointed the same day and place, by the aforesaid reverend father in God, archbishop of Canterbury, appeared before him in the presence of the reverend father in God, Lord William, by the grace of God, bishop of Winchester, and divers other doctors and bachelors of divinity, and of the canon and civil law, whose names are before recited. And first, the said chancellor, by the said lord archbishop of Canterbury, being examined what his opinion was touching the aforesaid articles, publicly affirmed and declared, that certain of those conclusions were heretical, and certain erroneous, as the other doctors and clerks aforementioned had declared. And then immediately next after him the aforesaid Thomas Brightwell was examined, who upon some of the conclusions at first somewhat staggered, but in the end being by the said archbishop diligently examined upon the same, did affirm and dispute the same to be heretical and erroneous, as the aforesaid chancellor had done. Another bachelor of divinity, also, there was, named N., stammering also at some of those conclusions, but in the end affirmed that his opinion therein was as was the judgment of the aforesaid chancellor and Thomas, as is above declared. Whereupon the said lord archbishop of Canterbury, willing to let and hinder the peril of such heresies and errors, delivered unto the aforesaid chancellor, there being publicly read, his letters patent to be executed, the tenor whereof in these words doth follow.
"William, by the grace of God archbishop of Canterbury, primate of all England, and legate of the apostolic see: To our well-beloved son in Christ, the chancellor of the university of Oxford, within the diocese of Lincoln, greeting, grace, and benediction. The prelates of the church, about the Lord's flock committed to their charge, ought to be so much more vigilant as that they see the wolf, clothed in sheep's attire, fraudulently go about to worry and scatter the sheep. Doubtless, the common fame and rumour is come unto our ears. We will, therefore, and command, straitly enjoining you, that the church of our blessed Lady in Oxford, upon those days in the which accustomably the sermon is made, as also in the schools of the said university upon those days the lectures be read, ye publish, and cause by others to be published, to the clergy and people; as well in their vulgar tongue, as in the Latin tongue, manifestly and plainly, without any curious implication, the same heretical and erroneous conclusions, so repugnant to the determination of holy church, as is aforesaid, to have been and be condemned; which conclusions we also declare by these our letters to be utterly condemned. And furthermore that you forbid, and canonically admonish, and cause to be admonished, as we by the tenor of these presents do forbid and admonish you, once, twice, and thrice, and that peremptorily, that none hereafter hold, teach, and preach, or defend the heresies and errors above said, or any of them, either in school or out of school, by any sophistical cavilling or otherwise; or that any admit to preach, hear, or hearken unto, John Wickliff, Nicholas Herford, Philip Reppington, canon regular, or John Ashton, or Lawrence Redman, who be vehemently and notoriously suspected of heresy, or else any other whatsoever, so suspected or defamed; or that either privately or publicly they either aid or favour them or any of them, but that immediately they shun and avoid the same as a serpent which putteth forth most pestiferous poison. And furthermore, we suspend the said suspected persons from all scholastical act, till such time as they shall purge themselves before us in that behalf; and we enjoin that you denounce the same publicly by us to have been and be suspended; and that ye diligently and faithfully inquire of all their abettors and favourers, and cause to be inquired throughout all the halls of the said university. And that when you shall have intelligence of their names and persons, that ye compel all, and every of them, to abjure their outrages by ecclesiastical censures and other pains canonical whatsoever, under pain of the greater curse, the which against all and singular the rebellious in this behalf, and disobeying our monitions, we pronounce; so that their fault, deceit, and offence in this behalf deserve the same, (the said monition of ours being first sent,) which in this behalf we esteem and allow canonical, that then and again, according to the effect of these our letters, &c., the absolution of all and singular such, which shall incur the sentence of this instrument by us sent forth, (which God forbid,) we specially reserve unto ourselves; exhorting you, the chancellor, by the sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ, that to the uttermost of your power hereafter you do your endeavour, that the clergy and people being subject unto you, if there be any which have strayed from the catholic faith by such errors, may be brought home again to the laud and honour of His name that was crucified, and preservation of the true faith. And further, our will is, that whatsoever you shall do in the premises, in manner and form of our process in this behalf it be had and done; and that you, for your part, when you shall be required thereunto, plainly and distinctly do certify us by your letters patent, having the tenor hereof."
The conclusions and articles here mentioned in this letter are above prefixed. Of which some were condemned for heretical, some for erroneous. After this, within few days the aforesaid archbishop, William Courtney, directed down his letters of admonition to Robert Rigges, commissary of Oxford, for the repressing of this doctrine; which still notwithstanding, both then, and yet to this day (God be praised) doth remain.
The examination of Nicholas Herford, Philip Reppington, and John Ashton.
The eighteenth day of the month and year aforesaid, in the chamber of the Preaching Friars before mentioned, before the aforesaid archbishop, in the presence of divers doctors and bachelors of divinity, and many lawyers both canon and civil, whose names are underwritten, appeared Master Nicholas Her-ford, Philip Reppington, and John Ashton, bachelors of divinity, who, after a corporal oath taken to show their judgment upon the conclusions aforesaid, were examined severally, each one by himself, before the archbishop; who there required day and place to deliberate upon the conclusions aforesaid, and to give their answer unto the same in writing; and also required to have a copy of the said conclusions to be delivered unto them. The which copy the said Nicholas and Philip (being openly read unto them) received. Also the aforesaid Master John Ashton likewise was examined, and judicially admonished by the said archbishop by virtue of his oath, that he, setting aside all sophistical words and subtleties, would say his mind fully and plainly upon the conclusions aforesaid. And being asked, moreover, by the said archbishop whether he would have a further day to deliberate upon his answers, as the aforesaid Nicholas and Philip had before, he said expressly that he would not, but would answer presently to those conclusions; and so for final answer said, as concerning all these conclusions, (containing them all together,) that his judgment was in this behalf to hold his peace. Wherefore, the aforesaid archbishop, reputing the said John herein to be suspected, admonished him in form of words as followeth: "We admonish thee, John Ashton, whom we repute to be defamed, and notoriously suspected of heresy, the first, the second, and third time, that in our province of Canterbury hereafter thou do not preach publicly or privately, without our special licence, under pain of the greater curse, which we denounce here by these presents against thy person, if thou obey not our monitions, for now as for then." And consequently, forasmuch as the said John, being asked of the archbishop, confessed that he had heard before of the publication of the archbishop's mandate, wherein was contained, that no person prohibited or not sent should preach hereafter, the aforesaid archbishop assigned to him Friday next following, which was the twentieth day of the same month, after dinner, to appear before him either at Lambeth, or in the same place, to say for himself wherefore he might not be pronounced for a heretic, and for such a one to be denounced through his whole province. Also the said archbishop assigned to the aforesaid Nicholas and Philip, the said day and place to answer peremptorily, and to say fully and plainly to the conclusions aforesaid, all sophistication of words and disputation set apart.
