William Barlow

(1500-1568 / England)

Here Foloweth The Dialoge The Gentillman; Beginige First His Coplaynte. - Poem by William Barlow


With soroufull harte maye I coplayne
Cōcerninge the chaunce of my misery
Although paraueture it is but vayne
Trueth oporessyd with open tyranny.
My enheritaunce and patrimony.
Agaynst right from me they kepe awaye
Which saye for my frendes soules they praye.
Myne aunceteres of worthy progeny
With rentes and lyuelood largely endued
Mayntayned their estates honorably
Aydynge the poore indigence to exclude.
Tyll at the last the clergy to them sued.
Pretendinge godlynes vnder a fals waye
Sayenge they wold for their soules praye.
Stoutely they alleged before their syght
Howe after this lyfe is a purgatory.
Wherin their soules both daye & night
Shuld be tormented with out memory
Excepte of their substaunce transitory.
Vnto their seactes they wold some what paye
Sayenge that they wold for their soules praye.
They bare them in hande that they had myght
Synners to bynde & loose at their owne plesure
Takynge vpon them to leade thyem a right
Vnto ioye that euer shuld endure.
Of popes pardones they boosted the treasure.
Chalengynge of heuene & hell the kaye
Sayenge that they wold for their soules praye.
To trust wife or childern they did disswade
Eyther any frendes or persones temporall.
Affermynge that oure loue shuld a way vade
Without any memory of them at all
Onely to hope in their seactes spirituall.
They entyced with persuasiones gaye
Sayenge that they wold for their soules praye.
Thus with wylines and argumentes vayne
Myne aunceters brought in to perplexite
Partely thorough feare of eternall payne
And partely for desyre of felicite.
They consented makynge no difficulte
To graunte their requestes without delaye
Sayenge that they wold for their soules praye
Their chefe lordshippes and londes principall
With comodytes of their possessyon
Vnto the clergye they gaue forthe with all
Dysheretinge their right successyon.
Which to receiue without excepcion
The couetous clergy made no denay
Sayenge that they wold for their soules pray
By the meanes wherof I and suche other
Suffrynge the extremyte of indigence
Are occasioned to theft or mourder
Fallynge in to moche inconuenience.
Because the clergye agaynst conscience
Deuoureth oure possessiones nighte and daye
Sayeng y for oure frendes soules they praye.
I haue wife and childern vpon my hande
Wantinge substaunce their lifes to sustayne
Wherfore to the clergy that haue my lande
Sometyme I come and pituously complayne
Whos statelines to helpe me hauyng disdayne
With oute any comforte to me they saye
That for my frendes soules they dayly praye.
Shuld I and my houshold for houngre dye
They wold not an halfe peny with vs parte
So that they lyue in welthe aboundantly
Full litle they regarde oure woofull smerte.
To waste oure goodes they nothinge aduerte
In vicious lustes and pompous araye
Sayenge y for our frendes soules they praye.
They take vpon them apostles auctorite
But they folowe nothinge their profession
Often tymes they preache of christes pouerte
Howe be it towarde it they haue no affeccion.
Yf so be they pleate ones in possession
Harde it is to get ought fro them awaye
Sayenge that for our frdes soules they praye.
Thus must we beare their oppression
Whiles to complayne there is no remedye
The worlde they haue brought in subiection
Vnder their ambicious tyranny.
No respecte they haue to the mysery
Of vs poore gentillmen that be laye
Sayenge that for our fredes soules they praye.
Alas is it not a myserable case?
To se ydle persones voyde of pyte
Occupyenge the landes before oure face
Which shuld pertayne vnto vs of duete.
They haue richesse and we calamyte
Their honour encreaced oures must dekaye
Sayenge that for our fredes soules they praye.

The husbandman.
Syr god geue you good morowe
I perceiue the cause of youre sorowe
And most lamentable calamyte.
Is for the oppression intollerable
Of thes monstres so vncharitable
Whom men call the spiritualte.
Trouthe it is ye poore gentillmen are
By their craftynes made nedy and bare
Your landes with holdinge by violence
How be it we husbandmen euery where
Are nowe in worsse condicion ferre
As it may be marked by experience.

