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Foxe's Book of Martyrs

Wyatt's Rebellion -- Lady Jane Grey--Conversation With Fecknam -- Letters -- Behaviour at Execution, With Other Matters.

The year 1554 commenced with persecution. Dr. Crome was committed to the Fleet, for preaching without license on Christmas-day; and Thomas Wootton, a protestant esquire, on account of his religious profession. The publication of the queen's intended marriage was very ill received by the people and several of the nobility; and soon a rebellion arose, whereof sir Thomas Wyatt was one of the chief promoters. He said that the queen and council would, by this marriage, bring upon the realm slavery and popery. He resided in the county of Kent, and as soon as intelligence was received in London of the insurrection there, and of the duke of Suffolk having fled into Warwick and Leicestershire, with a view of raising forces in those counties, the queen caused them both, with the Carews of Devonshire, to be proclaimed traitors. At the same time she sent some forces, under the duke of Norfolk, into Kent; but, on reaching Rochester-bridge, he found himself so deserted, that he was obliged to return to London. The earl of Huntingdon was sent into Warwickshire to apprehend the duke of Suffok, who, entering the city of Coventry before Suffok, frustrated his designs. In his distress, the duke confided in a servant of his, named Underwood, in Astley-park, who, like a false traitor, betrayed him. And so he was brought to the Tower of London.

Sir Peter Carew, hearing what was done, fled into France; but the others were taken. Wyatt came towards London in the beginning of February. The queen, hearing of Wyatt's coming, came into the city to the Guildhall, where she made a vehement oration against him. When she had concluded, Gardiner, standing by her, with great admiration cried to the people, "Oh, how happy are we, to whom God hath given such a wise and learned prince!" etc.

On the 3rd of February, lord Cobham wa committed to the Tower. Wyatt was now 4000 strong, and came to Southwark, but could not force the bridge of London: he was informed the city would all rise if he should come to their aid; but he could not find boats for passing into Middlesex or Essex, so he was forced to go to the bridge of Kingston. On reaching it, he found it cut; yet his men repaired it, and he reached Hyde-park the next morning. Weary and disheartened, his troops were reduced to 500, and the queen's forces could have easily dispersed them; yet they let them go forward, that they might be obliged to surrender at discretion. He marched through the Strand, and got to Ludgate. Returning from thence, he was opposed at Temple-bar, and there surrendered himself to sir Clement Parson, who brought him to court, with the remains of his army, after about one hundred had been killed. A great number of the captives were hanged; and Wyatt was beheaded on Tower hill, and then quartered.

It was now resolved to proceed against lady Jane Grey and her husband. She had lived six months in the hourly meditation of death; so she was not much surprised when the catastrophe arrived. Feckman, alias Howman, was sent from the queen, two days before her death, to commune with her, and to reduce her from the doctrine of Christ to queen Mary's religion: the effect of which communication here followeth.

Fecknam. Madam, I lament your heavy case; and yet I doubt not but that you bear out this sorrow of yours with a constant and patient mind.

Jane. You are welcome unto me, sir, if your coming be to give Christian exhortation. And as for my heavy case, I thank God, I do so little lament it, that rather I account the same for a more manifest declaration of God's favor towards me, than ever he showed me at any time before. Therefore, there is no cause why either you or others which bear me good will should lament or be grieved with this my case, being a thing so profitable to my soul's health.

Fecknam. I am here come to you at this present, sent from the queen and her council, to instruct you in the true doctrine of the right faith: although I have so great confidence in you, that I shall have, I trust, little need to travel with you much therein.

Jane. Forsooth, I heartily thank the queen's highness, who is not unmindful of her humble subject; and I hope that you will no less do your duty therein, truly and faithfully, according to that you were sent for.

Fecknam. What is then required of a Christian man?

Jane. That he should believe in God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost: three Persons and one God.

Fecknam. What? Is there nothing else to be required or looked for in a Christian, but to believe in him?

Jane. Yes, we must love him with all our heart, with all our soul, and with all our might; and our neighbor as ourself.

Fecknam. Why? then faith justifieth not, nor saveth not.

Jane. Yes verily, faith, as St. Paul saith, alone justifieth.

Fecknam. Why? St. Paul saith, "If I have all faith without love, it is nothing."

Jane. True it is; for how can I love him whom I trust not? Or how can I trust him whom I love not? Faith and love go both together, and yet love is comprehended in faith.

Fecknam. How shall we love our neighbor?

Jane. To love our neighbor is to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, to give drink to the thirsty, and to do to him as we would to ourselves.

Fecknam. Why? then it is necessary unto salvation to do good works also, and it is not sufficient only to believe.

Jane. I deny that, and I affirm that faith only saveth; but it is meet for a Christian, in token that he followeth his master Christ, to do good works, yet may we not say that they profit to our salvation. For when we have done all, yet we be unprofitable servants, and faith only in Christ's blood saveth us.

