SUMMARY OF THE MARTYRS IN THE FIFTEENTH CENTURY
The beginning treats of the great distress in these times; some definite information given, about some countries where the misery was the greatest, as concerning England, France, Germany, Flanders, etc.
The first year of this century begins with a bloody decree published in England against the confessors of the holy Gospel; in consequence of which much innocent blood is shed.
William S'winderby is put to death by fire, for the faith, in the city of London, A. D. 1401; some account is given respecting his belief and death, according to different writers.
In a note, for the year 1405, mention is made of the belief of John Wenschelberg, against a certain blood-red papistic host and the false miracles of the Romanists.
William Thorpe, confessing his belief against the oath and other articles of the Roman church, is put to death by violence and fire, at Saltevoden, A. D. 1407. en years after, A. D. 1417, Catharine of Thou, Lorraine, coming to Montpellier, in France, and there offers up her life, by fire, to God, for the faith.
A great number of Christians called Waldenses, also willingly, for the faith, give their bodies to be burned, in the Flemish countries, A. D. 1421. In a note, by way of parenthesis, the flood of Dort is introduced, together with the destruction of seventy-two villages which were inundated in that year; also, concerning Henry Gruenfelder, Peter Torea, Jerome Savonarola, who, in the years 1423, 1425 and 1427, opposed the errors of the pope and the Roman church.
William White, father Abraham of Cholchester, and John Waddon, miserably put to death by fire, for their true faith, at Norwich in England, A. D. 1428.
Then follows Margaret Backster, who, on account of her orthodox belief against images, the Sacrament, the oath, etc., is put to death in prison, or otherwise, A. D. 1430.
In a note, for the years 1431, 1436, 1439, and 1450, it is stated how Paul Crau, Thomas Rhedonensis, Augustine de Roma, Alanus Chartetius, and others, opposed the Roman church with spiritual weapons; and what happened to them on this account.
Very many Christians called Waldenses, are put to death for the faith, at Eichstaedt, in Germany, A. D. 1455. Then follows a note concerning Laurence de Valla, John de Wesalia, George Morgenstern, Stephen Brulifer, etc., who, in the years 1465, 1470, and 1471 maintained their belief in opposition to the Roman Babylon; and what they had to suffer on this account.
The last Waldensian martyr in this century is Stephen, an elder of their church, who loses his life for the faith, by red-hot coals, at Vienna, in Austria.
A severe inquisition, instituted by the Spaniards against the believers and all who opposed the Roman church, is circumstantially shown, for the year 1492.
In a note, for the years 1494, 1498, and 1499, mention is made of John Bougton, Jerome Savonarola, Paul Scriptor, etc., who declared against the Roman church; and what happened to them an this account. With this we conclude our account of the martyrs in the fifteenth century.]
The times in this century are distressing. The places of the world, though very large, are nevertheless very small and narrow for the pious. The holy confessors of Jesus, who seek to live according to the Gospel, find no rest anywhere. It seems that the earth, which ought properly to be a dwelling place for the good, is possessed only by the rocked.
Is it not a matter of astonishment, and not less
to be lamented: England,* which of old has been supposed to have derived her name from the good angels of heaven, is now found to be a pool of infernal and wicked spirits; for the saints of God are cruelly put to death there; to which Smithfield, at London, the murderous prison at Saltwoden, and the place of execution at Norwich, can bear testimony.
France, which used to be called a free and frank country, yea, a kingdom of liberties, is now so devoid of freedom for the consciences of the true believers, that scarce a corner is found there, where they may confess their faith or practice their worship. At Montpellier they are hurried to the place of execution, and in other places they are likewise miserably put to death.
Germany is occupied by non-Germans, that is, by ignorant and unreasonable men, who do not f ear to resist the will of God, and to imbrue their hands in the blood of God's saints. At Eichstaedt they are murdered; at Vienna, in Austria, they are burnt.
