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Pauls church at London an universal synod of all the bishops and clergy of England.
The chiefe and principall cause of the assembling thereof (as recordeth the chronicles of S. Albons) was to represse the growing and spreading of the gospell, and especially to withstand the noble and worthy lord Cobham, who was then noted to be a principall favourer', receiver, and maintainer of them, whom the bishop misnamed to be Lollards, especially in the diocesses of London, Rochester, and Hereford, setting them up to preach
, whom the bishops had not licensed, and sending them about to preach, which was against the constitution provinciall, before remembered', holding also and teaching opinions of the sacraments, of images, of pilgrimage, of the keies and church of Rome, contrary and repugnant to the received determination of the Romish church.
In the meane time, as these were in talke amongst them, concerning the good lord Cobham, resorted unto them the twelve inquisitors of heresies (whom they had appointed at Oxford' the yeere afore, to search out heretikes, with all Wickliffes bookes), who brought two hundred and forty-six conclusions ', which they had collected as heresies out of the said bookes.
These things thus done, and the articles being brought in, further they proceeded in their communication, concluding among themselves, that it was not possible for them to make whole Christs coat without seame (meaning thereby their patched popish synagogue) unlesse certain great men were brought out of the way, which seemed to be the chiefe maintainers of the said disciples of Wickliffe. Among whom this noble knight sir John Oldcastle the lord Cobham, was complained of by the generall proctors to be the chief principall. Him they accused, first, for a mighty maintainer of suspected preachers in the diocesse of London, Rochester, and Hereford, contrary to the minds of their ordinaries. Not only they affirmed him to have sent thither the said preachers, but also to have assisted them there by force
: Principall favourer.] See Wilkins, vol. iii. p. 329, 30. 3 Before remembered.] See Life of Thorpe, p. 283, note.
Appointed at Oxford.] See above, note on Thorpe's Examination, p. 272. 5 Two hundred and forty-six conclusions.] These are printed at length in Wilkins's Concil. vol. iii. p. 333–349, to the amount of 267.
6 Certain great men.] See Wilkins, vol. iii. p. 352.
of armes, notwithstanding their synodall constitution' made afore to the contrary. Last of all they accused him that he was far otherwise in beleefe of the sacrament of the altar, of penance, of pilgrimage, of image worshipping, and of the ecclesiasticall power, then the holy church of Rome had taught many yeeres before.
In the end it was concluded among them, that without any further delay, processe should be awarded out against him, as against a most pernitious heretike.
Some of that fellowship which were of more crafty experience than the other, thought it not best to have the matter so rashly handled, but by some preparation made thereunto before : considering the said lord Cobham was a man of great birth, and in favour at that time with the king, their counsell was to know first the kings mind, to save all things upright. This counsell was well accepted, and thereupon the archbishop Thomas Arundell with his other bishops, and a great part of the clergy, went straightwaies unto the king, then remaining at Kenyngton', and there laid forth most greevous complaints against the said lord Cobham, to his great infamy and blemish, being a man right godly. The king gently heard those bloud-thirsty prelats, and farre otherwise then became his princely dignitie: notwithstanding requiring, and instantly desiring them, that in respect of his
? Their synodall constitution.] See above, note on Thorpe's Examination, p. 272, 3.
8 At Kenyngton.] The same day in which Lord Cobham appeared before the king at Kennington, a great many books of Wickliffe and others of his sect were burnt at St. Paul's cross, the archbishop preaching to the people, and stating the reasons for the conflagration. Among these volumes was one which contained several small tracts tending, as the register relates, to the subversion of the faith, and of holy church, which had been discovered at a limner's in Pater-noster row, where it was lying for the purpose of being illuminated. The artist being apprehended confessed that the book was Lord Cobham's. The meeting at Kennington, it seems, was a very full one. There were present almost all the prelates and nobles of England. Certain extracts had been made by the clergy from Lord Cobham's volume, which were recited aloud. The king is said to have shown very great abhorrence of them, and declared they were the most perilous and pestilent he had ever heard. Lord Cobham being demanded by the king, whether these tracts had been justly condemned, he owned that they had. Being asked again, why he kept and read a volume of that description, he denied that he had ever been in the habit of making use of it; nor had he read in it more than two or three leaves.-Arundel's Register, in Wilkins, vol. iii. p. 357. The manor of Kennington, in Lambeth, is still vested in the Crown.
noble stocke and knighthood, they should yet favourably deale with him. And that they would, if it were possible, without all rigor or extreme handling, reduce him againe to the churches unity. He promised them also, that in case they were contented to take some deliberation, his self' would seriously commune the matter with him.
Anon after, the king sent for the said lord Cobham. And as he was come, he called him secretly, admonishing him betwixt him and him, to submit himselfe to his mother the holy church, and as an obedient child to acknowledge himselfe culpable. Unto whom the Christian knight made this answer, “You most worthy prince,” saith he, “ I am alwaies prompt and willing to obey, forsomuch as I know you a Christian king, and the appointed minister of God, bearing the sword to the punishment of evill doers, and for safeguard of them that be vertuous. Unto you (next my eternall God) owe I my whole obedience, and submit thereunto (as I have done ever) all that I have, either of fortune or nature, ready at all times to fulfill whatsoever ye shall in the Lord command me. But as touching the pope and his spirituality, I owe them neither sute nor service, forsomuch as I know him by the Scriptures to be the great antichrist, the sonne of perdition, the open adversary of God, and the abomination standing in the holy place.”— When the king had heard this, with such like sentences more, he would talke no longer with him, but left him so utterly.