The names of the friars that sat upon them -- Friars Preachers, seven: Thomas Barnewell, William Swinherd, William Pickworth, Thomas Whately, Lawrence Grenham, John Leigh, John Haker. Carmelites, three: Walter Dish, John Kiningham, John Lovey. Augustine Friar: Thomas Ashborne, doctor.
At the time and place above prefixed, before the aforesaid archbishop, sitting in his tribunal seat, in the presence of divers doctors of divinity, and lawyers both civil and canon, personally appeared Master Nicholas Herford, and Philip Reppington, bachelors of divinity, and John Ashton, master of arts. The aforesaid Nicholas and Philip, being required by the said archbishop to answer, and say fully and plainly their judgment upon the conclusions prefixed, to which purpose the archbishop had assigned to the said Nicholas and Philip the same term, did exhibit to the archbishop, there judicially sitting, certain answers in writing, contained after the manner of indenture. The tenor of which indenture, containing the aforesaid conclusions, followeth in these words.
The protestation of Nicholas Herford, Philip Reppington, and John Ashton, with their articles and answers.E protest here as before, publicly in these presents, that we intend to be humble and faithful children to the church and Holy Scripture, and to obey in all things the determinations of the church. And if it shall chance to us at any time, which God forbid, to swerve from this our intention, we submit ourselves humbly to the correction of our reverend father, lord archbishop of Canterbury, and primate of all England, and of all other who have interest to correct such swervers. This protestation premised, thus we answer to the conclusions aforesaid.
"'That the substance of material bread and wine remaineth in the sacrament of the altar after consecration.'
"After the sense contrary to the decretal, beginning Firmiter credimus:-- We grant that it is heresy.
"'That the accidents do not remain without the subject after consecration of the sacrament.'
"After the sense contrary to that decretal, Cum Marthe:-- We grant that it is heresy.
"'That Christ is not in the sacrament of the altar truly and really in his own corporal presence.'
"Although this conclusion, as the words stand, sound to be probable and intelligible, yet, in the sense contrary to the decretal in Cle. Si dudum, we grant that it is heresy. And, briefly, concerning this whole matter of the sacrament of the altar, as touching also all other things, we profess that we will both in word and sense hold with the Holy Scripture, with the determination of the holy church, and sayings of the holy doctors.
"Obstinately to affirm that it hath no foundation in the gospel, that Christ ordained the mass:' -- We grant that it is heresy.
"'That God ought to obey the devil.'
"In this sense, that God in his own person or essence, ought to obey the devil with the obedience of necessity:-- We grant that it is heresy.
"'If a man be duly contrite, that all external confession is to him superfluous and unprofitable:' --We grant that it is heresy.
"'If the pope be a reprobate and an evil man, and consequently a member of the devil, he hath no power over the faithful of Christ given to him of any, unless it be of Cæsar:' -- We grant that it is heresy.
"That after Pope Urban the Sixth, none is to be received for pope, but that we ought to live after the manner of the Grecians, under our own laws:' -- We grant that it is heresy.
"That it is against the Holy Scripture for ecclesiastical persons to have temporal possessions:' -- If obstinacy be joined withal, we grant that it is heresy.
"'That no prelate ought to excommunicate any man, unless he know him before to be excommunicate of God:' -- - We grant that it is an error; understanding this knowledge to signify an experimental knowledge; so that herewith may stand the decree of the church.
"'That he who doth so excommunicate, is thereby a heretic or excommunicate:' -- After the sense, agreeing with the other before, we grant this to be an error.
"'That a prelate excommunicating a clerk, which appealeth to the king or council of the realm, in so doing is a traitor to God, the king, and the realm: '-- We grant it is an error.
"'That they which leave off to preach, or to hear the word of God, and the gospel preached, for the excommunication of men, are excommunicate, and in the day of judgment shall be counted traitors to God:' -- Understanding this conclusion universally, so as Scripture and laws do understand such indefinite propositions, we grant it is an error.
"'That it is lawful for any deacon or priest to preach the word of God without the authority of the see apostolic, or catholic bishop, or of any other whose authority he knoweth sufficient:' -- We grant it is an error.
"'That there is no civil lord, no bishop, nor prelate, whilst he is in mortal sin:' -- We grant it is an error.
"'That temporal lords may at their pleasure take away the temporal goods from churches offending habitualiter: -- We grant it is an error, after this sense, that they may so take away temporal goods of the churches, without the cases limited in the laws of the church and kingdoms.
"'That the vulgar people may correct the lords offending at their pleasure:' -- Understanding by this word 'may,' that they may do it by the law, we grant it is an error, because that subjects have no power over their lords.
"'That tithes are pure alms, and that parishioners may, for the offences of their curates, detain the same, and bestow them on others at their pleasure: '-- Understanding by this word 'may,' as before, to be, 'may by the law,' we grant it is an error. "'
"'That special prayers applied to any one person by prelates or religious men, do no more profit than the general prayers if there be no let by the way to make them unlike:' -- Understanding this conclusion universally negative, and understanding by special prayers, the prayers made upon special devotion, and general prayers of general devotion; then, after this sense, no such special prayers, applied to any one person, by special orators, do profit more specially the said person, than general prayers do, which are made of the same, and for the same persons, we grant it is an error.
"'That he that giveth alms to the friars, or to any friar that preacheth, is excommunicate; both he that giveth, and he that taketh: '-- Understanding this proposition universally or conditionally, as is aforesaid, we grant it to be an error.
"'That whoso entereth into any private religion whatsoever is thereby made more unapt and unmeet to obey the commandments of God:' -- We grant it is an error.
"'That such holy men as did institute any private religions whatsoever, as well of secular having possessions, as of friars having none, in so instituting did sin:' -- Understanding this reduplicatively or universally, we grant it an error, after this sense, that what saint soever did institute private religion, instituting the said religion upon that consideration as they did, did sin.
"'That religious men, living in private religions, be not of the religion of Christ:' -- Understanding the proposition universally, as is aforesaid, we grant it is an error.
"'That friars are bound to get their living by the labour of their hands, and not by begging:' -- Understanding this proposition universally, as before, we grant it is an error.
"These things have we spoken, reverend father and lord, in all humility, under your gracious supportation and benign correction, according to our abilities and slender capacities for this present, (the honour of God, the verity of our belief, and safe conscience in all points reserved,) more humbly yet beseeching you, that if any other thing there be, that seemeth meet unto your excellency and discretion to be more or otherwise said and spoken, that your gracious fatherhood would vouchsafe to inform us as children, by the sacred Scriptures, by the determination of the church, or authorities of the holy doctors. And, doubtless, with ready wills and obedient minds, we will consent and agree unto your wholesome doctrine. May it therefore please your fatherhood, right reverend in God, according to the accustomed manner of your benignity, favourably to accept these our words and sayings, forasmuch as the aforesaid conclusions were never by us either in schools affirmed, or else in sermons publicly preached."
