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The crisis of obedience: God's word and Henry's reformation

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  11 February 2009

Richard Rex
Faculty of Divinity, Cambridge University


The new political theology of obedience to the prince which was enthusiastically adopted by the Church of England in the 1530s was essentially founded upon Luther's new interpretation of the fourth commandment. It was mediated to an English audience by Tyndale, but his ideas were not officially adopted as early as some recent research has suggested. The founding of royal authority on the Decalogue, and thus on the ‘word of God’, was a particularly attractive feature of this doctrine, which became almost the defining feature of Henrician religion. Rival tendencies within the Church of England sought to exploit it in the pursuit of their particular agendas. Reformers strove to preserve its connections with the broader framework of Lutheran theology, with the emphasis on faith alone and the ‘word of God’, while conservatives strove to relocate it within an essentially monastic tradition of obedience, with an emphasis on good works, ceremonies, and charity. The most significant achievement was that of the Reformers, who established and played upon an equivocation between the royal supremacy and the ‘word of God’ in order to persuade the king to sanction the publication of the Bible in English as a formidable prop for his new-found dignity.

Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1996

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2 Janelle, P., Obedience in church and state (Cambridge, 1930), p. LXI.Google Scholar

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7 Tyndale, W., The obedience of a Christian man, in Doctrinal treatises, ed. Walter, H. (Cambridge, 1848), p. 163.Google Scholar

8 Tyndale, , Obedience, p. 166.Google Scholar

9 Tyndale, , Obedience, p. 168Google Scholar. This was the fourth commandment according to the numbering of the medieval catholic church. Since 1537, the Church of England has predominantly followed the ‘reformed’ numbering, according to which this is the fifth commandment. But Luther and Tyndale still followed the traditional numbering. To minimize confusion and inconvenience, this will be termed the fourth commandment throughout this paper.

10 Luther, , Decent praecepta Wittenbergensi praedicata populo. 1518, in Luthers Werke (Weimar Ausgabe) I, 394521, at 447–60, esp. 460.Google Scholar

11 ‘Les Collationes in decem praeceptis de Saint Thomas d'Aquin’, ed. Torrell, J.-P., Revue des sciences philosophiques et théologiques, LXIX (1985), 540, 227–63 (at 243–4).Google Scholar

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13 Luther, , Ten sermons, p. 149Google Scholar. Luther's description of himself as one of the bishops shows what he intends by the term.

14 Luther, , Catechismus maior, in Libri symbolici ecclesiae Lutheranae, ed. Francke, F. (Leipzig, 1847), pp. 127–43Google Scholar (Praeceptum VI). For a thorough investigation of Luther's teaching on the fourth commandment, see Albrecht, Peters, Kommentar zu Luthers Katechismen, ed. Seebass, G. (5 vols., Göttingen, 19901994), IGoogle Scholar; Die Zehn Gebote. Luthers Vorreden, pp. 180208.Google Scholar

15 Zapalac, K. E. S., ‘In his image and likeness’: political iconography and religious change in Regensburg, 1500–1600 (Cornell, 1990), p. 150Google Scholar, whence I derive the reference to Berthold. Zapalac has most ably investigated the implications of the interpretations of the fourth commandment in the context of emergent Lutheran patriarchalism. As she notes, God appears, significantly, in Berthold's vernacular preaching not as ‘Vater’ but as ‘Herre’.

16 The Lay folks' catechism, ed. Simmons, T. F. and Nolloth, H. E., Early English Text Society, orig. series, CXVIII (London, 1901), pp. 44–5Google Scholar. Mirk's Festial: a collection of homilies by John Mirkus, ed. Erbe, T., Early English Text Society, ext. series, XCVI (London, 1905), pp. 102–3Google Scholar. Mirk also extends the commandment to cover one's godfather and godmother.

17 See his Le miroir de l'âme, in Oeuvres complètes (10 vols., Paris, 19601973), VII, 193206Google Scholar, where he extends the scope of the fourth commandment to traitors and those who curse their sovereigns. However, in his Le doctrinal aux simples gens (Oeuvres, X, 295–321, at 300–1), he was more conventional, extended the commandment only from biological to spiritual parents. Political obedience was clearly not as central for him as for Luther and Tyndale.

