Henry VIII, the Reign
Lincoln Articles, 9 October 1536
1 [Suppression of Religious Houses]
The suppression of so many religious houses as are at this instant time suppressed whereby the service of our God is not well [maintained] but also the Commons of your realm by unrelieved, the which as we think is a great hurt to the Commonwealth and many sisters /houses [inhabitants] put from their livings and left at large.
[Reply as for suppression of religious houses and monasteries]
2."As for the suppression of religious houses and monasteries, we will that ye and all our subjects should well know, that this is granted us by all the nobles spiritual and temporal of this realm, and by all the commons in the same, by act of parliament; and not set forth by any councillor or councillors upon their mere will and fantasy, as you full falsely would persuade our realm to believe.
3."And where ye allege that the service of God is much diminished, the truth thereof is contrary; for there be no houses suppressed where God was well served, but where most vice, mischief, and abomination of living was used; and that doth well appear by their own confessions, subscribed with their own hands, in the time of their visitations, and yet we suffered a great many of them (more than we needed by the act) to stand; wherein if they amend not their living, we fear we have more to answer for, than the suppression of all the rest. And as for the hospitality for the relief of the poor, we wonder ye be not ashamed to affirm that they have been a great relief of poor people, when a great many, or the most part, have not past four or five religious persons in them, and divers but one, which spent the substance of the goods of their houses in nourishing of vice, and abominable living. Now what unkindness and unnaturality may we impute to you, and all our subjects that be of that mind, which had rather that such an unthrift sort of vicious persons should enjoy the possessions, profits, and emoluments, which grow of the said houses, to the maintenance of their unthrifty life, than we, your natural prince, sovereign lord, and king, which do and have spent more of our own in your defences, than six times they be worth?
2 [Act of Uses]
The second article is that we humbly beseech your Grace that the act of use[s] may be suppressed because we think why the said act that we your true subjects be clearly restrained of tout [sic] liberties in the declaration of our wills concerning outlands, as well as for payment of debts, for doing of your Grace service, as for helping and elevying. [relieving] of our children the which we had by [suffering] of your laws[ by long continuance] the which as we think is a great hurt and [discomfort] to the common wealth.
[Reply As touching the Act of Uses]
4."As touching the Act of Uses, we marvel what madness is in your brain, or upon what ground ye would take authority upon you, to cause us to break those laws and statutes, which, by all the noble knights and gentlemen of this realm, (whom the same chiefly toucheth,) have been granted and assented to, seeing in no manner of things it toucheth you, the base commons of our realm.
5.Also, the grounds of all those uses were false, and never admitted by law, but usurped upon the prince, contrary to all equity and justice, as it hath been openly both disputed and declared by all the well learned men in the realm of England, in Westminster Hall: whereby ye may well perceive how mad and unreasonable your demands be, both in that, and in the rest; and how unmeet it is for us, and dishonourable, to grant or assent unto, and less meet and decent for you, in such a rebellious sort, to demand the same of your prince.
3 [Levies on Sheep and Cattle]
The third article is that where your Grace has a tax or a quindeyne[ fifteenth] granted to you by an act of Parliament payable the next year, which is and has been ever leveable [levyable] of sheep and cattle, and the sheep and cattle of your subjects within the said shire are now at this instant time in manner utterly decayed and [...] whereby your Grace to take the said tax or quindeyn[ fifteenth] your said subjects shall be constrained to pay 4d one beast and 12d for 20tie sheep, the which would be an importunate charge to them considering the poverty that they be in all ready and loose which they have sustained these two years past.
[Reply as touching the Fifteenth which you demand of us to be released]
6."As touching the Fifteenth which you demand of us to be released, think ye that we be so faint-hearted, that perforce ye of one shire (were ye a great many more) could compel us with your insurrections, and such rebellious demeanour, to remit the same? or think you that any man will or may take you to be true subjects, that first make and show a loving grant, and then perforce would compel your sovereign lord and king to release the same, the time of payment whereof is not yet come? Yea, and seeing the same will not countervail the tenth penny of the charges which we have, and daily do sustain, for your tuition and safeguard, make you sure that by your occasions of these ingratitudes, unnaturalness, and unkindness to us now administered, ye give us cause (which have always been as much dedicated to your wealth, as ever was king) not so much to set our study for the setting forward of the same, seeing how unkindly and untruly ye deal now with us, without any cause or occasion: and doubt ye not, though you have no grace nor naturalness in you to consider your duty of allegiance to your king and sovereign lord, the rest of our realm, we doubt not, hath; and we and they shall so look on this cause, that we trust it shall be to your confusion, if, according to your former letters, you submit not yourselves.
