Foxe's Book of Martyrs -- 88. OPPOSITION TO HENRY IV


After the martyrdom of this godly man, the rest of the same company began to keep themselves more closely for fear of the king, who was altogether bent to hold with the pope's prelacy. Such was the reign of this prince, that to the godly he was ever terrible, in his actions immeasurable, of few men heartily beloved; but princes never lack flatterers about them. Neither was the time of his reign very quiet, but full of trouble, of blood, and misery. Such was their desire of King Richard again, in the reign of this king, that many years after he was rumoured to be alive, of them which desired belike that to be true which they knew to be false, for the which divers were executed. For the space of six or seven years together almost no year passed without some conspiracy against the king. Long it were here to recite the blood of all such nobles and others, which was spilled in the reign of this king, as the earl of Kent, earl of Salisbury, earl of Huntingdon, named John Holland, &c., as writeth the story of St. Alban's. But the English writers differ something in their names, and make mention of four earls, of Surrey, of Exeter, of Salisbury, and Lord Spencer, earl of Gloucester.

And the next year following Sir John Clarendon, knight, with two of his servants, the prior of Laund, with eight friars, were hanged and quartered. And after these Henry Percy the younger; the earl of Worcester, named Thomas Percy, his uncle; the Lord of Kinderton, and Lord Richard de Vernova. The earl of Northumberland scarce escaped with his pardon, A. D. 1403: in the which year the prison in Cornhill, called the Tun, was turned into the Conduit there now standing.

To let pass others more hanged and quartered the same time, as Blunt, knight, and Benet Kely, knight, and Thomas Wintersel, esquire; also the same year was taken and executed Sir Bernard Brookes, knight, Sir John Shilley, knight, Sir John Mandelin, and William Frierby. After all these, Lord Henry, earl of Northumberland, and Lord Bardolf, conspiring the king's death, were taken in the north, and beheaded, which was in the eighth year of this King Henry.

This civil rebellion of so many nobles, and others, against the king, declared what grudging hearts the people then bare toward this King Henry; among whom I cannot pretermit here also the archbishop of York, named Richard Scrope, who, with the Lord Mowbray, marshal of England, gathered a great company in the north country against theaforesaid king, to whom also was adjoined the help of Lord Bardolf, and Henry Percy, earl of Northumberland: and to stir up the people more willingly to take their parts, they collected certain articles against the said king, to the number of ten, and fastened them upon the doors of churches and monasteries, to be read of all men in English; which articles if any be disposed to understand, forasmuch as the same also contain a great part of the doings between King Henry and King Richard aforesaid, I thought, for the better opening of the matter, hereunder to insert the same, in such form as I found them in the story of Scala Mundi expressed.

Articles set upon church-doors against King Henry the Fourth.

"In the name of God, Amen. Before the Lord Jesus Christ, judge of the quick and dead, &c. We A. B. C. D., &c., not long since became bound by oath, upon the sacred evangelical book, unto our sovereign Lord Richard, late king of England and France, in the presence of many prelates, potentates, and nobility of the realm, that we, so long as we lived, should bear true allegiance and fidelity toward him and his heirs succeeding him in the kingdom, by just title, right, and line, according to the statutes and custom of this realm of England; by virtue whereof we are bound to foresee that no vices, or heinous offences, arising in the commonwealth, do take effect or wished end, and we ought to give ourselves and our goods to withstand the same, without fear of the sword or death whatsoever, upon pain of perjury, which pain is everlasting damnation. Wherefore we, seeing and perceiving divers horrible crimes, and great enormities daily, without ceasing, to be committed by the children of the devil, and Satan's soldiers, against the supremacy of the Church of Rome, the liberty of the Church of England, and the laws of the realm; against the person of King Richard and his heirs; against the prelates, noblemen, religion, and commonalty; and finally, against the whole weal public of the realm of England, to the great offence of the majesty of Almighty God, and to the provocation of his just wrath and vengeance towards the realm and people of the same: and fearing also the destruction both of the Church of Rome and England, and the ruin of our country to be at hand, having before our eyes the justice and the kingdom of God, calling always on the name of Jesus, having an assured confidence in his clemency, mercy, and power, have here taken unto us certain articles, subscribed in form following, to be propounded, tried, and heard before the just Judge, Jesus Christ, and the whole world, to his honour, the delivery of the church, the clergy, and commonalty, and to the utility and profit of the weal public. But if (which God forbid) by force, fear, or violence of wicked persons, we shall be cast in prison, or by violent death prevented, so as in this world we shall not be able to prove the said articles as we would wish, then do we appeal to the high celestial Judge, that he may judge and discern the same, in the day of his supreme judgment.

