1400: 2 Henry 4 c.15: De heretico comburendo

1400: 2 Henry 4 c.15: The orthodoxy of the faith of the church of England asserted, and provision made against the oppugners of the same; with the punishment of Hereticks.

[Catholic faith. Rast. 319. Bro. heresy, 1. F.N.B. 269. D.]

ITEM, whereas it is shewed to our sovereign lord the King on the behalf 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 of our sovereign lord the King in 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 honour of God and of the whole realm aforesaid, laudably endowed, and in her rights and liberties sustained, without that 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 perversly and maliciously in divers places within the said realm under the colour 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 held and exercise schools, they make and write books, they do wickedly instruct and inform people, and as much as they may excite and stir them to sedition and insurrection, and make great strife and division among the people, and other enormities horrible to be heard daily do perpetrate and commit, in subversion of the said Catholic faith and doctrine of the holy church, in diminution of God’s honour, 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 souls, but also many more other hurts, slanders, and perils, (which God prohibit) might come to this realm, unless it be the more plentifully and speedily holpen by the King’s majesty in this behalf, namely, whereas 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 contemn and despise, and so their wicked preachings and doctrines doth from day to day continue and exercise, to the hatred of right and reason, and utter destruction of order and good rule. 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, 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 God’s honour, 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 honour 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 be utterly destroyed, by the assent of the states and other discreet men of the realm, being in the said parliament, hath granted, stablished, and ordained, from henceforth firmly to be observed:


That none within the said realm, or any other dominions, subject to his royal majesty, presume to preach openly or privily, without the licence 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 any thing 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 favour such preacher, or maker of any such and like conventicles, or holding or exercising schools, or making or writing such books, or so teaching, informing or exciting the people, nor any of them maintain or any wise sustain. And that all and singular having such books or any writings of such wicked doctrine and opinions, shall realy with effect deliver or cause to be delivered all such books and writings to the diocesan of the same place within xl. days, from the time of the proclamation of this ordinance and statute. And if any person or persons, of whatsoever kind, estate, or condition that he or they be, from henceforth do or attempt against the royal ordinance and statute aforesaid in the premises or in 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 prisons 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 require, so that the said diocesan by himself or his commissaries do openly and judicialy proceed against such persons so arrested, and remaining under his safe custody to all effect of the law, and determine that same business according to the canonical decrees within three months after the said arrest, any lawful impediment ceasing. And if any person in any case above expressed, be before the diocesan of the place or his commissaries canonically convict, then the same diocesan may do to be kept in his prison the said person so convict for the manner of his default, and after the quality of the offence according and as long as to his discretion shall seem expedient, and moreover to put the same person to the secular court (except in cases where he according to the canonical decree ought to be left) to pay to our sovereign lord the King his pecuniar fine, according as the same fine shall seem competent to the diocesan, for the manner and quality of the offence, in which case the same diocesan shall be bound to certify the King of the same fine in his exchequer by his letters patents sealed with his seal to the effect that such fine by the King’s authority may be required and levied to his use of the goods of the same person so convict. And if any person within the said realm 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 sententially convict, 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 pronounced fall into relapse, so that according to the holy canons he ought to be left to the secular court, whereupon 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 sheriff or sheriffs, or mayor and bailifs of the city, town and borough, of the same county next to the same diocesan or the said commissaries, shall be personally present in preferring of such sentences, when they by the same diocesan or his commissaries 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 do to be burnt, that such punishment may strike in fear to the minds of other, whereby no such wicked doctrine and heretical and erroneous opinions, nor their authors and fautors in the said realm and dominions against the catholick faith, christian law, and determination of the holy church (which God prohibit) be sustained or in any wise suffered, in which all and singular the premises concerning the said ordinance and statute, the sheriffs, mayors and bailifs, of the said counties, cities, boroughs, and towns, shall be attending, aiding and supporting, to the said diocesans and their commissaries.

[Repealed 25 H. 8. c.14. 1 Ed. 6. c. 12. 1 Eliz. c. 1. 29. Car. 2. c. 9.]

Source: Pickering, Statutes at Large, Volume 2.

Further reading: Wikipedia.