18 Johann, Nider, Praeceptorium (Douai, 1611)Google Scholar, Praeceptum IV, chs. v (pp. 327–35, on natural parents), VI (pp. 335–8, on spiritual parents), and VII (pp. 338–42, on secular superiors).

19 John, Mirk, The festyuall (London, 1508), fo. CLVIIIRGoogle Scholar (not included in the EETS edition).

20 Gwyn, P., The king's cardinal (London, 1990), pp. 47–8.Google Scholar

21 Bond, W., The pilgrimage of perfection, ch. XLIV, fo. 238rGoogle Scholar, referring to Aquinas, Summa theologiae, Ia 2ae q. 100, art. II, although in this passage Aquinas merely extends the commandment in a general sense to all superiors.

22 Johannis Wyclif Tractatus de mandatis divinis…, ed. Loserth, J. and Matthew, F. D. (London, 1922)Google Scholar, chs. XXII–XXIII. The Wycliffite commentary in Select English works of John Wyclif, ed. Arnold, T. (3 vols., Oxford, 18691871), III, 86Google Scholar, restricts the commandment narrowly to natural parents.

23 Clichtove, J., Sermones (Paris, 1534), fos. 50V–IV.Google Scholar

24 Erasmus, , A playne and godly exposytion or declaration of the commune crede, tr. Marshall, W. (London, 1533)Google Scholar, fo. 165r; an accurate rendering of Dilucida et pia explanatio Symboli quod Apostolorum dicitur, decalogi praeceptorum, & dominicae precationis (Basel, 1533), p. 179.Google Scholar

25 Nausea, F., In catholicum catechismum libri quinque (Antwerp, 1557)Google Scholar, fos. 171V–2r (originally published in 1542, and dedicated to Cardinal Pole from Vienna).

26 Helding, M., Catechismus catholicus, ed. Tielmann, Bredembach (Cologne, 1562), pp. 166–99.Google Scholar

27 Vaux, L., A catechisme or Christian doctrine (n.p., 1599), pp. 55–6Google Scholar. For further examples see Bartolomé, de Carranza, Comentarios…sobre el catechismo (Antwerp, 1558)Google Scholar, fos. 2IIV–23r; and Emond, Auger, Catechismus (Madrid, 1592), p. 206.Google Scholar

28 Catechismus Romanus, seu Catechismus ex decreto Concilii Tridentini ad parochos Pii Quinti Pont. Max. iussu editus, ed. Rodríguez, P. et al. (Città del Vaticano, 1989), pp. 451–63Google Scholar (esp. p. 455), 458–60.

29 The definitive text of this sermon (Sermo 41 of the Sermones de diversis) is found in Sancti Bernardi Opera, ed. Leclercq, J. et al. (8 vols., Rome, 19571977), III, 243–54.Google Scholar

30 St Bernard, , In natali Sancti Andreae, sermo secundus, in Sancti Bernardi Opera, V, 434–40Google Scholar, which opens by presenting Andrew's conversion as a model of obedience (p. 434): ‘In ipso siquidem conversionis suae initio magnum nobis perfectae oboedientie praestat exemplum. Quod quidem christianis omnibus necessarium, nobis tamen est carius amplectendum, qui nimirum specialiter ex ipsa professione nostra tenemur oboedientie debitores.’

31 St Bernard, , De via oboedientiae, in Sancti Bernardi Opera, II, 246Google Scholar: ‘Fortissima res est oboedientia vera, et quae in animum descendere non possit, nisi a mundi huius aspergine pure presseque detersum’.

32 St Bernard, , In natali Sancti Andreae, sermo secundus, in Sancti Bemardi Opera, V, 435Google Scholar: ‘Sola est caritas, quae oboedientiam gratam facit et acceptabilem Deo’.

33 Howell, A.G. Ferrers, S.Bernardino of Siena (London, 1913), p. 323Google Scholar, citing Bernardino's Dialogus de obedientia.

