The single print witness of this poem is known as Honorificatissimo, amplissimo, longeq[ue] reuerendissimo in Christo patri (STC 22609) printed by Richard Pynson in 1528. Although they are not specifically named, the poem concerns the two Cambridge scholars Thomas Arthur and Thomas Bilney, who were accused of heresy in 1527 (Scattergood 516). Of the two, Arthur abjured without argument, yet Bilney never had to admit that he had committed heresy and only did penance. According to Scattergood, Skelton’s lines were prophetic:
Sometyme under protection,
Of patient sufferance,
With sobre cyrcumstance,
Our myndes to avuance
To no mannes anyonace (ll. 393-6)
After Bilney’s release from prison, he was allowed back in Cambridge and he began to preach in and around Norwich again in late 1528. Bilney was arrested, tried, and eventually burned at the stake as a relapsed heretic in 1531 (Scattergood 516).