(Continuing from the previous page:) "From the first returns 1,200 gold ducats may be kept by Ralph Maruffus in return for an equal sum exchanged by Andrew Gentile, merchant of Genoa and paid to Bernard Bini. If the bull cannot be published within six months it is to be returned bearing the seal of Bernard Dovizi of Bibienal, Cardinal of S. Maria in Portico (Rome). The boxes may be opened only in the presence of the appointed witnesses and a notary public.
"Cardinal Lawrence Puccil of Quattro Coronati (Rome) adds in his own hand the following restrictions: the papal letter cannot be promulgated until the boxes are placed and the keys distributed. The boxes may be opened at the end of the year but only in the presence of the appointed witnesses who sign the financial report of the notary public, who must be present. Non-compliance carries the fine of 3,000 gold ducats in addition to the usual ecclesiastical censures etc.
"In case the sealed bulls are returned before November, 1,000 ducats are to be returned to Gentile. If the bulls are not returned he is to receive nothing even if they are not used. If use is made of them, then half of all income is to be given to the papal commissary to be yet appointed and £1000 to the Austin Friars for their debt to Gentile. For their expenses the friars are to be paid not more than £200 annually whether the expenses be incurred by them or by laymen.The Austin Friars received half of the income. As indicated above, for the "franchise" the English Augustinians had to pay immediately to the Pope 1,200 gold ducats, which was advanced to him by merchants in Genoa. The agent of the transaction was to receive 200 gold ducats."
Once these 1,400 gold ducats were raised, the house at Oxford was to benefit from whatever additional amount was collected. It appears that the 1,400 gold ducats was barely recovered by 1521 as the donations declined. This meant that Oxford gained nothing, and that the houses of the English Province had raised money for the Pope without any local benefit forthcoming. The Prior General in 1520 was pressed by Rome to write to England and urge greater vigour at raising the money. William Wetherall, the English Augustinian Provincial in 1520-1522 and again in 1525-1534 (and also the leader of the Augustinian community at Oxford), did not even reply to the letter.
In the last thirty years of the existence of the Oxford friary (i.e., 1508 - 1538), only twenty-two Austin Friars appear in the university register. Among them were John Stokes, Prior Provincial and a Doctor of Divinity of Cambridge, who incepted as a Doctor of Divinity of Oxford in 1512; William Wetherall, who was prior provincial of the English Province in 1531; and George Browne, afterwards Archbishop of Dublin, who by Thomas Cromwell's influence obtained the degree of Doctor of Divinity in 1534 "without costs or charges." These three Augustinians eventually worked to favour the King rather than to support their fellow Austin Friars.
The house in Oxford was suppressed by Henry VIII in 1538. In the decade before that happened, the Augustinians in charge of the house at Oxford were agents of the king, who were more sensitive to the wishes of the king than to their obligations to the Order. In the year 1528 William Wetherall was appointed Prior of the Austin Friars in Oxford, and remained there until 1533. He became Augustinian Provincial of England for a second time in 1525, and his re-appointment in 1532, contrary to the Constitutions of the Order, came about because Parliament had commanded the Augustinians to vote for him, and the Prior General saw no practical option but to accept this pressure. This turned out to be one of the last official acts by the Prior General towards England.
A year later the king forbade any contact with Rome, and the English Province was then no longer effectively a part of the Order. The appointment of a successor to Wetherall at Oxford had no standing with the Pope or Augustinian Curia in Rome, and nor were they consulted or informed about it. With the consent of King Henry VIII, George Browne was appointed to the two positions of Provincial of the Order of St Augustine (Austin Friars) in England, and leader of the Augustinian community in Oxford for life. In fact, he remained from 1534 only to 1538. Contrary to the opinion of the Pope, Browne had preached in favour of the divorce of Henry VIII (and may have conducted the secret marriage of Henry to Anne Boleyn), and preached Lutheran doctrines.
