Bishop of Worcester's writing on purgatory, with notes by Henry VIII
Shelfmark: Cotton Ms. Cleopatra E v, f.142
In the 1530s, debate raged about the efficacy of prayers for the dead and the very existence of purgatory.
Around 1537 the reformist Bishop of Worcester, Hugh Latimer (c.1485–1555), prepared for the King a paper in opposition to what he ironically described elsewhere as ‘our old ancient purgatory pick-purse’ and Henry’s sharp disagreement is apparent in his marginal notes.
He alluded to Latimer’s false arguments and wrong examples, and reprimanded his bishop for ‘his carnal wit, which in preaching you dispraise so much’. When Latimer maintained that the dissolution of the monasteries could be justified only if purgatory was negated, Henry responded with a particularly apt quotation from his schoolboy textbook, the Distichs of Cato.
Ultimately, Henry decided, ‘purgatory may yet stond for all this’. Later on he modifed his position.