In worse caas? nay that can not be so
For loke ouer the hoole worlde to and fro
Namely here in oure owne region.
And thou shalt fynde that in their handes
Remayneth the chefe lordeshippes and landes
Of poore gentillmens possession.
They haue oure aunceters lyuelood and rentes
Their principall fearmes and teneamentes
With temporall fredomes and libertees.
They haue gotten vnto their kingdomes
Many noble baronries and erldomes
With esquyres landes and knightes fees.

Notwithstondinge yet they saye precysely
That your Aunceters gaue to theym freely
Soche worldly dominion and lyuelood.

Freely quod a nay that is but fayned
For they ware certeynly therto constreyned
By their couetous disceite and falshod

Howe dyd they youre aunceteres compell?

Mary in threatnynge the paynes of hell
And sharpe punishment of purgatorye.
Wher to brenne they made them beleue
Excepte they wolde vnto them geue
Parte of their substaunce & patrimony.

But howe wold they delyuer them fro thence?

As they saide by their prayers assistence
Which with boostynge wordes they dyd alowe

Prayer? god geue her a shamefull reprefe
For it is the moost briberynge thefe.
That euer was I make god a vowe.
For by her the clergy without dowte
Robbeth the hole countre rounde aboute
Bothe comones and estates none excepte.
I wote they haue prayed so longe all redy
That they haue brought the lande to beggery
And all thryftynes clene awaye swepte.
What soeuer we get with sweate and labour
That prolle they awaye with their prayour
Sayenge they praye for oure soules allwaye
But is their prayer not more avaylynge
To the deade soules than to the lyuynge
So is it not worthe a rotten aye.

To the soules departed it is not profitable
For whye thos that are in case dampnable
No assistence of prayour can attayne.
And as for purgatory ther is none
All though there be clerkes many one
Which to seke it take moche payne.

Than I wold their prayenge were at an ende
For yf they pray longe thus so god me mende
They shall make ylande worsse than nought.
But nowe I will rehearce seriously
Howe we husbandemen full pituously
Vnto miserable wrechednes are brought.
Fyrst whan englonde was in his floures
Ordred by the temporall gouernoures
Knowenge no spirituall iurisdiccion.
Than was ther in eche state and degre
Haboundance and plentuous prosperite
Peaceable welthe without affliccion.
Noblenes of blood was had in price
Vertuousnes avaunced hated was vyce
Princes obeyd with due reuerence.
Artificers and men of occupacion
Quietly wanne their sustentacion
Without any grefe of nedy indigence.
We husband men lyke wise prosperously
Occupyenge the feates of husbandry
Hyerd fearmes of pryce competent.
Wherby oure lyuinge honestly we wanne
And had ynough to paye euery manne
Helpinge other that were indigent.
Tyll at the last the rauenous clergye
Through their craftynes and hypocrisye
Gate to theym worldly dominacion.
Than were we ouercharged very sore
Oure fearmes set vp dayly more and more
With shamefull pryce in soche a fasshyon.
That we paye more nowe by halfe the sume
Than a fore tymes we dyd of custome
Holdinge ought of their possession.
Besyde this other contentes of brybery
As payenge of tythes open and preuy
And for herynge of confession.
Also prestes dueties and clerkes wages
Byenge of perdones and freres quarterages
With chirches and aultares reparacion.
All oure charges can not be nombred
Wherwith we are greatly acombred
Ouer whelmyd with desolacion.
We tourmoyle oure selfes nyght and daye
And are fayne to dryncke whygge and whaye
For to maynteyne the clargyes facciones

This were a great shame to be knowen
Seynge halfe the realme is their owne
That they charge you with soche exaccions.
Me thyncketh so to do is no small cryme
For they kepte as good houses a foretyme
Whiles theyr fearme hyers was ferre lesse.