Further examinations and proceedings against the aforesaid Nicholas Herford, Philip Reppington, and John Ashton.
When all these answers were made unto the said lord archbishop of Canterbury, the said Nicholas and Philip, for that they answered not unto the meaning and words of the first conclusion expressly, but contrary to the sense of the decretal Firmiter credimus, were there judicially examined what their sense and meaning was; but they would not express the same. Then was it demanded of them, according to the sense of the same conclusion declared on the behalf of the said lord of Canterbury, whether the same material bread in numero, which before the consecration is laid upon the altar, remain in proper substance and nature, after the consecration in the sacrament of the altar; and likewise of the wine? To this the said Nicholas and Philip answered, that for that time they could say no more therein, than that they had already answered, as is before alleged in writing. And for that unto the sense and words of the second conclusion they answered not fully and expressly, but in a sense contrary to the decretal Cum Marthe; being asked what was their meaning, they would not express the same: therefore it was demanded of them, according to the sense of the same conclusion, declared in the behalf of the said lord of Canterbury, whether those corporal accidents which formally were in the bread and wine before the consecration of them, were in the same bread and wine after the consccration, or else were subjected in any other substance? To this they answered: that to answer better than, before in their writings, they already had, for that time they could not. To the meaning also and words of the third conclusion, for that they answered not plainly and expressly, but in sense contrary to the decretal in the Clementines, Si dudum, being asked what was that sense and meaning, would not declare the same. Wherefore it was then demanded of them, according to the sense of the same conclusion, declared on the behalf of the said lord of Canterbury, whether the same body of Christ, which was assumed of the Virgin, be in the sacrament of the altar, secundum seipsum, even as he is really in carnal substance, proper essence, and nature? To this they answered, that for that time they could say no more than that they had said, as before is specified in writing.
Furthermore, to the sense and text of the sixth conclusion, for that they answered not fully and expressly, being asked whether God owed any manner of obedience to the devil or not? they said, Yea, as the obedience of love, because he loveth him, and punished him as he ought. And to prove that God ought so to obey the devil, they offered themselves to the fire.
To the eleventh conclusion, for that they answered not expressly, being asked whether a prelate might excommunicate any man being in the state of grace? they said, Yea.
Unto the twentieth conclusion, for that they answered not fully, simply, and expressly; being demanded whether special or general prayers did most profit, and were of greater force, they would not say but that special did.
Unto the last conclusion, for that they answered neither simply, nor expressly; and being demanded particularly, whether any friar were bound to get his living with his manual labour, so that it might not be lawful for him to live by begging, they would make no answer at all.
After that, the aforesaid lord archbishop of Canterbury demanded of all the aforesaid doctors, what their judgment was touching the answers that were made upon all and singular such conclusions. All which doctors and every of them severally said, that all the answers given unto the first, second, third, and sixth conclusions, (as is before recited,) were insufficient, heretical, and subtle; and that all the answers made specially to the ninth, tenth, and last conclusions, as is above mentioned, were insufficient, erroneous, and perverse. Whereupon the said lord archbishop of Canterbury, considering the said answers to be heretical, subtle, erroneous, and perverse, accordingly as the said doctors (as is aforesaid) had weighed and considered, admonished the said Nicholas and Philip sufficiently under this form of words.
Illustration -- Trial of Herford, Reppington and Ashton
"The name of Christ being called upon, we, William, by God's permission, archbishop of Canterbury, metropolitan of all England, and legate of the apostolic see, and through all our province of Canterbury, inquisitor of all heretical pravity, do sufficiently and lawfully admonish and cite you, Nicholas Herford, and Philip Reppington, professors of divinity, having this day and place assigned you by your own consent and our appointment, peremptorily to answer and to say fully and plainly your opinions touching these conclusions, whereunto we do refer you, (all subtle, sophistical, and logical words set apart,) being thereunto sworn, cited, and commanded. Which thing to do, without cause reasonable or any licence given thereunto, you neither have been willing, nor are willing; nay, rather ye contemptuously refused to answer to some of those conclusions before us judicially, according to the effect of our monition, citation, and commandment aforesaid. But for that ye have answered unto some of them heretically, and to other some erroneously, although not fully; we admonish and cite you once, twice, and thrice, and that peremptorily, that plainly and fully (all subtle, sophistical, and logical words set apart) you and every of you answer unto the same conclusions, and unto that sense and meaning by us limited, under the pain that otherwise such conclusions by you confessed deserve, and that for the same conclusions you ought to have."
Which admonition being made and done, for that the aforesaid Nicholas and Philip would make none other answer, the said lord archbishop of Canterbury concluded that business, prefixing and assigning unto the aforesaid Nicholas and Philip eight days' space; that is to say, until the twenty-seventh day of the same month, and that then they should appear before the said lord archbishop of Canterbury, wheresoever within the same his province of Canterbury he should fortune to be, to hear his decree that should be made in that behalf. This done, the aforesaid archbishop of Canterbury admonished and cited lawfully and sufficiently John Ashton, under the tenor of these words following.
"In the name of God; we, William, by God's mission, archbishop of Canterbury, primate of all England, legate of the see apostolical, and through all our province of Canterbury, of all heretical pravity chief inquisitor, do admonish and cite thee, John Ashton, master of arts, and student in divinity, appearing before us, judicially to say and speak the plain verity touching these conclusions, to the which we do refer thee, and to the which we have caused thee to swear, laying thy hand upon a book; as being also otherwise by us admonished and commanded to keep this day and place by us appointed, for the third time peremptorily, to propone such reasonable cause (if thou hast any) wherefore thou oughtest not to be pronounced a heretic. And sufficiently and lawfully we admonish and cite thee, the first, second, and third time, and that peremptorily, that thou fully and plainly (all subtle, sophistical, and logical words set apart) do answer unto the same conclusions under the pain that unto such conclusions belong, and on thy part confessed, and that thou for such conclusions oughtest to suffer." Which monition being thus premised, the said archbishop read the first conclusion, and of the said John inquired what was his opinion and meaning therein? and hereupon he said his mind concerning the aforesaid monition. Then the aforesaid John Ashton, being often required by the archbishop, that he would answer in the Latin tongue to those questions which were demanded of him, because of the lay people that stood about him; he, crying out in the English tongue, uttered frivolous and opprobrious contumelies to move and excite the people against the said archbishop, as it should seem. Neither did he unto the first conclusions, nor unto any of these other conclusions, effectually and pertinently seem to them to answer; but rather by subtleties and shifts, saying oftentimes, and as expressly as Luke said, it was sufficient for him to believe as the holy church believed. Then the said archbishop examined him upon the first conclusion touching the sacrament of the altar; whether that after the words of consecration there remaineth material bread, particular bread, or universal bread? He said the matter passed his understanding, and therefore said, he would in that form and manner answer, and otherwise not: but amongst other things, he spake in deriding-wise unto the said archbishop against this word material, saying, You may put that in your purse, if you have any. Whereupon the said archbishop calling that an unwise and foolish answer, as the rest of the doctors did, (of whom mention was made before,) the rather for that he was a graduate in the schools, further proceeded against the said John Ashton in this wise.
