Tag Archives: Reformation

On this day in 1520 – The Protestant Reformer Martin Luther sent a pamphlet to Pope Leo X

On 6th September 1520 the Protestant Reformer Martin Luther wrote and sent a pamphlet to Pope Leo X in response to the thread of excommunication that was issued by the Pope. The pamphlet read;

“AMONG those monstrous evils of this age with which I have now for three years been waging war, I am sometimes compelled to look to you and to call you to mind, most blessed father Leo. In truth, since you alone are everywhere considered as being the cause of my engaging in war, I cannot at any time fail to remember you; and although I have been compelled by the causeless raging of your impious flatterers against me to appeal from your seat to a future council—fearless of the futile decrees of your predecessors Pius and Julius, who in their foolish tyranny prohibited such an action—yet I have never been so alienated in feeling from your Blessedness as not to have sought with all my might, in diligent prayer and crying to God, all the best gifts for you and for your see. But those who have hitherto endeavoured to terrify me with the majesty of your name and authority, I have begun quite to despise and triumph over. One thing I see remaining which I cannot despise, and this has been the reason of my writing anew to your Blessedness: namely, that I find that blame is cast on me, and that it is imputed to me as a great offence, that in my rashness I am judged to have spared not even your person.
  Now, to confess the truth openly, I am conscious that, whenever I have had to mention your person, I have said nothing of you but what was honourable and good. If I had done otherwise, I could by no means have approved my own conduct, but should have supported with all my power the judgment of those men concerning me, nor would anything have pleased me better, than to recant such rashness and impiety. I have called you Daniel in Babylon; and every reader thoroughly knows with what distinguished zeal I defended your conspicuous innocence against Silvester, who tried to stain it. Indeed, the published opinion of so many great men and the repute of your blameless life are too widely famed and too much reverenced throughout the world to be assailable by any man, of however great name, or by any arts. I am not so foolish as to attack one whom everybody praises; nay, it has been and always will be my desire not to attack even those whom public repute disgraces. I am not delighted at the faults of any man, since I am very conscious myself of the great beam in my own eye, nor can I be the first to cast a stone at the adulteress.
  I have indeed inveighed sharply against impious doctrines, and I have not been slack to censure my adversaries on account, not of their bad morals, but of their impiety. And for this I am so far from being sorry that I have brought my mind to despise the judgments of men and to persevere in this vehement zeal, according to the example of Christ, who, in His zeal, calls His adversaries a generation of vipers, blind, hypocrites, and children of the devil. Paul, too, charges the sorcerer with being a child of the devil, full of all subtlety and all malice; and defames certain persons as evil workers, dogs, and deceivers. In the opinion of those delicate-eared persons, nothing could be more bitter or intemperate than Paul’s language. What can be more bitter than the words of the prophets? The ears of our generation have been made so delicate by the senseless multitude of flatterers that, as soon as we perceive that anything of ours is not approved of, we cry out that we are being bitterly assailed; and when we can repel the truth by no other pretence, we escape by attributing bitterness, impatience, intemperance, to our adversaries. What would be the use of salt if it were not pungent, or of the edge of the sword if it did not slay? Accursed is the man who does the work of the Lord deceitfully.
  Wherefore, most excellent Leo, I beseech you to accept my vindication, made in this letter, and to persuade yourself that I have never thought any evil concerning your person; further, that I am one who desires that eternal blessing may fall to your lot, and that I have no dispute with any man concerning morals, but only concerning the word of truth. In all other things I will yield to any one, but I neither can nor will forsake and deny the word. He who thinks otherwise of me, or has taken in my words in another sense, does not think rightly, and has not taken in the truth.