"First, We depose, say, except, and intend, to prove, against the Lord Henry Derby, son of the Lord John of Gaunt, late duke of Lancaster, and commonly called king of England, (himself pretending the same, although without all right and title thereunto,) and against his adherents, abettors, and complices, that ever they have been, are, and will be traitors, invaders, and destroyers of God's church in Rome, England, Wales, and Ireland, and of our sovereign Lord Richard, late king of England, his heirs, his kingdom, and commonwealth, as shall hereafter manifestly appear.

"Secondly, We depose, &c., against the said Lord Henry, for that he had conceived, devised, and conspired, certain heinous crimes and traitorous offences against his said sovereign Lord Richard, his state and dignity, as manifestly did appear in the contention between the said Lord Henry, and the Lord Thomas, duke of Norfolk, begun at Coventry, but not finished thoroughly. Afterwards he was sent into exile by sentence of the said King Richard, by the agreement of his father, the Lord John, duke of Lancaster, by the voice of divers of the lords temporal, and nobility of the realm, and also by his own consent, there to remain for a certain time appointed unto him by the said lords; and withal he was bound, by oath, not to return into England before he had obtained favour and grace of the king. Not long after, when the king was departed into Ireland, for reformation of that country appertaining to the crown of England, but as then rebelling against the same, the said Lord Henry in the mean time, contrary to his oath and fidelity, and long before the time limited unto him was expired, with all his abettors and invaders, secretly entered into the realm, swearing and protesting before the face of the people, that his coming into the realm in the absence of the king was for none other cause, but that he might, in humble sort, with the love and favour of the king, and all the lords spiritual and temporal, have and enjoy his lawful inheritance descending unto him of right after the death of his father: which thing as it pleased all men, so cried they, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord. But how this blessing afterward turned into cursing, shall appear in that which followeth: and also yeshall understand his horrible and wicked conspiracy against his sovereign lord King Richard, and divers other lords as well spiritual as temporal; besides that his manifest perjury shall well be known, and that he remaineth not only forsworn and perjured, but also excommunicate, for that he conspired against his sovereign lord our king: wherefore we pronounce him, by these presents, as well perjured, as excommunicate.

"Thirdly, We depose, &c., against the Lord Henry, that he the said Lord Henry, immediately after his entry into England, by crafty and subtle policy caused to be proclaimed openly throughout the realm, that no tenths of the clergy, fifteenths of the people, sealing up of cloth, diminution of wool, impost of wine, or other extortions or exactions whatsoever, should hereafter be required or exacted; hoping by this means to purchase unto him the voice and favour of the prelates spiritual, the lords temporal, the merchants, and commonalty of the whole realm. After this he took by force the king's castles and fortresses, spoiled and devoured his goods wheresoever he found them, crying, Havoc, havoc. The king's Majesty's subjects, as well spiritual as temporal, he spoiled and robbed; some he took captive and imprisoned them; and some he slew and put to miserable death; whereof many were bishops, prelates, priests, and religious men: whereby it is manifest, that the said Lord Henry is not only perjured, in promising and swearing that there should be hereafter no more exactions, payments, or extortions within the realm, but also excommunicate, for the violence and injury done to prelates and priests: wherefore, by these presents we pronounce him, as before, as well perjured, as excommunicate.

"Fourthly, We depose, &c., against the said Lord Henry, that he, hearing of the king's return from Ireland into Wales, rose up against his sovereign lord the king with many thousands of armed men, marching forward with all his power towards the castle of Flint, in Wales, where he took the king and held him prisoner, and so led him captive as a traitor unto Leicester; from whence he took his journey towards London, misusing the king by the way, both he and his, with many injuries and opprobrious contumelies and scoffs: and in the end committed him to the Tower of London, and held a parliament, the king being absent and in prison; wherein, for fear of death he compelled the king to yield and resign unto him all his right and title of the kingdom and crown of England. After which resignation being made, the said Lord Henry, standing up in the parliament house, stoutly and proudly before them all, said and affirmed, that the kingdom of England and crown of the same, with all thereunto belonging, did pertain unto him at that present, as of very right, and to none other; for that the said King Richard, by his own deed, was deprived for ever of all the right, title, and interest that ever he had, hath, or may have in the same. And thus at length, by right and wrong, he exalted himself unto the throne of the kingdom; since which time our commonwealth never flourished nor prospered, but altogether hath been void of virtue, for that the spiritualty was so oppressed, exercise and warlike practices have not been maintained, charity is waxed cold, and covetousness and misery have taken place, and finally mercy is taken away, and vengeance supplieth the room: whereby it doth appear, as before is said, that the said Lord Henry is not only perjured and false by usurping the kingdom and dominion belonging to another, but also excommunicate for the apprehending, unjust imprisoning, and depriving his sovereign lord the king of his royal crown and dignity: wherefore, as in the articles before, we pronounce the said Lord Henry to be excommunicate.