Seeing as inevitable the abolition of the communities of religious orders, he sold the church plate and the best trees on the Oxford property. This raised about 200 British pounds sterling - and apparently he kept the money himself. The plate taken included various goblets and salts, nine silver spoons with maidens' heads, and six Apostle spoons. He left only three chalices to be sent to Thomas Cromwell by Dr John London, who in 1538 was commissioned to visit the Oxford friaries in order to suppress them. Browne was appointed by Henry VIII (and not by the Pope) as the Protestant Archbishop of Dublin. What Browne left behind in Oxford was a community of ten Augustinians that had no income. They surrendered the house to the king. Browne was the unworthy leader, and ten Augustinians suffered. Cromwell's official visitor (inspector), Dr London, discovered that the Austin Friars at Oxford had only six or seven acres of land, and that their house was ruinous. They were in such poverty that 'if they do not forsake their houses, their houses will forsake them.'
He wrote to Thomas Cromwell that, ""My Lord Bishop of Dublin (George Browne), lately their prior here at Oxford, felled the best trees (to sell as lumber), and took away stuff and plate to the value of 200 marks, leaving but 3 chalices. Church ornaments and household stuff not worth £10." The Austin Friars surrendered at once on 6th or 7th July. But the visitor felt bound to provide the friars with meat and drink until their capacities (pensions) were sent. The list of Austin Friars desiring capacities on 31st August were ten in number: Ralph Jonson, Geoffrey Tomson, Edward Foxgill, William Mory, Edmund Hyans, Thomas Fryth, Michael Symson, George Elsdan, Robert York, and Robert Baly. It appears that the capacities still had not yet arrived on 6th November.
This was the general pattern of eviction for the Order in the English Reformation. Dr London had on 8th July 1538 urged Cromwell that the site of the Austin Friars and the profits of their fair should be granted to Mr. Pye for life, and then to the town. These proposals were not carried out. After being let to yearly tenants in 1539 the site was leased in 1546 for 21 years to Thomas Carden, esq., for 46s. 4d. a year. It was then purchased by Henry Grey, the Duke of Suffolk, and in 1552 sold by him and Thomas Duport to Henry Bayley (husband of Anne Frere), from whom it passed to William Frere.
He sold it in 1588-9 to the city, from whom it was acquired by the foundress of Wadham College. This College today stands on the former land of the Austin Friars. Of the estimated 319 English Augustinians in 1538, only as few as fifteen had promoted Protestant ideas, and these fifteen were generally the ones who took advantage of the political and social instability of the day for their own personal ambition and material gain. After passage through a number of hands, in 1610 the Oxford house was sold for 600 British pounds sterling to the trustees of Nicholas Wadham, and is now the site of Wadham College.
Photos (at right)
Wadham College, which now stands on the former site of the Augustinian Priory, Oxford. For the construction of Wadham College, the site of the former Augustinian friary was bought from the City of Oxford for £600 on 6 March 1609–10.
A final evaluation:
In Augustinian history the studium generale at Paris will always be considered superior to those at Oxford and Cambridge because the fame of the Order in Scholastic theology stemmed from Paris, ("the fountain of all knowledge"). The works of the Parisian Augustinian masters are found in comparatively large numbers in English libraries, but not so those of their English-educated counterparts. For example, Prior General Ambrose Massari de Cori O.S.A., who published the first printed chronicle of the Order, mentions only one English master: Thomas Penketh O.S.A.. Officially, however, these three Augustinian studia generalia were put on an equal basis. As early as 1318 the General Chapter of Paris determined that two masters and two bachelors should always be present at each of these three theological schools. In 1359 it was ordained that England, despite its tremendous advantage over other provinces could send students to Paris like any other province and that its students should also be entitled to fifty florins from the common fund on condition that they actually obtained the magisterium (doctorate).
When the fame of Bologna and Padua surpassed that of the three older universities, and other Italian universities then became their equals, ambitious English Augustinian students attended in ever greater numbers these Southern centers of learning, but few attained the magisterium. A Johannes de Anglia O.S.A. obtained it in Bologna about 1370, and Robert Malpas O.S.A. at Rome in 1439, Robert Stocton O.S.A. and John Halam O.S.A.at Naples in 1456.
The House of the Austin Friars (Oxford). Six pages of British online history. http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.asp?compid=40199