The Doctor and Student (1518)

Christopher St. Germain

Whether the parliament may enact that no religious person shall receive into the habit of their religion any child under a certain age appointed by parliament

Stud. If it were enacted, that no religous person should receive into the habit of their religion any child under a certain age to be appointed by the parliament, and that after this entry he should not be removed from the place that he was received in within a year after upon a certain pain, without assent of his friends; I think it were a good statute; for that statute should not prohibit entry into religion. For if it did so, I suppose it were not to be observed: but it ordereth the manner of entry into religion for such infants which is right expedient for the commonwealth; and a statute of like effect is made for the four orders of friars in the 4 Hen. IV., where the four provincials of the said four orders were sworn, by laying their hands upon their breasts in open parliament, to observe the said statute. And upon the same grounds some say, that if it were enacted, that no man upon a certain pain should affie the daughter in her farther’s house, without assent of the father, it were a good statute; and yet a statute hath no authority to prohibit, nor to confirm no right of matrimony; but as the church prohibiteth it, or confirmeth it. And therefore if it were prohibited, that no lord’s son should affie an husbandman’s, daughter, or such other, and if he did, the affiance to be void, I think that statute were void. But if the statute were, that no lord’s son, upon a pain, should make affiance with any woman, that is a stranger born, without the king’s. licence, I think that statute were good: for it prohibiteth not matrimony, but setteth an order after what manner it shall be made, and that under such form as may haply be necessary for the surety of the. realm. And of a like effect thereto is the law, that the king’s widow shall not marry without the king’s licence, and that she shall be sworn thereto in the Chancery when she is endowed. And like law is also, that the lord shall have the marriage, or the value of the marriage or sometimes the double value of the marriage of his ward by knight’s service. And also if a man marry a bond women without licence, the lord by the Common law shall have an action of trespass against him that marrieth her. And all these laws be good, for merely they prohibit not marriage, no more should a statute do for entry into religion: as me seemeth. For it prohibiteth not entry into religion; but it prohibiteth that none should be received into the habit before his years of discretion, and that after his entry he shall be ordered in such manner, that if lie will after be professed it shall rise of his own free will, and of a love to serve God, and not by any sinister means, nor coloured persuasions. Also, as I suppose, the parliament may well enact, that every man that hath the profit of any offering, by recourse of pilgrims, shall, upon a certain pain, not only set up certain tables to instruct the people under what manner they shall worship the saints, but also to cause certain sermons to be made there yearly to instruct the people, how they shall worship them, so that through ignorance and disordering of themself, they do not rather displease the saints than please them. It may also prohibit, that no miracle shall be noised upon so light occasions as they have been in some places in time past. And they shall not, upon a certain pain, be set up as miracles nor be noised, nor reported as miracles by no man, till they be proved for miracles, under such manner as by the parliament shall be appointed. And it is not unlike, but that many persons grudge more at the abuse of pilgrimages than at the self-pilgrimages. And in likewise of divers other articles, if the truth were groundly searched. And under this manner it hath been already enacted by parliament, to the strength of the faith, that no man shall presume to preach without licence of the diocesan, except certain persons excepted in the statute, as appeareth in the second year of king Hen. IV. And under this manner the parliament may ordain many good laws for strength of the faith, and for the good order of all the people, as well. spiritual as temporal, though it judge not upon the right of things that be mere spiritual. And all these diversities, and many, other more than I can rehearse now, they that be learned in the laws of the realm be especially bounden to know, that they may instruct the parliament when need shall require, what they may lawfully do concerning the spiritual jurisdiction, and what not. And therefore spiritual men are bound charitably to hear their opinions therein, and what they think be immediately grounded upon the law of God, or upon the law of reason, and what not. For commonly the parliament hath. over those laws no direct power, but to strengthen them, and to make them to be more surely kept it hath good power. And if spiritual men, and temporal men, would charitably lay their heads together, and, fully determine what the parliament may do, as well concerning the spiritual jurisdiction as the temporal, taking these additions as little titleings, whereby they by their wisdom may call to their remembrance greater things, so that hereafter it shall not stand in the case as it doth now, that when the parliament hath made a law concerning the spirituality, that spiritual men shall not say, it bindeth not in conscience, as many have done in time past, and yet do to this day: I think verily that there would nothing do more good to appease such variances, schisms, and divisions as be now abroad in the realm. And then also would all men, as well spiritual as temporal, rather take heed to themself, to see that they did nothing to give occasion to the parliament to extend his power upon them or their possessions, than to resist or deny the authority of the parliament.