"And thou John Ashton, admonished and commanded by us, as is aforesaid, after thine oath taken, without any reasonable cause or any other licence, neither wouldest thou, nor yet wilt, but refusedst, and yet dost contemptuously, to answer unto such conclusions before us; judicially, according to our monition and commandment aforesaid, we do hold all such conclusions to be by thee confessed, and thee, the aforesaid John, with all thy aforesaid conclusions, convicted. And therefore we do pronounce and declare by sentence giving, that thou John Ashton, concerning those conclusions, whichby us with good deliberation of divers prelates our suffragans, and also divers and sundry professors of divinity, and other wise men and learned in the law, according to the canonical sanctions, being condemned and declared for a heretic and heretical, hast been and still art a heretic, and thy conclusions heretical. And as touching thy other conclusions, by us heretofore counted erroneous, and for erroneous condemned, we do pronounce and declare sententially by these our writings, both that thou hast erred, and dost err."
Upon the same twentieth day of June, in the year and place above recited, the aforesaid lord of Canterbury being desirous, as he pretended, to be informed by Thomas Hilman, bachelor of divinity, there being present, and somewhat favouring the said Master John Ashton, what his judgment and opinion was touching the aforesaid conclusions, prefixed and assigned unto the said Thomas (for that time demanding the same deliberation and day) eight days after, that is to say, the twenty-eighth of the said month, to appear before the archbishop of Canterbury, wheresoever within his said province of Canterbury he should then happen to be, to declare plainly and fully what his judgment and opinion was touching the aforesaid conclusions.
The Friday next following, that is to say, the twenty-eighth day of June, A. D. 1382, the aforesaid Nicholas Herford, Philip Reppington, and Thomas Hilman, appeared before the said archbishop and lord inquisitor of Canterbury, in the chapel of his manor of Otford, in the diocese of Canterbury, there sitting in his tribunal seat; to whom the said bishop of Canterbury saying, that because at that time he had not the presence and assistance of the doctors in divinity and of the canon and civil law, he continued the said business touching the said Nicholas, Philip, and Thomas, in the same state wherein then it was, till Tuesday next and immediately ensuing, that is to say, the first day of July, the year of our Lord aforesaid; and prefixed unto the said Nicholas, Philip, and Thomas Hilman the same day to appear before him, wheresoever within his province of Canterbury he should then chance to be, to do that which upon the said twenty-eighth day they were purposed to do together or apart.
Which Tuesday being come, the aforesaid archbishop, in the chief house of his church at Canterbury, before the hour of nine, with the doctors whose names are under contained, and other clerks a great multitude, expected the aforesaid Nicholas, Philip, and Thomas a long time, the beadle calling them and looking after them; who, nevertheless, appeared not before two of the clock after dinner the same day, continuing the aforesaid business in the pristine state till the same hour; at which hour the aforesaid archbishop of Canterbury, having assistants the doctors and clerks under recited, examined the aforesaid Master Thomas Hilman, then and there judicially appearing, what his opinion was touching the aforesaid conclusions; who, at them and the meaning of them somewhat stammering, at last, to all and singular the same conclusions then to him read and expounded, thus answered: "I suppose and judge all and singular those conclusions lately condemned by my lord of Canterbury that now is, together with the counsel and consent of his clerks, to be heretical and erroneous, even as the same my lord of Canterbury and other doctors of divinity, of the canon and civil law, by common consent and counsel, have supposed and thought. And the same, being for heresies and errors, as before is said, condemned, I do, as much as in me is, condemn; protesting that I will hold and affirm the contrary of those conclusions, and in the same faith live and die." Then the said archbishop of Canterbury, then and there sitting as tribunal or judge, pronouncing the said Masters Nicholas and Philip, long in court called before and tarried for, and yet not appearing, guilty of contumacy and disobedience, excommunicated them for the penalty of this their contumacy.
Against this blind excommunication of the said archbishop the parties excommunicate commenced and exhibited their appeal unto the bishop of Rome; which appeal of theirs, as insufficient, or rather to him unpleasant, the said archbishop utterly rejected, (as might oftentimes overcometh right,) proceeding in his preconceived excommunication against them, and writing moreover his letters to him that should preach next at Paul's Cross, as is aforesaid, to denounce and to publish openly the said Nicholas Herford and Philip Reppington to be excommunicate, for not appearing at their term assigned, which was in the thirteenth day of the month of July.
This archbishop, moreover, the said year, the month and day aforesaid, sent also another letter to Master Rigges, commissary of Oxford, straitly enjoining and charging him, not only to denounce the said sentence of excommunication, and to give out public citation against them, but also to make diligent search and inquisition through all Oxford for them, to have them apprehended and sent up to him, personally before him to appear at a certain day, prescribed for the same. Whereby may appear how busy this bishop was in disquieting and persecuting these poor men, whom rather he should have nourished and cherished as his brethren. But as his labour is past, so his reward will follow, at what day the great Archbishop of our souls shall judicially appear in his tribunal seat, to judge both the quick and the dead.
The archbishop, not yet contented with this, doth moreover by all means possible solicit the king to join withal the power of his temporal sword; for that he well perceived, that hitherto as yet the popish clergy had not authority sufficient, by any public law or statute of this land, to proceed unto death against any person whatsoever, in case of religion, but only by the usurped tyranny and example of the court of Rome. Where note (gentle reader) for thy better understanding, the practice of the Romish prelates in seeking the king's help to further their bloody purpose against the good saints of God. Which king being but young, and under years of ripe judgment, partly induced, or rather seduced, by importune suit of the aforesaid archbishop, partly also either for fear of the bishops, (for kings cannot always do in their realms what they will,) or else perhaps enticed by some hope of subsidy to be gathered by the clergy, was content to adjoin his private assent (such as it was) to the setting down of an ordinance, which was indeed the very first law that is to be found made against religion and the professors thereof, bearing the name of an act made in the parliament holden at Westminster, in the fifth year of Richard the Second; where among sundry other statutes then published, and yet remaining in the printed books of statutes, this supposed statute is to be found, cap. 5, et ultimo.
