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Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 42.djvu/95

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Oldcastle
Oldcastle
89


citation was affixed to the doors of Rochester Cathedral on 6 Sept. requiring him to appear before the archbishop at Leeds Castle, near Maidstone, on the 11th of the month (ib. p. 266, cf. ed. 1729, p. 117 ; Fasciculi Zizorniorum, p. 436; Walsingham, ii. 292). These citations were, according to one account, twice torn down by Oldcastle's friends, and, as he fkiled to appear at Leeds on the appointed day, he was declared contumacious and excommunicated. A further summons was issued calling upon him to appear on Saturday, 23 Sept., to show cause why he should not be condemned as a heretic and handed over to the secular arm. Bale here inserts a confession of faith, begining with the Apostles' Creed and including a definition of the functions of the three estates of the church militant — priesthood, knighthood, and commons — which Oldcastle is alleged to have taken to the king. Henry declined to receive it, and, turning a deaf ear to his further suggestions that a hundred knights and esquires should clear him of heresy or that he should clear himself in single combat, allowed a summons to be served upon him in his own presence. Whereupon Oldcastle produced a written appeal from the jurisdiction of the archbishop to the pope, whom, according to Bale, he had roundly denounced as antichrist in his previous interviews with the king. Bale's narrative is generally based upon the archbishop's official account, of which the fullest form is printed in the 'Fasciculi Zizaniorum,' but he adds a good deal from sources which cannot always be traced even when he mentions his authority.

Oldcastle was arrested under a royal writ ; and when the archbishop opened his court in the chapter-house of St. Paul's on 23 Sept., he was produced by the lieutenant of the Tower (Devon, Issues, p. 324 ; Fasciculi Zizaniorum, p. 467). Arundel, with whom sat Richard Clifford, bishop of London, and Henry Beaufort, bishop of Winchester, was clearly unwilling to go to extremities, and gave Oldcastle another opportunity of securing absolution by submission. But he presented instead a written confession of faith in English, in which he defined his position on the four or five points on which his orthodoxy was principally impugned. He expressed his belief in all the sacraments ordained by God, believed the sacrament of the altar to be 'Christ's body in form of bread,' and, with regard to the sacrament of penance, held that men must forsake sin and do due penance therefor with true confession, or they could not be saved. Images, he said, were merely calendars for the unlearned, to represent and bring to mind the passion of our Lord Jesus Christ and the martyrdom and good living of other saints. 'Hoso putteth feyth, hope, or trust in helpe of hem, as he scholde do to God, he doth in that the grete synne of mawmetrie [idolatry].' As to pilgrimages, he held that a man might go on pilgrimage to all the world and yet be damnea ; but that if he knew and kept God's commandments, he should be saved, 'though he nevyr in hys lyff go on pilgrimage as men use now, to Cantirbery or to Rome, or to eny other place' (ib. p. 438 ; cf. Bale, ed. 1729, p. 121). Arundel, after consultation with his assessors, informed Oldcastle that his 'schedule' contained much that was good and sufficiently catholic, but insisted on a fuller statement of his belief on the two points, whether in the eucharist the consecrated bread remained material bread or not, and whether confession to a duly qualified priest where possible was or was not necessary to the efficacy of the sacrament of penance. Oldcastle, however, refused to add anything to what he had said in his schedule on these sacraments, although warned by the archbishop that by refusal he ran the risk of being pronounced a heretic. Informed by the court of what the 'holy Roman Church had laid down on these points in accordance with the teaching of the fathers, he professed perfect willingness to believe and observe what 'holy church' had decreed and God wished him to believe and observe, but denied that the pope, cardinals, and prelates had any power of determining such things. The inquiry was then adjourned unto the Monday (25 Sept.), when the court met at the convent of the Black Friars 'within Ludgate ' (ib. p. 263 ; Gregory, p. 107). It. was now reinforced by the presence of Benedict Nicolls [q. v.], bishop of Bangor; besides the bishops, twelve doctors of law or divinity sat as assessors, including Philip Morgan [q. v.], John Kemp [q. v.], and the heads of the four mendicant orders, among whom was Thomas Netter or Walden. Urged again to seek absolution, Oldcastle declared he would do so from none but God (Fasciculi Zizaniorum, p. 443). The scene described by Bale — Oldcastle going down on his knees and imploring the divine absolution for the sins of his youth — is perhaps only an expansion of this declaration. The archbishop then demanded what answer he had to give to the summary of the church's faith and determination on the eucharist, confession, the power of the keys and pilgrimages which had been handed to him 'in English for his better understanding thereof on the Sunday. In reply, he defined quite unmistakably his position on the two critical points raised at