Monday, October 12, 2015

12 October 1524 A.D. Bishop Cuthbert Tunstall (London), Booksellers, and Early Protestantism in England—Game on! Luther's trumpet blast against Henry VIII


12 October 1524 A.D.  Bishop Cuthbert Tunstall (London), Booksellers, and Early Protestantism in England—Game on! Luther's trumpet blast against Henry VIII
 
Some backstory. 

Leo X had issued Ex Surge on 15 June 1520, commanding that Luther’s books be burned and taking up 41 articles against the Germanic Teuton in Wittenberg (11).
Luther’s “Treatise on the Power of the Pope and Bishops” was popular at Oxford (12), although this notice seems anachronistic since it was published in 1537  (cf. http://bookofconcord.org/treatise.php, a commendable document).
Luther’s writings were burned at St. Paul’s Cross, London on 12 May 1521.  This was arranged by Cardinal Wolsey and John Fisher, Bishop of Rochester.  Fisher preached the sermon “damning the new heresies” (12).  Leo X’s “bull” had been off the presses 10 months earlier, but the imperial Edict of Worms was to come—26 May 1521.  By the time of the Wolsey/Fisher book burning in London, Luther was in the Wartburg Castle with beginning preparations to translate the Bible into German.
In 1521, two months after Bishop Fisher’s sermon, Henry VIII had issued the infamous Assertio Septem Sacramentorum.  Available online at: https://archive.org/details/assertioseptem00henruoft . 
On the same day, 12 May 1521, William Warham, the Archbishop of Canterbury, informed Cardinal Wolsey that he had letters in hand from Oxford that the University had been “infected with Lutheranism and many books forbidden by Wolsey had obtained circulation” (12).  Some “incircumspect fools” had brought the entire University under suspicion.  At this point, we wish Prof. Clebsch offered specifics—what volumes, books, tracts?  Who was reading what?  The Prof. advises that “Protestant books seem to have circulated widely in London, Oxford, and Cambridge.”
In 1521, two months after Bishop Fisher’s sermon, Henry VIII had issued the infamous Assertio Septem Sacramentorum.  Available online at: https://archive.org/details/assertioseptem00henruoft . 
Prof. Clebsch notes that the volume is “theologically amateurish” although “historically momentous” (19).  Luther accused Henry’s volume as “ghost written” (19) with Fisher and More as the likely authors.  The volume was shallow and surrounded by a “wall of derision” with “more influence than merit” (22).
Luther dispatched his Contra Henricum Regum Angliae on 15 July 1522. Luther:  Nor is it much if I despise and bite this earthly King…”  This humorous read can be found at:  http://anglicanhistory.org/lutherania/against_henry.html
A little taste of Luther’s trumpet blast against Henry, to wit:
Since then it has pleased this mask of a King with worthless words, without quoting an example, to play the fool in a matter so serious and sacred, I state without mask and openly: The King of England, this Henry, clearly lies, and with his lies, acts the part of a comic jester rather than that of a king. Of this crime, I, Luther, openly accuse this evil-speaking Thomist, and by the testimony of my books and my world-wide readers, I convict him. Let his royal majesty and your humble servant be from now on discounted as far as I am concerned; I am speaking to a lying buffoon, hidden under a kingly title, and speaking concerning divine truths, which it is every Christian man's duty to protect from lying abuse. If the foolish King so much forgets his Kingship that he dares to come into public view with open lies, and does so while treating of sacred subjects, why is it not a right and proper thing for me to throw his lies back in his face, so that if he derives any pleasure from lying against the divine Majesty, he may lose it when he hears the truth about his own majesty?”
Henry’s volume and Fisher’s sermon along with book burnings serve to advocate for the publicity of Luther.
Which brings us back to the main point. 
By 12 October 1524, Bishop Cuthbert Tunstall, London, called in several booksellers to his palace.  He warned them about imported books.  Further, he commanded them to direct any imported books to Wolsey (Cardinal and Papal legate), Warham (CANTUAR), Fisher (Rochester) and himself (London).  These hierarchs would be the book-reviewers of the Continental heresiarchs.

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