Flanders, this most beautiful and pleasant country, upon which, from of old, the gracious blessing of the Lord descended as a refreshing shower and morning dew, is utterly ungrateful to the Lord, and acknowledges none of the benefits enjoyed; but there God is touched in the apple of His eye. O awful matterl the pious witnesses of God are placed alive into the fiery flames.
It is time that we begin to give some account of this matter, lest some should doubt what we have said.
OF A BLOODY DECREE, PUBLISHED IN ENGLAND AGAINST THE CONFESSORS OF THE HOLY GOS PEL; IN CONSEQUENCE OF WHICH MUCH BLOOD WAS SHED AMONG THEM, A. D. 1401
Tyrants generally find a reason for their tyranny, in the orders which they have received from their superiors in authority; this is for them a wide cloak, which can cover much evil. In the meantime they vent their anger, yea, rejoice in their wickedness, while the unoffending and innocent have to suffer.
Now, if this would obtain only with the worldly, what would it matter, knowing that they are worldlyminded; but even the so-called ecclesiastics or clergy, who are credited with everything good, are guilty in this matter.
All this is briefly shown, in the beginning of the fifteenth book of the Chronijk van den Ondergang der Tyrannen, with these words, "In the year 1401 a decree was issued in England, against the confessors of the Gospel, or those who gave them assistance or showed them favor; in consequence of which much innocent blood was shed by the ecclesiastical prelates, priests, and monks of anti-
*"Anglia," England; others, however, are of the opinion, that it comet from 'Ango,' that is, to strangle, torment, distress, oppress, etc.; or from Anguatia," hat is, a narrow and straitened place. Christ." See above-mentioned chronicle, page 753, Col. 1, from Hist. Adrian., fol. 85, Henr. Boxh., fol. 27.
WILLIAM SWINDERBY, BURNT FOR THE FAITH, AT LONDON, IN ENGLAND, A. D. 1401
In the year 1389 it occurred as old chronicles show, that one William Swinderby, a priest of the bishopric of Lincoln, was accused of certain opinions, and brought before the bishop of Lincoln, who examined him concerning certain articles, in the church at Lincoln, according to the manner or order of the papal laws, agreeing with their usual ceremonies.
His accusers were the monks, friar Roger Frisby, a Franciscan; friar John Hincely, an Augustmian, and Thomas Blaxton, a Dominican; whom he refuted in all their accusations, showing that the eleven articles which they brought against him, and which they alleged to have extracted from his sermons, were altogether false, or, at least, mixed with much untruth.
But said monks, not content with his disavowal and explanation, opposed him so vehemently with their testimonies, that they declared to have convicted him of the articles with which they had charged him. They brought with them into the city dry fagots, according to the English custom, to burn him, and would not release him until he had promised, or, from fear of death, firmly assured them, that he would not hold, teach, or preach said articles any more, neither secretly nor openly, on pain of incurring like punishment. They moreover drew up in writing a form, which he was to repeat from memory, by way of recantation: to which they compelled him by severe threats. John Fox, Mart. Angl., ex Registro Hereford.
But afterwards the aforesaid William Swinderby did nevertheless not cease preaching his belief, so that he was apprehended, by order of King Richard II, in the fifteenth year of his reign, coinciding with the year 1392, and closely confined, by order of John, Bishop of Hereford, who had received this charge from the king.
In the meantime he was examined in the faith, and it was found that he taught several articles which militated against the Roman church; but which or what kind of articles these were, is not clearly expressed by the writers; yet it can be inferred from the confession of one Walter Brute, who, in the matter of faith, is compared to William Swinderby, by Abraham Mellinus and others; yea, they declare that Walter Brute was a champion and defender of William Swinderby's articles, who, among others, maintained this article, "That it is not lawful for Christians to swear on any account, in any case, either by the Creator, or by His creatures."
Concerning holy baptism, he made this confession, "He (Christ) was buried that we might all, by baptism, be buried with Him into His death;
and that, having died unto sin (notice, this is not the work of children), we should live unto righteousness."
As to his views in regard to all other articles, we have found them very scriptural, salutary and good. In regard to this, see John Fox Angl., page 440.