  Your see, however, which is called the Court of Rome, and which neither you nor any man can deny to be more corrupt than any Babylon or Sodom, and quite, as I believe, of a lost, desperate, and hopeless impiety, this I have verily abominated, and have felt indignant that the people of Christ should be cheated under your name and the pretext of the Church of Rome; and so I have resisted, and will resist, as long as the spirit of faith shall live in me. Not that I am striving after impossibilities, or hoping that by my labours alone, against the furious opposition of so many flatterers, any good can be done in that most disordered Babylon; but that I feel myself a debtor to my brethren, and am bound to take thought for them, that fewer of them may be rained, or that their ruin may be less complete, by the plagues of Rome. For many years now, nothing else has overflowed from Rome into the world—as you are not ignorant—than the laying waste of goods, of bodies, and of souls, and the worst examples of all the worst things. These things are clearer than the light to all men; and the Church of Rome, formerly the most holy of all Churches, has become the most lawless den of thieves, the most shameless of all brothels, the very kingdom of sin, death, and hell; so that not even antichrist, if he were to come, could devise any addition to its wickedness.
  Meanwhile you, Leo, are sitting like a lamb in the midst of wolves, like Daniel in the midst of lions, and, with Ezekiel, you dwell among scorpions. What opposition can you alone make to these monstrous evils? Take to yourself three or four of the most learned and best of the cardinals. What are these among so many? You would all perish by poison before you could undertake to decide on a remedy. It is all over with the Court of Rome; the wrath of God has come upon her to the uttermost. She hates councils; she dreads to be reformed; she cannot restrain the madness of her impiety; she fills up the sentence passed on her mother, of whom it is said, “We would have healed Babylon, but she is not healed; let us forsake her.” It had been your duty and that of your cardinals to apply a remedy to these evils, but this gout laughs at the physician’s hand, and the chariot does not obey the reins. Under the influence of these feelings, I have always grieved that you, most excellent Leo, who were worthy of a better age, have been made pontiff in this. For the Roman Court is not worthy of you and those like you, but of Satan himself, who in truth is more the ruler in that Babylon than you are.
  Oh, would that, having laid aside that glory which your most abandoned enemies declare to be yours, you were living rather in the office of a private priest or on your paternal inheritance! In that glory none are worthy to glory, except the race of Iscariot, the children of perdition. For what happens in your court, Leo, except that, the more wicked and execrable any man is, the more prosperously he can use your name and authority for the ruin of the property and souls of men, for the multiplication of crimes, for the oppression of faith and truth and of the whole Church of God? Oh, Leo! in reality most unfortunate, and sitting on a most perilous throne, I tell you the truth, because I wish you well; for if Bernard felt compassion for his Anastasius at a time when the Roman see, though even then most corrupt, was as yet ruling with better hope than now, why should not we lament, to whom so much further corruption and ruin has been added in three hundred years?
  Is it not true that there is nothing under the vast heavens more corrupt, more pestilential, more hateful, than the Court of Rome? She incomparably surpasses the impiety of the Turks, so that in very truth she, who was formerly the gate of heaven, is now a sort of open mouth of hell, and such a mouth as, under the urgent wrath of God, cannot be blocked up; one course alone being left to us wretched men: to call back and save some few, if we can, from that Roman gulf.
  Behold, Leo, my father, with what purpose and on what principle it is that I have stormed against that seat of pestilence. I am so far from having felt any rage against your person that I even hoped to gain favour with you and to aid you in your welfare by striking actively and vigorously at that your prison, nay, your hell. For whatever the efforts of all minds can contrive against the confusion of that impious Court will be advantageous to you and to your welfare, and to many others with you. Those who do harm to her are doing your office; those who in every way abhor her are glorifying Christ; in short, those are Christians who are not Romans.
  But, to say yet more, even this never entered my heart: to inveigh against the Court of Rome or to dispute at all about her. For, seeing all remedies for her health to be desperate, I looked on her with contempt, and, giving her a bill of divorcement, said to her, “He that is unjust, let him be unjust still; and he that is filthy, let him be filthy still,” giving myself up to the peaceful and quiet study of sacred literature, that by this I might be of use to the brethren living about me.