Item, forasmuch as it is openly known that there be divers evil persons within the realm, going from country to country, and from town to town, in certain habits under dissimulation of great holiness, and without the licence of the ordinaries of the places, or other sufficient authority, preaching not only in churches and churchyards, but also in markets, fairs, and other open places where a great congregation of people is, divers sermons containing heresies and notorious errors, to the great emblemishing of Christian faith, and destruction of the laws and of the estate of holy church, to the great peril of the souls of the people, and of all the realm of England, as more plainly is found, and sufficiently proved before the reverend father in God, the archbishop of Canterbury, and the bishops and other prelates, masters of divinity, and doctors of canon and of civil law, and a great part of the clergy, of the said realm, specially assembled for this great cause; which persons do also preach divers matters of slander, to engender discord and dissension betwixt divers estates of the said realm, as well spiritual as temporal, in exciting of the people to the great peril of all the realm; which preachers being cited or summoned before the ordinaries of the places, there to answer to that whereof they be impeached, they will not obey to their summons and commandments, nor care for their monitions, or censures of the holy church, but expressly despise them; and moreover, by their subtle and ingenious words, do draw the people to hear their sermons, and do maintain them in their errors by strong hand, and by great routs; it is ordained and assented in this present parliament, that the king's commissions be made and directed to the sheriffs and other ministers of our sovereign lord the king, or other sufficient persons learned, and according to the certifications of the prelates thereof, to be made in the chancery from time to time, to arrest all such preachers, and also their favourers, maintainers, and abettors, and to hold them in arrest and strong prison, till they will justify themselves according to the law and reason of holy church. And the king willeth and commandeth that the chancellor make such commissions at all times, that he, by the prelates, or any of them, shall be certified and thereof required, as is aforesaid.
An examination of the aforesaid supposed statute, and of the invalidity thereof.
Which supposed statute, forasmuch as it was the principal ground whereupon proceeded all the persecution of that time, it is therefore not impertinent to examine the same more particularly, whereby it shall appear, that as the same was fraudulently and unduly devised by the prelates only, so was it in like manner most injuriously and unorderly executed by them. For immediately upon the publishing of this law, without further warrant either from the king or his council, commissions under the great seal of England were made in this form: "Richard, by the grace of God," &c.; ut patet act., above; "witness myself, at Westminster, the twenty-sixth day of June, in the sixth year of our reign;" without more words of warrant underwritten, such as in like cases are both usual and requisite; viz. per ipsum regem: per regem et concilium; per breve de privato sigillo: all or any which words being utterly wanting in this place, as may be seen in the king's records of that time, it must therefore be done either by warrant of this aforesaid statute, or else without any warrant at all. Whereupon it is to be noted, that whereas the said statute appointed the commissions to be directed to the sheriff, or other ministers of the king's, or to other sufficient persons learned, for the arresting of such persons; the said commissions are directed to the archbishop and his suffragans, being, as it appeareth, parties in the case, authorizing them further, without either the words or reasonable meaning of the said statute, to imprison them in their own houses, or where else pleased them.
Besides also, what manner of law this was, by whom devised, and by what authority the same was first made and established, judge by that that followeth: viz.
In the Utas of St. Michael next following, at a parliament summoned and holden at Westminster, the sixth year of the said king, among sundry petitions made to the king by his commons, whereunto he assented, there is one in this form, article 52.
"Item, praying the commons, that whereas a statute was made the last parliament, in these words: It is ordained in this present parliament, that commissions from the king be directed to the sheriffs and other ministers of the king, or to other sufficient persons skilful, and according to the certificates of the prelates thereof, to be made unto the chancery from time to time, to arrest all such preachers, and their favourers, maintainers, and abettors; and them to detain in strong prison, until they will justify themselves according to reason, and law of holy church: and the king willeth and commandeth that the chancellor make such commissions at all times as he shall be by the prelates or any of them certified, and thereof required, as is aforesaid.' The which was never agreed nor granted by the commons; but whatsoever was moved therein, was without their assent: That the said statute be therefore disannulled. For it is not in any wise their meaning, that either themselves, or such as shall succeed them, shall be further justified or bound by the prelates, than were their ancestors in former times: whereunto is answered, Il plaist al roy, that is, 'The king is pleased.'"
Hereby, notwithstanding the former unjust law of the fifth of Richard the Second was repealed, and the fraud of the framers thereof sufficiently discovered, yet such means was there made by the pre.lates, that this act of repeal was never published, nor ever since imprinted with the rest of the statutes of that parliament; insomuch as the said repeal being concealed, like commissions and other process were made from time to time, by virtue of the said bastard statute, as well during all the reign of this king, as ever since, against the professors of religion, as shall hereafter, by the grace of God, appear in the second year of King Henry the Fourth, where the clergy pursued the like practice. And now again to the story of our Oxford divines, and of the archbishop, to whom the king writeth his letters patent, first to the archbishop, then to the vice-chancellor of Oxford, in form as followeth.
The king's letters patent to the archbishop.ICHARD, by the grace of God, king of England, and lord of Ireland, to all those to whom these present letters shall come, greeting. By the petition of the reverend father in God, William, archbishop of Canterbury, primate of England, exhibited unto us, we right well understand: That divers and sundry conclusions, very contrary to wholesome doctrine, and redounding both to the subversion of the Catholic faith, the holy church, and of his province of Canterbury, in divers and sundry places of the same his province, have been openly and publicly preached, although damnably preached: of the which conclusions, some as heresies, other some as errors, have been condemned, but not before good and mature deliberation first therein had and used; and by common counsel of the said archbishop, his suffragans, and many doctors in divinity, and other clerks and learned men in the Holy Scriptures, were sententially and wholesomely declared. Whereupon the said archbishop hath made his supplication unto us; that both for the coercion and due castigation of such as shall henceforth, of an obstinate mind, preach or maintain the aforesaid conclusions, we would vouchsafe to put to the arm and helping hand of our kingly power. We therefore, moved by the zeal of the Catholic faith, whereof we be and will be defenders, and unwilling that any such heresies or errors should spring up within the limits of our dominion, give and grant special licence and authority, by the tenor of these presents, unto the aforesaid archbishop, and to his suffragans, to arrest and imprison, either in their own prisons or any other, all and every such person and persons, as shall either privily or apertly preach and maintain the aforesaid conclusions, so condemned; and the same persons, so imprisoned there, at their pleasures to detain, till such time as they shall repent them and amend them of such heretical pravities, or else it shall be of such arrests, by us and our council otherwise determined and provided: further charging and commanding all and singular our liegemen, ministers, and subjects, of what state and condition soever they be, upon their fidelity and allegiance, wherein they stand bound to us, that by no means they either favour, counsel, or help the preachers or maintainers of the said conclusions so condemned, or their favourers, upon pain and forfeiture of all that ever they have; but that they obey and humbly attend upon the said archbishop, his suffragans, and ministers, in the execution of these presents; so that due and manifest publication against the aforesaid conclusions and their maintainers, without any perturbation, may be done and executed, as for the defence of our realm and Catholic faith shall be thought most mect and requisite. In witness whereof, we have caused these our letters patent to be made.