"Fifthly, We depose, &c., against the said Lord Henry, that he the same Lord Henry, with the rest of his favourers and complices, heaping mischief upon mischief, have committed and brought to pass a most wicked and mischievous fact, yea, such as hath not been heard of at any time before: for, after that they had taken and imprisoned the king, and deposed him by open injury against all human nature, yet, not content with this, they brought him to Pomfret Castle, and there imprisoned him, where fifteen days and nights they vexed him with continual hunger, thirst, and cold, and finally bereft him of life, with such a kind of death as never before that time was known in England, but by God's. providence it is come to light. Who ever heard of such a deed, or who ever saw the like of it? Wherefore, O England! arise, stand up, avenge the cause, the death and injury of thy king and prince: which if thou do not, take this for certain, that the righteous God will destroy thee by strange invasions and foreign power, and avenge himself on thee for this so horrible an act: whereby doth appear not only his perjury, but also his excommunication most execrable, so that, as before, we pronounce the said Henry not only perjured, but also excommunicate.

"Sixthly, We depose, &c., against the said Lord Henry, that after he had attained to the crown and sceptre of the kingdom, he caused forthwith to be apprehended divers lords spiritual, bishops, abbots, priors, and religious men of all orders, whom he arrested, imprisoned, and bound, and against all order brought them before the secular judges to be examined; not sparing the bishops,whose bodies were anointed with sacred oil, nor priests, nor religious men, but commanded them to be condemned, hanged, and beheaded, by the temporal law and judgment, notwithstanding the privilege of the church and holy orders, which he ought to have reverenced and worshipped, if he had been a true and lawful king; for the first and chiefest oath in the coronation of a lawful king is, to defend and keep inviolate the liberties and rights of the church, and not to deliver any priest or religious man into the hands of the secular power, except for heresy only, and that after his degradation, according to the order of the church. Contrary unto all this hath he done; so that it is manifest by this article, as before in the rest, that he is both perjured, and excommunicate.

"Seventhly, We depose, &c., against the said Lord Henry, that not only he caused to be put to death the lords spiritual and other religious men, but also divers of the lords temporal and nobility of the realm, and chiefly those that studied for the preservation of the commonwealth, not ceasing as yet to continue his mischievous enterprise, if by God's providence it be not prevented, and that with speed. Amongst all other of the nobility, these first he put to death; the earl of Salisbury, the earl of Huntingdon, the earl of Gloucester, the Lord Roger Clarendon, the king's brother, with divers other knights and esquires; and afterwards, the Lord Thomas Percy, earl of Worcester, and the Lord Henry Percy, son and heir to the earl of Northumberland; the which Lord Henry he not only slew, but to the uttermost of his power again and again he caused him to be slain. For after that he was once put to death, and delivered to the lord of Furnile to be buried, who committed his body to holy sepulture, with as much honour as might be, commending his soul to Almighty God with the suffrages of the blessed mass and other prayers, the said Lord Henry, most like a cruel beast still thirsting for his blood, caused his body to be exhumed and brought forth again, and to be reposed between two millstones in the town of Shrewsbury, there to be kept with armed men; and afterwards to be beheaded and quartered, commanding his head and quarters to be carried into divers cities of the kingdom: wherefore, for so detestable a fact, never heard of in any age before, we pronounce him, as in the former articles, excommunicate.

"Eighthly, We depose, &c., against the said Lord Henry, for that after his attaining to the crown, he willingly ratified, allowed, and approved a most wicked statute set forth and renewed in the parliament holden at Winchester; the which statute is directly against the Church of Rome, and the power and principality thereof given by our Lord Jesus Christ unto blessed St. Peter and his successors, bishops of Rome; unto whom belongeth, by full authority, the free disposing of all spiritual promotions, as well superior as inferior; which wicked statute is the cause of many mischiefs; viz. of simony, perjury, adultery, incest, misorder, and disobedience; for that many bishops, abbots, priors, and prelates (we will not say by virtue, but rather by error of this statute) have bestowed the benefices vacant upon young men, rude and unworthy persons, which have compacted with them for the same, so that scarce one prelate is found that hath not covenanted with the party promoted, for the half-yearly, or, at the least, the third part of the said benefice so bestowed. And by this means the said statute is the destruction of the right of St. Peter, the Church of Rome and England, the clergy and universities, the whole commonwealth and maintenance of wars, &c.