  While I was making some advance in these studies, Satan opened his eyes and goaded on his servant John Eccius, that notorious adversary of Christ, by the unchecked lust for fame, to drag me unexpectedly into the arena, trying to catch me in one little word concerning the primacy of the Church of Rome, which had fallen from me in passing. That boastful Thraso, foaming and gnashing his teeth, proclaimed that he would dare all things for the glory of God and for the honour of the holy apostolic seat; and, being puffed up respecting your power, which he was about to misuse, he looked forward with all certainty to victory; seeking to promote, not so much the primacy of Peter, as his own pre-eminence among the theologians of this age; for he thought it would contribute in no slight degree to this, if he were to lead Luther in triumph. The result having proved unfortunate for the sophist, an incredible rage torments him; for he feels that whatever discredit to Rome has arisen through me has been caused by the fault of himself alone.
  Suffer me, I pray you, most excellent Leo, both to plead my own cause, and to accuse your true enemies. I believe it is known to you in what way Cardinal Cajetan, your imprudent and unfortunate, nay unfaithful, legate, acted towards me. When, on account of my reverence for your name, I had placed myself and all that was mine in his hands, he did not so act as to establish peace, which he could easily have established by one little word, since I, at that time, promised to be silent and to make an end of my case, if he would command my adversaries to do the same. But that man of pride, not content with this agreement, began to justify my adversaries, to give them free licence, and to order me to recant, a thing which was certainly not in his commission. Thus indeed, when the case was in the best position, it came through his vexatious tyranny into a much worse one. Therefore, whatever has followed upon this is the fault not of Luther, but entirely of Cajetan, since he did not suffer me to be silent and remain quiet, which at that time I was entreating for with all my might. What more was it my duty to do?
  Next came Charles Miltitz, also a nuncio from your Blessedness. He, though he went up and down with much and varied exertion, and omitted nothing which could tend to restore the position of the cause thrown into confusion by the rashness and pride of Cajetan, had difficulty, even with the help of that very illustrious prince the Elector Frederick, in at last bringing about more than one familiar conference with me. In these I again yielded to your great name, and was prepared to keep silence, and to accept as my judge either the Archbishop of Treves, or the Bishop of Naumburg; and thus it was done and concluded. While this was being done with good hope of success, lo! that other and greater enemy of yours, Eccius, rushed in with his Leipsic disputation, which he had undertaken against Carlstadt, and, having taken up a new question concerning the primacy of the Pope, turned his arms unexpectedly against me, and completely overthrew the plan for peace. Meanwhile Charles Miltitz was waiting, disputations were held, judges were being chosen, but no decision was arrived at. And no wonder! for by the falsehoods, pretences, and arts of Eccius the whole business was brought into such thorough disorder, confusion, and festering soreness, that, whichever way the sentence might lean, a greater conflagration was sure to arise; for he was seeking, not after truth, but after his own credit. In this case too, I omitted nothing which it was right that I should do.
  I confess that on this occasion no small part of the corruptions of Rome came to light; but, if there was any offence in this, it was the fault of Eccius, who, in taking on him a burden beyond his strength, and in furiously aiming at credit for himself, unveiled to the whole world the disgrace of Rome.
  Here is that enemy of yours, Leo, or rather of your Court; by his example alone we may learn that an enemy is not more baneful than a flatterer. For what did he bring about by his flattery, except evils which no king could have brought about? At this day, the name of the Court of Rome stinks in the nostrils of the world, the papal authority is growing weak, and its notorious ignorance is evil spoken of. We should hear none of these things, if Eccius had not disturbed the plans of Miltitz and myself for peace. He feels this clearly enough himself in the indignation he shows, too late and in vain, against the publication of my books. He ought to have reflected on this at the time when he was all mad for renown, and was seeking in your cause nothing but his own objects, and that with the greatest peril to you. The foolish man hoped that, from fear of your name, I should yield and keep silence; for I do not think he presumed on his talents and learning. Now, when he sees that I am very confident and speak aloud, he repents too late of his rashness, and sees—if indeed he does see it—that there is One in heaven who resists the proud, and humbles the presumptuous.
