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THE MARPRELATE TRACTS

1588-1589

New HTML editions with original and modernised spellings, prepared with an introduction by John D. Lewis, Department of Theology, Murdoch University Western Australia.


CONTENTS

Introduction by John D. Lewis

Original Spelling

Tract 1. Oh Read Over Dr. John Bridges – The Epistle, October 1588.

Tract 2. Oh Read Over Dr. John Bridges – The Epitome, November 1588.

Tract 3. Certain Mineral and Metaphysical Schoolpoints, 20 February 1589.

Tract 4. Hay any Work for Cooper, March 1589.

Tract 5. Theses MartinianŠ, 22 July 1589.

Tract 6. The Just Censure and Reproof of Martin Junior, 29 July 1589.

Tract 7. The Protestation of Martin Marprelate, September 1589.


Modernised Spelling

Tract 1. Oh Read Over Dr. John Bridges – The Epistle, October 1588.

Tract 2. Oh Read Over Dr. John Bridges – The Epitome, November 1588.

Tract 3. Certain Mineral and Metaphysical Schoolpoints, 20 February 1589.

Tract 4. Hay any Work for Cooper, March 1589.

Tract 5. Theses MartinianŠ, 22 July 1589.

Tract 6. The Just Censure and Reproof of Martin Junior, 29 July 1589.

Tract 7. The Protestation of Martin Marprelate, September 1589.

 


INTRODUCTION

    The Marprelate Tracts are mentioned in almost all histories of the Elizabethan era, in histories of the Anglican Church, and in all considerations of the religious disputes between the Puritans and the Church of England in the late sixteenth century. The pamphlets are briefly described in terms of their presumed scurrility and opposition to the office of bishop and the Elizabethan Religious Settlement, but the contents of the writings, the underlying theology of the writer and the degree to which they agree or disagree with other, better known Puritan writings are not considered. Yet two men lost their lives because of these pamphlets: Rev. Mr. Penry was hung for his part in the production, and the Rev. Mr Udall died in prison. The printer, Waldegrave, had his press confiscated, and there was a full-scale search made for the author(s) of the tracts, the identity of whom is still not known for certain.

    The tracts ceased as suddenly as they had begun: seven pamphlets or small books in less than a year, between October 1588 and September 1589. Presumably the Government had either caught the author or had cowed him into silence. The incident was over—a dangerous seditious libel in the eyes of the establishment, an embarrassment to the more judicious Puritan who wished to campaign more openly without fear of losing his head. The incident came in the closing years of a campaign which had gone on through most of Elizabeth’s reign; the original campaigners were getting old, they had lost support in the court and Parliament, and the Anglican Church was defending the established order more effectively. The first volumes of Richard Hooker’s Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity were published in the same year as Marprelate, and for a generation Puritanism could continue only as a subculture while the Anglican Church consolidated its position.

    Nevertheless, it does appear that Martin Marprelate deserves to be better known than he is. The only full consideration of the texts and historical setting prior to 1970 is that of William Pierce: An historical introduction to the Marprelate Tracts (1908), and: The Marprelate Tracts 1588, 1589 edited with notes historical and explanatory (1911). Neither of these books is widely available. In 1970, the Scolar Press published a facsimile edition of the tracts from copies in the Bodleian and Lambeth Palace Libraries, but this is not easily read as the first four pamphlets are in ‘Black Letter’(Gothic) type, and the remainder in a Roman type of small size. It is this volume which is transcribed here.

    In the first series I have transcribed the text directly into modern characters, with no alterations. Lower case ‘u’ and ‘v’ are commonly transposed, and in Roman type the typesetter often had difficulty with ‘u’ and ‘n’. Variations in spelling, and a few typographical errors, are retained. Punctuation is kept as in the original text. In tracts 1-4, the Black Letter type is transcribed to upright Roman type, while Roman type, used for quotations, is transcribed as italic Roman. In tracts 5-7, upright and italic Roman type are directly transcribed. For the title page of each tract I have attempted to copy the layout, to give some feel for the original.

    In the second series I have modernised spelling and punctuation, but changed very few words. Throughout, the word order is the same as the original. Most change is brought about by dropping the second person singular: thee, thou and thine, become ‘you, you, and your’. With this change, the -eth and -est verb endings have also gone. Punctuation is more difficult to change without changes to the words. Martin sometimes complains that the prose of his opponents is poor and sentences so long that ‘there are not two full points to the page’, yet his own sentences are sometimes equally long and convoluted, with subordinate clause piled on subordinate clause, or rambling parentheses inserted between verb and object, such that the meaning is often difficult to determine. Under these conditions, and with the determination not to change the words or word order, dividing the text into modern, relatively short sentences, is not easy and some passages will still need to be read carefully.

    I have not attempted to provide more than the minimum of footnotes. These may be to explain allusions in the text or to ‘translate’ specific words. The name of the Bishop of London is not mentioned in the text but knowing that he was John Elmar adds understanding to the pun of John Mar-elm for a bishop who would cut down elm trees. Leaving words such as ‘trow’ or ‘bewray’ adds to the flavour of the text, and throughout I have tried to maintain the original as closely as possible.

    The result of this effort for myself has been to be able to read a popular and racy account of the Puritan arguments for their ideas, their objections to the religious settlement of Elizabeth, and to sample the Puritan mode of disputation. A modern Martin would, I am sure, upset many modern bishops and parliamentarians, just as he would scandalise some who oppose bishops in the Church, but I doubt he would have half the police force out looking for him.

John D. Lewis,
Dept of Theology,
Murdoch University
Western Australia.

June 1996.

Note: In these texts I have produced a number of endnotes. In the original there are no endnotes, but instead, a number of references to opponents’ texts, and comments, arranged as margin notes. Unfortunately, it is not easy to reproduce the original, and some of the ‘spice’ of the text is lost in looking up endnotes.

Page numbers: Original page numbers are given in square brackets, thus [51], the number indicating the top right hand corner of the page. Some of the originals had no printed page numbers and I have numbered the pages sequentially for ease of reference.

[Table of Contents]


The Anglican Library, copyright © 2000. Introduction and modernized spelling edition copyright © John D. Lewis, 2000.


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