Act of the Six Articles 1539
Extract from Foxes Monuments, Ed Rev Geo Townsend (1846) Vol 5 p 262).
In this parliament, synod, or convocation, certain articles, matters, and questions, touching religion, were decreed by certain prelates, to the number especially of six, commonly called ‘The Six Articles’ (or, ‘The Whip with Six Strings’), to be had and received among the king’s subjects, on pretence of unity. But what unity thereof followed, the groaning hearts of a great number and also the cruel death of divers, both in the days of
King Henry, and of Queen Mary, can so well declare as I pray God never the like be felt hereafter.
The doctrine of these wicked articles in the bloody Act contained, although it be worthy of no memory amongst Christian men, but rather deserveth to be buried in perpetual oblivion, yet, for that the office of history compelleth us thereunto, for the more light of posterity to come, faithfully and truly to comprise things done in the church, as well one as another, this shall be briefly to recapitulate the sum and effect of the aforesaid six articles, in order as they were given out, and hereunder do follow.
The First Article.
The first article in this present parliament accorded and agreed upon, was this That in the most blessed sacrament of the altar by the strength and efficacy of Christs mighty word (it being spoken by the priest), is present really, under the form of bread and wine, the natural body and blood of our Saviour Jesus Christ, conceived of the Virgin Mary; and that after the consecration there remaineth no substance of bread or wine, or any other substance, but the substance of Christ, God and man.
The Second Article.
That the communion in both kinds is not necessary ‘ad salutern,’ by the law or God, to all persons: and that it is to be believed, and not doubted of but that in the flesh, under form of bread, is the very blood, and with the blood, under form of wine, is the very flesh as well apart, as they were both together.
The Third Article.
That priests, after the order of priesthood received as before, may not marry by the law of God.
The Fourth Article.
That vows of chastity or widowhood, by man or woman made to God advisedly1 ought to be observed by the law of God; and that it exempteth them from other liberties of Christian people, which, without that, they might enjoy.
The Fifth Article.
That it is meet and necessary, that private masses be continued and admitted in this English church and congregation; as whereby good Christian people, ordering themselves accordingly, do receive both godly and goodly consolation. and benefits2 and it is agreeable also to God’s law.
The Sixth Article,
That auricular confession is expedient and necessary to be retained and continued, used and frequented, in the church of God.
1. Advisedly, that is made above the age of one and twenty years, priests only excepted.
2. By this, is meant, the helping of souls in purgatory.
provided that all who denied the first should be burned as heretics.
Those who persistently refused assent to the others should be hanged
as felons. One immediate effect was that many zealous Reformers left the
country and went to Germany and Switzerland where they joined with
particularly the Zwinglian school. In England it led to Latimer
resigning the bishopric of Worcester and Shaxton that of Salisbury. It also
compelled Cranmer to send his German (Lutheran) wife back to relatives and
was only himself saved by the influence of the king. Although not enforced
with relentless severity, the Act nevertheless resulted in over five hundred
people being imprisoned. It was under this Act that
Anne Askew was prosecuted and burnt.