Foxe’s Book of the Martyrs
CHAPTER 10: General Persecutions in Germany (1/4)
The general persecutions in Germany were principally occasioned by the doctrines and ministry of Martin Luther. Indeed, the pope was so terrified at the success of that courageous reformer, that he determined to engage the emperor, Charles V, at any rate, in the scheme to attempt their extirpation.
To this end:
# 1. He gave the emperor two hundred thousand crowns in ready money.
# 2. He promised to maintain twelve thousand foot, and five thousand horse, for the space of six months, or during a campaign.
# 3. He allowed the emperor to receive one half the revenues of the clergy of the empire during the war.
# 4. He permitted the emperor to pledge the abbey lands for five hundred thousand crowns, to assist in carrying on hostilities against the Protestants.
Thus prompted and supported, the emperor undertook the extirpation of the Protestants, against whom, indeed, he was particularly enraged himself; and, for this purpose, a formidable army was raised in Germany, Spain, and Italy.
The Protestant princes, in the meantime, formed a powerful confederacy, in order to repel the impending blow. A great army was raised, and the command given to the elector of Saxony, and the landgrave of Hesse. The imperial forces were commanded by the emperor of Germany in person, and the eyes of all Europe were turned on the event of the war.
At length the armies met, and a desperate engagement ensued, in which the Protestants were defeated, and the elector of Saxony and the landgrave of Hesse both taken prisoners. This fatal blow was succeeded by a horrid persecution, the severities of which were such that exile might be deemed a mild fate, and concealment in a dismal wood pass for happiness. In such times a cave is a palace, a rock a bed of down, and wild roots delicacies.
Those who were taken experienced the most cruel tortures that infernal imaginations could invent; and by their constancy evinced that a real Christian can surmount every difficulty, and despite every danger acquire a crown of martyrdom.
Henry Voes and John Esch, being apprehended as Protestants, were brought to examination. Voes, answering for himself and the other, gave the following answers to some questions asked by a priest, who examined them by order of the magistracy.
Priest. Were you not both, some years ago, Augustine friars?
Priest. How came you to quit the bosom of the Church at Rome?
Voes. On account of her abominations.
Priest. In what do you believe?
Voes. In the Old and New Testaments.
Priest. Do you believe in the writings of the fathers, and the decrees of the Councils?
Voes. Yes, if they agree with Scripture.
Priest. Did not Martin Luther seduce you both?
Voes. He seduced us even in the very same manner as Christ seduced the apostles; that is, he made us sensible of the frailty of our bodies, and the value of our souls.
This examination was sufficient. They were both condemned to the flames, and soon after suffered with that manly fortitude which becomes Christians when they receive a crown of martyrdom.
Henry Sutphen, an eloquent and pious preacher, was taken out of his bed in the middle of the night, and compelled to walk barefoot a considerable way, so that his feet were terribly cut. He desired a horse, but his conductors said, in derision, “A horse for a heretic! no no, heretics may go barefoot.” When he arrived at the place of his destination, he was condemned to be burnt; but, during the execution, many indignities were offered him, as those who attended not content with what he suffered in the flames, cut and slashed him in a most terrible manner.