  Since then we were bringing about by this disputation nothing but the greater confusion of the cause of Rome, Charles Miltitz for the third time addressed the Fathers of the Order, assembled in chapter, and sought their advice for the settlement of the case, as being now in a most troubled and perilous state. Since, by the favour of God, there was no hope of proceeding against me by force, some of the more noted of their number were sent to me, and begged me at least to show respect to your person and to vindicate in a humble letter both your innocence and my own. They said that the affair was not as yet in a position of extreme hopelessness, if Leo X., in his inborn kindliness, would put his hand to it. On this I, who have always offered and wished for peace, in order that I might devote myself to calmer and more useful pursuits, and who for this very purpose have acted with so much spirit and vehemence, in order to put down by the strength and impetuosity of my words, as well as of my feelings, men whom I saw to be very far from equal to myself—I, I say, not only gladly yielded, but even accepted it with joy and gratitude, as the greatest kindness and benefit, if you should think it right to satisfy my hopes.
  Thus I come, most blessed Father, and in all abasement beseech you to put your hand, if it is possible, and impose a curb to those flatterers who are enemies of peace, while they pretend peace. But there is no reason, most blessed Father, why any one should assume that I am to utter a recantation, unless he prefers to involve the case in still greater confusion. Moreover, I cannot bear with laws for the interpretation of the word of God, since the word of God, which teaches liberty in all other things, ought not to be bound. Saving these two things, there is nothing which I am not able, and most heartily willing, to do or to suffer. I hate contention; I will challenge no one; in return I wish not to be challenged; but, being challenged, I will not be dumb in the cause of Christ, my Master. For your Blessedness will be able by one short and easy word to call these controversies before you and suppress them, and to impose silence and peace on both sides——a word which I have ever longed to hear.
Perhaps I am shamelessly bold in seeming to teach so great a head, by whom all men ought to be taught, and from whom, as those plagues of yours boast, the thrones of judges receive their sentence; but I imitate St. Bernard in his book concerning Considerations addressed to Eugenius, a book which ought to be known by heart by every pontiff. I do this, not from any desire to teach, but as a duty, from that simple and faithful solicitude which teaches us to be anxious for all that is safe for our neighbours, and does not allow considerations of worthiness or unworthiness to be entertained, being intent only on the dangers or advantage of others. For since I know that your Blessedness is driven and tossed by the waves at Rome, so that the depths of the sea press on you with infinite perils, and that you are labouring under such a condition of misery that you need even the least help from any the least brother, I do not seem to myself to be acting unsuitably if I forget your majesty till I shall have fulfilled the office of charity. I will not flatter in so serious and perilous a matter; and if in this you do not see that I am your friend and most thoroughly your subject, there is One to see and judge.
  In fine, that I may not approach you empty-handed, blessed Father, I bring with me this little treatise, published under your name, as a good omen of the establishment of peace and of good hope. By this you may perceive in what pursuits I should prefer and be able to occupy myself to more profit, if I were allowed, or had been hitherto allowed, by your impious flatterers. It is a small matter, if you look to its exterior, but, unless I mistake, it is a summary of the Christian life put together in small compass, if you apprehend its meaning. I, in my poverty, have no other present to make you, nor do you need anything else than to be enriched by a spiritual gift. I commend myself to your Paternity and Blessedness, whom may the Lord Jesus preserve for ever. Amen.
Wittenberg, 6th September, 1520.”