It is certainly true, that William Swinderby's articles of faith thus shone forth through their radiance of divine truth, that the children of darkness ( the Romanists ) could not bear them, so that they finally, after a long and severe confinement, finished his trial, pronouncing sentence of death upon him, namely; that he should be executed with fire, that is, burnt alive, as a heretic, in Smithfield, London. This it is stated, was done with him, twelve years after his first imprisonment.
FURTHER OBSERVATION REGARDING HIS DEATH
Concerning the death of this pious man, a certain author gives the following account from John Fox, "Having received this commission and full power from the king, against William Swinderby, the bishop doubtless did his very best to procure his arrest without delay; however, he did not immediately proceed with the execution of death against him, but kept him in prison for a long time. At last A. D. 1401, he was burnt alive in Smithfield, at London." Second book of the Hist. of the Persecutions, fol. 505, cot. 2, from John Fox, Hist. Angl., page438, also, page 436.
Again, A. Mellinus, page 515, cot. 4, "Baleus also accords with this, saying that William Swinderby, after his recantation, was strengthened in the confession of the divine truth, and was finally, A. D. 1401, burnt alive, in the sight of a great number of people, in Smithfield, at London." Bal. Cent. 6, Script. Britt., in Append. ad Jo. 1, Horesb., page 493.
NOTE. A. D. 1405, John Wenschelberg now wrote against the superstition in popery, and also against the deception practiced by the priests. Among other things he related of a Bohemian priest, who had colored the host of the Sacrament (of the altar) with his own blood, and had persuaded the people, that the blood had of its own accord mingled with the bread."These are," he said,"the lying signs and false miracles of antichrist." But what happened to him on this account, from the papists, we have not found in the old writers. CompareJoh. Munst., fol. 181, with Chron. van den Ondergang, page 758, cot. 1.
WILLIAM THORPE PUT TO DEATH AND BURNT FOR THE FAITH, AT SALTWODEN, IN ENGLAND, A. D. 1407
Now, when the abomination of desolation, through the papists, began to exalt itself more and more over the true faith, it occurred, about A. D. 1397, that a God-fearing, pious man, named William Thorpe, formerly a priest, was sorely perse cuted for the truth of the Gospel, particularly for his belief against the sacrament of the altar, image worship, pilgrimages, the power of the priests, the swearing of oaths, etc.
Of these articles of his accusation, especially of his. belief against the swearing of oaths, and what is alleged against it by opponents, we have already given an explanation in the presentation of his faith.
However, notwithstanding that he was already imprisoned, upon the intercession of some welldisposed persons, and through the fact that the archbishop of Canterbury, who had apprehended him, had fallen into disfavor with the king, he was released after the first persecution. But since this pious witness of God did not cease to preach against the Roman church, particularly against the swearing of oaths, (as divers old writers note), he was eventually, about A. D. 1407, apprehended at Salopia, brought from there to Canterbury, and ultimately imprisoned in the castle of Saltwoden; where the archbishop and the prelates beset him very hard, in order to draw him from his faith.
In the meantime, a number of disorderly persons having crowded into the prison, some demanded that he should immediately be burnt; others, that he should forthwith be thrown into the sea., which was nearby, and drowned. In this dreadful uproar, a priest from their midst fell upon his knees before the archbishop, entreating him, that he might do his utmost for this William Thorpe, to convert him, by the reading of his matins or morning prayers, which he should perform for him, saying, "I venture to promise that after three days he will change so remarkably, that he will not refuse to do anything for the archbishop."
But the archbishop, filled with anger, raged on with undiminished fury, threatening the martyr, that he would see to it, that he should get his deserts. Thereupon, this pious witness of Jesus, as he refused to apostatize, was most cruelly maltreated in the prison, in the castle of Saltwoden. Some hold that he was burnt soon after that severe examination, in the month of August of said year 1407. See hignier, A. D. 1407, from Guil. Tindal; but Baleus is of the former opinion. Cent. 7, Script. Britt., cap. 42, in Guil. Thorp., page 538.