34 Thorold, A. (ed), The dialogue of Catherine of Siena (London, 1907), p. 286.Google Scholar

35 Narratives of the days of the Reformation, ed. Nichols, J. G., Camden Society, 1st series, LXXVII (London, 1879), 52–6.Google Scholar

36 Hughes, P. L. and Larkin, J. F. (eds.), Tudor royal proclamations (3 vols., New Haven, 19641969), I, nos. 122, p. 181–6Google Scholar does not mention the Obedience, but the list ends ‘etc’; and 129, pp. 193–7, which mentions the Obedience at p. 194. In November 1529 Convocation produced a list of forbidden books headed by Tyndale's, Wicked Mammon and Obedience. See Concilia Magnae Britanniae et Hiberniae, ed. Wilkins, D. (4 vols., London, 1737), III, 719Google Scholar. and in 1530 Henry VIII's committee produced a detailed list of errors extracted from a range of forbidden books, including 30 errors from Tyndale's Obedience (Wilkins, , Concilia, III, 728–9).Google Scholar

37 British Library (B.L.) Cotton MS, Galba B x, fos. 7–8. See Haas, , ‘Divine right kingship’, p. 319.Google Scholar

38 Lehmberg, Stanford E., Sir Thomas Elyot: Tudor humanist (Austin, 1960), pp. 106–7.Google Scholar

39 Pocock, N., Records of the Reformation (2 vols., Oxford, 1870), II, 100–3Google Scholar (LP VII, 1607, item 6). Haas observes (‘Divine right kingship’, p. 318, n. 4) that other scholars have questioned Pocock's early date, but asserts that their reasons for so doing are sufficiently refuted by Scarisbrick, , Henry VIII, pp. 260300Google Scholar (where Scarisbrick argues that Henry was aiming for the royal supremacy from 1530, an interpretation which, as this paper makes clear, I do not share) and McConica, J. K., English humanists and Reformation politics (Oxford, 1965), p. 128Google Scholar. Scarisbrick does not consider this particular document and McConica simply follows Pocock's date.

40 Public Record Office (P.R.O.), SP6/2, fos. 94–6 (LP v, 1022). It opens as follows: ‘The question moved whether these textes ensuenge perteyne especially to sp[irit]uall prelates or to temporall princes. Jo. 20. Sicut misit me pater, ita et ego mitto vos. Et act. 20. Attendite vobis, et cuncto gregi in quo vos sp[iri]tus sanctus posuit ep[iscop]os’. The description ‘Rochford MS’ is Haas's gloss upon Stanford Lehmberg's identification of the text with unspecified papers presented to the 1531 Convocation by George Boleyn, Viscount Rochford. See Lehmberg, , The Reformation parliament, 1529–1546 (Cambridge, 1970), pp. 114–15Google Scholar. But Lehmberg gives neither evidence nor arguments to support this identification, which, as we shall show below, is untenable.

41 Harpsfield, N., A treatise on the pretended divorce between Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon, ed. Pocock, N., Camden Society, New series, XXI (London, 1878), p. 197Google Scholar, cited by Haas, , ‘Divine right kingship’, p. 317.Google Scholar

42 Pocock, , Records, II, 100–3Google Scholar The literary gifts of the author were limited (which probably rules out Morison or Latimer as the author): contrasting Cephas with Caiaphas (rather than Cain), and Simon Peter with Simon Magus (rather than Pluto), would have been rhetorically more effective and theologically more pertinent.

43 Sturge, C., Cuthbert Tunstal: churchman, scholar, statesman, administrator (London, 1938), p. 192.Google Scholar

44 P.R.O., SP6/2, fo. 95r.

45 P.R.O., SP1/105, fo. 56r (LP XI, 83). Elton tentatively dated this to 1536 (Policy and police, p. 185).

46 State papers, King Henry the Eighth (II vols. in 12, London 18301852), I, ii, 543–4.Google Scholar

47 P.R.O., SP6/1, fos. 105r–121v, esp. fos. 108r and 118v (LP, XI, 85).

48 P.R.O., SP6/4, fos. 106r-121v, esp. fo. 115V (LP, XII, ii, 1313).

49 The Berthelet imprint on works such as the Determinations is, as John Guy has argued, tantamount to official status. See Guy, J. A., Christopher St German on chancery and statute, Selden Society supplementary series, VI (London, 1985), 22–3Google Scholar. The Latin and English texts have been published in a parallel edition, The divorce tracts of Henry VIII, ed. Edward, Surtz and Virginia, Murphy (Angers, 1988).Google Scholar

