Margery Confronted by Male Clergy, Defends Herself

        On the next day sche was browt into
the Erchebischopys chapel, and ther comyn many of the Erchebischopys meny,
despisyng hir, callyng hir "loller" and "heretyke," and sworyn many an horrybyl othe
that sche schulde be brent. And sche, thorw the strength of Jhesu, seyd agen to hem,
"Serys, I drede me ye schul be brent in helle wythowtyn ende les than ye amende yow of
yowr othys sweryng, for ye kepe not the comawndementys of God. I wolde not sweryn
as ye don for al the good of this worlde." Than thei gedyn awey as thei had ben
aschamyd. Sche than, makyng hir prayer in hir mende, askyd grace so to be demenyd
that day as was most plesawns to God and profyte to hir owyn sowle and good exampyl
to hir evyn cristen. Owr Lord, answeryng hir, seyd it schulde be ryth wel. At the last the
seyd Erchebischop cam into the chapel wyth hys clerkys, and scharply he seyde to hir,
"Why gost thu in white? Art thu a mayden?" Sche, knelyng on hir knes befor hym,
seyd, "Nay, ser, I am no mayden; I am a wife." He comawndyd hys mené to fettyn a
peyr of feterys and seyd sche schulde ben feteryd, for sche was a fals heretyke. And than
sche seyd, "I am non heretyke, ne ye schal non preve me." The Erchebisshop went awey
and let hir stondyn alone. Than sche mad hir prayers to owr Lord God almythy for to
helpyn hir and socowryn hir ageyn alle hir enmyis, gostly and bodily, a long while,
and hir flesch tremelyd and whakyd wondirly that sche was fayn to puttyn hir handys
undyr hir clothis that it schulde not ben aspyed. Sythyn the Erchebischop cam ageyn
into the chapel wyth many worthy clerkys, amongys whech was the same doctowr
whech had examynd hir beforn and the monke that had prechyd ageyn hir a lityl tyme
beforn in Yorke. Sum of the pepil askyd whedyr sche wer a Cristen woman er a Jewe;
sum seyd sche was a good woman, and sum seyd nay. Than the Erchebischop toke
hys see, and hys clerkys also, iche of hem in hys degré, meche pepil beyng present.
And in the tyme whil the pepil was gaderyng togedyr and the Erchebischop takyn hys
see, the seyd creatur stod al behyndyn, makyng hir preyerys for help and socowr
ageyn hir enmiis wyth hy devocyon so long that sche meltyd al into teerys. And at the
last sche cryed lowde therwith, that the Erchebischop and his clerkys and meche pepil
had gret wondyr of hir, for thei had not herd swech crying beforn. Whan hir crying
was passyd, sche cam beforn the Erchebischop and fel down on hir kneys, the
Erchebischop seying ful boystowsly unto hir, "Why wepist thu so, woman?" Sche,
answeryng, seyde, "Syr, ye schal welyn sum day that ye had wept as sor as I." And than
anon, aftyr the Erchebischop put to hir the Articles of owr Feyth, to the whech God
gaf hir grace to answeryn wel and trewly and redily wythowtyn any gret stody so that
he myth not blamyn hir, than he seyd to the clerkys, "Sche knowith hir feyth wel
anow. What schal I don wyth hir?" The clerkys seyden, "We knowyn wel that sche can
the Articles of the Feith, but we wil not suffyr hir to dwellyn among us, for the pepil
hath gret feyth in hir dalyawnce, and peraventur sche myth pervertyn summe of hem."