NOTE. A. D. 1410. At this time a tradesman was condemned as a heretic by the (Roman) bishops, and delivered to the secular judge; because he believed and said that the bread in the Lord's Supper was given for a memorial; thus denying transubstantiation, or the essential change of the bread into the body of Christ. For this he had to suffer the slow and dreadful death by fire. Compare Fasc. Temp., fol. 118. Hist. of the Mart. Adyi., fol. 52, with P. J. Twisck's Chron., page 763.
That all this happened to him, because he, besides opposing the Roman superstitions, also held, that men may not swear at all, has already been stated, and is confirmed by F. H. H., van den Loop
der Werelt, page 99. Also, P. I. Twisek, Chron., page 758.
CATHARINE OF THOU, IN LORRAINE, BURNT FOR THE FAITH, AT MONTPELLIER, IN FRANCE, A. D. 1417
On the second of October, about two o'clock in the afternoon, it occurred at Montpellier, in France, that a certain sentence of death was pronounced, and executed the same day, upon an upright and God-fearing woman of Thou, in Lorraine, named Catharine Saube, who, loving the Lord her Saviour more than her own life, steadfastly fought through death, and, pressing her way through the strait gate* into the spacious mansions of heaven, left flesh and blood on the post, in the burning flames, on the place of execution, at Montpellier.
The history of Catharine Saube is, as old writers testify, faithfully extracted from the town-book of Montpellier, commonly called Talamus; which word, Chassanion thinks, has been corrupted by passing from one language into the other; and that by the Jews, who at that time resided in great numbers in France, especially at Montpellier, it was called Talmud,which among the Hebrews or Jews, signifies a very large book or roll containing many and various things. Hence it may very easily have been the case, that the French, after the manner of the Jewish Maranes, who lived among them, erroneously called the word Talmud, Talamus, meaning to designate thereby the large book containing the civil records of the burgomasters of Montpellier. From this town-book the following acts were faithfully translated, from the ancient language of Montpellier into the French tongue, by a trustworthy person of Languedoc, and in English** read as follows, "On the 15th day of November, A. D. 1416, after mass had been read in the parish church of St. Fermin, at Montpellier, Catharine Saube, a native of Thou, Lorraine, came into that church, to present herself. About fifteen or sixteen days previously, she had asked the lords and burgomasters of that city, for permission to be shut in with the other recluses in the nunnery on the Lates road.
The aforesaid lords and burgomasters, and all manner of tradespeople, together with over 1500 townspeople, men as well as women, came to the church, in this general procession. Said burgomasters, as patrons, that is, fathers and protectors of the recluse nuns, conducted said Catharine, as a bride, to the abovementioned cloister, where they let her remain, shut up in a cell, after which they all returned home together." Acta Gallica Ibid. in Martyrolog Gallico.
See, these are the identical words of the extract or copy taken from the town-book; we let the reader judge, as to what was her reason in applying
*"Enter ye in at the strait gate. Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way which leadeth unto life" (Matt. 7:13, 14).
*"In our Dutch," says the original.
for admittance into the nunnery. Certainly, some did not presume so badly, who have maintained, that experiencing in her heart the beginnings of true godliness proceeding from an ardent faith, she was impelled by a holy desire to reveal to the other recluse nuns the true knowledge of Christ Jesus; finding herself sufficiently gifted by the Lord, to do this. This is very probable; since credible witnesses have declared that in said book Talamus it was also recorded, that some time after the death of Catharine Saube, the whole convent in which said Catharine had been confined was burnt, together with all the nuns; doubtless on account of their religion.