50 Divorce tracts, p. XXXIV.

51 Divorce tracts, pp. 7–11, 15, 21, 25, 27, 33, 67–77, 129, 135, 143–57, 165–7, 243–71.

52 Divorce tracts, pp. 143 (citing Aquinas, without dissent or caveat), 249.

53 Divorce tracts, p. 259.

54 Divorce tracts, p. 249.

55 S.T.C. 12511. The Latin title was Disputatio inter clericum et militem. S.T.C. suggests 1531 for the Latin printings, and 1533 for the English versions. Haas proves that the Latin editions were 1531, but accepts 1533 for the English version, and then seems to confuse the two in his discussion. He talks of the ‘Henrician editor’ of the 1531 Latin text – which, as Haas in fact knows, is a straight copy of one of the incunabular editions – as if he was revising Trevisa's English translation in 1531. In fact, such revision as was practised upon the Trevisa translation was confined to additions or alterations to bring it into line with the established Latin text. There is no intrinsic reason why this revision, and the publication of the English text, should not have been carried out in 1531, and by analogy with the Censurae and the Determinations, it might well have been, although Haas professes acceptance of the traditional date of 1533 for the English version. But it is not possible to read into such a mechanical revision the significance Haas sees in it. The continued use of ‘pope’ rather than ‘bishop of Rome’ suggests that the Dialogue cannot have been published in English later than 1533. The condition of the title page of the English version might indicate a date of 1532: its border is that of St German's New additions (1531), Dut with some additional wear and tear. The text is conveniently found in Perry, A. J. (ed.), John Trevisa, Dialogus inter militem et clericum; Richard Fitzralph's sermon, Defensio curatorum; and Methodius, The bygynnyng of the world and the ende of worldes, Early English Text Society, orig. series CLXVII (London, 1925), 138Google Scholar. See pp. 7–8 for the endorsement of papal spiritual primacy.

56 There are two versions of this work (S.T.C. 11918 and 11919), and Haas argues that September saw the publication of a second edition, an earlier edition having already appeared by April 1532. But his attempt to date one of them within the regnal year 23 Henry VIII (1531–2) is fatally flawed. Although his citation of the Glasse's description of Henry as ‘hitherto reigning the xxiii. year over us’ seems to support his argument, the immediately succeeding words ‘and more,’ which are an integral part of the time-clause in both editions, suggest the precise contrary of his theory. The time-clause will thus serve neither to differentiate the dates of the two versions, nor to date either of them prior to April 1532. Moreover, there is no external evidence for the appearance of the Glasse prior to September 1532, when it made a distinct impact. If it had indeed appeared earlier, one might expect it to have aroused some attention. The substantive differences between the two versions are very few: one passage regarding councils of the church is omitted in the later version, which also gives fuller marginal references and exhibits minor discrepancies in wording and punctuation. These differences do not bear the interpretative weight Haas seeks to place upon them, as they do not affect the substance or tone of the argument. Although Haas tries to fit the Glasse into his theory as an early supremacy tract, the fact remains that the treatise is almost entirely concerned with the divorce.

57 Pocock, , Records, II, 385421Google Scholar, at pp. 386, 389, 399–401, 403–11 and 419 for ‘popé; and once, p. 406, for ‘bishop of Rome’.

58 Although Haas argues that the connotations of ‘God's law’ in the Glasse concern royal authority rather than the status of the Levitical prohibitions on marriage to a brother's wife, he perceives a distinction where none is. The texts he cites all concern the papal dispensation for Henry to marry Catherine, arguing that pope has acted ultra vires in dispensing against God's law. There has been no change in the connotations of the ‘law of God’ in Henrician propaganda. ‘God's law’ is indeed invoked in favour of obedience to princes, but this neither requires nor implies any change in the concept of God's law. The crucial semantic shift is not from one interpretation to a putative new interpretation of the same term (‘law of God’), but from ‘law of God’ to ‘word of God’ as the authority for the royal position and policy.