Than the Erchebischop seyd unto hir, "I am evyl enformyd of the; I her seyn thu art a
ryth wikked woman." And sche seyd ageyn, "Ser, so I her seyn that ye arn a wikkyd
man. And, yyf ye ben as wikkyd as men seyn, ye schal nevyr come in hevyn les than ye
amende yow whil ye ben her." Than seyd he ful boistowsly, "Why, thow, what sey
men of me." Sche answeryd, "Other men, syr, can telle yow wel anow." Than seyd a
gret clerke wyth a furryd hood, "Pes, thu speke of thiself and late hym ben." Sithyn
seyd the Erchebischop to hir, "Ley thin hand on the boke her beforn me and swer that
thu schalt gon owt of my diocyse as sone as thu may." "Nay, syr," sche sayd, "I praye
yow, geve me leve to gon ageyn into Yorke to take my leve of my frendys." Than he
gaf hir leve for on day er too. Sche thowt it was to schort a tyme, wherfor sche seyd
agen, "Sir, I may not gon owt of this diocyse so hastily, for I must teryin and spekyn
wyth good men er I go, and I must, ser, wyth yowr leve, gon to Brydlyngton and
spekyn wyth my confessor, a good man, the whech was the good priowrys confessor
that is now canonysed." Than seyd the Erchebischop to hir, "thow schalt sweryn that
thu schalt ne techyn ne chalengyn the pepil in my diocyse." "Nay, syr, I schal not sweryn,"
sche seyde, "for I schal spekyn of God and undirnemyn hem that sweryn gret othys
whersoevyr I go unto the tyme that the pope and holy chirche hath ordeynde that no
man schal be so hardy to spekyn of God, for God almythy forbedith not, ser, that we
schal speke of hym. And also the gospel makyth mencyon that, whan the woman had
herd owr Lord prechyd, sche cam beforn hym wyth a lowde voys and seyd, `Blyssed
be the wombe that the bar and the tetys that gaf the sowkyn.' Than owr Lord seyd
agen to hir, `Forsothe so ar thei blissed that heryn the word of God and kepyn it.' And
therfor, sir, me thynkyth that the gospel gevyth me leve to spekyn of God." "A ser,"
seyd the clerkys, "her wot we wel that sche hath a devyl wythinne hir, for sche spekyth
of the gospel." As swythe a gret clerke browt forth a boke and leyd Seynt Powyl for
hys party ageyns hir that no woman schulde prechyn.
Sche, answeryng therto, seyde, "I
preche not, ser, I come in no pulpytt. I use but comownycacyon and good wordys, and
that wil I do whil I leve."
Than seyd a doctowr whech had examynd hir befortyme,
"Syr, sche telde me the werst talys of prestys that evyr I herde." The bischop
comawndyd hir to tellyn that tale. "Sir, wyth yowr reverens, I spak but of o preste be
the maner of exampyl, the whech as I have lernyd went wil in a wode thorw the
sufferawns of God for the profite of hys sowle tyl the nygth cam upon hym. He,
destytute of hys herborwe, fond a fayr erber in the whech he restyd that nyght, havyng
a fayr pertre in the myddys al floreschyd wyth flowerys and belschyd, and blomys ful
delectabil to hys syght, wher cam a bere, gret and boistows, hogely to beheldyn,
schakyng the pertre and fellyng down the flowerys. Gredily this grevows best ete and
devowryd tho fayr flowerys. And, whan he had etyn hem, turnyng his tayl ende in the
prestys presens, voydyd hem owt ageyn at the hymyr party. The preste, havyng gret
abhominacyon of that lothly syght, conceyvyng gret hevynes for dowte what it myth
mene, on the next day he wandrid forth in hys wey al hevy and pensife, whom it
fortunyd to metyn wyth a semly agydd man lych to a palmyr er a pilgrime, the whiche
enqwiryd of the preste the cawse of hys hevynes. The preste, rehersyng the mater
beforn wretyn, seyd he conceyvyd gret drede and hevynes whan he beheld that lothly
best defowlyn and devowryn so fayr flowerys and blomys and aftirward so horrybely
to devoydyn hem befor hym at hys tayl ende, and he not undirstondyng what this
myth mene. Than the palmyr, schewyng hymselfe the massanger of God, thus aresond
hym, `Preste, thu thiself art the pertre, sumdel florischyng and floweryng thorw thi
servyse seyyng and the sacramentys ministryng, thow thu do undevowtly, for thu
takyst ful lytyl heede how thu seyst thi mateynes and thi servyse, so it be blaberyd to
an ende. Than gost thu to thi messe wythowtyn devocyon, and for thi synne hast thu
ful lityl contricyon. Thu receyvyst ther the frute of evyrlestyng lyfe, the sacrament of
the awter, in ful febyl disposicyon. Sithyn al the day aftyr thu myssespendist thi tyme,