Martin Luther as an Augustinian Monk *parchment, on panel *43.6 × 29.8 cm  *after 1546

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On this day in 1555 – Robert Samuel was burned at the stake

Robert Samuel was an English priest with the parish church of East Bergholt in the Stour Valley during King Edward VI’s reign. Edward had allowed priests to marry and so Samuel lived peacefully with his wife within his parish.

When Queen Mary I took the throne she issued a law forbidding priests to be married and that any priest that was already married had to put aside their wives and return to a life of celibacy, Samuel’s wife went to live in Ipswich.

Samuel’s was a Protestant and believed in the reformed faith and therefore gained the attention of William Foster, an anti-reformist from Copdock, Foster was a Justice of the Peace. Foster was known to go after priests when he first found John Averth, celebrating mass in the home of Dr Rowland Taylor. Foster had Taylor arrested and deemed a traitor and after interrogation was burnt at the stake. Foster then set his sight on Samuel.

Samuel was removed from his parish but continued to secretly visit the homes of his congregation who still adhered to the reformed faith. Spies were sent to investigate these claims and a trap was laid out to catch him whilst visiting his wife, he was captured and dragged away from his wife’s home. Samuel’s was first imprisoned in the Ipswich town gaol.

Samuel wrote two letters to the Christian Congregation and his fellow sufferers saying;

Be constant in obeying God, rather than men. For, although they slay our sinful bodies for God’s verity, yet they cannot do it but by God’s sufferance and goodwill, to His praise and honour, and to our eternal joy and felicity. For our blood shed for the Gospel shall preach it with more fruit, and greater furtherance, than did our mouths, lives and writings, as did the blood of Abel, Stephen, with many others more.”

Samuels was moved to Norwich and then a prison within Norwich Castle to await the inquisition by Bishop Dr Hopton, it was here Samuel was subjected to torture where he was chained upright in a position where only the tips of his toes could touch the floor whilst only being fed a couple of mouthfuls of bread and water daily. After a few days of this Samuel claims that he was visited by Christ and he did not eat or drink again until he was sent to his death.

Samuel was sentenced to death by burning at the stake with the date set for 31st August 1555 on Corn Hill, Ipswich.

woodcut of Robert Samuel burningA woodcut depicting the burning of Robert Samuel

On this day in 1583 – William Latymer died

William Latymer was the third son of William Latymer and his wife Anne and was born in Freston, Suffolk in approximately 1498. His early life is unknown but he first became noticed when he became one of Anne Boleyn’s chaplains and was a patron of the Reformation.

In 1536 he graduated Corpus Christi College, Cambridge with an M.A after seven years of studying.

Latymer was in Europe collecting books for the Queen when she was arrested and sent to the Tower of London Latymer was arrested at Sandwich upon his arrival back in England accused of bringing foreign books about the Protestant reformers into the country, Latymer handed the books over to the authorities and with that was released. After the fall of Anne Boleyn Latymer was the rector of Witnesham, Suffolk between 1538 until 1554 and also in 1538 he was appointed by King Henry VIII to Master of the College of St Laurence, Pountney.

In 1549 Latymer was involved in the trial of Edmund Bonner, a Catholic who in the reign of King Edward VI opposed the first Act of Uniformity and Book of Common Prayer and failed to enforce them in his church. As a punishment the Council required him to speak at St. Paul’s Cross regarding royal authority. Bonner spoke but made significant omissions and as a result he was called to stand trial in which Thomas Cranmer presided over and Latymer was the principal witness.

In 1560 Latymer married Ellen English and when Queen Mary I took the throne as a married clergyman he was dismissed and retired to Ipswich.

When Queen Elizabeth I took the throne Latymer became her chaplain and also wrote ‘The Cronickile of Anne Bulleyne’ he focused on Anne’s time as Queen and the speeches she gave regarding religion, education and charity. He is the only author to have written about Anne Boleyn that actually knew her.

Latymer died on 28th August 1583 and was buried in Peterborough Catherdral.

Peterborough cathedralPeterborough Cathedral – the final resting place of William Latymer

On this day in 1535 – King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn visited Acton Court

In 1535 King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn set out on a royal progress across the country and on 21st August the couple arrived at Acton Court in the West Country for a stay.

Nicholas Poyntz, the owner of Acton Court wanted to impress his King and so commissioned building to commence on a new East Wing onto his moated manor house and even went on to decorate the state apartments to impress his King. This extensive building work took nine months to complete, which shows how far in advance the King’s progress and route were planned. Only one wing of Acton Court exists today and it just so happens to be the East Wing that was built specially for a King.