59 Pocock, , Records, II, 398, 401, 417.Google Scholar

60 Pocock, , Records, II, 410Google Scholar. Haas unaccountably alters ‘injuries’ to ‘demands’ in his citation of the same text (on which both printings agree) with the unfortunate effect of suggesting that the Glasse is arguing against the use, rather than the abuse, of papal authority. See also p. 419: ‘by God's law, they be bound to the obedience of their prince’.

61 As Elton noted, Policy and police, p. 178, ‘There is not one word against the pope's headship of the church, nor a single word of rudeness against one who is invariably referred to by his traditional title’. Haas falls into the same trap into which Janelle (as Elton observes, p. 178, n. 1) fell, reading back into the Glasse concepts found in 1533 and 1534.

62 Pocock, , Records, II, 411.Google Scholar

63 Pocock, , Records, II, 412, 418–19.Google Scholar

64 Elton, , Policy and police, pp. 176–9Google Scholar, offers the best analysis of the Glasse, observing that it hints at a possible parliamentary resolution of the divorce dilemma, yet warning against Janelle's exaggerated reading of it as an emphatically antipapal tract.

65 See for example the draft letter of Jan 1533 to the royal envoys at Rome, corrected by Henry himself, printed in Pocock, , Records, II, 434–41.Google Scholar

66 Gee, H. and Hardy, W. J., Documents illustrative of English church history (London, 1896), pp. 179, 183, 184, 185.Google Scholar

67 Pocock, , Records, II, 469, 490–4.Google Scholar

68 Pocock, , Records, II, 523–30 (S.T.C. 9177).Google Scholar

69 Pace Elton, who suggests this at Policy and police, p. 180.

70 Pocock, , Records, II, 525Google Scholar. The change of terms was noted by Elton, , Policy and police, p. 181Google Scholar. The foregoing evidence fully documents and confirms his observation.

71 Pocock, , Records, II, 526–30.Google Scholar

72 Pocock, , Records, II, 530.Google Scholar

73 See, e.g. LP VI, 641 (Henry VIII to the Duke of Norfolk, 14 June 1533); 775 (Henry to N. Hawkins, July); 806 (Henry to Bonner, July); and 954 (Henry to Norfolk, 8 Aug.). These letters are part of a continuing diplomatic effort to secure papal acquiescence in Henry's matrimonial fail accompli.

74 LP VI, 1487; and 1510 (Chapuys to Charles V, 9 Dec. 1533). The change in policy was in response to the pope's final adjudication in favour of Catherine of Aragon.

75 Erasmus, , Enchiridion militis christianae: an English version, ed. O'Donnell, Anne M., Early English Text Society, CCLXXXII (Oxford, 1981), p. xxxvii.Google Scholar

76 P.R.O., SP1/91 fos. 134r–152v, at fo. 146r: ‘Exempli gratia the byshope off Rome wolde be callyde poap whych woorde as he and hys doo interprett yt ys pater patrum the father off ffathers. butt in deed thys woorde papa as fare as I haue ytt lernyde ys no more than senior or elder nott importyng any excellency off dignite’. The manuscript is anonymous but, as I hope to show elsewhere, can be confidently attributed to Simon Matthew. The point made here stands irrespective of the attribution.

77 S.T.C. 19177. Reprinted in Pocock, , Records, II, 539–52Google Scholar. The work appeared anonymously, but the attribution, given in S.T.C, derives from Bale, J., Scriptorum illustrium Maioris Brytanniae catalogus (2 vols., Basel, 1557), II, 76Google Scholar, where he notes Swinnerton's authorship of ‘De Papicolarum susurris’. As Swinnerton's contemporary and colleague in Cromwell's circle, Bale was in a position to know.

78 Chambers, D. S. (ed.), Faculty Office Registers, 1534–1549 (Oxford, 1966), p. 39Google Scholar for the preaching licence; P.R.O., E36/193 pp. 5–9 for the manuscript, of which I am preparing a critical edition, to appear as A Reformation rhetoric: Thomas Swinnerton's The tropes and figures of scripture (forthcoming, Cambridge, 1997Google Scholar; Renaissance texts from manuscript; 1).

