A Private Statute made by the Clergy, without Consent or Knowledge of the Commons. 1382.
On the face of it this `private` statute was a gross interference in the political processes and the authority of the House of Commons, seeming to convey authority for the execution of heretics. It was more likely meant to enable clerics to report suspected heretics to the authorities for such action. But it was still done without consent of Parliament and was subsequently repealed. It illustrates the extent to which the Church of Rome was arrogantly seeking dominance even in secular matters.
" Item, Forasmuch as it is openly known that there be divers evil persons within the realm, going from county to county, and from town to town, in certain habits, under dissimulation of great holiness, and without the license of the ordinaries of the places, or other sufficient authority, preaching daily, not only in churches and churchyards, but also in markets, fairs, and other open places where a great congregation of people is, divers sermons containing heresies and notorious errors, to the great emblemishing of the christian faith and destruction of the laws and of the estate of holy church, to the great peril of the souls of the people and of an tbe realm of England, as more plainly is found and sufficiently proved before the reverend father in God the archbishop of Canterbury, and the bishops and other prelates, masters of divinity, and doctors of canon and of civil law, and a great part of the clergy of the said realm, specially assembled for this cause; which persons do also preach divers matters of slander, to engender discord and dissension betwixt divers estates of the said realm, as well spiritual as temporal, in exciting of the people, to the great peril of all the realm which preachers, being cited or summoned before the ordinaries of the places, then to answer of that whereof they be impeached, will not obey to their summons and commandments, nor care not for their monitions nor the censures of holy church, but expressly despise them; and moreover, by their subtle and ingenious words do draw the people to hear their sermons, and do maintain them in their errors by strong hand and by grreat routs: it is ordained and assented In this present parliament, that the king’s commissions be made and directed to the sheriffs, and other ministers of our sovereign lord the king, or other sufficient persons learned, and according to the certifications of the prelates thereof to be made in the Chancery from time to time, to arrest all such preachers, and also their fautors, maintainers, and abettors, and to hold them in arrest and strong prison, till they will justify themselves according to reason and the law of holy church. And the king willeth and commandeth, that the chancellor make such commissions at alt times that he by the prelates, or any of them, shall be certified end thereto required, as is aforesaid. [Teste Rege apud Westm. 26 Maii, anno regni Regis RII. 5. (1382)’] "
Return to English Reformation,Introduction.