Execution of Sir John Oldcastle
After the death of king Henry IV the troubled condition of England appeared so alarming to his son and successor, Henry V, that a new royal mandate was issued against the Lollards. In the former reign, their leader, the earl of Salisbury, had been killed while heading a revolt, and the leadership had been transferred to one of the foremost warriors of the time, Sir John Oldcastle, who threw open his castle of Cawley to the Lollards, as their headquarters, sheltered their preachers, and defiled the prohibitions of the bishops.
Oldcastle was besieged in his stronghold by the king's forces, which took the place, and carried its commander a prisoner tot he Tower of London; but he soon escaped from the Tower and fled into Wales, where he lay safely concealed for some time. But being afterward seized in Powisland, in North Wales, by Lord Powis, he was brought back to London.
Sir John Oldcastle was of a very good family; he had been sheriff of Hertfordshire under Henry IV, and summoned to parliament among the barons of the realm in that reign. He had also been sent beyond the sea, with the earl of Arundel, to assist the duke of Burgundy against the French. But in spite of his rank and his former friendship with the king, Oldcastle was condemned to the dreadful fate of being hung alive in chains, and slowly burned by a fire kindled beneath his feet.
This barbarous sentence was carried out in the latter part of the tear 1417,--such being the terrible end of a man who, although his services to his country had been great, had yet dared to defy the authority of his king. With the death of Sir John Oldcastle, and the execution of thirty-nine of the principal Lollards in the kingdom, the political activity of the party came to an end; while steady persecution by the bishops crushed its power as a religious movement, and for a long time the nation remained apparently at rest, and so far as religion was concerned, under the dominion of Rome.
For more than one hundred years no further effort was made toward Bible translation in England.
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