79 Pocock, , Records, II, 540–1Google Scholar. Conciliarist themes did not last long in Henrician supremacy rhetoric.

80 Pocock, , Records, II, 541.Google Scholar

81 Pocock, , Records, II, 543, 545, 552.Google Scholar

82 Pocock, , Records, II, 541, 546–7.Google Scholar

83 Pocock, , Records, II, 550–1.Google Scholar

84 Elton, G. R., Reform and renewal: Thomas Cromwell and the common weal (Cambridge, 1973), pp. 51–2Google Scholar; and Policy and police, p. 193. But Elton also notes (p. 194) how little on the subject of obedience Starkey's treatise actually contains. I should make it clear here that I do not believe Starkey to have been strongly influenced by Luther.

85 Three chapters of letters relating to the suppression of the monasteries, ed. Wright, T., Camden Society, 1st series, XXVI (London, 1843), pp. 112–15, at p. 113.Google Scholar

86 Lockwood, S., ‘Marsilius of Padua and the case for the royal ecclesiastical supremacy’, Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, 6th series, I (1990), 89119.Google Scholar

87 Lockwood, , ‘Marsilius and the royal supremacy’, p. 92Google Scholar. The marginalia to Marshall's translation of Valla's Donation of Constantine, which was in print by Easter 1534, refer exclusively to the ‘pope’. As the translation of Marsilius had been completed before then, ‘pope’ was probably amended to ‘bishop of Rome’ during typesetting (it was in any case at this stage that it was usual to add marginalia).

88 Lockwood, , ‘Marsilius and the royal supremacy’, p. 99.Google Scholar

89 Lockwood, , ‘Marsilius and the royal supremacy’, p. 99Google Scholar. This comment is reminiscent of the remark by Luther cited above (see note 11 and text).

90 Three Primers put forth in the reign of Henry VIII (Oxford, 1834), p. 72.Google Scholar

91 Morison, R., A lamentation in whiche is shewed what ruyne and destruction cometh of seditious rebellyon (London: Berthelet, 1536), sig. A3rGoogle Scholar. This text is available in the modern edition (cited here) by David, Berkowitz, Humanist scholarship and public order: two tracts against the Pilgrimate of Grace by Sir Richard Morison (Washington, 1984), pp. 85108Google Scholar. For these citations, see p. 87.

92 Morison, Lamentation, sig. C3V (Humanist scholarship, p. 100).

93 David Berkowitz, in Humanist scholarship, at p. 107, n. 30. Berkowitz seems unaware of the contemporary exegesis of the fourth commandment, which makes Morison's claim perfectly comprehensible. Morison's words ‘which of all the other [commandments]’ and ‘doing all the other’ certainly sound like references to the Decalogue.

94 Morison, R., An exhortation to styre all Englysche men to the defence of theyr countrye (London: Berthelet, 1539), sig. B2r.Google Scholar

95 Morison, Lamentation, sig. C3V (Humanist scholarship, p. 100). Compare Hughes and Larkin, , Tudor royal proclamations, 1, no. 168, p. 245 (29 Oct. 1536).Google Scholar

96 The complete plays of John Bale, ed. Happé, P., Tudor interludes, IV–V (2 vols., Cambridge, 19851986), I, 30.Google Scholar

97 Plays of John Bale, I, 35.

98 Plays of John Bale, I, 38.

99 Plays of John Bale, I, at e.g. pp. 36, 54–5, 57.

100 Henry, Stalbrydge [i.e. John Bale], The epistle exhortatorye (S.I., 1544), fo. 6v.Google Scholar

101 Latimer, , Sermons, ed. Come, G. E. (Cambridge: Parker Society, 1844), pp. 2532, esp. p. 32.Google Scholar

102 P.R.O., SP1/99, fo. 213V.

103 P.R.O., SP1/99, fo. 2i8r. The further passage about ‘craftye and sedicious persones whiche having litle or nothing to loose goeth abowt to bring yowe frome your allegiaunce and obediente dewtie to your king and soveraigne lorde undre pretence of a good intent and to proufett the commonwealthe’ is a clear hit at the slogan of ‘Pilgrimage of Grace for the Commonweal’ behind which the rebels rallied.