7."As touching the first-fruits, we let you to wit, it is a thing granted us by act of parliament also, for the supportation of part of the great and excessive charges, which we support and bear for the maintenance of your wealths and other our subjects: and we have known also that ye our commons have much complained also in times past, that the most part of our goods, lands, and possessions of the realm, were in the spiritual men's hands; and yet, bearing us in hand that ye be as loving subjects to us as' may be, ye cannot find in your hearts that your prince and sovereign lord should have any part thereof, (and yet it is nothing prejudicial unto you our commons,) but do rebel and unlawfully rise against your prince, contrary to the duty of allegiance and God's commandment. Sirs! remember your follies and traitorous demeanours, and shame not your native country of England, nor offend any more so grievously your undoubted king and natural prince, which always hath showed himself most loving unto you; and remember your duty of allegiance, and that ye are bound to obey us your king, both by God's commandment and the law of nature.
4[Persons of Low Birth serving on Kings Counsel – Rich & Cromwell]
The fourth article is that we your true subjects think that your Grace takes of your counsel and being about you such persons as be of low birth and small reputation which has procured the premises most especially for their own advantage , the which we suspect to be Lord Cromwell and Sir Richard Rich Chancellor of the augmentation.
4[ Reply regarding choosing of councillors]
First, we begin to make answer to the fourth and sixth articles, because upon them dependeth much of the rest. Concerning choosing of councillors, I never have read, heard, or known, that princes, councillors, and prelates, should be appointed by rude and ignorant common people, nor that they were persons meet, or of ability, to discern and choose meet and sufficient councillors for a prince. How presumptuous then are ye, the rude commons of one shire, and that one the most base of the whole realm, and of the least experience, to find fault with your prince, for the electing of his councillors and prelates, and to take upon you, contrary to God's law and man's laws, to rule your princes, whom you are bound, by all law, to obey and serve with both your lives, lands, and goods, and for no worldly cause to withstand.
5 [Promotion of certain Bishops]
The fifth article is that way you do subjects find us grieved that there be diverse bishops of England at your graces late promotion that have made false the faith of Christ, as we think, which are the Bishop of Canterbury, the Bishop of St. David's, the Bishop of Dublin, and in especial as we think the beginnings of all the trouble of this realm and the vexation that has been taken of your subjects the Bishop of Lincoln.
[Reply as for suppression of religious houses and monasteries above]
[Reprimand & Threats]
8. "Wherefore we charge you eftsoons, [soon after] upon the aforesaid bonds and pains, that you withdraw yourselves to your own houses every man, and no more to assemble contrary to our laws and your allegiances, and to cause the provokers of you to this mischief, to be delivered to our lieutenant's hands or ours, and you yourselves to submit you to such condign [fitting] punishment as we and our nobles shall think you worthy of: for doubt you not else, that we and our nobles neither can nor will suffer this injury at your hands unrevenged, if ye give not to us place of sovereignty, and show yourselves as bounden and obedient subjects, and no more to intermeddle yourselves from henceforth with the weighty affairs of the realm, the direction whereof only appertaineth to us your king, and such noblemen and councillors as we list to elect and choose to have the ordering of the same.
9."And thus we pray unto Almighty God, to give you grace to do your duties, to use yourselves towards us like true and faithful subjects, so as we may have cause to order you thereafter; and rather obediently to consent amongst you to deliver into the hands of our lieutenant a hundred persons, to be ordered according to their demerits, at our will and pleasure, than, by your obstinacy and wilfulness, to put yourselves, your wives, children, lands, goods, and chattels, besides the indignation of God, in the utter adventure of total destruction, and utter ruin, by force and violence of the sword."