Witness ourself at Westminster, the sixteenth of June, and sixth year of our reign.
The king's letters patent to the vice-chancellor.HE king, to the chancellor and the procurators of the university of Oxford which now be, or for the time being shall be, greeting. Moved by the zeal of Christian faith, whereof we be, and always will be, defenders, and for our soul's health induced thereunto, having a great desire to repress, and by condign punishment to restrain the impugners of the aforesaid faith, which newly and wickedly go about, and presume to sow their naughty and perverse doctrine within our kingdom of England, and to preach and hold damnable conclusions, so notoriously repugnant and contrary to the same faith, to the perverting of our subjects and people, as we understand; before they any further proceed in their malicious errors, or else infect others, we have by these presents appointed you to be inquisitor-general, all the chief divines of the said university being your assistants, and the same likewise to be done of all and singular the graduates, divines, and lawyers of the same university. And if they shall know any which be of the jurisdiction of the said university of Oxford, which be probably of them suspected to be in the favour, belief, or defence of any heresy or error, and specially of any one of the conclusions publicly condemned by the reverend father, William, archbishop of Canterbury, by the counsel of his clergy, or else of any other conclusion like unto any of them in meaning, or in words; and that if henceforth you shall find any that shall believe, favour, or defend any of the aforesaid heresies or errors, or any other such-like, or else which shall be so bold to receive into their houses and inns, Master John Wickliff, Master Nicholas Herford, Master Philip Reppington, or Master John Ashton, or any other noted by probable suspicion of any the aforesaid heresies, or errors, or any other like unto them in meaning, or in word; or that shall presume to communicate with any of them, or else to defend or favour any of such favourers, receivers, communicants, and defenders, within seven days after the same shall appear and be manifest unto you, that you banish and expel them from the university and town of Oxford, till such time as they shall declare their innocency before the archbishop of Canterbury for the time being, by manifest purgation. So, notwithstanding, that such as be compelled to purge themselves, you certify us and the said archbishop, under your seals, from time to time within one month, that they be such manner of men. Commanding furthermore, that through all the halls of the said university ye cause diligently to be searched and inquired out of hand, if any man have any book or tractation of the edition, or compiling of the aforesaid Master John Wickliff, or Nicholas Herford; and that, when and wheresoever ye shall chance to find any such book or tractation, ye cause the same to be arrested and taken, and unto the aforesaid archbishop within one month, (without correction, corruption, or mutation whatsoever,) word for word, and sentence for sentence, to be brought and presented. And therefore we straitly enjoin and command you, upon your fidelity and allegiance wherein ye stand bound unto us, and upon the pain of forfeiture of all and singular your liberties and privileges of your said university, and of all that ever you have besides; that you give your diligent attendance upon the premises, and that well and faithfully you execute the same in manner and form aforesaid. And that you obey the aforesaid archbishop, and his lawful and honest mandates, that he shall think good to direct unto you in this behalf, as it is meet ye should. And we give in charge unto the vice-chancellor and mayor of Oxford for the time being, and to all and singular our sheriffs, and under-sheriffs, bailiffs, and subjects, by these presents, that they aid, obey, and be attendant upon you in the execution of the premises. In witness whereof, &c., witness the king at Westminster, the thirteenth day of July, the sixth year of his reign.
Besides these letters patent, the said young king, moved by the unquiet importunity of the archbishop, sendeth, moreover, another special letter to the vice-chancellor and proctors of the university of Oxford. Wherein, under a pretended zeal of defence of Christian faith, he straitly and sharply enjoineth and assigneth them (for the utter abolishing of those conclusions and opinions) to make a general inquisition through the whole university, as well for the parties aforesaid, John Wickliff, Nicholas Herford, Philip Reppington, John Ashton, and such others, as also for all other whom they know or judge to be suspected of that doctrine, or to be maintainers, receivers, and defenders of the aforesaid parties, or their conclusions any manner of way; to the intent that they being so apprehended through their diligent search, may be, within seven days of their admonitions, expulsed the university, and cited up to the archbishop of Canterbury, before him to appear and to stand to their answers; willing, moreover, and commanding the said vice-chancellor and proctors, with other regents, their assisters, that if any person or persons in any house, hall, or college, or in any other place, shall be found to have any of their books or treatises compiled by the said John Wickliff, Nicholas Herford, &c., they will cause without delay the said person or persons, with their books, to be arrested and attached, and presented within one month, without correction, corruption, or mutation, to the aforesaid archbishop, upon their faith and allegiance, as they will avoid the forfeiture of all and singular the liberties and privileges of the university appertaining. And that they will be obedient to the archbishop aforesaid in the ordering hereof, and all other his injunctions to be obeyed in all things lawful and honest. Giving, moreover, in these our letters, charge and commandment to the mayor, bailiffs, and other the inhabitants of Oxford, to be assistant and attendant unto the aforesaid vice-chancellor and proctors, touching the execution of the premises, bearing the date of the fourteenth day of July, which was the year of our Lord 1382.
Matters incident of Robert Rigges, vice-chancellor of Oxford, Nicholas Herford, and Philip Reppington, with others.
The vice-chancellor the same time in Oxford was Master Robert Rigges; the two proctors were John Huntman and Walter Dish; who then, as far as they durst, favoured the cause of John Wickliff and that side; insomuch that the same time and year, which was A. D. 1382, when certain public sermons should be appointed customably at the feast of the Ascension, and of Corpus Christi, to be preached in the cloister of St. Frideswide (now called Christ's Church) before the people, by the vice-chancellor aforesaid and the proctors; the doings thereof the vice.chancellor aforesaid and proctors had committed to Philip Reppington and Nicholas Herford, so that Nicholas Herford should preach on the Ascension day, and Reppington upon Corpus Christi day. First, Herford beginning, was noted to defend John Wickliff openly to be a faithful, good, and innocent man; for the which no small ado with outcries was amongst the friars. This Herford, after he had long favoured and maintained Wickliff's part, grew first in suspicion amongst the enemies of the truth. For as soon as he began somewhat liberally and freely to pronounce and utter any thing, which tended to the defence of Wickliff; by and by the Carmelites, and all the orders of religion, were on his top, and laid not a few heresies unto his charge; the which they had strained here and there out of his sermons, and had compiled together in a certain form, by the hands of certain notaries, through the industry and diligence of one Peter Stokes, a Carmelite; a kind of people prone and ready to all kind of mischief, uproars, and debate, and dissension. After this the feast of Corpus Christi drew near; upon which day it was looked for that Reppington should preach. This man was a canon of Leicester, and had before taken his first degree unto doctorship, who preaching the same time at Broadgate, for the same sermon he became first suspected, and hated of the Pharisaical brood of the friars: but through the great and notable dexterity of his wit, (which all men did behold and see in him,) accompanied with like modesty and honesty, he did so overcome, or at the least assuage, this cruelty and persecution which was towards him, that shortly after, by the consent of the whole fellowship, he was admitted doctor. Who as soon as he had taken it upon him, by and by he stepped forth in the schools, and began immediately to show forth and utter that which he had long hidden and dissembled, protesting openly, that in all moral matters he would defend Wickliff; but as touching the sacrament he would as yet hold his peace, until such time as the Lord shall otherwise illuminate the hearts and minds of the clergy.