104 A supplication to our moste souereigne lorde Kyng Henry the Eight (London, 1544), sig. A5r.Google Scholar

105 Janelle, , Obedience in church and state, pp. liv–lv.Google Scholar

106 Janelle, , Obedience in church and state, p. lxiGoogle Scholar. Janelle notes the importance of the obedience theme in Gardiner's response to Bucer (pp. lxv–lxvii), yet shows no great insight in his reading of Gardiner on his chosen subject.

107 Erasmus, Sarcerius, Loci aliquot communes et theologici, in amico quodam responso, ad praesulis cuiusdam orationem, in gratiam boni ac integri, piae nunc memoriae amici, pro aperienda et tuenda veritate, methodice explicati (Frankfurt: Chr. Egen, 1538?)Google Scholar. I have consulted the copy in Cambridge University, D*.11.272 (D). The preface is dated 1 Dec. 1538, and states that the text was composed more than three years before (‘ante triennium’, fo. 2r).

108 Sarcerius, Loci aliquot, fo. 3r–v: ‘cum audient aut legent tuae orationis titulum, de vera obedientia erga veritatem, confestim pollicebuntur sibi iustam tam verae obedientiae quam ipsius veritatis explicationem: verum evolutis aliquot pagellis, nihil minus reperient, quam quid sit veritas, aut obedientia vera’.

109 Sacerius, Loci aliquot, fo. 3V: ‘Siquidem non satis est dicere Deum esse obedientiae autorem, nisi quoque simul addas Christum effectricem personam propter quam placet Deo nostra obedientia, et qui in nobis efficit, non ut ea vitam aeternam mereamur: aut sicut tu scribis, ut viam mandatorum edocti, tendamus ad vitam aeternam’. See also fo. 4r: ‘[Christus] quidem est exemplar obedientiae nobis ad imitandum propositum, sed praeter hoc et obedientiae efficiens causa est’.

110 Sarcerius, Loci aliquot, fos. 5r, 8r, gr.

111 Sarcerius, Loci aliquot, fo. 6v: ‘Nee video qua causa impulsus, mavis uti hie obedientiae vocabulo quam credendi… Obedientia sane non facit nos bibere de verbo aut aqua salutari, neque obedientia apprehendit doctrinam quam prodidit Christus, sed fides, qua creditur verbo, et suscipitur prodita per Christum doctrina’.

112 Sarcerius, Loci aliquot, fo. 8r: ‘Periculosum est sic confundere obedientiam et fidem, quando dicis: Effecti participes gratiae Dei per Christum, per eundem etiam, et obediendo credamus, et credendo obediamus’.

113 P.R.O., SP6/4, pp. 173–207. This sermon can be identified as a response to the Pilgrimage by internal evidence. The reference to ‘the Articles, devysed by the kynges highnes and afFermed by the hoole clergie which wer set forthe for a publique unytie and Concorde’ (p. 196), is an unequivocal reference to the Ten articles agreed by Convocation in June 1536. Since these articles were published together with Cromwell's injunctions from September 1536, and the injunctions almost immediately sparked off the Pilgrimage, it is hardly possible for the author to have been unaware of the revolt. But one is probably safe in concluding that the sermon was composed before the publication of the Bishops' book in September 1537, or else it would probably have referred to that as well as, or even instead of, the Articles. The connection with the Pilgrimage is further suggested by the emphasis on how the duty of obedience to kings extends to their ministers and officers, and on how the king may promote even to the highest office anyone he pleases (p. 192). This sounds distinctly like a defence of Cromwell and other ‘low-born’ ministers against the Pilgrims’ attacks.

114 P.R.O., SP6/4, p. 173.

115 P.R.O., SP6/4, pp. 178, 196.

116 P.R.O., SP6/4, p. 188.

117 A sermon ofCuthbert Bysshop of Duresme, made upon Palme sondqye laste past (London: Berthelet, 1539)Google Scholar. Tunstall's text was from Philippians 2, Paul's discourse on Christ's ‘obedience unto death’.

