Bale, John

Bale, John (Balaeus), bishop of Ossory, an English historian and theologian, was born at Cove Hithe, in Suffolk, Nov. 21, 1495, and was educated at Jesus College, Cambridge, where he early gained a reputation for letters and opposed the Reformation. He attributes his conversion to Lord Wentworth, and soon began to write against Romanism; and although protected for a time by the Earl of Essex, he was, after the death of Cromwell, obliged to retire into Flanders. He returned under Edward VI, and received the living of Bishopstoke, in Hampshire. On Feb. 2,1553, he was made bishop of Ossory. When Edward died he took refuge at Basle, where he remained till 1559, when he returned into England, and, refusing to resume his bishopric (which he at first did not desire), he was made prebend of the Church of Canterbury, and died there, Nov. 1563. His chief work is his Illustrium majoris Britanniae Scriptorum Summarium, first printed at Ipswich in 1549. This edition contained only five centuries of writers; but an enlarged edition was published at Basle in 1557, etc., containing nine centuries, under the following title: Scriptorum Illustrium M. Britanniae, quam nunc Angliam et Scotiam vocant, Catalogus, a Japheto per 3618 annos usque ad annum hunc Domini 1557, ex Beroso, Gennadio, Beda, etc... collectus; — and in 1559 a third edition appeared, containing five more centuries. He was a very voluminous writer; a long list of his printed works is given by Fuller, and also in the Engl. Cyclopoedia (s.v. Bale). His works were placed on the prohibitory Index, printed at Madrid in 1667, as those of a heretic of the first class. No character has been more variously represented than Bale's. Gesner, in his Bibliotheca, calls him a writer of the greatest diligence, and Bishop Godwin gives him the character of a laborious inquirer into British antiquities. Similar praise is also bestowed upon him by Vogler (Introd. Universal. in Notit. Scriptor.). Anthony A Wood, however, styles him "the foul-mouthed Bale." Hearne (Pref. to Heminof.) calls him "Balaeus in multis mendax." And even Fuller (Worthies, last edit. 2:332) says "Biliosus Balaeus passeth for his true character." He inveighed with much asperity against the pope and papists, and his intemperate zeal, it must be acknowledged, often carried him beyond the bounds of decency and candor. Fuller, in his Church History (cent. 9, p. 68), pleads for Bale's railing against the papists. "Old age and ill usage," he says, "will make any man angry. When young, he had seen their superstition; when old, he felt their oppression." The greatest fault of Bale's book on the British writers is its multiplication of their works by frequently giving the heads of chapters or sections of a book as the titles of distinct treatises. A selection from his works was published by the Parker Society (Cambridge, 1849, 8vo). See Strype, Memorials of Cranmer, p. 206, 360; Collier, Eccl. Hist. v. 500; Penny Cyclop. s.v.

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