Now the day of Corpus Christi aforesaid approaching near, when the friars understood that this man should preach, fearing lest that he would rub the galls of their religion, they convented with the archbishop of Canterbury that the same day, a little before that Philip should preach, Wickliff's conclusions, which were privately condemned, should be openly defamed in the presence of the whole university. The doing of which matter was committed to Peter Stokes, friar, standard-bearer and chief champion of that side against Wickliff.
There were also letters sent unto the commissary, that he should help and aid him in publishing of the same conclusions, as is before declared.
These things thus done and finished, Reppington at the hour appointed proceeded to his sermon. In the which sermon, among many other things, he was reported to have uttered these sayings, or to this effect.
That the popes or bishops ought not to be recommended above temporal lords.
Also that in moral matters he would defend Master Wickliff as a true Catholic doctor.
Moreover, that the duke of Lancaster was very earnestly affected and minded in this matter, and would that all such should be received under his protection; besides many things more, which touched the praise and defence of Wickliff.
And finally, in concluding his sermon, he dismissed the people with this sentence; I will (said he) in
the speculative doctrine, as appertaining to the matter of the sacrament of the altar, keep silence and hold my peace, until such time as God otherwise shall instruct and illuminate the hearts of the clergy.hen the sermon was done, Reppington entered into St. Frideswide's church, accompanied with many of his friends; who, as the enemies surmised, were privily weaponed under their garments, if need had been. Friar Stokes, the Carmelite aforesaid, suspecting all this to be against him, and being afraid of hurt, kept him within the sanctuary of the church, not daring as then to put out his head. The vice-chancellor and Reppington, friendly saluting one another in the church porch, sent away the people, and so departed every man home to his own house. There was not a little joy through the whole university for that sermon; but in the mean time, the unquiet and busy Carmelite slipt not his matter. For first, by his letters he declared the whole order of the matter unto the archbishop, exaggerating the perils and dangers that he was in, requiring and desiring his help and aid, pretermitting nothing thereby to move and stir up the archbishop's mind, which of his own nature was as hot as a toast, as they say, and ready enough to prosecute the matter of his own accord, though no man had pricked him forward thereunto. Besides all this, three days after, with a fierce and bold courage, the said friar, breathing out threatenings and heresies against them, took the way into the schools, minding there to prove, that the pope and the bishops ought to be prayed for before the lords temporal. Whilst this friar was thus occupied in the schools, he was mocked and derided of all men, and shortly after he was sent for by the archbishop to London; whom, immediately after, the vice-chancellor and Brightwell followed up, to purge and clear themselves and their adherents from the accusations of this Friar Peter. At the length, they being examined upon Wickliff's conclusions that were condemned, they did all consent that they were worthily condemned. The vice-chancellor being afterward accused for the contempt of the archbishop's letters, whenas he perceived and saw that no excuse would prevail to avoid that danger, humbling himself upon his knees, he desired pardon. The which when he had now again, (as is aforesaid,) albeit very hardly, obtained, by the help of the bishop of Winchester he was sent away again with certain commandments, and suspensions of heretics. Then began the hatred on either part somewhat to appear and show, and especially, men were offended, above all, with the friars and religious men, unto whom, whatsoever trouble or mischief was raised up, they did impute it, as to the authors and causers of the same. Amongst whom there was one Henry Crompe, a monk Cistercian, a well learned divine, which afterward was accused by the bishops of heresy. He at that time was openly suspected by the commissary, because in his lectures he called the heretics Lollards, or rather in his acts (as they term them) in the school. Then he, coming by and by up to London, made his complaint unto the archbishop and to the king's council.
Whereupon he obtained the letters of the king, and of his council, by virtue whereof he (returning again to the university) was released and restored again to his former state.
Illustration -- Oxford
Mention was made, as you heard a little before, how Master Rigges, vice-chancellor of Oxford, coming up with Master Brightwell to the archbishop of Canterbury, was there straitly examined of the conclusions of Wickliff, where he, notwithstanding,through the help of the bishop of Winchester, obtained pardon, and was sent away again with commandments and charges, to seek out all the favourers of John Wickliff. This commandment being received, Nicholas Herford and Philip Reppington (being privily warned by the vice-chancellor) in the mean season conveyed themselves out of sight, and fled to the duke of Lancaster for succour and help; but the duke, whether for fear, or for what cause else I cannot say, in the end forsook his poor and miserable clients.
In the mean time, while they were fled thus to the duke, great search and inquisition was made for them, to cite and to apprehend them wheresoever they might be found. Whereupon the archbishop of Canterbury, William Courtney, directed out his letters first to the vice-chancellor of Oxford, then to the bishop of London, named Robert Braybroke; charging them not only to excommunicate the said Nicholas and Philip within their jurisdiction, and the said excommunication to be denounced likewise throughout all the diocese of his suffragans; but also, moreover, that diligent search and watch should be laid for them, both in Oxford and in London, that they might be apprehended; requiring, moreover, by them to be certified again, what they had done in the premises. And this was written the fourteenth day of July, A. D. 1382.
Unto these letters received from the archbishop, diligent certificate was given accordingly, as well of the bishop of London his part, as also of the vice-chancellor.
In the mean time, Nicholas Herford and Reppington, being repulsed of the duke, and destitute, as was said, of his support, whether they were sent, or of their own accord went, to the archbishop, it was uncertain. This I find in a letter of the aforesaid archbishop, contained in his register; that Reppington, the twenty-third day of October, the same year, 1382, was reconciled again to the archbishop, and also by his general letter was released, and admitted to his scholastical acts in the university; and so was also John Ashton, of whom (Christ willing) more shall follow hereafter. Of Nicholas Herford all this while I find no special relation.