The same public records state, that the year following, A. D. 1417, on the second of October, about two o'clock in the afternoon, when M. Raymond Cabasse, D.D., of the order of Jacobine or Dominican monks, vicar of the inquisitor, sat in the judgment seat, under the chapter which is beside the portal of the city hall at Montpellier, in the presence of the Bishop of Maguelonne, the Lieutenant governor, the four orders, yea, of all the people, who filled the whole city hall square, he declared by definite sentence, that the aforesaid Catharine Saube, of Thou, in Lorraine, who, at her request, had been put into the cloister of the recluses, was a heretic, and that she had disseminated, taught and believed divers damnable heresies against the Catholic faith, namely, "That the Catholic (or true) church is composed only of men and women* who follow and observe the life of the apostles." Again, "That it is better to die, than to anger, or sin against God." Again, "That she did not worship the host or wafer** consecrated by the priest; because she did not believe that the body of Christ was present in it." Again, "That it is not necessary to confess*** one's self to the priest; because it is sufficient to confess one's sins to God; and that it counts just as much to confess one's sins to a discreet, pious layman, as to any chaplain or priest." Again, "That there will be no purgatory after this life."
Said town-book Talamus contained also four other articles with which Catharine was charged, or at least which she professed; from which it can be inferred that she rejected not only many papal institutions, but among these also infant baptism. The extract from the aforesaid town-book, concerning these four articles, reads literally as follows
1."That there never has been a true pope, cardinal, bishop, or priest, after the election of the pope (or bishop) ceased to be done through miracles of faith or verity.
* Here no third class of members of the church of Jesus Christ is mentioned, namely, infants; but only men and women, that is, believing and obedient persons.
* Though she calls the bread of the Supper the host, yet she does not acknowledge, that the body of Christ is present in it; hence she refused to worship it.
** The confession recognized by her, is not according to papistic manner, but agreeable to the teaching of James 5:16, "Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may he healed.
2."That wicked priests or chaplains neither can nor may consecrate the body of Christ, though they pronounce the sacramental words over it.
3."That the baptism which is administered by wicked priests, is of no avail to salvation.
4."That infants which die after baptism, before they have faith, are not saved; for they do not believe but through the faith of their godfathers, godmothers, parents, or friends."
These are the last four articles found in the town-book of Montpellier; from which it certainly is clearly evident, how very bold, ardent, and penetrating the faith of this woman was; so that she did not stop short of attacking even the pope, the priests, and the superstitions practiced by them, and convincing them with God's truth. For, when she says, in the first article, that"there never has been a true pope," etc., what else did she indicate, than that there never has been a true pope, cardinal, bishop, or priest in the Roman church, seeing the election of the pope was never done through miracles of faith or verity?
Secondly, when she says, that,"Wicked priests or chaplains neither can nor may," what else does she mean to say than that wicked priests, who are not holy themselves, need not imagine at all (which is nevertheless believed in popery), that by uttering a few words they can consecrate a piece of bread, yea, transform it into their God and Saviour? which, Catharine had declared before, could not even be done by priests of upright life; for therefore she would not, as she said, worship the wafer consecrated by the priest, because she did not believe that the body of Christ was present in it.
Thirdly, when she says, that"The baptism which is administered by wicked priests is," etc., what else does this indicate than that the shameful life of the priests destroys the ministry itself, and that as little as the words which they pronounce over the host, tend to consecrate it, just as little tends the baptism practiced by them to salvation?
Fourthly, when she says, that"Infants which die after baptism," etc., what is this but to say that infant baptism is not necessary to salvation, yea, conduces in no wise to it? because infants themselves do not believe, only their godfathers, godmothers, parents br friends, in their stead; but that to be saved, one must believe himself, and be baptized upon this belief, as the Lord says, Mark 16:16; for the faith of another cannot help any one in the world, and consequently, cannot help infants to salvation.
Now; when this pious heroine of God would in no wise depart from her faith, sentence of death was finally pronounced upon her; and having been led to the place of execution, she was burnt, at Montpellier, in the afternoon of October 2, 1417.
Concerning her sentence and death, the town book of Montpellier contains the following words, as translated from the original into the Dutch (now into the English), "Having pronounced this sentence upon her, the vicar of the inquisitor, M. Ray mond, delivered her into the hands of the bailiff, who was provost or criminal judge of the city. The people entreated him much in her behalf, that he would deal mercifully with her; but he executed the sentence the same day, causing her to be brought to the place of execution, and there burnt as a heretic, according to law."