thu gevist the to bying and sellyng, choppyng and chongyng, as it wer a man of the
werld. Thu sittyst at the ale, gevyng the to glotonye and excesse, to lust of thy body,
thorw letchery and unclennesse. Thu brekyst the comawndmentys of God thorw
sweryng, lying, detraccyon, and bakbytyng, and swech other synnes usyng. Thus be
thy mysgovernawns, lych onto the lothly ber, thu devowryst and destroist the flowerys
and blomys of vertuows levyng to thyn endles dampnacyon and many mannys hyndryng
lesse than thu have grace of repentawns and amendyng."' Than the Erchebisshop
likyd wel the tale and comendyd it, seying it was a good tale. And the clerk whech had
examynd hir befortyme in the absens of the Erchebischop, seyd, "Ser, this tale smytyth
me to the hert." The forseyd creatur seyd to the clerk, "A, worschipful doctowr, ser, in
place wher my dwellyng is most, is a worthy clerk, a good prechar, whech boldly
spekyth ageyn the mysgovernawns of the pepil and wil flatyr no man. He seyth many
tymes in the pulpit, `Yyf any man be evyl plesyd wyth my prechyng, note hym wel,
for he is gylty.' And ryth so, ser," seyd sche to the clerk, "far ye be me, God forgeve
it yow." The clerk wist not wel what he myth sey to hir. Aftyrward the same clerk cam
to hir and preyid hir of forgefnes that he had so ben ageyn hir. Also he preyid hir
specyaly to prey for hym. And than anon aftyr the Erchebischop seyd, "Wher schal I
have a man that myth ledyn this woman fro me?" As swythe ther styrt up many yong
men, and every man seyd of hem, "My Lord, I wyl gon wyth hir." The Erchebischop
answeryd, "Ye ben to yong; I wil not have yow." Than a good sad man of the
Erchebischopys meny askyd hys Lord what he wolde gevyn hym and he schulde ledyn
hir. The Erchebischop proferyd hym five shillings and the man askyd a nobyl. The
Erchebischop, answeryng, seyd, "I wil not waryn so mech on hir body." "Yys, good
ser," seyd the sayd creatur, "our Lord schal rewardyn yow ryth wel agen." Than the
Erchebischop seyd to the man, "Se, her is five shillings, and lede hir fast owt of this
cuntré." Sche, knelyng down on hir kneys, askyd hys blissyng. He, preyng hir to
preye for hym, blissed hir and let hir go. Than sche, goyng agen to Yorke, was receyved
of mech pepil and of ful worthy clerkys, whech enjoyed in owr Lord that had govyn
hir not lettryd witte and wisdom to answeryn so many lernyd men wythowtyn velani
or blame, thankyng be to God.


Whan sche was passyd the watyr of Humbyr, anon sche was arestyd for a loller and
ledde to presonwarde. Ther happyd to be a person whech had seyn hir beforn the
Erchebischop of Yorke and gate hir leve to gon wher sche wolde and excusyd hir
agen the baly and undirtoke for hir that sche was no loller. And so sche scapyd awey
in the name of Jhesu. Than met sche wyth a man of London and hys wife wyth hym.

And so went sche forth wyth hem tyl sche cam to Lyncolne, and ther sufferd sche
many scornys and many noyful wordys, answeryng agen in Goddys cawse wythowtyn
any lettyng, wysly and discretly that many men merveyled of hir cunnyng. Ther wer
men of lawe seyd unto hir, "We han gon to scole many yerys, and yet arn we not
sufficient to answeryn as thu dost. Of whom hast thu this cunnyng?" And sche seyd,
"Of the Holy Gost." Than askyd thei, "Hast thu the Holy Gost?" "Ya, serys," seyd
sche, "ther may no man sey a good worde wythowtyn the gyft of the Holy Gost, for
owr Lord Jhesu Crist seyd to hys disciplys, `Stody not what ye schal sey, for it schal
not be yowr spiryt that schal spekyn in yow, but it schal be the spiryt of the Holy
Gost."' And thus owr Lord gaf hir grace to answer hem, worschepyd mote he be.

Another tyme ther cam gret lordys men unto hir, and thei sworyn many gret othys,
seying, "It is don us to wetyn that thu canst tellyn us whethyr we schal be savyd er
damnyd." Sche seyd, "Ya, forsothe can I, for, as long as ye sweryn swech horrybyl
othis and brekyn the comawndment of God wetyngly as ye do and wil not levyn yowr
synne, I dar wel say ye schal be damnyd. And, yyf ye wil be contrite and schrevyn of
yowr synne, wilfully don penawnce and levyn it whil ye may, in wil no mor to turne
agen therto, I dar wel say ye schal be savyd." "What, canst thu noon otherwise tellyn
us but thus?" "Serys," sche seyd, "this is ryth good, me thynkyth." And than thei went
awey fro hir.