A royal progress normally took place in the summer months when London was too hot and normally the plague had broken out so the King and his court took a break from life in the capital and travelled around a part of the country. Travelling meant that the King could go out and meet his subjects and in 1535 this was even more important. With the Henry recently becoming Head of the Church of England and marrying his second wife, Anne Boleyn, it was important for Henry to show off his new wife and convince his subjects that the Reformation was the best thing for the country.

The royal progress of 1535 took 14 weeks and Dr Glen Richardson in ‘Henry VIII and travel’ wrote about the progress and the journey they took;

“Starting from Windsor, the royal party moved to Reading and from there through Oxfordshire to Sudeley Castle in Gloucestershire. They visited another six locations in that county in late August and early September before travelling down through Wiltshire and Hampshire, stopping at Winchester en route. In October, after a stay in Portsmouth, Henry headed back towards London through Hampshire staying at Bishop’s Waltham, Old Arlesford and at The Vyne, the home of Lord Sandys, the sheriff of Hampshire, Constable of Southampton Castle and a long time favourite of the king.”

Despite the aim of the royal progress to promote the Reformation and allow the King’s subjects to see his new wife, the progress would be the only one that Anne Boleyn would attend as less than a year later she was executed.

Acton CourtActon Court

On this day in 1554 John Knox published A Faithful Admonition to the Professors of God’s Truth In England

John Knox was a Scottish clergyman and a leader of the Protestant Reformation. He had been exiled from Scotland and travelled to England where he worked within the Church of England during the reign of King Edward VI. With Mary taking the throne upon Edward’s death England was taken back to Catholicism and Knox fled to Geneva before returning to Scotland where he led the Reformation in Scotland.

On 20th July 1554 John Knox published a pamphlet entitled ‘A Faithful Admonition to the Professors of God’s Truth in England’ in which he attacks Queen Mary. In it he calls Mary ‘Bastard, bastard, incestuous bastard, Mary shall never reign over us.’

Knox goes on to attack the bishops who helped Mary gain the throne;

And to pass over the tyrants of old times, whom God has plagued, let us come to the tyrants who now are within the realm of England, whom God will not long spare. If Stephen Gardiner, Cuthbert Tonstall, and butcherly Bonner (false bishops of Winchester, Durham, and of London) had for their false doctrine and traitorous acts suffered death, when they justly deserved the same, then would errant Papists have alleged (as I and others have heard them do), that they were men reformable; that they were meet instruments for a commonwealth; that they were not so obstinate and malicious as they were judged; neither that they thirsted for the blood of any man. And of lady Mary, who has not heard that she was sober, merciful, and one that loved the commonwealth of England? Had she, I say, and such as now are of her pestilent council, been sent to hell before these days, then their iniquity and cruelty could have entered into the heart of woman, and into the heart of her that is called a virgin, that she would thirst for the blood of innocents, and of such as by just laws and faithful witnesses can never be proved to have offended by themselves?”

 

Knox continues to attack the Queen and the church and even attacks Mary’s forthcoming marriage to Philip of Spain;

But, O England, England! If you obstinately will return into Egypt: that is, if you contract marriage, confederacy, or league, with such princes as maintain and advance idolatry (such as the emperor, who is no less enemy unto Christ than ever was Nero): if for the pleasure and friendship (I say) of such princes, you return to your old abominations, before used under the Papistry, then assuredly, O England! you shall be plagued and brought to desolution, by means of those whose favours you seek, and by whom you are procured to fall from Christ, and to serve Antichrist.”

 

You can read the full text of Knox’s ‘A Faithful Admonition to the Professors of God’s Truth In England’ here; http://www.swrb.com/newslett/actualNLs/faithadm.htm

John_Knox_statue,_HaddingtonStatue of John Knox

On this day in 1533 – John Frith was burned at the stake for heresy

John Frith was born in 1503 in Westerham, Kent to Richard Frith, innkeeper of the White Horse Inn. Frith was educated at Sevenoaks Grammar School before transferring to Eton College and later Queen’s College, Cambridge, although Frith received his BA from King’s College.