These are the words of the aforesaid Talamus, or town book, which also contains this further addition, "That the bishop of Maguelonne, after singing a common mass, also preached a sermon before the members of the council, concerning Catharine Saube, against many who said that the sentence of death had unjustly been passed upon her; and rebuked the indignation of those who spoke against this sentence, with very vehement and severe words."
This is briefly the extract concerning the martyrdom of this God-fearing woman, by which many ignorant, plain people were prompted in their hearts to examine the truth a little nearer, and to apprehend the light of the Gospel in the midst of these dark times, which God blessed, as shall be seen hereafter. See also the second book of the History of the Persecutions, fol. 572, col. 2-4. Also fol. 573, col. 1. Also Hist. Mart. by J. S., edition 1645, fol. 40.
A GREAT NUMBER OF CHRISTIANS CALLED WAL DENSES, BURNT FOR THE FAITH, IN FLANDERS, A. D. 1421
Now, when the children of light, who confessed the doctrine of the Waldenses, in the midst of the darkness of popery,* began to lift up their hands more and more, in the Flemish countries, and to combat with the power of the Word of God the errors of the Roman church, and to reject principally papal authority, the mass, transubstantiation, pilgrimages, the invocation of saints, purgatory, infant baptism, the swearing of oaths, revenge towards enemies, etc., as we stated concerning the belief of the Waldenses, in the account for the eleventh century; the prince and king of darkness, through the instrumentality of his satellites, laid his hands on them, and ultimately brought the matter so far that very many who would in no wise, neither for life nor for death, apostatize, were condemned to be burnt alive, which was also done with them; and thus they endured the trial of their faith with great steadfastness, in the fire, at Donau, in Flanders, in the year 1421. Wherefore the captain of the faith, Jesus Christ, shall hereafter eternally crown them, as pious champions, with the unfading crown of honor, according to His promise, "Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life" (Revelation 2:10).
Of the sacrifice of these friends, mention is also made in the second book of the History of the Persecutions, p. 577, col. 4, where it says, "At
* The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death, light is sprung up. Matt. 4:16.
Donau, in Flanders, A. D. 1421, a great number was discovered, who professed the doctrine of the Waldenses, many of whom, remaining steadfast, were burnt alive." Also, hignier, Hist. Eccl., in the year 1421, ex Monstrelets.
NOTE.-Whether those of Dort, in Holland, were also guilty at this time, of the blood of the saints, we have not been able to ascertain; nevertheless, the Lord severely chastised them in this year, 1421, so that, through heavy floods, the city became an island, and was deprived of seventy-two villages that lay round about, and were all swallowed up in the water.
Hence, the following inscription is found carved on the outside of the Speuy Gate of said city, over the arch, in blue stone:
"All land and water which here you see, were Seventy-two parishes, chronicles state, Swallowed by water's resistless power; Thousand four hundred seventy-one by date."
This event is so generally known, and has been described by so many authors, that I deem it unnecessary to add anything by way of confirmation. A sad thing for the place of our birth.
NOTE. A. D. 1423.-At this time, writes P. J. Twisck, Henry Gruenfelder was burnt for the truth, in the city of Regensburg, in Germany; and shortly after, in the same city, Henry Rathgeber. Chron., p. 787, cot. 1, compared with Georg. Pac., cap. 11.
A. D. 1425.-About this time Peter Torea was executed at Speyer, in Germany, and others in Roman countries; because they confessed the truth and opposed the Roman superstitions. Compare the last mentioned Chron., p. 788, cot. 2, with Georg. Pac., cap. 11.
A. D. 1427.-At this time, Jerome Savonarola, of Ferrara, preached throughout Italy that the pope was the antichrist; for which he was burnt at Florence. He wrote some meditations on the 51st and 80th psalms, in which he reproves the tyranny of the pope and his clergy, saying that they are the boars and wild beasts of the field, which, according to the words of David, have devoured and utterly destroyed the Lord's vineyard, and wholly subverted the church of God. In the last-mentioned Chron., ˘. 762, cot. 2, compared with Georg. Pac., cap. 11.