Fecknam. How many sacraments are there?

Jane. Two--the one the sacrament of baptism, and the other the sacrament of the Lord's supper.

Fecknam. No, there are seven.

Jane. By what scripture find you that?

Fecknam. Well, we will talk of that hereafter. But what is signified by your two sacraments?

Jane. By the sacrament of baptism, I am washed with water and regenerated by the Spirit; and that washing is a token to me that I am the child of God. The sacrament of the Lord's supper, offered unto me, is a sure seal and testimony that I am, by the blood of Christ, which he shed for me on the cross, made partaker of the everlasting kingdom.

Fecknam. Why, what do you receive in that sacrament? Do you not receive the very body and blood of Christ?

Jane. No surely, I do not so believe. I think that at the supper I neither receive flesh nor blood, but bread and wine; which bread when it is broken, and the wine when it is drunken, put me in remembrance how that for my sins the body of Christ was broken, and his blood shed on the cross; and with that bread and wine I received the benefits that come by the breaking of his body, and shedding of his blood, for our sins on the cross.

Fecknam. Why, doth not Christ speak these words, "Take, eat, this is my body?" Require you any plainer words? Doth he not say, it is his body?

Jane. I grant, he saith so; and so he saith, "I am the vine, I am the door;" but he is never the more for that, the door or the vine. Doth not St. Paul say, "He calleth things that are not as though they were?" God forbid that I should say, that I eat the very natural body and blood of Christ: for then either I should pluck away my redemption, or else there were two bodies, or two Christs. One body was tormented on the cross, and if they did eat another body, then had he two bodies; or if his body were eaten, then was it not broken upon the cross; or if it were broken upon the cross, it was not eaten of his disciples.

Fecknam. Why, is it not as possible that Christ, by his power, could make his body both to be eaten and broken, and to be born of a virgin, as to walk upon the sea, having a body, and other suck like miracles as he wrought by his power only?

Jane. Yes verily, if God would have done at his supper any miracle, he might have done so: but I say, that then he minded no work nor miracle, but only to brake his body and shed his blood on the cross for our sins. But I pray you to answer me to this one question: Where was Christ when he said, "Take, eat, this is my body?" Was he not at the table when he said so? He was at that time alive, and suffered not till the next day. What took he, but bread? what brake he, but bread? and what gave he, but bread? Look, what he took he brake: and look, what he brake he gave: and look, what he gave they did eat: and yet all this while he himself was alive, and at supper before his disciples, or else they were deceived.

Fecknam. You ground your faith upon such authors as say and unsay both in a breath; and not upon the church, whom ye ought to credit.

Jane. No, I ground my faith on God's word, and not upon the church. For if the church be a good church, the faith of the church must be tried by God's word; and not God's word by the church, neither yet my faith. Shall I believe the church because of antiquity, or shall I give credit to the church that taketh away from me the half part of the Lord's Supper, and will not let any man receive it in both kinds? which things if they deny to us, then deny they to us part of our salvation. And I say, that it is an evil church, and not the spouse of Christ, but the spouse of the devil, that altereth the Lord's supper, and both taketh from it and addeth to it. To that church, say I, God will add plagues; and from that church will he take their part out of that book of life. Do they learn that of St. Paul, when he ministered to the Corinthians in both kinds? Shall I believe this church? God forbid!

Fecknam. That was done for a good intent of the church, to avoid a heresy that sprang on it.

Jane. Why, shall the church alter God's will and ordinance, for good intent? How did king Saul? The Lord God defend!

With these and such like persuasions he would have had her lean to the church, but it would not be. There were many more things whereof they reasoned, but these were the chiefest. After this, Fecknam took his leave, saying that he was sorry for her: "For I am sure," quoth he, "that we two shall never meet."

"True it is," replied lady Jane, openly, "that we shall never meet, except God turn your heart; for I am assured, unless you repent and turn to God, you are in an evil case. And I pray God, in the bowels of his mercy, to send you his Holy Spirit; for he hath given you his great gift of utterance, if it pleased him also to open the eyes of your heart."

