Monday, August 20, 2012

The Parliament of Fire and Faggots

The Parliament of 1414 was held at Grey Friars Priory in Leicester, so that they would not be hindered by the mobs which might have shown up in London. In his last appearance at Parliament, Walter Hungerford (Leo's 19th gr-grandfather) was elected Speaker. In an effort to control the Lollard rioting, Parliament quickly passed two acts which did more damage to the nation than all the previous riots (in my opinion).

From Wikipedia, here is an excerpt of The Suppression of Heresy Act which they passed:

that whoever should read the Scriptures in English, which was then called Wicliffe's Learning, should forfeit land, cattle, goods, and life, and be condemned as heretics to God, enemies to the crown, and traitors to the kingdom; that they should not have the benefit of any sanctuary, though this was a privilege then granted to the most notorious malefactors; and that, if they continued obstinate, or relapsed after pardon, they should first be hanged for treason against the king, and then burned for heresy against God.

The freedom to write and publish any document or book they so desired was severely curtailed with the following act:

 no book ... be from henceforth read ... within our province of Canterbury aforesaid, except the same be first examined by the University of Oxford or Cambridge ... and ... expressly approved and allowed by us or our successors, and in the name and authority of the university ... delivered unto the stationers to be copied out.

The Suppression of Heresy Act was revoked under Henry VIII and Edward VI (1509-1553) but was revived the first year of Queen Mary (1554).

For the eschewing and avoiding of errors and heresies, which of late have risen, grown, and much increased within this realm, for that the ordinaries have wanted authority to proceed against those that were infected therewith: be it therefore ordained and enacted by authority of this present Parliament, that the statute made in the fifth year of the reign of King Richard II, concerning the arresting and apprehension of erroneous and heretical preachers, and one other statute made in the second year of the reign of King Henry IV, concerning the repressing of heresies and punishment of heretics, and also one other statute made in the second year of the reign of King Henry V, concerning the suppression of heresy and Lollardy, and every article, branch, and sentence contained in the same three several Acts, and every of them, shall from the twentieth day of January next coming be revived, and be in full force, strength, and effect to all intents, constructions, and purposes for ever.

Our ancestors who settled America 78 years later left England in revolt against such laws as these.  

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