Whilst at Cambridge he studied under Stephen Gardiner and read Latin, Greek and Mathematics. It was also here that he met Thomas Bilney and they began discussing the Reformation, it was during these meetings that Frith met William Tyndale for the first time. Upon graduation Frith became a junior canon at Thomas Wolsey’s Cardinal College, Oxford however, this did not last long Frith along with nine others were accused by the University of possessing heretical books and were imprisoned in a cellar for six months. Upon his release Frith left England to travel to Antwerp to join up with William Tyndale.

Frith spent many years in Europe and during this time he translated a number of works including, ‘A Pistle to the Christian Reader: The Revelation of the Anti-Christ’; ‘An Antithesis between Christ and Pope’. He also published his own works in response to Thomas More, Bishop Fisher and John Rastell entitled ‘A Disputacion of Purgatorye’. Unpon reading Frith’s work Rastell converted to the Protestant ways.

In ‘A Disputacion of Purgatorye’ Frith put forward the argument that there were two purgatories. He wrote “God hath left us two purgatories; one to purge the heart and cleanse it from the filth which we have partly received of Adam…and partly added thereto by consenting unto our natural infirmity. This purgatory is the word of God, as Christ saith.” Frith continued to say that the second purgatory was Christ’s cross and said; “I mean not his material cross that he himself died on, but a spiritual cross, which is adversity, tribulation, worldly depression etc.”

In 1532, Frith returned to England and was quickly arrested in Reading where he was mistaken for a vagabond with the help of Leonard Coxe, a local schoolmaster, he was released. Sir Thomas More, when he learnt that Frith had returned to England issued arrest warrants for Frith’s capture on the charges of heresy. Frith was eventually arrested when trying to board a ship back to Antwerp.

Frith was sent to the Tower of London where he continued to preach and write about the Lutheran ways and in particular the ritual of Communion, knowing that his work would be used against him as evidence. Whilst Frith was imprisoned Sir Thomas More resigned as Lord Chancellor after disagreeing with the King’s views on religion and a short time later following the death of William Warham, Thomas Cranmer was appointed Archbishop of Canterbury.

Also Cranmer himself leaned towards the Lutheran way he met with Frith at both Lambeth and Croydon for discussion in which Cranmer attempted to persuade Frith to change his stance regarding the Eucharist to be more in line with that of the King. Cranmer was trying to save Frith’s life but Frith was unwilling to change his belief.

Frith was eventually moved to Newgate Prison where he continued writing; he received letters from William Tyndale who attempted to keep Frith’s spirits up. However, Thomas Audley was given the office of Lord Chancellor and he sentenced Frith to stand trial.

Frith was placed before a jury of examiners and bishops and here he submitted his own writings as evidence of his personal views that were considered to be heresy. Frith was offered a pardon if he answered positively to two questions the first was ‘Do you believe in purgatory?’ the second was ‘Do you believe in transubstantiation?’ Frith replied that neither could be proven and with that he was condemned as a heretic and sentenced to death by burning on 4th July 1533.

Frith’s views would continue to live on and after the death of King Henry VIII, Cranmer subscribed to the same views as Frith regarding purgatory and the Eucharist and these were implemented into the Protestant reforms during King Edward VI’s reign.

John FrithJohn Frith being led to his death.

On this day in 1536 – Henry VIII’s councillors sent to bully Lady Mary into accepting Henry as the Supreme Head of the Church.

After the death of Anne Boleyn King Henry VIII pressed ahead with the Reformation and insisted to be the Supreme Head of the Church. One person that was still reluctant to acknowledge this along with Henry’s insistence that his first marriage to Katherine of Aragon was not legal was his daughter Mary. By acknowledging these demands Mary would be condemning the memory of her mother and also her own illegitimacy.