"Ninthly, We say and depose, &c., against the said Lord Henry, that after he had tyrannously taken upon him the government of the realm, England never flourished since, nor prospered, by reason of his continual exactions of money, and oppressions yearly of the clergy and commonalty; neither is it known how this money so extorted is bestowed, since neither his soldiers nor his gentlemen are paid as yet their wages and fees for their charges and wonderful toil and labour, neither yet the poor country people are satisfied for the victual taken of them; and, nevertheless, the miserable clergy, and more miserable commonalty, are forced still to pay by menaces and sharp threatenings: notwithstanding he swore, when he first usurped the crown, that hereafter there should be no such exactions nor vexations, neither of the clergy nor laity: wherefore, as before, we pronounce him perjured, &c.

In the tenth and last article we depose, say, and openly protest by these presents, for ourselves, and all our assistants in the cause of the Church of Rome and England, and in the cause of King Richard, his heirs, and the clergy and commonalty of the whole realm, that neither our intention is, was, nor shall be, in word or deed to offend any state, either of the prelates spiritual, lords temporal, or commons of the realm; but rather, foreseeing the perdition and destruction of this realm to approach, we have here brought before you certain articles concerning the destruction of the same, to be circumspectly considered of the whole assembly, as well of the lords spiritual as temporal, and the faithful commons of England: beseeching you all in the bowels of Jesus Christ, the righteous Judge, and for the merits of our blessed Lady, the mother of God, and of St. George our defender, under whose displayed banner we wish to live and die, and under pain of damnation, that ye will be favourable to us, and to our causes which are three in number: whereof the first is, that we exalt unto the kingdom the true and lawful heir, and him to crown in kingly throne with the diadem of England. And secondly, that we revoke the Welchmen, the Irishmen, and all other our enemies unto perpetual peace and unity. Thirdly, and finally, that we deliver and make free our native country from all exactions, extortions, and unjust payments; beseeching our Lord Jesus Christ to grant his blessing, the remission of their sins, and life everlasting to all that assist us to their power in this godly and meritorious work: and unto all those that are against us we threaten the curse of Almighty God, by the authority committed unto us by Christ and his holy church, and by these presents we pronounce them excommunicate."

These articles being seen and read, much concourse of people daily resorted more and more to the archbishop. The earl of Westmoreland (being then not far off, with John, the king's son) hearing of this, mustered his soldiers with all the power he was able to make, and bent toward the archbishop; but seeing his part too weak to encounter with him, he useth practice of policy, where strength would not serve. And first, coming to him under colour of friendship dissembled, he laboureth to seek out the causes of that great stir: to whom the archbishop again answering no hurt to be intended thereby, but profit rather to the king and commonwealth, and maintenance of the public peace; but forasmuch as he stood in great fear and danger of the king, he was therefore compelled so to do. And withal he showed unto him the contents of the articles aforesaid; which when the earl had read, setting a fair face upon it, he seemed highly to commend the purpose and doings of the bishop, promising, moreover, that he would help also forward in that quarrel to the uttermost of his power, and he required upon the same a day to be set, when they, with equal number of men, might meet together, in some place appointed, to have further talk of the matter. The archbishop, easily persuaded, was content, although much against the counsel of the earl marshal, and came; where the articles being openly published and read, the earl of Westmoreland with his company pretended well to like the same, and to join their assents together. Which done, he exhorted the archbishop, that, forasmuch as his garrison had been now long in armour and from home, he would therefore discharge the needless multitude of his soldiers, and dismiss them home to their work and business, and they would together drink and join hands in the sight of the whole company. Thus they, shaking hands together, the archbishop sendeth away his soldiers in peace, not knowing himself to be circumvented, before he was immediately arrested by the hands of the aforesaid earl of Westmoreland: and, shortly after, the king coming with his power to York, he was there beheaded the Monday in Whitsun-week, and with him also Lord Thomas Mowbray, marshal, with divers others, moreover, of the city of York, which had taken their parts; after whose slaughter the king proceedeth further to persecute the earl of Northumberland, and Lord Thomas Bardolph, who then did fly to Berwick. From thence they removed to Wales. At length, within two years after, fighting against the king's part, they were slain in the field, A. D. 1408: in the which year divers others also in the north parts, for favouring the aforesaid lords, were likewise condemned by the king, and put to death; among whom the abbot of Hales, for the like treason, was hanged.

The king, after the shedding of so much blood, seeing himself so hardly beloved of his subjects, thought to keep in yet with the clergy, and with the bishop of Rome, seeking always his chiefest stay at their hands; and therefore he was compelled in all things to serve their humour, as did appear as well in condemning William Sautre before, as also in others, which consequently we have now to treat of; in the number of whom cometh now, by the course of time, to write of one John Badby, a tailor and a layman, who, by the cruelty of Thomas Arundel, archbishop, and other prelates, was brought to his condemnation in this king's reign, A. D. 1409, according as by their own registers appeareth, and followeth by this narration to be seen.

Previous Next