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Heresy Notes

History Notes > Crime and Punishment in England c.1280-c.1450 Notes

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England's Empty Throne: Usurpation and the Language of Legitimation, 13991422 - Paul Strohm (London: Yale University Press, 1998) pp. 32-62????????

Lollards are portrayed as aggressors yet also as futile and hopeless from the start Ecclesiastical documents show Lollards as existing on sufferance - tolerated or encouraged by existing structures but concealed from view
~ Ostensibly claim that Lollards are a threat to the religious and civil order Idea of Lollards' self-deception - thinks he will be chastised by the church but will escape and then he is actually burnt Contradictory ideas K. B. McFarlane - 'the real drive against the heretics did not begin until the heretics under Oldcastle's irresponsible leadership had also become traitors' (p. 34) Ease with which Lollardy was suppressed 'Aided by learned rhetoric, pulpit invective and everyday talk, a society that had not customarily burnt heretics somehow found itself imaginatively able to contemplate so extreme a practice' (p. 36) Differentiated when first branded as Lollardi - idea of pernicious influence
~ Derived from Latin word cockle - corrupted grain
~ Against Christ's pure sacrifice - bread at Mass There was 'an aggressive determination that these heretics be 'extirpated' or 'uprooted'' (p. 38) Anti-Lollards discourse of 1380s and 1390s
~ 1392 royal council were worried that populace might be 'infected' by heresy
~ 1395 conciliar resolution called for a military 'assault' Growing clerical enthusiasm for burning
~ Already well established on the Continent Main anti-Lollards ideas
~ Novelty of the sect
~ Operation under the cover of simulated sanctity
~ Promulgation of views in both public and covert situations - including manipulation of vernacular publication and new practices of lay education
~ Propensity for seditious and insurrectionary machinations
~ Creation of divisions amongst the people Present in an unspecified petition from clergy given to Henry in 1382 Henry responded - 'after the sentence is handed down [the secular officers] shall receive them and cause them to be burnt publicly in a prominent place, so that such punishment might inspire fear in the minds of others' Statute De haeretico comburendo - is drafted 'for the avoidance of dissensions, divisions, injuries, scandals and perils in posterity and so that this wicked sect, preachings, doctrine and opinions should cease from now on and should completely be destroyed' Mutual enterprise of state and Church ? deterrence


Henry seeks to naturalise his actions by appeal to divine law, human law, canon law and national customMost important doctrine of transubstantiation and of Christ's presence within the consecrated host Heresy case is embodied in William Sautre who was burnt as a Lollard - had many controversial views
~ Intent to worship the cross only 'vicariously' as a sign of the passion
~ His inclination to worship the saints rather than the true cross
~ His preference for preaching over services of the hours
~ His privileging of other clerical vocations over the services of the hours
~ His preference for charity over pilgrimages
~ His belief that the sacramental bread is both bread and the body of Christ
~ That a predestinate man is more worthy of adoration than the angels Eucharist was that which was primarily examined
~ Major test of orthodoxy Trial functioned as a persuasive assignment of guilt - confusing 2 day oral examination Eucharist was assigned as a key view to the Lollards - 'the uneven terrain of Eucharistic discussion, riddled with theological pitfalls and places of potential doctrinal entrapment, rendered it a perfect ground for the analysis and discovery of error' (p. 49) 1381 Oxford condemnation of Wyclif Courtenay petitioned Parliament against heretics Wyclif's controversial writings in 1382-84????????Idea that all that is actually sought is resignation to the authority of the Church Inquiry into heresy cannot fail - repentance shows the mercy of the church and execution shows commitment to defence of orthodox belief Henry - [Sautre is to be ] committed to the flames in a public and open place, publicly, before the populace, in detestation of this kind of crime and as a manifest example' Sautre's was the only public burning between 1401-10 - more emblematic than practical significance Sautre was both a priest and a relapsed heretic - was also found on a list of suspected rebels from Epiphany rising against Henry in 1400 Were links between Lollardy and pro-Ricardian sedition - though never as many as contemporaries thought there were Eucharist became a sacramental guarantee of social order - Lollards undermined this in their symbolic ideas 'What the Lollard view threatens is not the sacral per se, but the exceptionality of the host within the sacral and hence its function as that point of irrationality that secures the entire ideological system' (pp. 61-62) Lollards can be said to threaten very little but also to threaten a lot Sacramental power issues - leads to making a new king out of un-regal matter
~ If a coronation does not entitle someone to rule then the dynasty is threatened

