Archbishop Thomas Arundel’s Constitutions against the Lollards
De Hæretico Comburendo (1401)
Text : Statutes of the Realm, 2:12S-28: 2 Henry IV
Whereas, it is shown to our sovereign lord the king on the advice of the prelates and clergy of his realm of England in this present Parliament, that although the Catholic faith builded upon Christ, and by his apostles and the Holy Church, sufficiently determined, declared, and approved, hath been hitherto by good and holy and most noble progenitors and predecessors of our sovereign lord the king it the said realm amongst all the realms of the world most devoutly observed, and the Church of England by his said most noble progenitors and ancestors, to the honor of God and the whole realm aforesaid, laudably endowed and in her rights and liberties sustained, without that the same faith or the said church was hurt or grievously oppressed, or else perturbed by any perverse doctrine or wicked, heretical, or erroneous opinions. Yet, nevertheless, divers false and perverse people of a certain new sect, of the faith of the sacraments of the church, and the authority of the same damnably thinking and against the law of God and of the Church usurping the office of preaching, do perversely and maliciously in divers places within the said realm, under the color of dissembled holiness, preach and teach these days openly and privily divers new doctrines, and wicked heretical and erroneous opinions contrary to the same faith and blessed determinations of the Holy Church, and of such sect and wicked doctrine and opinions they make unlawful conventicles and confederacies, they hold and exercise schools, they make and write books, they do wickedly instruct and inform people, and as such they may excite and stir them to sedition and insurrection, and make great strife and division among the people, and other enormities horrible to he heard daily do perpetrate and commit subversion of the said catholic faith and doctrine of the Holy Church, in diminution of divine Worship, and also in destruction of the estate, rights, and liberties of the said Church of England; by which sect and wicked and false preachings, doctrines, and opinions of the said false and perverse people, not only most greatest peril of the sou1s, hut also many more other hurts, slanders, and perils, which God prohibit, might come to this realm, unless it he the more plentifully and speedily holpen by the King’s majesty in this behalf; especially since the diocesans of the said realm cannot by their jurisdiction spiritual, without aid of the said royal majesty, sufficiently correct the said false and perverse people, nor refrain their malice, because the said false and perverse people do go from diocese to diocese and will not appear before the said diocesans, but the same diocesans and their jurisdiction spiritual, and the keys of the church with the censures of the same, do utterly condemn and despise; and so their wicked preachings and doctrines do from day to day continue and exercise to the utter destruction of all order and rule of right and reason. Upon which novelties and excesses above rehearsed, the prelates and clergy aforesaid, and also the Commons of the said realm being in the same Parliament, have prayed our sovereign lord the king that his royal highness would vouchsafe in the said Parliament to provide a convenient remedy. The same our sovereign lord the king, graciously considering the premises, and also the laudable steps of his said most noble progenitors and ancestors, for the conservation of the said catholic faith and sustentation of the said divine worship, and also the safeguard of the estate, rights and liberties of the said Church of England, to the laud of God and merit of our said sovereign lord the king, and prosperity and honor of all his said realm, and for the eschewing of such dissensions, divisions, hurts, slanders, and perils, in time to come, and that this wicked sect, preachings, doctrines, and opinions, should from henceforth cease and he utterly destroyed; by the assent of the great lords and other noble persons of the said realm, being in the said Pariament, hatth granted, established, and ordained, from henceforth firmly to be observed, that none within the said realm or any other dominions subject to his Roval Majesty, presume to preach openly or privily, without the license of the diocesan of the same place first required and obtained, curates in their own churches and persons hitherto privileged, and other of the Canon Law granted, only except; nor that none from henceforth anything preach, hold, teach, or instruct openly or privily, or make or write any book contrary to the catholic faith or determination of the Holy Church, nor of such sect and wicked doctrines and opinions shall make any conventicles, or in any wise hold or exercise schools; and also that none from henceforth in any wise favor such preacher or maker of any such and like conventicles, or persons holding or exercising schools, or making or writing such books, or so teaching, informing, or exciting the people, nor any of them maintain or in any wise sustain, and that all and singular having such books or any writings of such wicked doctrine and opinions, shall really with effect deliver or cause to be delivered all such books and writings to the diocesan of the same place within forty days from the time of the proclamation of this ordinance and statute.
And if any person or persons of whatsoever sex, estate, or condition that he or they be, from henceforth do or attempt against the said royal ordinance and statute aforesaid in the premises or any of them, or such books in the form aforesaid do not deliver, then the diocesan of the same place in his diocese such person or persons in this behalf defamed or evidently suspected and every of them may by the authority of the said ordinance and statute cause to be arrested and under safe custody in his prison to be detained till he or they of the articles laid to him or them in this behalf do canonically purge him or themselves, or else such wicked sect, preachings, doctrines and heretical and erroneous opinions do abjure, according as the laws of the Church do demand and require.
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And if any person within the said realms and dominions, upon the said wicked preachings, doctrines, opinions, schools, and heretical and erroneous informations, or any of them be before the diocesan of the same place or his commissaries convict by sentence, and the same wicked sect, preachings, doctrines and opinions, schools and informations, do refuse duly to abjure, or by the diocesan of the same place or his commissaries, after the abjuration made by the same person be pronounced relapsed, so that according to the holy canons he ought to be left to the secular court (upon which credence shall be given to the diocesan of the same place or to his commissaries in this behalf), then the sheriff of the county of the same place, and mayor and sheriffs, or sheriff, or mayor and bailiffs of the city, town, and borough of the same county next to the same diocesan or the said commissaries, shal1 be personally present in preferring of such sentences, when they by the same diocesan or his comissaries shall be required; and they the same persons and every of them, after such sentence promulgate shall receive, and them before the people in an high place cause to be burnt, that such punishment may strike fear into the minds of others, whereby,nosuch wicked doctrine and heretical and erroneous opinions, nor their authors and fautors, in the said realm and dominions, against the Catholic faith, Christian law, and determination of the holy church, which God prohibit, be sustained or in any way suffered; in which all and singular the premises concerning the said ordinance and statute, the sheriffs, mayors' and bailiffs of the said counties, cities, boroughs and towns shall be attending, aiding, and supporting to the said diocesans and their commissaries.