118 Tunstall, A sermon, sig. A viii r–v.

119 In a letter to Lord Lisle of 15 May 1539, John Worth noted that Henry had crept to the Cross, and served Mass in person. The Lisle letters, ed. Byrne, M. St. C. (6 vols. Chicago and London, 1981), V, 478 (no. 1415).Google Scholar

120 Hughes, and Larkin, , Tudor royal proclamations, 1, no. 188, p. 279.Google Scholar

121 Sampson, R., Oratio qua docet, hortatur, admonet omnes, potissimum Anglos, regiae dignitati cum primis ut obediant, repr. in Strype, J. (ed.), Ecclesiastical memorials (3 vols. Oxford, 1822), I, ii, no. 42, pp. 162–75.Google Scholar

122 Ecclesiastical memorials, I, ii, 174: ‘Constituit ille [i.e. Rex], cui omnes verbo Dei obedire tenemur, ne obedientiam illi [i.e. Papae] praestemus, qui nullo verbo Dei obedientiam exigit’.

123 Ecclesiastical memorials, I, ii, 175. An earlier author might have used ‘Lex Dei’.

124 Sampson, R., In priores quinquaginta psalmos Daviticos, familiaris explanatio (London: Berthelet, 1539)Google Scholar, fo. 72V: ‘Est enim opus bonum, principi obedire. Qui autem non obediunt, opus bonum contempnunt, quia voluntati dei adersantur. Qui ergo non obedit, christiano nomine indignus est’.

125 A letter dated 17 Nov. 1533, cited by J. A. Froude in his edition of Thomas, W., The pilgrim: a dialogue on the life and actions of King Henry the Eighth (London, 1861), p. 99.Google Scholar

126 Spencer, H. Leith, English preaching in the late middle ages (Oxford, 1993), p. 146CrossRefGoogle Scholar, notes that ‘in the Middle Ages, “God's word” is not exclusively to be identified with the letters on the sacred page’. I would go further and argue that although this is within the phrase's range of signification, it is not even the primary, let alone the exclusive sense. I hope to explore the historical semantics of the phrase ‘word of God’ more fully in a future article.

127 Hughes, and Larkin, , Tudor royal proclamations I, no. 158, p. 230.Google Scholar

128 LP XII, 1063, Wentworth to Cromwell, c. 15 Dec. 1538.

129 LP XIV, i, 245, Coverdale to Cromwell, 7 Feb. 1538.

130 LP VIII, 406; see also 407 on the same subject, in much the same terms.

131 P.R.O., SP1/99, fo. 201r.

132 Dickens, A. G., Lollards andprotestants in the diocese of York (1509–1558) (Oxford, 1959), p. 79.Google Scholar

133 Faculty office registers, 1534–1549, ed. Chambers, D. S. (Oxford, 1966), p. 39.Google Scholar

134 LP VII, 854 and 1025, Sir Francis Bigod to Cromwell, 11 June and 12 July 1535.

135 The texts are found in The king's book, or, A necessary doctrine and erudition for any Christian man, ed. Lacey, T. A. (London, 1932), pp. 99108Google Scholar; and The institution of a Christen man (London: Berthelet, 1537Google Scholar. S.T.C. 5164. Facsim. edn Amsterdam, 1976. Theatrum Orbis Terrarum), fo. 64r–68v.

136 King's book, p. 99. Contrast the opening of the same section in the Bishops' book: ‘not only the naturall father and mother, whiche dyd carnally begette us, and broughte us uppe: but also the spirituall father, by whom we be spiritually regenerated’ (fo. 64r).

137 Plays of John Bale, I, 70.

138 Morison, , A remedy for sedition (London: Berthelet, 1536)Google Scholar, sig. e3r (Humanist scholarship, p. 135).

139 Cambridge University Library Sel.3.196 (an original printed copy of the 1536 injunctions), fo. 2r.

140 Hughes, and Larkin, , Tudor royal proclamations I, no. 192, pp. 286–7.Google Scholar

141 Morison, R., An invective ayenste the great and detestable vice, treason (London: Berthelet, 1539)Google Scholar, sig. D6r.

142 Hughes, and Larkin, , Tudor royal proclamations I, no. 200, p. 297.Google Scholar

143 Hughes, and Larkin, , Tudor royal proclamations I, no. 248, pp. 349–50.Google Scholar