Ye more plentuous houses a great deale
How be yt in hyndrynge the comone weale
They vse also this practyse doutles.
Where as poore husband men afore season
Accordinge vnto equite and reason
House or lande to fearme dyd desyre.
Without any difficulte they might it get
And yet no hygher price was ther vp set
Than good conscience did require.
But nowe their ambicious suttlete
Maketh one fearme of two or thre
Ye some tyme they bringe .vi. to one.
Which to gentillmen they let in farmage
Or elles to ryche marchauntes for avauntage
To the vndoynge of husbandeman ech one.
Wherby the comones sufferinge damage
The hole lande is brought in to rerage
As by experience ye may well see.
Thus is the wealth of village and towne
With the fame of honorable renowne
Fallen in to myserable pouerte.
Plentnous housholdes hereby ar dekayde
Relefe of poore people is awaye strayde
Allmes exyled with hospitalyte.
By soche meanes all thinge waxeth dere
Complaynte of subiectes cryenge ferre and nere
Oppressed with greuous calamyte.

Truely thou shewest the very abuse
Neuerthelesse concernynge oure excuse
Why we gentillmen fearmes occupye.
The principall occasion is onely this
That oure patrimony geuen awaye is
Vnto thes wolffes of the clergye.
By whos oppression we are so beggeryd
That necessite hath vs compellyd
With fearmes soche shyft to make.
For as ye husbandmen can well vnderstande
Touchinge expences and charges of the lande
They disdayne any parte with vs to take.

Ye by seynte Marye I you warrante
In soche cases their ayde is very scant
Makinge curtesye to do any goode.
Let the realme go what way it wull
They hauynge ease and their belyes full
Regarde litle the comone weale by the rode
Yf princes demaunde their succour or ayde
This answere of them is comonely saide
We are pore bedemen of youre grace.
We praye for your disceaced auncetryes
For whom we synge masses and dirigees
To succour their soules in nedefull case.

Oh they afoorde prayers good cheape
Sayenge rather many masses by heape
Than to geue a poore man his dyner.
Wherfore as thou saydest so god helpe me
I se of their prayenge no comodyte
Nether avauntage in any maner.
For whye with in thes .iiij. hundred yere
Thorough oute christendome was not a freer
Of thes whom we mendicantes call.
And syth that tyme dyuers facciones
Of collegianes monkes and chanones
Haue spred this region ouer all.
Also of prestes were not the tenthe parte
Which as they saye haue none other arte
But for vs worldly people to praye.
And yet the worlde is nowe farre worsse
As euery man felyth in his poorsse
Than it was at that tyme I dare saye.
Wherfore the trueth openly to betryde
I wolde they shuld laye their prayenge a syde
And geue theym selfes to labour bodely.

It were harde to bringe theym therto
Vtterly refusynge any labour to do
Because they are people gostely.

Were not the apostles gostely also?

Yes syr but it is so longe ago
That their lyuynge is oute of memorye.

We fynde it well in the newe testament.

The clargye say it is not conuenyent
For laye men therwith to be busye.

Wotest thou wherfore they do that?

In fayth syr I coniecture some what
And I suppose I do not moche erre.
Might men the scripture in Englishe rede
We secular people shuld than se in dede
What Christ and the apostles lyues were.
Which I dout nothinge are contrarye
Vnto the lyuynge of oure clargye
Geuyn to pompous ydlenes euery where.
Whos abhominacion ones knowen
Their pryde shuld be sone ouer throwen
And fewe wold their statelynes for beare.

Thou hyttest the nayle vpon the heed
For that is the thinge that they dreed
Least scripture shuld come vnto light.
God commaundyd man in the begynnynge
With sweat of vysage to wynne his lyuynge
As Moses in his fyrst boke dothe wryte.
And as Marcke sayeth in the .vi. chapter
Christe here vpon erthe was a carpenter
Not dysdayninge an occupacion.
Also the disciples vniuersally
With their handes laboured busyly
Exchewynge ydle conuersacion.

Oure clargye lyue nothynge after their rate

No they seke ydelly to auaunce their estate
And to be had in reputacyon.

Are they worldly or gostely to saye the trothe?