A letter of the lady Jane to master Harding, late chaplain to the duke of Suffolk, her father, and then fallen from the truth of God's most holy word:--

"So oft as I call to mind the dreadful and fearful saying of God, 'That he which layeth hold upon the plough, and looketh back, is not meet for the kingdom of heaven;' and, on the other side, the comfortable words of our Saviour Christ to all those that, forsaking themselves, do follow him; I cannot but marvel at thee, and lament they case, who seemed sometime to be the lively member of Christ, but now the deformed imp of the devil; sometime the beautiful temple of God, but now the stinking and filthy kennel of Satan; sometime the unspotted spouse of Christ, but now the unshamefaced paramour of antichrist; sometime my faithful brother, but now a stranger and apostate; sometime a stout Christian soldier, but now a cowardly runaway. Yea, when I consider these things, I cannot but speak to thee, and cry out upon thee, thou seed of Satan, and not of Judah, whom the devil hath deceived, the world hath beguiled, and the desire of life subverted, and made thee of a Christian an infidel. Wherefore hast thou taken the testament of the Lord in thy mouth? Wherefore hast thou preached the law and the will of God to others? Wherefore hast thou instructed others to be strong in Christ, when thou thyself dost now so shamefully shrink, and so horribly abuse the testament and law of the Lord? when thou thyself preachest, not to steal, yet most abominably stealest, not from men, but from God, and, committing most heinous sacrilege, robbest Christ thy Lord of his right members, thy body and soul; and choosest rather to live miserably with shame to the world, than to die, and gloriously with honour reign with Christ, in whom even in death is life? Why dost thou now show thyself most weak, when indeed thou oughtest to be most strong? The strength of a fort is unknown before the assault, but thou yieldest thy hold before any battery he made. O wretched and unhappy man, what art thou but dust and ashes? And wilt thou resist thy Maker, that fashioned thee and framed thee? Wilt thou now forsake Him that called thee from the custom-gathering among the Romish antichristians, to be an ambassador and messenger of his eternal word? He that first framed thee, and since thy first creation and birth preserved thee, nourished and kept thee, yea, and inspired thee with the spirit of knowledge, (I cannot say, of grace) shall he not now possess thee? Darest thou deliver up thyself to another, being not thine own, but his? How canst thou, having knowledge, or how darest thou neglect the law of the Lord, and follow the vain traditions of men; and, whereas thou has been a public professor of his name, become now a defacer of his glory? Wilt thou refuse the true God, and worship the invention of man, the golden calf, the whore of Babylon, the Romish religion, the abominable idol, the most wicked mass? Wilt thou torment again, rend and tear the most precious body of our Saviour Christ, with thy bodily and fleshly teeth? Wilt thou take upon thee to offer up any sacrifice unto God for our sins, considering that Christ offered up himself, as Paul saith, upon the cross, a lively sacrifice once for all? Can neither the punishment of the Israelites-which, for their idolatry, they so oft received-nor the terrible threatenings of the prophets, nor the curses of God's own mouth, fear thee to honour any other god than him? Dost thou so regard Him that spared not his dear and only Son for thee, so diminishing, yea, utterly extinguishing his glory, that thou wilt attribute the praise and honour due unto him to the idols, 'which have mouths and speak not, eyes and see not, ears and hear not;' which shall perish with them that made them?

*   *   *   *   *   *

"Last of all, let the lively remembrance of the last day be always before your eyes; remembering the terror that such shall be in at that time, with the runagates and fugitives from Christ, which setting more by the world than by heaven, more by their life than by Him who gave them life, did shrink, yea, did clean fall away, from his that forsook not them: and contrariwise, the inestimable joys prepared for them, that fearing no peril, nor dreading death, have manfully fought, and victoriously triumphed over all power of darkness, over hell, death, and damnation, through their most redoubted captain, Christ.-To whom, with the Father and the Holy Ghost, be all honour, praise, and glory everlasting. Amen."

A letter written by the lady Jane in the end of the New Testament in Greek, the which she sent unto her sister the lady Katherine, the night before she suffered:--

"I have here sent you, good sister Katherine, a book, which although it be not outwardly trimmed with gold, yet inwardly it is more worth than precious stones. It is the book, dear sister, of the law of the Lord. It is his testament and last will, which he bequeathed unto us wretches; which shall lead you to the path of eternal joy: and, if you with a good mind read it, and with an earnest mind do purpose to follow it, it shall bring you to an immortal and everlasting life. It shall teach you to live, and learn you to die. It shall win you more than you should have gained by the possession of your woeful father's lands. For as, if God had prospered him, you should have inherited his lands; so, if you apply diligently to this book, seeking to direct your life after it, you shall be an inheritor of such riches, as neither the covetous shall withdraw from you, neither thief shall steal, neither yet the moths corrupt. Desire with David, good sister, to understand the law of the Lord God. Live still to die, that you by death may purchase eternal life. And trust not that the tenderness of your age shall lengthen your life; for as soon, if God call, goeth the young as the old; and labour always to learn to die. Defy the world, deny the devil, and despise the flesh, and delight yourself only in the Lord. Be penitent for your sins, and yet despair not: be strong in faith, and yet presume not; and desire, with St. Paul, to be dissolved and to be with Christ, with whom even in death there is life. Be like the good servant, and even at midnight be waking, lest when death cometh and stealeth upon you as a thief in the night, you be, with the evil servant, found sleeping; and lest, for lack of oil, you be found like the five foolish women; and like him that had not on the wedding garment, and then ye be cast out from the marriage. Rejoice in Christ, as I do. Follow the steps of your master Christ, and take up your cross; lay your sins on his back, and always embrace him. And as touching my death, rejoice as I do, good sister, that I shall be delivered of this corruption, and put on incorruption. For I am assured that I shall, for losing a mortal life, win an immortal life, the which I pray God grant you, and send you of his grace to live in his fear, and to die in the true Christian faith, from the which, in God's name, I exhort you that you never swerve, neither for hope of life, nor for fear of death. For if you will deny his truth for to lengthen your life, God will deny you, and yet shorten your days. And if you will cleave unto him, he will prolong your days, to your comfort and his glory: to the which glory God bring me now, and you hereafter, when it pleaseth him to call you. Fare you well, good sister, and put your only trust in God, who only must help you."