In the mean time, about the twenty-third of the month of September, the said year, the king sent his mandate to the archbishop for collecting of a subsidy, and to have a convocation of the clergy summoned against the next parliament, which should begin the eighteenth day of November. The archbishop likewise, on the fifteenth day of October, directed his letters monitory, as the manner is, to Robert Braybroke, bishop of London, to give the same admonition to all his suffragans, and other of the clergy within his province, for the assembling of the convocation aforesaid. All which done and executed, the parliament begun, being holden at Oxford the eighteenth day of November, where the convocation was kept in the monastery of Frideswide, in Oxford. In the which convocation the archbishop, with other bishops there sitting in their pontificalibus, declared two causes of that their present assembly: the one, said he, to repress heresies, which began newly in the realm to spring, and for correcting other excesses in the church: the other cause, said he, was to aid and support the king with some necessary subsidy of money to be gathered, which thus declared, the convocation was continued till the day following, which was the nineteenth of November.
At the said day and place, the archbishop with the other prelates assembling themselves as before, the archbishop, after the used solemnity, willed the procurators of the clergy, appointed for every diocese, to consult within themselves, in some convenient several place, what they thought for their parts touching the redress of things, to be notified and declared to him and to his brethren, &c.
Furthermore, forasmuch, saith he, as it is so noised through all the realm, that there were certain in the university of Oxford, which did hold and maintain conclusions, as he calleth them, heretical and erroneous, condemned by him, and by other lawyers and doctors of divinity; he therefore assigned the bishops of Sarum, Hereford, and Rochester, with William Rugge, then vice-chancellor of the university of Oxford, (for perhaps Robert Rigges was then displaced,) as also William Berton, and John Middleton, doctors; giving them his full authority, with cursing and banning to compel them to search and to inquire with all diligence and ways possible, over all and singular whatsoever, either doctors, bachelors, or scholars of the said university, which did hold, teach, maintain, and defend, in schools or out of schools, the said conclusions heretical (as he called them) or erroneous, and afterward to give certificate truly and plainly touching the premises. And thus for that day the assembly brake up to the next, and so to the next, and the third, being Monday, the twenty-fourth day of November.
On the which day, in the presence of the prelates and the clergy in the chapter-house of St. Frideswide, came in Philip Reppington, otherwise called by the brethren, afterward, Rampington, who there abjured the conclusions and assertions aforesaid, in this form of words as followeth:
"I Philip Reppington, canon of the house of Leicester, acknowledging one catholic and apostolic faith, do curse and also abjure all heresy, namely, these heresies and errors underwritten, condemned and reproved by the decrees canonical, and by you, most reverend father, touching which hitherto I have been defamed; condemning, moreover, and reproving both them and the authors of them, and do confess the same to be catholically condemned. And I swear also, by these holy evangelists, which here I hold in my hand, and do promise, never by any persuasions of men, nor by any way hereafter, to defend or hold as true any of the said conclusions underwritten; but do and will stand and adhere in all things to the determination of the holy catholic church, and to yours, in this behalf. Over and besides, all such as stand contrary to this faith, I do pronounce them, with their doctrine and followers, worthy of everlasting curse. And if I myself shall presume at any time to hold or preach any thing contrary to the premises, I shall be content to abide the severity of the canons. Subscribed with mine own hand, and of mine own accord,
And thus the said Rampington was discharged, who afterward was made bishop of Lincoln, and became at length the most bitter and extreme persecutor of this side, of all the other bishops within the realm, as in process hereafter may appear.
After the abjuration of this Reppington, immediately was brought in John Ashton, student of divinity; who being examined of those conclusions, and willed to say his mind, answered, that he was too simple and ignorant, and therefore would not, and could not, answer any thing clearly or distinctly to those conclusions. Whereupon the archbishop assigned to him Doctor William Rugge, the vice-chancellor, and other divines, such as he required himself, to be instructed in the mystery of those conclusions against the afternoon; who then, appearing again after dinner before the archbishop and the prelates, did in like sort and form of words abjure, as did Reppington before.
Of this John Ashton we read, that afterward, by Thomas Arundel, archbishop of Canterbury, he was cited and condemned; but whether he died in prison, or was burned, we have yet no certainty to show. This is certain by the plain words of the Chronicle of St. Alban's, that when the archbishop with his doctors and friars sat in examination upon this said John Ashton, in London, the Londoners brake open the door of the conclave, and did hinder the archbishop himself sitting in the city of London, when he would have made process against John Ashton, A. D. 1382. And thus much of John Ashton.
As touching Nicholas Herford, during the time of this convocation he did not appear; and therefore had the sentence of excommunication, against which he put in his appeal from the archbishop to the king and his council. The archbishop would not admit it, but finding stays and stops, caused him to be apprehended and enclosed in prison. Notwithstanding, through the will of God and good means, he escaped out of the prison, returning again to his former exercise and preaching as he did before, albeit in as covert and secret manner as he could.
Whereupon the archbishop, thundering out his bolts of excommunication against him, sending to all pastors and ministers, willing them in all churches, and on all festival days, to divulge the said excommunication against him to all men; he writeth moreover, and sendeth special charge, to all and singular of the laity, to beware that their simplicity be not deceived by his doctrine, but that they, like catholic children, will avoid him, and cause him of all other to be avoided.
Furthermore, not contented with this, he addresseth also his letter unto the king, requiring also the aid of his temporal sword to chop off his neck, whom he had already cast down. See and note, reader, the seraphical charity of these priestly prelates towards the poor redeemed flock of Christ. And yet these be they which, washing their hands with Pilate, say, and pretend, Nobis non licet interficere quenquam, It is not our parts to kill any man. The copy of the letter written to the king is this:
"To the most excellent prince in Christ, &c.: William, &c., greeting in Him by whom kings do reign and princes bear rule. Unto your kingly celsitude by the tenor of these presents we intimate, that one Master Nicholas Herford, doctor of divinity, for his manifest contumacy and offence in not appearing before us, being called at the day and place assigned, is therefore enwrapped in the sentence of the greater curse, publicly by our ordinary authority; and in the same sentence hath continued now forty days, and yet still continueth with indurate heart, wickedly contemning the keys of the church, both to the greater peril of his soul, and to the pernicious example of other. Forasmuch, therefore, as the holy mother the church hath not to do, or to proceed, any further in this matter, we humbly desire your kingly majesty to direct out your letters for the apprehending of the said excommunicate, according to the custom of this realm of England, wholesomely observed and kept hitherto; to the intent that such, whom the fear of God doth not restrain from evil, the discipline of the secular arm may bridle and pluck back from offending. Your princely celsitude the Lord long continue. From Lambeth, the fifteenth of January."