So god helpe me I trowe none of bothe
As it apperyth by their fasshion.
For in matters of worldly busynes
The clergye haue moche more entresse
Than temporall men I ensure the.
The landes of lordes and dukes to possesse
Thei abasshe not a whit the seculernes
Chalengynge tytles of worldly honour
But is the realme in any necessyte
Where as they shuld condescend of duete
To stande by their prince with succour
Than to be of the world they denye
Sayenge that their helpe is spiritually
From the worlde makinge a separacion.

326 Whiles they vse soche craftynes to contryue
327 The temporalte ought theym to depryue
328 Of their worldly dominacyon.
329 And euen as they saye that they are gostely
330 So without any assistence worldly
331 To lyue gostely they shuld haue no let.

That were an expedyent medicyne
Accordinge vnto saynt Paules doctryne
Qui non laborat non manducet.
Nowithstonding their power is so stronge
That whether they do ryght or wronge
They haue their owne will without fayle.
Their enormytees so ferre out breaketh
That all the worlde agaynst theym speaketh
But alas man what dothe it avayle?

The remedy that I can ymagyne
Were best that we together determyne
To get vs to london incontynent.
Where as it is here for a surete tolde
The kinge with his nobles dothe holde
A generall counsell or parlament.

What woldest thou that we shuld do there?

The constraynte of oure myserye to declare
Vnder a meke forme of lamentacion.

So shuld we be sure of soche answeres
As were made vnto the poore beggers
For their pituous supplicacyon.
Against whō yclergyes resons nought worthe
The soules of purgatory they brought forthe
The beggers complaynte to discomfyte.
Wherfore against oure peticion I the tell
They wold bringe out all the deuells in hell
For to do vs some shamefull despyte.

And was ther none other waye at all
But the soules of purgatory to call
In ayde and assistence of the clergye.

It was the suerest waye by seynt Ihone
For had they to playne scripture gone
I wousse they hadde be taken tardye.
The beggers complaynte was so grounded
That the clargye hadde be confounded
Had they not to purgatory hasted.

Where sayd they purgatorye shuld be?

By scripture they shewed no certente
Albeit with stowte wordes they it faced.
Euen like vnto the man which went
A certeyne straunge ylonde to inuent
But whan he sawe he could it not fynde,
Least his wit & travaile shuld seme in vayne
Reporte of other men he beganne to fayne
The symplicite of rude people to blynde.
But touchinge oure communicacion
Ther is a nother consideracion
Which somewhat more troubleth my mynde.
Thou knowest that in the parlament
The chefe of yclergye are resident
In a maruelous great multitude.
Whos fearce displeasure is so terrible
That I iudge it were not possible
Any cause against them to conclude.
As for this ones we shall not be herde
And great men I tell the are a ferde
With them to haue any doynge.
Whosoeuer will agaynst them contende
Shall be sure of a mischefe in the ende
Is he gentillman lorde or kynge.
And that vnto kynge Ihon I me reporte
With other princes & lordes a great sorte
Whom the cronycles expresse by name.
Whiles they were a lyue they did them trouble
And after their deathe with cruelnes double
They ceased not their honour to diffame.
Dyd not they so longe striue & wrastle
Against the good knight syr Ihon oldecastle
Other wise called lorde of Cobham.
That from hyghe heresye vnto treasone
They brought him to fynall destruction
With other many a noble man.
Moreouer at seynt Edmūdes bury some saye
That the famous prince duke Humfray
By them of his lyfe was abreuiate.
Sythe that tyme I coulde recken mo
Whom they caused to be dispatched so
Parauenture some of no lowe estate.

The husbandman.
Their tyranny is great without fayle
Neuerthelesse yf we wold them assayle
With argumentes of the holy gospell.
They shuld not be ones able to resiste
For the wordes of oure sauiour christe
Shuld stoppe them were they neuer so fell.
Who in the .xxiij. chapter of seynt Luke
To their great confusyon and rebuke
Forbydeth secular ambicion.
Wherin he himselfe example gaue
Contempnynge worldly honour to haue
Of this world claymynge no kingdome.
Also when his disciples forthe he sent
He commaunded them to be content
With foode and apparayle necessary.
Wherto saint Paules doctrine accordinge
Saieth: hauynge meate drinke and clothinge
We shuld no thinge couet superfluously.