A prayer made by the lady Jane in the time of her trouble, and also a letter to her father, a part of that to Mr. Harding, are here omitted for want of space. It remaineth now, coming to the end of this virtuous lady, to infer the manner of her execution, with the words and behaviour of her at the time of her death. First, when she mounted the scaffold, she said to the people standing thereabout, "Good people, I am come hither to die, and by a law I am condemned to the same. The fact against the queen's highness was unlawful, and the consenting thereunto by me; but, touching the procurement and desire thereof by me, or on my behalf, I do wash my hands therof in innocency before God, and the face of you, good Christian people, this day.--I pray you all, good Christian people, to bear me witness that I die a true Christian woman, and that I do look to be saved by no other mean, but only by the mercy of God, in the blood of his only Son Jesus Christ: and I confess, that when I did know the word of God, I neglected the same, and loved myself and the world: therefore this punishment is happily and worthily happened unto me for my sins; and yet I thank God, that of his goodness he hath thus given me a time and respite to repent. And now, good people, while I am alive, I pray you assist me with your prayers."

And then, kneeling down, she turned her to Fecknam, saying, "Shall I say this psalm?" and he said, "Yea." Then said she the psalm of "Miserere mei Deus," in English, in most devout manner throughout to the end. Then she stood up, and gave her maiden, Ellen, her gloves and handkerchief, and her book to Mr. Bruges. After this, she untied her gown, in which the executioner offered to help her; but she, desiring him to let her alone, turned towards her two gentlewomen, who helped her off therewith, and also with her frowes, paaft and neckerchief, giving to her a fair handkerchief to knit about her eyes. Then the executioner kneeled down and asked her forgiveness, which she willingly granted, and said, "I pray you dispatch me quickly." Then she kneeled, saying, "Will you strike before I lay me down?" The executioner said, "No, madam." Then tied she the handkerchief about her eyes, and feeling for the block, she said, "What shall I do? Where is it?" One of the standers-by guiding her thereunto, she laid her head down upon the block, and then stretched forth her body, and said, "Lord, into thy hands I commend my spirit;" and so finished her life, in the year of our Lord 1554, and 12th day of February, about the 17th year of her age.

Thus was beheaded the lady Jane, and with her also the lord Guilford, her husband, one of the duke of Northumberland's sons. Judge Morgan, who gave the sentence of condemnation against her, shortly after he had condemned her, fell mad, and in his raving cried out continually to have the lady Jane taken away from him; and so ended his life. Upon the 21st of the same month, Henry duke of Suffolk, the father of lady Jane, was also beheaded at the Tower-hill; and, about the same time, many gentlemen and yeomen were condemned for this conspiracy, whereof some were executed in London and some in the country.

On the 24th of the same month of February, 1554, Bonner, bishop of London, sent down a commission to all the pastors and curates of his diocese, for the taking of the names of such as would not come, the Lent following, to auricular confession, and to the receiving at Easter. And on the 4th of the next month there was a letter sent from the queen to bishop Bonner requiring that all the canons and ecclesiastical laws of Henry the Eighth's time should be put in execution.

Injunctions were now given to the bishops, to execute such ecclesiastical laws as had been in force in king Henry's time: that in their courts they should proceed in their own names; that the oath of supremacy should be no more exacted; that none suspected of heresy should be put in orders; and that all married clergymen should separate from their wives. If they left their wives, the bishops might put them in some other cure, or reserve a pension for them out of their livings. Rules for ordination were established on popish principles. The queen gave also a special commission to Bonner, Gardiner, Tonstall, Day, and Kitchin, to proceed against the archbishop of York, and the bishops of St. David's, Chester, and Bristol, and to deprive them of their bishoprics, for having contracted marriage, and thereby broken their vows and defiled their function. She also authorized them to call before them the bishops of Lincoln, Gloucester, and Hereford, who held their bishoprics only during their good behaviour; and since they had done things contrary to the laws of God, and the practice of the universal church, to declare their bishoprics void.