Barnes, Robert

, professor of divinity, and chaplain to Henry VIII. king of England, was sent to Germany by his master in 1535, where he held a conference with the protestant divines upon the affair of the divorce after that he had several audiences of the elector of Saxony, and joined with the English ambassadors, who proposed to this elector an alliance against the pope, and desired that Henry VIII. might be associated in the league of Smalcalde. He gave them hopes of a reformation in England but in fact, they had no other design than to obtain their doctors approbation of the divorce of their master, and a political alliance, in order to find the emperor more employment, who threatened to revenge the injury upon king Henry for divorcing his aunt. They carried away with them the opinion of the divines of Witternberg which was not entirely favourable to them but they suppressed the conclusion, wjien they shewed it to the king. Barnes’s conduct however pleased the king, and induced him to employ him in carrying on a correspondence with the princes of Germany. He was sent several times to those courts and among other negociations, he w r as the first who was employed in the project of the marriage with Anne of Cleves. He was a zealous Lutheran, which he did not conceal in his sermons for in Lent in 1540 he confuted the sermon, which bishop Gardiner had | preached against Luther’s doctrine. He took the same text as Gardiner had done, and taught a doctrine absolutely contrary to what this prelate had laid down concerning justification nay he even attacked the bishop personally, and jested upon the name of Gardiner. Gardiner’s friends complained to the king of this, who ordered 'Barnes to give him satisfaction, to sign certain articles, and to make a formal recantation in the pulpit. All this was done, but in such a manner, that there was a complaint, that in one part of his sermon he artfully maintained what he had retracted in the other. Upon these complaints he was sent to the Tower by the king’s command, which he never came out of but to suffer death in the midst of the flames for he was condemned* as an heretic by the parliament, without being permitted to make his defence. He declared his belief a little before his death he rejected justification by works, invocation of saints, &c. and desired that the king would undertake a thorough reformation. His freedom of speech had for a long time before exposed him to trouble. While Wolsey was in favour, he preached so vehemently at Cambridge against the luxury of prelates, that every body saw immediately that he designed it against the cardinal. Upon that account he was carried to London, where by the solicitations of Gardiner and Fox, he was rescued from that prosecution, having agreed to abjure some articles which were proposed to him. Afterwards he was again committed to prison upon some newaccusations and then it was generally believed that he would be burnt, but he escaped, and went over into Germany, where he applied himself entirely to the study of the bible and divinity in which he made so great a progress, that he was very much esteemed by the doctors and princes. When the king of Denmark sent ambassadors to England, he desired Barnes to accompany them, or even to be one of them. We have at least two books written by Barnes, one, the “Articles of his Faith,” published in Latin, with a preface by Pomeranus, and again in Dutch in 1531. The other is his “Lives of the Popes,” from St. Peter to Alexander II. published, with a preface by Luther, at Wirtemberg, 1536, and afterwards at Leyden, 1615; together with Bale’s Lives of the Popes. Luther also published an account of his martyrdom. 1


Gen. Dict. Fox’s Acts and Monuments. Burnet’s Hist, of Reformation.