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John Bale

1495-1563. Protestant controversialist. Educated in a Carmelite house at Norwich and at Jesus College, Cambridge, he renounced his vows in the early thirties and served the Protestant cause by writing miracle plays and prose works. He enjoyed the patronage of Thomas Cromwell,* but was a refugee in Germany, 1540-47. He subsequently became rector of Bishopstoke, and in 1552 bishop of Ossory. His Protestant zeal created hostility, and during the reign of Mary he was in Holland. After Elizabeth's accession he was canon and prebendary of Canterbury. Of his twenty-one plays, five have survived. King John, the most important, never rises above doggerel and is unashamedly polemical. Prose works include Brief Chronicle concerning Sir John Oldcastle. Illustrium Majoris Britanniae Scriptorum Summarium and Catalogus constitute important catalogues of British writers. His works are marred by the bitter and somewhat coarse invective which gained him the name “Bilious Bale.”