On 15th June 1536 member of Henry’s Privy Council led by the Duke of Norfolk arrived at Mary’s home in Hunsdon to coerce Mary to agree to Henry’s demands and was promised with reconciliation with her father if she did.

Eustace Chapuys, the Spanish ambassador and close to Mary and her late mother, wrote to Holy Roman Emperor Charles V about the visit;

To induce her to obey his commands and accede to his wishes, the King sent to her a deputation composed of the duke of Norfolk, the earl of Sussex, the bishop of Chester, and several others, whom she literally confounded by her very wise and prudent answers to their intimation. Upon which, finding that they could not persuade her, one of them said that since she was such an unnatural daughter as to disobey completely the King’s injunctions, he could hardly believe thatshe was the King’s own bastard daughter. Were she his or any other man’s daughter, he would beat her to death, or strike her head against the wall until he made it as soft as a boiled apple; in short that she was a traitress, and would be punished as such. Many other threats of the same sort did the said deputies utter on the occasion, assisted in their task by the Princess’ governess, who happens to be the same as before, having then and there received orders not to allow the Princess to speak a word to any one, and to watch over her so that she should never be left alone by night or day.”

Chapuys went on to say that he advised Mary to submit to her father’s demands;

I have written to her fully and in detail, advising, among other things, that, should the King, her father, obstinately persist in his determination should she herself hear from friends at Court or elsewhere that her life was really in danger through ill-treatment or in some other way, my opinion was that she ought to obey her father’s commands, assuring her at the same time that such was Your Majesty’s advice and wish. That in order to save her own life, on which the tranquillity of this kingdom and the reform of the many great disorders and abuses by which it is troubled entirely depended, it was necessary that she should make all manner of sacrifices, and dissemble for some time to come, the more so that the protest previously signed and the cruel violence used were quite sufficient to preserve her inviolable right, and at same time relieve her conscience, inasmuch as there was nothing in it against God nor against the articles of Faith. That God looked more into the intentions than into the deeds of men, and now she had a better opportunity than when the King’s concubine was alive, since there was a question of depriving the bastard and making her heir to the Crown. I was certain that, should she go to Court, she might by her prudence and wisdom be able to lead the King, her father, to the right path, availing herself of Your Majesty’s valuable intercession after your probable reconciliation with him. Many other similar things have I written and inculcated upon the Princess in order to persuade her that the best course for her to pursue in case of unusual violence is to yield for the present to the King’s wishes.

Thank God that the judges, notwithstanding all manner of threats were unwilling to take a resolution in the affair, and advised that a paper should be sent to the Princess for her to sign, and if she still refused that legal proceedings should then be instituted against her; otherwise I do not know what might have happened. At last the Princess, hearing from several reliable quarters how matters stood, signed the paper without reading it, which will be in future one of the best excuses she can offer. I need scarcely tell Your Majesty that I had beforehand sent her the formula of the protest for her to write down, and sign separately. I had likewise warned her to make sure first that by complying with her father’s wishes she will be quickly restored to his grace and favour; that I should never have advised her to sign the paper in question save with the perfect understanding that she was not acting against God and her conscience, or again that she could very well promise not to contravene the statutes without in anywise granting them her approval. I do not know yet how the Princess has come out of the difficulty, but whatever has been done I am confident that she has not disregarded my advice. Indeed had she allowed this opportunity to pass there would have been no remedy in her case. As soon as it was known that the Princess had actually signed the paper, there was incredible joy throughout the Court, save in the case of the earl of Essex, who said to the King, “That is a sort of game the playing of which will in time cost me my head, were it for no other reason than the injurious words I addressed to her on the occasion.” Innumerable people, moreover, have sent me their congratulations at the reconciliation of the Princess with the King, her father.”

Chapuys went on to add at the end of his report;

It appears, however, that after signing the paper as above said, the Princess fell suddenly into a state of despondency and sorrow; but I have since removed all her conscientious scruples by assuring her that not only will the Pope not condemn her action, but will highly approve of it under the circumstances.”

Mary was being asked to go against everything she believed in in order to be reconciled with her father.

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