Yf the holy gospell allege we shuld
As stronge heretike stake vs they would
Vnto their churche disobedient.
For why they haue commaunded straytely
That none vnder great payne be so hardye
To haue in englishe the testament.
Which as thou knowest at London
The bisshop makinge ther a sermon
With shamefull blasphemy was brent.

Alas that cruelte goeth to my hert
Wherfor I feare me we shall all smert
At lengthe with bitter punisshment.

Vndouted it is greatly to be fearyd
Least the hole region shalbe plagyd
For their outragious blasphemy.
In kynge Henryes dayes of that name y&supere; fyft
The clergye their pride aboue to lyft
Persecuted christen brothers haynously.
The gospell of Christ a syde to cast
Which at that tyme prospered fast.
With all their puysaūce they dyd conspyre.
Euery where they threwe theym in presones
In sharpe gayles/and horrible doungeones
Causynge many to be brent in fyre.
Their furious malice neuer stentyd
Tyll they had the light oute quenchyd
Of the gospell and holy scripture.
Wherof all bokes that they could get
They caused on a fayre fyre to be set
To expell goddes worde doynge their cure.
But consyder what ther of did chaunce
Moste terrible plages of fearfull vengeaunce
And endles sorowe to oure nacion.
For within shorte season after they lost
Which many a mans lyfe dyd cost
In fraunce their dominacion.
Amonge them selfes moste hatefull mourdre
Many stronge batayles one after a nother
With great effusyon of englisshe bloode.
Frende against frēde brother against brother.
Euery man at variaunce with other
The realme longe season in myschefe stoode

This is nowe a dayes clene oute of mynde

I praye god hereafter we do not fynde
The same vengeaunce for like offence
For as it is in the byble playnely red
God left neuer lande yet vnpunished
Which agaynst his worde made resistence.

Well syr yf scripture ye; forthe bringe
I beseche you what is their answeringe
Are they so bolde goddes worde to denye?

Naye but after their ymaginacion
They make there of an interpretacion
Vnto the texte clene contrary
They allege the popes auctorite
Customes of auncyent antiquite
With diuers counseiles approbacion.
Also the holynes of religious fathers
With the bloode sheadinge of marters
For their chirches preservacion.
Besyde that contynuaunce of yeres
Myracles of bishoppes monkes and freres
Whom for speciall patrones they holde.
And fynally to make a conclusion
In fortefyenge their abusion
Other practyses they vse manyfolde.
They resorte to lordes and great estates
With whom they are dayly checke mates
Ye to saye the trouthe their soueraynes.
Where amonge other communicacion
They admonishe them with protestacion
To beware of thes heretikes Lutheranes.
Whom they saye is a secte newe fangled
With execrable heresyes entangled
Sekinge the chirches perdicion.
Which oure fore fathers as wise as we
Were contente with humble simplicite
To honour obeynge their tuycion.
Also none presumed till nowe a late
Against the clergye to beare any hate
Or grudged at their possession.

By seynt mary syr that is a starcke lye
I can shewe you a worcke by and by
Against that poynte makinge obiection.
Which of warantyse I dare be bolde
That it is aboue an hundred yere olde
As the englishe selfe dothe testifye.
Wherin the auctour with argumentes
Speaketh a gainst the lordshippes & rentes
Of the clergye possessed wrongfully.

Is it so olde as thou doest here expresse
Reprouynge their pompous lordlynes
So is it than no newe found heresy.

No but alas halfe the boke we want
Hauynge no more left than a remenant
From the begynnynge of the .vi. chapter verely.

As for that it maketh no matter
Begynne hardely at the sixte chapter
Redynge forthe to the ende seriously.
For though old writinges a pere to be rude
Yet notwithstandinge they do include
The pithe of a matter most fructuously.

To rede it I shall be diligent
Though the style be nothinge eloquent
With ornate speache set out curiously.

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Poem Submitted: Friday, October 8, 2010

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