Select Cases in the Court of King's Bench under Richard II, Henry IV and Henry V
- G. O. Sayles (London: Selden Society, 1971) pp. 217-220, pp. 224-227 Middlesex:
? Inquired into 'treasons and insurrections' by those commonly called 'lollards'
? Sir John Oldcastle of Cooling in Kent and Walter Blake of Bristol - 'have for a long time boldly held various heretical views contrary to the catholic faith and other manifest errors repugnant to the catholic law without being able to maintain the aforesaid views and errors or bring them to fulfilment in fact so long as the royal authority and the royal estate of our lord the king as well as the estate and office of the episcopal dignity continued to flourish within the realm of England'
? 'have falsely and treasonably plotted to destroy completely not only the royal estate but also the estate and office of the prelates as well as the religious orders within the said realm of England'
? Accused of wanting to bring down social order, attack the king and make Oldcastle ruler in his place
? 'to the ultimate destruction of the catholic faith and clergy as well as of the estate and majesty of the royal dignity within the said realm'
? 20,000 men - 'arrayed in warlike fashion'
? 'and they rode there towards the aforesaid field, arrayed like traitors in warlike fashion in form of rebellion against their allegiances and would have made war upon our said lord the king, had they not providently been forcibly restrained by him'
? Walter says he is not guilty - puts himself for good and ill on the country
~ Jury say he is guilty and sentence him to be drawn and hanged
? Roger Acton is also sentenced to be drawn and hanged
? John Oldcastle did not surrender - not to be found in his bailiwick
~ Was eventually outlawed England:
? '12 jurors presented on oath that John Warwick of Saddington and Roger Vaux of the same are lollards, holding unorthodox opinions and debating 10 propositions unlawfully and in unlawful places contrary to the doctrine of the Holy English Church'
? 'Thomas Ile of Braybrooke is a lollard and writes and distributes the pamphlets of Sir John Oldcastle'
? 'John Belgrave of Leicester is a lollard and a prominent speaker against the pope and his authority and the prelates of the whole Church in these words, saying that there was no pope from the time of St. Clement the pope until the present day'
? Others are common lollards 'rejecting the Eucharist and holding unorthodox opinions contrary to the laws of Holy Church'
? Are sent before the bishop of Lincoln Leicestershire:
? '12 jurors presented on oath that Thomas Noveray of Illston is a lollard and holds unorthodox lollard opinions, saying that there is no merit for anyone in pilgrimages, and that he rose up in arms against the king at Illston on Thursday after the Feast of


Circumcision of the Lord in the 1st year of the reign of king Henry the fifth, in favour and support of Sir John Oldcastle' Eventually produced a pardon in court

Bishop Buckingham and the Lollards of Lincoln diocese - A. K. McHardy (Schism, Heresy and Religious Protest - Derek Baker (ed.)) (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1972) pp. 131-146??1382 marks important development in lay interest in heresy
~ 26 June - letter patent gave archbishop Courtenay and co the power to arrest and imprison heretics without invoking the lay arm 1384 Corringham was prosecuted as a heretic - 9 unorthodox ideas
~ The true body of Christ is not in the sacrament of the altar
~ All priests should be allowed to preach the word of God without need of papal or episcopal license
~ 2 men could be priests at the same time ? could be 2 popes at the same time
~ The antipope was the helper of Pope Urban VI
~ The devil was his helper and God's helper also
~ The form of the Norwich crusade was contrary to Scripture
~ Neither the bishop of Norwich nor any other crusader was permitted to kill a heretic or schismatic
~ Killing in self-defence was wrong - a person in danger of his life should rather allow himself to be killed
~ Everyone who either granted or paid a subsidy to the king for wars outside the realm was ipso facto excommunicate His recantation seems to have marked a genuine change of heart - was impeccably orthodox for the rest of his life 1st lay heretic acted against by Buckingham was Thomas Compworth in 1385 - said to have preached heresy for many years and refused to pay tithes William Whytsyde of Asby de la Zouche - also excommunicated in 1385
~ Captured but was allowed to wander around Leicester and 'infect' the citizens with his 'disease'
~ Still unreconciled to the Church in 1386?

From 1388, greater power for laymen - could seize heretical writings 1392 - Buckingham issued yet another mandate against unlicensed preachers
~ Particularly wanted it applied at North Mimms church in Hertfordshire which was seen to be a site of illegal preachingNorthampton was plagued by Lollardy from 1393
~ Autumn 1392 - John Fox was elected mayor and was seen to have heretical tendencies
~ Deposed in April 1393 Buckingham sent a mandate in 1393 - complained of people pretending to be priests and preaching with sermons that were totally against the faith
~ These men were to be desisted from preaching and excommunicated after being told 3 times

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