And as the archbishop resorted again unto him for an answere, hee gave him his full authority to cite him, examine him, and punish him according to their divellish decrees, which they called the lawes of holy church.
Then the said archbishop by the counsell of his other bishoppes and clergy, appointed to call before him sir John Oldcastle the lord Cobham, and to cause him personally to appeare, to answere to such suspect articles as they should lay against him. So he sent forth his chiefe summoner, with a very sharpe citation unto the castell of Cowling', where he at that time dwelt for his solace.
9 His self.] This request of the king, the Register tells us, was acquiesced in by the archbishop and bishops, but not without murmuring on the part of the inferior clergy. See Wilkins, vol. iii. p. 352.
1 Castell of Cowling.] In the fourth year of Richard II. John de Cobham, Lord Cobham, obtained a license to make a castle of his house at Cowling, near Rochester.
And as the said summoner was come thither, he durst in no case enter the gates of so noble a man without his licence; and therefore hee returned home againe, his message not done.
Then called the archbishop one John Butler unto him, which was then the doore keeper of the king's privy chamber ; and with him he covenanted through promises and rewards, to have this matter craftily brought to passe under the kings name. Where. upon, the said John Butler took the archbishops sumner with him, and went unto the said lord Cobham, shewing him that it was the kings pleasure that he should obey that citation, and so cited him fraudulently.—Then said hee to them in few words, that hee in no case would consent to those most divellish practises of the priests.
As they had informed the archbishop of that answer, and that it was for no man privatly to cite him after that, without perill of life, he decreed by and by to have him cited by publike processe or open commandement. And in all the haste possible, upon the Wednesday before the nativity of our Lady, in September, he commanded letters citatory, to be set upon the great gates of the cathedrall church of Rochester (which was but three English miles from thence®), charging him to appeare personally before him at Ledis', the eleventh day of the same month and yeere, all excuses to the contrary set apart. Those letters were taken downe anon after, by such as bare favor unto the lord Cobham, and so conveied aside.- After that caused the archbishop new letters to be set up on the nativity day of our Lady, which also were rent downe and utterly consumed.
Then forsomuch as he did not appeare at the day appointed at Ledis (where the archbishop sat in consistory, as cruell as ever was Caiaphas with his court of hypocrits about him) he judged him, denounced him, and condemned him of most deepe contumacie.—After that, when he had been falsely informed by his
? From thence.] i. e. from Cowling.
3 Before him at Ledis.] Leeds castle in Kent, about five miles from Maidstone. It had been the property of the Lords Badlesmere, but reverted to or was seized by the crown, 2 Edward III. It was afterwards inhabited by William of Wickham, who greatly enlarged it; by Richard II., and for a very short time by Henry IV. Archbishop Arundel procured a grant of this castle, where he frequently resided and kept his court, whilst the process against the Lord Cobham was carrying forward. Of late years the castle has been the property of the Lords Fairfax, and it is now, through the Colepeppers, the property of Fiennes Wykeham Martin, Esq., M.P.
hired spies, and other glosing glaverers, that the said lord Cobham had laughed him to scorne, disdained all his doings, maintained his old opinions, contemned the churches power, the dignity of a bishop, and the order of priesthood (for all these was he then accused of), in his moody madnes without just proofe, did he openly excommunicat him.. Yet was he not with all this his fierce tyranny satisfied, but commanded him to be cited afresh, to appeare before him the Saturday before the feast of S. Matthew the apostle: with these cruell threatnings added thereunto, that if he did not obey at the day, he would more extremely handle him. And to make himselfe more strong towards the performance thereof, he compelled the lay power by most terrible menacings of curses and interdictions, to assist him against that seditious apostata, schismatike, and heretike, the troubler of the publike peace, that enemy of the realme, and great adversary of all holy church ;--for all these hatefull names did he give him.
This most constant servant of the Lord, and worthy knight sir John Oldcastle, the lord Cobham, beholding the unpeaceable fury of antichrist thus kindled against him, perceiving himselfe also compassed on every side with deadly dangers; he tooke paper
in hand, and so wrote a Christian confession or reckoning of his faith (which followeth hereafter) both signing and sealing it with his owne hand. Wherein he also answered to the foure chiefest articles that the archbishop laid against him. That done, he tooke the copie with him, and went therewith to the king, trusting to finde mercy and favor at his hand. None other was that confession of his, then the common beleefe or sum of the churches faith, called the Apostles Creed, of all Christian men then used, with a briefe declaration upon the same; as here under ensueth.
The Christian beliefe of the Lord Cobham.
“ I Beleeve in God the father almighty, maker of heaven and earth. And in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord, which was
4 Excommunicat him.] See Wilkins, vol. iii. p. 354.
6 Saturday before.] This is according to Bale; but it ought, both in this place, and where it occurs again below, to be Saturday after ; as it is in the original Register. Wilkins, vol. iii. p. 354. Fox, p. 521. St. Matthew's Day is Sept. 21.